Seasons!

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” Ecclesiastes 3:1

The other day as I was going through the front gate of our little community I noticed that the Bradford Pear trees were budding out.  Yesterday I noticed the Redbud Tree in my front yard has little sprouts coming out! I love Spring!! But was it really just 3 weeks ago when the whole South it seemed was covered under a blanket of snow and ice?  Well from Texas to Mississippi was anyway. Where I live, we were on the fringes of it. The weather system that brought snow and ice to the south turned northward just before it got to us so we saw very little of it. Just enough to wreak a little havoc but not enough to get very many pretty pictures.   

Anyway seeing those trees bud out has gotten me to thinking about the changing of seasons. I think God was very clever and wise to bring us seasons. It seems that Spring always comes just when we begin to think we are all going to get frostbite and turn into popsicles. I love how Spring brings hope. 

Then Summer! Maybe my favorite season of all. Even though Summer in Mississippi will make you feel like you are about to melt. I love getting out a beach chair and sitting in the sun and reading a good book, whether I am on a beach or on a dock sitting by the lake. I have even sat on our pontoon boat with it docked just so I could feel it sway in the water while I read a good book and took a nap. 

And it always seems that when we get really tired of being so hot, Fall is just around the corner and our thoughts turn to all things Fall, like pumpkins and hayrides and apples and spices. The leaves begin to fall and there is a crispness to the air. 

Winter is probably my least favorite time to be outside. I do not like to be cold. But yet Winter is redeemed because it has my favorite holiday of all. I also like to sit in front of a warm cozy fire and read a book! 

I love that God gave us seasons that change. I think that there is a lot to learn from them. I have had seasons of my life too. The growing up years, the teen years, the young adult years, the raising kids years and now I guess the grandparenting years. I think one of the reasons God gave us the seasons that change year after year is to teach us that things are always changing. If you don’t like one season just wait, the next season is right around the corner. But I also think there is something to savor in every season of the year just as there is in every season of life. The rest of Ecclesiastes goes through a list of things that change. I know you have probably read it, but if not, go back and read verses 2-8 again. Let it do in your heart what I think it is meant to do. At least what God does in my heart. If you are in a season of unsure or hurt or pain, know this that it is a season and as sure as the seasons of the year change the seasons of our lives change as well. Be encouraged that even though you may be in a time of mourning if you keep on clinging to Him, He will bring you into a time of dancing again! 

Lift your eyes!

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. 

He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. 

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. 

The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”  Psalm 121

I want to end this little series on prayer with this Psalm because I hope that above all that has been said here that we have all come to realize that if we keep lifting our eyes up to Him that He is where our help comes from. 

David penned this Psalm. I found no definitive answer as to when he may have written it. Whether David penned this when he was on the run from Saul or after he became king. Some say it is the “soldier’s psalm” or the “traveller’s psalm”. What we do know is that David was the man after God’s own heart, and if you study David’s life the encouraging thing to me is that even when David didn’t get things right, he knew where to return. He knew where his help would come from. Following Jesus does not mean that we will have a perfect life nor does it mean that we will always do everything perfect. We will fail, we will have circumstances that hurt us, and we will sometimes have no idea what the next step needs to be. But if we keep turning to Him, He will be our help. He doesn’t sleep, He will shelter us from the storms of life and if and when they come anyway, He will carry you through them. He will help us to keep away from evil and He will be our guide to our next steps in the day to day decisions of life. I pray this series on prayer has encouraged you.

Keep lifting your eyes to the hills my friends. Your help comes from the Lord!

Casting Prayers!

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

We talked yesterday about coming boldly to the throne of God but even though we come boldly we must come with a humble spirit. The verse just before this one quotes a Proverb. 

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 

What does It even mean that God opposes the proud. Some translations say resists the proud. When I picture someone who is proud, I picture someone who has it all together. Someone who has everything the world would have to offer them. They would be someone who is independent, self reliant, maybe successful in the business world, has material things, and generally someone who does not see their need for God. This is not to say that owning things and having success is a bad thing, it is our attitude toward these things that show whether we are proud or humble. I have known people who had “things” and yet they knew the place of those things and I have known people who wrapped up their whole identity in their success and things. When this says God opposes the proud, I also do not believe that it means God opposes the person, but that God opposes the attitude of the person. We know that everyone can approach the throne of Grace. But the blessings that we receive from God are based upon our attitude when we approach the throne. Let’s face it, someone who is putting all of their hopes and dreams on their own material wealth and gain and their own abilities does not come to God wanting His direction in their life, they just want His blessings. 

