James, Love, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Psalm

5.10.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Keep Praying

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Luke 18:1 says, “Now he told them a parable on the need for them to pray always and not give up.”
The passage goes on with Jesus sharing a parable about a persistent woman who relentlessly put her case before the judge before he eventually ruled in her favor.
It’s hard to pray repeatedly for the same thing.
In these situations when it feels like God is silent, we have to pause and reflect on our request.
Are we praying for something within God’s will?
Psalm 37:4 tells us that “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”
When we truly seek, worship, praise, and love God—in other words, when we’ve taken delight in the Lord—His will becomes our will and we will naturally pray accordingly.
But what if what we’re asking for isn’t that clear?
Maybe we’re asking for a new job.
Something that isn’t really bad for us, but we’re not sure if God wants us to accept it or not.
Or we’re praying for a new car.
We can make an argument that the one we have is older and needs some repairs, but is the request for a new car legit or is it a way to keep up with social status?
Motives matter in prayer, according to James 4:3, which says, “You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
God knows our hearts and motives.
And also, God will never endorse sinful requests.
But if the prayer we’re praying does line up with God’s will, and we know that then pray, keep praying, then pray some more.
Never give up.
Jesus’ parable is one of encouragement.
Keep showing up at the Throne of Grace with your prayers.
Keep petitioning God.
Pull from Scripture and remind Him of His promises.
He doesn’t need the reminder but it reassures your heart and motivates you to keep praying.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for the story of the persistent woman and the encouragement to keep praying.
Ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen you and if necessary, search your heart and motives.

Love, Prayer Prompt

8.21.17 Prayer Prompt: I Love You, Lord

PRAYER PROMPT ••• Yesterday at church, the men’s quartet sang the hymn, “I Love You, Lord.” 
As I listened, I wondered how many feel like that. 
There were years in my life when I called myself a Christian, but had you asked me if I loved the Lord, I may have given you a deer in the headlights look before sputtering out a weak, “Yes.” 
Obviously- such an answer would be unbelievable. 
The thought stayed on my mind much of yesterday afternoon. 
I think Christians want to answer that question with a “Yes,” but is the answer an enthusiastic, joyful response? 
Or is it like the weak, half-hearted answer I described a moment ago? 
The thing is – people are fickle and we have short memories. 
We take for granted what Jesus did for us. 
We may accept the gift but does it bring us to our knees in gratitude when we think about it? 
Does our appreciation for His gift and blessings translate into actions? 
Do we show our love for Jesus? 
Or are we giving it lip service? 
If someone asked me now if I love the Lord, my answer would be an emphatic, “Yes!” 
I love Jesus with all my heart! 
But it took a process of getting to know Him through Scripture and some deep soul-searching to realize how utterly dependent I am on Him. 
The day when I first wrote, “I love you, Lord” in my prayer journal was a moment I’ll never forget. 
I was thanking Him for my blessings and the words couldn’t be contained. 
I tell Him often now that I love Him but the best way to tell anyone that you love them is through action. 
Loving others as Christ loves us is a tremendous part of loving the Lord. 
When we extend a kind hand, speak a compassionate word, smile at a stranger – these things matter. 
Today, as you pray, let the Lord know you love Him. 
Ask Him to open doors for you to put your love in action by loving others. 
And if you’re in that deer in the headlights phase where you’re not sure, pray that the Lord will help you discover the joy of loving Him with a full heart.

1 John, Isaiah, John, Love

Today Is My Birthday

Throughout my childhood, and even in my 20s, I really didn’t like my birthday.  Everyone else had a special, designated day that their families and friends celebrated THEM, but I celebrate my birthday on the biggest international holiday of the year.  My birthday presents were often wrapped in Christmas paper…  And like every other Christmas-born person, I knew to expect the combo gifts — “This is your Christmas AND Birthday present.”  I grumbled to the ones I was closest to, but once you get into your 30’s and 40’s, it’s not really a big deal anymore…  But until this year, I didn’t fully appreciate the honor of sharing my birthday with the reason we celebrate this day:  Jesus Christ.  But what a privilege it is!!!!

