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Still Waiting…

Have you ever heard the phrase, “active waiting”? I would dare to suggest that it is a biblical principle.

Waiting is a part of our lives, but one that frankly most of us don’t enjoy. Our society is becoming increasingly instant and those of us living in it decreasingly patient. If our internet doesn’t load a page fast enough we throw a fit. When our cell phone doesn’t have coverage it is an inconvenience instead of an opportunity. Speaking of cell phones, how long do you stand in line at the grocery store before yours is out of your pocket and you are texting or checking social media? Yeah, me too.

Waiting is an expected companion to our daily routine. While we might not like it most of us have found ways to accommodate, or even embrace it.

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When it comes to waiting for answers, well that’s something different.

Do you remember waiting as a child for an answer from your parents about whether you could do something you longed to do? Or waiting for a birthday or Christmas to see if you would receive that special gift you’d been longing for? As a kid waiting can seem unbearable. I’m not sure it gets easier as adults.

Many have been waiting a long time for an answer to a special prayer. I know I have. Whether it’s direction for the future, longing for a child, the dream job, or healing from a hurt or illness those prayers are precious to us and we don’t understand why we have to wait. It can be easy to question God and at times put our lives on-hold while we wait.

I have found this can be a mistake. Whatever the reason we are being asked to wait, life goes on around us. God expects us to be a part of it and gives us some principles in scripture for what we should do in the meantime.

1. Look inward:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14
NIV

I do not believe every unanswered prayer is left unanswered because of sin but I think we should always begin by examining our heart and life for places where sin may be keeping us from God’s will and His answer.

2. Reach outward:
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Luke 6:38
NIV

It can be so easy to become focused on our prayers and desires that we forget about those around us who also have prayers. God may want to use us as part of His answer to them. By looking outside of ourselves, giving of ourselves through God’s gifts to us we will not only receive a blessing of being part of someone’s answer, we may find God giving us part of our answer in the process.

3. Never give up hope:
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
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omans 12:12

God will not abandon us. He may take us through a process before He can answer our most fervent prayer. There may be lessons we need to learn, a mission we need to complete or our relationship with Him may need to deepen before He is able to bless us with the answer we are seeking.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

If you are still waiting for the answer to that special prayer I encourage you to think about how you can wait actively, and remember to continue fixing your eyes on Jesus, seeking Him and a deeper relationship with Him. You’ll find the time will pass with unexpected blessings for you and those around you.

 

blessings and peace to you as you wait today…
Paula

 

 

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Jesus Walks Into The Temple

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Monday, March 30th
Jesus Walks Into The Temple
Mark 11:12-19

“My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

Jesus woke with the image of the temple from last night burned into His memory and as He walked toward Jerusalem knew the task that lay ahead of Him. The scene as He approached the temple confirmed what He knew in His heart. The outer court was filled with money changers and merchants trying to swindle worshipers out of their offerings. The noise of those hawking their wares permeated the air, attempting to coerce visitors out of their offering money with the purchase of sacrifices at exorbitant prices.

The crowd with Jesus was amazed as He paused from teaching and made His way through the temple courts overturning tables and benches. They could see the anger mixed with sadness fill His face as Jesus drove out the money changers and merchants who had overrun the temple courts.

Quoting the prophet Isaiah He spoke: “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house for prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mark 11:17) The whole crowd was amazed by His teaching for no one had ever dared speak against the chief priests and teachers of the law who allowed this practice to take over the Lord’s temple. The teaching was not popular however with those leaders. They saw the reaction of the crowd and feared Jesus, looking for a way to kill Him.

I have often been quick to judge those money changers and merchants wondering how they could turn the Lord’s temple into a marketplace, distracting those who came to worship and pray. I have thought, “I would never do that!” But I have been wrong.

Romans 12 1-2 says:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.

God’s desire for His temple in Jerusalem was to be a place of prayer. It was to be dedicated to Him and a refuge where He could be found by anyone seeking Him. It was to be a holy place of worship where all who brought sacrifices and sought forgiveness from sin were welcomed and cleansed.

The same is true of us. God created us to worship Him but too often we allow ourselves to conform to the sinful patterns of the world around us. I don’t know about you but too often I get to the end of a day and realize that I didn’t sacrifice my sinful desires enough. I allowed the cravings of my stomach to override my mind as I put too much unhealthy food into my mouth instead of putting it down. Or perhaps I listened to the voice that told me the comforts of my bed were more desirable than physical exercise and time with the Lord. Perhaps it was joining in with the crowd of complainers and mockers instead of speaking what was kind and encouraging and right.

If God came into our heart or mind on any given day would He need to overturn tables there? I’m not talking about mistakes or one-time sins but are there habits settled in that need to be driven out?

If you or I suddenly realized that Jesus was walking beside us would we be startled or pleased? I know it’s something I need to consider more.

