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.   
 
 
 

August 12, 2015

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

                                                      James 2: 14-17

 

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:

“Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?”

Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

                                                      Isaiah 6:8

 

I was on a team for a Walk to Emmaus over the first weekend in August. One of the constant messages that came out over those three days was that we aren’t meant to merely take care of those who are suffering, we are meant to address the cause of the suffering. That thought has been rolling around in my head this past week, and it wasn’t until after Pastor Kevin’s sermon Sunday (8/9), that kind of confirmed for me that this is the message for this week’s devotional.

 

We know that the sacrifice of our talents, tithes, and time is a good thing, given that the motivation is to glorify God and nothing else. And we do know that there are things going on in this world that we feel helpless to do anything about, and feel that we are probably not in any position to even effect any difference in anyone’s situation—sex slavery, human trafficking, rape, domestic abuse, child molestation—the list is endless, and we feel helpless. But we aren’t, with God’s strength.

 

We need to realize and be open to all that He would have us to. We need to understand that it’s not enough only to donate money to a cause, or say a quick prayer for someone who is hurting and continue on our way. If we give to the homeless, but do nothing about the root cause of what has made them homeless, what have we done?

 

Now, that’s not to say that a single act of kindness can’t change a person, or turn them around, or be the one positive straw that causes that person to see Jesus. God can do what He wants to with our acts. But we need to seek to be used further—for His purposes, for His glory, in His will. We can no longer sit back and assume that God will send someone else—someone who is more qualified than us to tackle the evils of this world.


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August 5, 2015

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

                                                      James 1:19-20

I remember being quite young, watching the face of a very angry Donald Duck turn increasingly red over something that happened. He then was reminded to count to ten, and begins to do so, his anger abating as he reaches that double digit number. (I Googled the video and found it on YouTube. It’s an episode entitled “Self-Control” from 1938. What a timeless concept, hmm? And…it’s a fruit of the Spirit!).

I know that as my Spirit Walk progresses, I have called on James 1:19 in times of direct conflict (not that there are many), because I want to be obedient, and also because I’ve seen the devastation words said in anger can cause to a person. As one whose love language is “words”, I am keenly sensitive to the effect of words on a person’s mental and emotional well-being. I’d walk my lips on broken glass that’s caked with salt before I would intentionally say something that would hurt someone else. I also try to subscribe to the old saying about God giving us one mouth and two ears, so we should be listening twice as much as we should be speaking. There are many conflicts that can be defused simply by one person listening to what the other person is saying, or seeking to understand the reason for what they are saying, instead of being defensive, or thinking of their next retort, or loudly berating the other for the purpose of “winning” the argument. (just a side note, if you will: no one wins when this happens. It may feel like a win, but it truly isn’t.)

I won’t go so far as to say that verse 19 is more often quoted than the verse the follows, but what I an say is that it more well known by me. So when the Holy Spirit included verse 20 as the scripture for this SUPV, it made me think that it needed to be elevated into everyone’s consciousness a bit more than it already is. 


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July 29, 2015

 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. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

                                                               Jeremiah 29:11-13  

 

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

                                                               Romans 12:1                              

 About 14 years ago I switched careers at my company. I had been a manager in a call center environment and felt that it was time for a change (workplace euphemism for “I was tired of other managers getting away with doing less than and me getting the brunt of the work because of my work ethic”). I went into the world of projects—developing software for our members and employees to use. I was given the opportunity to get desk phone or a cell phone. A cell phone?! I was intrigued. I had always been tied to a desk phone in the call center environment with shared management responsibilities—someone always had to be available to answer a manager desk phone, because that was the world in which we lived. So I got a cell phone. It was a flip phone that had very limited texting ability but it did the job. I was happy.
 

About four years later, I moved into a support area in which I was the business point of contact for an enterprise application used by our member service representatives. My manager asked me if I wanted a Blackberry, because I had a valid business case to carry one (only slightly prior to that did executives get to have a Blackberry). I agreed, of course, because I needed to have access to my emails when I was away from my desk in the many meetings I had to attend in this new role.

