A Sage Tells How to See God

 

A young man went to a sage and inquired, "Tell me how to see God."

The old sage said, "Come with me," and led him to the back of his house where there was a pond."

The young man thought, Oh good! He is going to baptize me, and then I will see God.

Sure enough, the old man took him into the pond and lowered him beneath the water. The young man began to count: 1,2,3...8, 9, 10, then 20, 21, 22, and 35, 36, 37. Finally at about 40, he thought his lungs would burst. He forced the sage's hand away and lunged for air.

"Now," said the sage, "when you want to see God as badly as you wanted air, you will see Him."

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). When we seek God with all our hearts, one part of our heart is not wanting God while another part is wanting our own desire. Those who seek Him are not satisfied with anything less than what God most longs to give us, which is more of Himself.

"Keep on knocking [reverently] and the door will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7 Amp.). When we knock asking in His will, the door is always opened. He is eager for our communion! Jesus longs for our times of fellowship with Him. If we are not enjoying loving fellowship with Jesus, it is because we do not want it with all our hearts.

I thank You, Father, for Your promise: "Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you" (James 4:8 NLT).

"The desire of the righteous shall be granted" (Proverbs 10:24).

Six Astonishing Invitations

 

Six times in John 14-16 Jesus invites us to ask.
 
1. "I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father" (14:13).

2. "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it" (14:14).

3. "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you" (15:7).

4. "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name" (15:16).

5. "Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete" (16:24).

6. "In that day you will ask in my name" (16:26).

His invitation to pray and His promises to answer could not be more clear or more wonderful.

In Jesus' last discourse to His disciples, again and again He held out His kingly golden scepter and said, as it were, "What is your request? It shall be granted unto you, even unto the whole of My kingdom!"

The author of The Kneeling Christian states that when we get to heaven the most amazing feature of our lives as we look back upon them will be our prayerlessness. We will be astonished that we spent so little time asking.

Consider how you would respond if you had never read the verses above before. These promises are almost incredible. From the lips of anyone but Jesus they would be unbelievable. But it is the Lord of heaven and earth who speaks, and it is His farewell message.

Dear Lord, give me a spirit of intercession and lead me to pray what the Spirit desires me to ask.

"I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name" (John 16:23).

Take Time to Be Kind

 

In Come Share the Being, Bob Benson told of an electrician they nicknamed Motormouth because he was such a talker. He always had a smile and a ready answer to any question. But one day Motormouth shot himself.

Benson wrote, "I'd asked him lots of times how he was doing, but I guess I had never asked him in a way that made him want to tell me. Life in a way is like those electric bumper cars at the amusement park. We just run at each other and smile and bump and away we go."

Kindness is time-consuming. It takes time to visit people, to do small favors, to listen to the heartaches and heart longings of others, to run errands for them, to help them with their work, to write them letters, to give of our time, and to brighten their lives.

Kindness requires a sincere interest in others. It is a matter of awareness and sensitivity that is very simple in nature. A smile. A hug. The Old Testament word "lovingkindness" is derived from a Hebrew word meaning "to bend or bow oneself" which indicates a gracious, humble spirit.

Someone has said that if you wanted to express Christianity in one English word, you would use the word "kindness." In the early centuries, pagans confused the words "kindly" and "Christ" because the Greek words were so much alike, but, as Tertullian remarked, they were so close in meaning that no harm was done by the confusion.

 Jesus, please help me not to grieve the Holy Spirit by being unkind.

"Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God....Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other" (Ephesians 4:30, 32).

God Wants to Use His Power for You

 

God seeks those whose hearts are totally loyal to Him so He can use His power on their behalf. "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him." (2 Chron. 16:8 KJV).

Those who have a "perfect" heart
   -are not satisfied with people's affirmation and approval. Once they've tasted God's endorsement and His pleasure, they realize the other fades into insignificance.

   -have a growing hunger to give Him glory. A great longing to do everything for His glory begins to direct their lives, and they increasingly seek only to please Him.

   -have discovered that nothing is as fulfilling as knowing God receives their efforts and says, "I'm pleased."

   -discover that what pleases God becomes their guide to selecting what to say, how to spend their time.

   -realize it doesn't matter if the Lord places them in a position where others see them or if they are in an obscure position. Their desire is to be faithful.

When God finds those who have such a heart, He offers to give them the desire of their hearts. He knows He can trust their desires to be the same as His.

Reveal anything in my heart, Lord, that does not please You.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life" (Psalm 139:23, 24).

