A Prayer for Spirtual Wisdom and Growth

The more I read the letters of the Apostle Paul to early churches, the more his prayers are highlighted within my heart. He loved Jesus so very much and he loved the people of the church with such passion. His letters are full of prayers that should be etched on our hearts for each other.

The following prayer is adapted from Ephesians 1:15-23 and 3:14-21.

A Prayer of Spiritual Wisdom and growth for Victory Family Church

All praise and glory, to our Father God and our Lord Jesus Christ, who have blessed us, with every spiritual blessing, because God made us to be His family!

God, I thank you for my church family and the people you have brought into my life. Thank you for their faith in Jesus and the love they demonstrate for your people.

I pray, Father, for each and every one of the people of VFC, including myself, that You, our generous, merciful and loving God will give us, spiritual wisdom and insight so that we grow in knowledge of You.

I pray that our hearts are open, receptive and flooded with light so that we can be confident in the hope that you have given to those you have chosen to be your holy people, rich and glorious in the inheritance through Jesus Christ.

I pray, Father, that we understand your incredible power for us who believe.
I pray that we would know, understand and BELIEVE that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us! That this same power that gave Jesus all authority, far above any ruler or authority, in this world or the world to come, has also been given to us.

I pray that we grow, like Jesus did when he was on earth, in favor of God and man so that the work you have assigned to us is fully completed.

In the awesome name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God be the glory.
Amen.

APPOINTED TIME

In preparation for an upcoming Beth Moore Bible Study on 1 & 2 Thessalonians, I decided to read Acts 16 and 17 to get a feel of the setting.

In doing so, Acts 17:26 caught my attention.

“and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation”. ACTS 17:26 NASB

Once in a while, something happens or something crosses my mind and I wonder how in the world I got where I am and why. Am I where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to do? Then a Scripture like Acts 17:26 pops in the picture.This scripture made me realize that I am exactly where God made me to be!

I have entrusted Him with my life and in knowing that, I know that I was born at the right time, to the parents I was meant to have, in the land I was meant to love, to do what I was meant to do.

I couldn’t help but stop and praise God. I know that throughout my life I have made choices that were not in the will of God, and I have suffered through many of those choices. However, through it all, God has blessed me… more than I realize and definitely so much more than I ever deserved. And through it all, I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this particular time doing what I am meant to do. Oh, the peace that brings to my soul!

Father, you have my life. You have my heart. Guide me so that I will always be where you want me to be, doing what you want me to do for Your Kingdom purposes. Amen.

I LOVE THE WORD!

I love reading and studying The a Word of God. I just love everything about it. I love reading it, I love reading about it, and I love reading the stories of the people in it!

Spending time in Gods Word is spending time with Him! I treasure these moments because I love Him so much.

My prayer for everyone who sees this post is that they also fall head over heels in love with it……. And Him.

Here are a just a few reasons why:

It is God breathed (inspired). 2 Timothy 3:16
It cannot be broken. John 10:35
It is settled in Heaven FOREVER. Psalm 119:89
In its entirety, it is truth. Psalm 119:160
It teaches, rebukes and trains. 2 Timothy 3:16
It makes me complete and equipped, 2 Timothy 3:17
It is my spiritual food. 1 Peter 2:22
It gives me joy and rejoicing. Jeremiah 15:16
It helps me live a clean life. Psalm 119:9
It helps me to not sin against God. Psalm 119:11
It makes me strong. 1 John 2:14
It makes me overcome the wicked one. 1 John 2:14
It is my lamp and my light. Psalm 119:105
It is health to my flesh. Proverbs 4:20-22
It cleanses me. John 15:3
It builds me up and gives me an inheritance. Acts 20:32
AND
It helps me show Jesus that I love him, if I hear it and do what it says. Luke 8:21

Exiles

Its amazing how reading one thing about the Bible makes you think of other things in the Bible. Often they appear to be unrelated until you uncover the mystery within. No matter what you are reading or studying in the Bible, God has a way of speaking to your heart and reminding you of a promise, reminding you that all is well. I just Love that about Him.

While reading The New American Commentary on the Book of Matthew, I came across Matthew 8:20 where Jesus tells the scribe that wants to follow him “ Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

The commentary explains that Jesus knew the scribe did not understand the commitment it would take to follow him. Jesus had a home in Capernaum but he was rarely there. Besides, on a deeper level, the followers of Jesus know that this earth is only a temporary home.  Our citizenship is in Heaven (Phil 3:20). The commentary goes on to say that we are sojourners (exiles) in this world. (1 Peter 1:1).

