Family in Prayer

What is S.U.P.V.?

For those new to our church, website and this blog, here’s what it’s all about: SUPV stands for the Straight Up Prayer Vigil. It is a virtual prayer vigil that happens every Wednesday (God willing). The Straight Up refers to the times of 6:00 a.m., noon, 6:00 p.m., and midnight–you choose whatever time works for you–and you pray for our church, those on prayer list, and prayer requests that are included in the blog post or are sent by email, normally at the beginning of the week for that Wednesday. 
The length of the SUPVs has grown in nature over the past couple of years, and now it’s pretty much a full-blown devotional, with specific prayer requests included. May it bless you as you read it.   
 
 
 

God’s Perfect State

 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

Revelation 21:5

 

Last month I read the book of Revelation for perhaps the third time. I was fortunate to have my favorite study reference with me (a website done by David Guzik called Enduring Word), and referenced it with each chapter I read, sometimes multiple times. Revelation is not necessarily an easy read, but using a study guide helps tremendously. There is a great number of messages and takeaways throughout the book; I’m excited to share thoughts about something I read in the study guide for Revelation 21.

 

In the beginning of Revelation 21, John shares the description of the New Jerusalem and the fact that God Himself will dwell among His people, and that there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. Also, that He, the holy One who sat on the throne said that He makes all things new. David Guzik’s comment surrounding verse 5 is what caught my attention. In reference to “all things new”, he writes “This is a brief glance at the thinking behind God’s eternal plan – to allow sin and its destruction in order to do a greater work of making all things new….Our instinct is to romantically consider innocence as man’s perfect state, and wish Adam would have never done what he did. But we fail to realize that redeemed man is greater than innocent man, that we gain more in Jesus than we ever lost in Adam. God’s perfect state is one of redemption, not innocence.” (emphasis mine).

 

Guzik is right. I had failed to realize the concept of redemption being greater than innocence. I don’t know if I understood the concept, however. I mean, Adam and Eve seemed to have it so good—they walked with the Lord Almighty in His garden. They lacked nothing. As I mulled it over, I turned into either a professional journalist or professional toddler, with the series of “why” questions I posed to myself. Follow along (if you can) with my thought process: Why did they have to fall? Why did they have to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Why was the tree even there? Why did God place the tree there?” Now please understand, I am not accusing God of setting Adam and Eve up for failure—He did not tempt them. We learn in James that He does not tempt anyone. But surely He knew they would eat from it, because He is omniscient. So why was it there? As I prayed and sought His discernment, I believe the answer is this: free will.


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Who do you say He is?

Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?” So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am? ”Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”

Mark 8:27-29

 

This week’s devotional is another one in which the awesomeness of God’s timing and leading affirmed the message I am writing about. I’d actually kicked around this idea a couple of weeks ago in our prayer meeting but wrote on something different last week. I listened to a sermon on KDRY AM 1100 this morning which was very similar to this message, and reassured me that I’m on the right track.

 

I’d like to ask you to pretend that you are out and about in your spare time, running errands and doing what-have-you, and you decide to take a little break at your local Starbucks or restaurant. You’re by yourself, and enjoying your meal. A stranger at the table next to yours starts chatting with you (introverts, just go with me on this. Pretend that you respond <grin>), and you both have a light and pleasant conversation. There are no hidden agendas—just two people passing time and shooting the breeze. Without skipping a beat or a shared laugh, your new friend then poses this to you: “Tell me about Jesus.”

 

How do you answer? What’s the first thought that comes into your head?


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The Worship Service

“Oh come, let us sing to the LORD. Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is the great God, and the great King above all gods. … Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.”
Psalm 95: 1-3; 6-7

 

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”                                                                                           John 4: 23-24

 

It’s really cool when the message that I’ve been needing to write on for a while, the one that’s been rattling around in my brain whilst I noodle on it, is the same fundamental one that Pastor Terrell preached this past Sunday. It’s cool (to me, at least) in that it’s confirmation of the message and the timing, and that His hand is in it all. I’d started to write on the topic of worship a couple of months ago, and just couldn’t birth it all the way. I know believe I understand why—His timing and all.

