Jesus Offers Us His Name

Angela, a young wife from Taiwan, said her mother was Buddhist for many years before she became a Christian. After the mother accepted Christ, she began moaning at nights as though in great misery. 

Angela said, "I would hear her and go into her room and pray, 'In the name of Jesus, leave her alone.' Mother would quit groaning and awaken. 

"Then I thought maybe it is just my voice that awakens mother, so I began to experiment. I decided to pray silently. When I heard her groaning, I went to her room and silently prayed, 'In the name of Jesus, leave her alone.'"

Her mother awakened and said, "Oh, thank you, Angela, for rescuing me."

Jesus sent 72 on a mission trip. They returned amazed. "Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name" (Luke 10:18).

Jesus was not surprised. "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." He was saying, "You don't need to be astonished. I know his position and I have authority over him. When you use My name, you have the authority I have."

The key is for us to have the same purpose behind our requests that Jesus has. He promised, "I will do whatever you ask in my name that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You can ask me for anything and I will do it" (John 14:13). The purpose of prayer in Jesus' eyes is to bring glory to the Father.  According to this verse, He will do anything to bring His Father glory. 

Jesus, I praise You that all power is Yours and You make it available to all who long for the Father to receive glory.

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

 

More Valuable Than a Grocery List

In Common Sense Living, Edith Schaeffer recalls that when she was a girl in Shanghai, she went skipping along beside Dr. Hoste, the director of the China Inland Mission. He didn't turn her away but simply told her he was praying and that she could come along if she wished.

She walked with him a number of times, holding his hand being very quiet while he prayed. She wrote, "He prayed for each missionary in the China Inland Mission, and for each of their children by name. He had the list with him, and he went through it. It was not just a recitation of names; he cared about each person and knew something of their needs. He felt this was his work."

"The list of ministers in our church lasts me 200 miles," someone said referring to the way he spends some of his many hours on the road. Most of us realize the value of taking a grocery list with us to the grocery store, and it occurred to me that when approaching God, I should be at least as prepared as I am when I go to the store. The more accessible I keep the list, the more I can use it throughout the day.

Could it be that some day we'll say, "But, Lord, if I had known You were going to answer all those prayers, I would have prayed more; I would have put more people on my list." 

Thank You, Jesus, that I still have time to touch others with my love and prayer.

"We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers" 1 Thess. 1:2).

Pray Until the Answer Comes

When I was in a prayer meeting with about twenty others, one of the wonderful ladies of prayer said, "Prayer is hard work. We don't 'just pray.' When it gets hard to pray, we pray on through that. The old-timers called it 'praying through.'"

When Jacob wrestled with the angel, the angel said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak" (Genesis 32:26). If the angel wished to go, why didn't He? He clearly had the power to slip from Jacob's grasp. But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."

 In prayer, we often come to a place where we could easily stop praying or we can say as Jacob did when wrestling with the angel, "I will not let You go." 

This incident parallels Christ's response to the two disciples who walked with Him on the road to Emmaus: "Jesus acted as if he were going farther" (Luke 24:28). In both cases the principle is this: God will go if we do not desire Him to stay. 

It's an infinite honor for the Spirit to put any burden of prayer on us even when it is for our own family. We should cling to this honor as Jacob clung to the angel. 

The best help to our faith is a determination to pray a request based on Scripture until "we know that he hears us" (I John 5:15). Often that assurance that He has heard is accompanied by peace, a quiet knowing in our spirits. The Holy Spirit can give us as clear assurance as any person can. 

Faith is evidence of the unseen, so it's possible to pray until it seems God says, "You don't need to pray anymore because I've heard!" By faith we can rest from our own efforts and "stand still and see the salvation of the Lord."

Thank You, Lord, that it is possible to know You've heard and will answer our prayer.

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him" (1 John 5:14-15).

Can God Change Me?

Betty Malz shared a life-changing experience in which God revealed her true nature. She was very ill, unable to speak, but at times very aware of God's presence. One night various scenes of her past came to her, and in each one she saw not her excuses for reacting as she did but what God knew were her real reasons for her actions. 

