Prayer Lifeline

I Prosper in All MY Relationships

Relationships are important if you want to be a praying person. God uses you to intervene for those whom you’ve developed a friendship with or for those who are in your neighborhood. You can’t know that someone needs your prayers if you have not made yourself available to that person. Relationships are important but your character is also important. People will be attracted to someone of integrity, rather than someone of questionable character.

Years ago, when I first began living on my own, my first room-mate was not a person of integrity. Even though we both worked for a popular bank, at night she was a hooker. I only found out about her after moving into her apartment. It didn’t take me long to find another place to live. But even then, most of my friends were people who looked out for themselves and cared little for the needs of others.

A few years later, after I was introduced to the Lord, I discovered that there were a whole other group of people. Not all, but many whom I met after becoming a Christian, not only cared about others, but went out of their way to help anywhere they could. In Luke 2:52, Dr. Luke says, “And Jesus grew in stature and wisdom and in favor with God and man.” As a believer, I began to grow in the same way, surrounded by Godly people. Through the Words I studied in the scriptures, I began to see the difference between those who walked closely with God and those who didn’t.

I also discovered the difference between true friends, and those sunny day friends. People of integrity care about you, no matter what, and will come alongside to support you in everything you do and for whomever the Lord has called you to minister. The ‘friends’, and use the term loosely, I had before were only there to have a good time so as long as you were the life of the party, they were your friend. If you had a grievance – like your father dying – they didn’t want to hear about it.

To be a praying person, we need to develop relationship with the people God places around us. We need to be a person of integrity so they will know they can trust us with their lives, their hurts, and their successes. Jesus is our example and others saw in Him, a person they could trust because he “grew in stature and wisdom and in favor with God.”

Are you a person who can be trusted, a person of integrity? Do you seek to build relationships with those around you? Open your heart and your life to others. Become a prayer lifeline for the people in your life, today, and for always.

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I Live Under a Supernatural Protection

Touched By An Angel

Has anyone ever encountered an angel … that you know of? Have you ever experienced something that seemed unexplainable? About 30 years ago, my husband and I, with our four children, were driving from Calgary to Winnipeg. The day was extremely hot and we were on a part of the highway that seems straight as an arrow. You could see both ways and we saw no other vehicle than ours.

The vehicle we were driving had a gas gauge problem, one that my husband had managed to anticipate throughout our one month trip. Now, however, it began to sputter. No fuel. The temperature was near triple digits. We had no choice but to glide over to the side of the road. We were out of gas.

We prayed that God would intervene. The Bible says in Psalm 91:14, “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him, I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.” We chose to believe that God cared for us and our children. We chose to believe that He answers prayers, and that He had the perfect answer even though we couldn’t see one ourselves.

All that we could see were wheat fields but no traffic, either coming or going. A small side road intersected with the highway and when we looked there, no vehicle was in sight. What we could see, over the heads of grain, was a grain elevator.

My husband decided to walk there to see if help was available. As he stepped out of the car, he looked behind our vehicle and there sat a gas truck. The driver was getting out so my husband approached him. “We’re out of gas,” he told the driver.

“Well, I think I can help with that,” The man replied and then proceeded to grab a jerry can from the back of his truck. He pumped a few gallons in the can and then emptied it into our gas tank. When asked what we owed him, the man said nothing and then proceeded to tell us of a town twelve miles down the highway where we could fill up.

After expressing his heartfelt thanks, my husband turned to go back to the car. He placed his right foot into the car and looked back to wave his thanks again. There was nothing there. No truck and we had not seen him drive by us. My husband stepped out of the car again and looked both ways down the highway. There were no vehicles there or on the side road.

We came to the conclusion that God had stepped into our lives through an angel … one who drove a gas truck. God loves us and protects us. He uses his angels to do some of the work but He also uses other people to bring about that protection. Maybe you have a similar story to tell. Remember to acknowledge the source of your protection and then allow God to use you to help someone else.

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Forget Me Not

More Than Bells
Preparation For Prayer

This morning, I groggily rolled out of bed much earlier than I wanted to, my mind in a whirl about the writing projects on my plate. I tried reading a little but the lack of sleep only made me want to close my eyes again. I shuffled about, getting dressed, making my bed, and brewing my first cup of coffee for the day. Hoping. And then I remembered.

