“Now there was a widow that kept asking a judge for justice…”
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5
“We again give you…” Have you ever been on a weekend retreat where there’s a spiritual catharsis on Saturday night at the communion service? These Magic Moments are where we commit something in our life to God. It could be a dream, a hope a decision, or a disappointment. Or, perhaps we give him the request/burden that we’ve been carrying for years. They’re wonderful times. So how is it that the peace can sometimes disappear in 24 hours? I think it’s because we crossed our fingers while we prayed. Or we picked up that burden again on our way out of the chapel. Some trials need to be laid at his feet again and again and again. Keep at it. With supernatural help, there is victory ahead.
We have come here to praise you and to sing your glory
We pause before you to praise you and stand in your glory and to know you better
Lord, in giving you our worship we ask that you would transform us
We ask that you would assure us and remind us of your faithfulness to us
Because there is a seemingly endless list of situations and people that leave us worried and overwhelmed
Lord, please renew our confidence in you and in your love
Lord, we give to you our best selves and ask that you inspire us to be your servants wherever we find ourselves
Lord, we also give to you our hidden selves and ask that you shine your light on the parts of us that long for healing and for deliverance
Lord, we give you thanks for never shying away from us or being shocked at any secrets we harbor and for always responding to us with grace and mercy
Continued in Once Again – Part 2
Praying for People Around the World Matters Photo: akukusutla.blogspot.com
As I was praying through my list of family members who don’t know Jesus, I asked God if this exercise had any value. Most of these names have been on my list of many years with no change in their interest in Jesus, God or spirituality. With a vague sense of obedience, I keep contending for a relationship with God for them.
Two days later, I was having coffee with a Healing Rooms Team Intern who shared the story of his cousin. They had grown up as close as brother and sister. His family had a strong faith in God; her family had none. This cousin considered herself an Atheist. He remembered getting into a vocal discussion about this topic a few years back after a movie. College, travel, marriage and health issues has allowed several years to pass without connecting. Out of the blue, he received a text asking for a book recommendation on learning something about Jesus. He offered an N.T. Wright book suggestion and she read this and asked for another. He wondered what was up.
At a holiday event, he saw her and asked about the back story. She said she had been walking her baby daughter down a neighborhood street in a stroller and turned a corner and had an encounter with Jesus. She said she wasn’t sure what was going on. She felt His peace and love and presence so strongly that she realized she needed to learn more about this person of Jesus Christ. Despite her family’s surprise and dismay, she set a date to be baptized and invited my friend.
He said he had not prayed for her for along time. This happened out of the blue. I found this story so encouraging in light of the question I had asked God about my family members who still want nothing to do with God. The story gave new infusion to my prayer efforts. We never know how or when God will answer our prayers. I was reminded that He’s listening and acting on our prayers at the moment and over time. Long after we forgot we prayed something, He’s still answering our prayers. I was inspired to keep praying, believing that God is at work all the while.
Asking God a question is an invitation to have Him enter our heart and change what we want
“And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the reproach of the foolish.” Psalm 39:7-8
In Psalm 39:7, David asks
the Lord, “What do I wait for?” By asking this as a question it becomes an invitation to have God enter your heart and change what you want. It can also change what we wait for. We wait for God to enlarge our thoughts. We wait for God to give us his vision for solutions according to the riches of his glory. We wait for God to introduce new passions into our hearts.
Deliver me from my temper
Let the fruit of patience develop in me
Deliver me from pride
Change my self-image to a healthy balance of courage and confidence
Deliver me from self-will
Let me remember that you are designed us for community
Deliver me from my transgressions
Thank you for the continual cleansing of Jesus’ blood
“Because I live, you will live also.” John 14:19
What happens when we die? Everyone wonders about this question at some point. Some settle it with, “We end up in a box, and that’s the end of it.” But the majority of people believe there is an afterlife. Most people have a vague notion of a heaven. Many people think they are going to heaven without having investigated what it might take to get there.
Jesus talked a lot about what the Kingdom of God is like, both on earth and in heaven. According to Jesus, all are welcome. But few will get there. “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14. To His followers, He promised eternity with God the Father.
John 14:19 reads, “Because I live, you will live also.” When we die, we do not end up in a box. There is life beyond death. We don’t come back as an insect or some other animal. We keep going. We keep our lessons, we keep our love of good. Our good works unto God live on after us on earth. God evaluates all our works in heaven. All that is not done unto God gets forgotten and eventually wisps away. But what we invested in others lives on. What we talked about that honors God lives on in this eternal book. “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.” Malachi 3:16. The prayers (not just wishes) we prayed are still being answered. We plant, but God makes things grow. 1 Cor 3:7.
People miss loved ones when they die. We feel sad. The hope remains that we will see them again. The angel came and confronted Mary Magdalene after Jesus was murdered, “Do not fear. He is not here. He is risen and alive.” Matthew 28:5 Since Jesus lives, we do too. Jesus told one of the two men hanging on crosses next to his that he would be with Jesus in heaven that day. “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43 This is our hope. This is our confidence. We live on, in heaven, with Jesus.
Earthquakes vs. Sounders August 2, 2014
My husband and I had the privilege of joining some friends of ours to see a professional soccer game last week. Before the game even started, we arrived early to take in the new stadium. We walked around the perimeter checking out the seats and the food options and the design features of the stadium. Fans wearing both soccer and football sporting emblems rimmed the mid-level circumference peeling off for bathrooms, food outlets and seating sections.
Soccer play is constant for 45 minutes for each half. Nonetheless the fans flowed up and down the aisles. The cheering and routing of the crowd also qualifies as entertainment. The clock continues while players fall to the ground in either real or faked pain. Most get up and continue playing. The cheers I heard were “Flop, flop; let him die.”
The enthusiasm that people showed for the sport is more than we see at churches for God. Their loyalty to endure the noise and crowds is more than what’s required at a church service. The cost of the food is triple what most people would pay at a restaurant, and no one complained. Stadium prices seemed surreal to me, accustomed to trying to save $.30 here and $.75 cents there on each item at a grocery store. One could buy an entire six pack of American or luxury beer for the price of one stadium beer. One could buy a 12 pack of soft drinks for the price of 1 soft drink at the stadium. And the price for 1 bottled water would buy 24 bottles including all the bottling taxes added on. Further, people waited in long lines to buy food and drink.
The fans express their enthusiasm in loud and excited ways throughout the match, with or without scoring. The excitement levels rippling through the crowd goes beyond almost any excitement levels I see at most churches. When did our love of sports become more visible than our love of God? Isn’t this one of the signs of a crumbling civilization? I love sporting events. But I also love seeing God heal someone of asthma or watching a leg grow out. I love things that glorify God. I wonder how many people think about the God whose name they love to use to describe their frustration with just about everything they don’t like.
Our society publicly loves watching athletes play sports, which celebrates the feats of the human body. I wonder what they enjoy that celebrates feats of the human spirit.