PrayerPoint ~ True ~ March 28

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. Philippians 4:8  NIV

This is a great verse to commit to memory. It is such a breath of fresh air to me – it actually lightens my heart when I say it and changes my attitude. So I certainly should say it several times a day, right?

If you are trying to get rid of that grudge, this might be the verse to stop and ponder upon. Put it on an index card several times and post it in  your car, above your coffee pot, or on your refrigerator. If you are really brave, you can buy window markers and write it on your bathroom mirror.

Sometimes we spend time thinking about the wrong things. We can choose to have the “better” things in front of our eyes. What are your favorite Truths from God? I do believe they are great to memorize and hide in your heart but there are also great opportunities to have them in front of your face….and in the sight of others. You influence those around you, for good and for bad. Include an encouraging Bible verse on your email signature or post it on Facebook. If you are sending snail mail correspondence, include a verse you wrote on card stock in marker or decorate an index card that says “I am praying for you!”

There are lots of ways to ponder “whatever is true”. And the truth is, we ought to be sharing it too.

Liz

PrayerPoint ~ Your Pastor ~ March 27

I know it is not October–the month set aside to honor, thank, and pray for your pastor but your pastor (and his/her family) needs your prayers all year long!

In our church body, we are in the middle of Lent and have extra services each week. Beginning with Palm Sunday, Holy Week is a very busy time. I am sure the emotional and spiritual intensity is significant for pastors who are in the thick of planning and preaching, sharing God’s Word.
Here are some things to pray for:
  • Spiritual protection
  • Integrity
  • Law/Gospel Balance
  • Small Group Connection
  • Financial Order
  • Protection from Worldly Influences
  • Accountability
Other things may come to mind for you so don’t let this list limit how you pray. As you consider your pastor you likely know some of his areas of struggle or prayer needs. Do not miss the opportunity to stand in the gap for this servant of God.

PrayerPoint ~ Grudges ~ March 26

I have noticed that it is infinitely easier to express grace and mercy to people I really like. Conversely, it is easy to be stingy and withhold grace, mercy, or forgiveness when I don’t particularly care for the person who needs it. There are people in our lives who daily need grace and forgiveness. If we are regularly put in the situation to demonstrate it, I am willing to bet there is something that God is wanting to teach us about our own need to extend it.

In terms of spritual growth, if I am the very one who is begrudging someone frequently, I think it ceases to be about the person I am annoyed with…it is now about me and my attitude of unforgiveness. Nursing a grudge is a destructive thing but it is much easier to not allow yourself to fall into that trap than get out of it once you are there.

Here is the anatomy of a grudge: It starts with being annoyed or downright angry with someone who has caused you some level of grief followed by “expecting” that annoying behavior to continue. Next you pay attention for and look for that annoying behavior and you are satisfied in your inner ugly place when you see it. And soon you notice that many of your thoughts revolve around that person or situation. Like an ominous cloud, the negativity continues to grow. And so does your sin.

Have you ever been there?

It is good to interrupt that cycle before it gets too far down the path. And we need to recognize that only God can help us accomplish any of this.

If you think about the nursing profession, you know that nurses work very closely with people and nursing a baby is a very close contact experience. If you apply these ideas about nursing to nursing a grudge you will rightly connect that nursing a grudge draws you even closer to the person that has “wronged” you. Do you really want that?

I don’t think so.

A first step towards freedom from this trap is to admit to God you have an issue with this person. Next ask God to bless this person. Every day. It is pretty tricky to hold a grudge against someone you are praying for.

May you walk in freedom of God’s forgiveness!

Liz

PrayerPoint ~ Good Enough ~ March 25

I do value a job well done, really, I do. But there are times when you do what you need to do to get by–and it simply isn’t your best work. Really, if I did my best work for every meal for every project, for every anything, I would be exhausted. Honestly, I am tired now and I know I am not giving my best effort.

What about when my best effort isn’t good enough? Or even a fair effort isn’t acceptable to the eyes that judge it. Am I a failure then?