So, reading of being an exile made me think of one of my favorite passages,  Jeremiah 29:11-14. So many of us read Jeremiah 29:11 and stop. We even have it etched on our hearts.But the three verses that follow just make 29:11 pop! They bring pure joy to my heart! They gave me a peace that I never thought possible. Three times in these four verses it says “Declares the LORD”.  That makes what is written so powerful.  God never breaks a promise! NEVER.

Read these verses, memorize them,  and find the peace that comes from them.

Jeremiah 29:11-14

New International Version (NIV)

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

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

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

14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[a] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

FAITH

Most of us who believe in Jesus believe who he says he is and that he can do what the Bible says he can do and we believe all that was written about him.

But often, we doubt when the need becomes personal.

I was reminded today, or most likely, it was brought to my attention today what answers prayer! FAITH. We know Jesus can do it, we just doubt sometimes that he will do it for our personal needs.

To the woman with the issue of blood he said in Luke 8:48 NLT “Daughter”, he said to her “your faith has made you well. Go in peace” . She was made well.

To Jairus, whose daughter had just died Jesus said in Luke 8:50 NLT “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.” And she was!

To the blind men in Matthew 9:27-34 NLT Jesus asked them “Do you believe I can make you see? Yes Lord, they told him, we do. Then He touched their eyes and said, because of your faith, it will happen”. And it did.

Jesus heals, but it is our faith that makes it happen.

Rejoice my friend, believe and have faith! Don’t worry! Give thanks and praise …….and believe!

Lord, I believe in you, increase my faith and heal me from any unbelief.

The Sword

The Word, Gods Word, The sword of the Spirit

 

The sword is the only weapon in the full armor of God that is both defensive and offensive.

Five of the six weapons in Ephesians 6:14-17 are mostly defensive weapons. The belt of truth protects us from the lies of the devil, the breastplate of righteousness protects our heart, the shoes of peace protect us from negative attitudes, the shield of faith protects us from the devils fiery arrows and the helmet of salvation protects our mind from the thoughts the enemy sends our way.

If you had a sword, a beautiful and mighty sword that you displayed on your wall, it’s no good to you, when the enemy walks in the door if it’s on your wall.  By the time you get it down, the enemy has already won the battle. 

And that’s the way the Bible is. It’s no good to you if all it does is sit on a shelf or on your night stand gathering dust and it’s rarely opened. It doesn’t do any good when you need it to fight the enemy.

Say you have a sword and you want to learn to use it. Let’s imagine it’s a big, thick, heavy sword like you see in the movies of Biblical times or the times of gladiators.

When you first pick it up and try to swing it or jab it a couple of times, your arms get tired and you give up and you say “that’s too hard”.  But you pick it back up and  the more you practice with it and the more you  learn you to stand properly and your posture’s right and you start swinging it a couple of times a day, pretty soon you learn to use it. You learn to do it just right; you learn to use it to block blows from the opponent. You learn to strike. You can use it as defense and you can use it as an offense to attack.

The same is with the Word of God. If you open it just a little bit today and just get the feel of it; then tomorrow  you pick it up again and  you do it some more and then a little bit more, you will soon find that  not only can you hold it,  it’s actually become useful. You stand right, (in the Word of God), you have your posture just right (in Jesus) and before you know it, you’re a warrior!

You have that sword and you don’t want to be without it. It goes everywhere you go, in your heart, and any time the enemy comes at you, you have it there for defense. You have it there for protection or attack when you see the enemy hurting others around you. When you see him headed your way, you stand ready and you go after him and you chase him away because he knows you know how to use that sword.

Let’s open our Bibles and be the warriors we are meant to be!

Umbrellas

One of the homework assignments this week  in the study of the Apostle Paul centered on his voyage to Rome. Paul’s “Umbrella of Faith” in the storm covered all that were on board the ship and all the lives were saved when the ship was destroyed as it ran aground on the island of Malta. After that, many on the island became believers and were healed.

I have an umbrella. For the most part, it rides in my car behind the seat. Often, when it’s raining, I leave it in the car and dash to the building hoping I don’t get drenched or I carry it without opening it, because it’s really not raining that hard.

How often do we treat our faith that way? We have it; we just don’t use it like it is meant to be used. We carry it along in case it’s needed but we never open it. We jump out in the middle of a storm, thinking we can handle it  on our own or we think it’s not bad enough to bother Jesus about.

We need to open our faith umbrellas! Rain or shine. They cover us when life is raining down on us and they keep us cool and calm in the sunshine.

The beginning of faith is like a little paper umbrella in a fancy drink. It’s not very big. Then, as we study God’s Word and we place it in our hearts, the umbrella of faith grows and begins to cover us.  Soon, we notice that our umbrella is quite large and we have family members, friends and even a stranger or two under there with us.