As each scene flashed before her, she was gently made aware of a truth about herself. Her determination to protect her hairdo when traveling with her brothers on a hot summer day, for example, caused her to angrily demand that her sweltering family shut the car windows. This she saw to be not only self-centeredness but also the beginning of a pattern of wanting to get her own way.  

Her husband had wanted to invite a couple known for their marital infidelities to dinner and then to church. She had replied that the neighbors might think it strange if they identify with people of low reputation and that it would be best for them to meet at church.

"I fought off a desire to turn away from these painful revelations about myself," she wrote, "but there was no condemnation in the Presence. Only loving concern."

"Seeing my self-righteousness and pride made me want to hide my head under the pillow in shame." Tears flowed down her cheeks as she prayed for cleansing. 

"The Presence did not have to say a word, nor did He try to soften the impact. I felt awed by the exposure of my selfish, arrogant nature. When the tears of repentance came, there were comfort and reassurance in His manner."

After the Presence left, "Everything was unchanged outside of myself. Inside I was different."

Malachi promises that there is a Purifier of all our selfish motives. "He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering...be pleasant unto the Lord" (Mal. 3:3,4). 

"I'll come and purify you of all your selfish motives," God promises through these words. "I'll give you the ability to offer yourself and pray prayers that are one hundred percent pleasing to Me."

"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me" (Ps. 139:23).

Thank You, God, that You don't show us our wrong motives without having the ability and desire to cleanse us.

Told in A Glimpse of Eternity by Betty Malz.

Begin With Praise

Just as there was a gate into the Old Testament tabernacle, there is a gate into the presence of God. "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise"(Psalm 100:4). Psalm 22:3 reminds us that God inhabits the praises of His people. God is present where there is joyful praise.

When we skip praise, we are missing the part of prayer that strengthens us for the prayer battles. Jesus implied this when he interchanged the word "praise" for "strength" 

Psalms 8:2 says, "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger." Reread the verse substituting "praise" for "strength" as Jesus did when He quoted it in Matthew 21:16. He is saying that even the simple, the toddlers, and babes, can stop the enemy with praise.

Paul Billheimer suggests, "Satan is allergic to praise, so where there is massive triumphant praise, Satan is paralyzed, bound, and banished."

God shows us how to worship in His Word. Every Hebrew word for worship teaches something specific about how to worship. For example, yadah, which is used over ninety times, means "to worship with extended hands, to throw out the hands, to give thanks to God." It is often translated as praise in the Old Testament, as in Psalm 107:8: "Oh that men would praise (yadah) the Lord for his goodness."

By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name" (13:15).

Be the One God Seeks

One evening while we were on vacation, I took my Bible to a quiet spot where I could read, meditate, and watch the sun set behind the mountains. That evening God arranged a most spectacular sunset. Brilliant pink rays outlined the rolling clouds. I sat in awe and read Psalm 104, "O Lord my God, you are very great....He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind." I was overwhelmed with His majesty as I thought on His Word and His chariots.

"Oh, God," I thought, "it would be so neat if You would give me some signal in the clouds in response to my worship of You." Immediately a tiny thread of lightning streaked from the top to the bottom of the cloud in front of me. There was no thunder and no more lightning--just that one white streak assuring me that He accepted my worship. I was humbled.

When God says for us to be still and know that He is God, He invites us to reflect upon what He has told us about Himself. I like to use David's words in 1 Chronicles 29: "Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all."

Worship is a rich experience when I spend time considering what each of the words and phrases in those verses mean.

God invites us to "Come into his presence with singing" (Psalm 100:2), so we open our hymnal to such songs as "O Worship the King" or "Great Is Thy Faithfulness." 

God's Spirit can be a more certain assurance of His presence than even a tiny streak of lightning.

"True worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks" (Jn. 4:23).

When Apologies Don't Come

In the past after yet another failure, I often thought, "Isn't God tired of my asking His forgiveness?" Then I discovered a comforting verse in Psalm 146:5, "God takes pleasure in those who...hope in his mercy." It was as though He said, "I'm especially delighted when you hope in My mercy rather than despair because you've failed." What comfort this verse often gives me.

