What It Takes to Boldly Approach the Throne (Part Three)

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This month our study is focused on prayer and what it means to come boldly to the throne of God. If you missed week one, or Week two, you can click on the links to take you there.

Week Three Study Overview:

Today, we will look at a powerful prayer from Paul to the Colossians.

Key Point of Struggle:

How can we ever fully please God?

Key Proof of Comfort:

Oh Lord, You have searched me and Known me. Psalm 139:1

“…To ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and long suffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”

– Colossians 1:9-12

Prayer has become a lifeline for me. Not just because I know that God is the only One who can do the impossible in my life, and the lives around me, but because it deeply connects me to Him. I need those conversations in my life. I’ve learned I don’t do well without them.

One of my favorite parts of reading anything from the apostle Paul is that we are essentially peeking into his mail when opening up the Bible to the books he authored. His letters were meant to encourage, instruct, and warn newly established churches. What is even more powerful to me is that in these letters he sometimes speaks of what he is praying over the people.

I believe God gives us words to pray over specific people and situations. When I was praying to become pregnant and we were facing what seemed an impossible circumstance, God put on my heart to pray these words: “Lord, make a way where there is no way.” I faithfully prayed that each day until He made the crooked way straight and left doctors who told me it was practically impossible to conceive, slack jawed in disbelief. He recently gave me a new word over my writing and speaking ministry. I know the power of what He chooses to hide in my heart, and so I’m praying this new word each day. No one can tell me He didn’t do the same for Paul. With my whole heart, I subscribe to the idea that God put the words Paul prayed, over the churches he ministered to, deep inside his heart. It’s no surprise to me that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write those prayers so that we can know the power they hold.

This morning when I awoke I began to pray the anointed, power-filled prayer from Paul to the Colossians over those I know and love.

This prayer speaks what seems impossible for the human condition, “…that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him.” I often struggle with the sin of my own heart and wonder if I will ever become who God intended me to be. However, I also know the power of our impossible God, the hope He gives, the mercy He pours, and the blood Jesus shed on the cross to gift me the opportunity of allowing my heart to be read through a filter of grace by the Almighty Himself. We have the power to escape the trap of sin because of forgiveness complimentary of agape love.

Today, I pray this prayer in Colossians over you. God looks at our hearts, searches, and knows us. He reads us through filters of grace and mercy through the Power of His Holy Spirit, which promises to break chains that nothing else has the power to break.

  • This week, I want to challenge you to write Paul’s prayer to the Colossians in your journal each day. Yes, that’s what I said. Write that prayer each and every day while committing to pray it over yourself and one other person throughout the week.

Love,

Jennifer

Your Hands Were Made for Unusual Miracles!

Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul..._

I look down at my hands and see small calluses on my palms from years of using cleaning products without gloves. I see the story of sunshine and recall teenage summer days without the slightest consideration for sunscreen. I reminisce forty-three years worth of life on these hands, and I sit lost in thought wondering how much I might have wasted them.

These days, my hands spend a lot of time turning pages in my Bible. I need to feel the crinkle of thin paper as I search scripture. Over the weekend, I was reading about Paul’s missionary journeys and I came across this:

Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul…

-Acts 19:11

Unusual miracles. I just can’t get those two words out of my head. God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul. And now as I look down at the hands I own; the hands God gave me, I wonder if He might consider doing the same through these callused, sun soaked hands as He did through Paul’s. I want these hands to work unusual miracles in whatever way that might mean for my life. I want to be used.

We seem to get carried away with the idea that unusual miracles means curing cancer or giving the blind sight, but I think God gives us power and opportunities to perform unusual miracles of which we are completely unaware.

I consider my hands as they make dinner for my family, caress my children’s heads as I pray for them, hold my husband’s hand as we lie in bed. I think of typing these letters to you and holding the microphone at church as I use my voice to minister. My fingers touch the piano and I can’t help but wonder if my song could be praise enough to move mountains without my knowledge.

Through it all, I’ve come to the conclusion that we are ALL living miracles created by a living God who desperately wants to use us. I think of His willingness to breathe life and make us whole while giving us hands to love, live, honor, respect, and pray. I believe we make choices everyday with our hands that cause unusual miracles. And, maybe it’s not years of sunshine on my hands. Maybe it’s years of God’s glory showing in the form of lines communicating the broken and beautiful of everyday. Maybe it’s not age as much as it’s His handiwork.

I’m no one special. I would love to stand on my soapbox and tell you that in the name of Jesus I would be willing and able to do what the apostle Paul did. But, friend, I can’t begin to identify with his trials and tribulations, and I’m not going to pretend I can. What I will say is that I want to be like that. I want to be brave enough, bold enough, eager enough, obedient enough. And most of all, I want my hands to bring God glory. However, I know I can only do that by being willing enough to say yes.

From now on, I’m going to work on waking up every morning with hands stretched in obedience and surrender to whatever He wants to use them for. I’ve never been more excited about serving the God who specializes in unusual miracles!

May we each serve the God of unusual miracles as He tells His story through our lives, may we feel the peace that comes from knowing we have opportunity to be His hands, and may we gaze at our own hands in awe of His capability to work in and through our lives.

You’re worth more than you know, and God can do more through your hands than you ever thought possible!

