Prayer: Helping Others Stand

“. . . he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:10-11 NIV

We tend to forget how vital prayer is. If you’re like me, at some point in your life you’ve thought or said, “All I can do is pray.” We forget that we are indeed helping when we pray for others.

The apostle Paul wrote the words above after suffering extreme hardship and pressure so great that he described it as “far beyond our ability to endure” (2 Corinthians 1:8 NIV). He said he despaired even of life and actually felt in his heart the sentence of death.

I wonder where he would have been without the “prayers of many”? (2 Corinthians 1:11)  Could the help he received through those prayers be the reason he was able to rely on God’s strength instead of his own?

John Wesley said, “Bear up the hands that hang down, by faith and prayer; support the tottering knees.” I’m reminded of Moses when the Israelites battled the Amalekites. As long as he held up the staff of God in his hands, the Israelites won. When he lowered his hands, the enemy began winning. When Moses grew tired, “Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.” (Exodus 17:12 NIV)

Do we know people whose hands are hanging down, whose knees are now tottering? Is it obvious that without help they’ll surely fall? You may feel powerless to change their situation or help in any significant way, but don’t underestimate the support you can give them through your prayers. I’ve felt the support of prayers before, and it’s powerful. I felt as if I was being carried.

Are there some we know who need to be carried right now by our prayers? Let’s be faithful to do it. It may be our prayers that enable them to stand another day.

“I urge you brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” Romans 15:30 NIV

*Have you ever felt carried by the prayers of others before?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. Sign-up is FREE! *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Irina Patrascu Gheorghita, Creative Commons License

Surrounded by the Lord

“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.” Psalm 125:2 NIV

I love this verse. After rediscovering it several years ago, I personalized it and made it part of my early morning prayer each day. Before even getting out of bed, I gave the Lord my day and placed my times in his hands. Then along with a few basic requests, I added, “And Lord, as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so surround me with your peace and your protection.”

Sometimes the thought of being surrounded brings up negative images, but that’s certainly not the case here. Not for me—not when it’s the Lord doing the surrounding.

I suppose if someone didn’t love the Lord or was trying to run or hide from him, it would be a frightening prospect to be surrounded by the Almighty. But for those who know and love him and look to him for help, great comfort lies in the precious knowledge of his surrounding presence and care.

The image of mountains, so strong and protective, surrounding a little town paints the perfect picture of what the Lord does for us, his people. The Lord stands guard, ever watchful, ever ready to protect and guide. He provides majesty and beauty, adventure and stability. He keeps us nestled in his peace as we look to him.

Each day let’s picture ourselves surrounded by the Lord. Let’s relax in his care. Let’s snuggle down into that place of peace he has reserved for us. Let’s fix our eyes on him. Let’s be surrounded by his peace.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121 NIV

*When have you felt supernaturally surrounded by God’s peace?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by It’s No Game, Creative Commons License

A Tactic of the Enemy: An Opportune Time

“When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” Luke 4:13 NIV

Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Savior, was well-acquainted with temptation during his days here on earth. Scripture tells us that immediately after Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit sent him into the desert where he was tempted by Satan for forty days (Mark 1:9-13.)

The gospels of Matthew and Luke show how the devil tried different tactics to cause the perfect Son of God to stumble and sin, but the enemy had no success. Jesus stood strong, using the Word of God as a shield and weapon against the devil’s schemes.

Satan lost the battle in the desert. As the above verse in Luke points out, he left Jesus—at least for the moment. He had plans though. Plans to attack again at an opportune time. And he did.

One of those times happened just after Jesus told his disciples he would suffer and be killed and then rise again on the third day (Mark 8:31-33.) When Peter tried to rebuke Jesus for speaking of such an unthinkable thing, Jesus recognized this as another temptation—another of the enemy’s attempts to cause him to stumble.

Satan must have thought Jesus would be more vulnerable as the time drew nearer for him to face death. Definitely, an opportune time to attack again. Combine that with the appeal of one of Jesus’ close friends, and he had the perfect opportunity indeed. But Jesus stood strong once again. “‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said.’” (Mark 8:33) He was ready to resist. Ready for Satan’s attacks during opportune moments.

Are we ready to resist when the enemy comes at us during times when we’re vulnerable or caught unaware?

What do our opportune times look like? Our opportune moments could come when we’re exhausted or sick or worried. They might happen when we experience either failure or success or when we’re on the cusp of a new venture or ministry (like Jesus’ temptation in the desert.) We’re especially vulnerable when we’ve neglected time in the Word or in prayer—when we’ve allowed ourselves to grow distant from Jesus or have become complacent in our spiritual lives.

Let’s be alert to Satan’s tactics. He will wait for an opportune time, and then he’ll be there, ready to tempt us. Will we be ready to resist?

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NIV

*What can you do to be ready for Satan’s attacks?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by seyed mostafa zamani, Creative Commons License

Vital Behind-the-Scenes Forces We Need

“. . . your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV

Work. Labor. Endurance. What images do these words bring to mind? We’re not talking marshmallows and kittens here. We’re talking rolled-up sleeves, sweat, and long-distance runs. We’re talking effort and strength.

Tasks and qualities like these that take strength and determination won’t happen by accident, will they? Behind-the-scenes forces such as planning, preparation, and prayer all play a role in carrying out our tasks, achieving our goals, or running the race life has placed before us.

In considering the scripture above, let’s look at the Thessalonian believers to whom the apostle Paul was writing. In spite of the severe suffering they faced (1 Thes. 1:6), they were at work serving God.

Notice the behind-the-scenes activity that Paul mentioned was present in their lives. How was their work produced? By faith. What prompted their labor? Love. What inspired their endurance? Hope. Hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s consider for a moment the behind-the-scenes forces present in our own lives. Among the many influences at work in us personally, is faith playing a key role in the work we do—whether our day-to-day work or our service to God? Is love the motive, the impetus behind our labor? Is hope spurring us on, helping us to endure so we can finish strong?

Let’s learn from the Thessalonian believers and make certain that faith, love, and hope are playing vital behind-the-scenes roles in our work and in our lives. Remember, it won’t happen by accident.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,” Ephesians 3:16 NIV

*What can we do to strengthen one or more of these behind-the-scene forces in our lives?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Matt Trostle, Creative Commons License

Hungry For More: Ice Cream and God’s Word

Maybe just another bite. That’s what I often think as I’m standing at my kitchen counter eating ice cream straight out of the carton. I usually limit myself to three bites (or one if I’m trying to drop a pound or two), but sometimes it tastes so darn good, I’ve gotta go in for just a little more. Just another bite to satisfy that craving.

I’ve found myself feeling that way as I close my Bible before too. As I start to put it away, I feel compelled to open it again for just another taste. I’m hungry for more. I need just another bite to satisfy my craving for God’s life-giving words.

Maybe it’s because my selected reading was kind of short for that day. Or maybe my spirit is searching for direction about something. But maybe the Word just tastes so darn good, I’ve gotta go in for a little more.

Whatever the reason, I follow the impulse to read a little more. I’m so glad I don’t have to limit myself to three bites of the Word like I do with my ice cream indulgences. In fact, the more I indulge in the Word, the better. And you know what? When I’m hungry for more, God always serves up a heaping portion of satisfaction. And I must say, it tastes awfully good!

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103 NIV

*What part of the Bible have you been reading lately?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes out today. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)  Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Mark BonicaCreative Commons License