The Power of Prayer by Trish

Just recently I was watching the news and heard the tragic story of a little boy who went missing while playing with his cousins outdoors. The family lived near a wooded area but it was unknown if he had wandered off, or if he was kidnapped. It was a tragedy and I cannot imagine the horror this family went through. Instantly I said a prayer for his safe return. As of a couple of days ago the news broke that the little boy was found, unharmed, with only scratches from his two days in the woods where he had wandered into. 

I know there were countless prayers across the country for his safe return and it was nothing short of a miracle that this young boy survived the weather conditions, and was safely returned to his family. What if there was no one praying? God longs to hear and answer the cries of His children. He delights in the faith we place in Him. In fact, without it, it’s impossible to please Him. (Hebrews 11:6) 

I was speaking to my best friend the other day who happens to be “Supermom,” she’s amazing! She was sharing how one night she encouraged her two young children to pray with her. As they sat down, she said, “Let’s just pray in the Spirit and if God reveals something to your heart, pray it out.” Her young son tapped her leg and said he felt like God was showing him a little boy in Africa and called him by name, saying he no longer wanted to go to church. My friend said, “Well, keep praying to see if God shows you anything else and we will believe that God will turn this young boy’s heart back to church.” We will never know the outcome of this story on this side of heaven, but I believe in my heart that a little boy in Africa is turning his affections back to God and to church and the prayer of little boy here in the U.S. was used by God for this to happen! 

Now, I know many of you reading this would say, “That is too far-fetched.” But as you nurture your relationship with God and spend time in prayer, the Holy Spirit will reveal things to you and teach you how to pray specific prayers in faith.  

I remember when I moved to Phoenix years ago. I was 18 years old and I move there with nothing but $500 in the bank, and a whole lot of faith. I was trusting God for a car, and I knew what I had to work with wasn’t much, but I trusted the Lord. Each morning my precious mentor would require me to meet at 5:00 am for prayer. I hated it at first because I wanted to sleep, but it instilled a lifestyle of prayer in me.  One morning, I felt God lay on my heart to spend 3 days praying in the Holy Spirit during my lunch break about a car. This was on a Monday and for 3 days I obeyed and prayed. In my mind I thought I was praying about a car I was going to get. 

The final day of my 3-day assignment was on a Wednesday and that night, coming home from church, I was in horrible car accident at one of the busiest intersections in downtown Phoenix. Someone running a red light struck us on my side of the vehicle.  That pushed our car over to the curb, beyond the lanes of where oncoming traffic would be. Thankfully, there wasn’t any oncoming traffic at that specific time. My side of the car was so damaged I couldn’t open my door.  I remember searching my body to see if anything was broken or cut and nothing.  I climbed out of the driver’s side and was completely fine.  My mentor was also coming home from church and saw the scene of a bad accident. I saw her car pass by and screamed her name. She turned around and drove me home that night. I walked away with only a bruise on my chest from the seatbelt, and a back that just needed a good adjustment. All parties involved were fine! As we drove home I was quiet and just thanking God for His protection when I heard God speak to my heart, “This is the car you’ve been praying over for 3 days.” I still get emotional when I think of this story.  

Sometimes we think of prayer as a checklist or something we do to “clock in” our time with God when actually prayer is for our benefit.  The Holy Spirit guides us and teaches us things to come. The Bible says that even now Jesus is at the right hand of the Father praying for us. If Jesus Himself has a prayer life, how much more do we need one? 

Prayer with the Father is so much more than making our requests known although that is part of it. It is communion and sweet fellowship with the Lover our souls. The One, who created us, knows us by name and even knows the number of hairs on our heads. He knows you, He loves you and He longs to hear your voice in prayer! 

By the way, the end of my story is sweeter still.  By Friday of that same week, God laid it on the hearts of a beautiful couple to give me my first car. God is good and His mercy endures forever!