But! When we humble ourselves, when we realize that we want to live in the grace that only God can provide to us and we come to Him and submit to His will and His way in our lives then God really will bless us. The blessings may or may not be material but the blessing of it all is living in His grace and letting Him be our daily guide as we walk out our faith. 

My favorite part of this passage is verse 7, “casting all your anxieties on him”. I have mentioned before that at times I picture myself dragging this heavy bag of burdens to the cross and laying them down one by one. But this verse gives the picture of “casting”. When you cast something you are not gently laying it down, you are throwing it down. Maybe even hurling it down. What are the things that make you anxious right now? Is it a diagnosis? Is it someone in your family who has died too young? Is it someone who is sick and there is no recovery in sight, or the recovery is long and uncertain? Is it a child that has gone a different path, maybe a destructive path than what you ever dreamed they would go? Is it a divorce? Or a broken friendship? These are the things that we don’t just lay at the foot of the cross, we throw them down at the cross. Have you ever been so angry or emotional over something that you wanted to just throw things? Oh I have. And sometimes it can be satisfying to hear things shatter when you throw them down. I think sometimes there are worries and anxieties that we are dealing with that the only real response is to take them and throw them at the foot of the cross and maybe if you listen real good, you will hear those things shatter when you do. When your heart is breaking over the unfairness that this world has to offer at times, those are the times you come boldly to Him, you come with a humble heart knowing that He is the only one who can fix your heart and your situation and just throw those things at His feet. In your mind take them out and hurl them and watch them shatter into a million pieces and then let Him comfort you and let Him decide the best way to put those pieces back together. Because He cares for you! And because ~~

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Cast them down my friend, whatever is hurting your heart today, CAST those worries down at the feet of Jesus! 

Come Boldly!

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

This is one of my all time very favorite verses!!! Every time I read this verse it fills me with wonder and awe and joy and humility! Jesus is our high priest! When he died on the cross the veil tore between the Holy of Holies and humanity and gave us access to the throne of God. We don’t have to go to another person, not a priest or a pastor or anyone to act as a mediator between us and God! But even more awe inspiring is that Jesus had taken on humanity and he had walked the earth and he felt pain and he felt joy and he knows what it’s like to walk this crazy earth with crazy people and yet, he kept His perfection by not sinning! 

It’s like this, when you are going through something and you feel you really need to talk to someone wouldn’t you rather talk with someone who has been there. I know when I lost my parents, I realized that I had never fully understood what it was like to lose parents until I lost mine. I could sympathize with people who had walked that path but I couldn’t empathize with them. Same thing when I lost my sister, the people who really touched the pain deep in my heart were the people who had been there, the people who had experienced the same pain that I was experiencing. Jesus took on flesh and blood and he walked this earth. He got dirty and had to bathe, he ate food, he experienced pain and he experienced happy times and sad times, yet he handled everything that came His way when he was walking this earth rightly, without sin. Jesus knew weakness but he did not know sin. When we think of that it may make you think Jesus can’t possibly know what we are going through because of His perfection, because He did not sin. In my study I found a quote by Spurgeon (I love Spurgeon, he has some of the best statements!). 

“But listen to me; do not imagine that if the Lord Jesus had sinned he would have been any more tender toward you; for sin is always of a hardening nature. If the Christ of God could have sinned, he would have lost the perfection of his sympathetic nature.”

I had never thought of this in that way but it’s true when I think of people who fall into a lifestyle of sin, they become hard and bitter. Whether your lifestyle of sin is outward (sins like abuse of alcohol or drugs, or sins against the body, pornography or lust) or inward (harboring unforgiveness, pride, greed), sin will make you hard and bitter. Jesus never became hard and bitter because he did not sin! He experienced earth in the most perfect way! Which brings us to the most awesome thought that we can approach His throne of Grace! 

I love how some translations say “come boldly”! Jesus in all His perfection and in all His humanity has a throne of grace that we can come boldly and walk right up to Him and lay all of our troubles, our worries, our doubts, our fears, our anger, our sin, and yes even our hopes and our dreams down in front of Him. And when we bring all of our imperfect selves to the perfect Jesus, we don’t receive condemnation and/or even ridicule from Him. We receive mercy and grace. Mercy is we are not getting what we deserve. We truly deserve condemnation and judgement but we aren’t getting that from Him. And we don’t deserve the grace (the love, the forgiveness, the peace) but that is what we gain. 

