Worship is More Than a Song

Worship is more than a song; it is the posture of our hearts. 

I had an ah ha moment last week during a writing workshop. The discussion was on who is our reader. It dawned on me that I am really putting down in words lessons that I, myself, need to be taught or reminded of. So know, that as you are reading this and any of my other posts or blogs, I am looking in the mirror and preaching to myself and just hope someone else along the way can use some of the same encouragement I need. 

I often sing and pray with my eyes closed. I do this to block out the distractions (And I am so easily distracted! I am sitting in my yard right now experiencing the worship composition of the birds and trying to identify them instead of doing my writing assignments). around me and to focus on the words of the song and meditation in my heart. I also need to be able to focus my worship on my Audience of One.

In my college days, there were only two students in the entire body of several thousand who raised their hands in worship. We prayed for them. It was not something I, for one, (insert self-righteous attitude here) was comfortable with. Honestly, I am still not “comfortable” with it, but in my thinking this occurred to me: 

What do our little children do when they want to be close to us? They raise their hands and say, “Can I hold you?” They want to cling to us and holding their hands out to us shows us that. Doesn’t God want us to hold our hands up to him and tell him how much we want him to hold us? Doesn’t He want us to cling to Him? 

I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely. Psalm 63:8 NLT

And when we need comfort or a hug, don’t we reach out to a friend, spouse or loved one?

I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you. Psalm 88:9  NIV

What do we do when we have a question? Raise a hand… 

“To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary” (Psalm 28:1 NIV).

What do we do when our sports teams score? We hold up our hands in celebration. Isn’t salvation and the defeat of The Enemy worth celebrating? 

Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies… Micah 5:9 NIV

When we want to be picked for something, we raise our hands and say oo oo pick me. Don’t we want to be among the chosen?

What do criminals do when they surrender? They hold their hands up. Doesn’t God want us to worship through surrender? 

May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. Psalm 141:2 NIV

Our “song” is only evidence of what is in our hearts. It is a vehicle transporting our hearts to the throne of God. – What we think all day, what we do all day, how we act all day should be out of obedience and worship to God. Our song is like outwardly saying “I Love You.”  

But it is the posture of our hearts that is the true measure of our worship.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight oh God my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen

I hope to see you back her next week for another meditation on worship. Feel free to poke around on my website for other messages to refresh your soul. If you would like to receive this directly to your inbox, fill out the “follow me” box that pops up in the bottom right hand corner of your screen. See you soon.

Ho’Omana…

I watched in curiosity as a fellow teacher walked across the playground with arms lifted high. Entering the teachers’ lounge, I inquired what was going on. “Was a fly after you?” I said, “it looked like you were having your own private worship service.” Her face lit up the room when she replied, “It seemed like a good day to worship.” The joy of worship erupted out of her. She didn’t need a song. She didn’t need to be in church. She lives life believing that it is always a good time to worship. She lives a life of worship and her light shines everywhere she goes. I want to be like her when I grow up, joyful and unhindered in worship! 

What is the theme of your life? As my mind scrolls through my list of friends and family, themes begin to reveal themselves to me: Service, Worship, Mercy, Joy, Overcoming, Contentment…  

Ho’Omana: It is the value of worthwhile work; it is an attitude of intention and full presence in whatever you do. It is the Hawaiian word for worship. 

Colossians 3:23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people

Before you can give full attention and presence, you need to know the One you are giving that consideration to. If you don’t know Jesus as your friend and father, now is a good time to introduce you to my best friend. 

Romans 5:6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Jeremiah 29:12-13 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 

Romans 10:9 -10  If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.

I will pray that through these words and scripture you will feel “safe in the arms of God” fully experiencing Ho’Omana. 

As we commit our whole selves to Jesus in obedience, He meets us, and then we truly know what it means to worship in spirit and in truth. John 4:23-24

There are around 500 verses in the Bible with the theme of worship. Abraham worshiped in sacrifice, building an altar to God. Genesis 21:33. Moses pled for the release of the Israelites – he said, “Let my people go so that they may worship.” Exodus 10. He also worshiped in repentance, often building an alter to remember who he was worshipping. Exodus 34:8 David worshiped in song and dance, even to the point of becoming undignified. 2 Samuel 6:22

What is Worship?  

Worship is to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission (Webster’s Dictionary,1828).

Ho’Omana: It is the value of worthwhile work, it is an attitude of intention and full presence in whatever you do.

My pastor and dear friend Steve Whitten describes worship like this: Every act of obedience is an act of worship.”

RT Kendall says “Worship is any activity which is carried out under the impulse of the Spirit of God.” 

It is a state of our hearts.

It is a lifestyle.

It is serving.

It is obedience.

It is healing.

It is a living sacrifice.

It is communion.

It is using our gifts.

It is creative.

It is longing.

It is faithfulness.

It is listening.

It is expectation.

It should be every breath every Aloha of every moment of every day

It is Surrender…

It is Colossians 3:23 

What is one word that comes to mind when you think of worship?

How do you worship?

What are the things you do that make you mindful of God, His presence and the need to have a heart of worship?

Do you have a song in your heart today? If not here is a good place to start.

“Is He Worthy” by Chris Tomlin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkRiYsTN7KY

Every day is a good day to worship our God, our Father, our Creator and Friend.

Check in next week for another message to prepare your heart for worship or better yet, drop me your email and it will arrive right in your mailbox.

She Had Hope

I want to tell you a story about a sweet little girl. She was born on January 24, 1919, in the midst of a pandemic that was threatening to rob her of her family and her very life, on a farm in Reubens, Idaho. The War to End All Wars had just come to an end. The country was reeling from the loss of friends and family members, mourning and celebrating taking place as strange bedfellows. People were just beginning to lift their heads from the grief when the Spanish Flu began spreading.

“Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919.  In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918. It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.” CDC (at that time the US population was about 103 mil, now is 331 million)

At two, this little girl became a big sister to a baby brother named Willard that she loved and doted on. A few years later, she gave her heart to Jesus at the little country church her family attended.  Life seemed like it was getting better. The farm was flourishing. The family grew. The country was experiencing financial growth and security. And in 1929, when she was ten years old, the stock market crashed and the whole world entered a new kind of war. A war on poverty. 

Elizabeth was a farm girl. She really did not go hungry. Her mother made all of her clothes, including her underwear. Anything that one person outgrew would be remade for a new piece of clothing for the next family member in line. Their hope had not been in financial status or a bank account. She saw her friends line up in bread and soup lines. Her peers who had once looked down on her because she was a country bumkin, now came to her home for food and scraps of material to patch their worn-out clothing. 

As the impact of the Great Depression lessened, she was “sent” to college to become a teacher. In the meantime, a handsome forest service firefighter from North Carolina entered the picture, and three weeks before she finished her first year of college, he swept her off her feet, said “we are going to get married,” and they did, on May 24th, 1938. She kept the marriage a secret for three weeks, still living in the girls’ dorm. The school would have expelled her if she revealed that she was married. 

Life seemed blessed, but Evil is always lurking about, seeking whom he may devour, and by 1939, evil had a new face. It came in the form of a self-righteous, arrogant, and revengeful leader by the name of Adolf Hitler. As an agent of Hell itself, he convinced millions that they were superior to everyone else and they needed to rule or destroy anyone and anything that stood in their way. Americans were not ready to step into this battle, but soon would be sacrificing their own sons and daughters at the altar of Nazism. 

I Peter 5:8 warns us, Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

Within three years, Floyd and Elizabeth were blessed with a son and a daughter. They did not have a lot, but they loved each other. As the war raged, food was rationed, jobs were scarce, and healthcare was not easy to come by. So much focus was on the war ravaging the world, that there was not very much attention to the devastation happening in our own backyard. Elizabeth was carrying their third child. She did not know how she would love and care for another, but she had hope. 

She, remembered God’s truth: Isaiah 40:31 – But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

On June 3, 1943, Martha Elizabeth Willis came into the world in Los Angeles, CA. Immediately the hospital staff took baby Martha from Elizabeth’s arms and told her she was not strong enough to have a third child and the baby was not strong enough to survive. Records show that this sweet baby girl died on June 4th 1943

Only a year and a half later, the little brother that Elizabeth loved so much was now a grown man, kind of, he was 20, and he was called on to defend Europe and the US from the evil that was spreading throughout the world. He left his family and fiancé’ to join up. He learned quickly and flew 30 missions as a bomber pilot in the US Army Air Corps. He had done his duty and was set to come home but volunteered for one more mission. On Christmas eve, 1944, in the Battle of the Bulge, his plane was shot down over Schweinfurt, Germany. He got his most of crew out safely, but he did not survive. 