Immeasurably More Love by Sonya

“Through Christ may you know the 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, forever and ever! Amen.”Ephesians 3:19-21​

This Christmas season I want you to take these verses to heart and believe them. These verses really help to understand Christ’s love for us, and how deep God’s love is for us, to have His son born on Christmas to show us that. There is nothing we can do or say that will keep us from Christ’s love or make Him loves us more no matter what. Knowing Christ’s love for each of us will help you understand how Great God’s love is and it is so much greater than what we could ever imagine. This can be hard to comprehend, and I am in that season where it is difficult to think how God can love us so much just as we are. I mess up all the time and have a hard time loving myself and so my vision is blurred from how God sees me.  But when I look through God’s lens, and He tells me I am His daughter, His masterpiece, and His love is unconditional, I see that nothing I do or say will make Him view me any differently. Wow, that is mind blowing and as humans we have a hard time understanding that. Our flesh gets in the way of truly believing how much God loves us. ​

Understand God’s love through His Son this Christmas by realizing God loves us first and He loves you more than anyone else. Also God’s love is eternal and will last forever and His love is unconditional no matter what you do. Lastly His love is immeasurable.  We can’t ever put into words or describe the love He has for us because it is so remarkable. So remarkable in a way that God sent Christ to come to earth on Christmas, so He could die for us and that we could have everlasting life with Him. How amazing is this and I want to understand that kind of love this Christmas. Who is with me? Our identity needs to be rooted in Christ and fully understanding His love will set us free. Are we ready to receive the greatest Christmas gift? God’s love is immeasurably more than what we could ask for with no strings attached. ​

I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore continued my faithfulness to you.”Jeremiah 31:3​

Now that you receive the love, go out and spread His love to those around you and let the Christmas spirit spread everywhere you go! Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Photo Credit: Free Pik

Reckless Love by Kenika

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you own a radio, television, computer or even just a phone, you have probably heard the 2018 GMA Dove Award winning “Song of the Year” “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury.  It’s a Sunday morning staple all around the country and undeniably the world.  We belt out, at the top of our lungs, with no shame, the lyrics that speak to how God will stop at nothing to pursue us with His love.  It’s “overwhelming, never-ending, and reckless,” just to name a few words from the lyrics.  It breaks down every barrier and cuts through every obstacle just to pursue closeness with us.  We all get that tingly feeling in our hearts and spirits when we take a moment to let that sink in, and it touches a lot of us in our relationships with Jesus.  The thought that no matter what I do, or what attempts to be done to me, He’ll leave the “99” just to come after one, and that one is me.

The idea of the reckless love of God is very real to me, but through a conversation with a co-worker I came to understand it on an even deeper level.  She was telling me of her background and growing up in a different religion than Christianity. Throughout her lifetime she was very hurt by this organization and, as an adult, had sworn off all religion.  She was determined to never be involved with any god.  Then she met two friends.  One of them gently, and nicely invited her to church regularly during various activities they did together.  Then, another friend came in with a little stronger approach, letting her know that she needed to develop a relationship with God.  This went on for over a year when she finally gave in and visited a church service.  As the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was being preached, she couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed, to the point that tears were running down her face.  She realized Jesus had died for her sins, and contrary to what the other religion taught her, she could be close to and have a relationship with God as a result. Not through anything she had done or could do, but through what had already been done on the cross.  She made a decision to receive Christ as her Savior that same day and never looked back.

In the other religion she was a part of, everything was works based. God’s love and your connection to His people was predicated on what you do.  However the true Gospel turns all of that on its head in that, “But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 CSB) Before we could do anything right or wrong, He died for our sins.  Which means there is no amount of work we can do to earn God’s love.  He gave us His Son, as the sacrificial Lamb, because of His love.  Her story encouraged me in that it demonstrates how patient and loving God is in His pursuit of us. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, He stops at nothing with His reckless love. As we approach Christmas, we are reminded of the birth of Jesus.  Take a moment to thank our Father for allowing Jesus to be born, that He might die, in order to demonstrate God’s overwhelming, never-ending love for me and you.

