Friday, November 28, 2008

Are We There Yet?

by Kathy Lay

This Week's Verse: Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (NIV)

You’re familiar with the scene—an hours-long trip in a cramped car occupied by you, maybe another adult, and at least one child. The trees and buildings speed by, but even though you’re making great time, the inevitable question resonates from the back seat: “Are we there yet?” At first you answer a patient, “No, not yet.” You might even smile at the familiarity of the situation. But by the fourth, ninth, and sixteenth times, you’re dangerously close to pulling “this car over!” and making everyone else walk. Been there?

So has God. Consider the prayers He often hears. Can you fix this problem now, Lord? Where’s my healing I’ve been asking for? I need my answer about his job today, God. Are you even listening? No doubt, by the fourth time, He’s also grown weary of the request. He, like you in the car, knows that “we aren’t there yet” and He probably wishes that response would satisfy enough to result in our patience.

But His ways are not our ways—thankfully! Instead of frustrated threats to end the journey, He provides kindness and mercy when we approach His throne, as shown in this week’s verse. When His answer is “no” or “not yet” He wants us to be confident that He will provide the kindness and mercy we need to be sustained. His boundless grace can move us from Are we there yet? to a point of Let’s enjoy the ride together, Lord; I trust Your timing.

And whenever you arrive is just perfect.

God, thank You for providing me with kindness and mercy when I approach Your throne, even when I do so repeatedly, not heeding the answers You’ve already given me. Replace my impatience or boredom with enthusiasm for the ride.

Application: What is an area in your life in which you've been waiting on God? Can you see how the process of waiting might be refining certain areas? Take heart; He's got a plan AND a timeframe for your good.

Power Verses:
Ecc. 7:8
, “Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.” (NLT)
1 Tim. 1:16, “But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.” (NLT)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Who Needs Anything More

by Kathy Lay

This Week's Verse: Phillipians 4:19, "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

I love listening in on the conversations my kids have in the car. Last week I heard my son express his deep need for a certain toy. His sister replied in her best "big sister" voice, "Now, Skylar, that's not a need; that's a want." Ah. Someone's been paying attention.

While I was happy that she knew the difference, a small part inside me got defensive for Skylar's want. I mean, I don't want my kids to be greedy, but is there anything wrong with wanting stuff too?

I'm so thankful that the Lord takes care of this! I'm grateful that He knows what we need. And what we don't. He also knows what we want, which may or may not be a real need. For example, you may think you need a zippy, cute little red convertible sports car, but you really just need reliable transportation.

You might think you need a frappuccino and biscotti, but what you really need is more rest and wholesome food so you can be energized. (Ouch. I really want that.)

You might think you need those slammin’ blue snakeskin sling-backs, but all you really need is some moderately attractive quality footwear. You get the picture.

And then there are those below-the-surface needs that you may not even be aware that you have. You may need to be taken out of your comfort zone in order to grow. Maybe you need an abundant measure of forgiveness for a sin you didn’t even realize you committed. And you might desperately need a divine touch of joy in a life that has become grayer so gradually that you hardly noticed.

Aren’t you so glad that God knows your needs? All of them—even the ones you’re not conscious of? And He’s so faithful to fill those needs richly. Abundantly. Beyond what you’d hoped. When you trust God completely to meet all your needs, He may even take care of a few wants—such as a 75% off sale on those sling-backs! Or even the toy my son wants making the list of After-Thanksgiving-Day early bird discounts!

But even if we don’t always get what we want, we will always have what we need. And that’s infinitely better.

Lord, You do meet our needs so richly—even ones we're not aware of. Thank You for doing it gloriously through Jesus, so that each time we see a need and even a want filled, our faith increases even more.

As you count your blessings and express your gratitude this Thanksgiving, note the categories those blessings fall into. What obvious needs has God met? What needs has He met that, before, you didn't even realize you needed met? And what wants has He graciously provided?

Power Verses:
Matthew 7:11, "So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him." (NLT)
Psalm 79:8, "Do not hold us guilty for the sins of our ancestors! Let your compassion quickly meet our needs, for we are on the brink of despair." (NLT)
2 Corinthians 9:12, "So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God." (NLT)
Ezra 3:11, "With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: 'He is good; his love to Israel endures forever.' "(NIV)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Trust in the Lord, Not Your Own Understanding

by Darra Strohm

This Week’s Verse: Isaiah 58:11, "The Lord will always lead you. He will satisfy your needs in dry lands and give strength to your bones. You will be like a garden that has much water, like a spring that never runs dry."(NCV)

About a year ago, I committed to faithfully attend “Moms in Touch” prayer group at our church on Wednesday nights. I was in dire circumstances and I needed serious prayer warriors to unite with me in prayer for me and my family. God led me to our group to revive my thirsty soul and give me strength in my bones. I praise Him that He has restored the garden in me and provides the spring that never runs dry.

Communication (prayer) is linked to our Faith. Another word for faith is assurance. Praise God that we are assured that He will lead us and satisfy us if we trust in Him. In my own understanding, my world doesn’t make much sense. But in His world, I have nothing to fear because He has the answers to all my circumstances. This is the reason that I pray (believe) that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. I believe that by my faith in communication with Him that I unleash His power.

Power is an asset of communication with our Father. When Jesus left the earth, He gave us (His family) the power (authority) to rule His earthly kingdom. By Faith, we are commanded to take authority over the earth. It’s our obligation to bring down Heaven on our world by our prayers.

