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.   
 
 

October 14, 2015

Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

                                                      Psalm 37: 4

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Matthew 6:33

 

My older son, Greg, whom most of you would remember, graduated college this past spring with a Computer Science degree from UTSA, and has been working for USAA since June. He had planned to move out of the house into an apartment closer to work the first weekend of the month; the apartment wasn’t ready, though, until this Thursday. So I spent Thursday afternoon and all day Friday moving my son out of my house into his own apartment. I’m proud to say that I stopped crying Friday afternoon (it wasn’t a continual crying session but one that would come and go when there was a lull in activity, like sitting in traffic surrounded with crates and laundry baskets of clothes and groceries), but I can’t take the credit—it was the comfort of Lamentations 3: 22-23 (paraphrased): “His mercies are new every day.”

It was before my morning prayers that Thursday, when I had my only bit of down time when the house was quiet, that I was ruminating on how the household dynamics were going to change. Greg’s little dog Oreo, a rescue terrier whom he’d had about 18 months, jumped on the sofa next to me and promptly presented her belly for “scritches” (you know…scritch, scritch, scritch…”). I started to tear up, knowing that the opportunities for belly rubs would soon diminish, as would shared TV viewing of Modern Family and the Dallas Cowboys with Greg. In an effort to redirect my thoughts lest I get too emotional, I took a deep breath to clear my mind and prepare for communion with Him. It was either right as I bowed my head and started to pray, or a nanosecond before, the thought of “What are the desires of your heart?” came, unbidden, into my mind. The Psalm 37 reference of “….and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” came to mind at the prompting of the first question. “Oooh! What an opportunity I have!”, I thought at first. “Is this where I tell Him that I’d like everything to be as it was before….before the boys got older and still needed me? Or was this the chance to ask for Him to make good now on those future plans I understood Him to have shared with me? Do I pray, unselfishly, for my loved ones? Or, was this where I turn into a Miss America contestant and ask for world peace? Thoughts tumbled in, one after another, as I pondered the question, and I considered each one quickly, almost as if I had a time limit in which to answer.


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September 30, 2015

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’ 

                                                               Exodus 3:14-15

 And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

                                                               Isaiah 9:6

 “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

                                                               Matthew 1:21

 

Shakespeare’s Juliet asks Romeo, “”What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Here, she conveys to Romeo the level of importance she confers on his last name—it is of little significance to her that his last name is Montague. He is the object of her love, not his name.

 

Names today, at least in Western culture, can carry some artifact of tradition (family names) and cultural references (the naming of one’s son, for example, after a most excellent Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboys quarterback, or the middle name of little Luke Tiberius Smith (awesome, btw, Angie & Bryan)), but I contend that they don’t carry the same significance as they did, say back in the times of the Bible.


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September 23, 2015

“But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.”

                                                                        John 21:4         

“For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.”

                                                                        John 20:9

 We were in the study of the Holy Spirit Sunday school about a month ago or more, and I’d made a comment about the disciples that in retrospect I wish I hadn’t. I don’t recall specifically what I said, but the gist of it was “my goodness. They walked with Him day and night and still didn’t get it? Out of everyone in the world to understand, I would have expected that they would.” Oh, how judgmental of me! I was later humbled by the Lord for thinking that, because couldn’t I say the same thing about me? I walk with Him day in and day out, and there are so many things about His inspired word and promises that I fail to see and understand.


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September 16, 2015

For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 

“For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry

 Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”

                                                      Hebrews 10:36-38

 Remember the concept of the genie in Aladdin’s lamp—that if you were the lucky soul who rubbed the lamp the right way, he’d come out and grant you three wishes (“and no wishing for more wishes!”)? There are websites dedicated to debating the perfect wishes, many a mother-in-law or ex-wife joke about them, and wonderful stories and Disney movies about Aladdin’s relationship with his genie. So, in that vein, I’m going to ask you to think of your three wishes, but prescribe that one of them has to be for the Stone Oak Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Okay… now think…prepare your answers… ready?

 Focus now only on the single sincere wish for our church.  There are hundreds of responses that could have been generated… were any of these yours:

 Different Sunday School classes or Bible studies?