This made me think of my church. When it’s raining or, like last week, sleeting, you can see volunteers walking out, with large umbrellas, offering protection from the elements to those coming in and going out. What an awesome metaphor of how our church family covers each other and those we come in contact with, in faith.

Umbrellas: I don’t think I will ever look at them in the same way, ever again.

THE KEY TO LIFE

Deuteronomy 30 is an amazing and eye opening chapter of the Bible. I recommend that yoou read it for yourself.

Chapter 30 closes out chapters 27-29 where Moses explains the laws of Blessings and Curses. These laws are not only rules to live by, but rules of nature (like gravity). If you do this……that happens. If you jump off a building….you fall.  If you love and obey God, you live and are blessed. Simple.

Verses 1-10 tell us if we return to the LORD, He will bring blessings back into our lives and make us even more prosperous than our ancestors (v.5b). I love the part that says that He will change our hearts and those of our children so that we will love Him with all our hearts and we will LIVE (v.6).

God delights in being good to us. He delights in those who obey his commands, if we love Him with all of our heart and soul (v.9-10). He DELIGHTS in being good to us! How awesome is that!

I often wonder how I can please God. The answer to that is so incredible.  All I have to do is love and obey Him…and He will delight in me! He will delight in doing good for me.

CHOOSE LIFE

God gives us options. He allows us to choose. It is not difficult to understand nor is it hidden from us or too far away to grasp (v. 11-14). We can choose life or death, prosperity or disaster.

Oh, that we would choose life and make the choice to love God with all our hearts and commit firmly to Him. THIS IS THE KEY TO LIFE (v 20b) and we will live long in the land God promises!

Psalm 1 explains the choices perfectly.

Psalm 1 (NLT)

Oh, the joys of those who do not
    follow the advice of the wicked,
    or stand around with sinners,
    or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.

But not the wicked!
    They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.
They will be condemned at the time of judgment.
    Sinners will have no place among the godly.
For the Lord watches over the path of the godly,
    but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

 

 

 

A Mustard Seed of Faith

Most of us know the mustard seed of faith parables taught by Jesus that say if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can tell a mulberry tree to be uprooted and be planted in the sea that it must obey (Luke 17:6), tell a mountain to move and it will move, and that nothing will be impossible for us (Matthew 17: 20).

Sometimes, though, I wonder if my faith is even as large as a mustard seed because mountains don’t seem to move and mulberry trees in my way don’t uproot themselves.

Then I see the same parable that shows the “mustard seed faith” in a completely different light!

“It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” LUKE 13:9 NIV.

“He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32 NIV).

FAITH GROWS!

We are all given a measure of faith by God (Romans 12:3).

Romans 10:17 (NASB) says “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

God plants a seed of faith into our hearts but it is up to us to feed it with daily doses of His Word, nurture it with Son-light and allow Christ to prune as needed.  Soon, we have a beautiful, wonderful, big “tree” of faith that not only nurtures us; it provides a place of rest for others. Our faith then produces seeds that God can plant into the lives of others and then they grow a tree of faith and so on and so on!

Faith grows when we open our Bibles, meditate on its treasures and place them in our hearts.

(all bold italics in quoted scripture are my emphasis.)

 

A Standing Ovation

While doing my Bible Study homework, I read three sentences in the workbook that dropped me to my knees.

The assignment included reading the passage in Acts about the first martyr for Christ, Stephen. Stephen was full of God’s grace and power (Acts 6:8) and he had the face of an angel (Acts 6:15).

Stephen was doing the very thing for which he was made. It’s sometimes hard to digest, but at times our trials are part of our calling. Sometimes it’s to get us to our calling, sometimes it’s to strengthen our faith while doing our calling and well, sometimes the trial IS our calling. That was the case for Stephen. He was stoned to death for his belief and ministry of Jesus Christ. As he was being stoned he looked up to Heaven and saw God’s Glory and Jesus standing at His right hand (Acts 7:55).

What caught my attention was this statement: “Worthy, indeed, was his calling. It brought the Son of God to His feet. He stood in Stephens honor …”

When I read that, I just sat in awe of Jesus. What an amazing and wonderful thing to see in God’s Word. When we face our trials, our Stephen moments, when we feel like the stones won’t stop….Jesus is there, standing at the right hand of God Almighty, cheering us on and strengthening our faith and perseverance!  He is shouting come on (insert your name), I know you can make it! I’m here; there is nothing that can stop you now! You were made for this moment! You were made to be a witness for Me. There is so much power in that knowledge!

Thank You, Jesus for believing in me and for giving me the strength and the courage to do what you have called me to do!