This week’s devotion is an invitation to connect with a group of praying Mommas who faithfully communicate with our Father for families, friends, church, community, schools, government, the universe, and the unloved.

Father, you are Lord. I trust you with all my heart. Thank you for satisfying all my needs and providing me with strength to my bones. I am like a garden that has much water, like a spring that never runs dry. I believe that my circumstances are in your hands and my family is made perfect in your will. In Jesus’ Precious Name, Amen.

Trust God’s sovereignty. Believe in His Will on earth as it is in heaven. Pray for His Power. Live each day with Purpose. Praise Him and thank Him for each day’s circumstances.

Power Verses:

Psalm 32:8, "The Lord says 'I will make you wise and show you where to go. I will guide you and watch over you.'" Psalm 32:8 (NCV)
Psalm 48:14, "This God is our God forever and ever. He will guide us from now on."(NCV)
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Always be joyful. Pray continually, and give thanks whatever happens. That is what God wants for you in Jesus Christ."(NCV)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Would You Like to Pray?

by Debby Craig

This Week’s Verse: 1 Samuel 1:27, “I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.”

I spent the day with my daughter-in-law, Elizabeth, today. She is married to my son Matthew and is a constant reminder to me of “The Miracle” that happened in our family. Periodically, one of Matt’s old friends will stop by to see them and she listens in awe as stories of his past are told. “This can't be,” she has shared with me. “I don't even know this guy they are talking about.”

He was addicted to alcohol and drugs at an early age. Our whole family lived this horror as he replaced all that was important and precious to him for that next fix. I tried to hide my broken heart, anger, disappointment, guilt, and shame, but frequently I would ask my Sunday school class, our small groups, and the Wednesday prayer service to pray for Matthew. I was always asking others to pray for my son. We are told in scripture to carry each others’ burdens to the Lord in prayer. I began to see God moving in Matt’s life and reported each incident to the people who had spent so much time in prayer for my son and family.

Then about six years ago, Karen Keim bought me a book called Moments for Families with Prodigals. I read it in one night. It was prayer after prayer for my son from the Word. They were my prayers. Then it hit me! I had been asking others to ask the Lord for Debby's most crucial “heart” requests. My heavenly Father longed to hear from me—from my heart—about my pain, my dreams, and lost dreams for Matt. This particular book taught me to pray from the heart in the language of a mother's heart. His language—the Word. I just took a passage of scripture, prayed my heart, and inserted my son’s name into the passage.

I was excited and of course I wanted to share this new found insight about prayer with others. I had never felt like I could pray in front of others before. There had to be other mothers out there, just like me, who were amateurs at praying with others or moms who were at their wit’s end or maybe just mommas who wanted to pray for their children.

So… we put a note in The Caller entitled “Mamas Rise Up” inviting moms to come and pray for their children. Some did! God sent Virgie Pearce, Judy Bucher, and Tomma Lu and for years, once a week like clockwork, we prayed and poured out our hearts for our children and their walk with the Lord or their salvation.

We are still praying together as “Moms in Touch” and have more moms than ever before. The Lord has answered our prayers and blessed us with many miracles. We have many testimonies to share about the battles that the Lord has fought for us and won. We are constantly in awe of His never-ending love for us and His Mighty Power. We also realize that Satan is very interested in our little group of moms who are praising and worshiping and expecting miracles for our children and grandchildren, for he has poked his nose in our business many a time. But once again, we have God and His word to do battle for us.

Unsurprisingly, in 2006 Matthew accepted the Lord Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. He has a brand new heart and it is evident to all that it is a heart for Jesus. He gives God all the Glory for delivering him from his addictions. He says quite boldly and comfortably “I've been delivered.” He prays about everything. He says to me often “Mom—have you prayed about it? Just pray about it!” I feel such great joy when I hear him talk in “God's” language.

The Lord took most of him and replaced it with a new Matt. After his salvation, when he would testify about what the Lord did for him, I was very often left speechless; I didn't know this new person the Lord had put before me. Where was the old Matt? But now, I don't even remember the old Matt. I actually had a hard time pulling together some past memories of the old Matthew to write this. Wasn't that a good problem to have? Praise God! Praise God!

Lord, thank you for opening my heart and allowing me to spill it all out to you in prayer for the lives of my children. Thank you and Praise you for saving my son and the answered prayers of our praying mommas group, and please continue to take care of our dear ones! In Jesus name, Amen.

Understand what you can and can’t do as a parent. Ruth Graham Bell, in Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, stated it very simply:
“We mothers must take care of the possible and trust God for the impossible. We are to love, affirm, encourage, teach, listen and care for the physical needs of the family. We cannot convict of sin, create hunger and thirst after God, or convict. These are miracles, and miracles are not in our department.”

Power Verses:
1 Samuel 12:23
, “As for me, far be it from me to sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you.” (NIV)
Matthew 18:19 -20, “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (NIV) Cool!
2 Chronicles 20:15, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.” (NIV) This is what the Lord says to you mommas!
Lamentations 2:19, “Arise, cry out in the night, pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord, Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children.”

(***Editor's note: This devotion, as Debby mentioned, covers one of the many miracles that has resulted from the prayer efforts of the Mommas' Prayer Group. We look forward to sharing more in the future. Next week we'll hear from Darra Strohm.)