Bring it all to Him, bring all the ugly that may have crept in your heart because of living in this old world! And bring your hopes and your dreams and lay them all down at the throne of grace and you will receive mercy and grace from Him.  Come boldly! 

Persistent Prayer!

“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Luke 18:1

Jesus is about to tell them a story about persistent prayer, and the key here is the last phrase “and not lose heart”. Sometimes it’s hard not to lose heart when we are praying for something and we feel that our prayers are ‘not reaching the ceiling’! At times we feel like we have prayed for something for so long we doubt if God is listening or if He will ever give us an answer to our prayers. Jesus acknowledges that right here when he is instructing us to pray and not lose heart. 

“He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’’ And the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

In this parable, Jesus is explaining to them that this woman, who is requesting justice from this judge, who was an ungodly man who didn’t have any respect for God nor for man, basically wore him out. She requested justice to the point that he gave it to her just to shut her up. I wonder sometimes if I have simply worn God out with my requests. And He gets to the point He will answer me just to shut me up.  But that is not what Jesus is saying at all.  What He is saying is if this woman can get her requests answered because she wore the ungodly judge out, how much more will our heavenly Father give us an answer because He loves us. When we cry out to Him day and night, it is not that we are wearing Him out and that His patience wears thin. What it is is that we will move the heart of God when we cry out to Him day and night. God desires to answer our prayers when we have come to Him over the same thing day in and day out because He loves us not because He is tired of us. While this woman’s persistence wore on the judges nerves, our persistence in prayer moves God! You see this woman came to an ungodly judge who was unjust, but we come to our God who is perfect and He loves us, He is kind, He knows us and He wants good for us! We can know that God has started working on our behalf with the first prayer, but we can build our relationship, and our faith and our hope by coming to Him in prayer persistently over the things that trouble us. 

I can also attest to this, that at times my persistence in prayer will end up changing what I am praying for. I may start out praying for a certain thing and by the time I feel the answer comes I find that my requests have transformed into something different. I have said it here before, prayer ends up changing me way more than I get what I am praying for. That is why I also try to always pray that if I am praying the wrong thing that God will show me and will change my heart. And He has many times done that for me. Sometimes my requests may be answered closely to what I have prayed but at other times God changes my heart. And when this happens I can look back and marvel over the way He answers. It is usually better than I could have ever thought to pray for! 

I hope that when Jesus returns or He takes me home that he will look at me and say that He found me faithful on earth because of my persistence in bringing my requests to Him. 

Holy Spirit Prayers

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27

So what do we pray when we just don’t know what to pray? Friends have you ever been there? I know I have. When the situation at hand gets so intense, or so deep, or my heart feels shattered into a million little pieces, or I wonder if I will even have the strength to get myself out of bed in the morning. What do I ask God for and how do I ask Him to fix the situation? I know there have been times when I get up to have my quiet time and I sat and simply stared at my Bible and/or stared at the page where my intent was to journal out my feelings and my requests. At times like these, these are the verses that have come to my mind. 

Because I have the Holy Spirit living in me, because Jesus has moved into my heart is not a guarantee that I will never hurt again or that life will always be sunshine and lollipops. But what it is a guarantee of is that I always have a help, I have the Holy Spirit as my guide all the time, but He is also my sustainer. When I am so weak I don’t know if I can go on, I know that as long as I let Him take the reins from me, that He will help me to go on. When I don’t know what to ask God for, I simply ask Him to Be God in my circumstances. And I ask the Holy Spirit to intercede on my behalf. 

Look at the last part of verse 27 ~ “the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” This to me means that the Spirit always has the will of God in mind, and the will of God is always perfect! It is no accident that the next verse is the promise that all things work together for those that love God (v 28). Now I know that in this life there are things we never can fully grasp. Lord, why did someone have to die young? Lord, why did my husband lose his job? Lord, why is my kid going off the rails and not acting like he/she was raised to act? The only answer I can find for all of those and many more questions is we live in an imperfect, fallen world, and there are things that are happening that we in our minds can’t put answers to. For me, it never crossed my mind that one of my sisters would not grow old with me. Yet 4 years ago I received the dreaded call that my sister had passed away. I still don’t have the answer as to why that had to happen and why on earth it had to happen as suddenly as it did. We didn’t get to say things that we would have said had we known. But what I did receive was when my heart was so broken I didn’t know how to ask God to help me put it back together, I had the Holy Spirit by my side when I hurt, and when I cried and when I wondered when/if I would ever get to a place that didn’t feel like a black cloud was following me around. 

