The month of February is usually thought of as the love month. I have no deep words to share today. Just my special love wish for you…
Where life and death bump into each other and life wins.
Nain, a village in southwestern Galilee six miles southeast of Nazareth on the northern edge of the Plain of Esdraelon.
Though set on a bleak, rocky slope, the village boasts access to the most fertile farmland in the Valley of Jezreel…
…where rock and soil meet.
Nain lives up to its definition: delightful, pleasantness, green pastures, and lovely by opening out to a vast and beautiful vista across the plain to Carmel, over the Nazareth hills, and out past Mount Tabor to the east and even to the glistening, white peaks of Mount Hermon, a great distance away to the north.
The valley is a sea of living vegetation, awash in the brilliant colors of creation. A balmy breeze flutters waves of emerald grass while wafting the fragrance of blossoming fruit trees and wildflowers across the valley.
But in this idyllic valley, teeming with life, is bereavement. A funeral procession departs the village gate, withdrawing the dead from the center of living.
A young man has died, the only son of a widow. While the balmy breezes blow in the valley, a wintery wind whirls in the heart of this widow, now slumped over in her own valley of grief.
Trailing in the wake of the burial bier is the wailing mother, relatives, friends, and other lamenters from the village, all dressed in their mourning garments.
As the group following death departs the city in sorrow, a group following Life waits to enter in joy. Jesus and His disciples stand aside so as not to bump into the death brigade.
At the gate…where death and life meet.
As tears drench this mother’s face, Jesus’ heart fills with deep compassion and He tenderly says to her, “Do not weep.”
He turns to the bier, as those carrying it stop. Laying His hands on it, He commands, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”
Resurrected from the dead and filled with life, the boy sits up and begins to talk.
Where death and life meet…and life wins!
Both crowds erupt in great rejoicing and praising. And the word of the miracle spreads throughout the region.
We are the dead, living yet dead in sin, until we meet Jesus, the Giver of Life. Because of Christ’s deep compassion, He touches the death bier of our lives, resurrecting us and filling us with His Life.
In Him, here death and life meet…
“I am the one who brings people back to life, and I am life itself. Those who believe in Me will live even if they die. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe that?” (John 11:25-26 GW)
…and life wins. Eternally! For “God…gives life to the dead.” (Rom. 4:17 NKJV)
If you love Martin Luther, you will want to read Michelle DeRusha’s new book, Katharina & Martin Luther. A story of “the radical marriage of a runaway nun and a renegade monk.”
(I have to share this. My dad had a 1715 Martin Luther Bible (German) and I now have it. It’s falling apart. I had the page framed for us that contains John 3:16 with part of the cover and I had the page framed that contains my mother’s two favorite verses (Phil. 4: 13 and 19) for her. I have hers now. Two prized possessions.)
This is the story of two remarkable people. And five centuries later, we’re still talking about them.
Most of us know some facts about Martin Luther, the German monk who questioned Catholic dogma and brought about the Protestant Reformation. Luther’s teachings on salvation as grace alone and his writings against monasticism spread and brought about the closing of convents and monasteries in Germany.
However, we don’t usually know too much about his other half. Katharina.
Katharina had three brothers and possibly a sister when her mother died. After her father remarried, several other children were born. Because of her father’s inability to provide for his large family, he ended up in debt. Therefore, he chose Katharina, at the age of six, to be sent to a cloister school to be cared for and schooled, which was a proper thing to do in the 16th century.
After changing convents, she remained behind their walls and lived a cloistered life for the next eighteen years. She was eager to abandon the monastic life she was put into and planned an escape. And afterwards, her love for a man was spurned.
With no means of support, Katharina was out of options. Luther attempted to set her up with other suitors. But she did something unheard of at that time: she dared to ask Luther to marry her.
Marriage was not regulated by the church then and a promise made by two, even at the young ages of 14 and 12, meant they were married. Luther changed all that.
