Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looking Forward

When we come to the end of December, we inevitably find ourselves in a place of contemplating the past year and considering the new year ahead. Where do we find ourselves? Are we comfortable with our status quo? Are we where we want to be, or do we want "change" in our life? This is a time for "New Years Resolutions". So, let's take inventory.

Version: NAS

Philippians 3:13-14
13. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of [it] yet; but one thing [I do]: forgetting what [lies] behind and reaching forward to what [lies] ahead, 14. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

In Old Testament times, in the Book of Jeremiah, God addresses the people of Israel. They as a nation, had wandered away from their faith. They were far removed from what God had called them to be. I think we can see a parallel with our country today. But as a nation, we are first individuals. If you find yourself wanting a closer relationship with God; if little by little in this last year or years you have lost focus for the future, listen closely as the Lord will show you how to come back.

Jeremiah 7:23-24
23. "But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.' 24. "Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in [their own] counsels [and] in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward.

There have been numerous times in my life that I have found myself far from God. How did I get there? How was it that one day I woke up and looked around and I found myself in a place that wasn't at all where I wanted to be? Each time there was a common denominator in my predicament...I had not been reading my Bible in a consistent way. I had gotten off the path for some reason or another, and ended up somewhere else.

I think the key word here is consistency. Not to let "life" get to be "Number 1". Putting God first, ahead of the cares of the immediate. Taking time to acknowledge Him every morning. Submitting myself to Him. Putting His Word in my heart and mind on a daily basis.

It's really "easy" to get off track. First I worry and fret, (we already talked about that one) then,I think I have an answer, my stubborn "will" takes over. I have forgotten to ask God. I have relied on my own understanding instead of His.

Proverbs 3:1-7
1. My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; 2. For length of days and years of life, And peace they will add to you. 3. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. 4. So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man. 5. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. 6. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. 7. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

We can find ourselves in all kinds of situations in our personal lives. Living in a mess. Or someone else's. Wanting to have it change. Wishing our life was different. Acknowledging God is the first step. Going to Him; "calling on Him". That's the beginning. Seeking Him for the change, and not trying to do it in our own power. That's a key element. Seeing the need for change and then asking God to accomplish it in His way.

Jeremiah 33:3
'Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'

Lamentations 3: 22-24
22. The LORD's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23. [They] are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness. 24. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him."

Psalm 103:12-13
12. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions (sin) from us. 13. Just as a father has compassion on [his] children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.

Our Father is infinitely compassionate. He doesn't hold our sin against us and rub our face in it. He doesn't keep reminding us of our failures and shortcomings. He just wants us to return to Him; to be with Him and to hear what He has to say.

I read once, pertaining to us staying "on course" with God, that just a few degrees "off" will cause us to miss our destination. Just like with a plane or ship. Staying on course is critical. If we are off "just a little" every day, over the course of years we will totally miss the plan God had for us.

Jeremiah 12:15
"And it will come about that after I have uprooted them, I will again have compassion on them; and I will bring them back, each one to his inheritance and each one to his land.

In this scripture we see God talking about bringing us to our inheritance. What exactly does that mean? The dictionary defines it as our "birthright, legal legacy, heritage, endowment."
God has an inheritance for us as His sons and daughters. It's up to us to come to a place of receiving it. (more later on this thought)

Ephesians 3:16-19
16. that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; 17. so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; [and] that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18. may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19. and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God.

So let's call out to God, and let Him show us how to move forward in this next year. Even if we are in the place He has called us to be, God is never stagnant. He always wants us to keep moving. I want to move forward, daily knowing that I am on the right path with Him. That I am communicating and listening to Him speak daily.
I'm looking to God and His Word to "define" my future. I want to let Him make the plan for the future. More than just a "resolution", but a God inspired way of life. I want to be a willing participant in my destiny and inheritance, taking responsibility for my attitudes and actions by submitting myself to Him; letting Him lead the way.
May this coming year be a time
to get to know God in a more intimate way.

Love and blessings for the New Year,

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Extravagant Sacrifice

When you look upon the tree at Christmas what do you see? Do you "oohhhh" and "aaaahhh" at the lights and ornaments? Adore the sheer beauty of it, in all it's splendor? There are presents all adorned and piled under it for our loved ones. But do you think on the symbolism of it?

Version: NAS

Luke 2:8-12

8. And in the same region there were [some] shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10. And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; 11. for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12. "And this [will be] a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger."

The angel proclaimed a message to the Shepherds. It is also for us. A baby is born, but not just any baby. He is the Messiah. He is the Savior of the World. He is God's perfect gift and sacrifice for us, His children. Born in humility, Jesus left Heaven and was born, just like us.

Version: NAS

John 12:1-11

1. Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining [at the] [table] with Him. 3. Mary therefore took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, 5. "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to poor [people]?" 6. Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. 7. Jesus therefore said, "Let her alone, in order that she may keep it for the day of My burial. 8. "For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have Me." 9. The great multitude therefore of the Jews learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. 10. But the chief priests took counsel that they might put Lazarus to death also; 11. because on account of him many of the Jews were going away, and were believing in Jesus. 
I have thought for many years about this interchange between Mary and Jesus. Mary was the sister of Martha and Lazarus. She had seen only shortly before, Jesus raise her brother from the dead. Little did they know that they would be experiencing the arrest, and crucifixion of Jesus in just a few days. They were celebrating Passover's approach: the three siblings who were friends of Jesus, and His twelve disciples. Mary was a young woman who had seen a miracle; her brother brought back to life and she was grateful, so very grateful to Jesus.

There are two accounts of someone anointing Jesus with oil, the other is thought to be Mary Magdalene, but this was Mary, the sister of Lazarus. The fact that this particular gesture happened twice is curious to me. After much prayer for understanding concerning these two separate incidents I believe we have to understand that this was a custom of showing humility on a woman's part.

