PrayerPoints 2020

Hello! Hello!

Happy New Year! I love the freshness a new year brings, don’t you?

Each time there is a new season in the calendar year it signals new sounds, smells, tastes, and experiences. I enjoy the refreshment of the “new” when I am expecting them, but there are other seasons that catch me by surprise! Sometimes I am in a “new season” for a while before I even realize it! You may have felt similarly as you have traveled through the various seasons of:

  • Life
  • Employment
  • Parenting
  • Education
  • Marriage
  • Health
  • Family Life

We are all traveling through seasons, though not necessarily the same ones or in the same order, and certainly not in the same way. Sometimes I think I would love to have 2020 vision in what God is doing in my life or when I am in a difficult season but, really, I don’t. He asks me to trust in Him, no matter the season. He never promised that I will see, know, or understand it all!

The seasons of the church year are relatively consistent, if you pay attention to them. They can be a way of being united together in the course of a year with people all over the world, particularly if you are from the same church body. Of course, the church year “seasons” are a manmade sort of thing, but they are based on significant happenings in Scripture, organized in a way that helps us remember better while also providing a little structure.

Instead of just taking a deep dive during the Lenten season, I plan to post a new PrayerPoint each Monday. If you have been following PrayerPoints for a while now, you may have noticed that I shared a lot more this year than I have in previous years. This year I am aiming for a steady rhythm. While I seem to learn better with more intentional focus, I need to grow in my consistency. For 2020, each weekly PrayerPoint will include a psalm, hymn, or spiritual song that will correspond to the church season and highlight something that caught my heart. The rhythm of the church year will help me be a little more grounded and give me a little focus. I encourage you to contemplate the posted words each week and see what stands out for you and write it down. I love that God’s Word is so relevant to our lives and that God uses the Holy Spirit to personalize what we hear! We can each “bump into” the same piece of Scripture and take away a different application, depending on what God is working on in our hearts.

Feel free to join me on this journey. If you sign up to receive my posts in your inbox you won’t miss a week. Otherwise, Facebook algorithms (and whether I remember to post the link) will determine whether or not you see the weekly PrayerPoint.

I am looking forward to the growth God has in store for me this year. I hope you are looking forward to your growth too! If you have a favorite hymn you would like me to see in a post, send me a message at vospower6@hotmail.com and I will consider it.

Blessings and Peace!
Liz

Shades of Death

There are seasons in life where we find ourselves in the shades of death; where trouble or discouragement or illness have surrounded us and we have not felt joy. We are simply sitting in darkness or under the cover cold, dark, and moody clouds of circumstance that drain our ability to smile and laugh.

Honestly, that feels like a typical February for me. I hate not seeing or feeling the sun. Day after day it is gloomy but when there is a moment — even just a sunny hour or the thrill of a sunny day. My goodness. It is so exciting!

Sometimes my soul gets trapped under the weight of discouragement, doubt, and distortions of reality. It needs to be in the presence of the Son — to feel the warmth and encouragement and to feel the Life only Jesus can bring to us.

After sitting in darkness, it takes time to readjust. The light can be bright. Sometimes even overwhelming for eyes that have not been exposed to it recently. Go slowly. Practice absorbing the light.

Heavenly Father, Bring Your light to me. Let it shine in the dark places and bring life to where there seems to be only shades of death. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

“The People That in Darkness Sat”

The people that in darkness sat
A glorious light have seen;
The light has shined on them who long
In shades of death have been.

To hail Thee, Sun of Righteousness,
The gathering nations come;
They joy as when the reapers bear
Their harvest treasures home.

For Thou their burden dost remove
And break the tyrant’s rod
As in the day when Midian fell
Before the sword of God.

To us a Child of hope is born,
To us a Son is given,
And on His shoulder ever rests
All power in earth and heaven.

His name shall be the Prince of Peace,
The Everlasting Lord,
The Wonderful, the Counselor.
The God by all adored.

His righteous government and power
Shall over all extend;
On judgment and on justice based,
His reign shall have no end.

