Our loving Heavenly Father shines His Light on our darkness. When we agree with Him that we have done wrong in His sight, ask His forgiveness through Jesus' death and resurrection, and turn away from the sin, its power over us is broken.
He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Across from our house in Indiana was our church and the kids went to Christian school there. There was a prayer garden with a little chapel, and a big oak tree with a swing suspended from it. Cameron, Caleb, and I spent many evenings strolling through the prayer garden, kneeling in the chapel, or just swinging.
At Christmas, the garden was decked with thousands of white lights and a nativity scene. In Spring, it was bursting with budding dogwoods. In summer, it was lined with dozens of large American flags flapping in the breeze. In Autumn, it was ablaze with orange and gold chrysanthemums.
I believe God had me in mind when that garden was created (and a lot of other folks, as well). I prayed through many of life's major changes, happy and sad, in that garden.
As the three of us sat in that swing, Cameron would always ask me to tell him his favorite story of the Three Pigs, and then he wanted me to sing, "I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice I hear falling on my ear the Son of God discloses. And He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there none other has ever known."
It is good to know that at any time, any place or circumstance, I can come to the "prayer garden", and there I will always hear His voice.
• That Jesus Christ be formed in our children (Galatians 4:19 My children, I am again suffering labor pains for you until Christ is formed in you.);
• That our children—the seed of the righteous—will be delivered from the evil one (see Proverbs 11:21, KJV; Matthew 6:13Don’t allow us to be tempted. Instead, rescue us from the evil one.)
• That our children will be taught of the Lord and their peace will be great (see Isaiah 54:13All your children will be taught by theLord,and your children will have unlimited peace.)
• That they will train themselves to discern good from evil and have a good conscience toward God (see Hebrews 5:14 You will never be able to eat solid spiritual food and understand the deeper things of God’s Word until you become better Christians and learn right from wrong by practicing doing right.; and 1 Peter 3:21);
• That God's laws will be in their minds and on their hearts (see Hebrews 8:10 ...Iwill put My laws into their minds, and I will write themon their hearts...)
• That they will choose companions who are wise—not fools, nor sexually immoral, nor drunkards, nor idolaters, nor slanderers, nor swindlers (see Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.; and 1 Corinthians 5:11);
• That they will remain sexually pure and keep themselves only for their spouse, asking God for His grace to keep such a commitment (see Ephesians 5:3,31-33);
• That they will honor their parents (see Ephesians 6:1-3).
From The Spiritual Warrior's Prayer Guide by Quin Sherrer and Ruthanne Garlock
Dutch Sheets has written an excellent post on the power of praying for our children.
Then those who feared the Lord talked often one to another; and the Lord listened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who reverenced and worshipfully feared the Lord and who thought on His name.
And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of hosts, in that day when I publicly recognize and openly declare them to be My jewels (My special possession, My peculiar treasure). And I will spare them, as a man spares his own son who serves him.
Malachi 3:16-18 Amplified
Lord Jesus, In this beautiful season of the year, let us not neglect to talk to You, and about You, for You take note even when we think about Your precious name. When I acknowledge You, you openly declare that I am Yours and You are mine. Thank you for Your mercy and steadfast love.
A few years back, when I was teaching second grade in public school, a student was writing on a topic of his choice, and he raised his hand and asked me how to spell Christmas. I was breaking it into syllables for him.
"C-H-R-I-S-T," I began.
"That spells 'Christ', " he complained. "I said Christmas."
"Well, Christ is the first part of the word Christmas."
"Who is Christ?" he asked.
"Christmas Day celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ," I told him.
"Well, how old is that baby now?" he asked.
"It has been 2010 years since His birth," I said.
He thought for a minute and came back with, "Well, that's funny! This is the year 2010!"
This whole conversation was initiated by a seven year old's question.
The little boy keenly observed: "It's funny that our date comes from when baby Jesus was born, but in school, we don't even talk about Him!"
I'm thankful my son and I had a safe trip from KC to Indiana and back, to see the family for Thanksgiving. They all seemed to enjoy my cooking. We had plenty of dessert, but the favorite was fudge brownies, which 4 year old Kaedyn helped to make!
It was snowing big flakes on Wednesday morning when we woke up - so beautiful to watch. The girls outlined their sliding glass doors with the Christmas cling-on decorations I brought, and we read some of their old favorite children's books.
We played Balderdash with the older girls and watched "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever". I always cry when "Mary" holds the doll "Jesus" so lovingly, and realizes the true meaning of the Christmas story.
On the trip back, we stopped in St. Louis to see the National Geographic movie "Jerusalem".
that we do not see the one
which has been opened for us.
A group from our church visits the nearby nursing home and leads the people in singing their old favorite hymns around the piano and sharing testimonies of God's goodness.
A beautiful snowy-haired lady there told us that she had once dreaded the day that she would have to leave her home and move into a nursing home. She wondered how she would make it if she were no longer able to attend the church she'd been a member of for sixty years. But she told us that she had made close friends with other residents who also love the Lord, and she thanked us all for being her new church family.