Hungry to Be Alone With Jesus?

 

For nearly a week one summer many years ago, my family was out of town or otherwise away from home at meal times. What a splendid time I had being out of the kitchen! I found myself at McDonald's once and sometimes even twice a day. After about four days of cheeseburgers and McNuggets, however, I began craving some real food even if I had to cook.

Sometimes I sense the need for a full-course meal on my knees. A period of abbreviated or dry devotions or a special need can make me long for an extended time with the Lord. I begin to look ahead to a whole morning, afternoon, or even a day or night that I can give to prayer.

Even Jesus felt the need for unhurried praying. "He went out to a mountainside to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God" (Luke 6:12).

Early one January I began to sense a need for fresh direction from God and set aside an afternoon to seek Him. I read the Bible, prayed, sang. That evening as I sat in our family room, a peace came to me so real that I felt as if I could reach out my hand and perhaps touch it. The next day God spoke a few words that gave new direction for my life.

Not every extended prayer time has brought such dramatic results, but I've found that God responds to any act of love. There is a price to pay for intimacy with God, but the rewards are far greater than the cost.

If the Spirit whispers, "I want to meet with you," or implants any longing to be alone with Him, accept His invitation to spend an extended, enjoyable time in His presence.

Thank You, Jesus, for every hunger I have to spend time in Your presence.

"Blessed are they who hunger...for they will be filled" (Matthew 5:6).

What to Do When We Don't Know What to Do

When Evelyn Christensen was first selected to be the North American Chair for the A.D. 2000 (a national prayer movement), she had no clue how to lead the program. She gathered sixty women's leaders and announced, "I don't know if what we are doing is right, and if it is, if we are the ones to do it. We are going to get on our knees and pray. I don't want anyone to lead in prayer until God tells you what to pray."

The ladies were on their knees a long time in silence. After twenty or thirty minutes, someone prayed, and then another. By the end of the meeting, not only did they have a sense of direction but a wonderful unity despite their various doctrinal backgrounds.

When we face a situation in which we do not know how to proceed, God's Word to the Israelites gives direction. They faced the uncrossable Jordan, and God said, "When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God...you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go" (Joshua 3:3, 4). They were to always let the ark (God's presence) set the pace. We, too, must allow the ark to set the pace. When we refuse to rush ahead in our spirits but move only as we sense God going before us, we'll always find His timing right and our path perfectly prepared.

But our "successes" are empty when we go in our own strength. "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain" (Psalm 127:1). The house may be built, the people entertained, the Bible study led, but unless God is doing the work, nothing is really done. Often we are blinded because we appear to have built something. We have entertained the people or our crowd doubled, but no one actually had a supernatural parting of the waters in their lives.

Dear Lord, protect me from proceeding as though I can do your work without waiting on You.

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27).

God's Powerful and Tender Name: El Shaddai

 

One of the most tender names God used for Himself was El Shaddai. Although El Shaddai is often translated "God Almighty," that is an inadequate translation and misses much of its beauty. The almightiness of God is expressed in El, a short form of Elohim, which means "the Mighty One." But what does Shaddai mean?

Some scholars believe that Shaddai is derived from the word Sadu, meaning "mountain," suggesting strength and power. 

"The Lord appeared to Abraham and said unto him, I am the Almighty God [El Shaddai]: walk before Me, and be thou perfect" (Genesis 17:1 KJV). Abraham might have thought, Lord, how can I walk before You and be perfect?
It is as though God said, "Remember, Abraham, I am El Shaddai, absolutely powerful, absolutely sufficient, absolutely able to keep you from falling."

Others believe Shaddai is derived from the word used in scripture for a woman's breast. As the mother is the all-sufficient one to her baby, God is the Satisfier of His people. It could be rendered "God All-sufficient." Plus it suggests exuberance and perfect satisfaction combined with irresistible power!

El Shaddai is most frequently used in the book of Job. If the Almighty, the Pourer-forth of Blessings, was the One chastening him, Job could stay true. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him" (Job 13:15 KJV). Those of us who know God as the One who has all power and perfectly satisfies us will always be able to say that. In difficult times, it may seem that He is far from being the One who pours forth blessings. But our faith rests upon the assurance that in the end we'll say with joy, "He has done all things well."

Thank You, Father, that in every situation You intend to pour out blessings on all who love You. You are God Almighty, El Shaddai.

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty" [El Shaddai] (Psalm 91:1).

What God Does When the Mess Is Our Fault

 

Has Satan ever told you, "You've failed, so God isn't interested in helping you"?

