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prayer

Thanksgiving Day Nineteen 2015

My dogs read my behavior very well. When I get out their food bowls to prepare their meals, they come and sit at my feet to watch me. When I head to the couch to sit down they come sit with me. When I get their leashes they come ready for a walk. When I run a bath and call their names, they run and hide. They determine what I am up to that involves them by studying my repetitive actions.

Satan is like that. Only better. And he has studied me longer. He cannot read my mind, but he can read my behavior. He knows what gets to me. He knows what tempts me. He will use any situation he can to trip my triggers, reduce my witness for Jesus, or even threaten my life or the lives of those I love.

In times of attack, I fight against reacting at the basest human level, not easy. . .fight, flight, or STAND. Clearly, God’s Word directs me to the third option. When everything is hunky doory I get it. When Satan is lobbing rocks and hitting targets mentally, physically, relationally, or spiritually, JUST STANDING, BELIEVING, and WAITING require reinforcement.

When the going gets tough, this child of God gets on her knees. . .sometimes the impact of Satan’s rocks knocks me there.

Sometimes I discover that rearranging the order of verses of a Psalm while interjecting my uninspired ramblings rejuvenates my prayer life. Again my devotion in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young led me to Psalm 27.

Wait for the Lord

Be strong

Take heart and

Wait for the Lord

imageCarolyn: Lord, do you know how hard it is to WAIT? Ok, I suppose you do since you are still waiting for all people to hear the gospel and place faith in you. Still, here on earth bound by appointments on calendars, other people’s agendas, and the incredibly slow moving line at Walmart, help me remember there are folks waiting for a kind word, a hot meal, and a warm bed. There are people waiting for medical test results, the return of a prodigal child, the cessation of bombing. HELP ME WAIT WITH GRACE!

I remain confident of this:

I will see the goodness of the Lord

In the Land of the Living.

Carolyn: Lord, I am confident that you are good, but I am not so sure about the rest of the people around me. Truth is I am not claiming to be good myself, but I want to be. So today, I choose to walk with you, moment by moment, showering kindness and grace as you poke me in the ribs. You know I need a well appointed nudge quite often.

Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,

for false witnesses rise up against me,

spouting malicious accusations.

“Teach me your way, Lord;

lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors”

Carolyn: Ok, this is really hard, Lord. My initial response is anger…revision: FURY. I feel this when I am the target, but I feel it a thousand times more when my family or friends are in the cross hairs of attackers. Keep me straight. Help me to ‘count it all joy’, to be ‘patient in affliction’ and to hold on to the promise you made, ‘that all things work together for good, for those called according to your purpose.’ I hate these lessons about the troubles in this world, but take heart that you have a plan–I would appreciate if you would share that with me–not just the ultimate plan, but how the heck the daily messes will be resolved. Forgive me, Lord, still learning how to wait and trust.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord

Carolyn: Lord, I am vulnerable. Give me courage for this day. Strengthen me so I can share your strength and love with others. As I walk with you, let me encourage others to walk close to you. Keep me from rushing in with ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ remedies or suggestions. Teach me the POWER OF WAITING that Your Glory can be revealed.  Amen
Psalm‬ ‭27:14-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬ with Carolyn asides

One thing I have learned in my 70 plus years, at my weakest, God’s power is at its greatest in me, in my family, in my friends, in the world….for as I pray, Satan cringes and retreats and God sends ministers of grace from many directions.

For the God whose timing is perfect..even when every indication says no..I am grateful today.

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Seek and You will Find

I will be found by you, when you search for me
No matter where you are, no matter what you’ve done
I will be found by you; I will bring you back to me
No matter to what depths of evil you have clung
I will hear your voice when you pray to me
I will heal your heart; I will set you free
when you search for me
when you search for me.

I will be found by you.
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For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29‬:‭11-14‬ NIV)

In studying Ephesians, I felt led back to Jeremiah and these verses which at a dark time in my life called me to a deeper commitment to God and like Ephesians reminded me that HIS Love will gather me in and give me purpose.

Hope this blesses anyone who reads it today.

ONE HOUR?