Still mourning the loss of her baby and her brother, Elizabeth accompanied Floyd as he answered a call to serve in a church in Rock Hill South Carolina. This was an excruciatingly lonely time for Elizabeth, but the still small voice was speaking to her…

Hebrews 13:5 I will never leave your or forsake you.

I don’t know for sure, but I am guessing her prayer went something like this;

Psalm 33:20-22 We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield…. for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone. 

Elizabeth had learned that true hope could come from no one other than God

She had two small children, did not have any friends in the area, had to deal with extreme culture shock going from Southern California to South Carolina. She did not feel loved or welcomed by the family or community in the area… But she had Jesus. 

When I heard the song “There was Jesus” by Zach Williams and Dolly Parton, it seemed as if they had been silent observers of her life and had written her testimony into a song. 

Every time I tried to make it on my own
Every time I tried to stand and start to fall
And all those lonely roads that I have travelled on
There was Jesus

When the life I built came crashing to the ground
When the friends I had were nowhere to be found
I couldn’t see it then but I can see it now
There was Jesus

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing and the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute, every moment
Where I’ve been and where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it
There was Jesus

For this man who needs amazing kind of grace 
For forgiveness at a price I couldn’t pay 
I’m not perfect so I thank God every day
There was Jesus (There was Jesus)

On the mountain, in the valleys (There was Jesus)
In the shadows of the alleys (There was Jesus)
In the fire, in the flood (There was Jesus)
Always is and always was
No I never walk alone (Never walk alone)
You are always there

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing and the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute (Every minute), every moment (Every moment)
Where I’ve been and where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it
There was Jesus

In that South Carolina town, on the way home from church one day, Floyd stopped to help a stranded motorist. The family waited in the car while he helped fix the broken-down vehicle and help the family waiting in it. They happened to be a black family. Remember this is in the late 40s, in the deep south. No matter to Floyd, they needed help, he could help, and so he did. However, other people in the community did not see it that way. They thought he had no business working on a black man’s car and set out to prove to him that there would be consequences if he continued to behave in such a manner. 

It wasn’t long before the family moved back to CA where Floyd attended seminary. Elizabeth taught elementary school, instilling growth in everyone and everything she touched. In addition to teaching, she was the church pianist and piano teacher almost everywhere they served. 

She never gave up hope.

In 1949, the Lord gave them another little girl, Beth, and nine years later, a surprise bouncing baby boy entered the world, bringing joy and maybe just a little heartache. Grandchildren were added to her fold. She loved them more than life itself. Three of her grandsons suffered grave tragedies in their lives. Two passed away as young adults and another was left with a debilitating spinal injury. Others have gone on to serve the Lord in the medical field and other professions, bringing great joy to the grandma heart.

Floyd and Elizabeth served the Lord together for almost fifty years. On a hot August day, after preaching and having a fried chicken dinner, Floyd went to visit a parishioner in the hospital. He was at the bedside, speaking words of hope and healing, when he shed the earthly trappings of a tired body, now absent from his body, he was present with his Lord.  

Elizabeth was a widow at sixty-six years old, alone, but not without hope. 

I Thessalonians 4  Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.  For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him… comfort one another with these words

I met Elizabeth four months after Floyd went to heaven. I never knew my father-in-law. One year after Floyd joined Jesus in heaven, I joined his youngest son in holy matrimony.  

Throughout her life, Elizabeth allowed the Lord to pick her up out of the miry pit and set her feet on solid ground. (Psalms 40) She held everything and everyone with surrendered, open hands. More than anyone I know; she lived the verses in Job. She grieved her losses but found hope in the Lord. 

Job 1:20-21 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.  And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of theLord.” 

Retired from teaching in the public school, she volunteered to teach full-time in a private Christian school. Elizabeth was sixty-seven when I met her and lived just outside Yosemite National Park. She could hike up the side of the mountain as well as any mountain mama I have ever known.

As a busy new wife and mother, I appreciated my mother-in-law and worked to invest in her and have a relationship with her. I called frequently, and we took the family to visit her as often as possible. However, she NEVER wanted to be a bother or a burden. She often hid her physical ailments from us, not wanting to worry us or take us away from our work or ministry. 

In one of our phone conversations, I noticed that she seemed distraught, but she did not want to share what the problem was. I loaded the kids in the car and headed north from San Diego to Midpines, CA. I accompanied her to the doctor who shared the news with us that she had Alzheimer’s disease. There was a time of grief and fear, but there was something that remained in her until the day she went to be with Jesus. She had a song in her heart, and this was it. Think about these words and meditate on them with me. 

Solid Rock by Edward Mote

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.


On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

The transitional time in this disease was difficult, but it served as a refining fire for Elizabeth and for me and my family. I was given the gift of caring for her through the last years of her life. Often, I wanted to share the gift of Grandma Willis with so many people, but mostly, the gift was for me. 

I received a gift in observing a saint go through the slow process of losing herself and gaining Jesus. 

Everywhere we went, from restaurants, nail salons, ambulances and hospitals, people saw Jesus shining through her. I had doctors and ambulance drivers inquire at to her “religion” not so they could get the right pastor or priest in, but because they saw something different in her, a joy and peace that they had trouble explaining. 

They saw hope. They saw Jesus

I often wondered how brightly her halo was shining. I have people tell me that they didn’t know why, but they were just drawn to her. They wanted to experience the joy that she radiated.

The last several years, Grandma Willis lived in a group home type of situation about a mile from our home. She shared her love for Jesus, not by words, but being a fragrant aroma for Him. Her caregivers played her music on CD and were blessed by the joy it brought her. She always thanked them for helping her eat, shower and even use the bathroom. “Thank you, sweetie,” was always quick to her lips. A smile of gratitude and joy was a testimony of her Hope even when she did not have words.  Well into her 90’s, she could play hymn after hymn on the piano.  One time I said to her, “You remember all of the hymns.” She replied, “It is in here,” and tapped her heart. Some of her favorites were “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” “It is Well with My Soul,” and “Joy to the World.” All had a theme of surrender and hope. At a point, she could not carry on a conversation, but she certainly shared her hope in Christ.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

Why is it important to remember her now? Because she is a picture of joy in adversity, hope in the midst of devastation, peace in the midst of the storm. She was a testimony of God’s grace in her life and an example of a godly woman. Her inner strength did not come from climbing mountains, although she did that. It did not come from healthy eating, although she tried. It did not come from being the popular kid or having a multitude of family or friends surrounding her, because that was not often the case. 

Her strength blossomed from His strength becoming perfect in her weakness. 

In conversation one day as I was helping her eat her lunch, I drew her attention to the trees blowing in the breeze. She loved all plants and the outdoors. She got a dreamy look on her face and said “It reminds me of the strength of the Lord…the strength of the Lord,” once again relying on God’s promises that she had hidden in her heart

 But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
    with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit
. Jeremiah 17:8 

She produced good fruit until she breathed her last breath. 

If you have ever been a care provider, you know it can get ugly. It can get frustrating. It can be thankless. So, in desperation, I asked the Lord to show me the blessing in the drudgery; I asked Him to help me not to just survive this time but enjoy and thrive in it. I prayed that He would help me to love and serve Grandma as unto the Lord. 

On my knees, cutting her toenails, I pictured myself, not on the floor of the bathroom, but sitting at the feet of Jesus

On October 9, 2019, I got a call that Grandma needed me. Her breathing had become irregular and her hands that used to grip mine, holding tight, and tapping to the rhythm of the music in her soul, were limp. 

I turned on her favorite hymn playlist and climbed up next to her. I held her in my arms and reached for her hand one more time hoping to feel her keeping time to the music. As I snuggled up next to her, the Hymn, Take My Life and Let it Be Consecrated Lord to Thee played in the background as she slipped from my arms into the arms of her Hope and Peace. She lived one hundred years, at least ninety-five of them consecrated and surrendered to Him. 

Psalms 116:15 says, Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. It is precious because they are joining him in eternity; because He gets to welcome them to Heaven and say “Well done my good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master.”

I am convinced that Gram’s ability to have joy in every season of life came straight from the heart of God to her. I am confident that this song, even when she could sing no longer, was the theme song for her life. 

Count Your Blessings by Johnson Oatman

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. 


Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.
 

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high. 

So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end. 