It was customary to wash the feet of guests upon their arrival, in those days of dusty roads and streets and the wearing of sandals. This was usually done by a servant. But a woman doing the "washing" showed respect and humility. When Mary chose to step out and do this customary "act", it became more than just a courtesy, but an act of worship.

She chose, instead of water, a container of "nard". Nard is and was a valuable oil, containing sweet smelling spices. It is said that it was worth a years wages. Hard to imagine a pint of oil being worth a "years wages".
It was a "perfume" of sorts, but was also used in burial preparations to retard the smell of decay. Very powerful and expensive. Mary's gesture was more than just an act of worship, it was a "costly" one as well.

How does all this play in with Christmas you might be wondering. Let's say that Jesus is more than just the sweet Baby in the manger. He is our Lord and Saviour. He is Messiah, the Christ. Born as a baby into this world, but also as our Redeemer. He was born and prepared as the ultimate act of worship. From the moment He was conceived in Mary's womb He began a journey of sacrifice. It was God's redemptive plan for us. He laid down His life for us, for our sins, so that we can have fellowship with our Heavenly Father.

So let us remember that when we look upon the tree this Christmas morning, all shining and bright, that we see Jesus there. It is not only a "Christmas tree", it should be a remembrance and a symbol of His great and costly sacrifice for us on the cross. To celebrate the true meaning of Christmas we must remember that it is about the Birth of Jesus, but at the same time we also need to acknowledge the purpose for that birth.

I want to be more like Mary, thanking Jesus for all that He has done for me. Let's become extravagant in our worship, counting not the cost, but lavishing it upon Him.  

A blessed little baby has become
the Redeemer of the World.

May we all be blessed and
touched by God's Hand
this Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Stay "Connected"

Think of yourself right now, wherever you are; sitting in a chair at a desk or at the kitchen table, curled up on the sofa, or cozied up in the bed. Yeah, let's sneak away for a few minutes of "alone time", that mini vacation amidst the holiday hustle and bustle. Some time to spend with our blogging pals, searching the latest Christmas decor and tasty recipes. Ahhh computer, "take me away"!

So since we are all on the computer right now let's just use this analogy.

Having a  computer, we know that it's useless unless it's "plugged in". We can look at the computer screen, sit there all day waiting for it to "turn on", but unless the little wires are connected to the electrical outlet, we don't get anything. Oh, you say, "Well, I have a laptop and I don't need to be "connected"." True, you may not need the connection for the moment, but I can guarantee that at some point in the near future your battery will run out and you will be in the same place as the rest of us. Nothing showing up on the screen but a blank space and a faint glimmer of your own reflection.

In our physical daily life we can be running around, taking care of all our duties, have a fabulous social life, and kids that are "bumper sticker" worthy. We may cook the best and most tasty recipes that draw oohhhhs and aaahhhhhs from our families, show up in the new slinky nightwear, and have a floor that you could eat a 5 course meal off of, but what if you're just running on "batteries" and you're not really "plugged in"?

Pretty soon you will be running down, and at the most inconvenient of times you will be without power; "blank". You will be staring at a black hole in the middle of life.

The Vine and The Branches, John 15

Version: NAS

John 15:1-7

1. "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2. "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every [branch] that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. 3. "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither [can] you, unless you abide in Me. 5. "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6. "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7. "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you."

Jesus talks about us abiding in Him.

Let's look up the real meaning of "abide".

to live with, to act in accordance with, to endure, permanent, unchanging, constant, steadfast, everlasting, fixed, firm, immutable.

So when I read the verse where it says we are to "abide" in Him, and that then He will "abide" in us. I think it means more than just a casual relationship. Sounds to me like Jesus is asking us to "move in" with Him, be more than just a casual friend. We can even take the thought of "marrying" Jesus. He's looking for a permanent, constant, exclusive relationship with Him. After all, He does call His Church, the "Bride of Christ".
Joyce Meyer has often said, "We need to do more than just "date" Jesus, we need to be "married" to Him. We need that kind of lasting, permanent, official, steadfast kind of relationship.

Jesus is our power source and without being "plugged in" to Him we are not going to be running at our optimum speed, or for very long. It doesn't take long for our "batteries" to run out when we're "using it up' with the busy-ness of life. 

Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Without being "connected" to the vine, our power source, it wouldn't be long before we are losing our nourishment, then over time we start to wither. If there was any fruit there it soon becomes dried up..."raisins", shriveled and small. Then before you know it, due to lack of flow from the Holy Spirit, we start to break apart from the vine. Then we're spiritually dead. Next?...well, you have read the rest.

Especially this time of year, it's easy to let the stress of all the Holiday Season, from Thanksgiving to New Years, with Christmas in between, get us down and zap our strength. It's easy to let expectations, lack of time, financial burdens, and family "drama" get the better of us. In this busy time, lets stay connected to the source of our strength and power. Plug in to Jesus. Let's keep that connection for a daily time of prayer and "intimacy". A time to study God's Word and keep that communication flowing.

Fruit that is "constant" is the sign of health and vitality in our relationship with God. It's a sign that we are "abiding". Let's "Abide in Him", so that we can be confident in our ability to see those "benefits" we talked about. And along the way we will become more like Him. You know what they say, you start acting like those you hang out with. So let's spend our "alone time", not by ourselves, but connected. Connected to Jesus.

Have a wonderful "week before Christmas".

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Don't worry, be happy...

Sounds easy enough.

My husband has a pretty dry sense of humor, but he can be extremely funny in an annoying sort of way at times. When the girls were growing up he used to sing funny songs to them. It irritated them and made them laugh at the same time. It would help them forget their problems. His favorite tune was "Well, it's a good day from morning to night..." Anyone remember that little diddy? It is forever burned in my memory!