 Jazzercise classes in the evenings?

 Shorter sermons? Longer sermons? Dramatic demonstrations of the sermon? No sermon at all?

 Shorter service? Longer service?

 Black Ivory coffee in the church coffee pots for consumption during and after Sunday School? (you know,  a brand of coffee produced by the Black Ivory Coffee Company Ltd in Northern Thailand from Arabica coffee beans consumed by elephants and collected from their feces. It runs about $1,100 per kilogram).

 More folks to attend?

 Others in the church to step up into leadership positions instead of the same ones who always do, so that we can avoid burnout?

 A food pantry or other cause that we could for the community?

 A coffee shop and bookstore in the narthex?

 Increased tithes and money in the coffers?

 


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September 9, 2015

O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself;
It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.

                                                      Jeremiah 10:23

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

                                                      Proverbs 19:21

 Back in 1986, Janet Jackson came out with a song entitled “Control”, and the lyrics to one of its verses and the chorus are as follows:

Got my own mind

I wanna make my own decisions

When it has to do with my life, my life

I wanna be the one in control

 

I’m in / Control

Never gonna stop / Control

To get what I want / Control

I like to have a lot / Control

Now I’m all grown up

 

Now Janet “Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty” Jackson was twenty years old when that song came out, catapulting her to pop icon. The song was a declaration that she wasn’t going to just stay in the shadows of her older brothers, she wasn’t going to be managed by her father Joseph Jackson any longer, she was a young adult who took charge of her own music career. Songs from the album of the same name spoke of self-empowerment, and gave young women a rally cry. No longer did one have to march to someone else’s drum; she could make up her own mind and do whatever it was that she wanted to do, now that she was all grown up.


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September 2, 2015

Praise the Lord!

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
Who delights greatly in His commandments.

His descendants will be mighty on earth;
The generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches will be in his house,
And his righteousness endures forever.
Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness;
He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
A good man deals graciously and lends;
He will guide his affairs with discretion.

 Surely he will never be shaken;
The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.
He will not be afraid of evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is established;
He will not be afraid,
Until he sees his desire upon his enemies.

He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever;
His horn will be exalted with honor.
The wicked will see it and be grieved;
He will gnash his teeth and melt away;
The desire of the wicked shall perish.

                                                      Psalm 112

 I am a member of Generation X, that age demographic classified by those born in the mid sixties to the early eighties (give or take a few years on both ends). I remember hearing about the proverbial “Me generation”, a term that referred to the baby boomer generation with its self-involved qualities that some have attributed to that generation (according to Wikipedia. Not me, I swear!). Writer Tom Wolfe coined the nickname in the 1970s, with another writer furthering its use by commenting on the rise of a culture of narcissism among the younger generation. Per Wikipedia, “the phrase caught on with the general public, at a time when “self-realization” and “self-fulfillment” were becoming cultural aspirations among young people, who considered them far more important than social responsibility.” Trends such as discos and hot tub parties, self help programs and books (I distinctly recall I’m OK, You’re OK being in my parents’ library), New Age spirituality, and health and exercise fads are all hallmarks of the Me generation’s focus on self. When I was younger, I didn’t understand the reference—jogging suits and leisure suits worn with Qiana nylon shirts with oversized collars didn’t seem to be too bad of a thing (though I have to say that I can still recall the now cringe-worthy robin’s egg blue and the light yellow ones my dad wore once or maybe twice—don’t say anything to him when he comes to visit, okay?!?), and when you think about it, is self-realization a bad thing? Perhaps the Me generation deserved to be focused inward, given all of the things that had happened in the world in the sixties and seventies—Vietnam, civil rights movement, riots, unemployment, fuel shortages, President Nixon resigning—that seemed to be a large amount of unease and uncertainty.  

 I’m going to ask you to read the scripture above—Psalm 112—through the lens of someone from the Me generation. Go on, I’ll wait… …. ….

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August 26, 2015

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

                                                      Acts 2: 42-47

Look up the word “fellowship” in a dictionary and you’ll find that the first definition is something like “friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests.” Sounds congenial and light, hmm? The fellowship that Luke refers to in the second chapter of Acts, though, is the Greek word κοινωνία, or koinónia (koy-nohn-ee’-ah). It is defined literally as partnership, with sub bullets of:

  • contributory help, participation;  
  • sharing in, communion
  • spiritual fellowship, a fellowship in the spirit.

