Friday, September 30, 2011

It's Marriage Prayer Friday!

Sometimes, married people find themselves "unequally yoked" with a spouse whose faith is young, stagnant or even non-existent. It can be a painful and painstaking journey to be united in life and body with someone who doesn't share your heart about God. Today's prayer is for those facing discouragement in this area — those longing for partnership or leadership in faith. Our prayer is based on Ephesians 3:14-21.

Something to pray for your marriage—
HEAVENLY FATHER, I come before you today on behalf of my spouse asking for you to strengthen him/her and our marriage partnership in relation to You. My husband/wife is struggling to see You (or may not even want You). Please soften and strengthen my husband/wife with the power of Your Spirit in his/her inner being so that Christ dwells in his/her heart through growing faith. Help him/her to be rooted in love — to grasp how wide, long, high and deep Your love is. Please purify my own motives in asking you for these things, Lord, because I want my spouse to know Your love that surpasses knowledge. Most of all, I want each of us to be entirely filled up by You and satisfied in You. God, I know that you are able to do even more than I could ask or imagine according to Your power at work in us. So please do a mighty work in my marriage for the glory of Your church and cause the impact of what you do here to affect future generations of my family for ever and ever.

AMEN


Something to pray for a friend's marriage—
HEAVENLY FATHER, I come before you today on behalf of my married friends asking that you strengthen them in their marriage partnerships in relation to You. Some of my friends are married to someone who is struggling to see You (or maybe even to want You). Please soften and strengthen these doubting friends with the power of Your Spirit in their inner beings so that Christ dwells in their hearts through growing faith. Help these men and/or women to be rooted in love — to grasp how wide, long, high and deep Your love is. I want each of my friends to know Your love that surpasses knowledge. Most of all, I want each of them to be entirely filled up by You and satisfied in You. God, I know that you are able to do even more than I could ask or imagine according to Your power at work in us. So please do a mighty work in these marriages on my heart today for the glory of Your church. Cause the impact of what you do in these marriages to affect future generations and families for ever and ever.

AMEN

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

Having hope is not always a reasonable thing. When a diagnosis, finances, relationships, or other circumstances are troubling and unchanging, we can struggle with doubt, confusion, denial, anger and even indifference. But God would want us to keep looking to Him with hope and anticipation — knowing that His compassion and power work for our good and His glory. He does not want us to give up on Him.

Let’s seek God together through this scripture and discussion question today:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

There is an enemy at work battling for your thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and understanding of God’s will. According to this passage, what does your spiritual weaponry look like?

What are some practical ways you demolish obstacles that come up against your hope, joy and peace in Christ?

These “Finding Glory Wednesdays” posts are an online discussion series based on the books Finding Glory in the Thorns and the companion Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide by Larry and Lisa Jamieson. For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mission Disentangled

We have all experienced moments, seasons and degress of discontentment, have we not? It’s not difficult to get caught up in the daily grip of busy schedules, a sense of insufficiency, or a longing to feel more appreciated, more rested, more financially secure. I remember times when I believed I would be happier if only my kids were better behaved, if my spouse or friend was a better communicator, if I could lose more weight, if I had a more satisfying career or was more talented, if I could make a more signficant difference in helping improve the lives of others, and if my family was safe from encounters with things like cancer, disability or accidents.

Along the way I have discovered that God’s expectations are even higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8-10) yet He never makes impossible demands of me (Ephesians 4:11-13, Hebrews 13:20-21). Somewhere between trying to measure up and growing up in my relationship with Christ, God keeps reminding me His power is made perfect in my weakness through two invaluable tools — His Word and in His Holy Spirit alive in me.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

This truth is the same for me as it is for you. Do you believe this to your core?

Reality Check: Sometimes life gets hard — sometimes REALLY hard. And, without God, I will never be sufficiently equipped to live it well. That’s why I appreciate the perspective and insight these verses bring.