Then one day someone hurt me, and I thought I should receive an apology. None came. I prayed for grace, and the Lord lifted my feeling of hurt--except when I'd begin thinking about the situation. How tempted I was to dwell on it! 

One morning in my devotions I reread the verse that means so much to me when I fail. "God takes pleasure in those who hope in his mercy." The Holy Spirit whispered, "Can you be as grateful for My mercy for him as you are when I give My mercy to you?"

Could I still rejoice in this truth when I thought someone had wronged me? Was I delighting in the fact that he received God's mercy? Was I allowing God to take pleasure in me because I was hoping in His mercy for another? Or did only realizing I'm the recipient of His mercy comfort me? I began to thank God for His mercy for the one who had hurt me and, with relief, suddenly realized I had forgiven him from my heart.

Even if someone does not come seeking my forgiveness, I have an obligation to grant forgiveness and extend mercy--even if the person has sinned against me repeatedly and severely. My forgiveness of others is a pre-requisite for me to receive forgiveness. 

"Forgive us our debts as we forgive us our debtors," is a prayer asking God to forgive us to the same degree we forgive others. Jesus adds a postscript to this prayer: "But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:15). If any bitterness or unkindness remains, if we do not clearly, fully, and from the heart, forgive all men their trespasses, God cannot fully forgive us. 

One of my favorite pictures of forgiveness is of Jesus and His disciples eating their last supper. When Jesus announced, "One of you will betray Me," no one could guess who was guilty. Nothing in His demeanor, not even a look of reproach, said to the disciples, "Judas is the man." Jesus forgave and had mercy on all who had part in His murder. "He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities" (Psalm 103:10). By receiving God's forgiveness through Christ, I am forfeiting my right to be offended when others hurt me. 

I love the line in "Come Thou Fount" that says: "Streams of mercy never ceasing." If someone has wronged you, try giving praise for the "streams of mercy never ceasing" God is showering on them. 

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32).

Dear God, I praise You for your mercy to all of us. Today, I choose to forgive others who have hurt me because you have so graciously forgiven me. Thank you for giving me Your sweet peace and joy as I extend mercy to others. In Jesus' gracious name, Amen. 

 

Why Some Children Love God

I met a lovely Christian named Ruth who told me, "People say to my parents, 'It's so wonderful that all of your three children love the Lord. How did you do it?'

"My parents reply, 'Oh, we prayed and trusted the Lord,' but other parents pray. The reason I am a Christian is that my parents lived the Word. Not only did they teach the Word, but it was who they were all the time. They are the best Christians I know."

Jeremiah would have described Ruth's parents as having "singleness of heart and action." He declared that it would be "for their own good and the good of their children after them" (Jeremiah 32:39). Ruth's parents' sincere desire to please the Lord was rewarded with the fulfillment of Caleb's promise: "The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritanceand that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly" (Joshua 14:9).

Passionate love for God is shown through wholehearted obedience because we desire His pleasure above all else. "I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face," wrote Elizabeth Clephane in Beneath the Cross of Jesus. She was saying, "Lord, I seek to have Your pleasure. If I have Your approval I have everything I need to be happy."

Jesus invites us to make Him our source of deepest pleasure. The depth of our desire to find our joy in Him will affect not only us but also those we love.

Thank You, Jesus, for the ultimate pleasure of  Your smile.

"I will go to the altar of God-to God-the source of all my joy" (Psalm 43:4 NLT).

 

Eating the Bible in Egypt

Mozafar, a devout Muslim in Egypt, had been commanded by his Islamic leader to read the Bible so he could write an argument to expose and defeat the Christians. He trusted Mozafar whose zeal had led him to attack churches and to persecute and burn the property of Christians. But when Mozafar opened the Bible, he was stunned by the mercy and grace Jesus offered in the gospel of Matthew. He was so drawn by the gospel that he rented a hotel room so he could read the Bible without interruption.

Mozafar's brothers, angered by the changes they saw in him, took him to a mental institution where he received shock treatments to rid his brain of radical ideas like "loving your enemies." But once Mozafar had been exposed to the gospel, he was desperate to learn more about Jesus. 

"I would go into the bathroom of our home and lock the door," Mozafar explained. "Then I would take the Scriptures, memorize them and eat them so that my family could not find them." 

