Ignited For God

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Nehemiah 8:5-6 ( ESV)

“And Ezra opened the book in all the sight of the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood.  And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God and all the people answered, Amen, Amen, lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.” 

Nehemiah 8:8 ( ESV)

“They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave sense so that people understood the reading. “

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Just Wow!

Every time I read this scripture of how the people stood, worshiped and wept I get chills.  I see revival taking place among the people and in their hearts. This was a group of people who  were hungry to hear the Word of God read to them. They not only craved to hear God’s Word but they wanted to make sure that all those around them knew what was being said and understood what was being said.

 

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Where We Have Been

For the last couple of months, I have been on the journey of studying Nehemiah with the Ladies’ Life Group at the church where I worship. We have been using the Nehemiah Study by Kelly Minter.  The first week on this journey we read how Nehemiah has found out that the wall of Jerusalem has been destroyed and how he wept. He knew he had to go back and help his people rebuild. Yet, he began this journey of restoration with much thought and prayer.  We have journeyed with Nehemiah from recruitment of workers, how to handle opposition in the midst of restoration and building to the week where the  people have come together for worship.

 

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Response

I can’t help but get excited when I read how the Israelites responded to the reading of God’s Word.  The older generations were being reminded of God’s instructions and being convicted of the importance of being obedient to God’s Word. Until of recent, when I read this passage, I thought of the audience of being mostly made up of adults. Yet, in Kelly Minter’s study of Nehemiah, she references to what would be like to hold the attention of her young niece and nephew.  Would they have stood still for six hours listening to scripture being read?

It was Kelly’s referencing the idea of her young niece and nephew being in such an audience that I realized that there were young children in that audience hearing the Law of Moses being read for the very first time. I am not just suggesting only young children but teenagers and young adults as well were hearing these words spoken for the first time in their lives.  Thus, the older generations were having to explain what was being read. Picture it, a father and mother bent over to explain to their young children what was being read.

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Thirsty

The Israelites were thirsty to hear God’s Word to the point that when Ezra opened the Law of Moses they stood. The people  lifted their hands in worship and they bowed in reverence to the reading of the Word. As I said earlier, they were having revival!

When I reflect on this passage I think of those in other countries who are thirsty and get excited when someone shares God’s Word with them. As I read how the people stood and worshiped, I see images in my head of tribes in other countries of how they hold nothing back in their worship. They raise their hands, they dance and they express pure joy of being in the presence of the Lord. They will literally risk their lives to worship, to own a Bible and to carry the gospel to other places and people.

Then, I think about us in the United States and our cooperate worship. Yes, we have some who raise their hands in worship. But are we truly in authentic worship with our Creator, or, are we worshiping with the list of things that await us as soon as the last amen is said to dismiss us for the day? Are we critiquing the sermon, the music or a program within the church in our minds instead of being in complete worship in the presence of the Lord? Are we truly thirsty to hear the Lord speak to our hearts and be in worship with him?

 

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Bending Over

In  my vision of parents explaining what was being read to their children and older adults explaining to younger adults the meaning of what was being read, I thought about the generations coming behind me. It made me evaluate how well had I explained the scriptures to my son as I raised him up in the church. Had I really emphasized the importance of genuine worship and being in the presence of God? Or, had I raised him as this is something we do on Sundays and as soon as we leave the church building the secular life continues on? It is my prayer that I did teach him what it means to be in genuine communion with God not only in a Sunday morning service but as he went out into the secular world after the worship service.

As the years click off, my eyes are being opened up more and more to a world that is hurting. We have generations coming up that have not even heard the name,  Jesus. Of recent, I have seen and read stories of children in other countries that their only desire in this world is to have a Bible. There are people hungry and thirsty for the Word of God to not only be read to them but to be explained to them.

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Ambassadors

For those of us who believe, it is our responsibility to share the gospel with those who are hungry and thirsty. We need to be bending over and kneeling  beside those who have never heard the words of our Father. It is our duty to explain to them that they have a Father who loves them.  We must share how he sent his Son, Jesus to take on our sin on a cross and die so that we can have eternal life.

