Tag Archives: prayer

Mama Bear Love

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“That brings out the mama bear in me,” a friend exclaimed!

Parental love is scary strong. Love hits a new parent like a tidal wave. It’s often said that becoming a parent is like having your heart walking around outside your body. Such fierce love struggles with children growing up in a world filled with danger, evil, and pain.

Parents decide to take control and guarantee their child’s safety. An impossible task. Knowing our children have free will to make bad choices adds to our fear. Even when our children are grown, we still want their safety, well-being, and happiness.

Once a parent, always a parent.

Our twenty-four year old son described a health issue he had but that he had no plans to see a doctor. I was sleepless as I imagined him headed to an early grave because of his choice to ignore the problem.

The next morning, reading about Abraham, Sarah and Hagar in Genesis 21,

I found hope.

God promised Abraham and Sarah a son, though past childbearing years. Sarah offered her servant, Hagar, to Abraham so he could have a son by her, planning to raise him as Abraham’s heir. Hagar had a son but a few years later, God fulfilled His promise and by a miracle, Sarah also had a son, the intended heir. When conflict arose between the two sons, Sarah insisted Abraham get rid of Hagar and Ishmael. So, Abraham (with God’s blessing) gave them water and bread and sent them into the wilderness.

Hagar went as far as she could, until the water ran out. “Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, ‘Let me not look on the death of the child.’ And as she sat opposite of him, she lifted up her voice and wept.” Genesis 21:16

I feel her pain. She’s done all she can. She’s convinced her son will die. How does a mom watch her son die of thirst?

But… “And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.’” Genesis 21:17-18

“Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water.” Genesis 21:19

Why did Abraham agree to send Hagar and their son into the wilderness? Unbeknownst to Hagar, God had already given Abraham a promise. “And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” Genesis 21:13

Before Hagar entered the wilderness, before she ran out of water, before she collapsed in pain and sorrow, expecting her son to die, God knew what would happen and had planned to make a nation from Ishmael. God had a plan Hagar didn’t know about. Then, He opened her eyes.

As a mom, I can think like Hagar: because of this obstacle, my son will die. But God is sovereign. He’s the one who knows what the future holds and He holds each of us in His hands.

I can trust Him.

I can pray.

God hears my prayers as He heard Ishmael (v. 17). I pray for our son and I give him advice when he wants it, but God already knows what will happen. He already has it covered. He had a plan for Ishmael from the beginning and He has a plan for our son.

I don’t have a guarantee bad things won’t happen to our son. Trusting God doesn’t mean everything will work out as I want or that our son will live to be a hundred years old. It means God already knows the future and He’s already there.

I can trust God no matter what.

Father, thank you that you knew the day you placed our son in our arms how his whole life would play out. You knew from the day he was born every obstacle he would face, each weakness, and each choice he would make. I know he belongs to you and you hold him in your hands. Thank you dear Father! I know I can trust him to you.

Already There      by Casting Crowns says it so well.

 

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He Also Made the Stars

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“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Genesis 1:3

“…He also made the stars.” Gen 1:16b

The first recorded words of God are, “Let there be light.”

Light is everything. Without light there would be no life. Light gives us warmth, shows us the way, protects us from danger and keeps us alive. Sunlight is essential to physical and mental health. How could light just appear? How can it be explained other than the Creator spoke it into existence?

Then in verse 16 a simple statement, “He also made the stars.”

He made stars beyond what is possible to count. He made stars that stretch into a universe of which there appears to be no end. Stars that inhabit galaxies beyond count. Wonders we can’t imagine.

Oh, by the way, He also made the stars.

That alone should bring us to our knees before Him, to our faces in worship of this powerful God who also made the stars.

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I take so much for granted. Light for example. I take it for granted the sun will come up each day. I take it for granted that when I flip a switch the light comes on. This is a gift from a holy God.

I talk to Him each day but do I remember this is the LORD God who made the stars, who spoke light into existence and who took dust to make the miracle of a human being?

How can I ever come to Him casually?

He is amazing! He is worthy of my praise and worship. He chose to reach down and save my soul. He chose to send Jesus to earth to live and die for those who had already rebelled. Words cannot express what I owe Him.

This God who “also made the stars” loves each one of us with an everlasting love. He thought of us before He ever said “Let there be light.” He thought of us and knowing we would choose to sin and rebel against Him, decided in advance to send Jesus to live and die for us so that we can live with Him forever. He made it possible for us to come to Him even in our sin. We can come boldly to His throne anytime of day or night and talk to Him, give Him our petitions, praise Him, and worship Him.

