If ever a prayer needed to be answered it was now. Standing inside the critical care unit of Children’s Hospital, I watched and waited outside a recovery room. A battery of alarms were blaring. Code blue blurted on high volume from the loud speakers. Nurses came running, equipment...
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In the next 15 seconds, name as many ways as you can think of that other people show they love you. Ready? Go… What did you come up with? If you are like me maybe things like, they are kind and considerate, they do things for me, they say they love me, they give hugs, they bring...
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John...
A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. (Matthew 12:35) In 2013, John and Mary stumbled upon what is now known as the Saddle Ridge Hoard. In a field they owned in California, a...
For you are all Children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26) The President decided Monday was a good day for a round of golf, and with that the course at Andrews Air Force base was cleared. Any other golfers who wanted to play at Andrews on Monday had...
If ever a prayer needed to be answered it was now.
Standing inside the critical care unit of Children’s Hospital, I watched and waited outside a recovery room. A battery of alarms were blaring. Code blue blurted on high volume from the loud speakers. Nurses came running, equipment was rolled in, and one of the doctors who’d participated in that day’s surgery dashed into the room. I, as well as other family members, peered through the viewing window at the many monitors, with the heart rate monitor being the target of our attention.
The baby in the room was only a few days old. The surgery just completed was the first of several open heart operations that would lead to her eventually being added to the heart transplant list roughly 8 months later. She was so tiny and helpless. Her heart failed to develop properly. She was suffering from a rare congenital heart defect known as hypo-plastic left heart syndrome. In layman’s terms, the under-developed left side heart can't effectively pump blood to the body, so the right side of the heart must be modified to do both functions.
Thoughts raced through my mind as we continued to take in the activity in the room. How can I help? What do I do for those around me also watching? In my head these words repeated again and again, “Please God, make it work. Please God, make it work.” After what seemed like an eternity, yet was likely but a minute or two, baby’s heart rate when back up, the oxygen level improved, and I knew she was okay for now.
A prayer with an immediate positive response. These are the times that hearing and seeing God’s answer to our request bring us delight and leaves us grateful.
But sometimes, God’s response to our prayers seems slow or even non-existent. Other times the response seems to be more of a challenge than an answer, leaving us to wonder, does God always answer prayer?
If you spend any time at all researching this question you will find websites and articles that outline three possible responses - yes, wait, and no.
There are many stories of answered prayer throughout the old and the new testament. One source offered 68 verses of answered prayer.(1)
One of the many famous immediate “yes” answers is found in Matthew 8. This is the story of the man with leprosy who simply asked Jesus for healing. Verses 2-3 tell us, “Suddenly, a leper came up to him, fell down before him, and said, ‘Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean.’ So Jesus reached out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do want to. Be clean!’ And instantly his leprosy was made clean.”
Imagine the elation of the healed man! Clearly, for the leper, this was the answer for which he had hoped to receive.
In reading the book of Psalm, it is somewhat surprising how often David prays to God to be rescued from his enemies. Again and again he is on the run. Its clear that his situations are dire and his prayers are ernest. For example, in Psalm 69:1-3 he prays,
1) Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
2) I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.
3) I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God.
Clearly David is in distress and has been praying for quite some time. However, in continuing to read, the good news is that David always gets an answer. Through it all he continually praises God and acknowledges God’s goodness.
Ask any parent and they will tell you that some times the answer to a child’s request needs to be “No”. God, as our father, would also agree. The request may seem reasonable to us, maybe even necessary. But thankfully God sees the big picture, looking far beyond our limited area of vision.
One of the most profound stories in the Bible that demonstrate why God must say “No” at times, is the plea Jesus made in the garden of Gethsemane just before his arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection. He was accompanied by his disciples and as he went off ahead, he prayed to God saying, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” Matthew 26:39b
Can you imagine if God had shrugged and said, “Well, okay.”? It is a terrifying thought. We would have no redemption and no one would have saved us from our sins. Thankfully God said “No”.
As we consider our own prayers requests today and in the past, we are likely to be able to recall times we have gotten each of these answers. No matter where you are today in your journey with Jesus, remember in all things—and especially in prayer—we need to trust that God has us covered. He promises to take care of us.
When in doubt, read, ponder, and meditate on Jeremiah 29:11, “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
In the next 15 seconds, name as many ways as you can think of that other people show they love you. Ready? Go…
What did you come up with? If you are like me maybe things like, they are kind and considerate, they do things for me, they say they love me, they give hugs, they bring comfort, share words of encouragement, listen when I talk about my day, and they take care of me when I am sick or grumpy.
Not bad…its all good stuff. A bit self-centered, but good stuff.
But still, a list like that can leave us asking, is there more? Or is that it?
Some would say, yes, that’s it. End of story.
The Bible would tell you a different story.
How about a love that loves us even when we don’t deserve it? While we committed one sinful act after another, we are loved.
How about an unconditional love that sacrifices everything for us, even unto death? Ponder for a few moments Roman 5:8: “But God demonstrated his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Really, who does that?
But why? Why would God do that?
The answer becomes clear to us in one of the most famous verses in the Bible. Often this is the first verse memorized when a child attends Sunday School or an adult begins studying the Bible. John 3:16 says, “For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Pure and simple.