Our son is in his 4th Semester of Spanish at the college level. It has been grueling to say the least. He has been frustrated, nauseated, and has put a lot of effort into it. The grades are low at the end of the semester. He literally just squeaks by. He cannot wait to get past this requirement (for his history major). He has had a tutor since Spanish II and just has a difficult time getting above a D on tests. But it looks like he has turned a corner because he earned a 100% and a 102% on his last two quizzes. We are all very excited. Quite frankly, a C would have been great so we are super excited and yet holding our breath…has he finally broken through the barrier? We pray so.

We are thankful for his persistence because if there was something he has wanted to quit 100 times, this Spanish thing would be it. We are thankful for the requirement for 4 years of a foreign language because it made him fight for his major–and he consider changing it many times. We are thankful he was open to every possible mode of assistance available to him. He  works hard for his grade–and it is still low most of the time. I never took a foreign language in college so I can’t say I wouldn’t be having the same problem. I am learning Hungarian on the side and it isn’t very easy for me, but I am doing it because I want to so it really isn’t the same.

Is there an area of your life where you can accept only being “good enough”? House cleaning? Physical appearance? Job performance? 401K earnings? Grades? Parenting?

Recognize and give thanks for your limitations–it gives God a great opportunity to fill in the gaps. If we are all about achieving and everything we touch seems to turn to gold then we are only setting ourselves up for the idea that we are the ones accomplishing everything. As we continue to achieve, it is easy to forget who allowed us the intelligence, connections, or the provisions for our success.

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for working through me whether through my strengths or my weaknesses. Help me to recognize it is all Your work through me. Thank you for loving me when I fail.  In Jesus’ Name…

May God work in and through your week!
Liz

PrayerPoint ~ Let’s Be Real ~ March 24

Do you find it hard to be real? Is it hard to admit you sometimes respond in a less than ideal way when confronted with a conflict in your home? Are there days when it is just plain ugly at your house? You know, the kind of day when nothing is said the right way or heard the right way and the tension makes you want to puke? Or am I the only one that has those?

  • The kids are out of control and you dread the moment you are ‘found out’.
  • You and your spouse been at odds for years but all you see are the seemingly happy-go-lucky couples skipping through life together.
  • You are barely squeaking by, paycheck-to-paycheck , and you have thousands of dollars in credit card debt as well as a mortgage and a car loan.
  • There are weeks or months when you don’t even glance towards your Bible.
  • You have forgotten how to pray.

Satan does his best work in the dark. He likes to isolate us and convince us that everything is incredible in everyone else’s home but ours. Don’t believe him for a minute. He has always been a liar.

There is always a risk when we reveal something personal in our lives. It is true not everyone will understand or relate to our struggle, but if we would be real and honest with ourselves (and others) we might find we aren’t the only ones who are tired of the facade of perfection. We each are in desperate need of God’s forgiveness, cleansing, and grace.

If you find you are groping around in the dark, allow God’s Light and God’s Word to illuminate your situation.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. 1 John 1:5-8 NIV

Regular church attendance, personal and small group Bible study, and strong Christian friends who will pray for  you as well as encourage and challenge you are all  great ways to hear God’s Word and His Truth. Take a risk, be real, and get connected. No one has a perfect life here on Earth although I think there are definitely “seasons” in life.

May your Spring come soon!

Liz

PrayerPoint ~ Forgiven ~ March 23

So often Satan whispers lies like:

“God couldn’t possibly forgive you for doing that!” or

“God couldn’t possibly have use for you now that you have done [insert your sin here]!” or

“How many times do you think He is willing to forgive [insert repeated offense here]?”

Maybe you have heard those same lies or maybe you’ve heard others. There are days when I get in a rut and I forget that I’m forgiven. That might sound crazy but it can happen after a tough day or a restless night.

How do you recall the promises of God’s forgiveness and restoration?

  • Scripture
  • Attending church where forgiveness is proclaimed following the confession of sins
  • Witnessing a Baptism
  • Rainstorms
  • Washing dishes
  • Washing clothes
  • Showers/Baths
  • Washing hands

Within the daily routine of our lives, we are always washing something. Take a moment to connect the wordly cleanliness you have set out to achieve and remember your Baptism! Let Him refresh and restore you with a reminder of His Grace! God wants you to remember His forgiveness and Satan would love for you to forget it. Don’t give Satan the edge!

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.  2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin. Psalm 51:1-2 (read the whole Psalm!)

Thankful for His cleaning (though I don’t always like the scrubbing!!)