Those have a little bit more “oomph”, don’t you think? A little bit more of a commitment, involvement, a lot more skin in the game?  

The second chapter of Acts, you’ll recall, starts with the Holy Spirit coming down at Pentecost. Those in the room were filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues. To dispute the accusations by some in the crowd that the apostles had been drinking, Peter addressed the crowd by citing the Old Testament words of the prophet Joel and by talking about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. He witnessed to the crowd, and Luke records that “about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (v 41). 3,000! 


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August 19, 2015

So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain and there was no rain on the land for three years and six months! Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land sprouted with a harvest.

                                                               James 5:16-18

 I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence.

                                                               2 Peter 1:3

  First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

                                                               1 Timothy 2:1-4

 

“Lord, feed the hungry and bring peace to all of mankind. How’s that?” says Bruce Nolan, the main character in the movie Bruce Almighty, played by Jim Carrey. The scene is near the end of the movie, in which Bruce has been endowed by God, played by Morgan Freeman, with His divine powers. Bruce has allowed the powers to get the better of him throughout the entire movie, using them to get ahead in his work as a television anchor person. After losing his girlfriend Grace, he realizes his mistake, and surrenders his life to God in the middle of a rainsoaked highway. He is struck by a semi and wakes up in heaven. God gives Bruce a set of prayer beads that Grace’s preschool class had made him and tells Bruce to use them to pray. So Bruce says a safe yet glib prayer. God’s response? “Great, if you want to be Miss America.” God chides Bruce to really pray and asks him what he cares about. “Grace,” Bruce tells him. God asks him if he wants her back. “No,” Bruce responds after some thought. “I want her to be happy, no matter what that means. I want her to find someone who will treat her with all the love she deserved from me. I want her to meet someone who will see her always as I do now, through Your eyes.” God’s reply? “Now THAT’s a prayer!”

 


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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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October 14, 2015

Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

                                                      Psalm 37: 4

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Matthew 6:33

 

My older son, Greg, whom most of you would remember, graduated college this past spring with a Computer Science degree from UTSA, and has been working for USAA since June. He had planned to move out of the house into an apartment closer to work the first weekend of the month; the apartment wasn’t ready, though, until this Thursday. So I spent Thursday afternoon and all day Friday moving my son out of my house into his own apartment. I’m proud to say that I stopped crying Friday afternoon (it wasn’t a continual crying session but one that would come and go when there was a lull in activity, like sitting in traffic surrounded with crates and laundry baskets of clothes and groceries), but I can’t take the credit—it was the comfort of Lamentations 3: 22-23 (paraphrased): “His mercies are new every day.”

It was before my morning prayers that Thursday, when I had my only bit of down time when the house was quiet, that I was ruminating on how the household dynamics were going to change. Greg’s little dog Oreo, a rescue terrier whom he’d had about 18 months, jumped on the sofa next to me and promptly presented her belly for “scritches” (you know…scritch, scritch, scritch…”). I started to tear up, knowing that the opportunities for belly rubs would soon diminish, as would shared TV viewing of Modern Family and the Dallas Cowboys with Greg. In an effort to redirect my thoughts lest I get too emotional, I took a deep breath to clear my mind and prepare for communion with Him. It was either right as I bowed my head and started to pray, or a nanosecond before, the thought of “What are the desires of your heart?” came, unbidden, into my mind. The Psalm 37 reference of “….and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” came to mind at the prompting of the first question. “Oooh! What an opportunity I have!”, I thought at first. “Is this where I tell Him that I’d like everything to be as it was before….before the boys got older and still needed me? Or was this the chance to ask for Him to make good now on those future plans I understood Him to have shared with me? Do I pray, unselfishly, for my loved ones? Or, was this where I turn into a Miss America contestant and ask for world peace? Thoughts tumbled in, one after another, as I pondered the question, and I considered each one quickly, almost as if I had a time limit in which to answer.


