Wednesday, May 10, 2017

84. Growing in Prayer – Tribute to My Mother

28 “Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.”

It will be Mother’s Day this coming weekend, May 14, 2017.   The Bible tells us to honor our father and mother that it may go well with you (Ephesians 6:1-3).  Mothers are irreplaceable….good, bad or indifferent . . . . They are irreplaceable.   I know my Mother is to me.  She was my friend, soul-mate, and confidant.  She was my Mother. 

She exemplified my Heavenly Father’s forgiveness.   She would fight a circle saw for me when I was right and when I was in the wrong she let me know in uncertain terms.  We didn’t always get along through the years, but we loved each other through it all.  When the chips were down she stood in defense of me and carried my banner.

Mother was a lady with great dignity often showing her stoic English bearing and her physical stature of the Dutch.  She often called herself the Dutch woman.  Meaning she was short and stout.  To me she was beautiful.

My first memory of Mother was when I was about two.  We were in church and I was standing in the pew beside her….her arm was around me, and she was singing to the roof tops.  Mother was a presence of warmth and security.  It seems she was light.

Most of all I remember her hands.  She had very large hands as soft as velvet.  When I was a little girl her hand covered my back as she rubbed Grandma Freeman’s miracle cure for congestion, sore throats, and what “ails you”. 

She worked constantly for the comfort of her family.  She literally loved and patted her cooking on to the table for us.  Her hands cleaned, washed our clothes in black wash pots in the back yard, yet those big hands made the delicate embroidery, tucking, and smocking on the beautiful clothes I wore.  She always sang or hummed while she worked.  She worked outside the home and I remember waking in the dark of the night, she at her peddle sewing machine making my beautiful clothes.

Mother was very mischievous and such a tease!  She laughed freely and brought great joy to our family. 

She cast over me an influence which has lasted all my life. The good effects of her early training I can never lose. If it had not been for her appreciation and her faith in me at a critical time in my life, I would have never met life’s trials with the trust and faith that I survive in my Lord Jesus.

I realize in my now ancient years, I had a beautiful, secure with no fear and tender childhood that lives in me today.  The greatest gift my Mother and Daddy gave me was their love for each other….they adored each other and it permeated my brother and me.

After her 98th Birthday, she told me she was tired and was ready to go home.  A week before she breathed her last, she went to sleep…peaceably and quietly.  In the early morning hours of September 15, 2004 as I held her hand she slipped away.  I have never been as sure of anything in life as she slipped from my hand; Jesus took my Mother’s hand and led her into His Glory.  My Mother was truly a Proverbs 31 woman.

We honor our Mother’s this Sunday, May 14, 2017.  They are God’s gift to us all.  Pray for your Mother.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

82. Growing in Prayer – Real Love

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters I John 3:16

We can’t think of anytime of the year that we feel more humble as the time we celebrate our risen Christ Jesus.  Usually it is a beautiful time of year in Texas…the red buds burst forth and the pear trees burst with all their lacey blossoms.  The pansies refresh after winter and some folks jump the gun with their summer bedding plants.  I say jump the gun for there is that cold snap before Easter.  The air is shouting spring.  I think of Isaiah 55:12; You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

God in all His love for His creation as it says in John 3:16; For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  Out of God’s love we are able to enjoy this promise.  Not for any work we have done, money given or service but by God’s grace, the shed blood of Jesus Christ we live in eternity.

Have we ever thought if those who lived at that time had received Jesus in all His intent and love, we would not have had the “Via Dolorosa”.  It would not have been.  Life would be different today if people would give up their selfish desires; we could live in the peace that is Jesus Christ.  Our Nations would not be in chaos today.

We have the promise of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Because He died and shed His blood for us….for you and me….for our sins.  Because he suffered for our sins, we have the promise of seeing God in all eternity.  All we have to do is receive this glorious death and resurrection.  Move our faith to action receiving Jesus Christ in faith believing He is the way to righteousness (right relation) with God the Father. 

