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, which specific prayer requests included. May it bless you as you read it.   
 
 
 

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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God’s Constancy

For I am the Lord, I do not change;                                               
Malachi 3:6a

 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

                                                Hebrews 13:8

 

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have wreaked havoc in less than 30 days of each other. In that same timeframe, three sizable earthquakes have shaken Mexico, and a war of angry words and threats has escalated between President Trump and Kim Jong Un. And this is just in the month of September! And in the midst of all of these scene-grabbing headlines, violence and abuse and life-threatening diagnoses still happen, sometimes at breakneck speed, over and over and over.

 

As the news stories come, unbidden at times, we are shown the anguish of the victims of these horrific events, and we are overwhelmed at the magnitude of the suffering. We feel guilty because we dodged the proverbial bullet that struck someone else, and we feel helpless at the mounting pandemonium that surrounds us.


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A Quiet Pause

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;

                                                James 1:19a

 

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

 

                                                James 4:7-8a

 

I have to admit that I had quite the challenging week at work last week. In between too many tasks, pending deadlines, office politics, and a co-worker who seemed to commandeer the majority of the focus in a couple of team meetings onto her work, I found myself at what seemed to be a Planck Length away from the devil’s fingertip spinning chaos into my work environment (side note: no, I didn’t know what the smallest possible measurement of length was until I Googled it. A Planck Length is equivalent to around a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a centimeter across. Give me a shout out if you use this information on Jeopardy). My pesky co-worker made a comment that she said was in jest to me; my reaction after a white hot bolt of angry energy went through me was to turn heel and walk quickly away, but not before tossing a defensive retort. I’m sure I left her quite stunned, as that is not normally how I react. I texted a mutual friend and co-worker who witnessed the exchange and her one word response: “Breathe”).

 

An hour later (only because we were both in a meeting with our leadership team), I knew I had to apologize to her for my reaction. I walked to her desk and apologized, but only half-heartedly, as I was still a bit irked. She started smiling as I tried to explain my reaction. When I asked why she was smiling, she explained that she didn’t want to poke the proverbial bear. We were at an impasse and I walked away in all my bear-ness. I was still perturbed as I worked a little bit more, ire growing as I pondered the environment that led me to react as I did, even as I left work and drove to our prayer meeting at church. Yes, I nursed what I perceived to be a hypocritical slight into quite a healthy grudge against her and others in various offices at work, all while I drove to spend time with my brothers and sisters in Christ communing with our Creator. Boy howdy, was I in a snit.

 

I shared a little bit about the thundercloud that danced around my head with my fellow Jesus followers as we talked. I knew that my mood was overblown, and I knew the origin: the enemy. He got the better of me as I reacted to my co-worker (who, it should be said, is one of my dearest friends. I don’t think I would have reacted in such a way with someone I didn’t know as well as I do her, if that makes sense?), and then he continued to feed my rancor by pointing out to me all the ways I’d been wronged, and I let him. My annoyance dissipated as the evening unfolded, through the discussion and prayer that happened that night.

 

As I prayed about it the next morning in my communion time with Him, He showed me some of the “opportunities” I had to preempt my resentment and reaction, and reminded me that His word provided solutions to them at the micro- and macro levels. His solution: quiet pauses.

 

At the micro level, that moment in which the white hot bolt of anger went through me, instead of allowing that anger to focus my response, I could have called to mind the words of James 1:19 and been slow to speak and slow to anger. In order to be quick to listen but slow to speak and to anger, one has to pause to allow the Holy Spirit to guide the reaction and response. (The inspiration and beauty in my other friend’s admonition of “Breathe” right afterward really drove home the point of calling on the Holy Spirit, the Breath of God).

 

Then at the macro level, the message in the above James 4 scripture comes into play. I also should have acknowledged my need for the Holy Spirit to enable me to stop giving the enemy a foothold in my thoughts and feelings. I could have called upon Him to redirect my emotions and not allow the continued fueling of my irritation. I should have submitted to His authority and sovereignty, which would have enabled me to resist the actions of the enemy, causing him to flee from me. In so doing, I would draw near to God, and He would reciprocate. Ahh, what wonderful lessons His Word provides, if we would just avail ourselves of them.

 

Prayer Requests

  • For us to realize our dependence on Him, both individually and corporately
  • For the victims of natural disasters, violence, and other aspects of living in this world
  • For us to be the light that this world needs so the lost can glimpse the love of Jesus in each of us

 

I’m thankful that my Lord and Creator teaches me how to cope with the challenges that this world throws at me, all the while walking with me through them. He bears my burdens with me, when I allow Him to. Do you let Him bear yours?

 

Quotes

 

“When the Holy Spirit lays something in your heart, move without hesitation. You have no idea who may be depending on your immediate obedience.”

“Jesus didn’t have to agree with people to be kind to them.”

 



Reflecting Jesus

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

 

Joe C. had the devotional for the time before Sunday school started this past Sunday. It was all about change (personal, spiritual, societal) and how we react to and deal with it. My mind went immediately to all of the vitriol that is being spewed out during and after clashes like in Charlottesville and others, both in the past and unfortunately inevitable in the future, I fear. I’m frustrated and torn, because I can see some validity in arguments on both sides, but I’m not prepared for the onslaught of whatever I will get on Facebook if I ask a question or venture to take a stance, however so slightly.

 

It bothers me. It bothers me because I know that I have friends on both sides of the argument who are Christians, all of whom feel so passionately and sincerely in their heart that their side is correct that they don’t realize how unchristian they can come across at times. (for the record, it’s not any of you from church, I promise). As Christ-followers, we are supposed to be above name-calling and stereotype generalization. If Jesus didn’t call the Samaritan woman at the well nor the woman found in adultery a bad name, who are we to do otherwise?

 

We are called, as followers of Jesus, to present Jesus to the world. And boy howdy, if there were ever a time for such a thing to happen, it would be now. We aren’t called to save people or to judge anyone or convict them into believing in Him—those are jobs specific to only the Holy Trinity. No, we just need to present Jesus to those we meet, and He will take care of the rest.

 

So let me ask you: how recognizable is the Jesus you reflect to people? How consistently is He shown? Does the Jesus you extend to others in acts of service match the Jesus you evoke with your words? And yes, I know that we can’t always bear up under the pressures because we’re human, and we’re going to slip up and that’s okay. But our growth and maturity in our walk with Him hinge on us having a good amount of introspection to be able to answer those questions, and to make changes if there are any gaps.


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