I have a feeling that this lady's bright smile is one of God's "sunbeams" in this place. I know she encourages me!
Today would be my Dad's 91st birthday. He died in 1998. He served our country during WW2, and he never talked much about it until his later years.
I remember Daddy telling about being on guard duty in Europe during the war, and how dark and cold the nights were. He spoke of finishing his watch and thanking God to see the first light of dawn and to feel the warmth of a new day.
Daddy trusted in the Lord as a teenager, but he told me that when he was in battle, he promised the Lord if he lived, he would live for Jesus - and he did.
Psalm 130:6-7 "My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is lovingkindness and with Him is abundant redemption."
It is tragic to hear our nation's leaders omit the precious name of God from oaths, documents. and speeches. There is no other name as powerful or as holy! They will never be able to remove the name of Jesus from history - because all of eternity is HIS-story!
Acts 10:38 "You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him."
"Believers, look up. Take courage.
The angels are nearer to you than you think." Billy Graham
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands,saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
to receive power and riches and wisdom
and might and honor and glory and blessing.”
The angels are always singing and worshiping God.
At any time, day or night, we are invited to join in!
As I get older, I look back at the hard times and realize that I grew closer to God during the tough spots, because He proved that He was faithful in the times where I was helplessly dependent on Him. Sometimes I find myself afraid of changes as if I think the future is all up to me!
When I run out of ideas, strength, and abilities, and there is no back-up plan, I'm not in a bad place. I'm in a good place. It is then that God shows Himself strong. His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
"He gives power to the faint and weary and to him who has no might, He increases strength." Isaiah 40:29
Could it be that His sustaining presence through the journey is the "main thing"? I think of the promise God made to Abram when He called him to leave all and journey to his promised land. Was Abram's reward only cattle and sheep, milk and honey, and real estate? Or was it God Himself? "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, "Fear not, Abram: I AMthy shield, and thy exceeding great reward."
Sometimes when I think I have things figured out, but there seems to be one thing missing... He is the One Thing. The Main Thing.
"Just think! You don't need a thing. You've got it all....He will never give up on you. Never forget that." 1 Corinthians 1:7 Message
I HATE scratchy labels that are sewn into the necks of my clothes! The first thing I do is cut them out before wearing a garment. I guess you can say I'm the sensitive type!
Our Bible study group leader was talking about getting rid of negative labels from our past. I thought about the kind of negative labels that people have given me over the years: in high school it was names like Beanpole and Bones. (not any more!)
"Negative labels? Rip them out!" our leader said.
Our Father God has some labels for us to wear: Beloved, Mighty Man of Valor, Bride of Christ, Intercessor, Fisher of Men, Ransomed, Precious, My Delight.
You can listen to Billy Graham's evangelistic message online or on TV tonight. Billy Graham has had a desire for many years to speak to our nation one more time. Through the internet, this is possible, even as he is celebrating his 95th birthday today.
Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets.And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. Hebrews 1:1-3 NLT Thank You, Father God, for revealing to us Who You are through your Son Jesus. He is worthy of praise and honor and glory.
What is God asking you to do? No matter what it is, be ready for the voice of the accuser to say you cannot do it. He wants to stop your destiny. Don't let him do it! When the enemy tries to discourage you, be encouraged by it. He would not waste his time trying to discourage you unless he actually thought you would fulfill your destiny in God. - Victoria BoysonThe Birth of Your Destiny
God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save the world. Those who believe in him won’t be condemned. But those who don’t believe are already condemned because they don’t believe in God’s only Son.
I listened to a young Christian reading John 14 recently. She broke down and cried tears of thankfulness several times, overwhelmed by the miracle of God's love and forgiveness. She had a traumatic childhood that had set her up for much abuse and heartache, but the love of God has set her free.
Psalm 27:4 Sunday afternoons, a group of us head over the the nursing home for "church" in the cafeteria. Our friends there love to sing the old hymns. We continued to sing for about thirty minutes last Sunday - At the Cross, Sweetly Lord Have We Heard Thee Calling, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms... They sang with such enthusiasm, it sounded like the Heavenly Choir had joined in. What a wonderful time we had worshiping Jesus, reading God's Word, sharing stories and praying for each other.
Arise [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you—rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you! Isaiah 60:1 What a wonderful day we had at our ladies luncheon and Bible study at the women's shelter. Some of the ladies in our group are beauticians and offer free haircuts, facials, manicures, etc. to some precious ones who are struggling financially. We have met several times now, and today, it seemed that the ladies opened up more. They were sharing their testimonies, playing the keyboard, painting the beauticians' fingernails, and praying for us. One lady who had been "hard to get to know", gave her heart to the Lord today! Hallelujah! The kingdom of God really is righteousness, peace, and JOY!
One Sunday morning at church, a friend told me as she was getting dressed, she asked the Lord, "Is there someone you especially want to bless through me today, Lord?"
