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 LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;
Kathy, a friend of mine with whom I had worked, recently posted on Facebook, requesting prayers for the family of her adult stepdaughter, whom they had apparently just lost. She also posted funeral service details, and was seemed very matter of fact in her posts. Since she gave no details about what happened, my first conclusion was suicide. I knew that she and her husband had had their challenges with his daughter Michelle, especially during her teenage years, but I had understood things to be going well for her, now that she was in her late twenties and had two small children of her own. I, of course, said prayers for the family and for all involved, requesting comfort for her two little ones and their father.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
I am a nervous passenger, especially when my children were learning how to drive. I think a lot of it stems from the fact that I am challenged to be comfortable with how my husband drives—in my opinion, he is an aggressive driver who doesn’t maintain a safe enough distance between cars for my comfort, and whose braking style leaves a lot for my panicky heart to be desired. It has gotten to the point that I now play a game or read on my smartphone when my husband is driving. I’m not ashamed; I’m sure some of you might be able to relate…
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
“….casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,…”
2 Corinthians 10:5
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
A lifetime ago, I married really, really young (at 18). I’d accepted Jesus in my heart when I was 17, and then met my soon-to-be husband who was a freshman in college, and chose to follow down that path, instead of the path of righteousness that Jesus wanted for me to pursue. I’m not saying that I did illicit drugs or anything regrettable like that; I’m just saying that running around with a crowd of people to whom alcohol and drugs were such a common thing made it difficult to “fly right”. I didn’t go to church; Sunday mornings were filled with work (overnight newspaper delivery for him and food service work for me) with an errant hangover and then college papers to write and books to read.
Three years into our eight-year marriage, my husband was invited to attend a church service with a co-worker or a school acquaintance. I think the second time he went to this non-denominational church, he came home declaring that he’d experienced something wonderful, and that he was going to stop listening to secular music and listen to only Christian singers, and that the country music I listened to was hurting my chances of being a good Christian, because the artists were all sinners. I rankled at the thought of someone judging my choice of music, and declaring it “less than” because the artists did not sing praise and worship songs. “After all,” I reasoned to myself, “everyone is a sinner, so if the requirement was to listen to music by only non-sinning artists, no one would be able to listen to anything.” I quickly dismissed his statement, and while I didn’t do anything to sabotage his listening choices, I didn’t go out of my way to help him in his Christian pursuit. I realize now that I was a lackey, used by the enemy to distract my then-husband from his spiritual walk. I don’t recall how long he continued going to church, but I know it wasn’t for that long, because his old habits of smoking marijuana returned, which then led to heavier drug usage and the darker, scarier side of our marriage, which I shared with you in the pulpit a couple of weeks ago.
“Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
“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. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
somewhat the topic of this devotional, I was struck by the number of writers who didn’t take note of the difference between one’s talent—innate ability, aptitude, or faculty—and God’s purpose for one’s life. Instead, the writers suggested that their dear readers search their heart to find those things that they were drawn to, those things that made their heart sing, and pray about them, to find out that those things were what they were called by our Heavenly Father to do. While I don’t mean any disrespect to these writers, I do feel that the advice was a little short sighted, too neatly wrapped up, and too Self-centric.
Hear me out, please.
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
A couple of Sundays ago, you may recall that most of the congregation laid hands on our brother Mark Hardison, for the containment, and healing, of his prostate cancer. Those of us in our Thursday night prayer group (to which every single one of is invited…7:00 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. Thursdays. Did I mention you’re invited?) had talked about the laying of hands on Mark, but we had planned to either go to his house or invite him to a the following prayer meeting (which, by the way, is on Thursdays, at 7:00 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. All are welcome). Instead, Cody Wilkerson felt convicted to approach Pastor Kevin during the hymn of invitation and suggest the laying of hands. Thank you, Cody, for listening and obeying!
Mark, I haven’t had the chance to ask you if you felt anything as we prayed for you, but I can tell you that others who prayed for you felt His mighty power and presence. What a glorious moment, hmmm?