When the Gibeonites fooled Joshua into thinking they had come from a long journey, Joshua knew he should seek God's guidance. God had told them not to make a treaty with those who lived close by, but Joshua looked at their old shoes and moldly bread, and he and his men did what seemed reasonable. They impulsively signed a treaty with the Gibeonites who actually lived next door. (The story is in Joshua 9.)

Later, Joshua learned of their awful mistake. Still, he did not despair but declared the Gibeonites would be their woodcutters and water carriers.

It's true that their failure to "inquire of the Lord" resulted in a battle they should not have had to fight. The Gibeonites were being attacked and, according to their treaty, they had to fight for them.

But God did not say, "Well, you're on your own now. If you had only asked Me, you wouldn't be in this fix."

When we fail to seek God's direction and we find ourselves in a mess of our own making, we are tempted to think God doesn't want to help us. That is not true, and Joshua understood that. Soon the Israelites had to go to war, and Joshua had the boldness to ask for supernatural help.

This is the battle in which "the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a man" (Joshua 10:13, 14). Even though Joshua had not listened to God, the Lord listened to Him.

God is much more merciful than we allow ourselves to believe. He is the great Redeemer. He can redeem any mistake we give Him.

Father, please forgive me for the times I have grieved You by failing to allow the Spirit to guide me. Thank You for Your redeeming love.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22, 23).

My Lost Music

 

Professor Thompson announced, "All of the semester's assignments that have not been turned in must be in my box by ten o'clock tomorrow morning." That deadline gave just twenty-four hours to find the music I had lost the fourth week of the semester.

I was a college music major, and in this class we were to compose three counterpoint compositions. My first attempt required many revisions and had gone back and forth between the teacher and me. By the fourth week, it was completed.

But before I returned the music to the professor, the manuscript disappeared. I began a frantic search. How could I admit to Professor Thompson I had lost the music? He had spent time on it, too, and to ask him to help me rewrite it was unthinkable.

One evening as my mother prepared dinner, she called to me from the kitchen, "Have you found your music yet?"

"No, but I believe the Lord will help me find it," I replied, and at that moment the Lord gave me a quiet assurance that He would do just that. I stopped worrying and felt as though the music had been found. As the busy weeks slipped by, I would occasionally wander through the music hall trying to spot the composition. When would God lead me to it?

Then came Professor Thompson's announcement. I silently prayed, "God, that's our deadline." God had heard my prayer months ago, so I knew the outcome would leave me with no regrets.

At nine o'clock the next morning, I walked into the locker room and something in the trash can caught my eye. It was the music I had not seen for months! Evidently someone had found it and tossed it while cleaning out their locker.

Thank You, Jesus, for helping me to believe either the lost music would not affect my grade or You wouldhelp me find it.

"He who believes...will not be ashamed or give way or make haste [in sudden panic]" (Isaiah 28:16 Amp.).

This Is for You, Dear Jesus

 

Phoebe Palmer, an evangelist in the 19th century, believed that the loving care she gave her family was as ordained of God as her teaching ministries. Because God wanted her to be a housewife, she did her work joyfully often singing as she worked, "Every work I do below, I do it to the Lord."

Even the routine and mundane tasks were important. The Lord cared as much about the way she kept her home, she believed, as He cared about the way she studied the Bible.
The Lord had written on her heart, "He that careth not for his own household is worse than an infidel,"* and she was careful not to neglect her household in any way. Yet she resolved that household duties would not totally absorb her.

After she had completely consecrated herself to the Lord, God gave her a sense of discernment about how to balance her duties. She was then able to omit some of the troublesome jobs, and do the others with a joyful heart because she knew the Lord wanted her to do them.

Keeping our homes can be our service to God. In our ladies' Bible study we discussed Jesus' statement in John 5:30: "I seek not to please myself but him who sent me." He lived for God's pleasure; not His own. Real fulfillment comes when we see serving our family as our service to God.

Karla remarked, "So I guess I should just look at the dirty bathtub and wet towels lying around and say, 'This cleaning is my service to You, Lord.'"

God notices when we consciously say about any menial task, "This is for You, dear Jesus."

Dear Jesus, let all I do express my love for You.

"You are to rejoice before the Lord your God in everything you put your hand to" (Deuteronomy 12:18).