The Lord impressed her: "There is a woman with brown hair who will be wearing blue. Tell her that I love her and to ME she is as beautiful as a lily flower."
As she was greeting me, she realized that person the Lord had in mind was me. (She did not know that lilies were special to me and that Lily Valley is the name of my blog.)
Our precious Lord has so lovingly done for us what we could never do for ourselves. He has cleansed us and made us pure in His sight.
If only we could see ourselves as God sees us: We were made to be loved by God.
In Jesus' prayer for believers, He said: The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. John 17:22-23
The two disciples who were walking the road to Emmaus were in transition. You know how, when you go through a traumatic experience, your emotions catch up with your body about three days later, and all of a sudden you "go to pieces"? Devastated by the sudden turn of events of Jesus' illegal arrest, torture, crucifixion, and burial, these men were trying to sort it all out that afternoon as they walked the four miles. They had been told by the women that Jesus had been raised from the dead, but they dismissed the news as "too good to be true". As Jesus appeared and began to walk alongside them, they asked incredulously, "Are you the only person in town who is oblivious to the events of the last three days?" As I wonder that Jesus could be right in front of them and they didn't recognize Him, I have to remind myself, that Jesus is walking life's path with me, though I don't always acknowledge Him or understand His ways.
On the Andy Griffith show from the 1950's, there was an episode where Aunt Bea tried once again to win the blue ribbon at the fair for her pickles. Andy and Opie hated her pickles, but couldn't get up the nerve to tell her, so she just kept on pickling!
If I take a cucumber and pour a little vinegar over it, that doesn't make it a pickle. If I want a good old-fashioned pickle, the cucumber must be fermented by soaking in a brine solution. At some point, between 4 to 6 weeks, it's a pickle, and it can never go back to being a cucumber again!
May your children soak in the presence of the Holy Spirit until we are saturated with all You have for us.
May we marinate in Your Word until we obey You without trying to second-guess You. Change us from the inside out.
"One of the greatest blessings of God on nations that He blesses is wise leadership. We are commanded to pray for our leaders, and this is one of the most important prayers we can pray at this time. We are not told to pray for the great leaders, or even the good ones, or ones we agree with, but the ones we have. We can also pray for those who are being raised up or who would end up with authority in the coming crisis. We should also pray for them to be given Josephs and Daniels—prophets from God with the wisdom to help them navigate through what is coming." -Rick Joyner
Yield now and be at peace with Him; Thereby good will come to you. Please receive instruction from His mouth And establish His words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored; If you remove unrighteousness far from your tent, And place your gold in the dust, And the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks, Then the Almighty will be your gold And choice silver to you. For then you will delight in the Almighty And lift up your face to God. You will pray to Him, and He will hear you; And you will pay your vows. You will also decree a thing, and it will be established for you; And light will shine on your ways. When you are cast down, you will speak with confidence, And the humble person He will save. He will deliver one who is not innocent, And he will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”
Job 22:21-30 NASB
In his book Intercessory Prayer, Dutch Sheets talks about verse 28: DECREE A THING. He says that the word "thing" could be better translated promise. This made me think of the time when Jesus told His disciples Ask the Father in MY NAME. When I pray, I can ask for whatever is in line with the Name of Jesus, which represents all that God is....His Word, His covenants, His commands. So I started asking the Lord to show me passages of His Word to pray. I write these out, and 'decree' them out loud. Just like when I plant a seed in the ground and do not see results immediately, I know that God is working in the lives of those for whom I pray because the good seed is the Word of God. He honors His Word, guards it, waters it, and shines His light on it.
Someone said, "In a crisis, remember 911....and that stands for Psalm 91:1
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Yet there is something better than knowing to call out to God in times of trouble. It is enjoying His presence moment by moment.
One way I can relate to this to think of a nursing infant. He is not worried about where the next meal is coming from. The one who loves him unconditionally IS his provision.
This is from Baptism of Love written by Francis Frangipane. www.frangipane.org
"There is a place greater than knowledge; it is a simple, yet eternally profound place where we actually abide in Christ's love. This is, indeed, the shelter of the Most High."
This is the Amplified Bible's rendering Ephesians 3:17-19: "May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, that you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God's devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; [that you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!" .
My grandparents would turn off the pilot light of their gas heater in the summer. So every Fall, as soon as there was a chill in the air, they would call Daddy to come and light the pilot. At first I could only see a tiny blue flicker, but when they would turn up the heat, I would hear awhooshand the heat would come up through the floor grate until it was red hot. Before long, the den and kitchen would be toasty warm. When we came in from playing, we would stand over that floor furnace and hold our hands out to warm them.
The pilot light reminds me of God's Holy Spirit that comes to live in our hearts. I know that I was forgiven of my sins and saved when I accepted Christ as a child. All of us who have been forgiven and put our trust in Christ have a flame burning within us, but I want to be available for the Holy Spirit to fan the flame. I want to have the whoosh of being on fire for God in my life, enough so that others will want to draw near and feel the warmth of God's love. John the Baptizer said, "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." Matthew 3:11 ESV