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  ~Isaiah 9:6

Today feels like my own personal New Year.  It’s my own new journey around the sun and this year, the Son will be a daily part of my trip.
Every day, I read a New Living Translation One Year Chronological Bible…  So unlike many today, whose Christian reading plans may take them to the story of Christ’s birth, my Bible is going in order as events unfolded…I read about the birth of Jesus back in September.   Instead, this morning, I read a passage from 1 John 4:7-21…  Click the link to read the whole passage, but for this exercise, I’m only copying a few select verses…  Side note — I tend to use various translations.  Though I read a NLT version of the Bible, I almost always post verses from the New King James Version and occasionally cross-reference to The Message.   For the sake of consistency, the NKJV is what is below:

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. ~1 John 4:9

Today is not just about a birthday.  It’s about the fact that Jesus took on a human form so that we could live!  He came to earth knowing full well that He was going to die and be the sacrificial atonement for OUR sins…  not His.  OURS.  Jesus — the perfect, blameless Lamb of God, who never sinned, willingly accepted the punishment for ours.
THAT is love.
A love that defies our understanding, but which we can freely accept and through that love, live forever!

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. ~1 John 4:11

With a love as great as that, who are we to grumble and complain about others?  The Bible tells us repeatedly that we should love our neighbors as ourselves…  yet, we live in such a loveless society.
In fact, acts of love are so random and rare, people turn to social media to share the occasional “good deed” because they are so out of the ordinary, we feel we have to celebrate them when we see them.  Wouldn’t it be nice if it were the exact opposite — acts of love and goodness be so often, they were commonplace?
We celebrate someone who leaves a big tip for the single-mother waitress and let that story go viral…  giving accolades to someone for simply doing something nice.  While it’s great that the big tip helps out the waitress, does it ever bother you a bit?  Not the act itself, but the way in which we smother the giver in accolades for simply being a decent person?
When our Lord and Savior took on the role of a human being so He could come to earth and DIE for us…  shouldn’t THAT be the story we celebrate??  Shouldn’t the good news about God’s love be what is going viral?  It’s certainly the biggest act of love I’ve ever read about…  because it IS the biggest act of love ever given!!!

We love Him because He first loved us. ~1 John 4:19

This was interesting to me as I was writing this blog…  as previously mentioned, this verse is the NKJV.  However, in the Bible that I read (again, NLT), this verse says, “We love each other because he loved us first.”
NKJV says, “We love Him.”  NLT says, “We love each other.”
We are commanded to love others, and through that love we show, we demonstrate love for God.  It works either way.

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. ~John 15:12-13

As I start my own personal new year, this time, walking with Jesus, this is my own personal new year’s resolution:  To live out the love that God asks us to live.  To remember that the greatest love story ever told began with the creation of the world, and came to earth two thousand years before my birthday.  To remember that if He could love me so much, the least I can do let His love be a reflection in my own life…  and to truly love others as I’m commanded to do…  without expecting rewards and accolades from others, but doing it out of obedience to God and the simple joy of doing something that I know makes God happy…
Merry Christmas to all of you….

Jesus, I’m sorry for ever complaining about being born on the day we celebrate You.  It is an honor to have the distinction of connecting my birthday with the day we honor YOUR birthday.  Thank you for coming to earth as a baby…  to live a perfect, sinless life…  to teach others about Your truth…  to be our great Shepherd, the Shepherd who was willing to lay down His own life for His sheep, and then, conquer death when You rose from the grave three days later.  Your death and resurrection paved the way…  it bridged the gap, enabling us to find redemption and forgiveness.  Your grace saves us…and it all happened because You love us with the purest, truest, most unconditional love…  a love greater than we can even fathom.  Thank you, dear Jesus…  and Happy Birthday!