Why does God take a back seat to all the other junk that filters into our brain? I have been a Christian long enough to know that, if I place Him first, my day will run more smoothly. My mind will focus better, and I will feel energized. But more often than not, He is the one who comes after I’ve tried everything else.

The psalmist, in Psalm 103:2-3, tells us, “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits — who forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases.” And he right. We shouldn’t forget where our benefits come from and who our healer is, even if He uses the doctors to do so. God places us right up there beside His Son, Jesus Christ when He calls us one of His children. Our morning should begin with our thoughts focused on Him.

Trust and Obedience are part of the issue. Who do I place my trust in? Most of the time, it’s me. How stupid is that? I am a finite, sinful human being who makes mistakes all the time and yet … I trust in my own understanding, or action. Instead of or, at least, before I turn to the God of the Universe who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all those other characteristics that tell us about who He is.

His Word tells us to meditate on His instructions, His operation manual – The Bible – for our lives. But I disobey every time I plan my day without asking His opinion of what I should be doing. I disobey when I ignore His presence, His input, and His gifts for me … the ones I accept freely without consideration of the one who bestows them. That’s like only worse – than accepting a gift from my husband and never acknowledging that he gave me anything … taking him for granted. How many gifts would I receive from him if I had that attitude?

Begin right now. Look to your heavenly Father. Lay the plans made by you for your day before His feet. Thank God for the benefits and healing you’ve received from Him. Acknowledge who knows Best. A few – maybe a great many – years ago there was a TV show named Father Knows Best. In this case it’s true and we need to set aside our busy-ness, just for a short while, and order our day with Him in mind.

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Responsibility Comes First

I Walk in Ever Increasing Health

We all know of many people who suffer untold pain from debilitating diseases and yet, they are strong believers who walk closely with the Lord. We ask ourselves, “Why?” Why are these good people afflicted? Why doesn’t God heal them? When the children at Sandy Hook Elementary were murdered, where was God?

For decades, non-believers use the plight of close friends, and the devastation that strikes worldwide as an excuse to push God into the recesses of their thinking. The phrase ‘taking responsibility’ comes to mind. We don’t want to accept the fact that we live in a fallen world, where disease and tragedy are the norm, not because God wants to punish us, but because we are a disobedient lot and the decisions we make result in the chaos we see around us.

But … in Isaiah 53:4-5, the prophet tells us, “Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering and yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted but He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities. The Punishment that brought us peace was on Him and by His wounds we are healed.” First of all, this talks about Spiritual healing. For many, that’s where physical healing begins. Remember … this was written over 1000 years before Jesus ever went to the cross.

Isaiah tells us that Jesus took, not will take, but took. Even though He hadn’t done it yet, as far as the world could tell, Isaiah tells us that it’s a done deal. When it happened, I am sure there were many who thought as Isaiah describes. God punished Jesus. The fact is, Jesus went willingly so that we could be healed, so that we could have a way to make wise choices, an example to follow.

We are responsible for the state that the world is in and we are responsible for our health. But God heals either before we get sick, or during the illness, or when we get to heaven. I am healed because I believe that Jesus died on that cross for me because I needed Him to. I am a sinner and there was nothing I could do to help myself. I needed a perfect Savior and Jesus was the perfect substitute. He opened a way for me to walk through this sin-filed world sinless.

Our belief in Jesus heals us. God either protects us from a trial and we never see it, or He walks with us through the trial, or He takes us to heaven where there will be no more trials. Believers who suffer know this and just draw closer to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, knowing that their suffering will end … in God’s time and in God’s way.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have access to the truth of His healing power. You can walk through anything because you know, that whatever it is that you are enduring, it will end and in the meantime, your relationship with God will increase as you lean fully on Him.

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Once But Not Anymore

I Am Dead to Sin and Alive to Obeying God

Years ago, my husband and I used to visit a juvenile detention center in Iowa where teens were incarcerated to protect them from themselves. They had strict rules of conduct to follow, counselors who were constantly watching to make sure they made right choices, and consequences, if they chose to backslide.