2 TIMOTHY 2:3-4 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.

2 CORINTHIANS 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Consider these facts for yourself:

Fact #1 — God is my Creator. Jesus is my Savior. The Holy Spirit is my empowerer. (Hebrews 11:6)

Fact #2 — To be disentangled, I must embrace God, myself and others in view of mercy. (Romans 12:1-5)

Fact #3 — Keeping focused on my relationship with Christ influences my ways of thinking, my attitudes and my behavior. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Fact #4 — Recognizing God’s sufficiency, sovereignty and indwelling releases me and mobilizes me for a life of freedom! (John 7:37-39)

The Word of God is our Divine weaponry in the enemy’s battle for our minds. Whenever we have questions or doubts about who God is or who we are in relation to Him, that’s where we must go to re-align with the truth. It’s in growing that kind of personal relationship with God our Father and in fixing our perspectives about life on His perspectives about life that we develop passion for our mission. And, because the Holy Spirit dwells in those of us who are in personal relationship with God, God energizes us for things that please Him. That’s a powerful combination! That’s an arsenal where I can anchor my life, satisfaction and freedom!

Clues for me that I am becoming re-entangled with the world are: self-indulging, taking on too much, feeling stuck in shame, becoming critical. What does it look like in your life when you become “entangled in civilian affairs”?

As we disentangle our focus from things of the world, we find freedom in a life with Christ that fills our aching souls and honors our holy God.

ALMIGHTY GOD, You are my Commanding Officer and I want to participate in Your mission. Please strengthen me in heart, mind and body to fully engage in my relationship with You and to increasingly share Your perspectives about sin, suffering and stuff! Please make my aspirations HOLY. Mobilize me, by the power of Your Holy Spirit in me, to do the things that delight You and to serve others on behalf of the spiritual freedom I have available to me through You. AMEN

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's Marriage Prayer Friday!

Today's prayers for marriage are based on Ephesians 5.

A prayer for your own marriage—

ALMIGHTY GOD, You have challenged me to consider my marriage as a reflection of my relationship with You. While this is a tall order, I know it is a worthy one and I want to trust in Your help to accomplish great things in my marriage. When my hope for this relationship is shaken, please remind me that all things are possible in You. First and foremost, Lord, help me and my husband/wife to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Help me to love and respect my spouse as a spiritual act of worship. Strengthen me by the power of Your Spirit within me to fulfill my God-given role in this marriage — strengthen this husband who heads our family and strengthen this wife to honor her husband in everything. Help us both to better understand the relationship You have with Your church so that we can model our marriage after that kind of love. Teach us how to hold each other in high esteem, to accept each other as our own bodies. Show me new ways to love, treasure and serve my husband/wife so that our intimacy is strengthened. Thank you, Jesus, for giving us a picture of what it looks like to forgive and live in victory. AMEN


Something to pray for a friend's marriage—

ALMIGHTY GOD, You have challenged us to consider marriage as a reflection of our relationship with You. While this is a tall order, I know it is a worthy one and I want to trust in Your help to accomplish great things in my friends' marriages, no matter how challenged they seem to be. When my hope for any of these relationships is shaken, please remind me that all things are possible in You. Help me to be a light in my friends' marriages and keep me from doing anything that would undermine progress or healing in their marriages. First and foremost, Lord, help my friends to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Help them to love and respect each other as a spiritual act of worship. Strengthen tehm by the power of Your Spirit to fulfill their God-given roles in their marriages — strengthen the husbands to be the head of their families and strengthen the wives to honor their husbands in everything. Help them both to better understand the relationship You have with Your church so that they can model their marriages after that kind of love. Teach them how to hold each other in high esteem, to accept each other as their own bodies. Show them new ways to love, treasure and serve each other so that their intimacy is strengthened. Thank you, Jesus, for giving them a picture of what it looks like to forgive and live in victory. AMEN

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

This week, our Finding Glory focus is on faith — where it comes from and what we can do to develop our faith. Here are today’s scripture and discussion question:

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:1-4

How does God use the Bible to strengthen, comfort or encourage you in very personal ways?

