Archive for October, 2007

Death is but “Bon Voyage”…

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

I received an email from one of my sisters yesterday with a great devotional on the topic of death. I never use anyone else’s “material” but this was so timely I want to share it with you. My bestest friend in the whole world, Lisa called me this morning to tell me that a very good friend of our’s father was diagnosed two weeks ago with lung cancer and just found out yesterday that it has spread to his brain. The family is devastated. He is just a model father, grandfather, husband, neighbor, butcher for years and years in the local grocery store in Bryson City, a strong Christian, is in great health, just an all around good man. I had the opportunity to share Hannah’s Hope with Lisa this morning and reminded her that God has a plan for each of us. And if death is the prognosis for Mr. Sutton, God will provide grace, strength, peace and comfort as needed. But for Mr. Sutton, and Hannah, and my Dad, and all those who are facing death or have gone on before us, it’s Bon Voyage! Here’s the devotional:

The time of my departure is at hand. —2 Timothy 4:6

Paul’s word departure in 2 Timothy 4:6 is freighted with significance. It means “loosing” or “unmooring.” It’s a word he uses again when he sighs, “I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ” (Phil. 1:23).

Departure is a nautical term that suggests “shipping out”—weighing anchor, slipping the lines that tether us to this world and getting underway. It’s a marvelous metaphor for dying.

For believers in Christ, death is not an end but a beginning. It means leaving this old world behind and getting to a better place, completing the purpose for which we were made. It’s a time for joy and excitement and a hearty “Bon Voyage!”

All voyages, however, are fraught with uncertainty; especially those that pass through waters never sailed before. We don’t fear death so much as we do the passage. Who knows what dangers lie ahead? 

But the journey is not uncharted. One has taken it before us, and He has returned to bring us safely through. Although we pass through the valley of the shadow of death, God is with us all the way (Ps. 23:4). His hands are on the helm as He guides us to the heavenly haven He has prepared for us (John 14:1-3). — David H. Roper

I pray that if you are struggling with losing a loved one to death that this devotional was as encouraging for you as it is for me. Have a Hallelujah Halloween Day!

Hope

Your Law – My Delight – Day 28

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Lord, You know I don’t dream often and I am really thankful for that.  There are times when You awaken me during the night and take me to Your word but I don’t usually dream.  This morning, however, about the time to get up, I was dreaming about or seeing this massive wall in my dream.  It was so high – I had never seen anything so high.  I couldn’t even see down into what was on the other side because it was so high.  It seemed as though I was at the top corner of the wall.  I had come down this long drive with trees lining each side and the trees had new leaves on them – light green – new life.  It was as if I was lying on the top corner of this massive wall – I thought in my mind about the possibility of crawling on the top of the wall to see where it would take me but that would have been impossible.  There were no steps over the other side. . .

You brought to my heart and mind the scripture about You being the gate in John chapter 10:7,9

“I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. . . I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  He will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

And You remind me again this morning Lord about You being the gate into the new city and there is no other way.  You bring to my mind just now that maybe one of the reasons the wall is so high is that we have placed so many “alternative” ways of entering the city and have just built the wall higher by our own striving to find “other ways.”  Your word tells us that there is only one way into the city – It is Your city and You are the gate and no one will enter the city unless they first pass through the gate of Jesus Christ.  We can talk all around that – but it doesn’t change Your word – We can come up with “alternative” suggestions – but it doesn’t change Your truth – It is Your city, You are the King of the City and You have made the way to enter the gate.  We didn’t write the story or “The Book” just as I’ve said so many times about Hannah’s story – we didn’t write this story – never would have – it isn’t our story.

Oh Jesus bring us back to a simple understanding of the reality of these truths.  Your plan is not a hard plan – it requires our humbling of ourselves to acknowledge that You are the only way in and requires that we ask You to be the way for us.  We will not be able to go around the gate of the city, we will not be able to go over the wall of the city, we will not be able to permeate the massive walls of the city – You have made “one way” through the walls into the city.  To refuse Your way is to refuse You, and to refuse Your city.