We, along with other members of Christian Motorcycle Association, were there to provide them with a worship service where the gospel message was clearly presented. We had some who delivered a personal testimony, other members who played an instrument to lead in some simple worship songs, and someone who would present a short sermon leading to an opportunity to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Always, several young people would commit their life to the Lord, opening their heart to the follow-up studies that area churches lead on a weekly basis.

These young people learned Romans 6:11. It states that those who are followers of Jesus Christ can “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” By asking Jesus to take control of their lives, they could consider themselves dead to the wiles of the evil one. They could count on the fact that, with Jesus, they had someone who would give them the strength to resist temptation. They were no longer a slave to their impulses or their addictions, and they could take control of their lives once they were released from the center. They did not need someone to keep watch over them. They had Jesus.

These young people, and anyone who decides to allow Jesus to control them, discovered that life was so much sweeter when Jesus was calling the shots. They did not have to follow the crowd. They followed Jesus and He kept them clean, out of prison, and on a path that led to a fulfilling life free from addiction.
Were they free of ever making a mistake again? Never. But they certainly had tools to keep them from making as many life damaging choices as they had before. And they had someone to go to who would understand, forgive, and place them on the right path again. That’s what the authorities try to do when incarcerating them, but without Jesus, they return to the life they’ve always known and are bound to reoffend. Jesus offers them a choice and loves them through the transition to wholeness.

Take Jesus to those who are hurting. Offer them a choice. If you’ve never made this decision in your life, why not throw down your attempts to walk the straight and narrow. Do it with Jesus and He’ll keep your foot from sliding off the edge into a dangerous spot. Today can be the first day of the rest of your life making choices the benefit your life instead of leaving you with scar tissue. Think about it.

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God’s Provision

God Richly Supplies All My Financial Needs

Years ago, when our children were very young, a friend’s husband obeyed God’s call to seminary. At the time, they had three young girls and she was determined to remain a stay-at-home mom. They believed that if God wanted him there, He would provide. With college loans and grants, the funds for study arrived. But during that time, there were incidences when a bag of groceries would appear on their doorstep just when they needed it. Or someone would send a check in the mail when some bills were due.

Another couple’s business went into receivership. They lost everything except their home, because the husband had listened when he was advised not to tie his house to his business. God provided for them and their three children when a business associate offered him a job and advanced him a month’s salary. He provided through gifts from anonymous friends at a time of need.

In the Bible, in Philippians 4:19, Paul tells us, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Jesus Christ.” He knew this to be true because he was the recipient of many gifts thatGod provided through the churches he, Paul, started and encouraged. Paul was a tent-maker so while he did have a trade, he was also on the go so much that working his trade had to be difficult.

God does not want us to just sit back and wait on His provision.  He works through friends, through employment opportunities, through local social services, and through any number of sources. Seeking His provision can humble us, we who are so independent, in a way that nothing else can. We learn to receive when all we want to do is give. And we’ve probably done that many times when others were in need.

Someone told me once, that to deny someone the opportunity to give to us at a time when we’re in need, is to deny them an opportunity to minister. God uses people so we need to be open to His provision through the very people whom we befriended over the years. Maybe these are people who we shared our abundance with at one time or other.  We need to let them reciprocate … to minister to us.

Learn to be a receiver, as well as a giver. Look around and pray about whom you can minister to by providing some of the basics they are missing right now.  Accept the gift of food, clothing, or finances from people who will be blessed by ministering to you. Accept that God cares about the details of your life, including food and shelter.

There will be many over the next months, living in the aftermath of Sandy who need your help. You can be a giver,  if you’ve been blessed enough to live far away from that catastrophe or if you have more in your pantry than you truly need. If you are in need of help, accept the provisions God’s people drop on your doorstep and fall down on your knees to thank Him, who loves you immeasurably. Give and take … that’s what makes life worth living.

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Call to Pray

Has anyone heard the term Frankenstorm before? The airwaves are filled with it and long term forecasters, who believe weather is cyclical, say that this will not be the last. History has recorded it.

