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Posts Tagged ‘God’s Power’

If I asked you, “What’s the most popular flower?”, you’d probably get the answer right. It’s the rose. En masse on the bush, they provide a striking sight—dozens of large blooms framed by dark green leaves.

 

Rose-bush

 

But most of us can’t pass by a rose-bush without leaning in close to view the soft petals, and breathe in the singular scent. To study a blossom up close enhances our appreciation.

 

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We notice the varying colors, the delicate curl of each petal, the intricate, spiraling pattern. Our sense of wonder increases the more we gaze.

Might the same be true as we study the beauty of our God? That’s what David wanted to do:

 

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(“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).

 

But how can we gaze upon an invisible God? By contemplating all his glorious attributes. One commentator described the beauty of the Lord as the harmony of his perfections. I like that.

Just as the petals of a rose create a harmony of color, pattern, symmetry, and form, so the traits of our holy God manifest a harmony of perfect grace, holiness, triunity, and power.

And though we may be acquainted with a number of God’s attributes, appreciation of their beauty expands with a close-up view—through the lenses of scripture and personal experience.  For example:

God’s beautiful grace becomes visible in the story of the prodigal son, as we witness the father actually running to welcome his wayward son home.  He throws his arms around the filthy youth, even kissing him (Luke 15:11-20).

prodigal-son

God’s glorious holiness (purity, righteousness, and separateness from everything else in the universe) is highlighted in Revelation 4:1-11 as John strains for words to describe the Lord of heaven…

… ”Seated on the Throne, suffused in gem hues of amber and flame with a nimbus of emerald…Lightning flash and thunder crash pulsed from the Throne. Seven fire-blazing torches fronted the Throne (these are the Sevenfold Spirit of God)” — vs. 3-5, The Message.  

God’s harmonious triunity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is celebrated in Ephesians 1. Paul reminds us that:

  • God the Father bestows all spiritual blessings upon us (v.3).
  • God the Son provided redemption and forgiveness of our sin (v.7).
  • God the Spirit guarantees our inheritance in heaven and gives us assurance (vs. 13b-14).

And God’s magnificent power is on display throughout scripture and creation, even in our personal lives.  Our Heavenly Father is a God of infinite wisdom, unfailing guidance, strong empowerment, attentive care, competent help,  rich blessings, and more.

We can contemplate each of these attributes as we would the individual petals of a perfect rose.  We can remember occasions when he has demonstrated each trait in our lives.  And perhaps we’ll burst into song as Moses did:

 

who-is-like-you

(“Who among the god is like you, O Lord?  Who is like you–majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” — Exodus 15:11).

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

My heart fills with wonder and praise, O Lord, because you are a beautiful, holy God.  No one is your equal in power, wisdom, creativity, splendor, or love.  No one else is perfect in all he does.  And you, in all your holy glory are  My.  Heavenly.  Father.   Such statements are too glorious to comprehend!  

But oh, how grateful I am that they are true.

(Photo & art credits:  www.dorsetcereals.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.ameliarhodes.com; http://www.luke-15.org; http://www.praisejesustoday.com.)

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(As most of you know, Steve will soon be retiring from the pastorate, after serving forty years in Florida. Mid-June we move to the Midwest, to be close to our sons and their families. If our daughter and her family would just move east from Washington State, life would be near-perfect!

No doubt you’re also aware that packing and unpacking are time-consuming tasks, so I’m putting the blog on hold for a few weeks. But please continue to visit! I’ll re-blog some previous posts, and hopefully you’ll find them meaningful again, or perhaps for the first time.

The following post was first published 11-7-13.)

 

tears

 

Before my friend, Elizabeth, said a word, I knew something was wrong. The slump of her shoulders, the wrinkled brow, the tears welling up in her eyes–they spoke loud and clear.

“You know how Michael and I would like to have a little brother or sister for Ashley,” my friend said, dabbing her eyes with Kleenex. “Well, it’s become more than just a desire for me. I so desperately want another child.” Her voice became tight. “The waiting and uncertainty are becoming unbearable.”