Lord Jesus, reign in us, we pray,
And make us Thine alone,
Who with the Father ever art
And Holy Spirit, one.

by John Morison, 1749-1798

Clarity

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever is a movie I have not seen, but I know the phrase and, interestingly, it has crossed my mind during my travels.

It rings true.

But sometimes things aren’t so clear. And this isn’t just about vision. Sometimes there are times in life where things are unclear — and the only thing we are able to do is pray and do the next right thing.

To every dull and clouded sense
The clearness of Your light dispense.

All of my senses can be dull and clouded. This affects what I hear, taste, smell, and touch. Recent research suggests there are actually seven physical senses, check this out.

Most often, I am not able to see much further than the day I am in. And, truly, who of us can? Life changes so quickly sometimes. We need to hold our plans loosely. While we can plan and prepare, there are no guarantees. But seeking God’s perspective always helps me bring clarity to a situation.

Have you been at a crossroad and looking for clarity? You might be tempted to do nothing, but that is a decision in itself. Do the next right thing, find a friend or counselor to process with, and ask God to make your path clear.

Thank you, Lord for Your Love and Light in my life. Bring clarity to my days, but, most importantly, grow my trust in You. Amen.

I know I used this hymn before but I loved that line so I just had to revisit it! There is a lot to think over with this hymn!

From God the Father, Virgin-born

From God the Father, virgin-born
To us the only Son came down;
By death the font to consecrate,
The faithful to regenerate.

Beginning from His home on high,
In human flesh He came to die;
Creation by His death restored,
And shed new joys of life abroad.

Glide on, O glorious Sun, and bring
The gift of healing on Your wing;
To every dull and clouded sense
The clearness of Your light dispense.

Abide with us, O Lord, we pray;
The gloom of darkness chase away;
Your work of healing, Lord, begin,
And take away the stain of sin.

Lord, once You came to earth’s domain
And, we believe, shall come again;
Be with us on the battlefield,
From ev’ry harm Your people shield.

To You, O Lord, all glory be
For this Your blest epiphany;
To God, whom all His hosts adore,
And Holy Spirit evermore.

Translated by John Mason Neale, 1818-66

All that is not holy

“In your hearts enthrone him; there let him subdue all that is not holy, all that is not true…”

All that is not holy….my goodness. My heart can produce some unholy stuff. Sometimes I wonder where this funk is coming from and it surprises even me. The thoughts I think, the words I say…..Lord, please subdue those things that should not see the light of day.

I have found when I am particularly depleted either physically, emotionally, or spiritually, I am a candidate for needing all kinds unholy stuff subdued. There is a direct correlation. The further I am wandering away or not being fed from The Source, the easier it is for me to digress into some unholy ugliness.

The solution? Stay closely tethered to my Maker!

Lord, keep me close to you and subdue all that is unholy and untrue. Amen

At the Name of Jesus

At the name of Jesus ev’ry knee shall bow,
ev’ry tongue confess him King of glory now.
‘Tis the Father’s pleasure we should call him Lord,
who from the beginning was the mighty Word.

At his voice creation sprang at once to sight,
all the angel faces, all the hosts of light,
thrones and dominations, stars upon their way,
all the heav’nly orders in their great array.

Humbled for a season to receive a name
from the lips of sinners unto whom he came,
faithfully he bore it spotless to the last,
brought it back victorious, when from death he passed.

In your hearts enthrone him; there let him subdue
all that is not holy, all that is not true;
crown him as your Captain in temptation’s hour:
let his will enfold you in its light and pow’r.

Brothers, this Lord Jesus shall return again,
with his Father’s glory, with his angel train;
for all wreaths of empire meet upon his brow,
and our hearts confess him King of glory now.

Author: Caroline Marie Noel 1817-1877

The Stain of Sin

I have been sinning since the beginning of my time. I still sin. It is a part of my human condition but I have been working on my stuff. I can say “I am sorry”. I can ask for forgiveness. I can work on not sinning, and yet, I still sin. I know God forgives me for the large and small sins and wipes it clean away but, in this world, the stain of sin can remain, for a lifetime.