In the course of our lives we worry and fret. We worry over our children, our families, our spouses, our finances (especially now), our health, our relationships. The list can go on and on. We are worriers, especially us gals. We're moms "in charge of the family" and because of that we get in a place of misunderstanding concern and care for our children, loved ones, and circumstances with "worry". I know. I've been one of those people.

Version: NAS

Matthew 6:25-33

25. "For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, [as to] what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, [as to] what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? 26. "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and [yet] your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27. "And which of you by being anxious can add a [single] cubit to his life's span? 28. "And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29. yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. 30. "But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is [alive] today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, [will He] not much more [do so for] you, O men of little faith? 31. "Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' 32. "For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
This last verse is the key here. Seek God first and then He can give us the things we need.
Version: NAS
Philippians 4:4-7

4. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5. Let your forbearing [spirit] be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The following is our foundation scripture.

NAS version
John 15:9-17

9. "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10. "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love. 11. "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and [that] your joy may be made full. 12. "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13. "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14. "You are My friends, if you do what I command you. 15. "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16. "You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you. 17. "This I command you, that you love one another.
Wonderful scriptures, but how many of us are still worrying? We look at the scripture and read it and say. Well yes, that SOUNDS good, but how do we actually do it?
Version: NAS

1 Peter 5:7
7."...casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you."
Here's where the answer lies.  Let's see what the dictionary says about the word "cast".
"to throw, deliberately and forcefully, toss, pitch, fling and hurl."
Remember when Jesus met the disciples they were fishing. They used nets back then to gather the fish, I guess much like today. But they did it by hand. Now we all know that if you are going to throw out a net, that you better have some force behind it otherwise it won't get where it needs to go. Use this visual. Take all your worries and anxieties and literally "throw" them to Jesus. He will catch them for you.
I once heard the analogy of "worry" to the thought of having car problems. You can have a car problem all day, but it won't get fixed until you take it to the mechanic. Get the correlation? As long as we are hanging onto our problems and clutching our worries, frustrations and fears, they will never get into Jesus capable hands. After all He promises to take care of our needs.
This following scripture is for me today. Anyone else need it?
Version: NAS

Matthew 4:23-25

23. And [Jesus] was going about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. 24. And the news about Him went out into all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, taken with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. 25. And great multitudes followed Him from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and [from] beyond the Jordan.
Jesus is willing and waiting. He's right there asking you to let Him take your burdens. Remember, He loves you and He's your best friend. He wants you to cast your troubles on Him. He's ready. How about you?

I have an update and it concerns Melanie and Andrew, found on the side bar. Many of you have read and prayed for them and kept track of Andrew and his illness. I just read today in Melanie's latest post that he is now with Jesus. My heart is breaking for them as I have communicated with Melanie many times via email. I am deeply grieving over this, but I am still trusting God, as is Melanie.
I know God had me post my last post, without this knowledge. But now in light of this situation I want to say that it is not meant to be light or without great love for those who are suffering right now. My love and prayers are with Melanie for her and her family.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Benefiting from the Gift of His Presence

I had a plan for this next post. But one thing the Lord always asks of me is to be "available". He wants me and you to be available to hear Him and then do what He asks us to do.

We just happened to watch the movie "Yes Man" last night with Jim Carrey. I'm not saying run out and rent it. It had some questionable language, and a few other things that were, well, maybe not Bible Study material. The reason I even make mention of it, is because when God calls us and then asks things of us, I have learned that He wants a willing heart and an attitude of  "Yes". So today when I planned on another post that I still feel He wants, He asked me to write this instead.

God wants to talk about benefiting us
with His presence,
 and all that "Gift" really means.

Please don't be turned off by the amount of scripture that's here today. Each one of these passages God gave me specifically. That was one of the things I want to stress here in this blog, it is A Bible Study. I can talk all day, and maybe say some things that are interesting and even beneficial, but there is nothing better than God's Word to get to the heart of the matter. So that is why there is so much scripture to read. He can say it better than I can. The Word of God supernaturally informs, reveals, convicts, heals and permeates our being. There are some people out there that He wants to reach today. So ask God if you are one of them. (I think we all are). Then let Him bring to your mind and heart what He is wanting to say to you.

Version: NAS
Psalm 103:1-18

1. [A Psalm of David]. Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, [bless] His holy name. 2. Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; 3. Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your diseases; 4. Who redeems your life from the pit; Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; 5. Who satisfies your years with good things, [So that] your youth is renewed like the eagle. 6. The LORD performs righteous deeds, And judgments for all who are oppressed. 7. He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel. 8. The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. 9. He will not always strive [with us]; Nor will He keep [His anger] forever. 10. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. 12. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13. Just as a father has compassion on [his] children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. 14. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are [but] dust. 15. As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more; And its place acknowledges it no longer. 17. But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children, 18. To those who keep His covenant, And who remember His precepts to do them.

God is giving us an opportunity for good things in our lives. If you don't know that or believe that, please do. He is not harsh or mean spirited. He is not angry with us. No matter how many times we mess up or fall down, He is right there, reaching out His hand, taking ahold of us and wrapping us in His arms. We cannot compare His love for and to us with any earthly parent. He is above and beyond any love that we have ever known.

Version NAS
Jeremiah 29:11-13

11. 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12. 'Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13. 'And you will seek Me and find [Me], when you search for Me with all your heart. 14. 'And I will be found by you,' declares the LORD,

Version: NAS
Matthew 12:15-21

15. "... And many followed Him, and He healed them all, 16. and warned them not to make Him known, 17. in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, might be fulfilled, saying, 18. "Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. 19. "He will not quarrel, nor cry out; Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. 20. "A battered reed He will not break off, And a smoldering wick He will not put out, Until He leads justice to victory. 21. "And in His name the Gentiles will hope."