We stood together, in the emptying sanctuary after church, arms entwined. And I prayed for Elizabeth and Michael.

Psalm 113:9, a verse which had ministered to me years before, came to mind. I included the promise in my prayer: “God, you’ve promised ‘to settle the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children.’ We are claiming that promise today for Michael and Elizabeth. Even now we look forward to the day when they are holding a precious, new baby in their arms.”

Note the verse says children, not child.

The prayer came out of my mouth with certainty and brazen expectation, not in keeping with my cautious personality at all. I have to admit, the thought crossed my mind, What if God intends for Elizabeth and Michael to have just one child? You’ve gone way out on a limb with that prayer!

But I voiced no disclaimers. I let the prayer stand on its foundation of conviction–conviction that didn’t come from my spirit as much as from the Holy Spirit.

For the weeks that followed, I continued to pray that God would bless this couple with another child.

Weeks later, Elizabeth approached me once again. Before she said a word, I knew what she was going to say. Her outspread arms, wide grin, and sparkling eyes spoke loud and clear.

“I’m pregnant!” she cried.

We hugged each other tight and noisily exclaimed our jubilation.

Would I have been as excited had I not been praying for this family? Delighted, yes. But jump-up-and-down ecstatic? Probably not.

My joy was greatly expanded because I had invested myself in the outcome—with the effort of prayer.

Yes, there are many reasons to pray, including these benefits:

Our wills are aligned to God’s will (Psalm 37:4).
Strength of character is developed through the discipline of perseverance (Luke 11:5-8).
We have the opportunity to bring glory to God (John 14:13).
Prayer is a means of fighting against evil (Ephesians 6:10-18, especially verse 18).

But the wonder of prayer, for me, is the privilege God gives us to be part of the process, as he engineers circumstances to accomplish his will.

Every time God moves in situations for which we’ve prayed, he is giving us a precious gift: the gift of participation with him–in a miracle.

Maybe two.

Michael and Elizabeth had twin girls!

 

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*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

Heavenly Father, thank you for the splendid privilege of participating with you in the healing, protection, provision, and guidance with which you bless others. May I never get tired of bringing my requests to you, knowing that the joyful conclusion will be worth every moment spent in prayer!

(Photo credit:  www.saveourschoolsnz.files.wordpress.com; http://www.etsy.com.)

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(As most of you know, Steve will soon be retiring from the pastorate, after serving forty years in Florida. Mid-June we move to the Midwest, to be close to our sons and their families. If our daughter and her family would just move east from Washington State, life would be near-perfect!

No doubt you’re also aware that packing and unpacking are time-consuming tasks, so I’m putting the blog on hold for a few weeks. But please continue to visit! I’ll re-blog some previous posts, and hopefully you’ll find them meaningful again, or perhaps for the first time.

The following post was first published 11-12-12.)

 

david_goliath_bible_hero_poster

 

If I asked a church group to name their favorite Bible story, David and Goliath would surely get several votes. The classic plot of underdog-beats-bully appeals to many of us. In addition, David provides a powerful example of faith in the face of fear.

This familiar story was the reading assignment during my Bible study one morning almost thirty years ago. But a new lesson awaited me that day, and has impacted my life ever since.

Following the reading of 1 Samuel 17, the study guide asked: “How did David’s past experiences of the Lord’s deliverance give him confidence to face the present challenge?” The author was referring to the bears and lions David had defeated while caring for his father’s sheep (vs. 34-36). Such experiences had prepared David to face Goliath with faith and courage.

Then came the clincher question: “What practical lessons does this teach us about the value of remembering, and the importance of proving God’s presence and power in ordinary daily living?”

I could easily recall several outstanding experiences when God’s presence and power were definitely at work in my life. But I knew there were many more which had slipped out the back door of my memory and were gone forever.

So I decided to begin writing down instances of God’s presence and power. Then when Goliath-sized problems arose in my life, I could review those entries and build up my faith.