Tom White told Mozafar's story in Voice of the Martyrs and then added, "Unlike Mozafar, we don't have to read Scripture behind a locked door and eat the pages. We have this potential feast lying out in the open in our living rooms and bedrooms. The necessary food for our spiritually malnourished world is right in front of us. Please pray for our workers who risk their lives to feed those hungry for the gospel ... then pass the Bread."

Dear Lord, help us to remember that Your Word can revolutionize those who hear it.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Romans 1:16).

 

My Time Matters

Yesterday I had an hour before leaving for an appointment. What should I do? I wondered. As I considered several options, I remembered the dinner guests coming in a few days who do not know Jesus. This thought occurred to me: How I spend this small amount of time might affect how another spends all eternity. With that thought in my mind nothing seemed to be more important than prayer.

The day after the two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the editor of Adventure Cyclist magazine said, "I kept trying to do my work, but what I was trying to do didn't seem very important."

A sports fan commented after the terrorist attack that when his favorite ball team played miserably it really wasn't that big of a deal. A thousand years from now it simply would not matter.

In his book Measure Your Life, Wesley Duewel discusses the importance of spending our time for what will matter. He states that for each day we spend on earth, there will be billions and billions and billions of future years in which we'll reap what we sow. Every second of every day will be of tremendous significance in eternity.

Paul says we are to fix our eyes on the eternal. "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18). Events such as a terrorist attack provide a sobering glimpse of the eternal, but what would it mean to live with our eyes fixed on the unseen? 

"I want to hold the things of this world loosely," was one of my dad's sayings when I was growing up. To do that, we live, perhaps unconsciously, making our choices on the basis of this question: "In eternity's light, what will have seemed important?"

Thank You, Jesus, for allowing me glimpses of what You value. Give me discernment and desire to use my time in ways that I will never regret--especially when I stand before You.

"Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is." (Ephesians 5:15-17).

The Way to Change Others

"She feels pressured by her mother-in-law," related a young wife who told me about a couple contemplating a ministry opportunity. The husband's parents, in their eagerness to see the young couple in full-time Christian service, say "encouraging" words the wife resents.

Someone else mentioned a couple whose marriage suffers because the husband's parents don't approve of his wife.

Allowing God to work in His way and in His timing is a difficult lesson. Wouldn't perfect confidence in God's wisdom and power allow us to simply step back and say only what the Spirit gives us to say? We underestimate the power of the still small voice.

The power of this Voice was the lesson Elijah needed to learn. He had been certain the heaven-sent fire at Mt. Carmel would bring revival to the people and deliverance to himself. Instead, he received a death threat and was running for his life. God used this as an opportunity to give Elijah an object lesson about the most powerful force in the world.

"Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord," God told Elijah. "Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. 

"And after the fire came a gentle whisper" or, as the King James Version has it "a still small voice" (1 Kings 19:11-12). The Hebrew literally reads, "a voice of gentle silence."

God had told Elijah to go out and stand on the mountain but Elijah didn't budge. If anything, he probably shrank back trying to shield himself from the wind, earthquake, and fire--just as we do when we try in our own power to convince others.

Then came God's still small voice! "When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out." The power of the still small voice in his heart that moved him would be the power that would change others.

Dear Lord, help me to remember that it is not by might nor by power, but by Your Spirit that Your work is accomplished.

 "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God" (1 Peter 4:11).

Holy Living Begins at Home

One spring years ago our collie was injured and had to be put to sleep. I'll admit I didn't mourn her loss as deeply as my daughter and husband did because I had grown tired of the paths she had made through our back yard.

The first night we had our new dog Casey, she barked for hours despite the sleeping pill my husband gave her. It didn't increase my love for her when a friend reported that they have a black lab and that black labs really tramp out the grass.

I began to announce, "I think we're going to have to get rid of her." But nobody listened despite my complaints.

One morning when I awoke I sensed in my spirit that I had displeased the Lord. Then I remembered Philippians 2:14: "Do all things without murmurings or disputings" and learned that "disputing" can mean to always want to have the last word. Murmuring is often translated complaining.