I hope Grandma’s testimony helps you to remember to count your blessings and to be aware of the lessons you can learn from observing a life of a faithful servant of Jesus. Too often, we dismiss or discount the immense wisdom that is available to us through our gray haired saints.

What song is in your heart when you need to lean on Jesus name? 

 

Listening for the Still Small Voice

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. I Kings 19

However inconvenient, the first wave of the pandemic and lockdown was a gift of quietness and solitude. It gave me ample time to pray, worship, listen to scripture and great books while doing yard work and other home repairs and maintenance. It gave me time to be still and hear God’s voice and put the messages he was giving me into words.  So many of the distractions and obligations of life were removed, until the proverbial earthquake hit. 

I was not damaged by the initial tremor of the disaster but was caught in an abundance of aftershocks, often feeling battle weary. Like Elijah, I felt like one disaster after another was coming, and I could not get my feet on solid ground. It was hard to hear God’s voice through all the pandemonium, but I was listening. 

It is a new year. Tasks are completed. “Things” are settling down. As always, there are new challenges. I hear the still small voice whispering again, imbedding His Word in my heart so that it can once again flow out of me like a river of life. 

My goal for this year is to bring those messages to my soul weary friends twice monthly on my blog at www.kerilynnwillis.com and other media outlets. If you want to get the blog sent directly to your email, go ahead and fill in the “follow me” box that pops up in the bottom right corner of my home page. 

My prayer for you today is that you will find His strength in your weakness and allow the water of salvation quench your thirsty soul. 

What Are You Doing to Prepare for Advent?

What are you doing to prepare for Advent? This was a question posed to me by a colleague that caught me quite off guard. She knew I was a believer and wanted to share a heart-to-heart conversation about the meaning of Christmas. Honestly, at that point, I had not really thought about the idea of Advent. 

Advent: The arrival of a notable person, thing or event

I celebrated Christmas. It was a meaningful time of celebrating Christ’s birth with family and friends. I love the music, the time sitting in my home with just the fireplace and the Christmas tree to light and give warmth. But the idea of “preparing for Advent” escaped me. 

I am pretty sure I responded with a blank stare and a response about decorating my tree. I was unprepared to give and answer for the hope that was in me. I Peter 3:15. I pondered the idea of Advent the rest of the day and well into the night. 

As I closed my Bible the next morning after my quiet time, I thought to myself, “This is how I prepare. It is not a once-a-year occurrence, but a steady, daily, moment by moment infusing of God’s Word into my soul that is preparing my heart for the celebration of the most precious birth of all time.”

When I shared this with my friend the next day, she embraced me with a bear hug that communicated gratitude. Gratitude that I took to heart her inquiry, gratitude that I gave her an honest and thoughtful answer, and gratitude that, in my naivety I pointed out the obvious, we should always be preparing our hearts for the coming of our Savior. 

See the parable of the Ten Bridesmaids in Matthew 25. Some of the bridal party were prepared with enough oil to wait for the Groom, others ended up in the dark. Be in the light

I have probably sung Joy to the World a thousand times. With great passion, I sing, “Let every heart prepare Him room.” Honestly, I probably spend more time preparing my home for Christmas than I do my heart. Often, I am worshiping as I decorate my Christmas tree and clean for company. But sometimes it leaves me so drained that my heart becomes the storage shed for grumpiness and frustration instead of the Joy He desires to fill me with. 

While I do take time each day to prepare my heart for Advent and believe it should not be a once-a-year event, I think it wise to slow our busied pace and our distracted heart, listen for the still small voice of the one who sent His son 2000 years ago, and remember the sacrifice that was made on our behalf. 

Every Sunday our church remembers Christ’s sacrifice through communion. We sing songs about the cross and take time to examine our hearts. We have to be careful that it does not just become a good habit. So, as we sing our Christmas Carols, it is essential that we don’t just celebrate Christmas as the world does, as just another time to party and spend a ridiculous amount of money on things people may not need or want. We cannot just sing Christmas carols without grasping the words we are professing. 

As I have been pondering Advent again this year, I began to think of it as a time to still my quiet heart and “prepare Him room” cleaning out the proverbial storage closet, disposing of the accumulated junk of the year and replacing it with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians+5%3A22&version=NLT

I want my heart to be a sanctuary where the Holy Spirit feels welcome to dwell. I want the time I spend in the Word, in prayer, and being still before the Lord to cause my countenance to radiate the Light like shepherds witnessed so long ago. 

I love Christmas. It is my favorite time of year. I love the music, the food, the scents and even the presents, but more than all of that, I love that the whole world is celebrating the birthday of my King. As I prepare my heart for this celebration, I cannot let it be relegated to once a year or even once a week, but a day by day, moment by moment appreciation of the gift of God’s precious son. I pray that as I go out into the world each day, I will be like Peter and John in Acts 4:13 

 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished, and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Dear Heavenly Father, 

In the busyness of this season and throughout the year, when I leave the comfort of my prayer closet help the world to recognize that I have been with you. Please help me to be a fragrant offering to you and always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in me. 

Ideas for Advent:

Emily P Freeman’s Quiet Collection $10 https://www.theschoolforcreativedirection.com/offers/Ue8j6jJy/checkout

Mariel Davenport’s Tending Through Advent $10

Listen through Matthew and Luke on the YOU Version Bible App $0

Study some of our traditional Christmas Carols

Open the Box!

As I meandered along the shore in the brisk morning air, the steady tide continually lapping at my feet seemed to be pursuing me. This reminded me of how God pursues us; steady, constant, and sometimes with great force and power. HE PURSUES US! All we have to do is BE STILL and KNOW that He is God and receive the gift… Way more than that a career, a salary, or the best Christmas present ever. HIS GRACE IS ENOUGH. We do not have to be “good enough” to receive this gift.

This is what the Sovereign Lord,
    the Holy One of Israel, says:
“Only in returning to me
    and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength.
    But you would have none of it.

 So the Lord must wait for you to come to him
    so he can show you his love and compassion.
For the Lord is a faithful God.
    Blessed are those who wait for his help.

 O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem,
    you will weep no more.
He will be gracious if you ask for help.
    
He will surely respond to the sound of your cries. Isaiah 30

Chuck Nolan, the character that Tom Hanks played in Cast Away, had quite the opportunity to be still before God. He was the lone survivor of a Fed Ex plane crash. Living on an uninhabited island for several years, his only friend was Wilson, the volleyball, and his hope was placed in an unopened package addressed to someone in Texas. We never find out what was in the package. What if it was something that could have rescued him? (In fact, Fed Ex did a commercial speculating that it was a satellite phone in the box.)  I remember feeling like shouting… Open the box, Chuck!

We do not have to go through life feeling like we are living on a deserted island with only an inanimate object as a friend; desperately holding on to an unopened gift as our only hope. 

The Maker of the Universe pursues us to be His FRIEND!

John 15:15 (NLT) I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.

We have been given the lifesaving gift of grace.

Ephesians 2:4-8  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

We just need to open the box!

HE pursues us not because we are worthy or deserve it… but because He loves us and desires us to not just have fire insurance but to receive the gift of salvation and exist, live, rest, breath, thrive fully in his grace.

John 1:16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.[e] 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 10:10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Have you been staring at that unopened gift, hoping that it will be just what you have always wanted? This gift has your name on it, and you don’t have to wait until December 25th to open it. He is holding it out to you in His loving and outstretched arms. Receive it, open it. In it, you will find hope, grace, peace, and salvation. It is the gift of God

Becoming Us by Robin Jones Gunn

Book Review

Becoming Us by Robin Jones Gunn takes the reader on a tour of real life. Emily, new to Southern California, and characters we have met in other stories come together with their insecurities, trials and triumphs in ways that give the reader hope as they walk through their own paths. Robin does not mind taking on the tough issues such as infertility, alienation, and surrender but does it with such grace that the reader might even feel the hugs as we are guided to God’s Word as the way to face “life.” It doesn’t stop there though, Robin also brings us into the celebration of friendship and womanhood with laughter, adventures, and parties. The story is sprinkled with practical ideas for embracing our “community” and developing deep, meaningful friendships. We see Emily grow from an uncertain and embarrassed failure to one who becomes content and embraces what God has given her as enough.  I look forward to the next book in the Haven Maker series, Being Known.