Maybe You are once again crystallizing these thoughts for me as we have just come from Judgment House.  The reality of Heaven and Hell dramatized.  You know, over the centuries You have not changed – “You are the same yesterday, today and forever” You teach us in Heb. 13:8.  Your plan has not changed.  The cannon of scripture was completely complete when You gave it.  You aren’t offering “alternative methods” just because we are in the 21st century.  The old message of the cross has not changed.  We may be “more educated” – sometimes Mickey says, “beyond our intelligence” but we have not come up with another way into eternal life with You.

Heaven is real and everybody wants to go there – but Heaven belongs to You and only You provide a way into its gates.  Jesus, are You trying to remind us of that?  There are so many tragedies happening all around us – are You desiring to get us back to Your simple message of truth?  The way of eternal life is through the death of your Son.  Heaven is real and so is Hell and if it were not, we would not have needed a Savior, redemption, or the cross.

I have just returned, Lord, from “Muffins for Mom” with Andrew.  One of the precious ladies there was sharing how 2 young people came with her church to Judgment and made 1st time professions of faith.  She was also sharing that others have asked her why a hell scene was necessary in Judgment House.  Oh Dear Father, write anew and afresh the reality of Your truth and quicken the hearts of us, Your people, to help us understand the lives we are now living are not a “practice round.”  This one is for keeps and we need to be so very deliberate in the way we live our lives – “as wise, not as unwise” making the most of every opportunity and acknowledging our need of You.

Oh Jesus, speak truth over my heart through Your word just now.  I am going to the 119th Psalm this morning and I am so excited to unravel its wonders.  I found a new scripture in there last night that I just love, “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction; I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.”  V.92, 93 Oh Jesus, we both know that is true.  You have preserved my very life and breath because of Your word.  Help me hide this one in my heart.

Day 28 – It Takes Time

“Everything on earth has its own time, its own season.”  Ecc. 3:1

“There are no shortcuts to maturity.”

“While we worry about how fast we grow, God is concerned about how strong we grow.”

“Christlikeness is your eventual destination, but your journey will last a lifetime.”

I love this next paragraph – one Hannah didn’t highlight but one worthy of our thoughts –

“Today we’re obsessed with speed, but God is more interested in strength and stability than swiftness.  We want the quick fix, the shortcut, the on-the spot solution.  We want a sermon, a seminar, or an experience that will instantly resolve all problems, remove all temptation, and release us from all growing pains.  But real maturity is never the result of a single experience, no matter how powerful or moving.  Growth is gradual.  The Bible says, “Our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.”  2Cor. 3:18b

“There is no growth without change, no change without fear or loss, and no loss without pain.”  “You must let go of old ways in order to experience the new.”

“Your habits define your character.”  “Practice these things.  Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress.”  I Tim. 4:15

“It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off.”  Heb. 2:1

“God is never in a hurry, but He is always on time.”

“Great souls are grown through struggles and storms and seasons of suffering.  Be patient with the process.”   Ref. James 1:4

 “God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure He will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again.”  Phil.  1:6

In what area of my spiritual growth do I need to be more patient and persistent?  Hannah writes, “In waiting on God’s time and not mine.” 

 Oh Father, thank You that Your timing and Your ways are always right.  Teach me from Your word just now.  In Jesus name, I pray.  Amen.

 

Run with patience…

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Good morning, faithful friends! I am so sorry for not posting a devotional yesterday. I received a call at 6:20 yesterday morning from my mother telling me that my brother, Randy, was at Spartanburg Regional with classic heart attack symptoms. My brother lives in Morganton, NC and works in Atlanta, GA. By God’s providence, Randy was in Spartanburg County when he had the attack. When all was said and done, tests were run and surgery completed around 7:00 p.m., his gall bladder was removed and was he diagnosed with an ulcer on his esophagus. Praise the Lord for minor diagnosis and quick fixes!

“Let us run with patience…” (Hebrews 12:1).

Run with patience…is that not an oxymoron? The word “run” suggests anything but patience. Quite often when we think of patience, we think of sitting still and waiting on God, waiting on the situation to pass. But to run with patience would imply that we carry on even when things are not working like we want them to. When the storms of this life are the strongest, keep going…run with patience. When the simplest thing to do seems to be to give up and quit, keep going…run with patience. When life keeps dealing you a loser hand, keep going…run with patience. When Satan tells you you’re a failure and will not amount to anything, keep going…run with patience. Our Heavenly Father is standing at the finish line rooting us on to victory.