How can we not celebrate this Easter with shouts of joy as the spring of our year burst into glorious blooms of promise? 

It is in God’s love, a love beyond anything we can comprehend, we celebrate Jesus the risen Christ in our choice to live according to His Will. 

Jesus taught us to pray…why do we hesitate…why are we timid….why is our faith so lax we fail to pray?  Glorify our God and Father.  We encourage you to pray for our Nation, live according to God’s teachings, pray for those who are hurting.  We encourage you to celebrate joy and happiness.  We will be praying from the depths of our heart for God looks at the heart this fantastic, glorious, Easter season.  This Easter Sunday is a celebration of God’s real love (I John3:16) and we give our lives in love to our brothers and sisters.   Amen

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

81. Growing in Prayer – JUST a Folded Napkin??

And the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.  John 20:7 (NKJ)

And the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.  John 20:7 (NRSV)

I recently read a story about the “folded napkin” at Jesus’ resurrection left in the tomb.  It was an uplifting story and brought great confirmation of Jesus’ return.  As always or most times, I decided to research the story because it had such an effect on me, I wanted to share.  What I discovered was truth.  I share this with you.

The story was on Facebook that so inspired me.  Mary Magdalene went to the tomb before sun rise and found Jesus was gone and in His place were the burial wrappings tossed aside and the napkin on His face had been folded and laid to the side.  (John 20:1-10).  The story goes on to give a Hebrew custom that is not found anywhere.  The custom cited is that if the Master of the house tosses his unfolded, rumpled napkin aside he is finished eating.  If the Master folds his napkin neatly and lays it beside his plate he is returning.  So the story goes that Jesus’ folded napkin has significance that He will return.  At first I was somewhat deflated on hearing this beautiful story was not true.

On researching the story I found, a Jewish rabbi who has been a life-long Orthodox Jew, a Jewish scholar, and lives in Jerusalem, Israel, and he said he’d never heard of the custom.  I read further the only references to this story that I found are from Internet postings and emails that seem to have originated in 2007.

I mention this little experience to convey how easily it is to be deceived.  The beauty of this story is the confirmation that Jesus will return, but the danger of this story is how easily we can be lined up and directed like sheep in the wrong direction.  This story had a beautiful connotation, but what about those stories that are as infiltrating as this but have an evil connotation.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6).  If we stay in the living word and allow the Holy Spirit to give us truth, we will always be able to discern God’s truth.  If we pray the living word back to God our Father, we will be in His Will.

Does it matter whether “just a napkin” story is true?  I would say be careful who you believe.  I rest in Jesus’ Words, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also”.  (John 14:1-3)

Jesus said He would return to take us to Himself and I believe.  Until then I will  pray His Word, live in His Word and rest in His Word.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

80. Growing in Prayer – Why Do We Have Trials?

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.   –Romans 5:3-5

My husband, Doyle, and I have been through many trials in our life of eighty-six and eighty-four years.  Many times we have asked God why?  This is too much to bear.  Always by the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s love we seem to make just one more hurdle for God does not give us more than we can bear.

We pray for those each day who asks for prayers on Compass’ Prayer Wall.  Our hearts go out to each one in their suffering….it may be finances; family; children; loss; fear; and many more causes for strength in our Lord Jesus Christ.  Scripture tells us to “glory in tribulations” knowing it will produce patience, character, and hope that does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:3-5).

God takes our tribulations for His purpose to grow us more and more into the image of His Son.  We are in a sinful world and sin may come by collateral damage (choices of others) or by our own choices.  When we act, do, or think in opposition of God’s Will, one can be sure there are consequences.  The one thing we must consider when we make a bad choice the innocent may suffer even may be a husband, wife, child or extended family, etc.   Sometimes the innocent suffer because of their faithfulness to God.  In their faith through suffering they demonstrate the character of Jesus who suffered greatly so that we would know eternal life.  In our faith believing in the mighty God, trails produce Godly Character, and we are able to rejoice in our sufferings because we grow in the image of Christ Jesus.

