faith

A Mother’s Prayer

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My mother raised eight children and she is my hero. When I think about my childhood and her influence on my life the word prayer comes to mind. Her faith in God grew with every baby she birthed, with each new level of life’s challenges and the growing complexity of managing a large family. She learned to pray about everything, even a difficult marriage that brought consistent strife and hardship into our home.

Growing up I could not perceive the weight of her burden in managing eight children without the support of my father. I do however remember how she modeled her faith in God and the strength she received through prayer. Hearing her crying out to God one night for help in our tiny bathroom made a lasting impression on my heart. Supposing that we were all asleep I never told her that her pleas made it to my ears. Her faith was strengthened to endure through prayer.

Her prayers brought much-needed provision, protection and purpose in the midst of so much insecurity growing up. Her prayers brought salvation to our souls as well. It was Mother’s Day 47 years ago when I and my siblings made our way to the altar to accept Christ as our Savior. It was a result of a mother’s prayer.

“Pray about everything,” she used to tell me all the time. Now that I am a mother I know firsthand that her words were wisdom coming through the fruit of a praying life. As my mother prayed over her children and household so shall I. In cultivating a praying heart God has blessed my family with provision, protection and purpose.

I am the fruit of a mother’s prayer.

“…pray without ceasing…” (1Thessalonians 5:17)

Listening to God

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How often have you gotten yourself in trouble because you chose not to listen to or follow the recommended instructions to complete a project? God understands this tendency in our human will to presume that we know just enough to get the job done without His help. The bible is full of warnings to avoid presumptive sin by choosing to listen to God’s instruction for doing life.

“Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! (Psalm 19:13a)

When Israel was led into captivity after years of enjoying and mishandling the blessings of God, Jeremiah the prophet tells us it was due to them not listening to God. They had forgotten there need for God who not only brought them into the promise land but also their need for Him to keep them there. They presumed that God would not judge their sin.

“I will pursue them with sword, famine and pestilence…because they did not pay attention to My words…you would not listen, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 29:18-19)

As children of God we are also deeply loved by Him. It is His love for us that drives His discipline towards us for our good. He sacrificed His Son (Jesus Christ) in order that we might enjoy His abundant blessings in this life on earth and throughout eternity. The better we become at listening to His instructions the more our lives become enriched with His blessed presence and all the daily benefits of His provision.

“I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm My covenant with you.” (Leviticus 26:9)

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise to ultimately provide for all our needs. He is the Blessed Savior from whom all blessings flow. It is in and through Jesus that God made His plea once again to His beloved children to listen to His Son in order to live in the abundance of His provision on a daily basis.

“This is My Son, My Chosen One, listen to Him!” (Luke 9:35)

The Bible is our instruction manual for life, how well are you listening to it?

“Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” (Psalm 19:13b)

His Banner Over Me is Love

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Growing up I learned that love had to be earned based on how well I performed. The giving of love was by works and not by grace. This way of receiving love was instilled in my father by his father and he naturally brought it into his parenting relationship with his own kids.

“We love because He first loved us.” (1John 4:19)

Performance based love is rooted in fear and not in the freedom of grace love initiated by God. My earthly father inflicted a ton of rules that I had to adhere to. Eventually I figured out that I would never be able to consistently meet his standards. God accepts us as we are, with all our imperfections and shortcomings. He not only loves us first but wins our heart with His kindness towards us.

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us…but according to His own mercy…” (Titus 3:4,5)

God is love and He delights in pouring out His love on us. So much so that He sent His Son Jesus to remove the barrier of ‘works based love’ which could never satisfy our longing to be loved and accepted.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life…In order that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16, 17)

There is no fear in the perfect love of our Heavenly Father, there is peace of soul knowing that we are loved and accepted just as we are. His love brings freedom to soar into fulfilling our God-given purpose on this earth.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” (1John 4:18)

Nothing can separate you from the love of God! (Romans 8:38, 39)

“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” (Song of Solomon 2:4)

Image: Nature’s Love, J. Shauk

Enduring Faith

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Enduring faith requires a long-term view driven by divine purpose that is specifically designed to shape your heart for the work and impact God has placed you on this earth to fulfill. And the secret to enduring is obedience.