I knew that included being kind about Casey whether we had a grassy back yard or not. I had learned to welcome the mind of Christ, so I chose to give up my complaints. That day I began praying, "Dear Lord, give me the mind of Christ for this dog." When He saw I determined to live by His Word, He helped me grow fond of the puppy.

In The Meaning of Holiness, J. Stanley Corlett states, "A holy life is maintained moment by moment through active faith and obedience to God." God can help us want to please Him even when He asks us to do something that goes against our natural desires. Our role is to train ourselves to listen to and respond to the Holy Spirit. We will find He gives us grace to obey.

Dear Lord, help me to live with a moment by moment awareness of Your Spirit and to be quick to respond to Your voice."

"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit" (Gal. 5:25).

"For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God" (Rom. 8:14).

"I Can't Pray Another Prayer"

Alone in the darkness, with tears blinding her eyes, Jewell made a decision. "I can't pray another prayer for Jenny."

She was sick of the eating disorder that tormented their daughter, the smell of vomit in their bathroom, the arguments she and her husband and had about where to hide the food so Jenny wouldn't have her night binges. She wanted to divorce herself from the ugliness of bulimia and the devastation it had created in their home.

If she stopped hoping for a miracle, she wouldn't be disappointed repeatedly. Maybe if she no longer begged God to heal Jenny, the cloud of depression she lived under would miraculously lift. After that dark night, Jewell prayed for other people, but she never mentioned Jenny's name.

A month later, she made a similar decision. She had watered a geranium with rainwater and fertilized it, yet it refused to flourish.

"You're not going to grow?" she said to the plant that day. "OK, I won't pamper you any more. Out you go!" She picked up the heavy pot and stomped through the house to the garage. As she tipped the pot, ready to dump the plant into the garbage can, she heard a voice. "So, you're going to throw it out just like you did Jenny?"

Jenny? she questioned. What...what do you mean?

The Voice continued. "You threw Jenny out of your prayers. Don't you know the sickest need more time and patience? The hopeless need more care and prayer."

Though the words weren't audible, the message was clear. She had abandoned her daughter at her lowest point, when she needed her prayers and support the most.

Jewell sank to the garage steps and sobbed, "God, I love her so much. I want her to be a whole person. Why, God, didn't You answer my prayers?"

Wiping her eyes, she carried the plant back into the house. At that moment Jewell determined to pray again for Jenny. How long? One month, two months, a year? The length of time didn't matter. She 'd pray for her as long as she had breath.

Jenny's recovery came slowly. She suffered from weakness and hair loss. A dentist told her the enamel on her front teeth had become dangerously thin from years of purging.

"If I lose my teeth, I don't want to live," she declared. "Mom," she said, "the Bible says God will restore what the locust and cankerworm have devoured. Can I ask God to heal my teeth when I'm the one who ruined them?"

"Healing is a gift," Jewell said. "Yes, you can ask God to heal your teeth." Soon afterwards, the dentist began treatments to preserve the thinned enamel.

Every day was a struggle as Jenny tried to relearn normal eating patterns. Often, she slipped back into the old habit of gorging and purging. Jewell stood by, cheering her better days, and continuing to pray, good days and bad.

With encouragement, tears, and prayers, Jenny worked toward physical, mental, and emotional healing. One day she said, "Things are shaky for me, Mom. But God and I together, we're going to make it. I know it! Just keep praying!"

And what happened to the geranium plant? It stands in their living room, growing, flourishing, and reminding Jewell that there are no hopeless cases with God. 

Thank You, God, that there are no limits to what You will do as we keep on praying.

"Be alert and always keep on praying" (Ephesians 6:18).

How Not to Encourage Yourself

When David and his men arrived home from battle at their town of Ziklag, they found that the Amalekites had carried off the women and children. David was in great danger because his men were bitter about losing their families, and they began to talk of stoning him. 

"But David encouraged himself in the LORD his God" (1 Samuel 30:6 KJV).

We are not told how David encouraged himself, but I learned the hard way, one method that does not work.

I was trying to write a Bible study about twenty-five years ago, and decided to try to teach this new lesson to a group of ladies in our neighborhood Bible class. Obviously from their responses, the women didn't understand much of what I wrote. Amazingly, despite this discouraging fact, I still sensed a confidence that God would guide my efforts. 