We must be careful never to make excuses for our “trials and tribulations” if they are a result of our own wrongdoing.  We cannot justify, excuse, and clamor we had reason for our sinfulness for God looks into our Heart.  I John 1:9 says; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.  Through all of life’s trials and tribulations, we have the victory.  In faith we have Gods goodness, mercy and love to carry us through all things for Jesus Christ is all sufficient.

We have in our believing and faith in the One Living God, the Holy Spirit Who guides us through prayer anywhere, at any time about anything.  Doyle and I could not have endured our losses without PRAYER and God’s guidance.  James 1:2-5 gives us this assurance; “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  All things work for good (Romans8:28).  

Trust, pray, believe in the God of all wisdom.

Monday, February 6, 2017

79. Growing in Prayer – God’s Perfection

And He said, "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion."  --Exodus 33:19
We started a new Bible Study January 2017.  Our study book is “Devotional Classics” by Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith.  We are now in Week 4 and our assignment for this week “Gregory of Nyssa – Running the Race”.  Gregory of Nyssa lived from 331-396.  .  Gregory has been called “one of the most powerful and most original thinkers ever known in the history of the Church”.  In this devotional he uses excerpts from “The Life of Moses”; he speaks of God’s perfection.  Gregory makes this statement, “I said that it is also impossible for those who pursue the life of virtue to attain perfection”.

Let’s think about that for a moment!  If we cannot achieve perfection in pursuing virtue then why try?  We know many people who don’t pray, pursue God’s Word or try to grow more like Jesus because they feel unworthy.  God does not choose perfect people to do His service.  Look at Moses….he murdered (Exodus 2:11-12), made excuses (Exodus3:11-4:17) and disobeyed (Numbers 20:8-12).  David committed adultery (2 Samuel 11:1-5) and murder (2 Samuel 11:6-24).  Paul killed Christians (Acts 22:1-5).  We all sin.  It says in I John 1:10; 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.  We all are imperfect.  “God does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called”.

Gregory says God is Divine; He is good whose very nature is goodness.  He is known by His nature.  The opposite of good is evil.  God does not admit to the opposite; we hold the divine nature to be unlimited and infinite.  Since the Christian pursues good, and God is absolute virtue and is unlimited and infinite goodness, His goodness has no limit.  Gregory says and I quote, “Since those who know what is good by nature desire participation in it, and this good has no limit, the participant’s desire has no stopping place but stretches out with the limitless.”

I cannot read Gregory’s devotional without thinking of Psalm 119:96; I have seen the consummation of all perfection, But Your commandment is exceedingly broad.  The study note in my Bible regarding this passage says; “Consummation of all perfection:  Probably the sum total of all that is perfect from an earthly perspective, but God’s Word has no limits”.  In other words, it says God’s Word is beyond perfect.

Also I think of the scripture, Luke 18:19; "Why do you call me  good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone.

We live our lives the best we can striving for goodness, pray daily sharing an intimate relationship with our God and Father, choosing to make Jesus Christ Lord of our life, and treat each other as we would like to be treated.  We live toward a limitless perfection until the day of Glorification.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

78. Growing In Prayer – A New Year 2017

35 You ·protect me with your saving shield [ have given me the shield of your salvation/victory].  You support me with your right hand.  You have stooped to make [Your help makes] me great.  36 You ·give me a better way to live [broaden my path; [widen my steps beneath me], so ·I live as you want me to [my feet do not slip;  my ankles do not weaken].  –Psalm 18:35-36 (EXB)

We have begun a New Year….new beginnings….a new start so to speak.  New resolutions and most are broken if I know people.  As for us we do not make New Year resolutions …… because we usually break them…Comme ci, comme ├ža.

We have celebrated the birth of Christ Jesus.  All of our church services were great and beautiful.  We had a wonderful cantata by our choir.  We spent our New Year with a couple we dearly love….had dinner and played Train.  They went home early to miss all the “kooks” out on New Year’s Eve.  Doyle watched the New Year arrive alone while I snoozed it away.  As a whole, we had a good holiday season just loving our Lord, friends and each other.