He began the tradition most couples observe today: become engaged, announce it, plan the wedding, get married usually by a priest or minister in church with friends and family in attendance, and celebrate afterwards.
Martin learned there was much to get used to in the first year of marriage. He once wrote, “One wakes up in the morning and finds a pair of pigtails on the pillow which were not there before.”
Their home filled with six children and the adoption of four orphaned children from relatives. The house was always filled with the noise of people, taking in all who came to their door. Sometimes housing 25 people.
Though they did not marry for love, love bloomed and grew with respect over the years, triumphing over trials and heartache and blossoming into a tender love story.
Luther called his wife Katie, Katy, Kate, or in German Kethe. And once in a letter to a friend, he referred to her as his “rib,” referring, of course, to Adam and Eve. And would sometimes lovingly refer to her as Kette (German for chain), for they enjoyed teasing one another.
So much detail in this book, it is difficult in a few short sentences to relay it all. If you admire Luther or love biographies, this book is a must read. Though it reads more like a work of fiction.
Michelle writes, “For a variety of reasons, Katharina von Bor and Martin Luther each determined that marriage – the most radical of options – was also the best one. Not only did that choice impact them personally as individuals, it also had a powerful and lasting effect on their own early Renaissance culture and society. Today, five hundred years later, the impact of their choice continues to reverberate in the lives and faith of Christians across the globe.”
It was a privilege to be on the launch team and receive a preview book. This book comes in time for the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation. You’ll find this story contains messages for all of us.
It’s about an airplane. Gotcha!
If you’ve been a reader for a while, you know I get inspiration sometimes from the strangest places. Hangeth thou in there and see what I found.
A few years ago, I watched the air show that is part of our city’s annual Kentucky Derby festivities. I learned those who fly the Lockheed Martin KC-130 in-flight refueler call what they do…passing gas!
The KC-130 is capable of fulfilling a multitude of roles and missions. As a tactical tanker/transport, it provides support for the Marine Air Ground Task Forces, such as…
*being the largest aerial firefighter
*having some converted into gunships
*emergency supply into battle areas
*emergency medical and other evacuations
*aerial delivery of troops, cargo, and equipment
*humanitarian missions for food and medical supplies
*in-flight refueling for both tactical aircraft and helicopters as well as rapid ground refueling.
So, what does this have to do with you and me? Let’s see.
We have our own personal air and ground Task Force, the Lord and His army, His hosts of heaven. He is our Refueler. He is all things to us, working for us in every area of our lives.
The Lord is to us whatever we need:
*Wounded and hurting? We’ll be carried as God said He did for the Israelites, “You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.” (Ex. 19:4 NLT)
*In a fiery trial? He will join us in the midst of it, as He did for the Three Amigos. Others saw them bound in the midst of the fiery furnace but the fire had no power over their bodies, “the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!” (Dan. 3:27b NLT) The Lord enters and we are loosed.
*Fighting a battle? He will make it His, as Scripture says, “The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you,” (Deut. 1:30 NKJV) and “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chron. 20:15 NIV)
*In need of supply for some lack? He is there, for “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19 NKJV)
*Need release from some situation? He brings us out, “I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the [enemy], I will rescue you from [his] bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” (Ex. 6:6 NKJV) And in His own time.
*Need spiritual refueling? He is our Refueler. When our soul-level drains out, He will refill us. He says, “I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.” (Jer. 31:25 NKJV)
The questions are: Do we allow Him to refuel us with His Spirit and fill us with all He offers in order to accomplish all the things He desires us to do? Do we run to Him to be refilled in whatever we lack?
Do you need to be refueled today? In need of spiritual gas?
“Now may the God of hope fill you” and may you be “made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with Himself.” and may you “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Rom. 15:13a NKJV, Eph. 1:23b NLT, Eph. 3:19b NIV)
Come along with me, for a moment, on a journey of imagination.