Not because we earned it, bought it, or deserved it.
Its because he loves us.
How does one respond to that? What is it we are to do?
The expectation is simple. It is to accept it.
Then we are to live it.
We are to be thankful for it.
We are to give it away.
Ultimately we will bathe in it for an eternity.
In the words of the Psalmist, “Give thanks to the God of Heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalms 136:26
Amazingly, his love doesn’t end there.
Not only did he love us first and will for an eternity, he has given us a gift. A gift that lives in us. “…God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5b
The Holy Spirit is our guide, comforter, and helper. He is with us and in us. He is an example of God’s love. He is God.
The prophet Zephaniah also explains, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud song.” Zephaniah 3:17
You might be thinking, that’s all well and good. Sounds wonderful. But, is it really THAT big of deal? Life is good. I got it.
It is a choice, there is no doubt about that.
We can choose to live our lives in the status quo, same old, same old.
Or instead, we can choose to live our lives in the new. New life with a new beginning that is given to us when we admit our sins, believe in Jesus, and commit our lives to him.
There’s no promise of a fairy tale ending but instead we can have a life filled with…
A love that began before us.
It is the never-ending love of our Lord and Savior.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John 15:9
Four times Jesus says remain in this passage of scripture. As a verb, remain is a word used to described an action. Jesus wants us to take action.
Remain is defined as, “To continue to exist, especially after other similar or related people or things have ceased to exist.” Synonyms include endure, last, abide, carry on, persist, stay, stay around, prevail, survive, live on.
Clearly the intended message Jesus’s is communicating is not to be taken lightly.
We are to take action.
Have you ever noticed how many loyal animal post are on Facebook? Do a search to find story after story such as these:
- A dog named Zanders who followed his master to the hospital some two miles from his home.
- Cleo the cat who tracked down her elderly owner after she was sent to live in a nursing home.
- A German Shepard that ran away from home to find his deceased master’s grave – and has stayed by its side for six years.
You can be sure the goal of each animal is to remain in the presence of their “person”. That person who has come to mean everything to them.
This is what Jesus’s asks of us. If he is to mean everything to us, we are to follow him and remain with him. Through the good, the bad, and at all times.
Jesus’s showed us how to respond to challenging chapters of life. He also showed us how to choose to respond. The disciples demonstrated how to turn their self-centered inadequacy over to God. This then allowed them be a blessing showing the glory of God to this around them.
We too can be a blessing showing God’s glory. Soak him in. Take the 15/15/15 challenge - 15 days; 15 minutes of talking to him; 15 minutes of reading God’s word.
Plan out a time each day. Get it done all at once or break it up over the day. Whatever it takes, whatever works for you!!
Jesus is asking.
Jesus has shown us.
Be a blessing.
Remain in him!
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A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. (Matthew 12:35)
In 2013, John and Mary stumbled upon what is now known as the Saddle Ridge Hoard. In a field they owned in California, a collection of coins buried in the late 1800s was discovered. These coins had a face value of $27,890 and now valued at $10M. What a treasure! No one knows who left it. Someone spent a lifetime gathering a treasure and never used or shared it. That’s not what God intended for our treasures.
We all have a treasure we can share. It has no cost and there's no fee to disburse it. For some it comes easily, not so with others. Words are that treasure. Such an immense treasure that if chosen carefully they can:
Change a life.
In Matthew 6:21 Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Simple steps can be taken to build this treasure of your heart:
- Spend time with God daily.
- Ask questions.
- Take a sabbatical from social media.
- Watch what you watch.
What is put into the word treasury is what comes out when you talk to yourself and with others.
Good stuff in, good stuff out!
Today, build and share the treasure of your heart and use your words to change life - your life and the lives of those around you!
For you are all Children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
The President decided Monday was a good day for a round of golf, and with that the course at Andrews Air Force base was cleared. Any other golfers who wanted to play at Andrews on Monday had to scramble to make other plans.
Today, President Obama can clear a golf course. In a few short months the American President will be replaced. Then Obama will hand off his golf course clearing power, as well as an assortment of other presidential power perks, to the next president. Human power: temporary, fleeting, and most certainly unfulfilling.
We have access to an another power plan. A perfect plan that is eternal and unending. Through membership in God’s family we have Jesus power which is found in identity and purpose. Jesus power is much greater and fulfilling than anything that could ever be offered though human power. God’s power is real power.
Do you know your identity? When you looked in the mirror this morning what crossed your mind...
Oh my, is that yet another pimple?
What dreadful bags those are under my eyes!
Is that hair gray?
How could I have done that last night?
(sigh) Yet another long day to get through.
Did it occur to you that you were peering into a mirror that reflected a child of God? Jesus Power--that’s the first and only thought we need when looking at ourselves.
When we are confident in our identity as God’s children, then our purpose is easily defined. It’s not to get the to do list done, make more money, win the “#1 parent” award, or say “yes” to every request. It’s to use our passions in the Kingdom of God.
So take another look, remind yourself that God sees you through his Son, and put into action the things you love to do--while looking to glorify God, your Father in heaven!