I have other times that come to my mind where I didn’t have a choice but to turn things over and ask the Holy Spirit to take over and intercede on my behalf because I just didn’t have a clue what to pray for anymore. I am so comforted and grateful that I can do that. I was listening to a podcast the other day, it was a sermon and the preacher said “faith is not thinking everything is going to turn out like we want it to, faith is knowing that we will be alright no matter how things turn out.” Sometimes that can be a hard place to get to. It may take a few sit down sessions with Jesus! You may have to drag your burdens to the cross and lay them down one by one every day before you begin to truly know in your heart that He is working it. But even when your heart doesn’t know it, look in the scriptures and cling to the promises from God that if you love Him, He is working for your ultimate good and for His perfect will. If you are in that place today where you just don’t know what to pray, then ask the Holy Spirit to take over for you. All you have to say is “God, be God in this circumstance, Your will be done! That is a prayer that will never fail you! 

Community Prayer!

“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:19-20

I believe in community prayer and these verses support that. I am very blessed to have a small community of friends who have prayed each other through some really rough times. We began meeting when our kids went to college to pray for them as they navigated life in college. We met weekly and in that time we saw these young people make good decisions and bad decisions. We saw some of them graduate college and get married. We saw miracles in their lives and in each other’s lives. We came together week after week and we prayed through and we agreed on good things for their futures and what we wanted for them in Christ. We prayed for our other children, prayed for our families, we have seen each other through losses and we have rejoiced with each other and praised God through weddings and births and blessings! We know each other’s hearts and when our hearts come together to pray for things we have seen miracles. 

One of the key words of this scripture is “agree”. As I dug into this verse, I found that the Greek word for agree means “ to symphonize”. Isn’t that beautiful? When we come together whether we are together in person or together in thought and we ask God for things in Jesus name, it is like it is music to God’s ears! I’m going to quote the paragraph I read because, well I can’t say it any better. 

“Jesus wants us to complement each other like a great orchestra. ‘It is a metaphor taken from a number of musical instruments set to a same key, and playing the same tune: here, it means a perfect agreement of the hearts, desires, wishes, and voices, of two or more persons praying to God.”

Isn’t that a beautiful way to see community prayer! I keep having the vision of when my grandlittles are here and they both start asking for something, let’s say a snack. Their sweet little voices calling my name in unison with each other is music to my ears and I will pretty much give them whatever they want when they start doing that. It brings a smile to my face and bubbles up so much joy in my heart that I can’t contain myself until I bring joy back to them. It is the best feeling. I wonder if God feels the same way when we get a group together and he hears the symphony of our voices and our hearts asking for things.  

The next key words are “in my name”. When we come together in community prayer to ask something of Him, we must be asking in Jesus name! I think many times when we get discouraged that our prayers are not being answered we may have confused the asking in His name. This means having the ultimate will of the Father in mind when we ask something. Are we praying for someone’s salvation? Well we know that it is His desire that all should come to Him and that none should perish. Keep asking and gather a community to help you! Are we praying for a certain relationship to work out or are we praying for it to work out if it is God’s will and what is best for the long run? Are we praying for a job or a move or material things? For instance, are we asking Jesus for a new car because we like the smell of a new car and we want to drive a nice shiny new car, or are we asking for a new car because we are worried the one we are driving will not get us to work and back anymore? Look at the things you are asking for and be sure that you are asking “in Jesus name”. To be asking and gathering together in His name, means He is the point, it means we know Him and we are known by Him. It means we are asking for things that would be in line with His character and nature and it means that we know that it is what Jesus would endorse. When we gather together to ask for things in His name that we know would be about His character and His work then we can know that we are gaining the ear and the heart of God and we can know that He will answer.