 

Prayer

Lord, it’s so easy to judge the money changers and merchants for their actions in the temple courts and not look inside my own heart to see what actions are there that should not be. Please walk with me through the day today and make me aware of habits I have developed by conforming to the world instead of your desires for my life. Help me to offer my body throughout the day to you as a living sacrifice. My heart’s desire is to be holy and pleasing to You. May that desire not only be reinforced in me today but be evident to those around me as well.

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PRAY in Writing?

Do you keep a prayer journal?

Perhaps the term journal is too intimidating. We can call it a notebook, or even a list if you like.

However it is referred to, keeping a record of prayers can benefit you now and in the future.

But what is a prayer journal and how do we use it?

Each person is different in their style of recording. Some who journal every day mix prayers into our daily written visits with God. Some keep a spiritual journal that is separate from a prayer journal. Others keep a notebook that is a list of needs, wants, names and dates.

Since this is your prayer notebook YOU decide what it looks like. Make it as simple or complex as you like only be sure it has two key components.

A prayer request with a date and a space to record the date the prayer was answered.

That’s it!

You can write more if you want but these two pieces are important.

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Those who have kept prayer journals can share with you many benefits. Here are four to consider:

A prayer journal:

Preserves

Just as scrapbooks of photos and clippings of our lives preserve memories and remind us of our history, a prayer notebook preserves a history of our spiritual lives and a pattern of growth through the years. When we go back to our older journals we see where we used to be and how far God has brought us. We may see a change in focus as praying for ourselves and our wants matures into prayers for others and God’s guidance.

Reminds

As we record our hopes, dreams, plans and concerns for ourselves and others in our journal we are reminded that we are not alone in our walk with the Lord. Recording the needs of others as we pray for them reminds us both that we walk with other believers who share similar struggles and that our lives intertwine with unbelievers who need our prayers as well.

Keeping this record also reminds us to follow-up on requests and record how God has answered. We are reminded to never give up praying for others just as Jesus demonstrated when He was here on earth.

Assures

A prayer journal assures us that there is nothing too big or too small for God to care about. Reflecting on our prayers and answers over time reinforces God’s faithfulness to us. He hears the prayers of those who are faithful to Him and loves to pour blessings out on His people. At times when we doubt we can look back and assure us of His goodness.

Yields

Recording our prayers and their answers yields growth and takes us deeper in our relationship with the Lord. As we watch God answer prayer after prayer we doubt less, believe more and walk closer to Him.

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So I ask you again: Do you keep a prayer journal/notebook?

If so, would you share ways it has impacted your spiritual life?

If not, would you consider giving it a try for a few weeks?

Don’t be intimidated, just start writing down what’s in your heart and the needs around you.

 

Blessings & Peace to you as you seek the Lord in prayer.
Paula

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It’s Not Complicated

Sometimes I make prayer so complex. I look for formulas and methods to make sure I am optimizing my prayer life.

But the truth is, it’s not complicated!!

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us “Pray without ceasing”.

But is that possible? We can’t stay on our knees all day..or keep our eyes closed.

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So let’s look at it from a different angle:

When something exciting happens, what do you do? Do you text or call someone or post it on Facebook?

If something makes you sad or angry you probably find someone to vent to.

When God is the one you tell, you are praying!

But does God really care if you can’t find a parking space or someone hurts your feelings? Isn’t God too big to deal with every little detail of each of the billions of people on the earth?

Well…

When you really care about someone could they tell you anything that would be insignificant to you?

Is there anything you wouldn’t tell your closest friend because you think it’s not important enough?

When you care about someone, what is important to them is important to you.

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God created us. He cares about us so much that there isn’t anything we could say that would be insignificant to Him. When we hurt He hurts. When we are excited, He is excited.

It seems so simple, but really it’s not complicated.

Praying without ceasing is as simple as carrying on a conversation with God throughout our day. Concentrated times of directed prayer are important, but as you draw closer to Him you will find your conversation carrying on through the day. You’ll talk to Him as you drive to work and as you walk the dog. You’ll vent to Him when you encounter a frustrating person and thank Him as you soak up the sunshine on a summer afternoon. Before you know it, you’ll be talking to Him all day…praying without ceasing.

and you’ll see…it’s not complicated!

 

blessings and peace to you…
Paula

 

 

 

 

 

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Prayer Changes Things

Today is the National Day of Prayer. It’s a wonderful reminder for Christians to renew our commitment to pray for each other, our country, and our world.

Lately I have been studying prayer and learning to grow closer to God as I spend more time with Him in prayer. The Lord still has much to teach me but I thought today I would share some of what I’ve learned about how prayer changes things.

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When I started seeking to deepen my prayer life I hoped to see God change things around me as I learned the ‘right’ way to pray. He has certainly changed things…just not exactly the way I thought!