These “Finding Glory Wednesdays” posts are an online discussion series based on the books Finding Glory in the Thorns and the companion Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide by Larry and Lisa Jamieson. For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Life Radically Poured Out for Christ

This weekend, we attended the funeral of a man we have treasured since we met him 15 years ago. George was one of those guys with a big presence and powerful influence in the lives of many people. He was passionate about his love for God and often exuberant in His expression of care for others. In fact, he was so compassionate towards the suffering of others, he could easily become tearful hearing the story of someone facing challenges.

Our family was never connected with George beyond the confines of the church building and its programs but he would frequently and enthusiastically grab my shoulder or Larry’s asking how things were going. When we were in the throes of our early years of struggle with Carly, I remember having many conversations with him. He would attentively ask questions and brainstorm ideas about how God may want to use resources or methods to bring healing into her life. When I looked into George’s eyes, I always saw a man prayerfully and urgently anticipating the release of God’s power.

George’s relationship with Jesus started in 1984 when he was a young dad. It affected him in radical ways. Sometimes people were shocked by the intensity of his faith and many were profoundly inspired by it. He was a man who lived — all out LIVED — a life of worship.

Reflecting on George’s life has come at an interesting time for me. Over the last month, I’ve been exploring what it means to be a worshipper, the ways I outwardly express my growing relationship with God, what gets in the way of my worship, what purifies my worship, and so on. Last week I had been planning to write Monday’s blog about the woman who anointed Jesus at Bethany. Certainly that was a display of radical worship! Not until I started writing today’s post did I have a hunch why that post got delayed a week.

In light of George’s wholly devoted life, these verses I highlighted have even deeper meaning. I am praying they will have deep meaning for you today also.

While (Jesus) was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Mark 14:3

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; 
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. Psalm 86:11

HOLY LORD, thank you for showing me that you deserve my all-out devotion. Make me unafraid to express my love for you, even when it appears radical to the world. Help me to live out my relationship with You in such a way that others are drawn towards You. Most of all, I just want to grow increasingly entangled with You, Jesus, because You are worthy and have designed me for exactly that! AMEN

Friday, September 16, 2011

It's Marriage Prayer Friday!

Today's prayer is based on Ephesians 4:25-32.

A prayer for your own marriage

GRACIOUS LORD, help me to be genuine and truthful with my husband/wife about what goes on in my heart but help me to be tender and compassionate. Keep me from sin as I remember that we are one in You — part of the same body. Please keep the enemy from gaining any foothold in my marriage. Show us how to work out our differences in grace and sleep in peace together. Keep my tongue from unwholesome talk, especially about my husband/wife whether I am in his/her presence or not. Make everything I say about my spouse beneficial to those who are listening. Help me not to grieve You, Holy Spirit, with bitterness, rage, brawling, slander or malice. Strengthen my resolve and fill me with Your grace to be kind and compassionate, forgiving my husband/wife, just as You forgave me through Christ. Make us a stronger, Lord, and sow Your love generously in our relationship so we may give generously to others in need. AMEN


Something to pray for a friend's marriage—

GRACIOUS LORD, help my married friends to be genuine and truthful with each other about what goes on in their hearts but help them to be tender and compassionate. Keep them from sin as they remember that they are one in You — part of the same body. Please keep the enemy from gaining any foothold in my friends' marriages. Show them how to work out their differences in grace and sleep in peace together. Keep their tongues from unwholesome talk about each other. Make everything they say about each other beneficial to those who are listening. Help my friends not to grieve You, Holy Spirit, with bitterness, rage, brawling, slander or malice. Strengthen their resolve and fill them with Your grace to be kind and compassionate, forgiving each other just as You forgave them through Christ. Make them stronger, Lord, and sow Your love generously in their relationships so they may give generously to others in need. AMEN