The first incident occurred that very afternoon. I locked myself out of the house as Jeremy, our youngest, and I left to pick up his older brother and sister from school. My pastor-husband, Steve, was attending a meeting forty-five minutes away and wouldn’t be home until late that night. To make matters worse, dinner was simmering on the stove. (Remember, this happened nearly thirty years ago, before cell phones.)

I did have the car keys so we drove to school and started to pray for God to help us. Upon returning, I tried every door and window. Nothing budged. We went to a neighbor’s house. I started to call several leaders from our church, hoping someone would have a parsonage key.

During the second or third call, who should pull up in the driveway but Steve! His meeting had adjourned early. With a few spare minutes on his way to another appointment, Steve thought he’d stop by to see the kids. Our car in the neighbor’s driveway indicated where we were.

Now some folks would call that mere coincidence. Not I. That was a God-incidence, and it became the first entry in my Blessings Journal. I concluded that record with this prayer: “Thank You, Lord, for this little miracle, for proving your power and presence to me the very day I determined to look for it. You are a great and marvelous God, yet you cared for one forgetful mother with one small problem.”

(That Blessings Journal now contains over 900 entries of remarkable gifts and events.)

 

What indication of God’s presence and power have you experienced recently?  Tell us about it in the comments below!

 

(art credit: http://www.livingfaithtogether.wordpress.com)

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Does your to-do list for tomorrow include such items as:

  • Send birthday, get-well, or encouragement cards?
  • Attend a meeting or rehearsal at church?
  • Prepare for teaching a Bible study or Sunday School lesson?
  • Pick up your husband’s prescription?
  • Prepare for dinner guests?

Young woman cooking in her kitchen

Our days are often filled with small deeds. We tend to think they’re insignificant and therefore, so are we.

But that negative evaluation is not from God!

“Who despises the day of small things?” he spoke to Zechariah (4:10).

In fact, evidence indicates that God loves to take small, seemingly insignificant actions, and use them in creative, powerful ways:

  • A piece of wood thrown into bitter water turned it sweet (Exodus 15:25).
  • A cord hung from a window saved a family from destruction (Joshua 2:17-21).
  • An army of 300 defeated a powerful enemy, just by blowing trumpets and breaking clay jars to expose torchlight (Judges 7).
  • A dab of mud applied to a man’s blind eyes restored his sight (John 9).
  • Paul’s handkerchiefs and aprons became healing agents as they were laid upon the sick ((Acts 19:12).

mud

It doesn’t matter that we’re not famous, wealthy, intellectual, or strong, because it is “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,'” says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6).

Might = strength, resources, and ability.  If that describes you, wonderful!  But those blessings alone will not guarantee significance.

Power = persistence, resolve, and consistency.  Again, if you are able to power through with effort and efficiency to accomplish much, terrific!  But what’s truly important is if the effort is achieving God’s purpose.

Granted, God has given us talents and gifts, opportunities and choices.  We must be prayerful and wise in the ways we use them.

John Wesley advised:

025-All-You-Can-John-Wesley

(“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever  you can.”)

Just remember:  apart from the Lord Almighty, we accomplish nothing worthwhile (John 15:5).

On the other hand, little is much–IF God is in it.

He rejoices in what is right, you see, not necessarily in what is big.

So, when you feel like a nobody who’s accomplishing nothing, be mindful of this:

Does the place you’re called to labor

Seem small and little known?

It is great if God is in it

And He’ll not forget His own.

–Kitty Suffield

(Art & photo credits:  www.whattoexpect.com; http://www.auyouth.com; http://www.kokabella.com.)

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The place:  Spindletop, Texas.

The time:  1892

A group of five investors formed the Gladys City Oil Company.  Sulphur springs in the area gave them great hope that black gold lay beneath the surface, especially since gas seepages in the area would ignite if lit.

Soon the area was dotted with holes–holes that produced nothing.  Two investors pulled out.

A geologist was brought in.  More investors were convinced to take the risk.

Nine long, unproductive years went by, and  still no oil. That’s 3,285 days of discouragement, disappointment, and exhausting labor.  Yet those men would not give up.

