Friday, November 30, 2018

praying effectively: Nurture Our Relationships (Gen.2)

(Genesis 2:18-25)  Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be aloneI will make him a helper suitable for him.” 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said,
This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Reminder:  "praying effectively" involves knowing God's will.  When we pray in His will (in His name), He may choose to not answer those prayers in the time period that we would like, or HOW we would like - but He will answer those prayers!

It is God's will:
- that we are not reclusive
- that we nurture our relationships
- that marriage is only between one man and one woman
- that married couples are considered "one" (until death)

Today's prayer:

Lord Jesus, I thank You that YOU are my soul-mate, and that YOU make me complete!  That You fulfill me and give me purpose.  Let me always be putting You first in my life.  ESPECIALLY when things get hectic.

You created us as social beings!  And, You know that I can be a bit of a recluse, so I do so appreciate the few friends who have come into my life.  But help me to be constantly reaching out to fellowship with new people!  HELP ME not to be self-centered in conversations!!!!  but that I will show them Your gracious love, compassion and interest!!!

Thank You for my loving, God-fearing husband.  I ask that the stress we are going through right now will only keep bringing us closer together.  Help us to work together effectively while seeking out Your guidance in all things.  May we have a unified front in the way we manage each issue, that we don't take out our frustrations on each other, but that we can discuss, process and keep each other accountable in how we give each item to You in prayer - for You to manage things for us.

I know even in my marriage, I can only control myself.  Help me to be the patient, loving wife that I should be, to support and encourage my husband, and to be respectful - always.

Thank you for our children.  Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you that they all know You personally!  And that they all are involved in their churches.

Bless our daughter and son-in-law's marriage.  May You build a hedge-of-protection around them to keep them strong in Your love and grace.  Let the friends and family around them see the difference that You make in their lives.

Bless our son in his efforts and love of sharing the good news to those around him.  Keep him content and fulfilled as a single.  Protect him from becoming desperate and rushing into an unhealthy relationship.  Give him patience, wisdom and clarity.  And bless, protect and prepare the woman who will one day be his wife, if this is meant to be.

Guide our missionary friends whose focus is helping set up and run marriage counseling conventions.  Help struggling couples to discover and realize Your unconditional love, and that strong relationships require the decision of commitment.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

praying effectively: Responsibly Manage Resources (Gen.1)

(Genesis 1:26-31)  Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. 31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Reminder:  "praying effectively" involves knowing God's will.  When we pray in His will (in His name), He may choose to not answer those prayers in the time period that we would like, or HOW we would like - but He will answer those prayers!

It is God's will:
- that we responsibly manage the resources He has given to us
- that we are fruitful and multiply

(Instead of just talking about what I should be praying about, I've decided to actually "just" pray!)

Today's prayer:

Lord, thank You so very much for the beauty You have created and given to us.  Thank You for the natural resources that You so generously supply.

I thank You that I do not have to worry about such things as global warming and natural disasters.  You hold the world in Your hands and oversee everything.  I trust that You can move in the hearts of those who can gain understanding and affect the bigger events and situations in this world.

Where it concerns me, help me to responsibly manage the resources around me.  And give me wisdom in knowing how to vote when opportunities arise concerning effectively protecting the earth's environment.

I'm so very grateful for how You bless us with Your provisions.  Guide us in using those to Your glory.  May we use everything efficiently and effectively while being resourceful, so as not to squander.

As for being fruitful and multiplying, guide me in being fruitful in my efforts to spread the gospel message to those around me.

Bless the missionaries that we support.  Supply them in everything that they need, so they are able to continue spreading Your light to the world around them.

Let Your love trickle out and overflow and multiply like crazy!   Amen.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

PRAYING EFFECTIVELY - praying in God's will - introduction

In this next Bible-read-through, the topic will be "praying effectively".

Before I actually start reading through the Bible (start to finish), and posting the definitive points of prayer as I come across them, I am going to do a quick introduction to explain the purpose of what I'm going to highlight.