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Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “So, couldn’t you stay awake with me for one hour? Stay awake and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:40, 41 NET)

Lately, I have struggled with insomnia or perhaps just difficulty falling asleep, because I do fall asleep eventually. Typically, I shift, turn, deep breathe and try intentionally to fall asleep. My mind races with worries, upcoming events, list after list of uncompleted tasks. Last night I pulled out my Kindle, tilted my body so the light would not disturb Terry’s sleep and read for 15 minutes or so. I checked the clock two or three times and then miraculously I fell asleep. This process which varies slightly from one night to the next.

This morning I opened The Upper Room to the devotion for today, April 16, 2014 and found the scripture traced Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane honing in on Matthew 26:41 and as God often does when I read familiar scripture it is as if one phrase, one idea, one word becomes illuminated.

“One hour?”

That approximates the time I often spend trying to fall asleep. What if I spent that time praying? What if, I treated the myriad of thoughts, some with names as blessed requests for prayer? What if I prayed and waited with Jesus? What if I allowed the invasion of mental images rather than fighting them off and carried them to the throne of Christ?

“One hour?”

How better to spend it than waiting with Jesus.

God Answers Prayers We Have Given Up On

Zechariah and Elizabeth with John
Zechariah and Elizabeth with John
But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. (Luke 1:13 NIV)

God answers prayers we have long forgotten
God answers prayers we have dismissed as unanswered
Or even denied

When do you think Zechariah and Elizabeth had given up hope for a child of their own? When do you think their last prayer for a child was uttered or even fleetingly crossed their minds with any genuine hope of conception.

And Yet, Gabriel clearly told Zechariah, “your prayer has been heard.”

On this Sunday morning, consider the prayers once prayed fervently, pleadingly that have never been answered or that you see no possible way the answer could be yes. Those prayers on a shelf, dusty, maybe even bitter reminders, you think, of God’s “No’s”, those entreaties with squashed hopes, sometimes these very prayers are the ones God uses to demonstrate that our timing, our reasoning, our finite minds cannot begin to understand all He desires to bring out of the barren spots in our lives.

God does not forget any prayer. Just look at Zechariah and Elizabeth. He savors them as he works in us to make us ready for His ANSWER!

HOPE for TODAY…and the Future

Photo credit: crosscards.com
Photo credit: crosscards.com

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. (Jeremiah 29:11, 12 NIV)

Twenty-three years ago I happened (by God’s design) on this passage. For some reason I had never considered it before. I was at an extremely low point in my life, my job had ended, there were financial concerns and then during my morning quiet time this scripture entered my life. I literally lived clinging to these promises, believing and seeking and praying. God brought my whole family through and even carried my husband and I to a new location, where God has continued to bless us. Satan cannot destroy the purposes of God.

As I was clinging and by the way still cling to this scripture I learned an important lesson. I learned that to see this passage as a future promise, something for heaven, something for tomorrow or next year is to allow my mind to limit God. He intends it for “this day.”It may not be “Plans” like the world teaches, with goals, objectives, etc. Sort of, “in 5 years I will be trying out on ‘The Voice’ ” God’s plan may be woven into the fabric of your daily life…God’s plan may be focusing on TODAY, NOW, in the ordinary things you are doing. When you rise giving him thanks, or love your spouse even if he is grumpy or sick or just plain annoying, when you offer your voice in praise, He works His plan in your life. And know what else, He works His plan in you as you bring your vulnerability and insights to others who are covered with grace by this verse. Each of us are different and God intends those differences to work HIS plan in the world

Spiritual House Cleaning

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Create in me a pure heart, O God, 
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 NIV)

Create in me purity of heart
Renew within a steadfastness of spirit
Grace that extends to every broken part
And Peace that passes every understanding
Love that serves and Faith that does not depart
Rising from purity of heart.

What a beautiful prayer for the morning
A prayer to begin a new day
Full of hope, full of joy, fully disarming
A prayer to chart God’s way
A prayer to begin every day
To walk in God’s way

Scrub me clean of the damaging clutter
Give me a heart full of love
Fill my mind, fill my live with every word that You utter
Make your will in my life, like your will is above
Give me a heart full of love
My will like yours is above

Create in me purity of mind, heart and soul
Till your kingdom is all I behold
Strengthen the weakness that strikes me with fear
Till advancing your kingdom is all I hold dear
 Wake me to pray these words every day
That I can walk day by day in your way
and really have something praiseworthy to say

EVERYDAY!

