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.

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.


Read more...

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.


Read more...

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.


Read more...

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.


Read more...

Wonder Woman

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…… Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.

              

Romans 5: vv 8, 14-15

 

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 

  

                                    John 15: 11-13

 

I finally got the chance to see Wonder Woman this past weekend. I’d been wanting to see it but just hadn’t had the chance, so when I had the opportunity to take care of my nephews over the weekend and they were cool with seeing the movie (though they’d seen it twice already!), I was excited (even with the 9 year-old whispering, “Aunt Laura, watch—this is the part where she really becomes Wonder Woman!”).

 

Oh what an incredible movie it was! I thoroughly enjoyed it—the storyline, the humor, the action, Chris Pine’s handsome face and bright blue eyes, I mean, what was I saying?—oh, yes, I enjoyed every aspect of the movie. As the story unfolded though, I realized that movie’s message is similar to Christ’s. Lest you think I’m crazy, here’s a quote from Diana talking to Steve Trevor:

 

I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves – something no hero will ever defeat. I’ve touched the darkness that lives in between the light. Seen the worst of this world, and the best. Seen the terrible things men do to each other in the name of hatred, and the lengths they’ll go to for love. Now I know. Only love can save this world. So I stay. I fight, and I give… for the world I know can be. This is my mission, now. Forever.


Read more...

The Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell
[a] in the house of the Lord
Forever.

 

Psalm 23

 

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.

 

John 10: vv 11, 14

 

I was listening to KDRY 1100 AM tonight on the way home from work, and heard a story referenced in a sermon. Some of you may have heard it anecdotally, so I’ll ask your forgiveness for the redundancy, but it struck me as interesting and quite relevant.

 

“Often after dinner at these parties people give recitations, sing,
and use whatever talent they have to entertain the company.
One year a famous actor was among the guests. When it came his turn to perform, he recited the Twenty-third Psalm, perhaps the most beloved psalm in the Psalter. His rendition was magnificent, and there was much applause.

At the end of the evening, someone noticed a little old great aunt dozing in the corner. She was deaf as a post and had missed most of what was going on,
but she was urged to get up and recite something. In those days people used to memorize a lot of poetry! So she stood up, and in her quivery old voice she started, “The Lord is my shepherd,…” and went on to the end of the psalm.
When she had finished there were tears in many eyes.

Later one of the guests approached the famous actor. “You recited that psalm absolutely superbly. It was incomparable. So why were we so moved by that funny, little old lady?”

He replied, “I know the psalm. She knows the shepherd.”

 

We’ve all heard that Psalm; I’m sure that many of us know it by heart. But how many of us truly know the One about Whom the Psalm was written?


Read more...

Family Drama

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 

                                                1 Corinthians 1:10

 

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

                                                Colossians 3: 12-15

 
I was gone over the weekend, working on a 72-hour spiritual retreat called the Walk to Emmaus (if you’re interested in attending one, please let me know!). I’ve worked on many a Walk as a team member, and each one has been special in its own way. This Walk went relatively smoothly, like most of them do, save for an interaction that happened late on a Sunday afternoon. Now, allow me to paint the backdrop: it was July in south Texas, 100+ degrees, what seemed like 152% humidity, and what seemed like 50 big plastic bins and sundry items that needed to be carried out of a big building and loaded into a utility trailer that was parked 300 feet away and could not be moved closer like we used to be able to park it. There are over 20 ladies, ranging in age from late 20s to early 70s, all operating on operating on about five hours’ sleep for each of the past three nights. Did I mention that it was over 100 degrees?

 

Another group had come in to help our team tear down and help pack, which was very nice. What wasn’t as nice, though, was the assessment and attitude of this outside group to a couple of team members who weren’t as ready as the outside group felt they should have been, even though by all estimates and schedules, they were exactly as ready as they were. Words were exchanged, feelings were hurt, and tempers flared to match the heat of the Texas sun.


Read more...

The Future

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

 

There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.

Proverbs 19:21

 

 

I search Pinterest for the quotes that I include with these devotionals, as well as for messages to put on the church marquee. I came across this saying, and found inspiration for this week’s devotional: “I don’t know what the future may hold, but I know Who holds the future.”