Here are some changes I’ve seen so far:

A change in PERSPECTIVE
As I draw closer to God in prayer and allow Him to purify my heart and open my eyes I see things differently. Through prayer the Holy Spirit shows me things my human-self can’t see. Hidden hurts that are masked with anger or intimidation, growth in others I don’t allow myself to see without His perspective, and many other things I never expected.  I see God’s grace for me and want to extend that grace to others around me.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  ~ Matthew 5:8

 

A change in POWER
When I devote myself to prayer and seeking God’s will I gain power that is greater than my own. The power of the Holy Spirit flowing through me allows me to love others who aren’t always likable and face fears and failures I am not strong enough to conquer on my own.

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  ~ James 5:16b

 

A change in POSTURE
In order to see any changes through prayer I must first change my posture. Bowing down and looking up are vital to seeing changes in any area of my life. Recognizing (sometimes several times a day) that I must become less and God must become more within me if He is going to do anything through me.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14

 

I pray for each of you today, that you will allow God to make changes in you through prayer and drawing closer to Him each and every day.

blessings & peace to you!

Paula

 

 

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Doubting ________

Do you remember that time Jesus & His disciples were crossing a lake when a storm came up? (Luke 8:22-25)  Jesus was sleeping soundly while the storm raged. The disciples feared for their life because water was coming into the boat and their Master wasn’t there to reassure them of their safety. They finally woke Him, convinced they were going to drown.

“Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. (v. 25a)

Then Jesus calmed the sea.

When Jesus was killed on the cross His disciples again feared for their lives. They hid from the Jewish leaders behind locked doors. When Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them in that room they believed He was alive. But Thomas wasn’t with them. When the disciples told him about Jesus being alive his faith was weak. He said he needed to see Jesus’ hands and touch His wounds in order to believe. Jesus granted this to Thomas who then replied, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Jesus reply:

“Because you have seen me, you have believed;
blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  (John 20:29)

 

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In my own life I find it easy to have faith when I can clearly see the road before me and know with certainty my destination. It’s not as easy when the road is crooked and windy or when I’m not certain how to reach my destination. Sometimes I’ve been down a similar road in the past and have lost my way. It can be hard to have faith that this time will be different.

I can be quick to judge Thomas. It’s easy to read this story in the Bible and wonder how he couldn’t just believe his friends. But there are times when I am just like him. I beg Jesus to tell me His plans for me.  He tells me, but I don’t believe.

I realize that I am also a doubter. Instead of ‘Doubting Thomas’ the phrase could be ‘Doubting Paula’. What about you? Does your name ever fit in the blank of this blog’s title?

I am so thankful God doesn’t give up on us! All the times Jesus’ disciples didn’t believe and yet He was still faithful to stay with them and continue teaching them and building their faith. And He is still here with us, no matter how many times our faith fails.

Doubting friends, stay strong. Continue to build your faith and trust the promises God gives us in His word.

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Mark 11:22-24

blessings and peace to you!

Paula

 

 

 

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Gethsemane ~ A Lesson in Perseverance

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God,
you will receive what he has promised.

                                               Hebrews 10:36

As we draw closer to Easter weekend we remember the time Jesus spent preparing for the last meal He would eat with His disciples before His death. Throughout the day Jesus tried to explain to them what was to come – of His imminent betrayal and eventual death. His disciples didn’t get it. Jesus washed their feet, explained to them about serving others, and asked them to join Him as He prayed in the garden. He never gave up trying to teach them of God’s love for them.

When evening came Jesus gave us such a beautiful yet heart wrenching picture of perseverance. Jesus knew He was about to be betrayed and executed. He had lived a perfect life. In all His interactions with those who opposed Him Jesus never sinned. Yet He would be ridiculed and hung on a cross to die the most painful death for all people who believe that He is Lord and Savior.

His heart must have been so heavy, yet He persevered.

Jesus Gethsemane

Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane that evening to pray for God’s will. Matthew’s gospel tells us that Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” He didn’t receive an answer so He prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Jesus prayed a third time in the same manner, persevering for an answer from His Father for what He was facing.

The outcome of Jesus’ perseverance was not His deliverance from the coming ridicule and death. It was not what He desired but for Him it was more important for God to be glorified than for Him to be comfortable. Because Jesus persevered and completed the purpose for which His Father sent him to earth we reap countless blessings. Every year as we remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us we are reminded that if He had not persevered through His times of tribulation we would not have the gift of eternity in Heaven with Him.

Each one of us has challenges to work through and overcome. While yours may not seem significant to the world it is significant to you, therefore it also matters to God. Whatever you are facing as you read this I pray for your perseverance. Don’t give up – on yourself, a solution, and especially your faith that God will bring good out of your circumstances. And as you persevere remember that through Jesus’ gift of salvation we can have the blessing of peace that passes all understanding.