After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
1 Peter 2:9-10
There is a coworker of mine who is a project manager. He is high energy, charismatic, and engaging. He has tons of experience, and is very good at what he does. In talking to Jeff when he first came to our department, I found out that he went to seminary. His dad was a minister, and has helped plant churches in South America. Jeff has helped build up church in Honduras, and his latest adventure is working with a minister in Cuba. Jeff traveled there late last year, and really good things are happening. He has sought prayers from me for his efforts there and the efforts to bring one of the pastors up from Cuba to the United States.
I was chatting with him last week and he told me more about the exhilarating work that he personally has been able to do. His excitement was contagious! It is evident that although there are challenges to what he is doing, he truly enjoys it. Scripture easily rolls off his tongue, and he believes in the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit. I asked him during this chat why he was working at USAA and not out in the mission field. He looked me square in the face and said, “But I am! Work is my mission field.”
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
1 Corinthians 12: 7-11
I stumbled across a theological or doctrinal concept on the internet that I’d not heard named before. I had heard that there were those who believed that spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit, like speaking in tongues, prophecy, and healing, ceased with the original twelve apostles. This is the doctrine of cessationism. Its antithesis is continuationism, i.e. the belief that all spiritual gifts are still in operation today. Both views have staunch believers with copious writings on the subject, and both reference Scripture in the same way—some used verbatim to defend their position, and others massaged into fitting into their framework. And it’s always entertaining and a little sad to read the comments after the blog post, because while we can acknowledge that assumably those discussing are Christians and therefore the language doesn’t get bad, no one’s heritage is ever discussed, and I didn’t see name calling or tirades about gun control, Obama, atheists, Trump—you know, like you do on any other site frequented by, well… the internet—folks still tear each other’s arguments, and themselves, down, and not always in the kindest of ways.
Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”
Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?” But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”
Mark 5: 25-34
As a woman, when I read about this poor woman and her condition, my heart goes out to her. I promise not to get too detailed about the subject matter of her suffering so as to not make people uncomfortable, but we must understand the impact of what is going on here, and the lesson it has for our lives.
“In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.
Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
1 John 3: 10-15
About five years ago, I was asked to be the Lay Director for a Women’s Walk to Emmaus. The role took a lot of prep work and coordination, and a lot of copying of paper. It never felt right to use the church’s copy machine, as it was not for church business, so I’d head on up to Office Depot or Office Max to have copies made of what I needed. There was one instance in which I made double-sided copies (yep—been saving trees for a long time now), and took my stack up to the registers to pay for the copies. When the young lady at the register rang up single-sided copies instead of double, I corrected her and called to her attention the fact that they were double-sided. Before she corrected the charge, she looked me square in the eye and said, “Most people would have just let me go on and not said anything. What made you…” and then she stopped, nodded at the cross I was wearing, and continued, saying, “That’s why. The cross.” I smiled, paid my bill, and went on my way.
“Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours,”
1 Corinthians 3:18-21
In my bible study at work, we are studying the book of John. I am fascinated by the single mindedness of the Pharisees in their attempts to denounce the divinity of Jesus, even though He fulfilled the requirements of the three Messianic miracles—those signs indicated by rabbinic teaching that point to the office of Messiah. They are the ability to heal a Jewish leper (Luke 5:12-13), the exorcism of a mute demon (Matthew 12:22), and the healing of a man born blind (John 9). Jesus did each of these, as we know, fulfilling the prophecy, and yet He was not accepted.
The Pharisees, you’ll recall, were part of the Jewish ruling class of Israel. They accepted the written Word as inspired by God, but they also gave equal authority to oral tradition, which they sought to strictly obey as equal to God’s word. They were learned and influential members of the Sanhedrin. People were afraid to cross them, given their ability to excommunicate people from the synagogue. They followed Jesus in His ministry, not to learn about it or be His disciples, but to catch Him breaking their version of the law. Whenever they were confronted with the indisputable facts of Jesus having performed a Messianic miracle, they immediately sought to discredit the people involved, or disqualify it as a miracle (like when they approached the parents of the recently healed, blind-since-birth beggar in John 9, saying, “Is this your son, who you say (emphasis mine) was born blind?”, implying that he had not been blind since birth, so therefore his healing did not count towards the Messianic miracle count), or take action to excommunicate those who disagreed or challenged them.