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

FINDING GLORY Wednesday


Finding Glory Wednesdays are a way for us to wrestle with questions about surrender, faith, hope and joy. Let’s grow and be encouraged together within this online community — especially when life brings challenges such as chronic illness, job transition, disability, strained relationships, grief, and so on. Christ-centered dialogue is powerful for all of us whether things are going well or life has gotten hard. Please join the conversations so we can increase in faith and faithfulness together.
Today’s scripture and discussion question look at Jesus’ model for surrender:
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:36-39
What are some of your worries, fears, concerns, frustrations, comfort zones, or places where you feel like you’ve lost control? How honest do you get with God about these things?
When Jesus was facing His darkest hour, He found peace in going to His Father in prayer. In what ways have you been able to find rest in the faithfulness of God?
These “Finding Glory Wednesdays” posts are an online discussion series based on the books Finding Glory in the Thorns and the companion Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide by Larry and Lisa Jamieson. For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

Tell us your Glory Story! Write us at info@walkrightin.org.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I've Got My Process, You've Got Yours

Reflecting on our sins and weaknesses is a tender endeavor. Each of us is in a process of self discovery that is sometimes painful, sometimes shameful, sometimes consuming, sometimes tempting to ignore or down-play and sometimes overwhelming but always necessary and always with the potential to be freeing and refreshing.

I've known some people who seem to spend very little time considering their need for forgiveness or help. And I've known some others who can't seem to get it under their skin that Jesus would have died to save them even if they had been the last person on the earth. They find it hard to receive their forgiveness so they live in the grip of shame, fear, confusion, fatigue and frustration.

I don't know where you land on that spectrum today but I'm trusting that you'll find a review of certain truths encouraging in some way. I'll admit, I started writing this post for some friends who are struggling with the grief of sin — stuck in shame, self-loathing and a sense of defeat. Even as my heart was breaking for my discouraged friends today, I was getting impatient and frustrated with my own lack of progress in many areas. That's when God started putting some favorite verses about sanctification on my mind. These verses always encourage me when I get impatient with my own transformation process but they also inspire me to be patient with others because I'm reminded to respect that each person's process is different and equally precious to God.

If you are someone today who is needing encouragement from God about the process you are in, please join me in reflecting on these (emphasis is mine):

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:19-22

Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Acts 3:19-21

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16

Friday, September 9, 2011

It's "Marriage Prayer Friday!"

To struggle in marriage is normal. Yet many marriages today are stuck in misunderstanding, pain or loneliness and some couples have lost hope. If you know someone who may be needing a miraculous breakthrough or renewal, please join us in praying for married family and friends today. If you are in a marriage that needs a special release of God's healing insight, grace and strength, please keep praying. Know that many are praying this prayer today with you in mind too.

A prayer for your own marriage—

GOD WHO SEES (El Roi), I praise You that there are no circumstances in my life that escape Your awareness and care (Ps 139:7-12). Your ears are always attentive to my cries for mercy (Ps 130:2). Thank You for creating marriage to be an intimate partnership that reflects that kind of love and affection. Yet we are weak, Lord. My husband/wife and I sometimes struggle to really hear and understand each other.

I don't want to be one of those people Jesus described as having his/her eyes closed (Mat. 13). I need Your help to have a soft heart. Forgive me for becoming easily wounded or calloused when I'm disappointed. Strengthen me to have grace and patience for my spouse, recognizing that each of us is still in process (2 Cor. 3:18) — not yet perfected. Draw my attention to those times when he/she reaches out to know me and show me how to graciously express my gratitude. Yet protect me from making my own needs and feelings more important than my husband/wife's. Teach me to esteem my spouse as Your Beloved. Your grace is available to each of us equally. What a wonderful place to be, Lord — TOGETHER under your watchful, compassionate and powerful eye!

AMEN


Something to pray for a friend's marriage—

GOD WHO SEES (El Roi), I praise You that there are no circumstances that escape Your awareness and care (Ps 139:7-12). Your ears are always attentive to our cries for mercy (Ps 130:2). Thank You for creating marriage to be an intimate partnership that reflects that kind of love and affection. Right now, I I have married friends who are struggling to really hear and understand each other. Make them aware of ways they are being like

those people Jesus described as having their eyes closed (Mat. 13). Soften their hearts. Forgive couples for becoming too easily wounded or calloused when they are disappointed. Strengthen my loved ones to have grace and patience for each other, recognizing that they are both still in process (2 Cor. 3:18) — not yet perfected. Draw their attention to those times when their spouse reaches out to know them. Show them how to graciously express their gratitude to each other. Please protect them from making their own needs and feelings more important than their spouse's. Teach them to esteem each other as Your Beloved. Your grace is available to each of them equally. What a wonderful place for any of us to be, Lord — TOGETHER under your watchful, compassionate and powerful eye!