Teapots And Power Tools

Hi Friends, I finally got my devotional, “Teapots and Power Tools” in an eBook format. Because I want as many people to have it as possible, I am offering it for $0.99 for the next 30 days. I would love it if you could leave a nice review of it on Amazon. This was my first big writing project other than research papers and newsletters. I look back and see things I would change now, but as it is, it is a strong and heartening message that the Lord put on my heart. All of our experiences can have spiritual lessons. These devotionals are stories from my life with biblical application to encourage your walk with God. 

https://amzn.to/3Avm0ZY

“A Woman of Words” Book Review

Have you ever wondered how Matthew was able to so articulately tell stories from Jesus’ youth? In A Woman of Words by Angela Hunt, the history of the New Testament is masterfully researched and brought to life through a story of the writing of the book of Matthew. Angela Hunt, a biblical scholar herself, uses over forty scholarly writings in her research to bring a historically and biblically accurate telling of a fictional account of Mary revealing to Matthew many of the events of her life as the mother of Yeshua. Biblical truths are carefully woven together with imaginative portrayals of how they came to be recorded. I can almost see the dust of the Jerusalem roads, taste the dried figs and honey water and smell the aroma of baking bread as I read the artfully written story that draws the reader into the days of the early church. 

Not often do I want to read a book slowly, but this one was one to savor. This book is not just a good story; it contains spiritual struggles and truths that give the reader much to consider, look inward and apply in our daily walk with God.

You do not have to read the books in order, but I suggest starting with Book one in the Jerusalem Road series.

Daughter of Cana (Jerusalem Road)

Shepherd’s Wife (Jerusalem Road)

 Woman of Words (Jerusalem Road)

I am a Martha

I guess there could be worse faults to admit. At one time in my life, I was teaching/working full time, raising kids, going to school full time, being a wife, involved in ministry and taking care of my aging mother-in-law. In hindsight, I wonder who got gypped the most. Probably my husband, maybe my kids, but I told myself that I was just doing what needed to be done. After all, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” But what if He doesn’t want me to do “all things”?  What if what He really wants me to do is learn the art of saying no to things that are not of eternal significance? 

I look back at that time and shake my head. *Insert side note; my husband just came in the room as I was writing this and asked me if I wanted to have some prayer time. My first response was to tell him I was focused on something right now that I needed to finish while it was fresh in my head. Then I thought about the last sentence of the first paragraph and was a bit convicted. Maybe this will go better if I practice what I preach. I stopped typing and prayed.

So, I look back at the time that I was so busy and wonder how I did all that. I make myself tired! I set unrealistic expectations for myself and, in turn, for others. I jokingly say that my next book is going to be titled “Diminished Capacity” and it will be filled with blank pages. One by one, the Lord is removing the distractions from my life and drawing my eyes to Him and asking me to sit at His feet and listen like Mary did. 

Luke 10:38-42 (NIV) As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Events such as COVID have forced many of us to be at home more. For some it has caused a tremendous amount of stress. People laugh about the COVID 19, talking about the weight they put on from being sequestered with never ending food shows and the kitchen as their playground. As sad as the whole last year has been, I rejoiced in the time to be silent, to take long walks, to work in my yard, to hear God’s voice. 

The past six weeks I have been relatively silent here on FB, my Blog (Soul Water at http://www.kerilynnwillis.com), and Instagram. Maybe I should have been more prepared to drop out of sight for this time, but my family needed me, and I was done being overcommitted. I checked out and focused on being 100% present in the activities and moments that needed my attention. It was not all without stress. There were moments of feeling completely overwhelmed. 

At one point, the Lord really impressed on my heart the need for surrender. I closed my eyes, relinquishing my need for control over things that were far beyond me. The picture started forming in my head with a pencil drawing of Jesus’ nail scared feet. With each whispered prayer, another face, home or event was sketched at his feet. While they all still demand prayer and even some work, I think I will try to only visit them at the feet of Jesus. They need to stay put. If I pick them up and try to put them in my burden bag, I must consciously place them back where they belong. 

I probably will never be very good at sitting still. But I am learning. Learning to hear God’s voice in the noise of this world, in the silence of my yard, in the song of the birds, and by the posture of my heart. 

What do you need to place at the feet of Jesus? There is plenty of room for you to sit, listen, learn at his feet and leave your burdens with Him.

Over the past few weeks, this song has been on repeat in my heart. Christy Nockels sings it so beautifully. “Find Me at the Feet of Jesus” 

When God Became My Daddy

Songs have been written about it; poems have been penned; dances have been danced, celebrating the special bond between father and daughter. I believe that every one of us has an innate longing and desire for that deep relationship with that special man. I have heard that many of us form our view of God by observing our earthly fathers. While that may be true, often, if we look to any human being to form our ideas of our Heavenly Father, we will be deeply disappointed.

The greatest gift my earthly father gave me was to point me to my Heavenly Father. The greatest gift I can give my father for Father’s Day is to live my life for the One who gave His life for me. 

From the womb, I was in church at least three times a week and in every children’s club the church had to offer, hearing Bible stories and memorizing scripture. Sadly, too often, my early childhood memories of going through the motions of playing church bring with them anxiety and sometimes a bit of panic. I wasn’t good at remembering my Sunday school papers or saying my memory verse on demand. This led to unwarranted and unreasonable punishment. In hindsight, my dad was probably more worried that I would embarrass him, or he was worried that someone would think he was not doing his job as a father properly if I did not perform as the “good girl” I needed to be. 

 Miraculously, the Holy Spirit instilled a desire deep in my heart to love the Father and form an innocent and pure relationship that superseded any earthly or fallible human relationship. Long before I took my shiny patent leather shoes down the isle in children’s church and prayed with Mrs. Katie Tunnel to give my heart to Jesus, I understood that God loved me, that He created the world for me, and that because of our own bad choices that world needed a savior. I knew that I needed someone bigger than this world to be my daddy. So, on that Easter Sunday in 1969, when Mrs. Tunnel asked who wanted Jesus to be their Savior, I marched my timid, shy self to the front of the room, wondering why nobody else wanted this precious gift.  I knew about the death, burial, and resurrection. I definitely knew about sin. I even knew how to pray “Dear Heavenly Father.” But that day, He became my Daddy. And He is a “Good Good Father”

If We Were More Like Dogs

As I prepared to go on a road trip recently, I cleaned my house, cleaned my fridge, arranged for childcare, I mean a dog sitter, and packed my car. My sweet, mostly innocent, completely dependent, seventy-pound lap dog, Belle, followed me around with utter devotion and curiosity. If you have ever known a Weimaraner, you know they can suffer from separation anxiety. The thought of her being sad because I am gone, makes me sad and consider not going on my trip. Looking in those sad, puppy-dog eyes as I am getting ready to walk out the door just about kills me. 

Car packed and waiting for my other half, I settled in my big comfy chair for one more puppy snuggle before we left. Belle settled herself partly on the chair, mostly on my lap and almost purred with contentment. Then it dawned on me. I need to be dependent on my Abba Father, the way my dog depends on me. She knows I love and care for her and depends on me for everything without worry. Matthew Six gives us a good picture of this. “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

I know, left to her own devices, she could feed herself, walk herself, and basically survive. But why would you eat lizards and gophers when you have a feast of Blue Buffalo waiting inside? If we are children of The King, why do so often live like paupers? Jesus told us that He came not to just give life, but to give life more abundantly. John 10:10

Why would you chase cars and birds when you could take a walk with your best friend? When I put on my walking shoes, Belle goes into hyperdrive. Her whole body wags, she chases me around so I can’t even sit to tie my shoes. The neighbor has even called to make sure all is well, because they heard Belle making so much noise. She is so excited to be with me and go on an adventure that she can hardly contain herself. Sometimes we struggle about who is taking whom for a walk, but ultimately, she knows, I am the boss, and we go where I say. 

So often we fight against what is best for us. Sometimes we chase ideas or dreams that distract us from our number one goal, to walk with God. Unlike me, the dog owner, God is always ready to walk with his people. We should be as excited as Belle that the Creator of the Universe wants to walk with us. Our whole being should rejoice that we get to walk with God. 

Not only do we get to walk with God, Matthew Eleven tells us that when we do, and when we turn the reins over to him, it will make our way easier. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

For years, “someone” would faithfully give Belle the last bite of toast. As a result, every time I sit down at the table with food, Belle eagerly and expectantly waits. She often taps my knee as a reminder that she is there and would like to share in my meal. I can think of many allegories that fit this scenario, but Matthew seven probably covers it best. “Ask and it shall be given to you.” Matthew 7:7 And Matthew 7:9-11 You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.Don’t be afraid to ask God for His provision and blessing. He desires to give us good and perfect gifts. 

