Be a Prays-er

Prays-er” is a word used by Cindy Jacobs in the book Possessing the Gates of the Enemy. The uniqueness of this word Cindy created has given me much to think about. Most of us will say that we are pray-ers who talk to God asking for His help in situations in our own lives and in the lives of others. However, if I say I am a “prays-er” I am describing myself as a person who praises the Lord while I am praying. As a praiser, or prays-er, I choose to praise Him because of who He is, not because of what He does for me. I praise Him because He is the Creator of all things and the One who has given me life. I praise Him because He is my Savior, Lord, Healer, Deliverer, Defender, Provider, Protector, etc. He is loving, gracious, merciful and kind. God is good! He is worthy of my praise! Psalm 29:2 says, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness.” I want to fulfill this scripture by being a prays-er.

Psalms is probably the best book of the Bible for references to praise. (My Reader, you may want to do more research on your own regarding praise scriptures as I cannot begin to be inclusive in what I share. I just want to create within you a desire to become a prays-er.) Psalm 145:3 is a good starting point for praise. “Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 100:4 instructs us, “Enter gates His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Psalm 150:2 NLT says, “Praise Him for His mighty works; praise His unequaled greatness!” David and the other writers of the Psalms were definitely prays-ers!

As a leader of the Israelites, Moses sets an example of the importance of praise when he personally declares in Exodus 15:2, “The LORD is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.” Moses refers to the Israelites as well as himself when he says in Deuteronomy 10:21, “He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done these mighty miracles that you have seen with your own eyes.” Flipping a few more pages of our Bibles, we find other references to praise.
I
Chronicles 16:9 instructs, “Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts.” Reading a little further in this chapter, I Chronicles 16:25 says, “For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods.” None of these people limited their conversations with God to requests. They praised God for who He was. They were prays-ers!

Being a pray-er, requires more of us than asking God to help us and meet the needs of those around us. Paul says in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Petitions are a part of prayer but so is praise. When we praise the Lord for who He is, we will worry less because we will become more aware of His character and nature. When we praise the Lord for who He is, our faith is built up and we have the confidence to thank Him for what He is going to do. Praise is a powerful part of prayer! Be a pray-er and a prays-er!

Since there are scriptural references to praise in both the Old and New Testaments, praise is not restricted to a particular time period. In Isaiah 43:21, the Lord declares, “the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim My praise.” This is amazing! One of the reasons God created us is so that we can become prays-ers! Moving into the New Testament. we read I Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” Praise is pertinent for us today! God desires our praise – He wants us to be prays-ers!

Acts 16:25-26 tells us, “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.” The combined power of prayer and praise resulted in freedom from the bondage of prison. The same wonder-working power of God is available to us. Paul and Silas are an awesome example of prays-ers!

Praise is mentioned in the apocalyptic books of Daniel and Revelation. Daniel 2:20 says, “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His.” John says in Revelation 5:11-12, “Then I looked, and I heard the voices of many angels and living creatures and elders encircling the throne, and their number was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands. In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’” It is interesting that the angels also praise the Lord. One of my favorites scriptures is Philippians 2:9-11, “God highly exalted Him (Jesus), and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This indicates to me that I will be a prays-er not only while I am alive on earth but throughout all eternity! What a privilege!

I am a pray-er, a person who prays (talks to God), but I am also a prays-er, a person who praises (lifts God up and honors Him for who He is). I acknowledge with the prophet in Isaiah 25:1, “LORD, you are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your name, for in perfect faithfulness You have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” I personally declare Psalm 104:33, “I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” and Psalm 145:1-2, I will exalt You, my God the King; I will praise Your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise You and extol Your name for ever and ever.”

My Reader, will you be a person who praises the Lord in addition to being a person who prays to God? I encourage you with the words of Hebrews 13:15, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.” Be a prays-er!

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Jesus Sees

Jesus . . . watched the crowd
Mark 12:41

These words are found within the account often referred to as “The Widow’s Offering.” Jesus watched a multitude of people putting their money into the temple treasury, but His attention was drawn to the widow who offered only two small copper coins. Why?