1 Tim. 5:8 NLT: But those who won't care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.

My Ditch Digging Experience

 

Deadline for a book I was writing was looming, and despite my faithfully writing, it seemed I could not pull together my random thoughts. One day nearly overcome with discouragement, I walked into the guest room, looked at an open Bible, and read, "Make this valley full of ditches" (2 Kings 3:16). My first thought was, This doesn't apply to my situation.
 
Then I remembered the story. The enemy surrounded the tired and thirsty Israelites. Then Elisha commanded them to dig ditches. The next morning, water appeared in those ditches, and they drank to their hearts' content. Meanwhile, the sun shone on the water causing the enemy to say, "It's blood! They have killed each other! Let's go and collect the plunder." When they arrived, the Israelites attacked these unsuspecting soldiers and soundly defeated them.

At once I began to grasp the implications of this verse. My words might seem like empty ditches to me, but I was only required to be faithful to this job. It was my way of saying to the Lord, "I am doing all I can to prepare the way for Your Spirit." I went back to my study inspired to keep digging.

I dug ditches for days. Then one morning the water was suddenly there. During my regular devotional reading, I saw an outline for a chapter I had not thought of writing. I then began to see how my previous weeks of writing fit together. The book was completed on time.

Later the Lord gave me a new application for the phrase, "Make this valley full of ditches." I had begun to wonder if it really was important to pray regularly, faithfully, daily for those on my prayer list. What about those days I felt tired, sleepy, uninspired? If I skipped those days, did it matter?

This seemed to be the message: Yes, faithfulness on those days does matter. The "ditches" dug on those days express your desire and faith that you can express no other way.
I recalled what I heard a dear older Christian say when I was a girl. "I think it does me more good to pray on the days I don't feel like it than it does on the days I do." I believe he is right.

Thank You, Jesus, for being faithful when I persevere in prayer.

"To the faithful you show yourself faithful" (2 Sam. 22:26).

Two Tested Keys for a Successful Marriage

 

When Daniel and I studied Song of Solomon we found several ways in this biblical guide to married love to help keep romance in our marriage. Although married life can settle into a routine, God doesn't intend for marriages to be in a rut anymore than He wants our relationship with Him to lose its creativity and enthusiasm.

We noticed that Solomon and the Shulammite's love included an element of the unexpected. Anything repeated over and over again can lose its romantic value unless it's occasionally accompanied by something new. Perhaps the Shulammite was intuitively aware of this, for she provided her husband with something new to enjoy as well as something already shared in their relationship (7:13). She constantly thought of new ways to bring joy to her mate.

Their love also included what seemed impractical. What king has time to wander through the forests of Lebanon mountains with his wife (7:11)? Creative romantic love is often stifled by the desire to be practical and reasonable. A friend told me she had spent hours painting a ceramic piece her husband had admired. "I would have never done it for myself, but it was worth it to see how pleased he is when I tell others I made it for my husband."

Solomon and the Shulammite realized the importance of small, spontaneous acts of love. From this song of lovers we get the phrase "The little foxes spoil the vine" (2:15). The little things in courtship made love flourish--the welcoming smile, that look of love in our eyes reserved only for him, loving words both spoken and written. The routine of day-to-day married life, however, can lull us into thinking that our love can survive without the thoughtful little love signals.

Our marriages have the marvelous possibility of reflecting Christ and His bride just as the love of Solomon and his beloved did. God's love can fills and fulfill our marriages. With His love, they will be growing, loving relationships from beginning to end.

Dear God, please make our marriage an attractive reflection of Christ and His church.

"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:31, 32).

One Way to Discover the Mind of Christ

 

For years, I have rested in the knowledge that as a Spirit-filled believer, I have access to the mind of Christ. Believing He will help me to know what choices to make as I look to Him has been a part of what it means to have the mind of Christ.

But I have benefited from a new thought. To have the mind of Christ, I must also listen to others.

A leader of a Bible study group in Kansas City told me she needed a leader for a group of teens. She decided to ask Ramona whom she knew to be an excellent teacher.
Before she had opportunity to ask Ramona, though, her assistant queried another lady who replied, "Oh, I'd love to." 

The leader thought, "Now, Lord, this is interesting. I would have asked Ramona, but I can see that this other lady is exactly the right one. She's had five teenagers and keeps up with what's going on with teens."

Just then, Ramona said, "I am so glad you didn't ask me."
The assistant, realizing that perhaps she had gotten ahead of her leader, turned to the leader and said, "Oh, I'm sorry. I should have asked you first."

This wise leader replied, "No, you did the right thing. We have the mind of Christ-all of us together."