Imagine you are walking through a lush, robust forest, teeming with tender new growth. You come to a clearing. You look out at a major body of water.
It’s a beautiful, clear river. Think of it as the flowing, Living Waters of God.
As you look across to the other side, you see along the riverbank, stretching out as far as you can see, lots of little deserts, areas of dry land, depleted of any moisture from the river.
Think of these patches as all those who have never accepted the Living Water of Christ into their lives.
And then, as you look around, you see on your side, not only the forest but a thriving, verdant land, flourishing with flowers and fruits of all kinds.
Think of these as bazillions of Christians, you and me and all those around the world.
Now, imagine that the design of God’s heart is for all the roots of these trees, flowers, and fruits to be channels, reaching through the water to the other side, to the deserts filled with dry, cracked, and broken hearts, to give them New Life, so that they become as prolific, verdant, and filled with growth as the side you are on.
While you see that some root-channels do reach the other side, you notice a few dry spots and dying vegetation in the flourishing land. It’s because the root-channels of these have grown away from the water.
As you continue to look around you, you spot a number of root-channels stopping at the riverbank, as if just resting there. Too comfy to stretch out through the water to the other side.
Some root-channels do extend through the water but stop in the middle. These mid-river root-channels are clogged, filled with junk.
When contaminants corrode the channels, they are then useless for a time.
We are those channels. We are then useless for a time. Because we become clogged with frets, doubts, worries, pride, selfishness, impatience, unforgiveness, unbelief, and all the other things that cause unrest and stagnation.
And then there’s disobedience. If God has spoken to us through His Word, His Spirit, or through others and we do not obey His appointed tasks, we become blocked channels and His will is diverted.
Imagine a broken heart not receiving a comforting message because your anger with another obstructs your channel of comfort. Imagine monetary help is not delivered to a needy soul because your root-channel is filled with selfishness. Imagine a command of the Lord not being carried out because your busyness hinders your root-channel of obedience.
For a channel to be useful, it must flow with forgiveness. With thanksgiving. Praise. Faith. Trust. Patience. For God’s power to work its best, peace also needs to flow.
There are multitudes of deserts out there, arid and unhappy souls lacking heart-satisfaction in Jesus, desolate without Him. Broken hearts filled with disappointment, needing the refreshing and eternal Living Waters of Christ.
God yearns over these desert-hearts. Is our root-channel clean of caustic channel-blockers in order for God to deliver His message to the hurting and broken through us?
And are we also channels of Living Water to one another, to our Christian brothers and sisters?
and this “river of God is full of water.”
What blurs our vision…
When the venom of hate is slung at us…
When a myriad of voices clamor for our attention…
When self is elevated above the concern for others…
When doubt and worry replace our trust in the Lord…
When heartaches pile up against the door of our hearts…
When daily circumstances whir around us and cause confusion…
When activities and chores on our schedules become overwhelming…
When the pain of gossip behind our backs comes from a so-called friend…
When greed for a bulging bank account pushes its way to be #1 on our list…
When our spouse breaks his/her commitment to a monogamous relationship…
When we pay more attention to how we feel rather than on the truths of God’s Word…
When accumulating possessions to keep up with everyone else becomes our main goal…
…what do we do? We usually go into a tailspin and lose our focus.
When God seems not to be in a hurry to remedy any of the above trials for which we have prayed until we are exhausted, instead of praying as our first priority that God will be glorified in it, we boo-hoo His tardiness for not taking us out of the problem, or we question His faithfulness. We lose our focus.
If we focus more on the stress and limitation of our situations rather than on the peace, power, and comfort of God to rectify them, we will certainly lose our focus and we will give up.
I have no magic bullet list of how to stay focused. All I can tell you is that, in my experience, it is in those times we tell the Lord we trust Him for the outcome and continue to thank Him in the meantime.