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September 30, 2015

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’ 

                                                               Exodus 3:14-15

 And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

                                                               Isaiah 9:6

 “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

                                                               Matthew 1:21

 

Shakespeare’s Juliet asks Romeo, “”What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Here, she conveys to Romeo the level of importance she confers on his last name—it is of little significance to her that his last name is Montague. He is the object of her love, not his name.

 

Names today, at least in Western culture, can carry some artifact of tradition (family names) and cultural references (the naming of one’s son, for example, after a most excellent Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboys quarterback, or the middle name of little Luke Tiberius Smith (awesome, btw, Angie & Bryan)), but I contend that they don’t carry the same significance as they did, say back in the times of the Bible.


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September 23, 2015

“But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.”

                                                                        John 21:4         

“For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.”

                                                                        John 20:9

 We were in the study of the Holy Spirit Sunday school about a month ago or more, and I’d made a comment about the disciples that in retrospect I wish I hadn’t. I don’t recall specifically what I said, but the gist of it was “my goodness. They walked with Him day and night and still didn’t get it? Out of everyone in the world to understand, I would have expected that they would.” Oh, how judgmental of me! I was later humbled by the Lord for thinking that, because couldn’t I say the same thing about me? I walk with Him day in and day out, and there are so many things about His inspired word and promises that I fail to see and understand.


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September 16, 2015

For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 

“For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry

 Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”

                                                      Hebrews 10:36-38

 Remember the concept of the genie in Aladdin’s lamp—that if you were the lucky soul who rubbed the lamp the right way, he’d come out and grant you three wishes (“and no wishing for more wishes!”)? There are websites dedicated to debating the perfect wishes, many a mother-in-law or ex-wife joke about them, and wonderful stories and Disney movies about Aladdin’s relationship with his genie. So, in that vein, I’m going to ask you to think of your three wishes, but prescribe that one of them has to be for the Stone Oak Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Okay… now think…prepare your answers… ready?

 Focus now only on the single sincere wish for our church.  There are hundreds of responses that could have been generated… were any of these yours:

 Different Sunday School classes or Bible studies?

 Jazzercise classes in the evenings?

 Shorter sermons? Longer sermons? Dramatic demonstrations of the sermon? No sermon at all?

 Shorter service? Longer service?

 Black Ivory coffee in the church coffee pots for consumption during and after Sunday School? (you know,  a brand of coffee produced by the Black Ivory Coffee Company Ltd in Northern Thailand from Arabica coffee beans consumed by elephants and collected from their feces. It runs about $1,100 per kilogram).

 More folks to attend?

 Others in the church to step up into leadership positions instead of the same ones who always do, so that we can avoid burnout?

 A food pantry or other cause that we could for the community?

 A coffee shop and bookstore in the narthex?

 Increased tithes and money in the coffers?

 


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September 9, 2015

O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself;
It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.

                                                      Jeremiah 10:23

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

                                                      Proverbs 19:21

 Back in 1986, Janet Jackson came out with a song entitled “Control”, and the lyrics to one of its verses and the chorus are as follows:

Got my own mind

I wanna make my own decisions

When it has to do with my life, my life

I wanna be the one in control

 

I’m in / Control

Never gonna stop / Control

To get what I want / Control

I like to have a lot / Control

Now I’m all grown up

 

Now Janet “Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty” Jackson was twenty years old when that song came out, catapulting her to pop icon. The song was a declaration that she wasn’t going to just stay in the shadows of her older brothers, she wasn’t going to be managed by her father Joseph Jackson any longer, she was a young adult who took charge of her own music career. Songs from the album of the same name spoke of self-empowerment, and gave young women a rally cry. No longer did one have to march to someone else’s drum; she could make up her own mind and do whatever it was that she wanted to do, now that she was all grown up.


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September 2, 2015

Praise the Lord!

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
Who delights greatly in His commandments.

His descendants will be mighty on earth;
The generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches will be in his house,
And his righteousness endures forever.
Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness;
He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
A good man deals graciously and lends;
He will guide his affairs with discretion.

 Surely he will never be shaken;
The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.
He will not be afraid of evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is established;
He will not be afraid,
Until he sees his desire upon his enemies.