Not only do these scripture verses talk about Jesus healing physical disease and illness, He is reminding us today of His great love for us. Somewhere due to circumstances in our lives we tend to forget that God Really Loves Us.
In verse 20 it says that He will not break off a battered reed or put out a smoldering wick. What does that mean? God loves us so much He will not do anything to harm us. He sees when we are downtrodden, depressed, and feeling without hope. He sees when there is only the slightest spark in our spiritual life and relationship with Him. Is He going to stomp on you and crush you when you are down or "in the pit"? Does He refuse us because we may not feel worthy? NO! Just the opposite, He will do whatever He can to pull us up. Just let Him. Just give Him the attitude of "yes". Trust Him and give the Lord the permission to help you. He is right there waiting to help you whatever your need...physically, mentally, emotionally, and relationally. He is ready to step in and let you FEEL and Know His benefits.

Remember the scripture from last post?

Version: NAS

John 15:9-13

9. "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10. "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love. 11. "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and [that] your joy may be made full. 12. "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13. "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Jesus laid down His life for us. For salvation, yes, but for other benefits from His great love. I love the verse about "Joy", that His joy may be placed in our hearts. No matter what we are going through we can still have the "joy" that comes from knowing Jesus.

Let His love put you in a place where you can receive His Benefits. After all they are right there waiting for us. It's a complete package. You get Him and you get His Benefits. I think realizing that could be the best Christmas gift we could ever receive.

Love to all you,
my "friends".

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

...just a little help from our friends

You wouldn't know it from my blog, but I'm really sort of a loner. Not lonely, but a "loner". I'm the kind of person that is happy to be by myself. I enjoy a good book, working on a project, staying home. If I need to shop, generally I'm on my own. Oh, I love shopping with my daughters when they are around, and I love a good flea market adventure. I have friends and I so enjoy their company, but I'm not a person that needs to be constantly busy with other people. I love going out to lunch and finding common interests with others but it's not a daily "have to" sort of thing. I'm comfortable with who I am. I'm content.

I have discussed this with several of my bloggy gal pals recently. I think blogging helps us to communicate and share our hearts. Face it, if you have 50 friends calling you every day, begging for you to go shopping, needing your decor advice, needing a lunch partner, you probably aren't one of us who finds great satisfaction in blogging. Can you relate?

When I started my other blog, Common Ground, I was amazed with the number of Christian women I was coming in contact with. There were so many of us out there, and I sensed, like in myself, many were not currently in a "fellowship" of any kind. OK, many were in "church", but didn't have a place where they could be around like minded women (and men for that matter). I've been in church many times where I felt totally and completely "alone".

In starting this Bible Study blog I wanted a place where we could come together and talk, study God's Word, share our hearts, maybe have a laugh along the way, ask for prayer, and generally know it was a safe place to communicate. And thanks to all of you who leave a comment, I feel we are getting there. So I DO encourage everyone that reads this, to just leave a comment, say what's on your heart, throw out an idea or to just let us know you are there. Just leave a comment that says "Hey, I'm here and I'm reading with you." That would be awesome. If each one of you just raised your hand and said "Here"!

We need you. If you read the comments you will find great testimonies, communication, questions, answers, but above all you will find "fellowship"; you will find others who may be going through the same things you are going through. You will hear God speak to you through other people and you will find huge blessings just waiting to be enjoyed. I know I do.

Having said all this brings me to this point, we cannot be "alone" in our faith. We need other people around us. We need friends who will be there for us to lift us up in prayer and to run thoughts and ideas by. How many times recently have I been in the middle of a conversation when "kaboom" God hits me with a totally new thought. He does things like that. We need to be happy and content with ourselves and Jesus, but wow, sometimes we need a friend or friends to see us through.

Moses, Aaron and Hur watching the battle.

Version: NAS

Exodus 17:10-13

10. And Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. 12. But Moses' hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. 13. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

Let's link arms and hold each other up. Let's listen to one another, talk to one another, bless one another. Let's above all pray for one another, and then let's be vulnerable with one another.  Let's be "friends" in God's true sense of the word. Let's find "victory" in the battle, with our friends.

Below is the scripture that I want to use as a foundation for what is coming next. Jesus calls us His "friends". What kind of wonderful news is that?!!

Foundational Scripture
Version: NAS

John 15:9-17

9. "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10. "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love. 11. "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and [that] your joy may be made full. 12. "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13. "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14. "You are My friends, if you do what I command you. 15. "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16. "You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you. 17. "This I command you, that you love one another".

 I'll leave you with that for now. Verse 12 says it all; that we would love one another, just as Jesus loves us.

I'm so thankful that when I call you friend, when we call each other "friends", there is more to it than just being acquaintances. I'm looking for "friends in Jesus", how about you?

Love in Jesus,

Friday, December 4, 2009

Knowing the "Will" of God

I grew up in a church and denomination that never prayed for healing. It was a taboo subject. Just like 1 Corinthians Chapters 12-14 were not sermon material. The motto was, "if you don't understand it, let's just not talk about it". Well maybe they prayed for "God's will to be done" concerning an illness or disease, but it never gave me any confidence that this person would ever be well.

One time in a small group ministry meeting the leader was praying for one of our team members that had a large cancerous tumor on her kidney. She was getting ready to undergo surgery to remove it. She was a young woman in her early 40's, a new Christian, and desperately needed and wanted God to step in and heal her. The leader prayed for God's "will" to be done, but in the process prayed for her to be ready to die if it was her "time to go" and peace with that prospect. After that meeting my friend came up to me and said,
"Well, cr*p, I might as well just sit here and die!"

How many times have we wanted to pray for someone that was desperately needing healing, but we were a loss for words, because we didn't really "know God's will for healing". Maybe we didn't pray, or we took the "safe" route and just said "God's will be done" with that huge spiritual question mark just hanging there. Not knowing God's will is a dangerous thing. You can die from it.

Luke 22:41-43
41. And He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and [began] to pray, 42. saying, "Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done." 43. Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.

