Monday, February 28, 2011

Making Much Out of A Little

“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, (Jesus) gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Matthew 14:17-21

How many of us are trying to make a little bit go a longer way? Since Larry was laid off last September, our household budget has been tremendously stretched. Because of our daughter’s sleep disorder, we even go to bed at night asking God to make the little bit of sleep we get ENOUGH. We are far from alone. This is an economy and culture desperately entrenched in trying to make enough out of a little.

People everywhere are trying to make their money do more or trying to get the most of the little bit of time and energy they have. We want our wardrobes to flatter us making us look more attractive or thinner than we really feel. We want more patience with our kids but it runs thin. We long for more satisfying marriages when so many are holding on by threads.

I was recently reading in second Kings and noticed something that impressed me.

"For the Lord had made the army of the Syrians hear the sound of chariots and of horses, the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, ‘Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to come against us.’" 2 Kings 7:6

Guess what? The Syrians thought they were hearing the sounds of two entire armies. It was really just four men with leprosy. God did that. The Syrians were so afraid that they fled immediately leaving their tents and horses behind and the whole road strewn with clothing and equipment. Imagine their shock if they ever found out that only four leprous men were sitting in their tents enjoying food and wine then making off with their silver, gold and clothing!

This was not the first or the last time God made something huge out of something insignificant. This is God’s business — creating the universe from nothing, making feasts for thousands out of scraps, making the sound of eight footsteps sound like the horses of two armies, bringing beauty out of ashes.

What are you facing today that feels insufficient or unfixable?

What dream is burning on your heart but seems unattainable?

Please join with me in remembering God is more than able.

Help me to remember, Lord, that if you are answering my prayers with “no” or “wait,” it is not because you are unable to respond. It is because you have perspective that extends to eternity. Unlike me, you know all things necessary to understand what will truly be best. I know You want me to keep asking but help me to trust You for big and unexpected results. Show me how to walk boldly but patiently in that trust. Help me to follow Your promptings as I set courageous goals and dream big dreams but help me to hold them loosely trusting that you can and will do even more than I ask or imagine — truly BIG things — they might just look differently than I expected. AMEN

Monday, February 21, 2011

They Inquired of the Lord

I’m on Day 53 in a 90-day Bible reading plan and the process continues to fascinate me. Reading so quickly allows me to see certain details, make interesting connections, and recognize themes while things are fresh in my mind. Here are some examples that are re-inspiring me to be direct and specific with questions of God.

King David asked God for specific direction and God answered.

2 Samuel 2:1 "Then it came about afterwards that David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up to one of the cities of Judah?” And the Lord said to him, “Go up.” So David said, “Where shall I go up?” And He said, “To Hebron.”"

King Solomon asked God for wisdom and it pleased God.

1 Kings 3:9-10 "Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people? "It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this."

Before Queen Esther stepped out in a risky act of faith, she inquired of the Lord and asked her kinsmen to stand with her in prayer for God's favor.

Esther 4:16 "Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish."

In contrast, King Asa sought professional help while ignoring God.

2 Chronicles 16:12 "In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but sought help from physicians."

The other day, Larry and I were muddling through a handful of decisions we were generally prayerful about but had not stopped to inquire of the Lord in a very specific way. In the midst of our discussion, we finally stopped to ask a very targeted, “Should we do this or that, God?” We didn’t hear an audible answer but a solution and direction did become clear within just a couple of minutes after that prayer.

Coincidence? NO WAY!

Lord, we are both challenged and inspired by these accounts from the Bible. We want to be people who don’t hesitate to inquire of You at every crossroads. We want to be people who walk so intimately with You that we recognize Your “voice” and promptings — not just in the big issues but also in the moment-by-moment details of our lives. We want to effectively use the resources You have placed around us without becoming so distracted by them that we forget about going to the One who gave those good gifts in the first place. Help us, Lord! AMEN

Friday, February 11, 2011

Praying for Children, Part 5

I hope this has been a beneficial week of reflection and prayer for you as we have been interceding together for the children we love. And now the conclusion of this series:
Here Among Us
What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? DEUTERONOMY 4:7

I rest in Your presence today. I put aside all my endless worries. I do not pick up any requests, except this one: Make Your presence known to my children.