He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever;
His horn will be exalted with honor.
The wicked will see it and be grieved;
He will gnash his teeth and melt away;
The desire of the wicked shall perish.

                                                      Psalm 112

 I am a member of Generation X, that age demographic classified by those born in the mid sixties to the early eighties (give or take a few years on both ends). I remember hearing about the proverbial “Me generation”, a term that referred to the baby boomer generation with its self-involved qualities that some have attributed to that generation (according to Wikipedia. Not me, I swear!). Writer Tom Wolfe coined the nickname in the 1970s, with another writer furthering its use by commenting on the rise of a culture of narcissism among the younger generation. Per Wikipedia, “the phrase caught on with the general public, at a time when “self-realization” and “self-fulfillment” were becoming cultural aspirations among young people, who considered them far more important than social responsibility.” Trends such as discos and hot tub parties, self help programs and books (I distinctly recall I’m OK, You’re OK being in my parents’ library), New Age spirituality, and health and exercise fads are all hallmarks of the Me generation’s focus on self. When I was younger, I didn’t understand the reference—jogging suits and leisure suits worn with Qiana nylon shirts with oversized collars didn’t seem to be too bad of a thing (though I have to say that I can still recall the now cringe-worthy robin’s egg blue and the light yellow ones my dad wore once or maybe twice—don’t say anything to him when he comes to visit, okay?!?), and when you think about it, is self-realization a bad thing? Perhaps the Me generation deserved to be focused inward, given all of the things that had happened in the world in the sixties and seventies—Vietnam, civil rights movement, riots, unemployment, fuel shortages, President Nixon resigning—that seemed to be a large amount of unease and uncertainty.  

 I’m going to ask you to read the scripture above—Psalm 112—through the lens of someone from the Me generation. Go on, I’ll wait… …. ….

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August 26, 2015

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

                                                      Acts 2: 42-47

Look up the word “fellowship” in a dictionary and you’ll find that the first definition is something like “friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests.” Sounds congenial and light, hmm? The fellowship that Luke refers to in the second chapter of Acts, though, is the Greek word κοινωνία, or koinónia (koy-nohn-ee’-ah). It is defined literally as partnership, with sub bullets of:

  • contributory help, participation;  
  • sharing in, communion
  • spiritual fellowship, a fellowship in the spirit.

Those have a little bit more “oomph”, don’t you think? A little bit more of a commitment, involvement, a lot more skin in the game?  

The second chapter of Acts, you’ll recall, starts with the Holy Spirit coming down at Pentecost. Those in the room were filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues. To dispute the accusations by some in the crowd that the apostles had been drinking, Peter addressed the crowd by citing the Old Testament words of the prophet Joel and by talking about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. He witnessed to the crowd, and Luke records that “about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (v 41). 3,000! 


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August 19, 2015

So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain and there was no rain on the land for three years and six months! Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land sprouted with a harvest.

                                                               James 5:16-18

 I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence.

                                                               2 Peter 1:3

  First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

                                                               1 Timothy 2:1-4

 

“Lord, feed the hungry and bring peace to all of mankind. How’s that?” says Bruce Nolan, the main character in the movie Bruce Almighty, played by Jim Carrey. The scene is near the end of the movie, in which Bruce has been endowed by God, played by Morgan Freeman, with His divine powers. Bruce has allowed the powers to get the better of him throughout the entire movie, using them to get ahead in his work as a television anchor person. After losing his girlfriend Grace, he realizes his mistake, and surrenders his life to God in the middle of a rainsoaked highway. He is struck by a semi and wakes up in heaven. God gives Bruce a set of prayer beads that Grace’s preschool class had made him and tells Bruce to use them to pray. So Bruce says a safe yet glib prayer. God’s response? “Great, if you want to be Miss America.” God chides Bruce to really pray and asks him what he cares about. “Grace,” Bruce tells him. God asks him if he wants her back. “No,” Bruce responds after some thought. “I want her to be happy, no matter what that means. I want her to find someone who will treat her with all the love she deserved from me. I want her to meet someone who will see her always as I do now, through Your eyes.” God’s reply? “Now THAT’s a prayer!”

 


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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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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.