Isaiah gives us the solution, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!” (Is. 26:3 NLT)
It takes practice, practice, practice to keep our thoughts focused. In regard to those stray and harried thoughts, Paul tells us what to “refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5 Amp)
Solomon warns us in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” (Masoretic Text) Another version says, “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” (NCV)
What siphons your focus away from the Lord?
May you recognize those things and practice, practice, practice to keep your focus on the Lord.
***This one was waaaaay back in the closet. Dusted it off. Hope you don’t mind a rerun.
What do you feel like today? Some days, I feel like the things in this list. Do you ever feel like…
*fear is choking you?
*your faith is waning?
*your life is pointless?
*you are discouraged?
*you’ve been rejected?
*the enemy is winning?
*you don’t measure up?
*your strength is fading?
*you’re tired of waiting?
*your lack will never end?
*negativity is taking over?
*pride has left you empty?
*you’ve lost your courage?
*you’re lost and wandering?
*you’re keeping a sin secret?
*your anger is out of control?
*some loss has left you lonely?
*perfectionism has left you hollow?
*you’re steeped in doubt and worry?
*grief has set up a tent in your heart?
*your prayers are going up in smoke?
*you have a distorted view of yourself?
*your schedule dictates your every move?
*the world offers too many shiny baubles?
*that old place of sin is calling you back to it?
*you’re missing out, others are running ahead of you?
*a friend has stabbed you in the back or deserted you?
*happiness, joy, and peace are an illusion, out of your grasp?
Do you see a common thread running through all that? A thread of distraction maybe? That’s the enemy’s pleasure. To distract you. To get you upset. “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10a NLT)
His aim is to divert your focus away from the Lord and to the lures of the world, to its eye candy. He wants you to loosen your grip on the Vine. To fall down and go boom.
Those in the old Wilderness Gang were not hanger-on-ers. God said of them, “I was very angry with them, for their hearts were always looking somewhere else instead of up to me, and they never found the paths I wanted them to follow.” (Heb. 3:10 TLB)
What are we missing when we allow ourselves to become distracted? We need to constantly renew our focus on the Lord, so that we don’t become like the Wilderness Gang. So that our heart doesn’t become unbelieving and leads us “away from the living God.” (Heb. 3:12b TLB)
We need to “Speak to each other about these things every day while there is still time so that none of [us] will become hardened against God, being blinded by the glamour of sin.” (Heb. 3:13 TLB) So we don’t succumb to the enemy’s eye candy.
All your sustenance, your joy and peace and comfort and strength and courage, are all in Him, in the Vine. Just hold on. Tighten your grip. Draw from Him. Receive all you need from Him. Then feel the rush of His spiritual DNA coursing through your heart and soul and spirit.
Jesus said, “Take care to live in me, and let me live in you.” (John 15:4a TLB)
So, hangeth thou in there! Hangeth onto the Vine today! You’re a vine hanger. Cling to your Source!
I know. It’s not Thanksgiving.
But that’s not the gist of this post.
To be more precise…it’s a television Thanksgiving.
Even more precise…it’s the word thanksgiving.
If you’ve been a reader for a while, you know I don’t like much of the programs that are on television. However, I do love old series and old movies.
Remember, or maybe you’re too young and don’t remember, when praying on a television series was allowed? I love the old episodes where the prayers are preserved.
I’ve written a few posts about them. Two I can think of off the top of my head: Father Knows Best (A Thanksgiving Prayer, written for another site) and Good Times (Christmas in July).
Stars Western network now airs reruns of the old series Tales of Wells Fargo. I watched one the other day that happened to be at Thanksgiving time but wasn’t necessarily a Thanksgiving episode.
At the end of the episode, Jim Hardie, the main character played by Dale Robertson, shared Thanksgiving dinner with an old couple who had basically raised him. The husband had always wanted to retire and have a turkey farm.