God created man so He could walk and talk with us. He created animals so we could enjoy and learn from His creation. Enjoy what he has given us. Learn from what we may take for granted or think of as simple. 

Job 12:7-10“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;  or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?10 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

Oh and another thing… When the roaring lions (the dogs from across the street) come barreling down the hill with evil intent, Belle lifts her head and focuses on home, completely turning her back on the temptation to get caught up in a pointless battle. I need to be so focused on God, His work, His faithfulness that the angry enemy cannot distract me from my purpose.

A simple walk with my dog can be a sacred moment with God. What lessons have you learned from God’s creatures?

After The Freeze

For many, this past year has just been one long winter. As our country begins to raise its head out of the fog of the last year, this piece I wrote several years ago seemed appropriate. It is so good to breathe fresh air and see signs of life.

Several years ago I was tree shopping when I saw the most beautiful tree bulging out of its temporary home. Even at half price, it was still a rather large investment.  I was told that moving it may shock its system and it may be a while before we saw any fruit. I was remembering the luscious guava tree in Hawaii – It was fragrant, had a ton of fruit on it, and was delicious.  We planted our tree and nurtured it with tender loving care and eager expectations.  

The excitement grandma and I felt when we saw the first signs of growth made us almost giddy.  Every day we would check on the blooms and eagerly wait for the little bulbs that would become the fruit.  It was kind of mysterious, because we did not know how big the fruit would be or how long it would take to ripen.  Before I knew it, I had more guavas than I knew what to do with.  I ate, peeled, cooked, made guava butter and shared it with the neighbors, co-workers, strangers even!

There were only about two-dozen guavas left on the tree.  I had heard the weather report, considered what to do… Should I cover the tree – I could not reach the top, Should I put a heater outside? – that might cause a fire.  Well it is close enough to the house – the heat from the house should keep it from freezing, yeah it should be fine.  Unfortunately, for once, the weather man was right; it got downright cold.  To my disappointment, I woke up checked on my prize tree only to find it black and almost crispy from the freeze.  I held out hope for a few weeks that it was only temporary and that it would turn lush and green again.  

The weeks went by, the tree got drier, crispier, and sadder than a dog deprived of playing ball.  I watched as the tree became fragile and thought I might need to cut the brittle branches off. However, the leaves would not fall off for anything.  They stuck so tightly to the tree that no amount of wind would dislodge them.   As contemplated the tree for any signs of life, a hummingbird started dive bombing me.  I did not know what was agitating the little fighter pilot so badly that it would want to take on something my size until I observed from a different perspective.  The leaves that held so tightly to the tree provided just the protection she needed to build a home.  She was shielding her two little potential lives.   No mater how the wind blew, that nest stayed strong and sturdy.  My decision was made, I could not cut down the old branches, she needed them.  

I watered and cared for the tree every time I thought of it… low and behold there were little tiny buds coming from the trunk of the tree.  I was elated, then disappointed, for the buds shriveled up and disappeared. 

I was holding out hope, though.  The tree had strong roots.  It was somewhat mature when we planted it.  We watered it, gave it vitamin B, talked to it even.  I did not get too excited when new growth started up from the roots though.  I did not want to be disappointed again.  I watered and check on it regularly to see if the signs of life were really there.  

Soon the little shoots coming up from the roots were three feet high.  They didn’t bear fruit that season.  It took time for the damaged tree to once again become strong, develop, provide shade for the kitty, and homes for the hummingbirds. Since then, the tree has come back in full force, produced several seasons of fruit, and has even withstood a few freezes. 

About 2000 years ago, God was looking down on his creation and saw the most beautiful tree.  He knew it would be the ultimate investment, and He made it knowing how much pain it would cause.  That tree was the cross and the investment was his son’s life.  

He made the investment for me, gave me salvation and life, gave me a family to nurture me, provided his word as a source of health, and protected me from the ravages of this world.  Early on, He saw the buds of fruit in my life and took special care to cultivate me as a kind of “first fruit.” I loved to serve, share my love for Jesus with friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers! As Luke 6:44 tells us, we will be recognized by our fruit.  

As a young tree, I produced a decent amount of fruit.  I was tended to, given direction; my roots were well watered.  As a more mature tree, after many seasons of bearing fruit, I had a big freeze. The life and enthusiasm for serving drained out of me like the color from the guava tree.  I still had a purpose, just like the withered branches of the guava tree. I just had to see my life from a different perspective.

Deep in my roots, in my soul, there was life. This tree that was bought with a price was firmly planted; its roots were alive waiting for the next season.  Psalms 1:3 says He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

There are signs of life again.  My dead branches are protecting the new growth, shielding from strong winds, and a burning sun, and serving as a reminder of how the Lord has restored me.  I may not have a bumper crop this season.  Maybe it is my time to grow and become strong again. I do look forward to the next crop of fruit however, and of this I am sure. As it says in John 10:10; Jesus did not come only to give life; He came to give it more abundantly. 

Keri’s Prayer Closet

I can almost hear the groans when another mug finds its way into my cupboard. “Do you really need another mug?” No, I do not need another vehicle for getting caffeine into my bloodstream. However, quite some time ago, my mug cupboard became my prayer closet. 

As a teacher, I received countless mugs from my students. If you are a teacher, you know… At a point, I began rotating the mugs so every student could see me use their mug. But, of course, there had to be more; there needed to be purpose behind each mug. And so it began, with each mug, a prayer for that student went up to Jesus. 

Fast forward a few years, I was no longer in the classroom, but the mug collection continued. Friends and family have contributed to my prayer closet. Sometimes I pick out a mug, because I want to remember to pray for a particular person. This week my daughter and her husband are driving across country, so I am drinking from my Jordan mug. This weekend, my dear friend is laying her mom-in-law to rest, so I will be drinking from my Marie mug. 

I have a mug from Fort McHenry. When I drink from that cup, I pray for our country, peace, the people and our leaders. The mug from our women’s retreat reminds me to pray for the ladies in our church body and for the speaker who shared her wisdom with us that weekend.

Sometimes I grab the closest mug to the front of the cupboard. When I am using that mug, I will pray for the person associated with it and often take a quick picture and send it as a reminder that I am praying for them. Often when friends grab a cup, they ask “who am I praying for?” 

It doesn’t have to be a mug. It can be a bird, a rainbow, a song, a scent or a picture. But it is always good to have reminders to pray prayers of intercession for the people in our lives. 

True confession, while visiting my college roommate whom I had not seen in about thirty years, we did what all college roomies should do, we went shopping. We hit the outlet mall and had a blast. We both loved the same pair of jeans. Both of us were working on justifying another pair of jeans, really not a need. I got giggly and said, “Let’s both get them; they can be our prayer jeans.” That sealed the deal. We bought the jeans, and you know what? We pray for each other when we wear them. 

What are some things that serve as reminders to pray for your people?

Whether or not you have a mnemonic device (something that triggers your memory) to help you pray, prayer is the greatest gift you can give and the most powerful tool you can use. James five tells us that the fervent prayers of the righteous bring great outcomes. We are righteous through the blood of Jesus, and His ears always hear our prayers.

This is the prayer I am praying for you today:

For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)

Sacred & Set-Down Saturdays

Day Seven in “Days of the Week Prayers”

I don’t know about you, but I work hard all week long. Often, on Saturday, my brain goes into hyperdrive thinking about how tired I am and all I want to accomplish next week, next month, and next year. I have to work really hard at just sitting back and enjoying God’s provision and the comfort and satisfaction of a job well done in the laboring in my yard, home, family and ministry. I can only sit on the patio swing for so long before I have to go pull that weed that grew up overnight. 

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Matthew 6:27

I know I can drive my husband crazy. He asks me “can’t you just be still?” To him, Saturday mornings are a time for a good cup of coffee, no stress, enjoying the fact that we lived and worked another week and just taking time to rest. Saturday morning is a good time to take a deep breath and just be.

As I reflect on the 23rd Psalm, I am overwhelmed with the simplicity and depth of faith in the words of David.

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.

Thank you, Lord, for everything you have provided. Thank you for guiding my path this week. Help me to always be aware of your provision.


He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.

Thank you for giving me time to rest. Thank you for the birds that are singing to me and the sun that is shining and for the home you have given me in order to serve you and practice hospitality. Help me to be still and find refreshment in you.


    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.