Saturday morning, I am feeling a little lazy…not unusual. The scripture from Psalm 51, YouVersion’s verse for July 20, 2013 [https://www.youversion.com/] while familiar hit me as WOW! I should be echoing David everyday with this prayer. Not because I am not forgiven by God, but because everyday I need to come clean with Him and let the Holy Spirit have full access to clearing out anything I in my sinful self have packed for the journey. Toss out all the negative input I have entertained that comes straight from the devil. Discard the unkind thoughts, jealousies, pettiness…in general…garbage, sure to create a stench if it is allowed to sit for long. None of this stuff needs to be recycled.

So clean spiritual house with me today! Pray David’s prayer and don’t cling to one single piece of anything that is discouraging, destructive, or downright selfish…that’s it, loosen the fingers, one by one. Toss it and let the Holy Spirit fill the empty places with order, encouragement, and all those Spirit fruits…so much better. So much better prepared for any old thing the Enemy might throw your way today!!!

Spiritual House-Cleaning Lance Orndorff
Spiritual House-Cleaning
Lance Orndorff

BLESSINGS!

Photo credits: PRIZMMAGAZINE.ORG
http://messageforliving.com/floor-to-ceiling-renewal-revival/spiritual-house-cleaning

Remember Always Pray for the Turkana

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In June 1987, our daughter Brandee left with Teen Missions International’s Tanzania Team for a 5 week construction mission.  Today TMI teams have the benefit of multiple satellite connections, so updates on the team’s arrivals and departures are available.  Not so in 1987, we got one phone call when she left TMI Boot Camp in Florida to travel to JFK International in New York City.  So, we did not know the team missed the flight intended and were divided at JFK or that our daughter and the remaining team members with leader got on a plane that had turned back to NYC due to engine problems to fly to Frankfurt.  Looking back, probably best I did not know.  

Brandee loved Africa, so I developed a prayerful concern for the second largest continent with its complex history, tribes, and diverse cultures, religions and politics.  Even before she served there for 5 weeks in 1987, my in-laws had lived in Cairo, Egypt for 5 years as expatriates with an American oil company.  Then in the 1990’s, our friends, Jeff and Rita Osborne served with United World Mission in the northwestern area of Kenya, working with and coming to know the Turkana People.  My view of Africa widened as my eyes opened to the stories and pictures from the teeming streets of Cairo, the pyramids, the desert of Egypt, to the mountains of Tanzania, the Serengeti Plain, and then the arid land of the Turkana people in Kenya.  My prayer world expanded and then almost evaporated.

There are a few frightening words in this life that I have heard more often than I would ever have chosen.  Cancer is one especially when followed by Terminal.  In 2002 on a visit to supporters in the United States, Rita received that diagnosis. Electing to stay in the States near family, both Jeff and she settled temporarily in South Carolina.  I was able to visit them a few times before her death in March 2004.  My final visit was in December 2003.  At that visit, Rita gave me the necklace you see in the picture.  When she gifted me, she told me to wear it to always remember to pray for the Turkana.  I promised and have done that, and yet that too has expanded to include the work that Jeff and his wife Lucy are engaged in near Nairobi,

Lucy and Jeff
Lucy and Jeff

Ibukun and the country of Nigeria,

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and now a second generation TMI team member, Rita’s granddaughter, Joy who is in Zambia building a bridge this summer. 

TMI Zambia Team, 2013
TMI Zambia Team, 2013

The chain of silver around my neck
A filigree charm of Africa
reminds me of the times on your deck
laughter, tears, chats about heaven,
about the time you would have decorating my mansion
cramming in talks, relieving the tension
more tears, more laughter, too little time
And a chain of silver from you to me
Africa in silver filigree

The chain of silver hangs around my neck
and I finger the silver charm
as if somehow it connects us in some respect
promises made, laughter, tears, arm in arm
In heaven, girl, my mansion next to yours for sure
No talks now, so let me say this to assure
I am praying for the Turkana, for Kenya, for Jeff,
for his new wife, Lucy, who you would love
For Nigeria and a young woman named Ibukun
All these and there is more
Your granddaughter, the delightful Joy
This year in Africa, like our daughters went
For all these I pray
because I wear your chain of silver 
Africa in a tiny sliver.

It is more than silver, more precious than gold
For it reminds me of my promise to always pray
And so it expands, God’s growth unfolds
For me, for Africa, for the Kingdom of Heaven

Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia
Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia

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