PRAYER AND PRAISE

By Lori Willard

If a family member answered the phone and they discovered the person on the other end of the line was Billy Graham, and he was calling for you, would you drop everything to speak with him?  Well…The Lord of the Universe – The King of Kings – is calling for you to exchange words with you.  Will you answer His call?

31 Days of Prayer and 31 Days of Praise by Ruth and Warren Myers have influenced my times of prayer and praise over the past few months.  The prayers and praises are broken down into daily times with God based on the scriptures that guide you.  In the books, they record Bible passages so you can rewrite the prayers if you choose to do so.  A few thoughts from their books have given me new insights or have reinforced ideas already known.  I have modified some of those thoughts to share from my perspective.

The Word and prayer keeps us connected to God – then links our lives with God’s purposes and power.  The Word and prayer bring us into a loving relationship with God.  We also realize through this relationship, how much we need Him so we prayerfully choose to depend on Him.

Praying for others – intercession – moves us from “give me” prayers to partnering with God on others’ behalf.  Philippians 4:6 says that He desires to hear our needs, but wants us to move beyond those prayers.  The Lord’s Prayer has 7 petitions – 6 of them focus on God’s purposes and our spiritual needs – 1 focuses on our practical needs.  God wants us to grow in prayer as we continue to commune with Him.

There are all kinds of prayer, for example:  praise, thanksgiving, confessing our sins, quiet communion, our needs, loved ones and others.  However, God desires us to partner with Him in our prayers.  What does God want me to pray about?  Jesus prays for us in John 17 and Hebrews 7:25.  The Holy Spirit helps us in prayer according to Romans 8:26.  How awesome to join His inner circle of prayer with Him!

Praise and Thanksgiving helps us rise above our self-centeredness to a God-centeredness.  It focuses our hearts and minds on the Lord and makes us more dependent on Him.  God gives us joy, spiritual vigor and an overcoming attitude as we focus on Him.

Praises allows the Lord to turn grief, distresses, and struggles into peace.  Praise during times of blessings and during times of trials enables us to “rise above” because we know that the Lord has promised never to leave us or forsake us – Hebrews 13:5; so we can say, along with David, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” NKJV

God chooses to use prayer, praise, reading His Word, Bible study, and fellowship with true believers, etc. all to bring us closer to Him.  May we not neglect the most important details of our relationship with Him but instead – PRESS ON, PRAY ON!

Philippians 3:13-16 “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.  Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” NKJV

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Michigan District WMF Retreat

Held April 25-26, 2014

Michigan Retreat 0414--LW--web ready

 

The cold temps did not keep the Michigan women from coming to Lake Ellen Bible Camp near Crystal Falls, Michigan!  They were tucked into cozy rooms and comfy great areas to learn more of “Loving God’s Abundant Life” from John 10:10.

 

Carol Mackey--LW--web ready

 

 

Carol Mackey was the MC and had us giggling despite the recent loss of her mom.  Much reflection took place as we “examined ourselves”, allowed the Lord to do “heart surgery” on us, learned how to study the Bible on our own, shared how the Lord abundantly blesses us as we spend time with Him and learned how we can, in turn, share those blessings with others.

 

One of the participants wrote:
“Thanks so much for all you have shared with us here at Lake Ellen.  It was no accident that I came this weekend.  All you have shared from God’s word and what was on your heart has blessed me and was just what I needed to hear.  God is good!  I am so glad that you and your friends were willing to give of yourselves to encourage and bless me more than you know.  Your love for Jesus and a desire that others do too radiates from within you.  My life was so blessed in a mighty way today.  God bless you as you continue the work for the sake of the Kingdom.”

Another wrote:
“Thank you so much for coming all this way to spend today with us!  What a blessing to be among sisters in the Lord, and be encouraged and challenged.  We are in a rough season of life, and I often find my “tank” dry.  To be in God’s presence without the stressors, spending time drawing strength from His Word is absolutely essential, to be able to go back and face the battle head-on!  God IS good, and it will be HE that brings us through.  Thank you so much!”

And to that we say, “To God be the glory!”

If your ladies’ group desires for a National WMF Board Member or representative to encourage your women in the Word or would like to learn more about WMF, please contact:

Dawn Johnson
WMF Executive Secretary
2991 30TH Ave., Wilson, WI 54027
(715) 772-4454
ctk@wwt.net OR wmf.es@aflc.org

Michigan Retreat Waiting--LW--web ready

Resurrection of Jesus Christ

By Lori Willard

A Heavenly Inheritance

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Peter 1:3-5   (NKJV)

RESURREC’TION, noun s as z. [Latin resurrectus, resurgo; re and surgo, to rise.]

