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.

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Do It On the Basis of Love

“. . . I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love.” Philemon 9 NIV

Have you ever been asked to do something that the world might call crazy or naïve? Many times as believers we are called to do just that.

The apostle Paul’s words of appeal above come from a letter he wrote to his dear friend and fellow worker Philemon. Philemon’s slave Onesimus had apparently stolen from him or wronged him in some way and then run away. After that, Onesimus met Paul and became a Christian and was then ready to return to Philemon and make things right between them.

This is where Paul came in. He acted as an agent of reconciliation, appealing to Philemon to welcome Onesimus back as if he were welcoming Paul himself (read the short book of Philemon for the entire beautiful story told in just twenty-five verses.)

In other words, Paul said, if you love me, forgive and welcome him. More than that, the implication here is also an appeal to act out of love for Christ—to extend the love that Christ himself would extend.

I wonder if there are any situations in our lives right now where the Lord might be saying, “I appeal to you on the basis of love . . .” Has someone wronged us or someone we love? Or maybe a person noted for bad or even criminal behavior has recently come to know Christ. Many times our first reaction is to say, “Yeah, sure.”

But what would the Lord have us do? I think his message to us would be the same as the one Paul sent to Philemon so many years ago—if you love me, forgive and welcome him.

How can we do any less than offer forgiveness when the Lord has extended unconditional love and forgiveness to each of us? Let’s do what he wants us to do. And let’s do it on the basis of love.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 NIV

*Who will you forgive on the basis of love today?

*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.

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Our Exalted God

He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’” Psalm 46:10 NIV

I like to look at a verse of scripture and focus on one tiny word from time to time. In the past, I’ve suggested we consider the words us and let in specific verses. Today, let’s turn our attention to the word will in the verse above.

Most often when we read Psalm 46:10, we focus on the first half of the verse. One time when I read it, however, the last two phrases of the verse jumped out at me. Take a moment and read it aloud and emphasize the word will both times it’s used.

This verse is not only a proclamation that God is God, but it’s a proclamation and a promise by God himself that he will be exalted among the nations. And then, as if to emphasize the certainty of it, he repeats that he will be exalted in the earth. No question about it, no room for doubt. God is going to be exalted.

What a day that will be! Sometimes we forget what’s on the horizon. We get discouraged and distressed by the godlessness that permeates so many aspects of our present day world, and we forget that God is God and that he will one day be seen by all for who he is. Yes, God will be exalted. He will be triumphant.

But I don’t want to wait for that day to exalt God—I want to be among those who exalt him now. Among those who proclaim him today, who give the world a taste of the glory that’s to come. Maybe in our doing so, some will come to know and exalt him with us.

So how about it? Let’s do our part. Let’s exalt God now!

“Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.” Psalm 34:3 NIV

*How will you exalt the Lord today?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out today, but it’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is FREE! *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

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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.

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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