 

I seem to have a lot of things going on in my life right now. Some of them are new and different experiences and activities that bring with them their own set of potential worries:

  • New role at work with more responsibility: Will I be able to determine the right things on which to focus my efforts? How can I train myself to think strategically? I need to define a dashboard with measurements of success within a week—wha??
  • Leadership position within a charity that is undergoing some change and challenges in its activities: What if we don’t get enough volunteers? What if stronger personalities on the Board of Directors commandeer the discussions and me, being the people pleaser I am, can’t get everyone’s voices heard?

And yet there are some that are the same areas year after year (but the questions/worries change over time):

  • My family: ‘Nuff said.
  • My extended family: One of my fathers-in-law turns 80 soon and his health isn’t what it used to be—what does that mean for the children? Why was my mother-in-law having the kids choose items to take home with them when we last visited? How will my nephew who is a challenging child handle going to middle school? Will my stepmother’s health ever get better?
  • My friends: One friend’s husband was just diagnosed with prostate cancer, another just lost her father, yet another’s father just went into hospice, one is in a somewhat loveless marriage and doesn’t know what to do
  • My cats: Why did Hobbes suddenly decide to start pooping on my floor ever so often? He’s not sick, he’s not in distress, what’s going on?
  • My church—How will He transform us? What if folks aren’t on the same song sheet within the church for this transformation—what if they don’t support it? When will He transform us? How’s Kevin’s health? What about the Vision Team—how are they holding up? Are folks getting spiritually fed and motivated? Do they feel His presence? Do they know Him?


Read more...

Plain and Simple

We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, 

                                               

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

 
I realize that this is a day late (but not a dollar short!), and for that, I ask your forgiveness. I know I didn’t write a devotional last week (was out of town), nor do I think I’ll get the chance to write one next week (out of town again), but I was determined I was going to do one this week. Sunday night rolled around and I didn’t have an idea of what to write about, so I didn’t start one then. Monday night rolled around and I was tuckered out after Zumba, and I still didn’t have an idea of what to write about, so I didn’t Monday night. Tuesday night I got home at around 7:30 from work, and chopped up a big honkin’ watermelon and prepped lunches for the rest of the week, and still was uncertain what to write.

 

And here we are at Wednesday. I now know what to write, having discerned it this morning, but it’s going to take a bit of research to make sure the message is right. It is now 8:05 and I’m pretty tired and really want to get something out tonight, so that devotional will have to wait a bit.

 

I thought about the sitcoms of the eighties and early nineties when they did that one compilation episode a couple of seasons—you know, where they assemble a series of scenes from the past episodes, where characters flashback to these scenes. Maybe I could go through prior devotionals and find a common theme and effect that concept. Or, if I really wanted to, I could go into “rerun” mode and publish a devotional from the past, and hope that no one would remember.

 

No bueno. You and He deserve so much more.
 
 
For this week, I’m going to copy the concept I saw on Pinterest when researching sayings or quotes to go on the church marquee (if you didn’t know, I change the church marquee messages): “It’s too hot to change the sign. Sin=bad. Jesus=good. Message inside.”
 
 
Friends, we are all sinners. Yes, you, and you, and me, and you. Yes, we are. Each of us can relate to what Paul shares in Romans 7: 23-24a: “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am!” As long as we are in this world, we will sin. And we are told in Romans 6 that the wages of sin is death. And you can hear the desperation to Paul’s cry as he finishes Romans 7:24: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
 
 

The answer: Jesus. We rejoice when we read Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus delivered Paul from his body of death, and He can deliver you, too.

 

Jesus loves you more than you can ever imagine. When He hung on that cross, you were on His mind. He laid down His very own life so that you could live with Him in eternity. You are His and He is with you always. He is your strength, your hope, your sustenance. He is everything.

 

Prayer Requests

  • For those who are struggling emotionally, financially, physically, spiritually…
  • For the victims of violence and war
  • For our church to be obedient to His calling
  • For us to be united in fellowship, prayer, and love

 

Jesus is good, and He makes us good. Let us be forever thankful for that.

 

Quotes

 

“Don’t put people down unless it’s onto your prayer list.”

 

“Don’t wait until you see the sunshine to thank God. Dare to thank Him while it’s still dark—that’s what faith is all about.”