I had the recent privilege of sharing a devotional on prayer at our ladies bible study. I struggled with what to say, since I still want to see my own prayer life grow deeper. What the Lord showed me was to go back and see God’s heart towards me and who He is and the focus on Him will change how I pray and my conversations with Him into something more intimate, personal and meaningful rather than just another thing I need to do more and improve my skills upon.
And we all want to believe and have real faith that what we pray about with the Lord is heard, considered and that the Lord is taking some action towards answering. We need that confidence in Him so we can have faith while we wait for Him to move.
“And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me.
Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.’
“For thus says the Lord: ‘Just as I have brought all this great calamity on this people,
so I will bring on them all the good that I have promised them.“ Jeremiah 32:40-42
And I will make an everlasting covenant with them - An everlasting covenant with us. He's committed for the long term. He's not going anywhere. This God we are talking to, this God we are asking for help, this God we are pouring out our hearts in vulnerability and honesty to has given commitment to us first. So whatever we have done, or will do, or say to Him, we know that nothing that is revealed to Him will cause Him to leave us or abandon us.
We need that as women. We wear enough masks in this life and when we find someone we can trust, we need to know that there is commitment to stay and work things out. God Himself says He makes an everlasting commitment with us.
And this everlasting covenant, the one that that lasts our entire life and our entire eternity was made with the blood of Jesus Christ. Nothing can break this covenant. It is permanent beyond permanent. It's greater than a marriage vow. It's greater than an oath sworn. It's greater than a parent to a child because even the blood shared between families is not more powerful than the blood of Jesus Christ.
And God chose to make this binding contract with us. Nobody forced Him to do it. It was done willingly. The Father sent Jesus willingly, Jesus lived and died willingly and the Holy Spirit is given willingly when we ask.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He delivered them out of their distresses. And He led them forth by the right way, That they might go to a city for a dwelling place…
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, And broke their chains in pieces…
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He saved them out of their distresses. He sent His word and healed them, And delivered them from their destructions…
Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, So that its waves are still.
- Psalm 107:6-7,13-14,19-20,28-29
Tuesday, I began an experiment to see the Lord do a breakthrough in my prayer life. I’ve been listening to a series on prayer by Pastor James Macdonald and the Sunday before last he said he was doing another 40 days to continue the work the Lord has started and I felt like I had another chance to get in the game. Well I had been thinking about prayer and studying prayer, but I resisted actually doing what he had said to do on a consistent basis.
Ever done that? Say, “I wish things would change – God show me what to do – and then don’t do what He shows you and be frustrated that things don’t change?” So I surrendered and said to God, “OK, I will obey and see what You will do.” I resisted because they sounded too simple and some things are just not my natural personality to do.
See, nothing really profound here and how can doing these simple things really bring about a breakthrough? Get alone, ok that one was easy, that’s what I do all the time, check....
Shew me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, Lord, hast holpen me, and comforted me. – Psalms 86:17
Many burdens upon my heart and mind this week and I was praying earlier for God to bring relief. These burdens are too great and I’m tired of the load, the stress of my job, the anxiety that always keeps invading my mind and having to fight and wrestle against it. I’ve been working for months at my job to get things ready for an upcoming inspection and so much has been out of my control with each week having disaster after disaster happening. Then to just top it all off, my boss gets an anonymous email from one of the tenants in the mobile home park literally dragging my name through the mud.
I was just done. I wish I could do more and have everything perfect and when I can’t, I feel like a failure with no hope of recovery. So not only do I get the attacks from outside, but then I also experience the attacks that come from within my mind. As I prayed for relief, I started reading verses all dealing with promises during hard times, oh how timely. But the phrase, “token for good,” kept repeating to me. And really it’s the whole of Psalm 86.
“Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me; For I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am holy; You are my God; Save Your servant who trusts in You! Be merciful to me, O Lord, For I cry to You all day long. Rejoice the soul of Your servant, For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; And attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, For You will answer me.” – Psalm 86:1-5
God I’m overwhelmed with my troubles and burdens of this life; they are too big for me to carry or fix on my own. I sense my own sin and failings in everything. This is the God we cry out to, the one who hears us, forgives us, and who delivers us in the day of trouble.
Book Excerpt - God Cares About Me
This week's Devotional comes from a portion of my book, Cries of Anguish & God's Healing Truth. I pray it will be a blessing to you.
God Cares About Me
The question to ask; is the Lord compassionate and caring towards us? Is that part of His character or not? This is a critical question for our faith and we need the word of God and God Himself to answer it, and He has. If we do not believe we serve a God that is full of compassion towards us, especially in times of pain and suffering, how can we possibly continue to reach out towards Him in prayer? If we view our God as indifferent or worse even cruel towards us in our suffering, our natural reaction is to avoid and flee the Lord during those hard times. That is exactly Satan’s plan, to take us away from our source of love and strength and continue to pummel us with the burdens of life upon our heart and mind.