 

I have recently rejoined the Worship committee, as my three-year service on the Board of Directors for my Emmaus community ended in December. I’m excited about the opportunity we have to consider making changes to the worship service while still continuing to reinforce the message that Pastor Kevin started about the service: “it ain’t about us.”

 

Cue record scratch and readers gasping in concert. “Wha? Changes? Not about us?”


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The Inspiration of Humility

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”…”Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in the appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.”
Phillipians 2:3; 5-8

 

“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”

 

                                                1 Peter 5:6-6 (Proverbs 3:34 referenced within)

 

Our adult Sunday school class has been studying the book entitled The Mind of Christ for a bit of time now. Its author provides Scripture references that guide us toward understanding and seeking to attain the attitude and mind of our Lord Jesus Christ. God created us in the likeness of Himself; it only stands to reason that He would want us to become like Him in all that we do.

The chapter we have been in for the past couple of weeks is entitled “Humble and Obedient”, and we have been hanging out in the “humble” part, studying its meaning and examples. Humility is the state of being humble, or low; a recognition of one’s self in relation to God and others with a willful putting aside one’s self. Jesus, of course, is the epitome of humility, from his birth in a lowly manger, to his death of a criminal’s fashion. Humility does not always come easily to us, even as children of God, because although we became new creations when we were saved, we are still in this world and struggle with the confines of the world’s standards and thoughts.

 

It is through the working and conviction of the Holy Spirit that we are able to even aspire to overcome the baseness and find humility. Fortunately, we have His holy book to help us, and I’d like to share a sort of litmus test with which we can gauge our level of humility (with the help of the Holy Spirit, of course). Go with me to Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13, starting with verse 4, but instead of reading the word “Love”, substitute your name. Like this: “Laura suffers long and is kind; Laura does not envy; Laura does not parade herself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, [Laura] does not seek her own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; [Laura] does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth; [Laura] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”


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Giving Thanks

To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Psalm 30:12

 

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”

 

                                                1 Chronicles 16:34

 

I realize that this devotional is about 6 days late and a couple of dollars short, but when I couldn’t settle on the final message for this week’s devotional was to be, this topic kind of came to mind.

 

This devotional started this past Sunday, as I listened to Pastor Ray preach out of Matthew 14, the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. As Ray painted the scene in which Jesus compelled the disciples to supply food for the crowds that had followed Jesus, and their collective response, he speculated on the reaction of the disciples to such a challenging request. Here are the disciples who had been with Christ throughout His ministry, witness to the miracles Jesus performed and the lessons He taught, and yet they are still so uncreative in their thinking that they couldn’t grasp the potential miracle He was proposing.

 

The following morning I listened to a sermon on KDRY (AM 1100). The pastor was preaching out of John 20, in which the Mary Magdalene, and then later Peter and John, find the empty tomb and don’t quite understand what has happened to Jesus (except for John, the pastor said, who “saw and believed”). Here again was an opportunity for me, with my awesome New Testament-reading knowledge and insight, to wonder why they were so perplexed as to what had happened to Jesus’s body. And the thought happened again later when dear Thomas, who wasn’t with the others when Jesus visited them in the upper room, declared that he would not believe until he sees the nail prints on His hands, and feels the wounds on His hands and side.


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Repentance

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

 

                                               

Luke 15:7

“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.”

                                                Acts 3:19

 

In response to a devotional I’d written a couple of weeks ago, a friend in the church asked a seemingly rhetorical chicken-and-the-egg type of question: “What comes first: repentance or revival?” The question had plagued this person, and I’ve got to say that it started me thinking. You see, as folks within our prayer group can attest, I’ve been talking and praying about revival for a while now. I want everyone to feel the Holy Spirit when they come to our church, and I want His presence evident in all that we do. But in order for us to experience revival, we have to repent (so I think I’ve got my answer to the rhetorical question).