Just as the people in Nehemiah worshiped with great reverence as Ezra read from the Law of Moses  it is my prayer that we become ignited for God as they were on that Sabbath  day. May revival take place in our hearts that the joy of the Lord is in our hearts beyond the capacity that we can’t contain ourselves. The joy of the Lord should fill our hearts to over capacity to the point that we will not and cannot rest until we share this joy with someone God places in our path. Not only can we not contain it when it comes to sharing but our hearts are so full that we desire nothing but to be in genuine worship with our Creator.

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Dear God,

Just as you ignited the hearts of the Israelites may you set our hearts on fire. There are those you place in our path who are hungry and thirsty. Their hunger will not subside nor will their thirst be quenched until they hear Your words that you have spoken since the beginning of time.

May we be in worship with You not just on Sunday but in all that we do 24/7.  As we journey with You may we seek where You are at work and join You in  Your work. You give us no task that is too difficult. You are our strength. It is through serving You we experience great joy in our hearts. In all that we do, we give You all glory and honor. 

In Jesus Name,

Amen

Suggested Reading: Radical  by David Platt

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God’s Symphony

Thoughts From The Porch

Today has been a beautiful brisk Fall day.  As I have gone through my day, I am reminded of an experience that happened with our family on a Fall outing in 1989.  Also, I am reminded  of the lesson learned on that fall day.

When Drew was  two years old, we  took a family trip to the North Georgia mountains. The day started out being a simple day of enjoying Fall scenery and just simply getting away.  What started out as a fall day outing turned out to be a day of learning to listen to God through the ears and eyes of a two-year old boy.

When we arrived in the Dahlonega area, Jim wanted to see the North Georgia Conference United Methodist campground Camp Glisson.   As we walked the grounds of Camp Glisson, our  two-year old son Drew was pointing things out as any two-year old that is learning…

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Walk With Me

So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. 

Deuteronomy 8:6 ESV

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Walk with mama is what I say to Smokey as we walk together.  This phrase was used a lot in the earlier days when Smokey entered my life. I was working with a trainer and one of the things Smokey had to learn was to walk beside me which meant not ahead of me  but beside me. He had to learn to obey my commands.  Smokey is now seven years old and from time to time when we are walking I have to gently remind him to walk beside mama and we have to refresh the commands.

The other day  I had to gently remind Smokey to walk beside me. As I was speaking the words to him, God whispered in my ear his reminder to walk beside him.  How often do we try to get ahead of God?

Getting Ahead of God

I worked with a teacher once that when students became impatient about receiving the outcome of something she would say, “God has a plan and it is a good plan.”  This statement is so true! God does have a plan for each one of us and in his plans things do work out not only for the good but for his glory. ( Romans 8:28)  Yet, how many times have we wanted something, were waiting for an outcome, or an answer to prayer but just could not wait on God. Instead, we took things into our own hands. The outcome of taking matters into our own hands usually end in disaster.  Instead of being blessed we become stressed! Not only do we become stressed but we miss the blessings that God has planned for us in the midst of the waiting and the walk.

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Walking With God

Deuteronomy 8:6 says, Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him.” ( NIV) God is telling his chosen people to obey him and walk with him. Yet, they chose from time to time to take the situation in their own hands. They would try to get ahead of God and do what they thought needed to be done.  It was in these times when life for them got messy.

Are we not like the Israelites from time to time? Don’t we try to tell God how we are going to do things? What happens when we try to do it ourselves? Life of blessing turns into a life of stressing. This scripture simply reminds us that we are to walk with God and be obedient to his commands.  Notice the word with.  This means that we don’t take things into our own hands, show God how to orchestrate our steps or give into the desires of the flesh. We are to be obedient to God, pay attention to his commands for us, be patient as he reveals his plan for us, and simply walk with him.

As we read on in Deuteronomy 8:7-9 it says, For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land-a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills, a land with wheat, barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey, a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing.  In these verses, God is telling the Israelites the blessings he has planned for them if they trust, obey, and walk with him. By walking with God and being obedient to him, the Israelites would receive the blessings God had planned for them.  The same is with us. We must walk with our Father and be obedient to him to receive the abundant blessings he has planned for us

In the days ahead as you are walking on your faith journey,  carry these words on your heart and remember to walk with your Father.