Finally, on January 10, 1901, their long-held dreams were realized.  At the depth of 1,139 feet, the company struck oil.  And it wasn’t just a gurgling flow.  The discovery at Spindletop gave new meaning to the term, “gusher.”  The oil shot over one hundred feet into the air, spewing enough to fill 100,000 barrels a day.  It took nine days to get the well under control.  No oil field in the world, up to that time, had been so productive.

Lucas_gusher

I wonder what those men said to each other each morning, over those 3,000-plus days of working, learning, waiting, and wondering?  Surely their conversations included some positive uplift, or they would have quit.  Perhaps they made such comments as:

  • “If we don’t find oil, at least we can say we gave the effort everything we’ve got.  If we quit before all possibilities are tried?   That‘s failure.”
  • “All the signs indicate there is oil.  We cant quit!
  • “Today might be the day!”

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Just as oil is sometimes discovered by accident, so God’s blessings fall into our laps as glorious surprises. Other times,  God chooses to postpone a blessing while we dig our way through learning, working, waiting, and wondering–like the oil men of Spindletop, Texas.

How do we press on when circumstances look bleak, when common sense tells us to quit?

1.  Pray!  The key to knowing when to persevere and when to change direction is to spend time with God.  Ask him to make clear what the next step is.  Most likely he will not reveal the whole plan at once.  He rarely works that way, because it eliminates the faith factor.  Our moment-by-moment trust in him is too crucial to the abundant living he desires for us.

2.  Believe!  Dozens of promises in scripture probably apply to your situation and mine.  We can recite those promises–not as demands (“God, you said this, so I’m expecting you to do it.”) but as faith-builders.  (“God, you said this, and I know with you all things are possible.”)

3.  Fight!  Fight against discouragement with plenty of encouragement.  God is very creative in the ways he brings hope to our spirits.  Often it’s through Bible reading and other Christian material.  We must keep reading!  Sometimes it’s in a sermon or a song.  We must keep listening!

A friend or even a stranger can speak uplifting words that resonate in our hearts.  Sometimes it’s as if God is speaking directly.  One sign for me, that someone is speaking for God?  Goosebumps!  I can almost feel his light touch on my arm and his voice saying, “Pay attention to this, Nancy.”

Our God is a well of unending supply.  Whatever we need in this life, including wisdom, direction, and perseverance toward a goal, he will provide.  In fact, he will do whatever it takes for his praying, believing, fighting children to discover the oil of gladness, instead of mourning (over failure), a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

That’s one way our loving, supportive Heavenly Father displays his splendor (Isaiah 61:3).

(Photo credit:  www.en.wikipedia.org.)

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I awoke around midnight one evening in December, crept out of bed, and peeked out the loft window facing the street.  All was quiet.  No cars passed, no breeze rustled the trees.  The pavement below glowed faintly under the street lamp.

Again, around two, the same tiptoe trip to the window.  Same view; same stillness.

No, I was not watching for Santa.  I was watching for snow.

The last snowfall this Floridian witnessed was thirty-eight years ago.  So during a rare Christmas visit to Ohio, when snow was forecast during the early hours of one morning, I didn’t want to miss it.

The third time I awoke, around three o’clock, my trip to the window was rewarded.  In the dim light, I could make out large flakes falling fast and straight.

As much as I anticipated its arrival, now I looked forward to the accumulation that had been forecasted: at least several inches.

Sure enough, the pale light of morning revealed a world transformed.  Each tree branch, even every twig, appeared iced in white frosting.

And yet more snow was falling.  Now the flakes were lighter and smaller, drifting gently and softly to the ground.

Donning my coat, I slipped out to the front porch, and extended my arm.  Soon I had a lovely collection of tiny star-shaped flakes on my sleeve.  Delicate displays of lacy symmetry.  Each one a magical wonder.

