Stay Connected to the True Vine: Prayer

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, NIV)

J E S U S. He is the Source that gives us life. When we are connected to Him, we bear fruit. Fruit that will last. Fruit that will make a true difference. While Jesus was here on Earth, He set a great example for us by showing us how He stayed connected to the Father.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35, NIV)

Jesus realized that regular communication with the Father through prayer, was the way to stay focused and empowered. It’s no different for us. We need to have our special quiet times where we can spend time alone with God in prayer. However, we also can say short prayers throughout our day. Our Father is always available to us, no matter where we are. He tells us to pray continuously (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Prayer has many benefits but here are some that I have experienced:

Prayer

1. Keeps us aware of God’s presence.

2. Keeps us sensitive to the leading of The Holy Spirit.

3. Keeps us focused on what matters most.

4. Builds our trust and faith in God.

5. Gives us peace.

6. Helps us to walk in love.

7. Brings healing to our lives where needed.

Because of Christ we have direct 24/7 access to our Heavenly Father through prayer.

What are some of the ways you have seen prayer work in your life?

Refreshed in His Presence

Yesterday was Communion Sunday at church. I’m always very thankful to have the privilege to join with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and take communion. It’s refreshing to take time out to remember the sacrifice Christ made for us. As we eat and drink together, I find strength and hope because I am reminded that the victory for every dilemma we face was won at the Cross. Every obstacle that may try to threaten us has been conquered.

1 Corinthians 11:24-25 (NIV) says, “and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Jesus’ blood was shed and His body was broken so that we can be cleansed of sin and made completely whole. He wants to bring healing to everything that is broken in our lives. Rather the healing we need is physical, emotional, mental or financial, He wants us to be well and do well.

As the old hymn says, “There is pow’r pow’r wonder-working pow’r in the blood of the Lamb!”

We can rejoice because we know that the wonder-working blood, of the precious Lamb Jesus Christ, will NEVER loose it’s power!

NEVER!

The Lord’s Supper & my favorite Bible verse

But the Gift of God is Eternal Life (part 3)

Romans 6:23(NLT), “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In case you missed them, or would like to reread them, below are links to part 1 & 2.

But the Gift of God is Eternal Life (part 1)

But the Gift of God is Eternal Life (part 2)

Now for part 3…

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

We know God has forgiven us for our sins (part 1). We have finally managed to dump guilt and shame and forgive ourselves (part 2).

But what do we do about the consequences we must sometimes deal with because of our past sins (part 3)?

Well its true, even though God forgives us immediately when we repent and we eventually forgive ourselves, the consequences of our wrong choices may linger. It can be hard to pick up the pieces and get back on track because of the damage that may have resulted.

For example, if someone commits a crime they may end up in jail for years. If someone commits adultery, they may loose their spouse in a divorce. If someone is sexually promiscuous they may end up with an STD. If someone lies on a job application and gets hired, once the truth is revealed, they may later get fired. I think you get the point. Although forgiven, a person may still have to, do jail time, be a victim of divorce, have an STD, or be jobless.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of how we can best deal with the consequences of our past sin is…

God’s Grace.

When my daughter was about eleven years old, I asked her what she thought was meant by God’s Grace. Her response was, “Grace is God giving us strength to do what we can not do on our own.” Smart little girl!

We could not pay the penalty for our sins on our own. Christ Jesus had to do it! So guess what? We also cannot carry the consequences of our sins on our own. Christ Jesus has to do that too! We must completely rely upon His grace to keep us when we are dealing with sins ugly consequences. A lot of the times we don’t consider the consequences of sin while we are committing the sin. It’s not until sometime afterwards that we begin to realize we shouldn’t have done whatever it is we did.

Negative consequences can make us feel as if we have no hope for the future, but God’s grace says the opposite. He will give us the ability to see things from His perspective so we can begin to heal. His grace will soothe our worries and calm our fears. Through His grace, we can find lasting hope.