Jesus saw from two different perspectives as He watched this scene play out. Visually He saw a crowd of people giving what was required out of their material wealth and a lowly woman giving as much as possible out of her lack. While spiritually seeing the hardened hearts of men who gave out of pride, Jesus’ spiritual eyes were keenly attracted to the heart of one lonely, humble woman. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

Jesus saw with physical eyes but He also saw with spiritual understanding. Many within the crowd wanted their actions to be seen while in actuality, they only gave out of necessity with a hardened heart. The widow did not want her small contribution to be noticed because she was embarrassed by how little she could give. However, Jesus saw her generous heart and was pleased. Paul gives us some guidance in II Corinthians 9:7, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

One of the names of God is El Roi, translated “the God who sees.” God’s eyes are never shut. He is awake and aware of everything and everyone He has created. He not only has visual perception but He also discerns our thoughts and intentions. His spiritual vision includes spiritual knowledge allowing Him to see with divine understanding. God is omniscient – He knows everything. We cannot hide anything from Him. He knows and sees everything about us – our thoughts, intentions, feelings, and desires as well as our actions. It has been said that we can fool some of the people some of the time but we cannot fool all the people all of the time. When it comes to our relationship with God, we cannot fool Him any time! I John 3:20 says, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”

One additional definition of “to see” refers to meeting with someone. For example, I will see you at a specific location. With this perspective in mind, how can we see and meet with the Lord personally? James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

I ask myself the question, what does God see when He watches me? Does He see agreement between my actions and the desires of my heart or does He discover some discrepancy? These are sobering questions. Too often I may be more of a Pharisee while sincerely desiring to be like the widow. Jeremiah 17:10 says, “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.”

In conclusion, we can say that Jesus not only sees our actions visually but He also sees spiritually the intents our hearts. The amazing thing is that He is still willing to see and meet with us. May we be willing to fulfill Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Jesus watched the crowd, and He is still watching us.


 

 

Leftovers Left in Our Hands (Part 2)

When I worked in a fabric store, I would create a fabric remnant if there was less than a yard of material left on a large bolt. I would measure the piece, fold it into a small parcel and mark it at a lower price. Most likely this piece would not be of value to the shopper who had plans for a big project but there was still potential use for it. A customer might purchase a remnant because it was the right amount for a specific project or one might buy it because it was a bargain that could have a potential purpose. Just because the cloth was not on a full bolt of fabric, did not mean it had to be discarded. This leftover fabric was still valuable.

Last week we looked at how Jesus uses our leftovers. (see post for August 16, 2017) This week I want us to evaluate how we use our leftovers. So, what are our leftovers? Although there are many, I want us to focus on one particular life leftover we all encounter. I am referring to the fragments of time within our days that have the potential of being useful leftovers for Gods glory. Let’s look closely at God’s perspective of our use of time.

 

There is a time for everything, and a season
for every activity under the heavens
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a good guideline for use of time. If we are giving our time to the Lord, every minute of our day, even what we might consider leftover time, will have a purpose. When we come to the conclusion of our day, there should not be any minutes unaccounted for.

And who knows but that you have come to your
royal position for such a time as this?
Esther 4:14

Personally, I want to allow the Lord to show me how to fill my day, even those moments that appear to be the odds and ends of time. God wastes nothing and neither does He want us to waste anything. We must strive to use our leftover time constructively because in God’s eye there is no such thing as leftover time. This moment may be God’s ordained time for us to take time to do something we might not otherwise do.

Do not despise these small beginnings
Zechariah 4:10

God uses small amounts of time. What may appear to be a small amount of leftover time to us, is valuable to the Lord. We do not want to waste time and allow it to turn into a useless leftover just because we do not think we have a significant amount of time. These small bits and pieces can be the beginning of big things in the hands of God.

Knowing God is sovereign over every second of our days, let’s look at three examples of odds and ends of time that we can put to use in a positive way.

WAITING AT A TRAFFIC LIGHT
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

Although we might consider it wasted time to be stopped by a red light, we can put this time to good use by praying while waiting. We can say a quick prayer for the people in the cars going by. We should not be anxious, but rather perceive the red light as a reminder for us to pray.

WAITING FOR AN APPOINTMENT
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,
just as in fact you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11

If we are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, He will show us how to occupy our time while sitting in a waiting room for an appointment. Maybe we can send a quick text to a person who is having a tough day and is in need of a word of encouragement. Why waste time doing nothing when we can be doing something constructive that will only take a couple of minutes?

TAKING A WALK
A friend loves at all times, 
Proverbs 17:17

All times” includes times when we may think we do not have time. For me, this may be taking time to chat a few minutes with a lonely neighbor in his/her yard while I am on a walk.  My minutes may give that person more moments of joy than I will ever realize. “All times” does not mean only when it is convenient for us. God’s schedule is often different from ours.

In conclusion, we discover leftovers are precious to God. Now we have to decide how precious they are to us. From our perspective, leftovers may appear to simply be bits and pieces of time cut out of our days that hinder us from accomplishing our goals. However, from God’s viewpoint, all of these minutes and moments are ordained divine appointments. Our fragments of time are valuable to the Lord. Are we willing to use our leftovers for His glory?