We are Your family, and You live always in the company of Your people (Ps. 14:5). You inhabit my children's simplest prayers and off-key praises (Ps. 8:2). You never leave them for a second (Heb. 13:5). You are their Lord. Unstuff their ears, open their eyes, melt their hearts with Your compelling reality. Show them how much they need Your "here-ness" today.

Be here! Be here! In the clanging kitchen, out in the yard or street, in the selient room where a toddler sleeps, in hallways, in the daydreams of teenagers, in the to-do lists of Mom and Dad, in every hour of our here among us, O God! Help me hear You say, "I am always with you. It is good to be near me" (from Ps. 73:23,28).

You, Great God, are our life. Let Your Spirit sing in my children's innermost beings today. And let our spirits sing in You and bring You joy. All day long. Amen.

From "Praying the Bible for Your Children" by David & Heather Kopp.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Praying for Children, Part 4

The idea for this series was given birth while I cared for our daughter, Carly, at the hospital last week. I kept hoping for a free moment to post on marriage because Larry and I have been partnering with others on concerns about marriage health lately. Instead, it was a week for focus on children and prayer.

Believing that the Lord keeps leading us to share out of our own circumstances, I felt the nudge to share some child-focused prayers this week. I am hopeful you are appreciating it as Larry and I are appreciating the opportunity to regroup in health and household logistics. We hope to be back in the regular swing of life and ministry next week!
The Way of Angels

Sometimes I wake in the night with a jolt. I feel how helpless I am, ultimately, to make life turn out okay for my little ones, to keep accidents, evil, and disease from touching them.

My angels encamp around those who fear Me, and deliver them (from Ps. 34:7).

Thank You, Lord. When I'm afraid for my children, my first impulse is to run to You. All our hopes are in Your hands.

If you make Me your refuge, then no disaster will overwhelm you. I will command My angels to guard you and your children in all your ways (from Ps. 91:9-11).

Help me to remember that Your spiritual warriors can shut the mouths of lions and defeat the agents of Satan (Ps. 103:20, Dan. 6:22). Thank You for Your angels of mercy and power who guard even the weakest in Your kingdom.

My angels are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit my salvation (from Heb. 1:14).

Lord, I choose to accept the risks of living, knowing that my children are held in Your strong embrace for all eternity. Amen.

From "Praying the Bible for Your Children" by David & Heather Kopp.
Tomorrow, the conclusion of this week's series: "Here Among Us."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Praying for Children, Part 3

Larry and I have three daughters ranging in age from almost 18 to 12. It's exciting, humbling and often overwhelming to recognize the many ways each of them is gifted by God. Even Carly who is severely "disabled" with Angelman Syndrome is profoundly equipped to share things that contribute to the joy and faith development of those around her.

What a tremendous responsibility it is for us as parents to know how best to help our children develop and steward their gifts well!
Gifted Kids
Based on 1 Peter 4:10

Thank You that You made each of my children unique, with different passions and talents. Truly, You are the giver of every good gift (James 1:17). Thank You for opportunities my children have to express their interests and abilities, from basketball to ballet, from team roping to tie-dyeing.

Thank You also for the spiritual gifts You are nurturing in them to build up the fellowship of other believers—gifts like teaching, service, comforting others, and healing (1 Cor. 12:8-10).

Today I pray that my kids would want and value the treasures You have invested in them for their own benefit and for the blessing of others (1 Cor. 14:1-5). And beyond that, plant in them a lifelong desire to use any talent—be it physical, mental or spiritual—to serve You (1 Cor. 12:4-11).

Help me to be the kind of encourager my children need in order to persist in their areas of talent. May I be like Paul, who urged Timothy, "Do not neglect your gift, which was given you" (1 Tim. 4:14). And help my kids work hard to make the most of the gifts You've given them—to practice, learn, and train with patience and diligence.