The only time that Jesus asked for God's will to be done concerning Himself was when He was in the Garden of Gethsemene. He needed to know God's will for Him at this agonizing time before His arrest and crucifixion. The word

"Will"  in the Oxford Dictionary is stated as a strong desire or intention, premeditated purpose, and a legal document that expresses one's wishes to be carried out.

Foundation Scripture
New American Standard Version
Mark 1:40-42

40. And a leper came to Him, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying to Him, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." 41. And moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand, and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." 42. And immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

I mentioned a few posts ago, that back in 2006, God gave me a Bible Study on Physical Healing, I was hoping that we would be able to study from it in this Bible Study. Today I want to share the portion I received concerning "Knowing the Will of God" for our physical healing. What follows is scripture and commentary on it.

This study is meant for a group or an individual. Looking up the scripture for yourself will be a great study tool. Now is when you may want that notebook or journal. There is a wealth of scripture and revelation to be had in the following verses. I'm encouraging you to read them and jot down thoughts and your own prayers. If you don't need physical healing or know anyone that does, then read and study knowing these scriptures pertain to more than just that element. We can use them for anything that we might be going through. We all have problems and situations in our lives that we need God to take over, for Him to touch our hearts concerning, and maybe you will feel more prepared the next time you have an opportunity to pray for someone.

Knowing the Will of God

Is it “God’s Will” that I be healed?

Our ability to pray in faith goes only as far as what we know God’s will to be for our lives.
We cannot have faith for God to heal us until we are sure that it is His will. We can believe for something if we can be sure that it is what God wants; but if we are not sure, then we are crippled with doubt. “Maybe God wants me to be sick. Maybe He heals others but not me. How can I know for certain?” Many people have been prayed for, and at the end of the prayer, as if an afterthought or excuse, we hear, “…if it by Thy will”. Let’s look at scripture and see what it says concerning God’s will for healing.

Jeremiah 29: 11-14 “I know the plans I have for you;…a plan to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.”
Does this sound as if God wants you to be sick; that it might be a good plan for you? That he might just want you or a loved one to die, or to be without hope? It says to me, that He wants you to be moving forward, doing good things, working for His kingdom. I’ve not heard of anyone who was sick or dying that wasn’t harmed in some way. I know that God can take our sickness and turn it around, bringing something beneficial out of it, as it says in Romans 8:28, but to say he caused or wanted us to be sick is not His plan.

Exodus 15:25-26 “For I am the Lord that heals you.”
God has called Himself, Jehovah-Rapha; “I Am Your Physician, Your Healer”. This is one of the names of God. If it is one of the names that God gave Himself, we should believe that healing is what He wants and intends to do.

Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”
This verse is saying that we are not to be fearful as we walk through the valley. Even if “death” is hanging over us casting a big shadow, we are supposed to walk through it. Not give up or camp there. We are to keep moving, knowing God is with us.

Psalm 103:1-5 “…forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your sin and heals all your diseases.”
It is a benefit we have in Christ that He not only has forgiven all our sins which brings us salvation, but He also has made provision for our health and healing.

Isaiah 53:4-5 “Surely He took up our infirmities (sickness) and carried our sorrows…He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed”.

I have found many people who automatically believe that salvation is for them, but they have not been told or taught that healing is part of our salvation “package”. If we are not teaching this in our churches is it no surprise that God is not thought of as our Healer?

Matthew 8:16-17 “…He healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah; ‘He took our infirmities and carried our diseases’.”
These two scriptures together tell us that when Jesus died on the cross He paid the price for our sins and gave us salvation of our souls, but he also endured the wounding of His body (the beatings and whippings) so that we might be made well in our physical bodies. Many people argue with the idea that Jesus gives us healing in our body with His death and resurrection, because they do not see this happening in the church today, but when you see these two verses together, there it is. He healed people so that He would fulfill prophecy concerning Himself.

2 Corinthians 1:22 " ... He put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is  to come."
God gave us the Holy Spirit as a “deposit”; a guarantee, of what is to come, meaning salvation and eternal life. In a time of seeking the Lord for a scriptural basis for healing, the Lord spoke to me that just as we receive a new heart and are transformed from death into life, (at the time of our salvation) by the Holy Spirit, our healing has also been given as a “firstfruits” (a “deposit”) of our glorified body that we will live in for eternity. I believe that being healed and walking in divine health is a “deposit” or, “firstfruit” of what is to come in our glorified bodies that we will live in for eternity.

Hebrews 4:14-16
14. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as [we are, yet] without sin. 16. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.
Be confident of God's will in healing or any other prayer request. Ask God to confirm His will to you. He will do it.

 Matthew 8:3 “Jesus reached out His hand… I am willing, he said”.
This statement shows us what His will is. It is today, as it was 2000 years ago. “I Am willing”.
Malachi 3: 6 "I the Lord, do not change."

Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, and today and forever."
Jesus doesn't change. We change, mankind has changed, but Jesus never will. What He did for us 2000 years ago, still stands.

1 Corinthians 13: 8-13 “…when perfection comes”
If you have been taught that this scripture refers to the completion of “the canon”, let me testify that the Lord is still speaking today. He still asks us to pray in tongues, heal the sick and cast out devils. (Mark 16:17-18, Luke 9:1-2) If you believe that all God has to say has already been said, then I will ask you to ask the Holy Spirit right now to reveal truth to you, because you have heard this taught by someone who does not believe it is still possible to hear the Lord (except through the scriptures) . God speaks to His children every day and gives miracles. God has not changed, we have. Let us not let go of scripture, but let us also know He is still speaking and moving mightily in our day as in the days of Moses and Daniel and of the original apostles. Jesus has not changed.

And my friend with the kidney cancer? We sat down and prayed together. I asked God to reveal Himself to her through not only His Word, the Bible, but I asked God to give her confidence before Him, that He would speak to her personally and give her assurance of His great love and His awesome will for her life. She had her surgery, and was cancer free.