As we continue to look upon the character of God and see Jesus Christ as the embodiment of the Father, we see Jesus as full of compassion upon people. When he first spoke about His ministry, he read from the book of Isaiah.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” - (Luke 4:18-19)
That is the essence of compassion, to see us steeped in our sin and suffering and move towards us and do something about it. His whole purpose to come and die was to heal us from the presence and penalty of sin. In his earthly ministry, he healed the sick, had compassion on those who cried out to Him silently and loudly. I think of the leper, who cried out, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” I have cried out those same words too and the Lord has responded the same way, with mercy and compassion. Jesus saw the silent cries of the woman with the issue of blood for twelve years, and brought healing.
But ultimately, when we doubt whether God cares about whether we suffer or not, we must look at the cross. If God cared nothing about our pain and suffering, why bother saving us from an eternity of hell? Why pay the most expensive price of giving His only begotten Son for us, when we at the time rebelled and hated the Lord? Compassion and love for us was His motivation.
When I look upon God’s unfailing compassion towards me through those many months, it is quite overwhelming and consistently faithful. The Lord is always looking to create opportunities to have those intimate moments with Him. God wants us to cry out to Him, so that He can show His compassion and care upon us in real, tangible and unforgettable ways. Sometimes the Lord answers the prayers of our heart and it produces so much praise in our souls towards Him. Sometimes the Lord says no because He is protecting us. Sometimes He makes us wait on His perfect timing because He has a greater purpose to conform us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Lately I have been frustrated with my prayer life. I really want to see it go to another level and not just routine or ineffective. I have been asking the Lord to do a work in this area, and prayer is always the best way to start when we need help. God’s sovereignty has led me to two different studies and sermon series on prayer and I’m seeing God do a work already.
The first point that really struck me was a teaching that talked about the Lord’s prayer. “Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” - Luke 11:1-4
In the teaching, the preacher said, “Don’t start asking.” Is that how I begin any of my prayer times, asking? How much of our prayer time does that consume, our asking? It’s not how Jesus started; He started with praise. When we start with asking, the focus is on us, on what concerns us, either for ourselves or even for those we care about, but it’s still earthly matters. And God wants to transform our hearts in prayer to go from thinking of us first, which is our default, to thinking about God first and His kingdom.
Why do we need to refocus our minds and hearts in the beginning of prayer? Because we need to remember who it is we are praying to, the Almighty God. He is the one who created the universe and earth by His word. The One who is righteous, Holy and above all things. We need our perspectives changed first, to realize afresh that our God is bigger and more powerful than any of the issues, problems, obstacles or mountains we are about to ask Him to intervene on our behalf. If we don’t do this first, we will doubt and worry and the peace we seek as we cast our burdens upon the Lord will elude us. It’s also to remind us who’s in charge – Him, not us.
I struggle with giving praise in my prayer time. I run out of things to say. I even struggle with giving compliments to people; it’s not natural for me to come up with a bunch of different things to say to someone about their character, which is what praise is. I’m not talking about thanksgiving, where we acknowledge and thank God for doing this and that – but praising Him for who He is or His mighty deeds in the world.
"And as for your birth, on the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of compassion for you, but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred, on the day that you were born. “And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Ezekiel 16:4-6
Blood is a pretty common topic in the Bible; from the sacrifices in the Old Testament to the cross of Christ, blood is spoken of often. As I was reading through the book of Ezekiel and this chapter, the phrase, “in your blood,” kept jumping out at me. And just to drive this point home, I had an accident from my monthly “visitor.” Which as any woman knows, is disgusting and messy. Sorry to be graphic, but the topic of blood just is that kind of topic, there’s nothing clean about it.
If you think of someone covered in blood, your first instinct is not to embrace but to back away and flee the mess or any kind of contamination. God is showing a visual picture of what we appeared like to Him. No one else saw anything in us of value and discarded and left to fend for ourselves. The blood that covered us represents all our sins, every wicked thought and deed we would be ashamed to even have spoken aloud. But God says, I saw you in your blood. You were exposed to my sight. Our sins are open to His eye continually.
But here is where the narrative takes an unexpected turn. “I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’” Not die! Not be seen as a wasted life, or a lost cause, or as too defiled. But live, for I have said you shall live. This is what the Lord says. As vivid as the picture of blood and sin is, so The Lord’s tender care of us is so astounding. He saw me in my blood – my sins and my God chose me while in that state and took me as His own, His own bride. Not just as a servant like a little orphan girl He picked up and giving some charity to, but the one He wanted to lavish His love upon....
A GOOD KING HAS LOYAL FOLLOWERS
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”
Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV
I’m not your typical woman in that I really love action movies. I was re-watching a familiar favorite, The Lord of the Rings, and something struck me about it this time, the beautiful loyalty of the men following their kings, even to the point of death during seemingly hopeless battles. It got me thinking why this trait is so inspirational and stirs something within us. We are not familiar with kings and long-term loyalty here in our country. We have leaders that are only temporary, so we don’t get invested in them and certainly don’t think of sacrificing for them. In the movies or in true stories of heroes the common theme is that these men or women inspired loyalty by their own sacrifices and the good actions done on behalf of others.