The next day, under a crystalline blue sky, we rode through a nearby cemetery where the snow created an even more stunning display.  Hillsides, ancient trees, and tangles of bushes were majestically trimmed in sparkling white.  Frozen ponds glistened subtly, like great pearls.  By contrast, the streams twinkled, as if crystals had been laid out on rippling, steel-gray silk.  I oohed and aahed at every turn.

Those of you who experience snow every winter may not be so enthusiastic.  There’s a dark side to the white stuff!  Bundling up in extra clothing for outdoors, then shedding the layers for indoors.  Slow, snarled traffic.  Shoveling.  Scraping off the car.

But, oh, the beauty!  The splendor!

“He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes” (Psalm 147:16)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Thank you, O God, for the glorious wonders of your winter creation.  I marvel that you design each tiny snowflake unique from all others.  How mind-boggling to consider the millions of flakes required to cover just one tree, much less a forest or a whole region.  And  I marvel at your artistry with just one color—white!

How great and glorious you are, the almighty Creator and Sustainer of the universe! How  awe-inspiring to know you are also our loving Heavenly Father.  And that same awesome power that paints winter-white landscapes is at work in our lives, creating the beauty of holiness.   Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you. 

(photo credits:  www.r2square.wordpress.com; http://www.shutterstock.com; http://www.allposters.com; http://www.journals.worldnomads.com; http://www.dance.net.)

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Those of us who believe in Jesus are on a faith journey.

Sometimes we fly.

He carries us on eagles’ wings.

 

 

One example from scripture is God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt.  He said, “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:4).

The Israelites had done nothing to secure their release from Pharaoh.   God caused the plagues, God opened the Red Sea for the Israelites’ escape, and God destroyed the Egyptian army.

Moses and his sister, Miriam, sang a song to the Lord, to celebrate their deliverance.

 

 

“Who among the gods is like you, O Lord?  Who is like you–majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Exodus 15:11).

Has your heart soared on the euphoria of an awesome and glorious miracle?

We have.  A number of times.  One day D. called to announce she wanted to buy us a car.  Arrangements were made with a dealership; all we had to do was go and pick one out.

“Oh–and get leather seats,” she insisted.  “They’re so much more comfortable.”

Can you imagine?  What an incredible blessing!  Our hearts soared for weeks on that miracle.   Even now, more than thirteen years later, that car is a constant reminder of God’s supernatural provision.  (Yes, it’s still running smoothly!) Through D., God proved unequivocally his love and power.

Sometimes we soar; sometimes we runon supernatural strength.

We feel the supernatural power of the Spirit coursing through our veins, providing strength and passion for the task at hand.  It is a spontaneous sprint, energized by omnipotent God.

New Christians are often empowered for a running start in their burgeoning faith. Eagerly they soak up Bible knowledge in small groups and personal Bible study.

In other cases, God places a special call on someone’s life to fulfill a need.  And with the call comes supernatural strength to meet the challenge.

That’s what happened to J.B.  God infused him with a passion to upgrade the sound system of our church.  Night after night, he worked at rewiring the sanctuary.  Much of that time was spent climbing about in the rafters.  This after working each day at his business.

When I asked J.B. about exhausting himself, he assured me  he was having fun!  He didn’t feel worn out at all.  God was giving him the strength to complete the project.

Yes, it’s exhilarating to fly on eagles’ wings of miracles and run on supernatural strength.  But…

…most of the time on our faith journey, we walk.

Step by step.  Choice by choice.  Slowly approaching the destination—the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).  Sometimes the path is uphill and rocky.  We strain with effort to make progress.  Some days the path is winding, and we cannot see ahead.

Yet in spite of struggle and uncertainty, the walk can still bring much pleasure to the heart.  “Blessed are those…who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord” (Psalm 89:15).  You see, we do not walk alone.  The Company we keep makes all the difference.

Walking in faith involves plenty of ordinary tasks and days without miracles. Children to care for.  Laundry to do.  Meals to cook.  Calls to make.   Students to teach.  Sales to close.

But!  Whatever needs to be accomplished, we can walk through it and not collapse under the repetition and frustration.  How?  By inviting God to walk with us.