Help me to rest in you and be renewed today, so that I will be equipped to do the work you have prepared for me and that I will honor you in all I do. 


Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.

I do not know all of the dangers you are protecting me from, but thank you. And when I get discouraged or overwhelmed, help me to remember that you are with me; you are preparing a way for me and are fighting off the evil that desires to tear me down and hurt me. Help me to know how to walk beside those who are in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. 


You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.

Help me to recognize the blessings that you have poured out on me and humbly receive all that you have for me, recognizing that I am a Child of The King. 


Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,

and I will live in the house of theLord forever.

Thank you for pursuing me even when I stumble off the path you have for me. Thank you for the promise of eternal life with you. Amen

One of the best ways for me to be able to relax is to “set-down” my plan for the next week. As a former elementary school teacher, I think in “lesson plan” format. I have tasks I need to complete and time slots that those tasks will fill. And if you are wondering, yes, I do have to schedule specific time in the morning to spend in prayer and the Word. In part, I do this because I can either, one, get up and get lost in social media, or two, get up and get going on my “tasks” without first committing them to the Lord. 

Proverbs 16:3 lays it out pretty clear… Commit your works to the Lord,
And your thoughts will be established.

And so, Saturday is when I organize my thoughts, make “my” plans (I put “my” in quotations because God’s ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts).

But He does say to commit our work to Him, and He will establish our thoughts. In other words, His work and thoughts become my work and thoughts. And so, before I begin to “set down” my plan for the week, I ask Him to guide me in using my time wisely, knowing what I need to do, where I need to go, and who I need to minister to. (I also need to add here that I have to ask Him to help me allow those who come into my life to minister to me to do so.)

I actually made a grid with days of the week and time slots. I include daily activities, events for the week and tasks I need to complete. There are items that repeat daily and weekly that are imbedded in the template. Then I add the different things based on the needs for the week. You could even add your menu for the week. 

I don’t stop there. Once my “lesson plan” is complete, I then commit it to the Lord. I surrender it to Him and try to “set it down” and not keep obsessing over it. Once I am better “yoked” with Him, my way seems easier and my load lighter. Then I better prepared to rest in Him. 

 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Amen

Please feel free to download the template below (I am working on having better downloads for you) to use in planning your quiet time and your work time. Be sure to commit it to the Lord. Proverbs 16:3

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
PraySacred, Silent, SurrenderMinistry, Missions, MarriageTalking to JesusWorship, Work, WashingtonThirsty & ThankfulFamily, Friends & ForgivenessSacred & Set-Down
7am
8am
9am
10am
11am
12pm
1pm
2pm
3pm
4pm
5pm
6pm
6pm

Friends, Family & Forgiveness Fridays

Day Six in “Days of the Week Prayers”

Today is day six in “Days of the week Prayer,” and I have to tell you, I am feeling less than articulate today. Part of me wants to put down my computer and just go read a good book. But someone else is telling me to keep going, there is a message here that needs to be spoken.

This Friday, Good Friday, the Friday before Resurrection Sunday is especially important. It the day that we remember His Finished work on the cross. It is because of His death that we can have forgiveness; because of His stripes we can be healed; because of His resurrection we can have everlasting life, life more abundant.

As with every other day of the week prayer, once I start writing about prayers that go with that day, more words surface that complement the theme. Originally, today was “Friends and Family Fridays,” and I do pray for my friends and family on Friday, but as I prayed through my whole prayer list earlier in the week other ideas stood out as well; Forgiveness, Faith, Fear… All of these elements are intertwined. 

I have been blessed with a rich heritage of a family who love Jesus. God has blessed me with a quiver full of friends as well.  The relationships that are the deepest are that because of forgiveness.  First the forgiveness of God for all of our shortcomings and sins and second the forgiveness we give and receive in our relationships.   

There is a saying that goes “Love means never having to say you are sorry.” I guess in some sense, the idea that we can be secure enough in a relationship that any offense will not break it is sweet, but probably not very realistic. As long as there are fallible human beings we will need to be armed with forgiveness. 

Fortunately for us, God freely offers us forgiveness through His son Jesus. In I John 1:9, we are told, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleans us from all unrighteousness.: In turn, we are directed to offer that forgiveness to others in Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven you.”

So, on Fridays, I take the time to thank God for loving me and for the gift of forgiveness through the death of His son, Jesus, on the cross and ask Him to remind me of where I need to have forgiveness and offer forgiveness. Here is a sample:

            Please bring to mind the things I need forgiveness for:

                        Allowing bitterness to have even one spot in my life

                        Not wanting to forgive or love those who have hurt me

                        Not having faith

                        Making decisions based on fear and not faith

It is true that the people who are the closest to us are the ones who can wound us the greatest. That is why forgiveness is so vital to the health of our relationships with our family and friends and is such a good starting point in our prayer lives. 

In all transparency, this is a tough one for me. We are told to do everything that is within our power to live at peace with all men. And I try. We are also encouraged to pray for those who spitefully use us, and I do. But in truth, when it comes to reconciling broken or wounded relationships, I operate out of fear way too often. So here is my prayer for this:

            Help me to not give in to temptation to gossip or rail on the people who have hurt me. 

            Help me to love with the unconditional love that can only come from you.

            Help me to desire to love.

            Help me to live at peace with all, and help broken relationships to be restored.

I pray for our family, that they would know joy and reconciliation, that there would not be bitterness toward one another or God, that they would be able to be at peace with their families, that they would have forgiveness and love in their hearts and more than anything, know the power of your salvation.

When I think of praying for my family, of course my husband and children are at the top of that list. When the kids were little, I would pray for them “to know and love You, Jesus,” every night. And I am so blessed that God answered that prayer. As they are now married adults, my prayers for them have become lengthier and more involved, but a while back, it dawned on me, the prayer still needed to be for them to know and love Jesus. 

Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

As with praying for my children, my prayers for my husband do not only happen on Fridays, but every time they come to mind. However, I know the role of husband and father is one of grave responsibility, so I pray some pretty serious and detailed prayers for him. 

Please give him wisdom and gentleness. 

Help him to have clarity of thought and be able to organize and prioritize his work for his family, ministry, and job. 

Please give him joy. 

The root of these requests come from Ephesians 6.

Friday is also a good day to stop and thank Jesus for my friends and to lift their needs up to Him. 

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. ….  12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4

Often these friends appear in other places on the prayer list, like Ministry Monday or Thirsty Thursday. But Friday is the day I lift them up in prayer regarding their health, occupations, families, needs, hurts, and joys. Philippians summarizes my prayers for my friends well. 

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy… May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ — for this will bring much glory and praise to God. Philippians 1:3-4, 11

Sometimes in our prayers, we are too overwhelmed to even know the words to pray. So, with open surrendered hands, I remember Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

And also remember, Matthew 7: 7-11 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

Keep on asking. Keep on praying. Keep on believing. 

Thankful & Thirsty Thursdays

Day 5 in “Days of the Week Prayer”

Psalm 107:8-9 Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

The impressive red-tail hawk perched majestically atop the streetlight illuminating the entrance to the freeway. Skies behind me were changing from the pink hues of sunrise to the bright light of morning. It was going to be a long day. The first day of school and a classroom full of anxious students awaited me. As I sat there, impatiently anticipating my turn to get going, that hawk sat perfectly still and gazed down, seeming to stare right at me. In reality, he was probably staring at a rodent that would soon be his breakfast, but this hawk became a symbol of God’s faithfulness to me. 

Every morning, for years, I would see that hawk sitting on the light post, and he would remind me that God is always watching. He knows and anticipates my needs. He knows when I rise up and when I lie down. He knows when my heart is aching and when it is rejoicing. He is the God who sees, El Roi. He is the God who hears, Psalm 17:6, I Peter 3:12.  This magnificent hawk reminded me that God cares about the tiny sparrow, and how much more He cares about me. Matthew 6:26-27. Since then, God has sent countless birds into my yard and along my path to remind me how much He loves me and how much I have to be thankful for. What is your reminder to be thankful?

God gave us His creation as a gift so that we can know Him better. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Romans 1:20 I want to have a thankful heart every moment of every day, and little glimpses of God, through His creation, are reminders to be grateful throughout. 

Most of my prayers begin with thanksgiving for His death and resurrection and His love for me. However, I like to take time in my prayer life to express gratitude for very specific blessings and trials in my life. I often try to put a Name of God with the prayer adding to my meditation on His provision. 