As they are seated, centered on the table is a big ol’ beautifully baked turkey. They bow their heads and Jim prays…
Our hearts are full, dear Lord, for the many, many blessings that You have bestowed upon us…
…for the fruit of fields and running rivers of our beloved country,
…for the time to live and enjoy them,
…for the freedom to walk with Thee,
…for all these things, dear Lord, we are eternally grateful.
It’s so sad that television has strayed so far from words like these.
This prayer reminds me of the old hymn For the Beauty of the Earth…
For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies.
Christ, our Lord, to you we raise
this, our hymn of grateful praise.
For the wonder of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale and tree and flower,
sun and moon and stars of light, [Refrain ]
For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth, and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild, [Refrain]
For yourself, best gift divine,
to the world so freely given,
agent of God’s grand design:
peace on earth and joy in heaven. [Refrain]
But then again, maybe it’s we who have strayed so far from those words. Thanksgiving and prayers given to God are not so much “in fashion” anymore. In fact, it’s ridiculed. And so are those who choose to thank Him.
Thanksgiving is always the gist, the main or essential part of any matter. For we are to give “thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Eph. 5:20 NKJV) that whatever we “do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col. 3:17 NKJV)
Therefore, “Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Heb. 13:15-16 NKJV)
The glow of the moon lit a path to the back door. He followed it from his workshop and went in the back door of the house. His projects always kept him busy. Sometimes, even into the night.
He unlaced his boots and dropped them in the corner of the kitchen, out of the way so he didn’t track in any more sawdust. She always fussed at him for tracking in more for her to clean up.
The house was quiet…and dark, except for a little, flickering light coming from the living room. He walked through the kitchen toward the living room and stopped.
There she was, basking in front of the fireplace. All cozied up in her favorite slipcovered chair. The light of the fire encircled a halo-like ring around his adored bride, as he liked to call her. Fitting, he thought, for one who was such a perfect creation of God.
Standing in the doorway, he stared at his beautiful wife. He noticed the effects of her heart’s pain had distorted the delicate features of her face.
She may not have been beautiful to anyone else. But to him? She was a knockout. He felt as if his heart would jump out of his chest with love for her. He just knew she could hear his heart pounding.
She’d been sitting by the fire, all curled up in her favorite blanket her mother made for her, waiting for him. Used tissues littered the floor around her.
She longed for his presence, for him to sit with her by the fire. Longing to be held and comforted. So she waited, silently. Knowing he would come. He always did.
She didn’t hear him close the back door. She didn’t even notice his soft sock-steps coming toward her. But there he was. Standing over her.
Startled, she looked up…and smiled a half smile at him. He smiled back.
He knew she was still hurting from recent events and wasn’t ready to talk. But he was there for her. Just. Being. There.
Without a word, he knelt down in front of her. He reached under the blanket and gently pulled out her fuzzy, bunny-slippered feet and removed the bunnies. He began to caress her feet as he tenderly held them in his callused hands.
The well of tears overflowed once again. The well she thought had been cried dry. But here came the stream of tears again. He was always so gentle and caring to her. Always knowing just what to do for her.
No one could ever love me like he does, she thought.
As if triggered by the foot rub, the words came gushing out, intermingled with deep sobs. All the hurt and pain rolled out with the strength of a fire hose.
He scooped her up and sat down on the couch, with her on his lap.
Oh, such sweet love! Such genuine, giving love. Truly captures your heart, doesn’t it? And that, my sweet friend reading this, is the love the heavenly Bridegroom has for His precious Bride…YOU!
You are that undeniable beauty, that adored Bride, the one who makes the Bridegroom’s heart pound with love.
When you sit by the fireside of pain, He will scoop you up and sit you on His lap. He will hold you close and comfort you with His warm love.
He will sit with you. And listen. While you pour out to Him all that is in your heart.
Know He will always come to your side when you need Him. You may not hear His footfall but He will always be there for you.
No one will ever love you like He does!
I love it when bits of conversation catch my attention. I’d heard it before but only this time did my ears perk up.