 


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July 15, 2015

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 

                                                               Galatians 6:2

My mom never cared for Robin Williams. I don’t know if she was bothered by his frenetic pace, his irreverent antics, his zaniness—not sure. I, on the other hand, enjoyed him as an actor. I won’t go so far as to say that he was my favorite actor and that I’ve seen all of his movies, but I appreciated his quick wittedness and cleverness, his range of acting—typical comedy and atypical serious roles—and could count on some of his movies to make me laugh (The Birdcage) or make me think (Good Will Hunting; Dead Poets Society). I think my reaction to his suicide was typical of almost everyone else’s: shock, disbelief, layered in with incredible sadness. Disbelief and shock at the thought that someone who seemed so full of life and energy could be in such pain as to move to take their own life, and sadness that he was in such pain. It goes without saying that I did not know him personally, but I would like to think that had I known him, I would have been able to sense that something was going on and perhaps reach him? If not that, at the very least pray for him?

Bringing that thought down out of the stratosphere of Hollywood stardom and closer to home, it has been on my heart lately to seek to realize that there are those who may be under similar circumstances as Robin Williams. According to statistics, about 6.7% of the U.S. adult population suffers from depression. Some are on medication, while some haven’t been diagnosed, and struggle to find the cause of their inner pain.

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July 8, 2015

Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.                                                                                                                    1 Corinthians 15:28
 

Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful.
Praise the Lord with the harp;
Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.

Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

For the word of the Lord is right,
And all His work is done in truth.
He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

                                                               Psalm 33: 1-5

 

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”

                                                                        Isaiah 6: 1-3

Last Thursday night at our weekly prayer meeting, after we had talked about scripture references and the meaning of certain parables, we prayed. As I listened to Kevin pray, with eyes closed, the presence of the Holy Spirit overwhelmed me. It was a glorious filling feeling, as if a furnace were inside of me, one that generated power instead of a heat that would burn me. When it was my turn to pray, my mind focused on the fact that this was the most intimate of moments I could experience, and it was with the God of the universe—the God Who created the universe….the Holy of Holies…the One from Whom all blessings flow. The enormity of it all hit me. I imagined how Isaiah felt in his vision seeing the Lord in the temple, with the seraphim crying “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts! The whole earth is full of His glory!” I could do nothing less but praise Him in the moment, and bask in the intensity of His presence.

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July 1, 2015

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

                                                               James 5:16 

“…pray without ceasing…”

                                                      1 Thessalonians 5:17       

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”

Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily…                           Luke 18:1-8a

 

There has been a prayer—a very personal one—that I have prayed on and off, for a fairly long time. Actually, there are quite a few prayers that I have prayed for what seems to have been forever. I know that there are some who might pray for a certain thing once or twice, knowing that their request is in His hands. There are others, like the widow in the parable above, who have a tenacity within that drives them to pray repeatedly. I own up to being somewhere within that continuum of pray-ers, settling closer to the persistence side than the “say it once and leave it” camp. I admit to trying to temper the frequency with which I pray for certain things, lest the object of my prayer overshadow the importance of the One to Whom I pray.

I’m not always successful, though. I was ruminating on my tendency towards persistent prayers the other day while praying. I’d been praying for weeks about a seemingly small, silly thing and nothing had changed. Instead of realizing that the answer to my request might have been “no” or “not now”, I figured that perhaps I hadn’t prayed enough. For a fleeting moment though, the question popped into my mind: “Isn’t that what the proverbial they say the very definition of insanity is–doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome?”

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May 20, 2015

And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 

                                                               2 Kings 5: 10-12

Short note: For those of you able to construct your own ark, or tag along in a friend’s ark, and make it to church Sunday morning, you’re sure to recognize part of the Scripture reference. You’ll see its significance shortly, but I need to share this really quick: the Holy Spirit had already given me the inspiration for this week’s SUPV, harkening back to the Sunday School discussion Pastor Kevin led us in on May 10th, but I had not sought a bible verse or two to include here. So I prayed Sunday morning for Him to reveal it to me, and lo and behold, there it was in this morning’s Scripture reading! Choir and Nancy, if you wondered why I had a silly grin on my face as Kevin read this passage, this is why! God is so good!