 

photocredit: dreamstime

A Love That Conquers All by Trish

 

This month will mark two years since my mother’s transition to heaven. Some days it feels like it was just yesterday but most days it feels like it was an eternity ago. I still have vivid memories of her final days and the interactions, words exchanged and precious moments shared.

It was an urge or unction to be with her when she celebrated her birthday on November 14thof 2016 and I arrived at the University of Iowa hospital the day prior. She was pretty weak and groggy when I arrived and although her body was exhausted, she perked up when she saw me walk in her room. As we celebrated her birthday in the hospital, two of her grandsons sang to her “Happy Birthday” and she mustered up strength to smile and give hugs. I didn’t know that life would hit me hard two days following when a team of doctors and specialists surrounded her bed and said there was nothing more to be done. I don’t know if it was denial or ignorance, but I then asked what my options were for her home health care, or a facility.  It took them saying it twice as they were carefully trying to tell me she wouldn’t be leaving the hospital and we only had days left. My mom looked at me and said, “I’m going to die, aren’t I?” I nodded my head and then buried it in her pillow next to her face as she said, “At least I was able to go to your wedding.” I cried using the pillow to muffle the noise but when I lifted my head up, a supernatural strength and grace empowered me for what would be her last seven days. When I asked what her goal was for her remaining days, she said, “I want to be here for Jeremiah’s (my nephew) birthday,” which was November 20thand on November 21stshe took her last natural breath.

 

The days following November 21, 2016 has had its share of ups and downs. I found myself as a new bride, stepmom and now a daughter missing the only person who has known me since my life began. My mom was a single parent and so I felt this immense void when the one person who provided andprotected was gone. When days were tough, she was there, when days were good, she was there. No matter what, she was always there and now, well, she was gone. I had to adjust to a new normal.

Although I missed her dearly most of what I was dealing with came from external sources. I was having to balance many things at one time.  There were days I felt as though my back was against a wall with so much pressure pinning me there. I wasn’t depressed or emotionally weak, I was grieving.

Yet in the midst of all of that I would feel a strength on the inside of me pushing me to do what was necessary day by day. It was that same type of strength I felt come in the hospital room the day the doctors delivered their report.

You see it’s a strength that doesn’t make sense. It’s a strength that surpasses the natural and enables you to do what is uncommon.  Though I may have felt weak, God’s strength was being perfected in me as I leaned on Him.

My mom was not a perfect person she had flaws and frailties just like each one of us. Yet, she had this incredible and undeniable faith that even astounded the doctors as she transitioned. That faith, that strength and that hope can only be found in Christ and she shared that gift with us from the time we were born and testified of it until her last day on earth. In her final days, I saw love perfected in her. I saw love conquer so much of what she struggled with even in her physical being. I saw love surround her with such a peace that it filled the atmosphere and drove away all fear.

Two years later and I miss her just as much. The memories are so dear and I long for the day when I get to see her again. But until then I lean on the love that carries me and will see me (and you) through.

This love that encompasses such a strength is only found in the person of Jesus Christ. He is not a character we read about to children during bedtime story hour. This person, holy person of Jesus Christ came to redeem us and reunite our heart to the Father. The immense love He has for us will strengthen us in our time of weakness, give us hope when there is none to be found and conquer every battle we face. This love will chase us down when we want to run and hide. This love will break every barrier around our heart and not allow the pain we experience to harden it.  This love will bring healing to the very core of what you thought would destroy you. This love will hold you when you’re broken and will restore what you thought was lost forever.

You may feel pain and experience loss or hurt but lean on the love that is waiting for you found in Jesus. This love will conquer all.

As I close out this article I’m reminded of the lyrics to “Reckless Love.”  Read the lyrics or listen to this version of the song and be reminded of a love that conquers all and allows you to move forward in life  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjIsfyBzywg

 

Reckless Love -Songwriters: Caleb Culver / Cory Asbury / Ran Jackson

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so, so kind to me

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me

And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

Photo credit: Freepik