Whatever consequences you may be facing, I hope you will find true restoration where it is needed most. You’re not alone. I too have had regrets for mistakes I made. I have experienced the pain of divorce and other failed relationships, but God’s grace carried me through those difficult times. Even though we cannot erase the past, we can through Christ Jesus move forward and live purposeful, abundant lives now and in the days to come. His grace is more than enough to meet even our most urgent needs. We can also pray and ask God to send the right people and resources into our lives that can assist us in our healing.

His Grace is Sufficient for You!

Let’s pray…

Father,

Thank you for giving us grace to persevere through the consequences we face that are related to our past sins. We know You are sovereign over the events of our lives and still love us when we fail. You knew we would never be perfect, so that’s why You sent Your Son. Help us to hold fast to You and receive Your peace as Your Holy Spirit works in our lives to restore whatever is lacking because of sin. We also ask that You send the right people and resources into our lives that can help us. Thank you for the good plans You have for us.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

Don’t Cry!

Luke 7:13 (NLT), “When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said.”

In this story in the book of Luke, a widow had lost her only son. The funeral was in progress when Jesus saw her. He ended up walking over to the coffin, touching it, and speaking to the deceased boy. He told him to, “Get up!” The boy sat up and begin to talk! Then Jesus gave him back to his mother.

Our Lord Jesus has a heart that overflows with compassion for each of us. When we are hurting, he feels our pain and sees our tears. His words to us are the same that they were to this widow, “Don’t cry!”  He is ready to touch our hearts and speak life into situations that appear to be dead. With Him, it’s never too late for things to turn around.

The same compassion that Jesus extends to us, we are able to extend to others when we have accepted Him as our Savior and Lord. Praying regularly keeps us closely connected to His heart, so that we can sense another person’s hurt and pain. We can call out to them and say, “Don’t cry!” We can offer them comfort because we ourselves know the Comforter.

There are a lot of reasons to cry as we look at the condition of the world around us, as well as the situations we must face in our own lives. However, Jesus is calling out to us with compassion, eager to dry our tears and bring healing.

So…

Don’t Cry! He is working things out for you!

Father,

How amazing it is that You see our every need, hear our every cry, and feel our every pain. When we rejoice, You rejoice. When we mourn, You mourn with us. Thank you for being a God who is concerned. Thank you for being eager to bring healing to our hearts and comfort to our souls. Thank you for having a heart that overflows with compassion. Please help us to treat others the exact same way, so we will be a true reflection of Your love.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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But the Gift of God is Eternal Life (part 1)

Romans 6:23(NLT), “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When we’re in Christ sin no longer has dominion over us. We may struggle with certain sins, but that struggle does not define who we are because through the blood of Christ we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). He overcame all sin when He died on the cross. However He didn’t just die, He also rose again showing us even further that He has conquered sin once and for all. We have our flesh that wants to enjoy the pleasures of sin and we also have God’s Spirit who convicts us of sin, because He knows the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life (Roman 6:23). No matter how good sin may feel to us at the time, we are told that sin when full-grown leads to death (James 1:15). It starts off small and keeps growing. If we choose to persist in sin, some type of death is impending rather it be spiritual, emotional, mental, or even physical. When we turn on the TV and see chaos and tragedy on the news,  much of what we are seeing is a result of sin that has become full-grown and lead to some type of death.

plant flower rose blossom

Not one of us is without sin, for all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). It’s just a matter of how we choose to handle it. I’ve struggled with certain sins like anyone else, but I can remember God telling me, “This is not who you are.” The enemy of our souls (and the society we live in), will work overtime to try to convince us that sin is acceptable or even worse, that it’s just who we are. It’s not acceptable and it’s definitely not who we are. When we have accepted Jesus as Lord of our lives, we have a way out. He will give us strength to resist sin. If we fall into sin, we can repent in the name of Jesus and move on. He has promised us that He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Unconfessed sin leads to death, but accepting Jesus Christ leads to life (John 14:6).

Choose Life!