Father God, You are worthy of all my worship, all my heart and soul. I stand before you in awe of your majesty and power. The invitation to come directly to you and talk to you is an indescribable gift. I love you LORD. I want your will to be done in every part of my life and who I am. I worship you my Creator and my Lord!

May we come to Him in worship every day throughout the day!

Originally published for Takin It to the Streets – Omaha.

 

 

 

 

 

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Do I Keep it Secret?

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“Is it wrong to tell people about the ministry I do?” A friend recently asked in reference to this passage:

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:3-4

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6

“But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:17-18

We need both. Praying in secret and praying with others. Giving in secret and giving openly. Fasting in secret and fasting corporately.

Secret times with God need to be the priority.

Times when we give Him praise for His ears only are essential. I love to let praise flow from my heart. Yielding as His Spirit moves, making up tunes, singing and letting His word inspire me and fill me with thanksgiving and praise. He is pleased because He wants a love relationship with me. He desires secret times with us where we find joy in His presence. He wants us to talk to Him, giving Him thanks and telling Him our needs. He wants us to listen as He speaks to our hearts.

He is also pleased when we raise our voices together to praise Him. Praying together builds our faith and is powerful. I meet with a couple of friends regularly to pray and we have seen many answered prayers over the years!

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19-20 (NIV)

When we have our time with Him alone first, we then have stronger faith to pray and praise together. We need to pray with others to encourage each other in faith.

Our Father wants us to give in secret and openly. He wants me to give things that are between Him and me. Giving in secret helps me to give with a pure motive and to avoid the temptation of pride. Giving openly blesses others and inspires them to give. (Read 2 Corinthians 8 and 9)

Fasting in secret is a sacrifice only God knows about that is an offering to Him and blesses Him. He also calls us to pray and fast as a church or group to build our faith and show our dependence on Him.

He looks at the motivation of our hearts. Are we practicing these disciplines in order to look good or because we genuinely care and want to honor Him? Whatever we do, the motive matters. God wants a secret relationship with me so that He can give me what I need to then share with others in the right spirit.

So we praise when we are alone and when we are with others.

We give in secret and give as an example to encourage others.

We pray by ourselves and with others to His glory.

We fast in secret and fast together for a united purpose.

If we only offer theses acts of worship in secret, we miss the opportunity to encourage, inspire and bless others and to give Him glory.

If we only do them in public, we miss the reward that comes from having a secret time with the LORD and may fall into the trap of doing them for show.

We need time alone with our Father. When I contemplate that our Creator, our All-Mighty Holy God, the Great I Am wants a personal relationship with me, a sinner, (made possible by Jesus) why wouldn’t time with Him be my top priority? And spending time with Him motivates me to pray, give and worship with others.

Whether we offer these acts of worship in secret to Him or with others to His glory, what better way could we spend our time?

Originally published at Internet Cafe Devotions

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Listen for the Whisper

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Are you listening? Do you even care?

My feelings are hurt when someone is not listening to me.

I wonder how God feels when we don’t listen to Him?

Listening to God is a challenge in our world of constant input, noise and chatter. Facebook, Twitter, media, news, people, books, entertainment and information come at us 24/7.

As Elijah discovered in 1 Kings 19:12, God’s voice comes in “the sound of a gentle whisper.

In order to hear that whisper, my heart and soul need to be focused on Him. I need to stop and listen. Yes, He speaks to me through His written Word, the majesty of creation and messages from others. But often, He speaks quietly to my heart to give me direction. (Note: He’ll never lead me to do what goes against His written Word.)

How can I hear His voice if I never listen?

The times I’ve listened to His voice are times I’ve experienced Him working in and through my life. A few years ago, as I was praising God in church, I felt His whisper tell me to start coming early on Sunday mornings to pray for the church. I told myself it was just my thoughts. (After all, it would mean coming early and separate from my family) The next Sunday during worship I heard His whisper again. “Ask the pastor if you can start a prayer group on Sunday mornings.”

I wish I could say I responded immediately but it took hearing His voice over three or four Sundays before I did. I asked Him, “What if no one else comes?” He told me, “I want you to do this even if you’re the only one who ever comes.” So I did. I was alone one or two Sundays until a wonderful couple joined me. We have been meeting early on Sunday mornings for around five years now and it is a blessed time.