Put on your running shoes and run with patience!

Hope

“Your word I praise” – Day 27

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

Oh Dear Father as You awaken me this morning, You draw me to Your word yet again.  As I leave my room I glance upon the Burgundy Bible that You spoken volumes of truth from over the last ten years of my life and I am so thankful to You.  I could not have survived this journey had it not been for Your word.  Oh Jesus, I love Your word and You always meet me there and speak truth over my heart when I sit with You.  And You remind me quickly this morning from “Streams in the Desert” the absolute necessity of meeting You by myself alone.  “He went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.  When evening came, he was there alone.”  Matt. 14:23  Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, meeting His Father alone.  Oh I will never get over meeting with You alone – it is the highest place.  “Our Lord could not maintain His full strength and power for His work and His fellowship with the Father without His quiet time.”  “Oh, the thought of having God all alone to myself and knowing that God has me all alone to Himself.”  Andrew Murray   It is amazing, isn’t it Lord?  We all come to that at one point in our lives or another.  “It is in quiet solitude that we catch the deep and mysterious truths that flow from the soul of the things God allows to enter our lives.”  “If you desire to have understanding, then dismiss the crowd, just as Jesus did.”    Matt. 14:22 “Let them go away one at a time. . . until only Jesus is left.”  John 8:9 

And Lord You bring to my mind those whose hearts and lives I pray for this morning.  Another tragedy – another young life taken from this earth to live with You yesterday afternoon in our community.  In the Psalms this morning I read “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”  Psalm 116:15  We don’t see like You do Dear Jesus, but I pray that You will give an amazing sense of Your presence and Your peace over the lives of those who will be “Forever changed” through the events of yesterday.  Oh Dear Jesus, draw them so close to Your heart – let them run quickly to Your word and Your truth and speak Your purpose over their lives.  Reveal Yourself as Jehovah Rapha – the God who will heal their hearts.  Give them Your peace that passes understanding and strengthen them for the journey ahead.  For the two other lives that “weigh in the balance” we ask for Your divine intervention so that they may be able to sing Your praises for the rest of their lives.  Oh Jesus, before the foundation of the world, You have known of this – use it now to accomplish Your intended purpose  bring glory to Yourself and work it for good in all of our lives as we gaze upon You.

And Father, You bring to mind Andrew Kinard this morning – Oh Jesus, strengthen him for this day.  I know Father, there must be a part of him that would love to “just go home” and be with his family in his own house.  But Father, You have “set him apart” for Your purpose – please give him everything he will need for this day, this evening, tomorrow and his visit here.  Thank You Father for the sacrifice he has made on my behalf and let us never, as a people of these United States of America, ever forget the sacrifices that are made on behalf of freedom we enjoy every day in this country.  Speak truth through his words over the lives of our young people to allow them to understand the meaning of “giving your life” for the lives of others.  May his family find their rest in You alone – Psalm 62:1-2

So many precious people Lord are dealing with so many things on this fallen earth where we live.  Your purpose and heart is to reveal Yourself to them exactly where they find themselves – Oh Jesus, to just that – show us each and every one the reality of who You are!  “Stand firmly in the place where your dear Lord has put you, and do your best there.”  “The strongest and greatest character is grown through hardship.  Be strengthening us, Jesus, for the path You have ahead.  For precious dear ones who are struggling in their physical bodies – minister Yourself as the “Living water” and the “Bread of Life.”   Father, never let me get above “simply trusting You by faith.”  It is the sweetest and most precious walk You have ordained on this earth – “walking by faith” – “just simple faith” – knowing how great Your love for me is! 