Continuing Reading: But the Gift of God is Eternal Life (Part 2)

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We’re Different Yet The Same

John 13:34 (NIV), “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

As we venture through life, we will cross paths with many different people. The thing that makes people so interesting is the fact that they are different. If God wanted one version of a human being that is what He would have created. However, thankfully for all of us, He chose not to do that. Being the artist that He is, He put His creativity to work and crafted many different colors, features, personalities, and He even topped it all off by giving us each a unique purpose. He is truly the God of diversity!

Sometimes when we meet a person there may be something about that person that makes it hard for us to accept them. But really if we have a chance to get to know someone a little better, especially when that someone is different from us, we would be doing ourselves a huge injustice not to take advantage of that opportunity. Why? Because every person that is breathing air has a story to tell, regardless of their race, nationality or gender.

When we take the time to listen to another person’s story, we will quickly find out that we all have had our share of ups and downs. We’ve all experienced victories and defeats, gains and losses. We will also discover that although there may be many differences between people, there are also just as many, if not more, similarities. We’re all human and we share the same basic needs, especially our need to be loved. I’m not suggesting that people ignore their morals or values to tolerate any ole thing, because standards are a necessity. Having standards will ensure that we are being true to ourselves, and even more, true to the God we serve. However, I do believe that when we take the time to at least listen, and show compassion to one another, we may find a true treasure in getting to know that person better. When we listen to the story of another, we can better understand why they are who they are. We also may gain insight from them about life in general, and learn something new that can be a blessing to us.

It never hurts to deviate a little from what we deem to be comfortable and familiar. When we are willing to “step outside of the box”, we may discover that we are in the place where we were truly meant to be. When we’re out of our comfort zone, God can use us more fully as we learn to rely on Him to take us to new levels in our lives.

When I look into the face of another person, especially a person who is different from me, I pray I will always remember that they, just like me, have a story to tell. When and if they choose to speak, I will do my best to listen.  Are you listening?

Galatians 3:26 (NIV),”So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God though faith,”

A Thanksgiving Prayer 🙏🏾 🙏🏿🙏🙏🏽🙏🏻

Dear Father,

As we enter another Thanksgiving season we want to say thank you so much for all You have done for us over the last year. Many things have happened in our lives and in the world around us but You have been faithful through it all. There have been countless joys and accomplishments that we have experienced. You have given us good health and sustained many of us through ongoing illnesses. You have answered so many of our prayers and taught us to persevere in faith, and to trust You with the prayers that are still unanswered. Some have endured tragedies, deaths of loved ones, frustrating setbacks, relationship issues and many other hardships along the way.

This time of year is difficult for those who are hurting especially those who have lost someone they love. But even in the midst of these things Your steadfast love has endured. We are learning to trust You with the things we do not understand. Please help us to trust You more.

For those who are hurting, we ask You to bring them Your peace and comfort. We are asking You to give them hope and shine Your Light into the darkness they feel. We pray for those living on the streets that you would send them the help they need. Please be their shelter no matter where they lay their heads each night. Father, when we see a homeless person on the street we don’t know how they got there. However we do know that one day some time ago, a mother somewhere gave birth to them, just like the rest of us, and their mother or father may very well be hurting today wondering if their child is safe. Please comfort those parents.

Thank you for being sure in a world that is unsure. Thank you for being our Peace in the middle of the chaos. We are thankful that we can rely completely on You to supply our every need and protect us and our families as we face each new day. You have a good plan for each of our lives and Your word declares that shouts of victory come from the homes of the righteous (Psalm 118:15)! We are thankful for that victory that we have in You and thankful for the many blessings that You will give us in the coming year.

Jesus we celebrate You and rejoice that we can walk with You through this life. Thank you for family and friends and even for the complete stranger that may walk past us on the street that cares enough to offer us a smile because even a simple smile can make a difference.

Please keep us safe, healthy, content and of strong, sound mind as we continue to live for You. Please give us wisdom to see beyond the surface of this life and to instead see things through Your eyes. Thank you for allowing us to see another Thanksgiving and thank you for being You.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Psalm 107:8-9, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!! Thank you for praying this prayer with me. May the love of God satisfy your soul and fill your life with good things.

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