AMEN

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What is a FINDING GLORY GROUP?

Back on the first day of June, we started posting one Bible passage and discussion question every Wednesday from the study resource titled Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide. Some people studied along privately and some actually joined with others in small groups around the country for weekly or bi-weekly discussions. God used the summer series to connect many people in new Christ-centered relationships and caused many of us to grow in our faith. We are grateful to God for this!

Here are some highlights from those summer discussions:

"With the deep needs everyone has with the devastation in Minot ND with the flooding I had vowed to do more. I walked dogs at the center, gave donations of money...made a new friend who lost her home and I volunteered to take her out to lunch some day...The gals at Bible study told me last night that sometimes we can not save the world either... How do we know when we are over-extending even though we are doing great things? ...This is something we each have to examine in our lives and best decide can I do more or when is enough?"

"Knowing that I am a part of the body inspires me because it also identifies me and defines me."

"In working with seniors every day, I feel a compassion and joy in sharing His name with them and their families. Some of the seniors do not know Him. Being part of the Body, I have a stronger relationship with Christ, and I'm more sensitive to the Holy Spirit - His promptings. There is more joy and love for others."

"What an interesting question. Even though I was a complaining murmuring mess, God never left."

"When we had to institutionalize our son, we felt that God had let us down. Turns out it was the best thing for our family and our son. One of the ladies at church said to me "Honey, that's how God works." Duh! I knew that once. But all my memories were obliterated by the pain and the lies I was listening to instead of the Word I should have been renewing my mind with. Our son will be coming home in 2012. As you said, healing comes in different ways."

We even heard from a first-time facilitator:

"This study was the first Bible study I facilitated... A facilitator is only as good as the group makes them. I was so thankful for the gals who made it so easy for me. I was able to talk about what it was like to raise two special needs kids for the first time. Even though most of the ladies lived nearby, few ever heard the story! I loved the soul-searching questions. They really brought out the group and the background readings, especially the Joshua 3 and 4 chapters, were really great. Bless you guys!"

In case you're wondering, "What is a FINDING GLORY GROUP?" — here's the scoop!

Finding Glory Groups are a place to connect with others who understand that life is challenging and that Christ-centered friendships are essential. Whether life is good or you’re facing challenging circumstances like a strained relationship or marriage, job transition, illness, disability, or parenting a child with special needs, Finding Glory Groups are a place where you can explore questions about faith, hope, joy and God’s purposes with others who want to grow and thrive in life.

Participants explore practical applications of Biblical principles and are empowered to embrace the adventure of faith while coming alongside others who want to share life in God-honoring and deeply satisfying ways.

Meetings often begin with fellowship and a snack. Depending on the size of the group, there may be both large group discussion and small group prayer. The goal is developing communities of authentic, Christ-centered and encouraging relationships. This can begin with a book club, support group, small group, neighborhood or any other combination of people who want to experience God, even when life gets hard.

Larry and I will be starting a new Finding Glory Group here in Minneapolis on September 15th. We'll meet for six Thursday evenings and then wrap up with a seventh evening of fellowship and celebration of all God has done through the time spent exploring God's Word and life together. We hope some of you reading today will join us. But for those who are too far away or who want an alternative way to participate, we can suggest a couple of options:

· Contact us at info@walkrightin.org to find out whether there is an existing or new group starting in your area.

· Start your own group!

· Join in the online discussions. Here at the Blog, we'll be starting a new "FINDING GLORY Wednesdays" discussion series next week.

To learn more about Finding Glory Groups and resources:

WWW.WALKRIGHTIN.ORG

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