You speak to me from the Psalms this morning Lord – “My feet stand on level ground; in the great assembly I will praise the Lord.”  26:12  Oh Jesus, I could not stand at all if it were not for You and yet You allow me to stand “on level ground” and I bless Your name!!   And Father, a new light You shed this morning on the 56th Psalm  – “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.  In God, WHOSE WORD I PRAISE, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.  What can mortal man do to me?”  Father that is so powerful – what power does man have over us?  We belong to You!!  Bless You Lord!  And the part that speaks new to my heart this morning is “whose WORD I praise,” v.4, “”whose WORD I praise,” and again “whose WORD I praise.”  Oh Father, it is Your WORD and I praise Your WORD! 

In the 86th, the Psalmst asks You to “Bring joy to your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”  In the margin of my Bible, I thank You Lord, that You are bringing me joy as I trust in You!  Oh thank You Jesus, for Your unspeakable joy that You alone can give!  And over in v. 17, the Psalmst asks you to “Give me a sign of Your goodness” and so Lord I ask You for that this day – “a sign of Your goodness” yet again!  And then You remind me Lord in the 116th Psalm “How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me?”  I can never repay You Lord for all Your goodness to me!!  V.16  “I am Your servant. . . You have freed me from my chains.”  Bless Your name!!!  “The Lord sets prisoners free. . .”  Set somebody free today Lord – In Jesus name!!!  And let me be one of them – freer and freer – is what I desire to be!  Freer to declare the praises of who You are!!! 

Lord, it has been such a blessing to have mother here with me this week.. You know I have prayed about their coming back down here to see us.  I know it wasn’t the easiest thing to come but You have been so faithful to show us Yourself!!  Thank You Lord.  Mother has been so helpful to me – last night we went through Hannah’s outfits that I had smocked for her.  Mother could see her in every one – as could I – many precious memories.  I wouldn’t take anything for one of those stitches – each one sewn from the heart of “a mother’s love.”  Daddy comes today Lord, please strengthen and encourage his heart through our time together.  Bring continued healing to the praise of Your glory.  In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.      

Day 27

“And God is faithful.  He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it.  When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.”  I Cor. 10:13  “There is always a way out.” 

Oh Jesus, You know how many times I clung to this verse for myself and for Hannah.  I stood on it – that You would not give either of us more than we could bear but that You would give us “a way out.”  You were faithful Lord – mother and talked yesterday about how Hannah never complained about her journey – each day – one at a time – You gave her exactly what she needed.  And Father, each day until this day – You have given me what I have needed and I Bless Your Name! 

“The battle for sin is won or lost in your mind.  Whatever gets your attention will get you.”  Oh wow Father, what a statement.  I desire for You and for Your word to “have me.”  David prayed, “Keep me from paying attention to what is worthless.”  Psalm 119:37 

“Temptation begins by capturing your attention.”  So when temptation calls you on the phone, don’t argue with it, just hang up!”  Father, is that what You mean by telling us “to take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ?”  Yes, indeed, I believe it is! 

“Fix your thoughts on Jesus.”  Always think about Jesus Christ.”  “Fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.”  Heb. 3:1, II Tim 2:8, Phil. 4:8

“Choose carefully what you think about.” 

“You are better off to have a friend than to be all alone. . . If you fall, your friend can help you up.  But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble.”  Ecc. 4:9-10   Oh Jesus, I pray for Hannah’s friends this day – use them to strengthen others and strengthen them.  Bless their lives, increase the territory they effect, keep You hand upon them and keep them from evil.  In Jesus name, Amen.

“The truth is, whatever you can’t talk about is already out of control in your life.”  “Willpower and personal resolutions aren’t enough.”  You know, Lord, is so much richer when we “lay down our facades” and become real with You and with each other.  I don’t want to hide behind “some mask.”  I want to be transparent.  Life is too short to play games!   “God sets Himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble.  So humble yourselves before God.”  James 4:5-6

“Don’t ever argue with the Devil.”  “We must never let down our guard and think we’re beyond temptation.”  “Don’t carelessly place yourself in tempting situations.”  “Don’t be so naïve and self-confident.  You’re not exempt.  You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else.  Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.”  I Cor. 10:12

“There is always a way out.”  Thank You Father, that Jesus is the sacrifice You provided to be “my way out.”  And Father, thank You for speaking to my heart this morning. Allow me to meditate on these truths all through the day in the name of Jesus, I ask and pray, Amen.

