Our Father

Our Father which art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  (Luke 11)

I’ve prayed this prayer all my life. I didn’t note a translation above, because I didn’t copy it out of a particular translation of the Bible. These are the words that from the time I was a young child, were written on my heart.

It’s been like a companion for as long as I can remember. I have prayed these words. I have contemplated these words. These words are woven through my history with God and my future with God.

I remember praying them for so long, because I was supposed to. I also remember the day that I realized what I was praying and I began to pray them in faith, not by rote any longer, but to my God as communion with Him.

Last night something struck me about these words. It was funny to me, that after all these years I hadn’t really noticed or paid attention to one thing in particular about this prayer. It is written in the first person plural. It is a prayer given to us by our Father which art in heaven and even when it is prayed by a single person, it is not just a prayer between God and a man. It is a prayer between God and His people.

It’s not just about me when I pray it. It’s not just about you when you pray it. It’s about us. Even when I pray it by myself, I am reminded that I am a part of something bigger than me. I am a part of the Body of Christ and as I pray this prayer I am praying for myself and the rest of this Body.

It’s been prayed for thousands of years. It’s been prayed by millions of people. It’s been prayed in a multitude of languages. It’s been prayed across denominational lines. And each time across ages, across nations, across denominations that this prayer is prayed, we are all praying and acknowledging, that no matter what our differences are, we have One Father… Our Father which art in heaven. Hallowed be His Name!

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, whois above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6, KJV)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35, NKJV)

Take Me Instead

…he offered himself. (Hebrews 7:27, NIV)

…He  brought Himself [as a sacrifice]… (Hebrews 7:27, Amplified)

…He offered a sacrifice once for all, when he gave himself. (Hebrews 7:27, CEV)

You and I were sinners (Romans 3:23). Our sentence was death (Romans 6:23). He went before the judge and said, “Take Me instead”.

He offered Himself in our place. He died so that we might live.

We heard it. We believed it. We received it and we were saved! (Romans 10:13)

Many have yet to hear. Many have yet to believe. Many have yet to receive.

Let us be the ones to let them know, the price has been paid and they too can be saved.

For whosever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? (Romans 10:13-14, KJV)

Lifted Up

One day as I was driving through a poor area of town headed to a federal prison to minister, I saw a homeless man walking down the street pushing a cart full of what looked like junk. His head was down. His shoulders were slumped. It hurt my heart to see him in this condition, especially knowing what he had been created and destined to be… a man made in God’s image.

Upon arriving at the prison, I saw women who had made mistakes and were paying the price for them. Many of them also had heads that hung down low ashamed and discouraged. God had plans for them that did not include what they were going through now. He had plans of peace and well-being for them and not for evil (Jeremiah 29:11).

There is an enemy of our soul and his desire is to beat us down (Psalm 143:3). But God has come not to beat people down, but to lift them up.

I came across this scripture again recently and it was just so powerful and so beautiful. It blessed me.

But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. (Psalm 3:3, KJV)

But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. (Psalm 3:3, NKJV)

Man was crowned by God with glory and honor (Psalm 5:5, Hebrews 2:7). In First Peter 5:6 we are told that if we humble ourselves before God, He will “exalt you in due time.” God wants to build and lift people up. It is the enemy who tears people down.

Throughout His instructions to the church found in the New Testament, we are told to “edify” one another. What does that word mean? To build one another up.

That day I didn’t have time to stop and talk to that homeless man. (There are pretty strict rules about time when visiting a federal prison). But I did get the opportunity to share God’s love and His word with those ladies in the prison. And they were holding their heads a little higher that day.

Sunshiny Day

I had an interesting experience this morning. I awoke to a rainy, dreary, cold day outside my home and also inside my heart.

I didn’t wake up to my usual sense of joy. Where was the song in my heart that I hear every morning? It was nowhere to be found. I read my Bible and sensed nothing. I prayed awhile and felt nothing. I then had to leave home and go to a meeting.

The rain poured down as I drove. My heart felt like it was covered by a blanket made of lead. I still couldn’t see any reason why I should feel this way. I put on my worship music and tried to worship, but it was just so dry. I turned it off and decided to just talk to God about it.

I had an hour drive to my meeting. The first half of the drive was not only dreary outside the car but  inside my heart as well. But I just kept talking to God.

Then suddenly it felt as though the rain stopped, the clouds parted and rays of sunshine were pouring into the car, straight into my heart. The funny thing was, in the natural there was no change. It was still raining. No sunshine in sight. But something had happened in my heart. I felt His peace, His joy, His love bursting forth in my heart.

I thought about David and his psalms to God. Many times they began with David talking to God about how bad his situation was, how lost he felt in the midst of his enemies, the sorrow he was feeling. But there would come a point when he would burst forth in praise and the sun would shine through the clouds of darkness that surrounded him.