That night a friend asked, "How is your writing progressing?"

"Oh, I am really discouraged," I said, and then told her about that day's Bible study. After our conversation, I discovered I truly was discouraged! If only I had expressed confidence to her that God would help, I could have encouraged myself in the Lord.

Our words have impact not only on others but also on ourselves. What we say can either give us confidence or draw us into despondency.

Guard me, dear Lord, so I speak and think only what is "of good report."

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8).

Nancy's Hope for America Taken from A Call to America

I went to bed one night about midnight with a burden of the Lord. I had read through the book of Lamentations over and over finding myself lamenting along with this prophet.

But I also went to bed with a hope that God will raise up more intercessors who know how to pray like men in the Bible. 

You may recall God's anger in the story of Korah's rebellion. (Numbers 16)  God sent a plague and 14,700 men died!  While the plague was going on Moses called Aaron for a remedy. That remedy was intercession! The Bible says, "He stood between the living and the dead and the plague stopped!" (Numbers 16:48)

Similarly in David's case, when he sinned against God, God sent a plague to kill 70,000 men. But when David built an altar to sacrifice the burnt offering to the Lord, the plague stopped. "Then the Lord answered the prayer in behalf of the land and the plague was stopped" (2 Samuel 24:25).

If Aaron and David could stop the plagues of God's wrath on behalf of their land, you and I can call on the Name of the Lord on behalf of America to stop God's wrath  from our nation!

However our hope is not based on our intercession but on God's character and His compassion. "But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love" (Nehemiah 9:17).

The Lord gave me Psalm 123 to start praying as I share in His burden for our nation. We need to take time to cry out to God both individually and corporately!  We must make our time in prayer a priority!

"I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven.
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy"
(Psalm 123:1, 2). 

How Could Carolyn Forgive Her Daughter?

 

Carolyn told of a problem with her daughter Julie that she had been trying for several days to find a scriptural answer to. Julie had sneaked out of the house with her red sweater on Sunday and just the day before Carolyn had forbidden her to wear her sweaters.

"I wrote her a letter and told her I was hurt and angry and that I want her to develop character but she had both lied and stolen.

"But since then I've not felt right towards Julie. There's no longer a closeness between us. I want to fully forgive her but I just can't. What about the verse, 'If a brother takes thy coat, give him thy cloak also.' Do you think I should give her the sweater?"

My initial response was to say that verse surely did not apply, but I hesitated. Perhaps God was speaking to her and this was His solution. "The instruction to give your coat is like the one to go an extra mile. The one who goes the extra mile is the one who benefits. His resentful feelings melt away when he does the extra. So if you give your sweater to Julie, it's for your benefit rather than hers. It may benefit her, too, because submitting to scripture has its effect on our children."

Two days later Carolyn called and joyfully reported, "It worked! I gave her my sweater and all my hard feelings melted away. Julie said, 'You're doing this because of some Bible verse, aren't you?'"

Thank You, Jesus, that Your Word always has a solution to our problems.

"Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others" (Colossians 3:13 NLT).

Protect Children by a Wall of Prayer

 

After eight-year-old John's father died, he became "stuck" in the anger stage. One evening while Marie was walking and praying, it came to her that she should build a "prayer wall" around John for his growing up years.  She was to surround him with the specific prayers of people who loved him and knew the value of seeking God.

Returning home, she wrote to friends and gave these specific ways to pray. Perhaps her requests will also benefit those of us who have children we surround with prayers.

For peace (2 Thess. 3:16)
For healthy  speech and thoughts (Ps. 19:14)
For protection from Satan's schemes (2 Thess. 3:3)
For success (Ps. 20:4-5)
For school--that God would give, "knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning" (Dan. 1:17)
For healthy friendships--that God would give solid Christian friends to influence and stretch him, that "if sinners entice him, he would not give in." (Prov. 1:10)
For God's guidance (Ps. 119:133)
For purity (Phil. 1:9)
For physical health (3 John 2)
For commitment to excellence-that John would do all things "heartily, as for the Lord rather than men" (Col. 3:23)
For relationships-that he would "put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Col. 3:12)
For a passionate pursuit of God-that "as the deer pants for streams of water," so his heart would hunger for God (Ps. 42:1)
For comprehension of God's love (Ephesians 3:18)

Thank You, Jesus, for hearing our prayers as we pray for children.