 

Live in harmony…

Friday, October 26th, 2007

“Live in harmony with one another…If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. ” (Romans 12:16 & 18).

Have you ever heard someone sing off key? It is really painful. My sisters and I sing and we grew up singing acapello. With our Dad, you never knew when you were going to be called on to sing a few songs. Quite often there was no access to a piano or sound system so all of our songs are without music. It was not unusual for Daddy to “volunteer” us to sing at a funeral. “My girls are in town this weekend. Do you want them to come by the mortuary and sing?” We didn’t have to know the deceased; was that a prerequisite? I remember one time we were singing at one of those random funerals and the worst part was that Daddy wasn’t the minister for that funeral. So here we were in a crowd of people that we had never seen before singing for a funeral of an individual we didn’t know from Adam. We got so tickled thinking about what if we were at the wrong funeral. Family reunions? “My girls are all here. Do you want them to sing for you?” Bless his dear heart.

Anyway, a couple of years ago our brother was in Iraq and we decided we’d record a CD for him for Christmas. He is our biggest fan. So we went to a local studio to do the recording. We planned to pull one over on the guy because he had agreed to record us without having any idea who we were or whether we could carry a tune in a bucket. So when he got us in place, our headsets on, microphones arranged just right, he went in the sound room to get ready for our first “take”. When he said, “Okay, let me see what you’ve got”, we all four started singing on a different key to the top of our lungs. It sounded horrendous! His initial response was hilarious because you could tell he was taken aback. But by our facial expressions he realized we were joking. We had a great time. But let me assure you, if there’s no harmony, it ain’t pretty.

That’s the way it is in our Christian walk. If we’re all trying to reach the same goal and we’re bickering or backstabbing or “stirring the pot” so to speak, it is painful. God wants us to get along. We’re on the same journey headed to the same location. He wants us to live in harmony. Harmony is beautiful, as is a life lived putting others first. Do your part! If the other person is off key, you can’t do anything about that. But as much as possible on your part, keep peace and live in harmony.

This weekend will be our last two nights of Judgement House. The entire experience has been incredible. I’ll update the home page on Monday with details. Have a harmonious weekend!

Hope

No shame…

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Before we started our weekly prayer time this morning, Deb read the 25th Psalm. We grabbed the part about not being put to shame. We don’t ever want to be put to shame, and we don’t ever want to shame the Father! Here are the verses…

“To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long” (Psalm 25:1-5).

How can I keep from being put to shame? By putting my hope in the Lord. “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame.” This scripture is not saying that I won’t be accused, but it is saying that I won’t be put to shame. How does that work? Check out the rest of the passage. I need to be teachable. “Show me your ways and teach me your paths.” God’s truth is our guide. Where do we find His truth? In the Bible! God’s word is truth and it will guide our paths. Thus our hope rests in God alone, our Guide. And no one whose hope is in Him will ever be put to shame.

No shame here, guys! Put your trust and hope in God alone and be teachable, without shame.

I apologize for the late update today. My mother-in-law (Clay and Deb’s mother) is in town and we’ve been showing her all that the Lord has been doing. This is her first visit since Hannah went to heaven so she had not been to the Hannah’s Hope office or visited Hannah’s grave. We’ve had a good day and I know that Deb is thrilled to have her here. Just giving account of my time…

Have a blessed day.

Hope

Surely God is my help…

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

I had lunch with my friend and former supervisor, Marty and I left the restaurant with a very heavy heart for her. Marty’s husband, Jim, was diagnosed a couple of weeks ago with an aggressive carcinoma in his abdomen and has been given a few short months to live. We usually spend our lunch time laughing and making fun of people (not really, well, just a little bit) but today what little laughter there was did not reach Marty’s eyes. Her eyes were full of grief and sorrow for her coming loss. For Marty to cry on me is way out of the “norm.” When her tears started, I had to look down and stare at my salad in order to keep my composure. I told myself that I had to be strong this time.