Love,

Jennifer

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Balancing Contentment While Striving for Completion

balance between completion and contentmentLast week, I had a conversation with someone where I discussed the possibility of some major changes in my life. In the midst of the exchange I said, “I’m still trying to figure out what to be when I grow up.” I’m sure at some point you may have said something like that yourself.

The apostle Paul talks about being content in every state we find ourselves. He said he learned contentment. Learned behaviors are studied for a reason: they aren’t natural. Contentment needed to be learned by the Apostle, and I’m still learning myself. You too?

Contentment in the middle of growth requires balance. Personally, I need to feel the push and pull of life in order to move me in a direction I may not have otherwise traveled in.

Recently, I wrote a post speaking of something else Paul said: Become complete.

Completion is calling my name as if it were a close friend longing to see me. The problem is that whenever I feel like I’m making progress in my journey, I become weary and worn down, as if I’m too tired to continue making strides in the calling God placed on my life. I’m not exactly content with who I am, and I know there’s something more, yet I find myself discouraged throughout the process of completion.

Now, here’s the hope in all this: regardless of how I may feel, I’m following close behind Him, allowing Him to lead. Are you?

The truth is, I don’t know exactly what my future holds, but none of us do. Am I right? I’m not content with who I am now, but I’m called to become complete, and that means continuing to persevere for Christ’s glory. When life isn’t going my way, I need to rely on Paul’s call to contentment and continue studying the lives of biblical patriarchs who have gone before me.

Today I read Psalm 63:8. King David wrote…

My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.

I see every single answer to any uncertainty we face wrapped up tightly inside that verse. If we follow close to Him, He will uphold us. We might feel as if we are slipping and even standing in the wrong places at times, but if we follow, we cannot go wrong.

Maybe you are feeling a little bit like me right now: stuck. And, maybe you long, just like me, to become unstuck. I’m certain that if we follow where He leads, we will be on the road to completion. We will learn balance and contentment in who we are now, all while knowing and understanding what changes we must make in order to become complete.

Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.

-Psalm 62:8

May there be favor in your Friday and hope in your weary bones.

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

A Spiritual Battle Buddy

"Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

“Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

2 Timothy 1:3-7

I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (N.K.J.V.)

Paul wrote 2 Timothy from prison. In the above passage, He encouraged Timothy with some of the most inspiring words to ever flow from the pen of a mentor. As followers of Christ, all of us have a responsibility to build one another up with love and hope. This is the purpose of this blog and quite specifically of today’s post.

I love when Paul tells Timothy that he is mindful of his tears. He is unashamed in his love for the young man he affectionately addresses as his beloved son. Paul tells him to stir up the gift of God inside of him. So, today, I want you to know I am praying for you. I may not know you by name, but God does. I need you to know I am mindful of your tears. I understand your brokenness, because just like you I have been broken too.

My brother was in the army. When serving, he always had a battle buddy: two people who learned to stick together and watch out for each other. You may not know me personally through a face-to-face relationship, but today I’m your spiritual battle buddy. I’m fighting for you with prayer.

I pray God uses each tear that falls from your eyes for good. I’m standing firm in faith that you will be restored in every area of your life. I pray you always use your gifts to glorify the Most High God Who breathed them directly into your soul. I pray you find true peace, which only comes from Him. I’m believing you will walk free of fear, that your joy will be full, and you experience love.

God bless you,

Jennifer

 

 

How Important is Discipleship?

"Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

“Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Dr. Seuss

Discouragement can be a sharp weapon. It cuts deep and has the ability to stop positive growth in an otherwise fruitful life. Most people who have been successful at following their dreams have learned to stare discouragement in its ugly face and let it know it is unwelcome. We’ve all heard the story about Walt Disney’s bout with bankruptcy as well as many examples like his. They help us feel better and keep knocking the doors down in pursuit of our dreams. However, what happens when the dreams are deeper than a mere business venture?

  • What about parents who ache for their children to serve the Lord?
  • What about the family dealing with either the illness or death of a child?
  • What about the woman crying behind closed doors who cannot escape an abusive relationship?
  • What about the couple struggling with infertility or pregnancy loss?
  • What about the couples who cannot afford to give their children Christmas presents?
  • What about the widows and orphans?

We need to take an active role in becoming someone’s Barnabas.

Acts 4:36

And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated son of encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus. (N.K.J.V.)

The Apostle Paul had Barnabas. Barnabas, According to Acts 4:36, literally means son of encouragement.  Everybody needs a Barnabas in their life. I’ve discussed this in a past post, but recently God has placed the importance of discipleship on my heart more than ever before.

If we want to grow in the Lord we need to take His commands seriously. The words one another are used frequently throughout the Bible. As I have been digging in to what discipleship really is and how God wants to use us as vessels to encourage and equip others, the following scriptural commands has shined a brand new light in my life.

  • Love one another (John 13:34)
  • Be kindly affectionate to one another (Romans 12:10)
  • Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
  • Pray for one another (James 5:16)
  • Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  • Forgive one another (Colossians 3:13)
  • Minister your gifts to one another (1 Peter 4:10)

I would like to ask you to take some time to read the verses I have listed. Fit them into your week and try to live them. These are tall orders, and they sometimes take time to grasp. I’m doing the same thing in my life right now.

We all need a Barnabas. And because we all need one… we all must learn to be one. (Tweet that)

Love

Be kind

Serve

Pray

Bear a burden

Forgive

Minister your gifts

By following these God given principles you will unlock chains in your life and experience freedom like never before…