 

 

Years ago, when our three children were young, my life was a routine of laundry, cleaning, cooking, errands, and child care.  I was not one of those mothers who derived great fulfillment from these tasks.  Instead of walking joyfully through each day,  I often plodded.

Then I came across Colossians 3:23-24.  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

In the margin of my Bible, next to those verses, I wrote, “including housework!”  I wanted Who I served to be more important than what I was doing.  Plodding didn’t end once and for all, but I learned to walk at a believer’s pace more frequently, as I invited God to cook, clean, and launder with me!

Those verbs–soar, run, and walk–are found in Isaiah 40:31, in that order:

 

 

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Perhaps soaring is first because  the euphoric wonder of flying on eagle’s wings seizes our attention with intensity.

Running is second.  Adrenalin runs high during spurts of divinely inspired growth and service.

And walking is last.  Did God save the most important until the end?  Because it’s in the persevering that we become strong.  It’s in the trusting  that our faith grows deep.  And it’s in practicing his presence that we learn consistency of character.

So revel in occasional soaring.  Rejoice in periodic  running.  But take deep satisfaction in the day-by-day walk on the paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3).

 

“Come…let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5)!

(photo credits:  www.betterphoto.com; http://www.linksterdiversions.blogspot.com; http://www.BlackburnNews.com; http://www.foxnews.com; http://www.photobucket.som/user/jamiesolome/media.com; http://www.faithgateway.com; http://www.pinterest.com)

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Before my friend, Elizabeth, even spoke, I knew something was wrong.  The slump of her shoulders, the wrinkled brow, the tears welling up in her eyes–they spoke loud and clear.

“You know how Michael and I would like to have a little brother or sister for Ashley,” my friend said, dabbing at her eyes with a Kleenex.  “Well, it’s become more than just a desire for me.  I so desperately want another child.”  Her voice became tight.  “The waiting and uncertainty are becoming unbearable.”

We stood together, in the emptying sanctuary after church, arms entwined.  And I prayed for Elizabeth and Michael.

Psalm 113:9, a verse which had ministered to me years before, came to mind.  I included the promise in my prayer:  “God, you’ve promised ‘to settle the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children.’  We are claiming that promise today for Michael and Elizabeth.  Even now we look forward to the day when they are holding a new, precious baby in their arms.”

Note the verse says children, not child.

The prayer came out of my mouth with certainty and brazen expectation, not in keeping with my cautious personality at all.  I have to admit, the thought crossed my mind, What if God intends for Elizabeth and Michael to have just one child?  You’ve gone way out on a limb with that prayer!

But I voiced no disclaimers, no caveats.  I let the prayer stand on its foundation of conviction–conviction that didn’t come from my spirit as much as from the Holy Spirit.

For the weeks that followed, I continued to pray that God would bless this couple with another child.

Weeks later, Elizabeth approached me once again.  Even before she spoke, I knew what she was going to say.  Her outspread arms, wide grin, and sparkling eyes spoke loud and clear.

“I’m pregnant!” she cried.

We hugged each other tight and noisily exclaimed our jubilation.

Would I have been as excited had I not been praying for this family?  Delighted, yes.  But jump-up-and-down-ecstatic?  Probably not.  My joy was greatly expanded because I had invested myself in the outcome—with the effort of prayer.

Yes, there are many reasons to pray, including these benefits:

  • Our wills are aligned to God’s will (Psalm 37:4).
  • Strength of character is developed through the discipline of perseverance (Luke 11:5-8).
  • We have the opportunity to bring glory to God (John 14:13).
  • Prayer is a means for fighting against evil (Ephesians 6:10-18, especially verse 18).

But the wonder of prayer, for me, is the privilege God gives us, to be part of the process, as he engineers circumstances to accomplish his will.

Every time God moves in situations for which we’ve prayed, he is giving us a precious gift:  the gift of participation with him–in a miracle.

Maybe two.

Michael and Elizabeth had twin girls!