First of all, I do not want to hinder anyone from talking to God about everything and anything, because we ARE to do that, whether we pray "correctly" (effectively) or not...

(Philippians 4:6-7)  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Even when we do pray "correctly" - there are certain kinds of requests that we will bring before God which WILL be heard, but perhaps God will not answer them in the time period that we would like, or HOW we would like.  So the question becomes, how can I pray more effectively?

And many people might ask these sorts of questions (I was once one of them):
- Why doesn't God answer my prayers?
- Does God even hear all of my prayers?
- How should I be praying so that God will hear and answer my prayers?

(1 John 5:13-15)  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

Today's takeaway:  when we have faith in Jesus, and pray according to God's will - our prayers will be answered!

NOW another big question becomes - WHAT IS GOD'S WILL?

That is going to be part of the focus on this topic as I read through the Bible.  I will be posting everything I see on the topic of prayer, as well as everything that is definitively God's will.

Today's prayer:  may I be open to hearing and understanding the Lord's will in my life and in my prayers!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

spiritual battle, Angels and Heaven (Rev.21-22)

This is the last post for the "spiritual battle" read-through.  If you wish to download an organized spreadsheet of all the biblical notes taken on this topic, follow the link:

I'm very excited to begin the next read-through topic "praying effectively".  Meanwhile...

In the last two chapters of Revelation, we get a glimpse of heaven, as an angel takes John through the vision and explains the things that Jesus wants us, the Church, to know...

(Revelation 21:1-27)  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. 17 And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. 18 The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
22 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 26 and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

(Revelation 22:1-21)  Then he showed meriver of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.
And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place.
“And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”
I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.”
10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.”
12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
16 I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

From this we see:
- Jesus sent His angel to give John these words (22:16)
- the angel had been sent by the Lord to show John the things which must soon take place (22:6)
- the angels sums up the message from Jesus for John to relay to the churches (22:10)
- one of the seven angels from the last set of seven judgments explains the vision to John (21:9)
- the angel carried John away in the Spirit, somehow either physically or in the mind (21:10)
- in heaven's New Jerusalem, there will be twelve angels stationed at the twelve gates (21:12)
- the angel who was giving John a tour of heaven measured the city with a measuring rod (21:15)
- angelic measurements are the same as human's (21:17)
- angels are fellow servants (22:9)
- once again, John falls down to worship the angel, but the angel tells him not to do that.  We are only to worship God (22:8-9)
- unbelievers, the sorcerers, idolaters, etc. will have no place in heaven (22:15)

Personal experience:  again, John was ready to worship the angel.

I suppose we can get overwhelmed with the magnitude of God;  so much so, that we look for smaller things to latch onto which seem more manageable, understandable and accessible.

Like when I worked on a fairly significant film shoot.  One summer, I got a job as PA (production assistant).  I would never have dared to speak to that particular director, unless spoken to!  I could barely speak to my overseer - the project manager.  She commanded a great respect.  So when she said jump, I did not even stop to ask "How high?" - I just jumped as high as I could - as quickly as I could! 

I figured she could influence my career far more than the director ever would.  The director was far too busy with so many other things that he probably didn't even realize I was there (unless he needed something very specific which required a lengthy explanation).  The project manager - on the other hand - was right there, and I could see that she saw "my every move".

Today's takeaway:  but God who created the universe, and now attends to many, many, MANY other things, wants to have a constant personal relationship with each and every one of us!  He - is GOD - so He can do that!!!  So we are not to go to His "assistants" (the angels)... we are to go directly to Him.  

Even though He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, holy, all-knowing and all-powerful... He actually cares a lot about even the smallest of concerns in our lives.  He is NOT too busy with other things!  The Lord God is the only being who is actually able to multi-task!!!  (Literally, to the infinity!)...

(Matthew 10:29-31)  Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

(Luke 12:22-40)  And He said to His disciples, For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! 25 And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? 26 If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.31 But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.
33 Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
35 “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. 36 Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. 38 Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
39 But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 40 You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.”

(Hebrews 4:14-16)  Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.