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My Child,

I want you to walk with Me. Walk beside Me and tell Me what is on your heart. Once you share what is on your heart, walk beside me and hear My voice. I want you to obey Me, trust Me, and know I have so many wonderful blessings planned for you to receive. 

Walk with Me, 

Your Father in Heaven

 

God’s mighty power comes when God’s people learn to walk with God.

Jack Hyles

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9 NIV

 

God’s Got This

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Back to School

Back to school commercials. The sounds of band practice as I drive by the high school. Stopping for runners to cross the street as they train for cross-country season. Teacher friends posting pictures of their classrooms they’ve  set up for the new year. And, the list could go on that indicate that it is time for students to head back into the classroom.

Reminisce

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As I see these events take place, I reminisce the days of getting my son, Drew ready for school. From the first time he stepped on the school bus as a kindergartener to the time he graduated from college, flashes of pictures and years go through my mind.  I recall the many prayers said for Drew especially the first time he drove our car out of driveway as a licensed driver.

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Letting Go

Not only are teachers preparing classrooms and parents getting the school supply lists, there are parents who are preparing to take the next step with their child. This step is crossing the threshold of being at home over to the threshold of college days and their child being on their own. It is a very nail-biting time for most parents in this category.  The parent knows it is time to let go but also to be concerned and wary about the things of this world that their child will be exposed to.

 

I know all about the excitement and the butterflies that are taking place in families faced with this new season of life. As the saying goes, “been there, done that and got the t-shirt. After years of activities from late night homework and completing class projects to the countless cross-country events and practices, it was time for Drew to take the next adventure. There were all kinds of questions, and scenarios that would go through my head. Yet, I knew that I had given Drew all the things I could give him and it was time to let him go and place him in the Father’s hands.

Once Jim and I got Drew moved into his college dorm, we said our good-byes. Yes, I held back the tears until we got in the car. Although Western Kentucky University was only an hour drive from our home, it was  the longest hour of my life. As we drove home, I said a prayer asking God to guide Drew. I asked God to place good Christian friends/influences into Drew’s path as he attended college.

Drew

Meanwhile back at WKU, Drew made his way to the locker room at the athletic building. He was scouting out where he would have to be for cross-country training. As he was looking around, a guy who was in his sophomore year approached Drew. He introduced himself ( Mike). Mike asked Drew if he needed anything. Drew told him that he was just checking out the facility and that he was a walk-on for the cross-country/track team. Mike shared that he was a runner as well and would be one of his teammates and showed him some of the ropes.

In this process, the prayer I was saying in the car was being answered.  As Drew and Mike’s conversation progressed, Mike asked Drew where would he be going to church the following Sunday. Drew really didn’t have an answer.  Mike said, “you will be going with me.”  From that point on, there was no question as to where Drew was on Sunday mornings. Not only did Mike keep Drew involved in worship while at college, he gave Drew tips on how to study the scriptures. Drew and Mike began a Bible Study among their teammates. Drew also became involved in Campus Crusade. Prayer answered.  Six years after meeting Mike on that first afternoon at Western, Mike stood as Drew’s best man at Drew’s wedding.

To the Parents

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I share this story/testimony because it is uncharted territory for you and your college student.  These are the years where unconditional love and listening become so important. Yes, during these years, there were many times I had to bite my tongue because Drew wasn’t doing things they way I thought they should be done.  However, Drew learned to figure things out without Mom or Dad standing there telling him what to do. Also, it was the tough times and decisions that God was molding Drew into the man that he is today.  As hard as it is, I encourage you to let go and place your college student into the Father’s hands and trust.  One needs to surround them with prayer and your child needs to know that you will be there in an instant if they need you. Trust me, they will let you know at 2:00 AM that they need you.