Marty talked about how strong Jim is and what an incredible attitude he has. Jim and Marty have no children so they have been each other’s lives. Jim takes good care of Marty. He does all the laundry, the grocery shopping, etc. She, in summation, is spoiled rotten. I shared with her about the peace and grace that can only come through a personal relationship with Christ. He alone can sustain us. Marty and Jim both are seeing this. They followed Hannah’s journey very closely and Dr. Corso is Jim’s oncologist. Marty was my supervisor during the entire journey and she watched first hand as God carried us from one day to the next. You just can’t worry about tomorrow. Why borrow trouble from tomorrow? Today has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

So I left Copper River and stopped by my house and decided to have a little breakdown all by myself. Then I opened the Bible to the Psalms and I read chapter 54. I like verse 4: “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.” That’s the only way we have survived this trial! I pray that the cloud that rests over Marty’s heart today, and possibly over your heart, will break through and allow SONshine to peep through. God is our help. He alone sustains us.

Hope

 

The Billy Graham Library – An Invested Life – Day 26

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

“When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”  I Cor. 2:1-5

“A demonstration of the Spirit’s power” -  Father, yesterday I saw a demonstration of the Spirit’s power!  I am so hungry to see demonstrations of the power of Your Holy Spirit in amazing ways in my life on this earth!  Oh Father, You know that yesterday I had the privilege of visiting the Billy Graham Library.  It had been on my heart to visit but the opportunity had not afforded itself.  I had talked to mother on Monday morning and found out that her church was coming yesterday to Charlotte to bring their seniors to visit.  I quickly jumped on the opportunity and encouraged her to “jump on the bus” and join me!  Oh Father, the theme and the thread of the day was “Prayer and the Word,” “Prayer and the Word,” “Prayer and the Word.”  Oh Father, Your recipe is so simple – prayer and the word – and yesterday I witnessed the result of a life invested in prayer and the word.  “Invest your life in something that will live longer than you do” – what a witness to that statement yesterday!  The walls were lined with Your scripture and Your Spirit was at home there!  Oh Father there were powerful statements on the walls from the lips of Billy Graham:

“Man will surrender to the impact of the Word of God.”

“When the gospel of Jesus Christ is presented with authority, quoting from the very words of God – He takes that message and drives it supernaturally into the human heart.” 

“Everywhere I go, I find that people – both leaders and individuals are asking the basic question?”  “Is there any hope for the future?  Is there any hope for peace, justice and prosperity in our generation?”  “Our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

“It is only a few times in our lives that Jesus of Nazareth passes by.”  “Billy Graham has taught me to preach for a decision.”   Oh Father, we must be very deliberate about the opportunities You give us – help me be very purposeful and understand the magnitude of the reality that it is only a few times in the lives of many that they will have the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and we are not promised tomorrow!

“The three elements of crusade preparation are: Pray, pray, pray!!!”

Oh Father, You challenged my heart over and over again.  Purposeful in the way I live my life – investing in the eternal – not in the temporal of this earth.  “It is to the Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”  John 15:8  Your heart and desire is for our lives to bring forth spiritual fruit. 

Some of the scriptures Father that I wrote down that I desire for You to carve on my heart about prayer were:

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ; for which I am in chains.  Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”  Col. 4:2-4  Oh Dear Jesus, a life devoted to prayer – what does that look like on this earth?

“Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.  Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”  Eph.  6:19-20  Oh Father, that is the prayer of my heart – that when You give me an opportunities each day that I will open my mouth and declare the praises of who You are fearlessly.

And Father, scripture about the power of Your word and its far reaching effects:

“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  II Tim. 3:16-17

“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.  I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame.”  Psalm 119:45-46  Oh Father, You give freedom through the power of Your word!!

I Thess. 1:8 “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia – your faith in God has become known everywhere.” 

“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”  II Cor. 11:30

“God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”  I Tim. 2:4

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”  Eph. 4:11-13  Your desire for us is the “whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”  

Ruth Graham’s body is buried there – in the prayer garden – “the way of all the earth.”  All of us will go that way – physical death on this earth – You give us the opportunity to invest our lives in things of eternity.  Oh Jesus, that is the cry of my heart – keep my eyes on eternity!  In the name of Jesus, I pray and Amen!  Thank You for challenging my heart and life from one who has gone before me! 