And that can be a lifetime of me being needled by satan. He loves to try to condemn, particularly those who have been forgiven. The devil wants to wrestle away my peace that passes all human understanding and convince me that I am stained and unusable, that His healing work can’t possibly work through this mess.

This mess of me.

But God can and He does. He can do it for you too! Lord, let me focus on Your work of healing. Let me trust You to work on the stains of my sin. I know you see me through the beauty and perfection of Jesus, but sometimes the world can see my stains and I feel condemned all over again!

Thank you for your gift of Jesus and His sacrifice on my behalf! Amen.

From God the Father, virgin-born

From God the Father, virgin-born
To us the only Son came down;
By death the font to consecrate,
The faithful to regenerate.

Beginning from His home on high,
In human flesh He came to die;
Creation by His death restored,
And shed new joys of life abroad.

Glide on, O glorious Sun, and bring
The gift of healing on Your wing;
To eve’ry dull and clouded sense
The clearness of Your light dispense.

Abide with us, O Lord, we pray;
The gloom of darkness chase away;
Your work of healing, Lord, begin,
And take away the stain of sin.

Lord, once You came to earth’s domain
And, we believe, shall come again;
Be with us on the battlefield,
From ev’ry harm Your people shield.

To You, O Lord, all glory be
For this Your blest epiphany;
To God, whom all His hosts adore,
And Holy Spirit evermore.

Translated by John Mason Neale, 1818-66

O Morning Star

Promised One.

Since Creation, God had been making and fulfilling promises. But this is the big one.

Jesus is the Promised One.

What I love about how God works is that if I take the time to look back and analyze my life, I can see times of interjection and moments of clarity where I knew in my heart that God was showing me Jesus and His grace. Yes, Jesus came for the world. But He also came for me.

That treasured Promised One was promised for me.

Countless promises have fulfilled in Scripture. Surely someone somewhere has analyzed how many things God promised and fulfilled. God delivers. Even when I don’t have the eyes to see it, I have the words of The Bible to read. I can see promises fulfilled throughout the generations. I love the big picture, I do. But when it comes to a God who knew Moses and those other giants of the faith. The One who created the world and sent a Savior. The God who has been there for me and redeemed my life from the pit. That is where it gets personal.

These promises are for me.

God has the same end goal for each of us but how He is able to bring it about all depends on softened hearts and a willingness to be led by Him. Are my heart and ears are attuned to Him? Am I able to discern His voice from the clamouring of the others? The path of life isn’t always easy. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and fearful and I kick and scream. He holds me anyway and He waits for me.

Thank you for fulfilling Your promises to the generations. And thank you for keeping your promises to me. Thank you for The Promised One. Amen.

O Morning Star, how clear and bright,
your beam shines forth in truth and light!
My Sovereign meek and lowly!
O Root of Jesse, Promised One,
my God and Ruler, you have won
my heart to serve you solely!
You are holy,
great and glorious, all-victorious,
Rich in blessing,
rule and might o’er all possessing.

Come heavenly Brightness, Light divine,
and deep within my heart now shine,
there make yourself an altar!
Fill me with joy and strength to be
your member, joined eternally 
in love that cannot falter;
Longing for you
does possess me; turn and bless me;
Here in sadness
eye and heart long for your gladness. *

*Philipp Nicolai (1556 – 1608)

God's Own Child….

This sweet little hymn was a part of my weekend. There is so much here to ponder over — each stanza can be savored in a daily reflection this week! So sing it, write it, listen to it, read it, look up the author, or handle it however you like!

There are so many amazing ones to ponder that I had a difficult time picking one but I am going to focus on this snippet below:

He, because I could not pay it,
Gave my full redemption price.