To The Students

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To the college student, I share this with you to encourage you, to remember who you are, and that you do represent your family.  I encourage you to seek out friends that will encourage you on your faith journey.  Not only seek Godly friends but continue to respect your parents. After all, they did raise you and got you to where you are thus far. Also, don’t roll your eyes because Mom wants to straighten your bed or freshen up your dorm room on those first few visits. Just let her sweep or whatever she wants to do because this is the only love language in action that she has known for years. As time goes on, she will learn to arrive and simply visit without wanting to fold your laundry.  If Mom or Dad give advice on a certain topic, don’t be defensive but simply listen. Your parents have been around the block a couple of times. Although their ride around the block may be vastly different from the block you are traveling around, there may be some guidance and wisdom in what they are sharing with you. And, realize in a couple of short hours they will be gone.

Into The Father’s Hands

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From the first day of pre-school/kindergarten to the first day of college, it is hard seeing your babies step into that big world. It is a world of unknowns for them and for you. Even though it is a world of unknowns, it is important to remember that you  have an all-knowing God. He has plans for your child’s future. You  simply have to place that future into the Father’s hands and allow Him to guide them.  You also need to place yourself into the Father’s hands and ask God to guide you and give the wisdom you need on this journey as well. It does not matter if it is the very first day of kindergarten or college, God’s got this!

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm youplans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

Blessings,

April

 

 

 

Prayer Keep Our Eyes On The Cross

Over the last couple of years I have written prayers. Some of these prayers were written out of response of how God spoke to me through Bible Study. Other prayers, are simple petitions that were placed on my heart during my quiet time.  From time to time, I will be sharing these prayers with you. 

I wrote the following prayer October 24, 2017.

 

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Father God,

Thank you for sending us your Son, Jesus who came to show us how to love, forgive, and to live as Your Kingdom people on earth. It is when we accept Your Son, Jesus into our hearts we are given the blessed assurance of the day we stand in Your presence. Until that moment we ask that You to fill us with the Holy Spirit. Open our eyes to those You place in our path that are hungry to hear the gospel of Jesus and about the gift of salvation.

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As we enter each new day, may we clothe ourselves in Your mighty armor.  Along with clothing ourselves with Your armor, may clothe ourselves with compassion, humility, kindness, and discipline. If someone speaks out of turn or has bitter words towards us, may we speak with grace. May we be willing to forgive just as You forgive us of our offenses. Most of all, as we walk out the door each day, may we put on the love of Christ. We know we are to walk in the footsteps of Christ’s love. As Ambassadors of Christ, we are to express who Christ is through our words, actions and how we respond to others.

"The cross before me, the world behind me."

We pray that we keep our eyes on the cross and know the Truth that You have written. It is my prayer that Your Word is imprinted on our hearts. Keep our hearts tuned to the Holy Spirit’s leading. May we join in with You and the work You are doing around us.

This prayer is lifted up to You in Jesus’ precious name that is no like other name.

In Jesus Name

Amen

 

 

 

 

Morning Prayer

Father God,

This morning I invite You into my day and into my week. May I seek You wherever I go. Help me to see where You are at work and join You in that work. I know each person I encounter is Your child whether they realize it or not. For those who don’t know they are Your child, may I seek an opportunity to share Your love, grace and what you did for them by sending Your Son.

This morning I pray for forgiveness for where I have fallen short of bringing glory to You. I also seek forgiveness for the times I’ve hurt others.

It is through You I forgive those who have hurt me. No matter what they did or said, I must realize I don’t know all that is going on in their heart but You do. May I give them the same grace as You extend to me on a daily basis.

For those who harbor bitterness, I place them into Your Spirit. I pray you will remove the bitter roots that are there. Fill them with Your spirit and they will have eyes to see others and situations with Your grace.

For those who are hurting right now, I pray You will hold them tight in Your arms and gently dry their tears. Bring them the peace that surpasses all understanding.

This morning, I pray for those who have recently lost loved ones. I ask that You give them comfort. It is my prayer that the loved ones who have left this world knew You and are walking on Heaven’s streets at this moment. It is through Your Son, Jesus we are given eternal life.

Father, there are those who are faced with life changing decisions. I pray they will seek Your wisdom and guidance as to the path they must take. May they know You have a plan and You direct all of the steps to be taken.

For those who are trying to get past obstacles and life just happening. I pray they simply take Your hand and trust You. Help them know it’s one step at a time and one day at a time. After all, You make ALL things beautiful in Your time.