At the end of the Hallmark movie Murder, She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery, the family has gathered for Christmas dinner and end up celebrating the good news of the coming baby of the sister of Hannah Swenson (main character and owner of a bakery/cafe).
Hannah is the voiceover of the celebrants of new life and says…
*There is such joy in celebrating a new life and in knowing you have a second chance at happiness. Sometimes, you don’t know what a recipe is missing until you try it. Or what’s missing from your life…until it flashes in front of you. And then, you see what’s been right before your eyes all along.*
Let’s look at this spiritually. Paul said, “When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!” (2 Cor. 5:17 TLB)
A new life! And what do we feed this new life for it to grow? Remember the sayings? “What you feed on, you become like” and “You are what you eat”?
Paul gives us an answer, “So let us feast upon [Christ] and grow strong in the Christian life, leaving entirely behind us the cancerous old life with all its hatreds and wickedness. Let us feast instead upon the pure bread of honor and sincerity and truth.” (1 Cor. 5:8 TLB)
Are we feeding upon Christ as the Living Bread of Life and drinking of that Living Water? He is our feast! Our Manna from heaven!
But sometimes, that old buried life likes to be resurrected. Enticing us to feed on our old ways.
The Colossian believers did not restrain themselves from mingling with the worldly behavior of those around them. The false teaching of others infected them for they participated in the others’ pagan rites, feasts, and ceremonies, which were not based on God or their new life in Christ.
Paul questioned their worldly behavior, “You have died with Christ and are set free from the ruling spirits of the universe. Why, then, do you live as though you belonged to this world?” (Col. 2:20 GNT)
That’s something we should ask ourselves. We sometimes forget “we have died to the old life we used to live.” (2 Cor. 5:14b TLB)
What is the nourishment you feed your mind and your spirit? Television? News? Wrong music or movies? Etcetera, etcetera. Or the Word! What you put in you, will affect you – one way or the other.
When our soul longs to be fed, we will find satisfaction as David said, “For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.” (Ps. 107:9 NKJV)
I have an old, wooden recipe box that belonged to my mom. I once wrote a post about it, called The Recipe Box. She kept all kinds of recipes. But Mom had the best recipes for all of life, even though she probably wouldn’t have known she did.
She was a loving, godly woman and everyone said so. If I boiled it all down to her one recipe, it would be this: Love! She fed on God’s Word and shared His love with all.
Do you have any recipes for life? Maybe there are some missing ingredients. Are you feeding your new life with the right or wrong ingredients to fill in the recipe? Maybe it’s “been right before your eyes all along.” Right there in God’s Recipe…His Word.
His words are Spirit and Life. Feed on them!
“My soul, wait silently for God alone,
for my expectation is from Him.”
Ps. 62:5 NKJV
“There is no waiting on God for help, and there is no help from God…” What? Ahhh, wait for it. The rest of Spurgeon’s quote goes like this, “without watchful expectation on our part.”
Do you live out the year in watchful expectation for the answers to your prayers, for a word from the Lord? The word in the opening verse for expectation actually means hope and anticipation.
Will you join me in my quest? My pondering? I write this to myself and invite you to join in with me and read it as if it is to you.
Okay, Lynn (insert your name). This is a New Year. You stand here, on the precipice of new…new beginnings for all things. What will you see? What will you hear? What will you do? And what will be an influence on each of those?
What do you want to do the most? Think the most? Say the most? Have as your attitude the most? What then must you absorb to produce the best of what the Lord desires of you? Will it be the world’s cacophony of sights and sounds? Or will it be the sight of God’s Word and His precious voice?
Will you hear anything from the Lord without expectation? Spurgeon once said, “He whose expectation does not lead him to be on the alert for its coming will get but little. Watch for God in the events of your life.” He also said, “Unless you put out your water jugs when it rains, you will catch no water.”