How humbling that God was willing to pay TOP DOLLAR for me! It’s settled. The debt has been paid. I could not pay it. It isn’t something I can pay because there is nothing I can do to earn His love! This allows me to rest from scurrying around trying to be “good enough” or “worthy” because Jesus settled that. I have been released from that pressure and fear. I can sleep secure.

Salvation is a sweet, sweet gift. Thank you, Lord, for providing a way for me! Amen!

I don’t want to say too much here because it might spoil your thoughts and distract you from what you are reading and thinking about. So, go on. Enjoy this hymn!

God’s own child, I gladly say it:
I am baptized into Christ!
He, because I could not pay it,
Gave my full redemption price.

Do I need earth’s treasures many?
I have one worth more than any
That brought me salvation free
Lasting to eternity!

Sin, disturb my soul no longer:
I am baptized into Christ!
I have comfort even stronger:
Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice.
Should a guilty conscience seize me
Since my Baptism did release me
In a dear forgiving flood,
Sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood!

Satan, hear this proclamation:
I am baptized into Christ!
Drop your ugly accusation,
I am not so soon enticed.
Now that to the font I’ve traveled,
All your might has come unraveled,
And, against your tyranny,
God, my Lord, unites with me!

Death, you cannot end my gladness:
I am baptized into Christ!
When I die, I leave all sadness
To inherit paradise!
Though I lie in dust and ashes
Faith’s assurance brightly flashes:
Baptism has the strength divine
To make life immortal mine. 

There is nothing worth comparing
To this lifelong comfort sure!
Open-eyed my grave is staring:
Even there I’ll sleep secure.
Though my flesh awaits its raising,
Still my soul continues praising:
I am baptized into Christ;
I’m a child of paradise! *


*Neumeister, Erdmann, 1671-1756 Translated by: Robert E. Voelker

As with Gladness Men of Old

by William C. Dix, 1837-1898

1 As with gladness men of old
Did the guiding star behold;
As with joy they hailed its light,
Leading onward, beaming bright;
So, most gracious Lord, may we
Evermore be led by Thee.

2 As with joyful steps they sped,
Savior, to Thy lowly bed,
There to bend the knee before
Thee, whom heav’n and earth adore;
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek Thy mercy seat.

3 As they offered gifts most rare
At Thy cradle, rude and bare,
So may we with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,

Christ, to Thee, our heav’nly King.

4 Holy Jesus, ev’ry day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy glory hide.

5 In the heav’nly country bright
Need they no created light;
Thou its light, its joy, its crown,
Thou its sun which goes not down;
There forever may we sing
Alleluias to our King.

Scripture references: Matthew 2:1-11; Isaiah 60:19; Revelation 21:23

We are in the season of Epiphany!

Who is leading your way into this New Year?

So, most gracious Lord, may we evermore be led by Thee.

I know that God is leading — that isn’t a problem for me. My challenge is in the following — am I truly willing to be led?

Sometimes I am waiting for the perfect moment. When life is comfortable. The time when it works for me and feels right and good. Sometimes I have to run out of my own ideas and finally be desperate enough to challenge my own thoughts and ways in order to surrender myself to His service. I hate to admit that, but it is true.

Being led is so hard — especially when you have your own ideas on how things should go.

Following God isn’t always easy and it isn’t always fun. It may take me places that I am not quite sure that I want to be. Who wants to be in the middle of hard? Who wants to be in the midst of pain?

But being led by a gracious Lord means that there is grace along the way. It is important for me to remember that and re-remember that!

Lord, thank you for graciously and lovingly leading me. Give me a heart that is willing to be led by You. Amen.

For your consideration: Write out or print out these verses for contemplation this week. You might find that each day there is something different that resonates with you. If you play piano and you have a hymnal, play the song. Do you love to draw? Sketch out one of the images described. You can also check out the Scripture references. Or even dig into the details on the author. There are a lot of ways to make connections with the psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs I will be posting in a way that deepens your understanding and connection with God’s love and provision for you. I love that God created us each with different interests, skills, and abilities — enjoy exploring yours!