A rising again; chiefly, the revival of the dead of the human race, or their return from the grave, particularly at the general judgment. By the resurrection of Christ we have assurance of the future resurrection of men.

Webster’s Dictionary 1828

Since we have just celebrated Easter, here are some thoughts to ponder regarding the remembrance of our Savior’s Resurrection Day.  My husband and I were convicted this year that we did not focus our attention on Easter as much as we focus our attention on Christmas.  God helped us to change our thinking and actions.  We should truly be grateful that our Heavenly Father gave us Jesus Christ in His birth but what was Jesus’ purpose; what was the vital task of His Father?  He came to redeem a lost race; to seek and to save that which was lost. (Lk.19:10 NKJV)

Fellow Christian – Christ died for our sins, and rose again on the third day because God is satisfied with Christ’s atoning sacrifice!  We have a living hope because of His resurrection!  Do we realize what a daily blessing is ours?  We have a hope that only comes to us through Jesus – the only man on this earth that came back to life on His own power because He is God!!!  Through faith in Christ, we will receive the same resurrection to eternal life. What a precious gift our Father has given to us – Eternal Life through His Son!!!

May we remember that Christmas is a blessing but Easter is an ongoing blessing – well into Eternity – for those who put their faith in Him for their salvation!

Truly – To God Be the Glory Great Things He Has Done! – for each and every one of us as we turn our hearts and ways to Him!!  Eternal Life is ours from that moment and beyond!

May we focus on His resurrection and realize that:

He has RISEN!  He has risen INDEED!

Abundant Life

By Lori Willard

Abundant – “ABUND’ANT, adjective Plentiful; in great quantity; fully sufficient; as an abundant supply. In scripture, abounding; having in great quantity; overflowing with.

The Lord God is abundant in goodness and truth. Exodus 34:6.”

Taken from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

John 10:7-11

New King James Version (NKJV)

Jesus the Good Shepherd

7 “Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”

Jesus not only provides us life; but also, He provides abundant life – to the full!  It all begins with the Holy Spirit bringing us to recognize our need for the Good Shepherd to save us from our sinful nature and to direct our lives.  We are nothing without Him!  We enter this abundant life through Jesus – The Door.  Included in this full life is pasture which provides shelter/protection from enemies, food to eat, a place to rest, and most importantly – A Good Shepherd Who watches over us and does His work through us.  Abundant life is ours if we do not resist the Holy Spirit leading us to “The Door” and we allow the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to be our guide, always.

Protection is found in our Jesus Who has promised to never leave us or forsake us.  Hebrews 13:5.  We have protection whether we are in the sheepfold – a place where sheep are collected, and protected – (Devotional Time with the Lord, Church Worship Services, etc.) or in the green pastures of abundance (new eternal life here on earth and in Heaven) He is ever present with us.  Oh the joy to have peace and freedom found only in His presence!  Have you ever seen young lambs bounding and jumping for joy?!  The Lord wants the same for us spiritually, emotionally, mentally and quite possibly – physically.  J

John 14:27 NKJV

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NKJV

Vs. 17” Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

Jesus mentions thief, thieves and robbers in connection with this abundant life.  They come to steal, kill and destroy.  We are deaf to them.  We have ears only for our Great Shepherd.  We listen to Him through His Word and His Holy Spirit.  We follow only Him.  John 10:1-5.  Jesus warns us of those evil deceivers but He is ever present to protect us and comfort us from them.  No one can snatch us from His love for us.

Romans 8:35-39 NKJV

Vs. 35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Vs. 36 As it is written:  “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Vs. 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 

Vs. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 

Vs. 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In the pasture, we:

EAT, DRINK, LIVE, PLAY – How He desires for us to feed and grow in His word; and to apply His Word in our daily lives while in the world!

Psalm 1 NKJV The Way of the Righteous and the End of the Ungodly

Vs. 1 “Blessed is the man
          Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
          Nor stands in the path of sinners,
          Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

Vs. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
         And in His law he meditates day and night.

Vs. 3 He shall be like a tree
         Planted by the rivers of water,
        That brings forth its fruit in its season,
        Whose leaf also shall not wither;
        And whatever he does shall prosper.

Vs. 4 The ungodly are not so,
          But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.

Vs. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
          Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

Vs. 6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
         But the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

Meditating is another word for MUSE – Deep thought; close attention or contemplation, to ponder; to think closely; to study in silence.   When we want to illustrate the opposite of something, we usually put the letter “a” in front of it, for example, AMUSE – which means to not think deeply, not to pay attention to, not to contemplate,  not to ponder, not to think closely, not to study in silence, etc.  We need to be careful to muse on His Word.