Today, I pray for healing for those whose bodies are broken and need healing. You are the Great Physician and You still do miracles today. Please be with the earthly physicians are caring for these dear ones. Give the doctors and the other medical team members wisdom and knowledge in how to care for those who are physically down right now. I also pray for the caregivers that they will have strength through You to care for their loved ones.

As I go through my day, I pray I don’t let self get in the way of being a servant for You. Place your Holy Spirit and lead me. I pray I will completely trust You.

You have blessings already planned for me today and it’s up to me to seek You and to receive those blessings. I am Your daughter and You are my King. Thank you for loving me and for sending Your Son, Jesus who died for me.

I surrender my day and all that’s on my heart at the feet of Jesus. Again, cover me with Your Holy Spirit as I go through my day.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.

C.S. Lewis

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:18)

Until next time, have a blessed day! Seek God in ALL you do!

April

Letters For the Heart

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This Summer has been at time of reflection for me. I’ve written in previous posts about the twists/turns, the crossroads, influences in my life as well as the trials that come with life. In this time of reflection, I have seen my life divided into multiple chapters of  being molded by my Father in heaven.  It has been a time of grasping the why’s and the how come’s and seeing the pieces of my life fall into place.

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What stirred up this reflection was coming across some old letters/cards from various friends from years pasts. Some of these letters are in an old photo album I came across while Jim and I were cleaning out the attic. Others I just happened upon while cleaning out a drawer.  And, there are those I no longer have but I  have them treasured in my heart.  As I  have read the ones I still have  a memory will leak out of my eyes along with a smile will come on my face and in my heart. What makes them special is the fact that that specific person took time out to write to me, to encourage me and simply let me know they were thinking of me.  Thus, a special footprint of love and friendship has a permanent place on my heart.

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Before social media, cards and letters were a common way of keeping in touch with those you lived a distance away from as well as sending an encouraging note to the neighbor down the street.  Growing up in a Methodist Minister’s home meant moving every four or five years.  I can recall watching my mom sitting down and writing friends from other communities where we had served. As I learned to read and write, she would sit down with me and help me to write certain people from those places as well.

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When I think of letters I think of the Letters of Paul. After his transformation from being a persecutor of Christians to becoming a Believer. Not only did he transform into being a Believer and Follower of Christ, he shared the gospel.  As part of his ministry, he would write letters to fellow Believers encouraging them in their walk with God. He would tell those who were lost about the gift of salvation. He encouraged people like Timothy in their ministry. Not only did he share the gift of salvation and encourage people, he would also have letters of correction written when Believers would begin to lose their focus on the purpose of being a follower of Jesus Christ.

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Just as the old letters I have stumbled on have touched my heart, the letters of Paul have touched my heart in a special way.  There are times when his letters have brought conviction to my heart. Other times, I have experienced healing, peace and forgiveness. Then there have been times when I my eyes were opened to direction just as Paul gave direction to the early believers.

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Once Paul became a believer, he became very passionate about sharing Jesus with others. It is because of his passion that we have these beautiful letters to which I can open my Bible.   These passages are words of wisdom, comfort, guidance and encouragement anytime I choose. As I turn the pages and read, it is like reading those old letters from the past all over again. My heart is touched and the footprints of our Savior walk all over my heart.

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Maybe you have some old cards or letters from years past stored somewhere. I encourage you to get those out and just read through them. They are blessings to be cherished by the heart. These cards and letters may give you opportunity to see how the chapters in your life have fallen into place. I can promise that you will see where God has been at work in your life.

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  Maybe God has recently placed someone on your heart. I encourage you to sit down and write them a note of encouragement. Let them know that you are thinking of them and praying for them. After all, there is nothing better than a praying friend.

Last but not least. I encourage you to read The  Letters of Paul. Maybe you have a favorite of his writings that you like to read. As you read, keep your heart opened for God to leave his beautiful footprints of guidance, encouragement and wisdom on your heart.

“You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

Until next time, I encourage you to click the link below ( The Words I Would Say)

 It’s my letter to you.

The Words I Would Say SideWalk Prophets

Blessings,

April