 

 

 

 

Leftovers Left in God’s Hands (Part 1)

I have accumulated a stash of leftover fabric from numerous sewing projects over the years. No piece is big enough to make a new skirt or a pair of curtains, yet I have kept the leftovers because I never know when I might need such a piece as this. Often when a granddaughter and I are having a sleepover, we search through my fabric resources for a craft project. Small pieces have value. Recently while sorting through my sewing stash, I was reminded of Jesus feeding the 5000 and the leftovers from that meal.

When they were filled, He said to His disciples,
“Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”
So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
John 6: 12-13

Join me as I look at these two verses of scripture phrase by phrase. Our focus will be upon the leftovers.

When they were filled”

Leftovers are what is left over after the use of the original intent of whatever commodity we have. These pieces have value beyond there first use. For me it was fabric, while for Jesus it was food. The bag lunch of one young boy placed in Jesus’ hands not only provided the meal for 5000 people but resulted in leftovers as well. I wonder how this boy felt when there were scraps of bread and morsels of fish left after everyone had lunch. Was he happy with the overabundance of food Jesus produced with what he gave or was he disappointed because not all of his offering was consumed in the way he thought it would be? Jesus did the math. He did not just add up what the boy gave, He multiplied it! We may feel disappointed if what we offer to the Lord is not totally used in the way we intended but God has much bigger plans than for us to just be satisfied with what we give to Him.

He said to His disciples . . .”

Jesus asked His disciples to pick up the leftovers. He did not do it Himself. Jesus asked His disciples to gather up the remainder of the meal because He knew the existing crumbs were important. We are not told what the disciples did with the leftovers but I think they gave the baskets of broken bread to Jesus. Maybe this was a prophetic picture of the Last Supper Jesus would share with these same disciples before His crucifixion. I want the obedience of the disciples to be an example of what I am to do with the broken pieces that are leftover from my attempts to serve the Lord.

Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”

John describes the leftovers as fragments. In Luke 9:17, the phrase “broken pieces” is used to describe the leftovers. Jesus did not want to throw away any part of the boy’s offering that had not been consumed. He did not want to see any small morsels left on the ground because they had value to Him. Like my pieces of fabric, the leftovers were just scraps that were not used for the original purpose. However, just as I may have a future use for swatches of fabric, Jesus had a use for the leftovers of the bread and fish. We do not know what Jesus did with the bread crumbs – maybe He fed them to the birds. It is not important for us to know what Jesus will do with our leftovers but it is necessary for us to give them to Him. Whatever we choose to do for the Lord may be used in ways beyond our original intents.

So they . . . filled twelve baskets with fragments”

Is there any significance that the disciples filled twelves baskets with leftovers? Possibly each basket represented the life of one disciple. Maybe each disciple had brokenness in his life that he needed to bring to Jesus so He could use their brokenness for His plans and purposes. The fragile fragments of each disciple were so important to Jesus that He wanted to deal with each one individually. The same is true for us today. We cannot lump all the shortcomings and brokenness of all people into one basket for Jesus to forgive. We must each meet Him personally.

“left over by those who had eaten” 

Leftovers provide for abundance. If I had not kept the odds and ends of various materials, I would miss out on many fun craft creations to be fashioned with my granddaughters. Today, most likely, crusts of bread and bones of fish are simply discarded. However, we never know what the Lord will do with the leftovers of our lives. Jesus still promises us that nothing will be wasted just as He revealed to the young boy with a small lunch over 2000 years ago. He will use everything, including the leftovers, according to His plans and purposes.

(Click on image to find the credit for the appropriate image.)

God’s Recipe for Lemonade

We have all heard the quote, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It is a phrase of encouragement for anyone who is encountering difficulty in life. Lemons taste sour, and so can adversity. A verse of scripture that we can apply to this concept is Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” The evil would be the lemons while the good is the lemonade. So, how do we make lemonade? I want to share with you God’s recipe for His revitalizing spiritual drink while also using a recipe of a common refreshing summertime drink.

Lemonade requires only three ingredients: lemons, sugar and water. The first ingredient I want to consider is the lemon. If life gives me a lemon, I have to do something with it in order to make lemonade. I cannot just put the whole lemon into a glass with some sugar and water. Initially, the lemon must be cut to enable me to access the fruit. I need a knife, so I take the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God according to Ephesians 6:17. God’s Word helps me to cut through all my bitter and difficult experiences. Next I squeeze the lemon to extract the juice. Romans 16:20 says, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Crushing reminds me of squeezing. God’s peace squeezes out the sourness within my disposition. The lemon juice is now available.