REST

Psalm 94:12-15 NKJV

Vs. 12 “Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord,
           And teach out of Your law,

Vs. 13 That You may give him rest from the days of                           adversity, Until the pit is dug for the wicked.

Vs. 14 For the Lord will not cast off His people,
           Nor will He forsake His inheritance.

Vs. 15 But judgment will return to righteousness,
           And all the upright in heart will follow it.” 

The Lord does several things for us as we feed on His word:

  1. Instructs or disciples us in truth.
  2. Guides us in His law.
  3. Gives us rest or relief from evil days until the very end when the pit is finally completed for the wicked and we are together in Heaven with Him.
  4. He also provides us encouragement.

He promises He will not:

  1. Cast off or abandon His people.
  2. Forsake His inheritance.  Forsake: To quit or leave entirely; to desert; to abandon; to depart from.

Friends and flatterers forsake us in adversity.

Jesus is The Door to eternal life and fullness in this life because the judgment that was intended for us was placed on Him.  We are transformed to righteousness through faith in Him.  We will follow that righteousness.

Through Him, we go out from the sheepfold, into the green pastures, and there, Jesus continues to go with us.  He provides us strength, endurance, ability, joy, peace, patience, etc. (Galatians 5:22, 23) to the FULL so we can fulfill His will for us – to just “be” with Him or to carry out His ministry through us.

Oh!  The fulfillment this brings!  He planned this indescribable abundance He has for each of us before we were even born.  Life to the full!

In the movie, “Second Hand Lions”, a nephew was being interviewed regarding his deceased uncles.  The interviewer said, “Well, they died with their boots on!  Did they really LIVE?!”  The nephew said, with a smile on his face, “YES!  They REALLY lived!!”  May we say the same about our lives with Jesus too!!

 

A Heart of Thankfulness and Praise

By Lori Willard

When frustrating trials come into your life, do you wonder, “Why me?” Instead of frustration, do you long for a life of peace?

Romans 13:33-36

33“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”35 “Or who has first given to Him, And it shall be repaid to him?” 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (NKJV)

Often, our initial thoughts and responses to adversity are not the best; but, as we welcome the Holy Spirit’s work in us, the Lord is so gracious to give us wisdom and knowledge to change our thoughts and responses to conform to His desire for us.  In turn, we glorify Him and are used by Him more effectively.  As a result, He brings us into a deeper relationship with Him.

Recently, a friend was challenged by many difficulties in her life.  With so much heaviness, she had gotten a heart of negativity.  What a blessing that the Lord performed “heart surgery” for me just a few days earlier!  I was able to share some of His blessings to me with her.

I asked her to hold out her hand – palm facing down.  I explained that down represented the negative thoughts.  Then I asked her to hold out her hand – palm facing up.  I further described that upward facing hand represented our positive thoughts.  Also, we are then in a position to receive from our Heavenly Father and to offer praise to Him.  The Lord illustrated to me, through my devotions, that He wanted me to turn my thoughts right side up and begin to thank Him and praise Him for all He had done.  I was led, also, to thank Him for future blessings that He sees in me, my family, my church, my community, and my world even if those blessings are not yet seen by me or others.

Negative thoughts feed in to Satan’s realm and we begin to have heavy hearts and sour souls.  We also lose hope.  When we have thankful hearts – full of praise – it gives God the glory.  Which is better?

Psalm 50 (read as you have time) explains that the Mighty One, God the Lord, wants us to gather together because He has a message for us.  He wants us to know that He is God, our God!  He sees the good work we are doing and will not rebuke us for our sacrifices.  However, even more, His heart’s desire is that we have an attitude of thanksgiving and praise.  Verse 14 and 15 says, “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High.  Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me.”   Verses 22 and 23 further state, “Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces, And there be none to deliver:  Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.”  God is really asking His people to not forget Him and to glorify Him in all we do, to examine our lives, and He will show us His salvation.

Oh!  What a joyful blessing to have the Holy Spirit work in and through us!  Please consider taking time to have the Lord examine your life.  Check in with Him often.  Agree with His ways instead of your ways.  In Isaiah 30:15 the Lord says, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Turn your thinking right side up!  Do not resist those trials!  Thank God for them because trials stretch and grow us!  God has promised He will be with us through our trials.  In Hebrews 13:5 the Lord says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Offer Him a thankful heart – full of praise – through words, song, prayer, etc. which will glorify Him!  The Holy Spirit will bring to you a heart full of hope, peace and joy that only He can give – all combined – to prepare us to receive His will in and through our lives!