Living God’s Grace – Prayer

Here we are again.

Monday.

Yeah, Monday.

What a week my family has had!

I’ve been on my knees in prayer more this past week than in a very long time.

Not that I don’t try to as the Bible says “pray without ceasing.” You know, that little phrase tucked in to I Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Rejoice always,pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

And what about that “rejoice always’.

Sometimes that is hard to do on a Monday.

When you aren’t feeling your best.

abide-in-christWhen the worries of your life seem to mount with each passing moment.

And, “give thanks.”

How do you do that when someone you love is sick.

When a grandchild has a medical issue.

When a son has an important interview.

When dear friends (family really) are overwhelmed with the closing on a new home, the young child who is sick, the hurried pace of their young, busy lives.

When a husband feels like he’s never going to feel better.

But, that’s what I Thessalonians tells me to do.

So, I try.

I give thanks for the 400 kids who attended Vacation Bible School last week at our church and especially for the 42 who came to know Jesus as their Savior and Lord.

I rejoice that the son passed his interview with flying colors and moves on to the oral boards for the new position he so desperately wants and that would mean so much to his family. (Please, God?)

I give thanks for the prodigal who showed his love and who shared his time with the family who loves him.  (Luke 15:11-32)

I lift him up in prayer, like Hannah lifted Samuel, to the God who gave him to me. (I Samuel 1:10-11)

There's no one else in the world, but you!

There’s no one else in the world, but you!

And.

I pray.

For the man with whom I’ve shared my life these 30 years.

I pray that God will renew his strength (Isaiah 40:31).

I pray for patience for him but more importantly for me (Romans 12:12).

I pray continued blessings on our family as we seek to serve the Father who was and is and always will be. (Colossians 1:1-14)

Prayer.

The single most important tool the we as Christians have. And, the greatest gift of that prayer. The one who sits at the right hand of the father and intercedes. (Romans 8:34).

 

 

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Living the Gifts of Christmas – Salvation

According to Merriam-Webster online, salvation is “deliverance from the power and effects of sin.” But to understand why salvation is important we also need to understand what sin is. I think that perhaps James sums it up best in James 4:17 where he says “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” Knowing what is good and not doing it. Breaking moral or religious rules. That is sin.

When we choose to ignore that feeling in the pit of our stomach that warns us against something. When we go along with the crowd because it’s easier than standing up for what we believe. When we purposely go against the teachings of Jesus to get what we think is the more important or impressive thing. When we step outside the will of God to live our lives as we want, instead of as He directs. All these things then are sin.

But many of us don’t think about the little things we do during the day as sin, we think of sin as the Big Ten of Exodus 20.

“And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3“You shall have no other gods before me”. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

7“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

12 “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

13“You shall not murder.”

14“You shall not commit adultery.”

15“You shall not steal.”

16“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”(ESV)

This is a pretty exhaustive list and covers anything that can and does occur during our daily lives. The people of Israel were terrified of God after witnessing His power in delivering these commandments to Moses. But Moses encouraged the people by saying, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you that the fear of him may be before you that you may not sin.” Exodus 20:20

There’s that word again. Sin.

To understand salvation we have to understand sin. And, we have to understand that sin is a real part of our lives. When the fall occurred in Genesis, man was condemned by God to live his life trying to find communion again with God. We do that through salvation. And that, through the sacrifice of Jesus “who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,” Galatians 1:4(NIV).

This month I am going to look back on my own salvation and share with you the steps I took to find my way to God and then after a long desert period to find my way back to God. I didn’t lose my salvation, I lost my zeal. I took my eyes off of God and learned that as the Bible says “The way to life – to God! – is vigorous and requires total attention.” Matthew 7:14 (Message)

I’m ready to dig in. I hope you are, too.

Lynn

Getting Ready for Christmas

I’ve had a hard time this year getting into the Christmas spirit. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been sick and so I am drained by the time I get home in the evenings, or if it’s because I’ve lost a little of my faith this year. The wonder and grace that this holiest of seasons normally holds for me seems to be lost this year in the hustle and bustle of work, worry and weariness. I know that part of the reason is because I am choosing to let the world creep in to what should be a spiritual time, and I know that I also am still grieving the loss of my mom in 2010, but those are just excuses. And poor ones at that. I’m choosing to not “be still” as God directs us and I’m choosing to not spend time in prayer and study because I am ashamed of how I have allowed this year to take a toll on my faith and my belief.

But why? I have so much to be thankful for and so much to rejoice over. I shouldn’t be questioning the wonder of the season or the majesty of the birth, but rather I should be embracing the gift that is Jesus Christ our Lord. I see Him all around me. I experience His grace every day. Yet now, when I should be rapt with joy and proclaiming the Messiah, I find my mouth stilled and my written words scarce.

I know the answer to why. I just don’t want to take the time to deal with the answer to the question. I hear God speaking to me, tugging on my heart strings, pleading with me to be who He wants me to be, but I resist. I know He has a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and I know He wants me to be content (Philipians 4:12) but I can’t see or feel either and that is why I can’t get ready for Christmas this year. Avoidance is something I do well. It’s something the Father deals with me on daily.

And, so, I cry out to Him “Father, forgive my unbelief.” Christmas is the most special time of the year. This Christmas I want to find my way back to the wonder of the season without the need for presents under a tree or more food on my table than any one family should have. I want to find the wonder of Christmas in the Christ of Christmas. Only this, and nothing more.

Will you join me? Starting tomorrow I am going to begin to post “The Twelve Gifts of Christmas”, something I wrote a year or so ago. My prayer is that reliving the words and rereading the scripture will help me find Him again this Christmas. I hope you’ll join me.

Lynn

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