 

Yesterday, Lord, You know I wept on the way up as I listened to Beth Moore’s Job series – “Yet will I trust Him.”  On one day, Job had every possible fear he had ever had – realized – one day – in a span of a few hours everything in his life changed forever!  The worst possible situation we could encounter on this earth – written down for us to see that no matter how hard our days and our times – we will never have a story like Job’s on this earth.  You wrote it down for a witness.  And after it was all taken away, Job still declared, “ Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”  Job knew You Father and all his eggs were in Your basket!    That is a place of great freedom!!  And once again, Lord, it is amazing how those truths tie with the Purpose Driven Life. . .

“Growing through Temptation” – Day 26

“Every temptation is an opportunity to do good.”  “God develops the fruit of the Spirit by allowing you to experience circumstances in which you’re tempted to express the exact opposite quality!”  Boy, Lord, is that true!

“Happiness depends on external circumstances, but joy is based on your relationship to God.”

“Patience is developed in circumstances in which we’re forced to wait and are tempted to be angry or have a short fuse.”

“Integrity is built by defeating the temptation to be dishonest; humility grows when we refuse to be prideful; and endurance develops every time you reject the temptation to give up.” 

“You will never outgrow temptation.”  “God wants you to ask him for assistance in overcoming temptation.”  “Call on me in times of trouble, I will rescue you, and you will honor me.”  Psalm 50:15

“Temptations keep us dependent upon God.” 

James 1:12  “God blesses the people who patiently endure testing.  Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”  I love the NIV Lord – “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”  Bless You Lord! 

Oh Father, carve these truths on the tablets of my heart and may they become more and more the reality of who I am.  In the name of Jesus I pr
ay and Amen. 

    

Fear not…

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

The phrase “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid” appears 66 times throughout the Bible. No, I didn’t scan the entire Bible and count them. Don’t you just love the “Search and Find” on the internet! I was reading Isaiah 43:1 & 2 to Caleb last night during our prayer time and I clung to the first two words of the passage, “Fear not.” Caleb is facing a little trial right now where he was at the wrong place at the wrong time, guilty by association, faced with his first huge life lesson, etc. and it would be easy for him to be fearful. But God doesn’t want us to fear. I found those two words very soothing to my soul last night and I prayed that Caleb would go to bed with the same comfort.

“But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ’Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze’” (Isaiah 43:1 & 2).

He who created me, He who formed me has called me by name. He knows my name! I reminded Caleb last night that God has him hemmed in. There are no waters too strong that God will not be with him; when he passes through rough rivers, they will not sweep over him. When he walks through the fire, he will not be burned. No flames will set him on fire. In other words, there will be no evidence of the fire when we come out the other side. I like the “pass through” part, don’t you? He didn’t say, “when you arrive.” He said, “when you pass through.” That means we will keep right on going and come out the other side. Of course Caleb and I then talked about the hot fire that the family has been through with Hannah. I can’t imagine that the fire could get any hotter for Mickey and Deb and it’s a pretty hot fire for the rest of us, too. But God was there and He continues to be. He calls me by name and He says, “Hope, don’t be afraid. I will be with you. Nothing will happen to Caleb that doesn’t go through me first.” God has us hemmed in so how can anyone get to us without God allowing it? They can’t! I sent Caleb to bed with a great word from the Lord, “Fear not!”

That’s my message to you today. There are no waters too rough or fire too hot for God. He is with you. Fear not.

Hope

Sharpen Me – Lavish Love – Day 25

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Father, I want You to put people in my life that FUEL my PASSION for You!  I want You to put people in my life that SHARPEN me – Your word says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  I love that!  Put people in my life that sharpen me spiritually.  And oh Dear Jesus, use my life to fuel the passion others have for You!  Use me to sharpen others.  In the strong name of Jesus I pray and Amen! 