Often when I write a word of encouragement to someone or want to give advice, I ask Jesus to confirm it in my heart. I’ll say before I hit send or speak, “Should I send this?” “Is this the right thing to do or say?” And I listen for His yes or no. In that moment I let His peace guide me. Recently I did this with a message I sent to a friend and was blown away by how much it meant to her. God used it in her life because it was His love reaching out to her. I was only an instrument.

I want to live this way. I want to be more in tune with Him and more intentional about listening for His voice in my heart and obeying. Also, any time I don’t have peace about something, I need to examine my heart, talk to Him and find out why.

I want to live as it says in Isaiah 30:21, “Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.”

As Ann Voskamp so eloquently puts it, “The only way to a sincerely God-obedient life — is to live a sincerely Listening Life.” She is writing here about listening to the hearts of those around us, but it begins with listening to Him.

Sometimes that’s reading the Bible and obeying it as the revealed will of God. Sometimes we hear a message from a speaker or friend and the Holy Spirit convicts us to make a change in life or habit. But often it is listening and responding to His voice in our hearts. When I’m wondering what His will is, I may realize I haven’t done the most obvious thing – ask Him. Should I go? Is this what you want me to do? What I love most is when His whisper leads me to a hurting heart only He can help and He gives me the privilege of offering encouragement.

Does He always tell me exactly what to do? No. Sometimes I need to act based on His written Word and what I know pleases Him. Sometimes He leaves the decision to me. But often He guides me with His gentle whisper.

Please share about a time you listened and how He led you.

Originally published at Internet Cafe Devotions:

Hosting at Living By Grace

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Trusting When God Says No

“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” Mark 11:24

What if we don’t receive what we ask?  I’ve known people who prayed     in faith for a healing, a marriage or a changed life and it didn’t happen. Spurgeon wrote: “We need a realizing assurance in prayer… To be sure they are coming! To act as if we had got them…When you have taken the case of your sick child before God to believe that the child will recover, or if it should not, that it will be a greater blessing to you and more glory to God, and so leave it to him.”

When I disagree with God’s answer, I’m saying I know more than God and put myself above Him. He’s All-knowing. He knit me together in my mother’s womb. He knew me before the foundation of the earth. Who am I to judge His answers? If I trust Him, I will trust His answers.

What am I asking for? I pray for our son to walk with God, make wise choices and avoid what would destroy him. What is the bottom line? I want him to be right with God and be with Him in eternity. Do I know what that journey will look like? No. I pray for my friend who has MS to have healing and restoration. What am I asking? Bring her peace, joy and fulfillment. Does healing guarantee that? No. Only God knows what will bring optimum joy.

I pray for another’s marriage and difficult circumstances. I want her to be happy, joyful, cherished, and equipped to face her days. Would solving her problems promise satisfaction? Only God knows. I ask God to use me to bring others to Him and help me to be humble and kind, for freedom from envy and pride. Can I judge what God needs to do in my life to accomplish this? No.

What is my part?

Faith. I ask and believe it is done. I don’t have to know the date it will be answered. If I ask in faith, He has answered.

In his book, The Still Hour, Austin Phelps wrote about prayer, “It is, and God has decreed that it should be, a power in the universe, as distinct, as real, as natural, and as uniform, as the power of gravitation, or of light, or of electricity.”

When I pray, do I know He has answered or am I thinking perhaps He will answer? Do I trust what I know about God? He is Almighty God, All-knowing, All-powerful. He always was and always will be. I can’t judge God’s answers. I can only TRUST in His Sovereign wisdom, grace, justice and love.

Did God always say yes to Jesus? In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Take this cup from me.” And God said no. Jesus also prayed, “Not what I will, but what you will.” Yet He asked the Father to remove the cup of suffering. He asked and God said no.

When God says no, I often decide something is wrong with me or think God doesn’t care. Jesus was His perfect Son with perfect faith. God’s purposes were much higher than the request Jesus made. Jesus trusted God’s perfect plan.

Do I realize God’s purposes and plans give me what is excellent? I have such limited knowledge and vision. I don’t know what is best in view of eternity. Only God knows. The hard truth is God’s ultimate plan sometimes involves suffering in this brief life. Do I trust Him? Do you?

I first published this at the following website for Takin it To The Streets:

http://www.takinittothestreetsomaha.org/blogs/when-god-says-no/

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