I have never lost all I possess. I am grateful. I can’t imagine what the people devastated by this storm are going through as they discover that possessions are fleeting. I know most of them are filled with gratitude that they are still alive as they focus on obtaining the basic necessities. I would be.

A few months ago, I lost all my Google accounts. I was at a loss, in the beginning, to even begin repairing the damage to my contacts, social media, and calendar. I rely heavily on being able to connect with people when a new book is published, or as we travel.

But now, it’s hard to imagine what I lost. Everything is back to normal except I have stronger passwords. The survivors of Sandy will one day pick up life again and not even remember many of the possessions they lost. They, maybe, will have learned a valuable lesson. That possessions are not to be their focus. God should be the one they focus on and the one they turn their lives over to. They’ve been given a call to pray.

For Christians, that call is even more urgent. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  We, who believe in the work that Jesus performed on the cross, are the righteous of God. James, the brother of Jesus, tells us that our prayers are powerful and effective. Praying for those around us is a command and once promised, a sin to omit. We need to prayer that God will do a mighty work on the hearts of people, a revival as never before.

Disasters have a tendency to point people toward heaven. There’s a saying that there are no atheists in a foxhole.  The people of the eastern states have been in a foxhole. Their attention has been drawn, as it was after 9/11, to God. Pray that they will heed His call on their lives.  Pray, as never before, for the salvation of friends, neighbors, and family members who have begun to question their existence and who just might accept that there is someone else controlling things besides their stock portfolio or the politicians.

Frankenstorm is a call to pray. Christians, the righteous of God, need to be on their knees, seeking the face of God, humbly acknowledging that He is in control, and turning from their sinful ways (2 Chronicles 7:14). Then God will turn this country around and restoration can take place, true restoration. Will you pray, today, tomorrow, and the day after? God is listening. Don’t disappoint Him.

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More Than Bells; Devotions  on Prayer

 

Most bikers understand the significance of a tiny bell hanging below the carriage of a motorcycle. Bikers who use them believe that this will keep them safe on the road. This devotional is about prayer, More Than Bells. We have the power, through a relationship with Almighty God, to affect the lives of ourselves and others as we intercede before the throne. When we pray, the heavenly Father hears and answers.

In order for your prayers to be effective, you must know and believe who you are, understanding that your power lies, not within yourself, but with your relationship with God … the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Romans 4:17 states that Abraham was given the title of the Father of All Nations by God because he believed in the “God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” (NIV) Romans 10:9,10 adds that “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” It is the understanding of who you are as a child of God, which gives wings to your prayers. The following pages will focus on your individual place as a believer, and the power that brings, as you offer up effective, fervent prayers for yourself and for those whom God has placed on your heart. Are the following statements true of you?

My Prayers Are Powerful and Effective

Straight Line to God

Often, when I am traveling around at a secular rally, people approach me to ask for prayer. I’ve often rebuffed their comment that I have a direct line to heaven and therefore God, explaining that anyone can pray. But if I believe that the Bible is true, and I do, then I have to believe that this unbelieving person is right. He doesn’t know why or what to do about it, unless I explain the path to salvation to him, but he does know that the prayers of a righteous man … or woman …. availed much.

In 2 Corinthians 5:21, we read, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” This verse means that if we believe in Jesus, we can become the righteousness of God and God hears the righteous. Jesus becomes our intercessor … our lawyer … before God once we have asked Him into our heart. So we do, in fact, have a direct line to God.

But do we live like it? How often do we walk through life and try to put our own muscle on our prayers instead of invoking the name of Jesus? Or for the matter, how often do we forget to even talk to Him at all?

Right now, over the internet and elsewhere, prayers are being lifted for the people devastated by this horrendous storm that’s just hit the eastern seaboard. How many of those prayers come from unbelieving people who only acknowledge God during a disaster? Does He hear them? Yes, of course, He does but He doesn’t have to answer. It’s the prayer of a righteous man whom God hears and answers. So that behooves those of us who are Christ followers to pray more fervently and regularly.

As Christians, our voices need to be lifted as intercessors for those who do not know Jesus and not just to fix their problems … turn their electricity on, feed them, clothe them, supply a home for them, or any of those very necessary requests. We must pray that God has gotten their attention and that they will do something about it. We must pray for their salvation.