Father, I have spent some time this morning with one of my precious sisters that sharpens me.  We get so excited talking about You – she fuels me Lord and I love to be around her.  Her love and passion for You make me hungry for more of You.  I want to know You and love You and experience You and hear from You in new and deeper ways every single day.  I don’t want to “just be a Christian” – I want to look like You, I want to be like You, I want to act like You, I want to talk like You, I want to go where You want me to go and be what You want me to be.  I don’t want to look to anyone else to tell me Lord – only to You!  And Father, You are so faithful to do that for me over and over and over in spite of me.  Oh Jesus You know how You are speaking such truth over my heart and life today through Your word – about the fire that was used in the tabernacle to burn the incense – it had to be fire that You had provided and it came from the altar of sacrifice – what symbolism Father – any fragrant offering that would come from us must come from an altar of sacrifice because You want to show us that it is about You and about dying to me, myself and I.

Oh Jesus, continue to speak to me now through Your word – I come in anticipation of what You will teach me. . .

Lord, You know one of my favorite scriptures is I John 3:1  “How great is the love the Father has LAVISHED on us that we should be called the children of God and that is what we are.”  I love that – love that has been lavished on us!!  As I am looking back over our week in the tabernacle the word lavish has appeared again with the following principles based on the scripture in Luke 7:36-50 regarding the sinful woman who anoints Jesus:

1) Fragrant worship is costly.  It comes only when what is deep inside is lavished on Christ.

2) Often, the fragrance of worship cannot truly be released until the vessel is broken.

3) Fragrant worship is not hindered by others.

4) Fragrant worship places us in right relationship with God and is an awareness of who He is

5) We cannot out-sin God’s ability to forgive.  The deepest invitations of the Christian experience are to know God and to worship Him.  Lavish worship comes from lavish love.

Father, these make me think about the love that You lavished on us.  Your love for us was costly – it cost the life of Your Son, Jesus.  Jesus was the vessel that was broken because of Your love for me.  Jesus was not hindered, not were You, in being broken for us.  He did not listen to the religious leaders, to the enemy when tempted, even to His disciples but was “set” on His course and purpose.  Jesus knew who You were and He was in right relationship with You.  I can never out sin Your ability to forgive and restore me and feel Your lavish love over me.  Oh Jesus, I desire to worship You in Spirit and in Truth and I desire for my worship of You to be a fragrant aroma.

And Father, from the Purpose Driven Life You continue to challenge and teach my heart.  Day 25 is about being transformed by Trouble.  It amazes me Lord, the truths that Hannah has highlighted in this chapter:

“It is the fire of suffering that bring forth the gold of godliness.”  Madame Guyon

“He uses circumstances to develop our character.”  The next statement Warren makes is worthy of thought – “He depends more on circumstances to make us like Jesus than he depends on our reading the Bible – You face circumstances 24 hours a day.” 

“Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days.” 

“Problems force us to look to God and depend on Him instead of ourselves.”  Oh Father, You have had me in such a place of dependence upon You and Lord, You know I desire to continue to recognize my dependence upon You.

“You’ll never know that God is all you need until God is all you’ve got.”  You’ve proven that to us, Lord – You were the only one!

And then she highlights Romans 8:28-29 – familiar scripture but with such new and deeper meaning:  “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.  For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like His Son.” 

“Everything that happens to you has spiritual significance.”

“Our hope in difficult times is not based on positive thinking, wishful thinking, or natural optimism.  It is a certainty based on the truths that god is in complete control of our universe and that he loves us.”  Oh Jesus, I am so grateful that You had written these truths over Hannah’s heart before her trouble came.  Thank You Lord!

“God’s purpose is greater than our problems, our pain, and even our sin.”

“Every problem is a character building opportunity.” 

“When you’ve been refined by trials, people can see Jesus’ reflection in you.”  Thank You Father, that I saw the reality of Jesus Christ being lived out in Hannah’s life.

“If we go through the hard times with Him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with Him.” 

“The plans I have for you are plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jer. 29:11

“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed.  If you look within, you’ll be depressed.  But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest!” 

And then Lord, what a statement to have highlighted is this:  “Pain is temporary but your reward will be eternal.”  Praise You Jesus!!

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  I Thess. 5:18

“Let the process go on until your endurance is fully developed, and you will find that you have become men of mature character. . . with no weak spots.”  James 1:3-4

“You need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion.”  Heb. 10:36

“There is a purpose behind every problem.”  Oh Father, thank You that everything is being sifted through Your hands and through it all, You continue to lavish Your love on me!  In Jesus name, Amen.