Every day is a good day to be thankful, but Thursdays are the days that I make that the focus of my prayers. Often with my prayer of thanksgiving, there is a thirst attached to it. I love a good cup of coffee in the morning, especially when my husband brings it to me in bed. It isn’t long before I say, “That was really good coffee, may I have some more.” The Lord’s teachings in the Beatitudes tell us that “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.” More than coffee, I long to be filled with righteousness. I desire to have a river of life flowing into me so that I can be a refreshment to everyone I encounter.

 I am going to be a bit transparent here and share a little clip of my prayer list with you. 

Psalms 103: 1-5 Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

  • Thank you for loving me and dying on the cross and rising again to save me. 
  • Thank you for forgiving me for all of my sins and blunders!
  • Thank you for being an awesome God, for knowing what we need, for having a plan for us, for drawing our children to you – Jehovah Jireh (provider)
  • Thank you for providing for our daily needs and finances.
  • Help us to be good stewards the gifts you have given us.  
  • Thank you for my home, family, release from anxiety – Jehovah Shalom (peace)
  • Thank you for the trials and help me to learn the lessons you have for me. Help me to be obedient to your word and will. Help me to know what your will is. El Rohi (Shepherd) Help me to remember your purpose for me – to bring you honor. Bring the things to my mind that I need forgiveness for.
  • Please transform me and renew my mind. Teach me to walk in and by your spirit.
  • Thank you for the friends that you have put in my life to encourage me. 
  • Protect me from the attacks of the enemy, Jehovah Nissi (He is my banner raised in battle. He is ever present.)
  • Help me to love with the unconditional love that can only come from You.  

A scripture can speak our prayers beautifully. I love praying scripture. But I think God wants to hear our prayers in our own human and fallible voices. He wants to hear the praise and cries from our hearts. Psalm 107: 8-9 Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Who are the thirsty in your life? At times, I feel like my soul is withered up and parched. I need the refreshing water of the Holy Spirit to wash over and through me. I think it is important to be filled with that refreshing water myself before I can anticipate pouring into the lives of the other thirsty travelers the Lord brings my way. So, I ask the Lord to fill my heart with His peace, His song, His strength, His spirit.

A variety of people show up on my prayer list in several places, Ministry Mondays, Family & Friends Fridays, and then there are those who also show up on Thirsty Thursday. These are the broken and weary who are in need of rest. They are in my prayer hospital’s intensive care unit. 

My dear friend Marie is here often. She has endured a lifetime of medical issues, starting with Lupus at age sixteen. As I write this, she is undergoing extensive medical work ups, preparing for another kidney transplant. Her faith has never wavered throughout the constant barrage of fiery darts the enemy has shot her way, but her well is drained. She has joy in knowing the Lord has a purpose for all of this, but she is worn down. She is soul weary and needs the refreshment of God’s healing waters. 

Some dear souls have not found their way to the Water yet. Some are in search of the Water; some don’t even know they are thirsty. I pray for those who need Jesus to know that He will satisfy their need for the transforming flood of grace and mercy

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God Ephesians 2:8

I think of others who are plagued with the loneliness and fear that has overwhelmed our country in the wake of the COVID rule and political unrest. I think of my daughter, an ICU nurse who lays it all on the line as she is faced with burden of people who are extremely sick and dying daily. I think of dear friends and family members whose families are breaking into pieces. These are the thirsty. 

Fortunately, God has invited all who are thirsty to come to His streams of living water and be refreshed. “Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink…” Isaiah 55:1a

Today, I pray this for you. I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

Worship, Washington & Work Wednesday

Day Four in “Days of the Week Prayers

The sun was brilliantly shining down on the playground where I was on recess duty. Fifth graders were playing soccer on freshly cut grass and bouncing balls from square to square. I glanced up to see Mrs. O walking across the parking lot, arms raised. I glanced around to see what the trouble was, but no one was around her or misbehaving. A bit later, I asked her about it. “I was just enjoying the gorgeous day,” she said. “It looked like you were having your own little worship service,” I replied. “I was. It was so beautiful, I had to lift my hands to the One who made the sunshine,” she answered.

Do you begin to feel worn down along about the middle of the week? I know I do. I get busy “doing” and forget to “be.” It is easy to get busy in our lives and routines and even in our prayers and forget to intentionally take time to worship. Any time is a good time to be still before the Lord and take time to appreciate His gifts and acknowledge who He is. The one thing that can take our mind off of our own problems and burdens is to fix our eyes on our Maker. 

Psalms 95:1-7 helps me take a deep breath and do just that. 

Come, let us sing to the Lord!
    Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come to him with thanksgiving.
    Let us sing psalms of praise to him.
For the Lord is a great God,
    a great King above all gods.
He holds in his hands the depths of the earth
    and the mightiest mountains.
The sea belongs to him, for he made it.
    His hands formed the dry land, too

Come, let us worship and bow down.
    Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
    for he is our God.

Wednesday is a good time to stop what you are doing and align your heart with God by worship. I kind of have to be filled up with worship before I can dive into my next prayer topic, Washington. One of the best songs that can lead me into that prayer is “Is He Worthy” by Andrew Peterson. If there ever is a time I feel the world is broken, it is now, but knowing that God is still on the throne brings me great comfort. 

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwj-95GRqfHuAhVV_J4KHRrFAmEQyCkwAnoECAgQAw&url=https%3A%2F%2Fm.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DOIahc83Kvp4%26feature%3Dyoutu.be&usg=AOvVaw2g65IXqx1WbsRIZqUPxbDU

Ho’Omana:  

It is the value of worthwhile work; it is an attitude of intention and full presence in whatever you do. It is the Hawaiian word for worship. Sometimes, when we hear a new word or a word in a different language, even a different version of the Bible it causes us to stop and think about it for a while…what does this word mean??? 

Colossians 3:23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people 

There are around 500 verses in the Bible with the theme of worship. Abraham worshiped in sacrifice, building an altar. Genesis 21:33. Moses pled for the release of the Israelites – he said, “Let my people go so that they may worship. Exodus 10, He also worshiped in repentance. – often building an alter to remember who he was worshipping. Exodus 34:8 

What is worship?   

Worship is to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission (Webster’s Dictionary,1828). 

RT Kendall says Worship is any activity which is carried out under the impulse of the Spirit of God.  

It is a state of our hearts. 

It is a lifestyle. 

It is serving. 

It is obedience. 

It is healing. 

It is a living sacrifice. 

It is communion. 

It is using our gifts. 

It is creative. 

It is longing. 

It is faithfulness. 

It is listening. 

It is expectation. 

It should be every breath every of every moment of every day. 

It is surrender… 

It is Colossians 3:23  

As we give our whole selves to Jesus in obedience, He meets us, and then we truly know what it means to worship in spirit and in truth.  But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. John 4:23

I find, if I have focused my mind on God and His sovereignty, I can pray with more faith regarding our country and its leaders, more effectively and without as much anxiety. Honestly, I have a hard time remembering to pray for our leaders. It is on my prayer list, but really, I should pray for them every time I hear a news report, read an article or hear their names. From the local school board to the President of the United States, we should be praying for them.

We are called to pray for our leaders. I Timothy 2:1-2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

How do you pray for them? Do you just list their names and murmur something like “Bless all the dear children?” Because sometimes “Well, bless their hearts,” is all I can think of. But when I take the time to really think it through, what is it that these people need? 

I pray that our leaders would hear God’s voice and listen; that they would have wisdom; that they would surround themselves with wise and godly people who will advise them well. I ask God to make them humble and gentle. I pray that the Christian politicians will act in a godly manner that would draw more people to the cross and to honor God with their words and actions. I also pray for the people of our country to vote wisely and be at peace. And I pray for God’s protection on our country, our children and The Church. My heart’s desire, as it says in I Timothy 2:1-2, is to lead a truly peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 

The third W of Wednesday prayer time is work. Your work may be a full-time volunteer, homeschool mom, a teacher, a pastor, a businessperson, or a caretaker for your aging parents. The one thing we all have in common is that we need to think clearly, prioritize, and function in whatever role He has given us. 

Proverbs 16:3 says, Commit your work unto the Lord and your thoughts will be established.

And in I Corinthians 10:31 we are encouraged to do everything to honor Him. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

I pray today, that the Lord will direct my paths, my work, my thoughts and that whatever I do will honor Him. I also lift up my husband and kids in the work that He has for them, that they will work diligently, be successful and be a light in the darkness wherever they go. 