Pray for your Enemies

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:27-28

I guess we are going to cover some of the hard prayers this week. Yesterday we talked about when Jesus told the disciples who were in the garden with Him to “watch and pray” and we realized that this was a story for our hearts as well as for Peter and the other disciples hearts. We must pray in order to overcome our weaknesses. Well, now today may be covering one of my greatest weaknesses! To love my enemy, to do good to those who hate me, to speak good words about those who don’t speak good words about me and to pray for them? Really Lord, is this really what you expect of me? 

We also covered yesterday that all scripture is God breathed and useful for reproach and profitable for teaching so yes I am sure that Jesus means for it to teach me and not just for someone else. 

Look at this verse, first line, “I say to you who hear” that is all of us who are followers of Christ. If we are a follower of Christ we have to take all of His words not just the ones that we don’t mind applying to us. Not just the Love your neighbor part, that part is easy, well unless you have a very unlovable neighbor who could really be called an enemy.  Jesus is not telling us here if we can, or if we so desire. He is telling us to Love our enemies. Yes, even those people who are particularly nasty to you yet you don’t even know why. 

And then it’s not just so much to say we love them we are supposed to do good to them. “Do good to those who hate you” really Lord? But what if I do good to them and they don’t accept it and they continue to act like an enemy to me? I don’t see Him giving me a way out because His next line is “bless those who curse you”! Oh Lord you have got to be kidding me I am really supposed to speak good things about those unlovable people who not only don’t like me but they speak ill things of me? They are not working on loving me, why should I have to work on loving them? 

And then it gets really hard, “pray for those who abuse you” or “mistreat you” (NIV) or “spitefully use you” (NKJV) But Lord, I don’t want to pray for those who are ugly to me. I don’t want you to bless them. That’s my humanity speaking again. My human fleshly spirit sure wants to carry around the hurt when others have mistreated me. But if I am striving to be a Christian woman who loves Jesus with all of her heart then I have to follow the commands of my Savior. And that means, yes, even when I feel like I have an enemy I am supposed to extend love to them. I am not responsible for their actions I am only responsible for mine. 

You see Jesus tells us in verse 32 

“If you love those who love you what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” Luke 6:32

Loving the people who love us is not hard to do. Jesus is calling us to the hard stuff and that is to pray for everyone, not just the people we like or we love. Jesus is telling us to bless those unlovable people, to speak good words about them. My Mama always said if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. But Jesus says bless them, that means to speak good about them. And He says to do good to them. And while we are at it, I think we need to remember yesterday’s prayer and to pray to overcome our weaknesses in this regard, our very humanity at holding grudges and the not loving. 

The good news is that Jesus does end this command with a blessing to us. 

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” Luke 6:35

When you extend love, blessing and kindness to the unlovely, ungrateful and ugly, you have to learn to expect nothing in return from them. But you can know that your Father in heaven sees it and the reward you receive from Him will be greater than any you can receive from your enemy. Don’t expect them to turn around, pray for them but don’t expect it back from them. But know that you will receive a blessing from your Father and that you will be a son or daughter of the Most High!  What greater reward is there than that! 

Watch and Pray!

“And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, ‘so could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’” Matthew 26:40-41

I have read these verses many times as just a recording of what happened in the Garden before Jesus was arrested and crucified. But while we are looking at prayer, I wanted to come at it from a little different approach. Really the way we should be looking at all scripture. What can I learn from it? I believe that every word of scripture is there for us to learn something from it. I also believe that these are stories of things that happened and that as I read it as a story that helps me personify it. When I started reading scripture and picturing the events in my mind as I read, it came alive for me in a way that it never had before. But let us not forget as we read the stories of what happened that there is a lesson in every word of it. 

“All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16

So let’s get back to our scripture we are studying for today in Matthew. This took place when Jesus was in the Garden and He had taken with Him Peter, James and John. He had asked them to watch out for Him while he went on a little farther away from them and prayed. And the disciples fell asleep. Now also remember this was right after the Lord’s Supper, where He had warned them that one of them was going to betray Him. And He had already told Peter that He was going to deny Him. He returns from praying and He finds them asleep. Now we can look back at this story and think “why couldn’t they see what was happening?” But as it unfolded in real time, Peter and the rest of the disciples missed a lot of clues as to what was coming next. But don’t we do the same thing many times? How many times do we in hind sight look back over events and think did I not see that coming? The lesson for us here is in those words “watch and pray”. You see I know on my own I could be a wretched woman. There is no telling how much mess I could get myself into if I were not looking out. Because I get myself in pretty big messes even with my attempts to “watch and pray”! You see Jesus knew Peter’s denial was at hand. He had already even warned Peter that it was coming. But Jesus also knew Peter’s heart was all in for Him. Peter’s spirit did not ever WANT to deny Jesus. But Peter was a man, he was human flesh, just like we are. Could Peter have pulled his bootstraps up and done what he desired? 