How much water of God’s voice, that flowing water of life, do you desire to hear, to drink in? What will be the size of your expectation vessel? The size of a teacup? Or a giant water jug? Is it already filled with self or is it empty and waiting?
David Wilkerson once said, “He who expects little from prayer will not have much power and authority in prayer.”
Are you praying in faith, asking in power and authority? Are you waiting in hope and expectation for His answers? James says, “But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to tell you, for a doubtful mind will be as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind…If you don’t ask with faith, don’t expect the Lord to give you any solid answer.” (James 1:6-8 TLB)
Another version says to those who waver, “Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” (James 1:7-8 NLT)
Those who have prayed effective prayers, prayed boldly because they expected God to reply.
James wrote one of my favorite verses, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16 NKJV) The Greek translation says, “The prayer of a righteous one has great strength, having been made effective.”
Lord, I don’t want to waver. I want fire-breathing faith and to be like Paul in his letter to the Philippian church, “For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.” (Phil. 1:20 NLT)
What are you expecting from the Lord?
Whatever has been written, preached, and lived out before us is for our growth in Christ.
Those who go before us influence us. All handed down…from one to another. One impressing the next for Christ.
Have you ever considered those you have influenced for Jesus? Whether you know it or not, you have a lineage, a succession after you.
You cause a chain of events, an influence, whether negative or positive, for the Gospel.
Probably the most well-known chain of influence is this…
*A Sunday School teacher Edward Kimball helped lead to Christ: Dwight L. Moody
*Converted at a Dwight L. Moody evangelistic meeting: J. Wilbur Chapman
*Also influenced by Moody: F. B. Meyer
*Converted at a Chapman meeting: Billy Sunday
*Converted at a Billy Sunday meeting: Mordecai Ham
*Converted at a Ham meeting: Billy Graham
(I always love reading about Mordecai. I grew up with his grandson, though I don’t recall if I ever met Mordecai or his wife. Would like to think I did.)
How many other Kimballs, Moodys, Chapmans, Sundays, Hams, and Grahams are there today because of their service to the Lord? How many generations are there in families who have handed down the love of Christ?
There’s another timeline that isn’t as well known but is very interesting.
The story goes that, one Sunday morning in church in Scotland, when Robert Moffat (Moffat Bible) was 12 years old, he did a strange thing. After the offering plate was passed, he stepped into it. Yup. On purpose. Which, of course, caused a stir. When asked why by one of the ushers, Moffatt replied, “I’m giving my whole self to Jesus!”
Nine years later, he went to Africa as a missionary. He met his wife there and they served together for years in Cape Town and Botswana. He also translated the Bible into their language.
After twenty years of service, Moffat was tired, weary in soul, and broken in body, so he and his wife went back to Scotland to ask others for help.
But no one offered. He was very disappointed. What he did not know at the time was that the Holy Spirit convicted a young man, who later married the couple’s daughter. That young man’s name was David Livingston.
Dr. Livingston did go to Africa…and led thousands of people to Christ.
When he died, the last entry in his diary stated, “My Jesus, my King, my life, my all. I dedicate my whole life to thee.”
Isn’t that how it should be? Our whole lives dedicated to Christ? Maybe we should all step into the offering plate!
We have that precious message the hurting world needs. We have a Savior…Jesus. Do we love Him enough to let others see what lives lived for Him look like?
However, we may not always see the influence of our sharing and living out the Gospel. That influence is as ripples caused by a flung stone stirring the surface of a whole pond. It spreads out in ever-widening circles, beyond all our knowledge and anticipation.
There’s an old saying, “You can count the apples on the tree, but who can count the apples in a seed?”
We will never know, until we get to heaven, just how many seeds have rippled out because of the influence of our actions, our attitudes, and our words.
Go ahead! Step into that offering plate today and give your whole life to Christ and watch the ripples of influence go out. Plant those seeds!
Be an influence of one! I dare you! 😀