30 Days of Prayer: The Fullness of God

Day 30:  The Fullness of God 

For this reason I kneel before You, Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. Lord, I pray that out of Your glorious riches my children may be strengthen with power through Your Spirit in their inner beings, so that You, Lord, may dwell in their hearts through faith. And I pray that they, being rooted and established in love may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that my children may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

                                    Ephesians 3: 14-19

This prayer found in Ephesians really says it all.  It combines the hopes and dreams I have for my children.  I want them to experience the fullness of God—not just a little bit, all of it.  I want them to know, really know, the love of Christ.  I want them to understand that the love of God is wide enough, long enough, high enough, deep enough to cover any mistake, any insecurity, any fear, any foe that they may encounter.  I want them to know the power of God in their hearts, and spirits, and souls, and minds.  I want them to be rooted in love, which will keep them steady when the tough winds of life blow.  It is for these reasons that I kneel before God, every day.  Many times I literally kneel, but always my heart is on its knees, bowing to the only One who has all the answers I need.

As these 30 Days of Prayer now come to a close, I hope that you will keep going.  I hope and pray that we are now in a habit of praying for the children in our lives.

It matters.

It makes a difference.

God does hear and will answer.

Just wait and see.


Day 28: Transforming Truth

Day 28: Transforming Truth

Lord, please search the hearts of my children.  Point out anything in their hearts or minds that offends You.  Convict them of their sins, Lord.  It is only by the power of Your Holy Spirit that we truly see our actions and attitudes the way You do.  Change my children in the areas that they need change, and lead them along the path of everlasting life.   Psalm 139: 23-24  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

There is a fine line between teaching and nagging, between guiding to maturity and trying to control.  I have crossed this line many times, and it never turns out well.  Honestly, it took me a while to realize that I am not the Holy Spirit in their lives and I should not try to be.  It is, in fact, sinful to try to be.  Only the Holy Spirit can breathe transforming truth to my children to change what needs to be changed.  I am simply required to hold out truth to them, to teach truth to them—but it is the Holy Spirit who makes that truth transform them.

Our calling to a big family and lots of children is a great blessing, indeed.  It is also hard work.  A scripture that has been a great source of comfort to me is found in Isaiah 54:13

“All your children will be taught by the Lord,
and great will be their peace.”

Did you catch that first word?  All.  I love that.  In this day and age it seems a difficult feat for all seven of my children to be followers of truth.  But God says differently, and I lay claim to that promise on a daily basis.  That is not to say that my children and yours want have seasons of wandering.  I have had those seasons, too.  But I believe God’s Word and I believe the power of His Holy Spirit.  I encourage you to believe for your children until they believe wholeheartedly for themselves.

 

 


30 Days of Prayer: Justice, Mercy, Humility

Day 27:  Justice, Mercy, and Humility

Lord, You have shown us what is good and what You require:  To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with You, our God.  May these children display these truths in their lives now, and forever.         Micah 6:8    In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

If this is what God requires, as the scripture says, we may need to break it down just a bit to make sure we understand it.

To do justly … The generation just behind me is doing a good job of promoting social justice.  From orphan care, to sex trafficking, to water projects, the awareness of need is made available more than ever.  The Internet has brought the needs of the world to our doorsteps.   And this is good and right.  The one thing we need to be aware of is to make sure our causes line up with scripture.  Pick best over good, eternal over temporary.

To love mercy … God wants us to be a champion of justice, and stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.  He also wants us to live a life of mercy.  What is mercy?  Not getting what we deserve.  Mercy is a lot like compassion mixed with forgiveness.  God extends it to us and we should extend it to others.  And we should love it, seek after it, look for opportunities to extend mercy to those around us.

Finally, what does walking humbly with God look like?  This is the picture in my mind:  When my daughter, Sally, was little, she always wanted to hold my hand when we walked together. There, holding hands, standing closely together, she talked, laughed, and sang with me.  She often said, “Mama, I LOVE spending time with you!”  or “Did you know I love you sooo much?!” Big words and thoughts for a three-year-old, but was (and still is) my Sally!  When she is with me, she is really with me.  To me, that is walking humbly.  Being humble does not mean that we think badly of ourselves, it means we rarely think of ourselves.  To walk humbly with God means that we rarely think of ourselves because our minds are too busy thinking of Him, and thinking of how we can extend justice and mercy to others.