Liz

PrayerPoints ~ Messages & Messengers ~ March 22

If God can use a donkey to deliver a message might He be able to use anyone or anything to get His message to you?

Balaam’s Donkey

Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab.  But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road.

Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat her again.

Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left.  When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff.  Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

“No,” he said.

Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

The angel of the LORD asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her.”

Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.” Numbers 22:21-34 NIV

[Disclaimer: The correlation you are about to read might be a little stretch and my intent is not to offend anyone.]

I confess I have been in churches where I have not been particularly fond of the methods of the ‘message’ deliverer.  Quite often those are the days that God reminds me that His Word stands alone, even if I am not crazy about the style it is presented in or even the person who presents it. I don’t think  anyone in Scripture had the opportunity to choose their message or their messenger. Living in the USA, we are accustomed to many choices and so it is natural we expect to choose our message and our messenger along with everything else we choose.

If it is God’s Word you are hearing, don’t shoot the messenger and don’t shoot the message because of the messenger! Consider where your heart is first. If it is God’s Word, then it can stand alone regardless of who speaks it.

Thankful for the many Messengers of Jesus I have been blessed to know,

Liz

PrayerPoint ~ Weddings & Marriages ~ March 21

It is fascinating how much money people are willing to spend on weddings. Amazing, really. And some of these tv shows like “Say Yes to the Dress”–wow! If you have the money and feel the burning desire to spend it, by all means, go ahead. I don’t believe parents should be taking out loans for a wedding, and I have been training our kids to understand that you can have a sweet and simple and affordable wedding day. It is far more important to spend more on being married and staying married than on the wedding. Be sure you are investing in something of substance–like a lifetime–instead of just a showy day.

It is always a good time to pray for marriages but do you know of a couple tying the knot this year? Start praying for them now. Tell them you are lifting them up in prayer. Hopefully they will have some sense of their need for God and prayer in their life already and being married will surely strengthen their understanding of that need. With finances, children, in-laws, illness, disabilities, job loss, etc…there are many challenges that can occur within marriage.
Think of the newly married or the “almost married” people in your life. Would you pray for them? Whether or not you have been married, you surely can imagine the challenges of two sinners united in marriage who go on to possibly birth a few sinners and life in a sin-filled world. Prayers aren’t just appreciated, they are required! Intercessory prayer is probably the most important gift they will receive! Personally, I can’t imagine living life without God forgiving me, sanctifying me, and loving me–because there are some days when I am not very lovable. Just ask Don. But the way God weaves us together–amazing! It’s truly only something He can do!
For fun and encouragement, find a few couples who have been married 30, 50, 60 years and ask them for a few tips. You might be surprised at what they say!
God’s blessing on your day!
Liz

PrayerPoint ~ Slavery ~ March 20

As a part of our school studies, our family explored the topic of slavery because it is such a part of our nation’s history. We started by watching the movie “Amazing Grace”. If you haven’t watched it, you should check it out. Once you start looking into this topic of slavery it is easy to be overwhelmed because not only has it been happening for a many, many years but it continues to happen today in many countries. And it has implications for us today, here in the US. Are our consumer demands contributing to slavery today? I suspect so.

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7

Of course, it is easy to be thankful that we are not slaves. But if we are under a mountain of debt, we are enslaved. If we are under addiction, we are enslaved. If we are following the same bad habits our parents had (either in dealing with kids or marriage or relationships or money) then we are enslaved.

Pray for those who are slaves today and learn more about the topic if you are so inclined. Pray and take steps to reduce your own enslavement.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. Titus 3:3-8 NIV

Seeking complete freedom,

Liz

PrayerPoint ~ Baggage ~ March 19

Got a load? Carrying around extra baggage?

Extra baggage can compound (and exhaust) so quickly. Try carrying a toddler on your shoulders for a couple of blocks. When they finally dismount, the relief is amazing.

The same principle exists when one travels around carrying guilt, shame, unforgiveness, and regret. Confession is such an important practice for a growing faith. Recognizing and admitting sin is a great first step but going to our Heavenly Father in confession and asking for His forgiveness is truly where we receive His peace and restoration.

In the words of Jesus: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

Unpack the baggage! Leave it behind….and don’t go back and pick it up. Walk in His freedom and grace and extend it to others!

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Traveling Light,

Liz