 

We discussed repentance at one of the prayer meetings, and I was sharing that I remembered when we used to say some sort of confession of our sin. It wasn’t that long ago that we said it, as I recall writing a devotional on that very thing. (Since I can’t seem to find that original devotional, I won’t try to recycle an old one & sneak it in here.) I don’t recall why we stopped saying it, other than perhaps it was done so in an effort to shave off a few seconds from the service (which I don’t agree with, but that’s all I got to say about that for now).


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A Lamp Unto My Feet

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 

2 Timothy 3:16

 

The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.

                                               Isaiah 40:8

I was flipping through my Bible the other day, marveling at the crispness and cleanness of the pages in the Old Testament, and contrasting them with those in the New Testament—dog-eared, highlighted, notes jotted within the margins and between paragraphs. I have read every book of the Bible (I’m not saying that boastfully; it has taken me years, and I’ve not been as diligent as I’d like to be, and yes, I admit to skimming through the begat, begat, begat.) and I’m confident that I’ll do it again, but this time in a much more studious and engaged manner. And then again, and again, I’m sure.


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The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

1 Corinthians 11:23-29
 

I had the pleasure of serving communion at an Emmaus Gathering Saturday evening. It’s our practice there to serve communion by intinction where those receiving the bread dip it into the juice and partake both elements at the same time. I enjoy serving communion, and it blesses me to do so especially that way, as I get to speak to every person as I serve them, conveying Christ’s love and sacrifice in such phrases as “This is Christ’s blood, shed for you”, or “The bread of life, given for you”. I also say these things when I am serving communion in our church. I am blessed each and every time I serve.


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Philadelphia Church

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,

‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.                                            

Revelation 3:7-8
 

I have been reading the book of Revelation, albeit slowly. My bible is a study bible, and I also almost exclusively use David Guzik’s Blue Letter Bible commentary/study guide. I’ve relied heavily on it throughout the two and a half chapters I’ve read thus far, and it has provided such great insight on the difficult concepts that Revelation introduces to us. I’m sure that there will be another devotional soon once I’ve finished all of chapter three, as the Holy Spirit seems to have planted a couple of ideas to explore in future devotionals about the seven churches.

 

Out of the seven churches Jesus mentions to John, Philadelphia is the only one against whom the Lord does not have a complaint. There are pressing opportunities cited in the other six, and the Lord offers the way for them to rectify their sins, but the church in Philadelphia is faithful and protected.

 

Jesus cites the works of the church in verse 8: “…I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” Guzik mentions that an “open door often speaks of evangelistic opportunity”, and that Jesus points out to them that He has opened the door, through which they must go in faith. He goes on to explain that the term “a little strength” is not meant to imply weakness, but rather a recognition on the part of the church to know that their strength is not of their own doing, but of God’s. They were strong in the Lord. The remaining two parts of verse 8—“…have kept My word, and have not denied My name” is easily understood. The church was faithful to Jesus in teaching, practice, and declaration.


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Pray, pray, pray

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.                                  

James 5:16b

 

 pray without ceasing
                                1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

Oh, what a state this world seems to be in. So many tragedies have happened over the past six weeks that it is almost unbearable. The last tragedy wasn’t a natural disaster, but a man-initiated one. The death toll is over 50, and those injured number over 500. My Facebook feed has exploded lopsidedly with posts for and against gun control, as well as with a smaller number of posts of prayers and well wishes for the victims and their families.

 

We need to pray. If you already are, great—let’s increase ‘em. If you aren’t praying, what better time to start than now? Regardless of our individual political leanings, let’s unite in prayer for not only Las Vegas, but Mexico City, Puerto Rico, the Texas gulf coast, Florida, and innumerable areas across our globe who are suffering.


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