I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest" (Isaiah 62:6).

The Song That God Gave

 

Mr. George Matheson was recognized as an up and coming leader of the church in Scotland. But his life was filled with difficulties. He lost his sight as a young man, and had to change his plans because of his vision loss. Plus, when his fiancé learned of his disability she broke the engagement saying she did not want to go through life as the wife of a blind preacher.

Pastor Matheson had a phenomenal memory and was able to recite something if it were read to him twice. He would compose sermons and his sister would read them back to him until he knew them by heart. This allowed him to carry on a significant pastoral ministry.

On the day of his sister's wedding, he wrote "O Love That Will Not Let Me Go." Though he does not explain the cause of his anguish, some speculate it was his fear of losing his ministry now that his sister was marrying. Or perhaps he was recalling his fiancé's rejection years before. Here's what he later wrote about that day:

"My hymn was composed in the manse of Innelan on the evening of the 6th of June, 1882.  It was the night of my sister's marriage, and the rest of the family were staying overnight in Glasgow. Something happened to me, which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering...I had the impression of having it dictated to me by some inward voice rather than of working it out myself. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction; this came like a dayspring on high."

"O Love that wilt not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee; I give Thee back the life I owe, That in Thine ocean depths its flow...May richer, fuller be."

Dear Jesus, may all of our sorrows cause us to rest more fully in Your love.

"I trust in your unfailing love" (Psalm 13:5).

The Spiritual Blahs

 

Lea noticed that for some weeks she had felt spiritually dry. When she tried to pray, she was unable to focus and to pray sincerely. She couldn't seem to hear God or to concentrate when she read scripture. It was a case of spiritual blahs.

Even her family noticed a change. One evening her son asked, "Have you been having shorter devotions recently? You seem to be in a bad mood a lot lately." She said nothing, but thought, You're the one in a bad mood.

Then she heard someone at church say, "I felt God was far away, but when I sought Him, I found He had not moved. I had."

Lea realized that her devotions had been short-changed. A neglect to pray appeared unimportant. How could she expect to be confident her prayers were being heard when she easily skipped prayer or prayed with no eager desire for His answer? When she read scripture, perhaps it wasn't so much that He was not speaking but that she was not listening.

Lea was tired of this spiritual dryness. She remembered hearing that when a lamb falls and is on its back, it cannot get up by itself. The shepherd must lift up the lamb. So Lea began praying throughout her day, "Help me to be a listener to You, dear Lord. Help me to regain my fervor for disciplined prayer."

She began once again to remember to give God a sacrifice of praise, to be able to come boldly to the Throne of grace, and to come to His Word expectantly.

"Thank You, dear Father, for hearing our faintest cries and rescuing us."

"The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out" (John 6:37 NKJV).

Do I Qualify as a Burden Bearer?

 

Words of an old chorus have been going through my mind: "Lord, lay some soul upon my heart and win that soul through me." Could it be that we seldom sing such songs because such a message is not the cry of our hearts?

When Jesus went to Gethsemane, He told most of the disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray" (Matt. 26:36). "Sit here!" They were not even told to pray, and certainly were not invited to share His burden! Rather than invite them to pray with Him, He simply told them to sit while He prayed.

Could it be that Jesus longed for companions who would share His burden, but He knew that most of them were not that close to Him?

So Jesus invited only the three of His closest disciples with the hope that they would share His passion. He took Peter, James, and John further with Him into the Garden and said, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me" (vs. 38).

I think they could hear His cries because He did not go far. "Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will" (vs. 39).

Neither did He pray softly as these words describe His prayers on earth: He "offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears" (Heb. 5:7).

Could it be that Jesus still longs for companions who will share His burden, His broken heart over His Church, but He fears that even those closest to Him are not spiritually awake enough to pray with Him?

 Dear Jesus, make us worthy to share Your passion.   

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Couldn't you keep watch for one hour?" (Mark 14:37).