Jesus modeled obedience in a very practical way. His example did not require years of maturing and experience nor perfect life circumstances or achievements. He simply chose to submit Himself to God and His plan for His life. He believed that the only way to please the Father was through living in obedience to Him.

“But have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God…emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant…He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)

Enduring faith is also rooted in our love for God. If we truly love God we will choose and commit to the process of enduring trials or tests that come into our lives. John the Apostle said that our love for God is proved by our obedience to Him.

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)

Lastly, enduring faith requires waiting. Those who endure are promised supernatural provision to persevere to the end. Jesus goes before us and brings light to our path, we must choose to follow Him. He is the way, the truth and the life according to John 14:6. And when our enduring has accomplished God’s desired end, when we have been transformed by taking on more of the likeness of Jesus, we will know that God’s work in this area is completed.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

God cares for you.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time, He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

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Your Labor is Not in Vain

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Have you ever been asked by God to choose the less traveled road that seemed to include sacrifice and loneliness? If you obeyed His voice you know that it required a faith deeper than you had at the moment of acceptance. And you had to come to terms that obeying came with no guarantees on the desired outcome compared to the labor that it seemed to involve. Did you know that God promises that the labor that He calls us to will not be in vain?

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

When God calls us to labor on His behalf it is assumed that we know it can only be done in the Lord. Otherwise how can we be ‘steadfast, immovable, always abounding’ in accomplishing what we have accepted to do?

The call to labor encompasses every arena of life and relationships. Some are called to labor for their marriage, family, children, health, home, career or ministry. Whatever the call, whatever the sacrifice involved we are admonished to be ‘steadfast, immovable and always abounding’ in our labor in the Lord.

Labor can involve suffering and hardship, yet it is not in vain. Our faith is tested in the Lord and when we endure we come forth pure as gold, through the refining fire of God’s love. We may not achieve our initial desired outcome but God always delivers a far richer outcome than we could have imagined. Knowing Him more, being transformed into the image of Christ and reaping the divine fruit of faithful labor in the Lord.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

Your labor is not in vain!

True Followers

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Fork in the Road, gettyimages,googleA spiritual giant of a man that we’ve all heard of at one time or another once said “When the heart sees what God wants, the body must be willing to spend and be spent for that cause alone.” Oswald Chambers was a man completely abandoned to God, he understood what it meant to be a true follower.

A true follower accepts the authority of another and obeys by placing himself in submission to the instruction or orders given. As a Christian we have been asked by God to:

“…present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)

In other words, I must offer up my life, give it away as a living sacrifice in order to truly fulfill God’s purpose for my life. I have been made holy and acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. This is my spiritual worship, a reasonable response to God’s amazing grace deposited into my life.

How does this look in my daily walk and growing relationship with my Heavenly Father? And how will I know that I am fulfilling His purpose and will in my life? We are to follow by setting ourselves apart from this world by renewing our mind with His Word, accepting the tests that come our way that God will use to give us wisdom and discernment to know His will. All this by living in the world and yet apart from it.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Only then can the heart begin to see what it was created to be spent for.

Believe

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Has something in your life died that needs to be brought to life again? The death of a relationship, dream or vision, a loss or failure in your life that you are struggling through, fighting off what appears to be a permanent outcome? Then you must know in whom you can believe to bring life to your death situation.

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21)

Martha’s first response to Jesus showing up four days after Lazarus died brings this story close to home and our own ‘death’ situations that appear to be utterly hopeless and beyond restoration. Martha had witnessed the Lord’s power and even proclaimed that she knew that whatever He asked from God would be granted to Him.” (John 11:22) Then Jesus speaks to the situation:

“…your brother will rise again.” (John 11:23)

Martha assumed that Jesus was speaking of the resurrection on the last day. Her assumption was lacking obviously when Jesus proclaimed:

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25,26)

When we believe or place our trust in Jesus, He promises to use all life situations for our greater good in the future, in His time. In other words, every experience counts, every loss, every death and broken dream. Nothing is wasted in God’s economy, even evil plotted against us He will turn around for our good.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1Peter 5:10)

“Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God…” (John 11:27)