The Apostle Paul stated that the whole body of Christ has the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). To think that we alone have the final thoughts of Christ with small regard for other Christians' opinions can be a mark of pride and an independent spirit. The Holy Spirit within us is the Spirit of truth, and when we listen to Him, He protects us from wrong decisions. But we also know that "wisdom from above is...submissive."

Thank You, Jesus, for the protection you provide through the counsel of others.

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is...willing to yield to others" (James 3:17 NLT).

Speak Eternal Words

 

Jesus gave us an almost unbelievable promise in John 14:10, 12:

"The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work...I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing."

Jesus had repeatedly told them He only said what the Father gave Him to say. "I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me" (John 8:28). "I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it...whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say" (John 12:49, 50).

Then when Jesus spoke the words the Father gave Him, they went from being mere words to God doing His work. "It is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work."

But then Jesus stated that anyone who has faith can do the same thing. As we live in union with the Spirit, our words accomplish His work. We can try to manipulate, convince, and impress, but unless our words are Spirit-guided, we have accomplished nothing of eternal value. We have not allowed God to do His work.

Help me, Jesus, to remember to depend upon You for my words.

"You alone have the words that give eternal life" (John 6:68).

Dr. Whyte's Amazing Response

 

An evangelist came to Dr. Alexander Whyte's hometown and in his preaching criticized the other ministers there. The next day, a man who had heard the evangelist visited Dr. Whyte.

"I went to hear the evangelist last night, and he said that Dr. Hood Wilson is not a converted man."

Dr. Whyte, his face dark with indignation, jumped angrily from his chair. "The rascal! The rascal!" he said.

The visitor was amazed to see this godly man so furious, so he went on, "That wasn't all he said. He said you are not a converted man either!"

Dr. Whyte stopped dead still. All the fire went out of him. Sinking into his chair, he sat for a full minute with his face in his hands.

Then looking up in sincere earnestness, he said, "Leave me, friend. I must examine my heart."

To be meek means to honestly examine others' ideas while listening for whatever the Holy Spirit may be saying. If we close the door to others' ideas, we may close admittance to a truth God could give us no other way.

Dear Lord, help me to have a meek and teachable spirit.

"The meek will he teach his way" (Psalm 25:9 KJV).

Let Them Hear the Gentle Whisper

 

Elijah responded to God's voice rather than to the wind, earthquake, and fire, and so will those for whom we pray. Yet, we tend to use calculated words (wind), force (earthquake), or passion (fire) to convince others to change, but when God gently speaks in His quiet way, what happens?

"The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon" (Psalm 29:4, 5).

It is as though God is saying, "My most effective, awesome display of My power is My gentle voice. When I speak a word to the conscience, then My power is displayed."

God's way is usually calm and quiet. Our own words, forceful efforts, and passion are nothing beside the voice of gentle silence that speaks to the conscience, convicting, convincing, and bringing new understanding.

According to a fable, the sun and storm had an argument. "I can make that man walking down there remove his coat," bragged the storm. The wind began to blow, but the harder it blew, the more closely the man wrapped his coat around himself.

Then the sun said, "Now, let me try." It began to beam warmly on the traveler. Gradually, the man loosened his wrap and finally slipped it off.

Love is more powerful than any other force, and God always speaks with love. When He speaks, His gentle whisper still breaks the cedars!

Dear Jesus, help me to allow You to speak rather than trying to convince others with my own forceful ways.

"After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper" (1 Kings 19:12).

A Helpful Lesson From Job

Job was a good, righteous, and holy man who lost it all. If one-tenth of Job's troubles happened to us, would we do what he did upon hearing of his losses? Before he said a thing, "...he fell to the ground in worship" (Job 1:20). Job saw God as the blessed controller of all things, so he worshipped.

Even though Job had made a godly response, his problems didn't go away. His three "friendly enemies" accuse him of having hidden sin or of having parents who had sinned.

In a most wrenching passage, Job wished he had never been born. In effect, God said to him, "You're holding on to one more thing--your need to know the why of your circumstances. Your job is to trust Me."

Finally, Job said, "Yes, God, You alone are in control." Then God handed back to Job all he had lost and more--another lesson to Job that God really was in control. 

Before Satan could touch Job, he had to ask God's permission and stay within the boundaries God set. Satan still seeks to harm God's children, but although our troubles may originate with Satan or the sin of other people, by the time they reach us they have passed by God for His approval. He allows only those which bring glory to Himself when we continue to trust through trials.