There is a lot of scripture here to look over. I know this is a busy time, but there is a purpose for us starting this subject of "Healing" at this time. Spend as much time as you feel comfortable with. I'm not trying to place a load on you. Just know God has a plan and purpose for this to be "out there" now.

Please leave any questions or start a line of commentary. I'll do my best to answer. (I'll answer back here on the comment page) I will have this post up for several days, that way you will have time to read and reflect.
I'm restudying this subject and scripture for my own benefit. As many of you know, God healed my life threatening, impending problem, but I still have some physical things I am walking through. But, God is with me, so I trust and have faith in Him.

Blessings and love to you all,
The following is a comment I left on this post on Dec. 6 at 9:35 pm. I thought about putting this in a new post, but I just added my comment for you to read first.

Debra @ Common Ground said...
I know this last post has a lot to think about and pray over. That has been my intent. I didn't grow up with this understanding (of healing), and had never heard it taught. I'm not asking that you believe it because I said so, I'm just asking that you be open to think and pray about it. This is a time when God is revealing Himself to His Church and in doing so He is revealing "mysteries". This is not a "new" teaching, but one that defines who Jesus is. So don't feel threatened (or be offended) or think that I am some sort of "religious" kook. Hang in there and be open to this concept of healing. Take the scripture and pray about what I've said. Open dialogue and discussion is a good way to investigate.
I know this has probably taken some of you by surprise. It's one thing to have a miracle happen to ourselves or someone we love, but I needed to know why. I wanted to know the doctrine and the theology of miracles and I prayed for the understanding concerning them. I feel that God has shown me a little of it.
I don't claim to "know it all", not by any stretch of the imagination. I have had people linger in illness and death in my family that was so devastating. This is a deep subject and it is not black or white. I'm just hoping you will be open to listen, to think, and then to pray about it.
So don't walk away, there's more to come.
December 6, 2009 9:35 PM

Monday, November 30, 2009

He is Willing

When we talk about miracles what do you think of? Is the parting of the Red Sea what comes to mind? How about "walking on water"? Do we think about physical healing? I know I do.
There are many types of miracles in the Bible, and Jesus Himself preformed many of them as we see in the New Testament Gospels. Today I want to tell you about a miracle that happened in my life. I want you to know, so you will understand and accept that miracles are for those who believe. Not for those that just believe in Jesus, but for those that believe that He is willing... still willing for miracles, today.

Jesus healing the man with leprosy in Mark chapter 1.

Don't be tempted to skip over the scripture. (been there, done that) Even if you read it one hundred times. God can show you something new. He will honor your willingness to read His Word. So take a minute each new post to read the scripture verses. I can guarantee that it will bless you...time after time.

Version: NAS
John 14: 12-14

"Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works (miracles) themselves. 12. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. 13. "And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14. "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do [it].

Version: NAS

Mark 1: 40-42

40. And a leper came to Him, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying to Him, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." 41. And moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand, and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." 42. And immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Some of you that I correspond with have heard this account, but I want you all to be on the same page with me. You need to know this, so you will know that I believe in miracles. Not just in theory, but in real life.

Back in the fall of 2002, a little over seven years ago. I had three major heart attacks. For four days I had what I thought was a pinched nerve in my right arm. I didn't know it was my heart because the pain was so severe in my right arm, shoulder to wrist.

At that time I was in good health, active and energetic, involved in church and ministry. I had a healthy diet, was a size 6, and had never smoked. I was probably the last person in the world that you could look at and think would be a candidate for a heart attack. But I had been under a lot of stress for quite a few years, and the underlying cause was that I had hereditary cardiovascular disease of which I knew nothing about.

God had called me to ministry a few years before, and in preparation He began to teach me about Himself. I studied God's Word for hours at a time. Sorry, I'm not exaggerating. I would get my Bible, and a notebook and I would be at His feet studying, praying, and listening. He instilled in me that He was looking for people that would believe the Bible. Not just for salvation, which is only the start, but that would really BELIEVE that He was still the same today, and that He is willing to do miracles in our individual lives. So I started studying the gospels with great intent and interest. Would I be willing to trust Him? Yes, I was convinced that I would.

So then a few years later the heart attacks happened, only a few weeks after God had done a huge miracle at our church that He had allowed me to be a part of. He knew what was coming my way. Why didn't He prevent it? Good question. One that I have asked of Him. I will just say, that had I not had this experience I would not have known first hand God's graciousness, willingness to heal, and His amazing love. I would not now have the confidence to teach and pray for others for physical healing.

Now when I finally got to the hospital at 6:00 on Monday morning I was still in the middle of a major coronary. They rushed me to the Heart Catheterization lab and did an angiogram. That is where they insert a tube, or catheter, through the femoral artery in your groin and inject a dye (contrast material) that will show under x-ray where you have an arterial blockage.
I had a 100% block and because of it there had been so much pressure in my artery that an aneurysm had formed. It was extremely large and had so weakened this artery that the cardiologist left the room when he saw it. He knew I was going to die on the table, and he didn't want to see it. My heart was severely compromised and was "dead" in the upper 1/2 to 1/3. In layman's terms I was a "goner".

I was terrified when, laying on the table, I started having another heart attack. There came a voice in my spirit that said to me loud and clear. "There will come a day when you see Me face to face, but today is not that day." I knew right then He would heal me.

I was told after the angiogram procedure that I would be a cardiac patient. Surgery to repair the aneurysm was out of the question. It would kill me. I could die if I sneezed, so it seemed inevitable that I didn't have much time. I thanked my doctor and said that I believed that God had a ministry for me and that I couldn't do it if I was in heaven. So I believed God would heal me. I didn't know when. Tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. But I believed God would do it.