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Heavenly Father, thank you for the splendid privilege of participating with you in the healing, protection, provision, and guidance with which you bless others.  May I never get tired of bringing my requests to you, knowing that the joyful conclusion will be worth every moment spent in prayer!

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Last fall I read there were more than 150 million blogs on the internet, with approximately 175,000 new ones being launched daily.  At that rate, cyberspace now includes over 213 million blogs!

After much shopping, I have found twelve devotional blogs which I follow regularly.  I’ll introduce six today and six on Thursday–in no particular order.  After reading these sample bits, you might want to visit these blogs yourself, and discover fresh insight from…

IMG_1727…Jennifer Dukes Lee (www.jenniferdukeslee.com), wife of an Iowa farmer, mother of two daughters, professor of journalism, and author of a new book being released in early 2014.  Recently she wrote about “How to Talk Back to Fear:”

“I believe that bravery looks a lot like…believing.  And I believe that there’s really no such thing as failure, because there’s nothing unredeem-able in the hands of Christ.”

Smart woman, that Jennifer.

…Holley Gerth (www.holleygerth.com), life coach and author, tackled the topic, “When You’re Worried What People Think.”

First, Holley quoted 1 Corinthians 4:3 (MSG):  “It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion…Comparisons in these matters are pointless.”

Holley says.  “When I care very little what other people think of me then I’ve suddenly got room to care a lot about other people.”

Quite insightful, don’t you agree?

Unshakable Hope…Unshakable Hope (www.unshakablehope.wordpress.com), written by Bill, married more than twenty-five years, father of two daughters, diagnosed in 1996 with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  Bill has very little mobility, yet his spirit is more vibrant than ever.

On February 21, 2013, Bill wrote about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3).  They were about to be thrown into King Nebucadnezzar’s furnace and boldly proclaimed, “The God we serve is able to save us…, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not…we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up (vs. 17-18).

Bill says, “For me, this is more than a great example of strong faith.  I believe this is a pattern of faith that all Christians should emulate regardless of challenges we might be facing.  We can proclaim that, ‘Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from [insert your trial here].  BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT…we are not going to serve…doubt, fear, worry, hopelessness or anything else that destroys faith, hope, joy and peace.’

Strong words from a man of deep strength.

…Morning Story & Dilbert (http://www.morningstoryanddilbert.wordpress.com).  Kenny gleans thought-provoking posts from many sources and serves them up with a Dilbert cartoon — something for the mind and heart; something for the funny bone!

Recently Kenny included an anecdote about Abraham Lincoln, highlighting the president’s humility.  Although Lincoln was wise, responsible, and persevering, surely humility was one of the supreme qualities that contributed to his strong leadership.

Here’s the story Kenny shared:

“After the Battle of Gettysburg, General Robert E. Lee and his Confederate forces were withdrawing to Virginia, and Lincoln felt that they were vulnerable. Eager to get the agony of the war over with, President Lincoln sent word to General Meade to attack.

“With his message, Lincoln also sent a personal note. ‘The order I enclose is not on record,’ said the note. ‘If you succeed, you need not publish it. Then, if you succeed, you will have all the credit of the movement. If not, I’ll take the responsibility.’”

Taking responsibility for failure, but giving others the credit for success.  Now that’s humility.

…Jean Wise of “Healthy Spirituality” (www.healthyspirituality.org), is a former nurse, but now focuses her time on writing My Photoand speaking.

On September 24, 2013, she shared the story of second-string quarterback, Kenny Guiton, of the Ohio State Buckeyes.  Opportunities to get in the game have been few for this senior, but Kenny is always prepared.  Then, on a recent Saturday, he not only had a chance to play, Kenny scored a record six touchdowns!

In contemplating Kenny’s story, Jean said, “My job is to be faithful. To enter each day relying on God’s love and guidance.  To show up every morning with an open mind and heart.  To say to our heavenly coach, ‘Here I am, Lord.  What position do you need me to play today?’  To be ready when He calls me off the bench.  To wait and let God form me as He wills till His time is right.’”