“Peter said to him, ‘Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!’ And the disciples said the same.” Matthew 26:35

Jesus knew that the only way Peter would have been able to keep with that resolve was through being watchful of what was coming and praying for the strength to stick with it. But before we judge Peter, let’s look at our own fleshly weaknesses. We all have them. I have lessons that I have had to learn over and over and my resolve will say I will never do that again! Whatever my “that” may be. We all have a “that”! Could it be gossip, could it be anger, could it be the negative spirit that lives inside? Could it be that drink or that substance, or porn or some other addiction? We all have a weakness brewing inside of us. We all need to be watchful and pray. By now you know that I like to read scripture in other versions. It’s like taking something and looking at it from all angles. I like how The Passion Translation reads. 

“Keep alert and pray that you’ll be spared from this time of testing. You should have learned by now that your spirit is eager enough, but your humanity is weak.” Matt. 26:41 TPT

Peter’s spirit was eager enough to follow Jesus to His death. But he had a few moments of weakness when he denied Him 3 times even before the sunrise after making that statement. My spirit is enough to say I am going to resolve to not fall into the same old traps over and over. Yet if I don’t keep my watch over my spirit and pray that the Lord will let me be mindful of that weakness I have, I will fall right into the traps before the sun rises the next day. 

Step back and look and see ~ what is your weakness? And how can you be watchful and pray over your own spirit? The spirit is willing, but without prayer our humanity is so very weak! 

I pray you have a great Monday! 

Keep Praying!

“Pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

It’s one little verse, tucked away that packs a big punch. But it’s only a part of a sentence. 

Rejoice, always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

We have talked about these verses before. “Rejoice always”, that can be hard when you’ve been stuck in your home for several days with extreme cold and no heat. That can be hard when you are still praying for that circumstance that you feel like no end will ever be in sight. That can be hard when you just got the diagnosis that seems like the world is about to come to an end. But as a christian we are not rejoicing in our circumstances, or our surroundings. Our joy is the deep down joy that only comes from following Jesus. 

To me to pray without ceasing means to have that constant communication going with Jesus all day every day. I love my mornings with Him. Whether I am having my quiet time in front of my fireplace or on my sun porch watching the sun rise over the lake, it is what keeps me going. My life would be such a wreck without it. But this praying without ceasing, or praying always, or to never stop praying. It’s about the relationship you have gained through those quiet times so that it’s just as important to you as breathing. The Passion Translation says “Make your life a prayer”! Oh isn’t that good! When you build a relationship with Jesus from having daily quiet times with Him and study His word, praying does become as much a part of your day as breathing. The things that I have on my heart that concern me are there all the time, but for me to make my life a prayer or to pray without ceasing is a knowing that He knows my heart all the time and He is taking care of it. It’s like being in a crowded room where you have gone with your spouse or even a friend and looking across the room and knowing that your person is still there with you. It’s a presence that is with you all the time when you have learned how to pray without ceasing. Jesus is with you all the time, He knows your thoughts and He knows your heart, just keep giving it over to Him, all day long every day! 

And then we “give thanks in all circumstances”. Not FOR all circumstances, not FOR all the junk and the hurt and the hardship and the pandemics and the ice storms and the storms of life in general, but IN them! Knowing that He is with you, knowing that He has our ultimate good in mind. When I am in the middle of the hard, messy, gross stuff of life and I feel like I am at the end of my rope and I know I NEED His presence. I just ask Him to show me. And He delivers every time, if I take the time to look for Him. That’s how I can give thanks even in the hard circumstances of my life. 

How have you seen Him this week? What can you be joyful for? What can you be thankful for? Above all Never stop praying! If you have that hurt you need Him to heal. Keep praying! If you have that wayward child that you don’t know when it will ever stop. Keep praying! If you have that illness that may not turn out the way you want. Keep praying! Stay in constant communication with Him and look for the ways He is communicating with You!