The end of the week of my hospital stay the cardiologist suggested some repeat tests to see exactly where I stood. (now I think that this would have been a waste of time and dangerous) God knew what He was doing. So I had the tests.

The next evening I had a full hospital room with church friends and prayer partners. Our Sunday School teacher and his wife were there, and some close friends. (I had told my husband to not let anyone in to see me that was crying or scared. I could not afford to doubt.) The doctor came in to give us the results. I told him to go ahead. These people that were with me knew where I stood in my physical health and prognosis. The doctor cleared his throat, somewhat at a loss for words.

"I can't find the aneurysm, and your heart is fully functioning. I don't know how to explain it."

"I do." I said. "God has healed me."

And the cardiologist agreed.

Now re-read Mark 1:41

Now you know why I believe in miracles.

A few posts ago, I asked for a favor. I'm not too proud to do it again. If you read this Bible Study please place a link to this blog on your side bar and or blog list. This is not for me, as it is not "about me". This is a blog celebrating Jesus and God's Word. I am praying for people to read this. God can bring them to Himself if we make His Word available. People come through these blogs hurting and searching. I believe that if they can just get a glimpse of Jesus here, He can change their lives. Please remember, this is not about me, or for me. It's about spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you don't feel comfortable yet, please pray about it. Here's the link:

We are just getting started. Have you found a journal, or a notebook? Please do. I know that God wants to speak to each of us. Just take a minute to write your thoughts, ideas, and prayer requests down for future reference. God has a lot to say to us. God has been speaking to many of you this last week, and I am so excited. I want to hear about what God has been doing in your own life. Please don't feel like my account overshadows what He has done for you. I needed healing, He did that. You may not have had that exact need, but I know there are miracles out there. Please share them with us. It doesn't have to be a "physical healing"' but ANY thing that you know God alone did. Leave a comment and tell us how God has done miracles in your life.

Blessings everyone!
love, Debra

Monday, November 23, 2009

Would you like to see Miracles?

Let's say you would like to see something wonderful happen in your life. What would you choose? A spouse that is more attentive and godly: a man that was doing his fair share in the marriage? How about a child of yours that is physically ill or just hurting in their "spirit", one that doesn't listen to you and goes off on their own path, leaving God behind. How about money problems...do you have financial needs that need to be met? Want to get a better grip on your own spiritual life and connection to God?

Well, I can tell you that in my life God has done all these things and many more. He is the "One" who has supplied the miraculous. He can take a man and make him the best husband I could ask for. He could take a daughter that was missing His presence and bless her with great spiritual gifts. He took a woman who was "worldly" and not having a deep relationship with Him and then blessed her with a new life. Then he could give us a solution to our financial debt. These are all things that are a direct result in my believing these scriptures.

Version: NAS

John 14:11-14

11. "Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works (miracles) themselves. 12. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. 13. "And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14. "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do [it]".

Do you have a problem in your life that needs God's attention? I think we all do. I know that I have several things on my heart that need Him to be involved with and that only He can fix. Health problems? yes, and money issues that are still being "worked on".
Do you have an emptiness in your heart? Are you searching for meaning in your life?
So let's start looking at some of the miracles Jesus performed while He was here on earth. We will study some individual miraculous events. Physical healings and miraculous occurrences; we will investigate them and see how God can do the same things in our lives today.

When I talk about "miracles" you need to know I do not subscribe to any concept that has been born out of the New Age movement. I do not follow anything or anyone except Jesus Christ. I have read portions of different "miraculous" courses such as " A Course in Miracles" by Marianne Williamson, and then there is "The Secret" which was much hyped a few years ago. These are teachings that are not from Jesus. They may throw His name around and have a little scripture added in for good measure, but they are not Biblical. Be careful what you pick up to read and study. "Miracles" are part of the New Age tug. (Also "angels" can be a lure that the New Age uses)They can suck you into something that is not of God. Pray before you read or subscribe to anything. As I have said before, seek God over what He would have you be involved in. If it doesn't line up with God's Word tell Him to let you know so you can leave it alone.

Quite a few years ago, when I first really started studying God's Word in earnest, I had a God inspired thought, that I would ask to see miracles happen in my life. Since I made that request of God, I have wondered at times if that was really a good idea. I have seen the miraculous, but at times it has come out of a desperate situation. I guess to see a miracle you have to be in a place that unless "God steps in", it just will not happen. Yes, I have been there a few times.

This will be an awesome time of study I can assure you. I'm looking forward to see what God has in mind for us and how He can give us new hope and a new way of looking at life.
I can guarantee it will be a time of "fruitful" study.

Before I close I want to tell you a little about what God has been saying to me about this little time of Bible Study and sharing. This is something God has a plan for. Each one of you that reads these posts God has a plan for. He has brought you here because He is getting ready to do "miracles" in our lives. I don't know what the "particulars" are, but I know He is up to something "awesome"! He wants us to be ready to grab on to Him and let Him take us someplace "new" in our lives.

A few days ago God showed me a group of women holding hands in a "circle". There were quite a few of us, and the circle was growing. We each held each other's hands in this circle. And He said to me, "It is not just a circle, but a circuit." Now I have to tell you I got super excited, because if you know anything about electricity, you know it needs a "circuit", or a path of electric current. God is getting ready to move through us with His power and presence.

So if you are just a casual reader I'm going to to ask you to pray about joining us with more of a commitment. I know God has a plan to bless each and every one of us.
I am challenging you to start a "journal" of what you are asking God for, because I believe with my whole heart some of our lives are about to change. Just grab a notebook or a journal and write down what God is putting on your heart about these posts. There will be quite a few posts I'm sure. It doesn't have to be in depth or lengthy, just let Him speak to your heart about what He wants to do.