God carefully weighs every burden He puts on us and will never put on us more than we can bear nor more than He can make work for our ultimate good and His glory.

When we get to Heaven and review our lives from God's perspective, we'll find that His watchful, overruling presence was working in the very places in which we least suspected Him.

Thank You, Father, for caring for us in the difficult times when we cannot see You. Help us to worship you even in those times.

"Thanks be to God who always gives us the victory" (1 Cor. 15:57).

A Mother's Answered Prayer

My friend Marge Owens told me about her praying mother. "Mother wasn't an eloquent prayer. In fact, I don't remember ever hearing her pray in church, but Mother's walk-in closet was her sacred place.

"My older brother had gone away from the Lord, and we'd hear her crying, 'Oh, Lord save my boy.'

"She fasted so much that the doctor told her, 'You'll have to stop fasting or you'll die. You're losing too much weight.'

"'If that's what it takes to get my boy saved, then I'll die,' she said."

During revival, a group gathered at noon each day at the church to fast and pray. Some would close their businesses to join in prayer. One day, as they were praying, Marge's mother began to repeatedly exclaim, "Oh, my boy is going to get saved tonight! My boy is going to get saved tonight!"

"Her boy wasn't even coming to church, so the others wondered how that could be. But Mother had heard from heaven."

That night as they gathered in church, in walked her son. He said, "Today when I was out in the field I had the combine up on a jack. I was under it trying to fix it and I rolled out to get something. All at once that jack slipped and the combine fell where I had just been lying. As I lay there thinking about what had happened, God said, 'Today is your day.' I promised God I would come to church tonight. I knew mother had prayed through."

Marge said, "That brother became a district superintendent in the Wesleyan church and later founded the Bartlesville Wesleyan Bible College. When I look at a picture of our family and realize that 44 of my mother's descendants are in active ministry, I wonder what would have happened to them if my mother had not prayed through."

Jesus, thank You for those who pray until lives are changed.

Jacob's effective prayer: "I will not let you go unless you bless me" (Genesis 32:26).

An Angry Mob and a Prayer

Becky Schenck, a missionary from Papua New Guinea, described an incredible incident. One of the nationals was stabbed to death in a tavern one Saturday night.

The next morning her husband, Jerry, and another missionary went to the scene with some national Christians, hoping to prevent a conflict.

The tribal custom in Papua New Guinea demands that if a member of the tribe dies, someone from the murderer's tribe must die as a payback. Older men had been training younger men to fight for such an occasion. Now, with war-painted faces and carrying their bows and arrows, and spears and axes, they were approaching the tribe of the murderer.

The angry mob came to a government officer who was trying to block the road with his car to prevent the confrontation. They threw him in the ditch and marched on.

With much fear and trembling, Jerry and the other Christian nationals formed a "human roadblock" while the other missionary stood on the hood of the car praying. The angry tribal members came within inches of them.

Suddenly they stopped, turned around, and went back!

The next day the missionaries learned why. The warring tribal members said they had looked at the man on the car praying and their bodies felt weak, as if they had been doing a hard day's work. They had no energy to go farther.

We rarely get to glimpse the amazing effect of our prayers. God's response to our prayers renders the enemy powerless to discourage, to attack, to tempt. One of the greatest wonders in heaven for us may be the complete dependability of God to answer our prayers.

Thank You, Father, that a sincere prayer brings wonderful results.

"The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results" (James 5:16 NLT).

Waiting for Our Son's Thank You

We told our usually grateful son that we had a gift for him on the desk in his room. I knew he would love the gift card from his favorite store. He went upstairs to his room, and I waited on the steps eager to hear his excited thanks. I wanted to share in his joy.

I waited, but there was no response. He had gone on to do other things. He thanked us later, but as I waited, I gained a new understanding of why God asks us to thank Him.

God "richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Timothy 6:7). It must give Him great pleasure to provide what will give us joy. Could it be that He then anticipates the joy of sharing our enthusiasm and our happiness when we offer our thanks?

Jesus healed ten lepers but only one came back to say "Thank you!" When He asked, "Where are the nine lepers?" I don't think He was checking on their thanksgiving quotient. He was disappointed He didn't get to enjoy seeing their thrill of being healed.

Since waiting on the stairs for my son's thank you, I like to think that when I thank Jesus for what He has done, in those moments, He is enjoying the pleasure of seeing my happiness.

Thank You, Jesus, not just for graciously providing all things for me to enjoy but also for caring enough to watch for my grateful and happy response.

"Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" (Luke 17:18).