I want to speak to all those who did not have a wonderful Christmas season and New Year.  As proof our Compass Prayer Wall tells the story of the hurting.  God’s Word has promises that sustain us through any worldly experience as in Romans 15:13, 13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.   As Jack Hayford says that I have often quoted, “The Grace of God by the operational Power of the Holy Spirit ….. Power beyond what we could generate.  Our hope is in the eternal God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We do not give up the hope that is given to us each day….each day is new and carries the blessings of Christ Jesus in each new sun rise.  Even when the clouds cover the sun the sun rises each morning and brings light into our world.  As the scripture above states so well God is with us and He makes us great!  35 You ·protect me with your saving shield [ have given me the shield of your salvation/victory].  You support me with your right hand.  You have stooped to make [Your help makes] me great.  36 You ·give me a better way to live [broaden my path; [widen my steps beneath me], so ·I live as you want me to [my feet do not slip;  my ankles do not weaken].  –Psalm 18:35-36 (EXB)

How do I know?  In prayer I fall to my knees to “live as You (God) want me to [live] (my feet do not slip, my ankles do not weaken)”.

I have often said my earthly Daddy gave me the image of my Heavenly Father.  My Daddy was 6’4” tall and he took every life circumstance to teach me.  When he talked to me, he always came to my level which means he stooped or squatted Indian style.  Always the lesson he taught was to build my character….make me great.  Because of him, I can envision my Heavenly Father “stooping to make me great” for I am made, and so are you, in His image.  The love He feels for us when we suffer the earthly hurts is incomprehensible, but in His Word there is hope.  The sun rises each new day and He gives us the New Day with His protection in His salvation, broaden paths, widen steps beneath us and our steps do not slip to live in His light and His promises.  We find this relationship with God through prayer!

Friday, December 2, 2016

77. Growing In Prayer – According to Your Word……

21 Then she said, “According to your words, so be it.” And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.  –Joshua 2:21

38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1-38

We trust you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Ours was great and it is with thankfulness we acknowledge the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving ushers in the Christmas season as we begin the festivities of Christ’s birth.   We celebrated the first Sunday of Advent last Sunday; our service was especially rewarding.

We acknowledge with sorrowful hearts that these upcoming celebrations don’t always bring joy to all.  They have sorrow in life; to name a few:  losses, difficult situations and family disagreements, health and financial.

Jesus gave us hope in all things.  As I have mentioned my favorite life verse is Romans 8:28.

This morning as I was reading scripture one of those “light bulb moments” appeared.  Though we had read about Rehab, the prostitute, many times these words struck me. “According to your words, so be it”. (Joshua 2:21) They instantly brought to mind, Mary’s words, Mother of Jesus.  “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)    One woman, Rahab, was dubbed a harlot.  One woman was a virgin and considered beautifully pure. 

Each woman exhibited a profound faith in the One Living God….God Almighty, Lord of Lords.  Their faith in the promises given to them was a living hope for things better to come.  In an act of faith Rahab hid and helped the two Israelites escape the city.  The Israelites promised to save her family during the battle of Jericho.  Mary acted in faith when she was told she would bear God’s Son which He would lead us into possession of eternal life. 

Joshua testifies at the end of his life:  “…….not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you……”  Joshua 23:14.  We can have faith in God’s Word and His promises.  Let us tie the scarlet cord around our hearts reminding us God gives hope in our faith to follow Him.

All this to say there is hope and joy in Jesus Christ.  Regardless of what life brings there is a living hope in our faith of the One Who gave His life that we may live.

Glory, Hallelujah to the God above!  We celebrate this Season knowing we have a Savior who loves us beyond comprehension.   It is in prayer that we sustain and grow in an intimate, close relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord as the Holy Spirit prays to the Father.  (Romans 8:26)

This Christmas Season, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing (Faith moved to action), so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope”.  Romans 15:13 (NIV)