As I continued to think about Wednesday’s prayer time, W words continued to bombard my thoughts;

I need wisdom – James 1:5-7 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

I pray for the women in my church body. – I Thessalonians 3:12-13 And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. 13 May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen

You don’t have to have specific words for specific days to have a full or effective prayer life, but I think that we do have to make an effort to be intentional about making prayer a priority. It is one of the most powerful gifts God has given us to have a joyful and successful Christian life. 

What are some of the other W or other “Days of the Week” prayers you can think of?  The widows you know, wants you have, what you are wrestling with, writing, woes????

Since Wednesday is a Worship day, I think this is a fitting way to end our prayer time with my favorite hymn of all time, “How Great Thou Art” Read the words. Sing with your favorite recording. And be comforted in Worshiping our Savior. 

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

[Refrain]
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

                                                         Carl Boberg, Stuart Hine

This is my favorite YouTube of How Great Thou Art. It is from my women’s retreat a few years ago, 100% unrehearsed, 100% worship from our hearts to the heart of God.  

 

Talking Tuesdays

Day Three in “Week of the Day Prayers”

I was tired. I was hungry. I was busy cooking dinner. My three-year-old daughter patted the steps leading to the front door and said come sit down and talk. God impressed on me the importance of being available, stopping my busyness and listening to my girl. The picture of her sitting there patting the steps, waiting for me, is forever etched in my mind. It is a good reminder of not only the importance of listening and talking with the humans in our lives, but of taking time to sit, listen, and have a good long conversation with the One who is always listening. 

How often do we have snippets of conversations with a friend and wish we could have more time to REALLY solve all the world’s problems? Or maybe you are having a really good catch-up time, but you get distracted and lose your train of thought. Happens to me all the time. It happens to me during my prayer time too. Tuesday is the day of the week that I make a conscious effort to make it all the way through my prayer list without getting distracted, well mostly. 

I want to make a practice of taking time to be, as it says in James 1, quick to listen and slow to speak. I want to have a full conversation with God, speaking my heart and listening to his voice. 

I have heard some people say they don’t want to bother God with their problems; He is too busy to worry about me. And, I have heard others who outright refuse to pray about something or for someone… how sad. God knows our hearts. He knows they are happy, angry, hurting, or broken. He knows how our day was, our successes and our failures. And He wants us to talk to Him about it all. 

Philippians 4:6-7 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

We are never alone in our prayers. God is always listening. Always willing to invest His heart in ours. He also has given us a body of believers and leaders to pray with and for us. 

James 5:13-16 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord.15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven 16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

I am only righteous in and through the blood of Jesus and His saving grace and power. I am earnest in my prayers. God promises that He hears, listens and answers our prayers. 

I often stop praying to quickly send a text to a person I am praying for. If the Lord puts them on my heart, they need that encouragement. I think it can be almost as important to let the person for whom I am praying know that they are being prayed for, as it is for me to pray that prayer. Paul often sent messages of his prayers for the believers by way of letters. They serve as good models of prayer for us. 

Colossians 1:9-13 So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. 11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom[d] and forgave our sins.

Talking Tuesday is not only about my conversations with God and praying about everything. It is the day that I intentionally reach out with words of encouragement to people in my “sphere of influence.” It may be just a quick text, it may be a phone call, or it may be sitting on my back patio enjoying a cup of coffee or iced tea. If God has encouraged me, comforted me, or put someone on my heart, I need to act on that and be a comfort and encouragement. (2 Corinthians 1) We are comforted so that we can comfort others. There is no greater comfort than the God Who Hears wrapping His arms around us and stilling our troubled souls. 

Having spent a chunk my youth in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I kind of like the good ole’ hymns

mixed in with some Southern Gospel and good harmonies. When I think of my “Talking Tuesdays,” this song keeps coming to mind. This song “Have a Little Talk With Jesus,” kind of covers all the bases of really hashing it out with Him in our heart to heart talks. 

I once was lost in sin but Jesus took me in
And then a little light from heaven fill my soul
He bathed my heart in love and He wrote my name above
And just a little talk with Jesus makes me whole

Now let us have a little talk with Jesus
Let us tell Him all about our troubles
He will hear our faintest cry
And He will answer by and by

And when you feel a little prayer wheel turnin’
And you will know a little fire is burnin’
Find a little talk with Jesus makes it right

I may have doubts and fears
My eyes be filled with tears
But Jesus is a friend who watches day and night
I go to him in prayer
He knows my every care
And just a little talk with Jesus makes it right

Now let us have a little talk with Jesus
Let us tell Him all about our troubles
He will hear our faintest cry
And He will answer by and by

And when you feel a little prayer wheel turnin’
And you will know a little fire is burnin’
You will find a little talk with Jesus makes it right

My prayer for you today. 

Ephesians 1:15-20

Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly,17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. 19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 

Missions, Ministries & Marriage Mondays

This is the second in a series of “Week of the Day Prayers.”

The typical question an adult asks a child is “What do you want to be when you grow up?” From a very young age I remember answering “a missionary nurse.” I knew I wanted to help heal people’s hearts and souls. Looking at a map of the world, I would imagine where God would take me to fulfill that dream. Every night, I would pray, almost poetically, for “Rick and Gail in Brazil.” They were my heroes who went into the heart of the Amazon to bring the message of hope and healing to a group of people who had never heard the Truth.  I loved it when they came back to California and shared their stories. I just knew one day, I would be called to the Amazon Jungle as well. 

Well, I am fifty something, and I am not saying God will never send me to Brazil, but to date, I have not received that call. But that does not release me from the Great Commission. Recently, we had a missionary speak at our church. He stated, you are either a goer, a sender or a disobeyer. We all have a responsibility to participate in the Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20. How we do that may look different from one person to the next, but we must do it. 

As I have matured in my faith and in life itself, I have learned to participate in the Great Commission in a variety of ways. While I must be willing and surrendered to go if I get the call, there are so many other ways to support our missionaries, chief among them, to pray for them. I want to pray more than “bless our missionaries.” I want to know their goals, needs, and accomplishments so that I can pray with more specific understanding and intercession for them. I want to rejoice with them when people come to know Jesus. I want to weep with them for the lost. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mournRomans 12:15

Along the same theme, I pray for the ministries within our church body and community with as much detail as possible. I lift up the worship leader and team that they will be able to lead us into the throne room of God; that their hearts will be pure in their desire to present themselves directly to God, and that we will be invited to go with them, the soil of our hearts cultivated and ready for the Word. 

I pray for our teachers, that they would teach diligently, communicating God’s message for us. I lift up our church leadership that they would lead humbly, but with confidence that can only come from the Holy Spirit; that they would recognize the gifts of individual members and equip us for the work set before us. I pray for our church body to be unified. This is especially important in the wake of COVID and how the enemy has used it to impale the Church. And as difficult as this is, I pray that the sin within our church body will be purged from us as individuals and as a body. 

Over the years, I have spoken at retreats and other events for churches. Many of our church members are students at a local Christian College. Often, they come to our church for a period of time and then go on to serve in another ministry or mission field. These are among the “other” ministries included in my “Missions, Ministry and Marriage Monday” prayers. 

The last ‘M’ on the list is Marriage. Not surprisingly, it is a large portion of my prayer list. During this prayer session, I have to begin with myself. I pray that I will be a wife and mother that honors God first and then my family; that I will be kind, gentle and wise. I pray that our marriage will be an example of love and respect and that God would guard our hearts and keep them pure.

The long list of couples includes newlyweds to people who have been married decades. It includes marriages that are on the rocks, ones that have ended and ones that have been reconciled. As I bring each family before the Lord, these are my requests:

Repentance – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9

Forgiveness – Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Healing – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalms 147:3

Trust – Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. I Corinthians 13:7

Love – For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her. Ephesians 5:25-26

Respect – So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband Eph 5:33

Compassion – Ephesians 4:32

Wisdom and Humility – But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds… James 3:17

Gentleness – Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2

Reconciliation – So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:6

God would remove any root of bitterness and anger – Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behaviorEphesians 4:31

God will be the center of their relationship – A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.Ecclesiastes 4:12

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proudor rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. I Corinthians 13 4-7

My prayer for you today is that you will know the abundance of God’s love; You will experience loving people with a love that can only come from God. That you will have peace in every relationship and that God will use you in what ever ministry He has called you to. That you will have joy in surrendering your will to His and that you will have a more fruitful prayer life as a result of this encouragement. 

If these words have blessed you, feel free to share them or leave a comment. If you have not already subscribed to my weekly blog, go ahead and hit the “follow” button and fill in the info form. 

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