I'm also challenging you to leave comments and thoughts. Even if it's just a sentence. When we get involved and don't just stand on the sidelines, God knows we are "serious" about what He wants to do in our lives. If you are new reading this, don't feel inadequate or that you are not one of the group. You definitely are a part of this. You are not here by accident, and God wants to draw you in closer. Join hands and hearts with me as we study Jesus' miracles and as we allow Him into our life to see what miracles He has in store for us!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week, everyone! I know we will be having our kids here and it will be a busy time. I'll post again next week. Until then, leave a thought or comment and I will answer back here on the comment page. I'm excited to hear what God is doing in your lives. Be sure and leave prayer requests, and I will post them on the side bar.
 Get ready and get excited.
 God is moving!

Blessings to you all,
In Jesus Love,

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mary's Song

We are all thankful; we have so many blessings in our lives. Even when times are hard, financially, relationally or personally, we all have things to be thankful for. We have gratitude in our heart to God. But sometimes expressing it can be difficult. Let's look at Mary and see and hear her great gratitude and praise that she expressed to God for what she was experiencing and for His plan that was becoming evident in her life.

The following scripture from Luke 1 is a passage that is often overlooked or at least downplayed in many churches. When I was young and in Sunday School, I don't remember this ever really being discussed in our story of Christmas. Nor did I hear this from the pulpit.
Mary was only 13 or 14 years old. How on earth did she come up with this amazing outburst of joy and gratitude? Well, that's the key. Mary herself did not come up with this response. This was a spontaneous outpouring of joy and praise that was orchestrated by the Holy Spirit Himself. God just took little Mary and gave her words that she probably had never thought of before, let alone spoken. And when little Mary opened her mouth to praise God, to thank Him, and show her gratitude, what came out in all it's beauty was a wonderful expression... the "Magnificat", or Mary's Song.

Luke 1:46-55

46. And Mary said: "My soul exalts the Lord, 47. And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48. "For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. 49. "For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. 50. "And His mercy is upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him. 51. "He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered [those who were] proud in the thoughts of their heart. 52. "He has brought down rulers from [their] thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. 53. "He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed. 54. "He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, 55. As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his offspring forever."

I want to talk a little about prayer and praise...and "thanksgiving".

Ephesians 6:18 (New International Version)
18. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Romans 8:26 (New International Version)
26. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

1 Corinthians 14:15 (New International Version)
15.So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.

Philippians 4:4-7 NAS
4. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5. Let your forbearing [spirit] be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus

Each of these scriptures indicates that there is the element of Holy Spirit inspired prayer.

Quite some time ago,when God was first calling me to a deeper more intimate spiritual walk, I was involved in a prayer ministry at our church. We had a prayer group that met on Wednesday evenings to pray for church matters and people in our congregation. I really enjoyed that time of seeking the Lord for a deeper prayer life. We had a volunteer prayer group for our church that had a goal of 24 hour prayer coverage. This was not just our small group, but church wide. My time schedule for prayer was at 10:00-11:00 on Wednesday evenings. We called it "the wall". (When you have time you might want to read the book of Nehemiah, especially chapter 1, where he prays for his people and then God leads him back to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall.)

I had a weekly update on things to pray for, but at that time my being able to stay focused in prayer for an hour was a real struggle. (still hard, who am I kidding?) I would find that I would cover all the list in the first 15 minutes, then be left feeling inadequate and spiritually immature. I had a knowledge that prayer was key in expanding my relationship with My Heavenly Father, I just couldn't get there by myself. I will never forget the night it all changed.

Here I was, once again, trying to do justice in prayer for all the people that were ill, church financial needs and requests, and even going the extra mile to pray for individual ministries at our church. That night I promised God that I would stay there until my time was up. That I would not be a slacker and that I would make every minute count. I glanced at my watch every few minutes,...by golly, I thought, I CAN do this! Whew, time was almost up. "I'll just finish up by reading a little scripture" I said to my self.

I opened my Bible to Ephesians  and began to read.

Time's almost up, Yeah, I've made it. I've sat still and concentrated on God for a whole 55 minutes. OK only a minute or two to go... down to the finish line... Gee, I have a lot to do for tomorrow, clothes to iron, a kitchen to clean, cats to feed....lots to do God, but hey, I'm still here, see, I'll give you those few extra minutes!

Then, in the last minute...home stretch... I hit Ephesians 4, Okey dokey, times up!!!

But at that very moment I heard a voice in my spirit, just like I had a phone to my spiritual ear. Very clearly The Voice said, "If you will stay with Me one more hour, I will make it worth your while. I will give you your "call".

Well, I stayed for an extra two, and believe me, my life changed. Not only did He speak to me about what He wanted me to do in my life, but He put something in me that energized and made my prayer life new. He instilled His Holy Spirit into my prayer life, and it's never been the same. Now I depend on Him for direction in prayer. I invited the Holy Spirit to take over my prayer time, and with that came new focus, and new depth of understanding and purpose.

Mary became infilled with the Holy Spirit. He directed her prayer. She uttered words and thoughts that were not from her "conscious" mind, but from her spiritual mind. Her heart and mind submitted to God.

Prayer has many components. We'll talk about those at some later time, but just know if you feel unable to articulate your needs; if you are at a loss as how to communicate in prayer to God, just call upon the Holy Spirit to inspire your prayer time and life. He will gladly do that. He will enrich and renew your prayers with His own mind and heart...and you will connect with God in a whole new way. You will be like Mary, you will open your mouth (yes, praise and worship and give thanks verbally, out loud. God just loves that!) and you will sing...sing your own song of joy, worship, praise, and thanksgiving.

Have a wonderful week in preparation for Thanksgiving.
Let God inspire and refresh you.


Healing Scripture:

Deuteronomy 7:13-14

13. "And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you. 14. "You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle. 15. "And the LORD will remove from you all sickness; and He will not put on you any of the harmful diseases of Egypt which you have known, but He will lay them on all who hate you.