Thank You for Your promise, Lord, that whatever good work You begin in my child, You will continue to bring to fullness as he or she seeks You (Phil 1:6). Amen.

From "Praying the Bible for Your Children" by David & Heather Kopp.
There are many kinds of gifts and many ways to serve, but may our children do it all in the name, grace and power of the ONE TRUE GOD!

Visit with us tomorrow for "The Way of Angels."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Praying for Children, Part 2

While Larry and I are regrouping from Carly's hospitalization last week, we are so thankful for praying friends and the assurances that we have from God's Word. He is ever faithful to comfort and encourage us through friends but our most perfect, available and trustworthy support is from God Himself as He reveals Himself to us through the Bible.

I often find myself praying that my children will keep learning this reality — that the Word of God is a most powerful way to connect with who He is and understand His profound love for them. With that introduction, let us continue to pray together for the many children in our lives (whether our own or those we still love deeply).
Sweeter Than Honey
How sweet are your words to my taste. PSALM 119:103

Today I pray that my children would love Your Word.
  • Because "the law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul," may my children realize how much they need Your refreshment (v. 7).
  • Because "the statutes of the LORD are trustworthy," may my children take risks to build their lives on Your Word (v. 7).
  • Because "the precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart," may my children take genuine delight in studying the Bible (v.8).
  • Because "the commands of the LORD are radient, giving light to the eyes," may my kids use Your Word to make important decisions (v.8).
  • Because "the fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever," may my children revere, honor, and worship You all of their lives (v.9).
  • Because "the ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous," may my children rely on them to test every other belief, philosophy, or lifestyle they encounter (v.9).
  • Because your ordinances "are sweeter than honey," may my children crave the Bible more than any other book (v.10).
I pray, Lord, that by loving Your Word, my children will recive important warnings about life and be blessed with great personal reward (v.11). Amen.

From "Praying the Bible for Your Children" by David & Heather Kopp.
Join us again tomorrow to pray about kids with special gifts.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Praying for Children, Part 1

Since our family has been struggling with health issues including Carly's hospitalization last week, neither Larry nor I have been able to post here. Nothing too serious and she's on the mend. It has been, however, a time for a lot of prayer and reminders of the value of praying friends. In Carly's Care Page today I wrote:
"...the prayers of compassionate, genuine, tenacious friends availeth much and preach deeply into our hearts of God's love, power and mercy towards us."
The Christmas after Carly was born, I gave Larry the book "Praying the Bible for Your Children" because I had also been appreciating David and Heather Kopp's "Praying the Bible for Your Marriage." Both have been updated and reprinted since then and I'm very thankful because I believe them to be important prayer tools. Valued resources in our own library, I got to thinking I will quote a series of prayers for the next several days as a way to give us some time to regroup as a family while continuing to keep us all on our knees for the children in our lives and the marriages we hold together before the Lord.
Speak, Lord — I'm Listening...
Based on 1 Samuel 1:3-8-10

O Lord God,
Please call my children to You by name as You called Samuel and as You have called me (Isa. 43:1). Thank You that You promise to knock patiently on the door of each heart in this family (Rev. 3:20). Thank You that You pursue us (Ps. 139:5)! You did it for me—do the same for each of my children.

Yes, pursue them, Lord. Keep calling them—as You did with Samuel—until each child has said, "Yes, Lord. I'm listening."

Your promise of salvation is for children of all ages—in fact, for everyone who answers Your call (Acts 2:39; Rom. 10:13). Thank You for Your promise that as my children hear You and believe in You, they will pass from death to life (John 5:24)!

May I be like Eli, who encouraged Samuel to say yes to You. May I never hinder my children from responding to You (Mark 10:14). May I never say, "Not now, honey." Or, "You're too young."

And far beyond the first "Yes, Lord!" may my children listen carefully to Your voice and answer quickly as long as they live.
In Jesus' name. Amen.

From "Praying the Bible for Your Children" by David & Heather Kopp.
Coming up tomorrow..."Sweeter Than Honey" and a prayer from Psalm 19.

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