 In my role as a user experience architect on software development project teams, I face different ways of how our business and sponsor teams want to communicate requirements to me and the developers on my team. The preferred way of doing it, which doesn’t happen as often as I would like, is that I am engaged even before the project starts, to help develop the project scope and then the business and I work together to determine what the user’s experience could be, from how the content and pages are broken down, to the elements on the page with which the user will interact. That, and sitting with the technical team to iterate through the best interaction, is my favorite part of the job. Problem solving with folks dedicated to designing the best holistic solution just makes my heart sing!

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May 13, 2015

 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.  And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and was confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?”   Acts 2: 4-8

 

I was meeting with a former co-worker of mine a couple of months ago. She and I had spent many an hour together, me counseling her on matters of the God’s love, her spiritual walk, self-worth, and challenges that the enemy puts on us. She had moved to a different area and it had been a while since we had chatted. She was telling me about her fiancé and how their relationship had began and progressed to where it was. He had not been one to regularly go to church—it was not that important to him. But, because it was important to her, he agreed to go with her. She said that he was a bit concerned after his first church visit, and asked her if she had spoken to the pastor about him coming with her. Surprised, she said that she hadn’t and asked why. He told her that the pastor’s sermon seemed to be specifically crafted for him! He felt like the pastor was talking to him and him alone as he preached the Lord’s message that day. She explained that it was the message that the Lord intended for him to hear, and that the Holy Spirit was working to enable him to hear it. He returned the next Sunday with her, and the next, and the next, and I’m happy to report that they were married last November.

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June 3, 2015

But You are the same,
And Your years will have no end.

                                                      Psalm 102: 27

 

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

                                                      Hebrews 13:8

 

My grandmother was born in 1910, and passed away in 2002. We were quite close, as I lived in the same city as she did (as did her sister, my great aunt who passed away not too long ago at the age of 104 and whose funeral I wrote about not too long ago in an SUPV. She and Grandma had a love-hate relationship, as do many twin sisters. But that’s a whole other story…or devotional). Occasionally Grandma and I would talk about all of the inventions and experiences that were available that she didn’t have in the early 20th century when she was growing up—television, commercial air travel, computers, cell phones—so many to mention! It always amazed me when we would chat about those things to think about what she has lived through and wonder what more was to come.

 

I was praying the other morning when I heard the newspaper delivery person driving through the neighborhood, throwing newspapers onto my neighbors’ driveways. I don’t get my news that way, and I wondered if my life was better or worse for it. I then pondered the impact of the digital devices I used so much and how normal I felt my life was. I thought about the lives my kids had, and marveled at whatever next big game changer product would be out there that they will adopt so easily (that I will probably struggle with learning how to program or use. I still occasionally have to ask one of the kids to show me which remote to use to get the TV to do what I want it to do after someone has watched a movie on the PS3. “It shouldn’t be so difficult!” I tell myself. But I digress.) And yes, even though my mind wandered during my prayers, the path I went down was relevant, as it led back to Him, as I contrasted the frenetic pace with which things were changing and His constancy and unchanging nature.

 


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June 10, 2015

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”   1 Samuel 16:7

 

A dear person, in response to an SUPV and promising that he wouldn’t flood my email with spammy-type emails, forwarded me the contents of the poem shown below in an email. I struggled not to cry when I read it, as it sums up quite well our human tendency to judge people based on appearance, life situation or circumstance, or any other source. The message touched my heart on multiple levels—for the visitor, for the congregant, for the person who fails to understand the message, for our world in how we got so sidetracked as to think this way at times. Please—read for yourself and see if there are personal attributes in which you can see yourself.

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