David never stayed in those dark, cold places. He always pressed through until he found his victory in God. Even before his circumstances or situation changed he found his peace and joy in God.

I’m not sure why I felt the way I did this morning, but like David, I am so very glad the Holy Spirit helped me to press through the dreariness by helping me press into God.

A scripture rose in my heart when the Son began to shine in my heart even as it continued to rain outside.

But unto you who revere and worshipfully fear My name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings and His beams, and you shall go forth and gambol like calves [released] from the stall and leap for joy. (Malachi 4:2, Amplified)

If you have to today, press through the clouds, into the Son and let Him shine on you!

Here to Stay

…I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39, Amplified)

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me… (Psalms 23:4, KJV)

…He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] (Hebrews 13:5, Amplified)

Where could I go from Your Spirit? Or where could I flee from Your presence? If I ascend up into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol (the place of the dead), behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. (Psalms 139:7-10, Amplified)

He’s not going anywhere. Selah.

Practice Makes Perfect

What are you practicing?

According to my trusty American Dictionary of the English Language (Noah Webster, 1828) to practice means “to do or perform frequently, customarily or habitually”. It also means “to form a habit of acting in any manner.”

So what are you practicing? What manner are you forming as a habit in your life?

The Bible says that we are not to be hearers of the Word only, but doers of the Word. You won’t develop what you know to do, just because you know to do it. But you will develop what you practice doing on a continual basis.

Now, I want to take a look at the fruit of the Spirit. I want to look at what they are and what they aren’t.

Love… the opposite being hate.

Joy… the opposite being sorrow.

Peace… the most commonly listed opposite is war, but I also found these: agitation, distress, frustration, upset and worry.

Patience… the opposite being impatient.

Kindness… the opposite being unkind. Other antonyms are cruel, harsh or mean.

Goodness… the opposite being bad or evil.

Faithfulness… the opposite being unfaithful, disloyal or unreliable.

Gentleness… the opposite being hard and rough.

Self control… the opposite being self-indulgence.

As believers, we should keep before our eyes what His Presence within us is calling us to be, empowering us to be.

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is… (Galatians 5:22, Amplified)

…His power that is at work within us… (Ephesians 3:20, Amplified)

The fruit of the Spirit are within us, but it’s what we practice yielding to that will manifest in our lives. Are we yielding to the Holy Spirit and the manner and character that His Presence within will accomplish in our lives? Or are we yielding to the very things that He is trying to work out of us… the impatience, the unkindness, the sorrow, the self-indulgence, the worry and fear that hurt us and cause us to hurt others?

Keep before your eyes and in your heart the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5. Remind yourself that you are able to be all those things because He is in you. Yield to Him. When you are tempted and want to be impatient, remind yourself that because God is in you, you can and will be patient. When sorrow tries to come, yield to and draw up from your innermost being His joy that is your strength.

Practice the fruit of the Spirit and become more like Jesus every day.

Speaking of Love

“I love you.”

Three words a parent says to their newborn as they hold them in their arms for the first time. Three words we hear from that special someone and realize this is for real, this is the one. Three words we heard from our Heavenly Father when we heard of the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf.

I am very thankful that after that first time my parents said those three words to me, they never stopped saying them. Forty years later they are still telling me of their love. I am thankful that my husband has continued to say them to me for the last eighteen years. And he has heard them and will continue to hear them from me.

There was a day when I heard for the first time about God’s love for me. As I read what His Son had done for me, along with the written words, I heard that still small voice say those three little words. “I love you.” His love changed everything in my life. His love changed me. And I am very thankful that every day since, I hear those three little words from My King.

As I read His word, I hear Him say, “I love you.” As I hold the communion elements, the bread and the cup, I hear Him say, “I love you.” As I see my prayers answered, I hear Him say, “I love you.” When I see His work in my life, through protection and provision, I hear Him say, “I love you.”

When fear or anxiety over a situation tries to rise up in my heart, I hear Him say, “I love you.” And all fear melts away.

When the enemy says I will never have my heart’s desire, or that I won’t be healed this time, I hear Him say, “I love you.” And all shadows of doubt fade in the Light of His Love. He is for me. So what or whom shall I fear?

As a parent we will forever be saying, “I love you”. As a wife or husband, we will forever be saying, “I love you.” For eternity He will hear me say, “I love You.”

And for eternity we will hear Him say, “I love you.”

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love… (Song of Solomon 2:4, Amplified)

…love one another [just] as I have loved you. (John 15:12, Amplified)

I love You fervently and devotedly, O Lord… (Psalm 18:1, Amplified)