To the juice I add sugar. Sugar adds sweetness to the tartness of the lemon. I find sweetness depicted in scripture as love. Summarizing I Corinthians 13: 4-7, love is described as being patient, kind and not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, nor is it provoked. Love does not take into account a wrong suffered but rather rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Then Luke 6:35 tells me to love my enemies. The sweetness of sugar and love counteracts the sourness of lemons and hatred caused by my enemies.

Water is the primary ingredient of lemonade. In Revelation 22:17, the water of life is described as a free gift. And in John 7:38, Jesus says, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” Here is the water to be combined with lemon juice and sugar to complete our lemonade.

Lemons suggest sourness or difficulty in life, while lemonade is a sweet drink. Jesus says in John 16:33 NLT, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” This suggests that we can expect to find some lemons during our lives, but we also have the assurance that the Lord will take these sour pieces of fruit and help us make lemonade. According to Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” – that includes making lemonade! Romans 8:28 confirms, “that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” God will help us make lemonade out of our lemons of life. So, do not become bitter when you encounter a sour experience but remember Romans 8:37 NLT, “Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” The Lord has a glass of sweet spiritual lemonade for you rather than a sour lemon! “Taste and see that the LORD is good,” Psalm 34:8.

Joyfully,
Cheryl

*Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.

Trusting to Jump into the Pool of Life

While spending the night at a motel, we walked past the swimming pool and observed the following scene. A father was encouraging his small daughter to jump into the water. Actually, Dad was inviting the girl to jump into his arms because the father was already in the water. The little lass was hesitant because the water was much deeper in this location than where she had previously been playing in the shallow end of the pool. The father was asking his child to trust him and take a risk. It would be fun. Although this was not an unusual interaction to be happening during a family swim time, the Lord asked me to look more closely as He wanted to reveal something to me through this encounter.

The young girl playing in the shallow water was enjoying herself but the father wanted to interact more personally with his daughter. He desired to be closer to her. Maybe he wanted to teach his daughter how to swim or help her overcome a fear of deep water. Our Heavenly Father has a similar yearning for us. Although attending a worship service on Sunday mornings has value for us as believers, God longs for a deeper personal relationship with each of us. (Exodus 20:8 says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Hebrews 10:25 NLT says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.”) God does not want us to be content to only “play church” for a couple of hours every Sunday. This represents a person with a shallow faith. Our Heavenly Father holds out His arms asking each of us to trust Him and jump with both feet into a commitment of living with Him and for Him 24/7. (John 3:16-17,36 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.)

Let’s create a spiritual setting for our swimming scenario with our Heavenly Father. He invites us to jump into the pool of life with Him. Isaiah 51:15-16 says, “For I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar – the LORD Almighty is His name. I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’”

Are we, as believers, ready to jump into a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father? Deuteronomy 33:27 says, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” These are safe arms waiting for us! In case, we fear something unsafe might happen after we jump, Isaiah 50:1 assures us, “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.” When we jump into the arms of our Heavenly Father, we have the opportunity to jump into the His Word. We can trust our Heavenly Father because of promises He has given us.

I want to encourage you to quit playing in the shallow end of faith and jump into a deeper relationship with God. Let me share with you some scriptures that will give you confidence to trust our Heavenly Father with your life.

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Psalm 145:18

He will not let your foot slip–
He who watches over you will not slumber;
Psalm 121:3

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,
for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.
Psalm 56:3

I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation.
Psalm 13:5

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

Joyfully,
Cheryl

 

*Click on image to find the credit for appropriate image.

Gladiolas of Gladness

It is summertime and I love the beauty of fresh flowers. Gladiolas are a blossom I remember my mother planting. These bulbs need to be placed in the ground each spring and dug up in the fall, so they do take extra effort and special handling. Gladiolus are often referred to by the nickname of glads. In The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp tells of sharing gladness with people by taking them bouquets of glads.

The gladiolus is a flowering plant in the iris family. It is sometimes called the sword lily. When I think about a sword, I am reminded of the sword of the Spirit. Ephesians 6:17 says, Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” A spear of gladiolus flowers is a beautiful sword just as the Word of God is a beautiful sword of the Spirit.

Let me share some verses of gladness from God’s Word as well as some images of the floral glads. While you read the following scriptures, I want you to imagine yourself receiving a bouquet of glads filled with gladness.

You (the Lord) have put gladness in my heart
Psalm 4:7 NASV

This is the day the LORD has made.
We will rejoice and be
glad in it.
Psalm 118:24 NLT

Don’t be afraid, my people. Be glad now and rejoice,
for the LORD has done great things.
Joel 2:21 NLT

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be
glad all our days.
Psalm 90:14 NIV

For the LORD your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with
gladness.
With His love, He will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and His bride has made herself ready.
Revelation 19:7 NIV

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
Psalm 16:9 NIV

Joyfully,
Cheryl

*Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.