Jean’s prayer resonates with my heart, too.

Diana Trautwein…Diana Trautwein‘s musings at “Just Wondering” (www.dianatrautwein,com).  She’s the mother of three, grandmother of 8, and a graduate of seminary in mid-life.  Currently Diana serves as a spiritual director.  Her post on October 11, 2013 was titled, “Giving Permission to Say No.”  Her words of wisdom include:

“Saying ‘yes’ is central to a full, rich challenging life.  We need to say yes to lots of different things over the course of our [life] journey.”

But!  “Try as we might, we cannot do everything.  (Because God already has.)  We cannot save the world.  (There is only one Savior.)  And we must not work ourselves to death.  (We are meant to enjoy God, and glorify God, not assume responsibilities we were never designed to bear.)”

See what I mean?  Wise woman.

Please return on Thursday to meet six more outstanding bloggers!

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Years ago in my hometown, when the community pool was built, Dad often took my brother and me swimming.  I marveled at the way my father could slice the water with a smooth dive, roll over on his back, and float.  Without even moving his arms and legs, he could remain on top of the water.  Amazing!

When I tried it, I sank–immediately.

“Daddy!  Show me how to float!” I cried.

First, he helped me to lie flat-out on top of the water.  His hand gently supported the middle of my back.  And then Dad said the strangest thing.

“Now, relax.”

What?!  Every fiber of my being was tense.  I just knew that if I relaxed, my nose would instantly fill up with heavily chlorinated water.

But I trusted Dad.  He wouldn’t trick me into a catastrophe.  So I tried to relax.

Easier said than done.  Try as I might, my body would not relax.  My focus was more on the possibility of sinking than it was on the one thing that would keep me afloat.

“That’s OK,” Dad probably said.  “This is just your first try.  Keep practicing, and all of a sudden you’ll get the feel of it.  That’s how it happened for me.”

This experience came to mind as I read Charles Spurgeon’s comment on an excerpt from Isaiah 30:15.

First, the scripture-excerpt:  “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

And now, the Spurgeon quote:  “We are sinking by our struggles when we might float by faith.”

But learning to relax in the spiritual realm is just as difficult as it was to relax on my back in that swimming pool.  It is so much easier said than done–at least for me.

Why is fretting and worrying my default mode?  It’s so pointless.  Resting in God is the only way to hope and peace (Psalm 62:5).

The big question is how.  How can I relax into quiet confidence that will be my strength, and keep me afloat?

Perhaps the answer is in that word practice.  As I reaffirm over and over God’s glorious attributes, as I review His wonderful promises, my focus will change and my spirit will learn how to rest.

What attributes might be wise to focus on?  King David included a number of them in his glorious psalm of thanksgiving, found in 1 Chronicles 16:8-36:

  • Power (vs. 9, 12, 14) – He is able to work wonders.
  • Integrity (v. 15) – He is totally trustworthy.
  • Holiness (v. 29) – He is absolutely pure and righteous, totally set apart from anyone else in the universe.
  • Goodness (v. 34) – His blessings to us are bountiful and frequently displayed.
  • Love (v. 34) – Not based on our paltry deeds, but on his kind and gracious nature.

And what promises would build my confidence?  Here are three for a good start:

  • “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.  He is a shield for all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 18:30).
  • “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
  • “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.  These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them” (Isaiah 42:16).

Notice:  He promises protection, provision, and guidance.  Everything we might face is covered.

Thinking back to those summer days at the community pool, I’m reminded of two things that happen when we float:  1) Our eyes are focused upward.  2) Our ears cannot hear very well, situated as they are beneath the surface.  Noise is silenced.

Those two things need to happen in the spiritual realm if we’re to float by faith.  Our eyes need to be focused upward on our powerful, loving, promise-keeping God, and our ears need to be stopped to the voices of worry.

The former will undoubtedly take care of the latter.

(Photo credits:  www.sciforums.com ; www.dailyencouragement.net ; www.flickr.com ; www.confessionsofasmowflake.com )

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