King David had a special bond with Jonathan. Jonathan gave up his own right to the throne and faced the wrath of his father for the sake of the Lord and for David. When David was in exile, he had 30 mighty men that risked their lives over and over again doing mighty feats to further the cause of David and protect him. It is such a rare thing to see someone sacrifice their own rights, safety, time, possessions, and even their lives for another that we must acknowledge it as unique and special.
I desire to be totally devoted and loyal to my King, Jesus Christ. And it’s exciting to share how the Lord will produce that in me and in you. Since we are unfamiliar with loyalty to kings, it’s helpful to see what a good king looks like and how our King Jesus meets and exceeds those standards. As we see how wonderful He truly is, loyalty and devotion is produced, just as it is in the physical realm.
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” Colossians 1:13
A good king protects His people and saves them from enemies. He steps in and does for them what they cannot do on their own. Isn’t that why we look to our leaders in government today? We know we need help from one that has more authority, power and resources than we have on our own. Jesus has battled the ultimate enemy for us, sin and death and given us victory for all eternity.
"Thus says the Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, For My salvation is about to come, And My righteousness to be revealed.” Isaiah 56:1
Recently the theme of God’s justice has been heavy on my heart lately. There have been some recent incidents in the lives of my friends where it appears evil has triumphed for a season. I get angry that evil gets any victory at all while the righteous suffers. And part of my personality wants to go and fight in my own way for the injustices committed against them. That sense of justice that rises up within me is from the Lord. He has placed His Spirit of righteousness within us that cries out against evil.
When I speak with women in abusive relationships, I get angry. When children are victimized, exploited and manipulated, I get angry. When crimes are committed and people get away with it and don’t suffer any consequences here on earth, I get angry. And God is angry at evil too. He desires righteousness and to see justice done here on His earth.
“For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrong…” Isaiah 61:8
The caution here is to not let that anger turn into sin. Taking revenge into our hands or having hate towards the people who commit evil now puts us in the wrong and does not please the Lord. Thankfully God has made a way to channel that unrest in our spirit of seeing injustice all around us into steps of action. Prayer is our weapon for us all to see our Mighty God intervene in the lives of those around us. We can use that agony in our souls to cry out to our Deliverer, our Savior to intervene on behalf of us.
“Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:17
God also calls us to fight on behalf of others who cannot fight for themselves. Many of us are afraid to step into the battle of another’s lives because it can be messy and scary. But the very God we cry out to for help when we need it is also commanding us to do the same for another.
“Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed.” Jeremiah 22:3
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” Acts 20:26-27
So my son Nick and I started watching one of my childhood TV shows Little House on the Prairie. Michael Landon's character of Pa was such a great Dad in the show that it had me curious about his life. I wanted to know if he was saved. I was heartbroken to find this quote from him shortly before he died from cancer.
"All along, & especially recently, my beliefs have deeply disturbed some of my children, who have been terribly afraid that I will not have a place in God's house because I do not believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. ... I have my own way. *
This answered my question definitively. Despite all his "good" works or inspirational characters or shows, (ironically including a show called Highway to Heaven), in the end he rejected Jesus Christ and at this very moment is in hell suffering anguish and torment. My imagination runs away from me as I think of that moment that he entered hell and the shock and disillusionment of what he thought he would experience based on his beliefs and the reality of hell that set in. To see him crying out with anguish wishing he could tell his kids how wrong he was, so that they wouldn’t follow in his footsteps and not being allowed to, just like the parable of the rich man begging Father Abraham to tell his brothers. He's been dead for 25 years now and all that time been in torment and will be for all of eternity. It's very hard for my mind to truly grasp the enormity of the reality of hell.
So I had an encounter yesterday with someone who worked at a store. I saw a verse on the wall and they were playing Christian music. As I was checking out, I commented how great it was to hear the music. And then... that was it. I didn’t say or ask anything else. While driving, I was pondering of why I didn’t. I'm not a natural talker and such a terrible evangelist and that area always frustrates me to no end. I feel so much condemnation for not doing and being more or better at it. But then a different fear came up as I was driving, “but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Matt 10:33
I thought if I’m such a chicken to speak to strangers who might be Christians, how will I ever endure these last days and persecution? I fear I will deny the Lord and be denied by Him. All this fear came on so suddenly and didn’t know why, which led me to pray, “Lord, if there is any shame in my heart of you, please forgive me and help me repent. If there is any fear of people, Holy Spirit give me courage like you did for the Apostles. And if it is I just don’t know how to talk to people about you, please teach and instruct me what to do.”
After praying, the Lord revealed and comforted me with this truth that it is about love. When I am so fully and desperately in love with my Jesus, there never will be any fear of being ashamed of him or of denying Him. When we are in love, all we want to do is show off the one we love and are never ashamed of them. And I will love what He loves, people in this world.
What about fear? “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18 This is not talking about how much love I have for God, but knowing and fully grasping His perfect love towards me. Such safety and security that brings to our hearts and what the Holy Spirit brings to remembrance to give us courage. We have confidence that no matter what or who we face – that we are deeply loved and accepted despite every failing and weakness we see in ourselves.