 

 

 


Friends

I had a dream about friendship last night.

Strange, I know, to have a topical dream.

I think it was spurred on by reading news stories of the disastrous things taking place in Afghanistan.  One particular resurfaced picture from 2011 that tore at my heart was that of Terri Norris kneeling and weeping at the flag covered casket of her hero son, Pfc. Cody Norris, after it arrived back in the US. I cried when I saw that picture. Even imagining the pain that she must be going through brought real pain to my own heart and tears to my own eyes.

So, in my dream last night I dreamed of a group of women who were friends. In my dream they were showing a slideshow and video clips of fun times over the years. In one particular video clip they were all acting silly, having a blast. They had picked up one woman and were all carrying her into a house laughing hysterically until they all laid down on the floor and had a good belly laugh together. I love those type of deep, uncontrolled laughing fits with close friends!

Next in my dream, the video clip changed to another scene. This time, the same group of women were carrying their friend into a house. This time they were all weeping. They gently laid the woman onto the floor and all laid down together and wept uncontrollably. Somehow, as an observer to this scene, I knew in my dream that the woman had lost her son. And her friends had carried her inside and laid down with her and cried as if it were their own son who had died.

I woke up feeling sad for these imaginary women. And yet, it caused me to think of my own friends. I have been blessed with an abundance of friends, each very special to me. But, as it should be, there are only a very few that I would lay on the floor and belly laugh with and even fewer that I could imagine laying on the floor sobbing with me, if something so tragic happened in my life. Those friends are precious indeed. Those friendships should be tended to, nurtured.

It reminded me of the story in Mark 2:1-5:

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves,“Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things?Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

What a beautiful story. A crippled man could not get to Jesus. He didn’t have the strength to fight the crowd, make his way forward. So what happened? His friends stepped up. His friends carried him to Jesus. When they, too, had trouble getting close, they didn’t give up. They climbed up on the roof (can you picture them working together to gently get the paralyzed man up there?) and then they made an opening in the roof just above where Jesus stood, by actually digging through it. And then they gently lowered their friend down and placed him at the feet of Jesus.

And then there is verse 5 which reveals the most important part.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Did you catch it? “When Jesus saw their faith…” It was the faith of his friends that led to his healing. Corporately they believed together, which led first to the most important healing of his soul and spirit through the forgiveness of his sin, and then to the healing of his body. Can you imagine the joy of not only the man, but also of his friends? I bet they laid down on the floor and had a good belly laugh together. I bet they repeated that story of their shared experience year after year after year.

Who are your friends that would carry you in good times and bad?

Who would dig their way through to carry you to the feet of Jesus?

For whom would you be that kind of friend?

It doesn’t matter if the list is small. Truly, that is really how it should be. We don’t have the time to be that kind of friend to everyone. But we can be that kind of friend to someone.

And we have the perfect model of friendship in the best friend of all—Jesus. He gave up his life that we could live.

 

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

                                                                                                            Galatians 6:2

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

                                                                                                            Romans 12:15


30 Days of Prayer: Doers of the Word

Day 26: Doers of the Word

Lord, may my children not just listen to Your truth, but act on Your truth.  May my children have a desire to look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continue to do this, not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—so they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:25)

It is easy to hear, harder to do.  And yet faith without works is dead—not because we are earning our salvation by our works–that is impossible.  It is by grace we have been saved, not from ourselves and our efforts.  And yet, faith and works go hand in hand.  Why?  Because true faith demands response. When we truly get a glimpse of Who God really is, and what He has done for us, we can’t help ourselves.  We must respond with good works and living truth.

The thing that trips us up is forgetfulness.  That is why scripture is filled with reminders.  That is why the Promise Land was filled with Stones of Remembrance.  We are a forgetful people and we must make conscience efforts to remember the truth that changes everything.  May it be so for us and for our children.