This storm’s damage destroyed more in one night than Katrina did. The struggling economy of the United States will take another hit and insurance rates will escalate due to the damage claims paid out. The storm did not affect just those living in the area. Its effects will be far-reaching and long lived. Prayer is all we have and we Christians need to feel compelled to pray daily, for a long time, asking God to intervene.
Do you believe that you are the Righteous of God, His Holy vessels? Believe it, and then live like it.

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Wise and Foolish

These last three attitudes that Jesus spoke about in His Sermon on the Mount seem to have a related theme. Wisdom. Jesus wants us to be wise in our choices, wise when listening to a teacher, wise when discerning truth from fiction, and wise when making decisions that affect our life.

Long ago, Solomon asked God for wisdom. God granted his request and to this day, Solomon is still considered one of the wisest men who ever lived. Today we have access to wisdom all the time. All we have to do is listen to Jesus. He said in Matthew 7, verses 24-27, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

We don’t have to go to university to become wise. In fact, there is more foolishness coming out of universities these days than ever before. A few years ago, a friend’s husband went to seminary to become a pastor. He went into those first classes loving the Lord with all his heart, soul, and mind, and came out, after four years, a non-believer. They had taught the belief right out of him.

Teens graduate from high school professing their faith in Jesus Christ. After a year or two of college, all they have is questions and very little faith. Now granted, some of them were not grounded in Jesus Christ as Christ asks them to be in these verses. He tells us to listen to His teachings, and follow them, do what He says. The people who listen, have listened all their life, but have not made His teachings a part of their life because they’ve ignored them; they are the ones who are susceptible to losing their faith when they head to college with all the distractions that phase of their life involves.

Our wisdom comes from the Lord, nowhere else. If we lean on the wisdom He’s taught us, our faith will be strong enough to withstand the prowling lion, whose main goal is to seek, kill, and destroy. The philosophies of this world will not produce a crack in our belief system because they do not pass the test that comes from Biblical scrutiny.

Seek God’s truth. Immerse yourself in His word, and watch how strong, how wise, and how fruitful you will become in the face of adversity. The adversity is a given. It’s all around us. Wisdom, God’s wisdom, can protect and our foundation will hold.

For further study: Prov. 9:10; Luke 6:46-49; James 1:5; James 3:13-18

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Fruitful Actions

When was the last time you had any business dealings with someone who you knew went to church on Sunday, yet dealt with you in a shady manner? These are the kind of people who have two sets of standards, one for themselves and another for anyone else. They judge people way more harshly than they judge themselves. In fact, they think they’re perfectly alright and see no reason not to separate their business life from their church life.

It doesn’t matter what comes out of a person’s mouth, his actions will display his true character. There are so many people who tell you what they think you want to hear but then act in a way that totally contradicts the words they say. Have you met someone like that? When we minister in the biking community, or in any other setting where non-believers congregate, our words better match our walk, or our actions. If they don’t, the term hypocrite will fill the air around us.

Jesus warns us again that judgment needs to be based on fruit. In Matthew 7 verses 15-20, He says, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”

The fruit, or actions, that a person displays will show clearly what is in their heart. If nothing that honors Christ comes from that person, then you know that Christ is not their number one priority. A man, who swindles another in a business transaction, has not taken Christ into his consideration at all. His belief system is self-serving, not Christ serving. Jesus says that this person, this tree, needs to be chopped down and thrown into the fire.

The actions of a person who has Christ sitting at the center of his life, will point others toward Christ. They will treat people as Christ wanted them to be treated while the actions of one who is self-serving will draw people away from Jesus. Out of a grateful hear, we are to be fruitful, magnifying the love that Jesus had for all, loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Do you know someone whose walk does not match his talk? He spouts and guffaws and carry’s on but then helps himself to a candy bar as he walks past the checkout counter of the local convenience store. He says he loves the Lord but as soon as he becomes passionate about an issue, his language reflects the gutter instead of the Christ he says he serves. Take heed that no one has cause to question your talk because your actions don’t bear witness favorably.

For further study: Matt 25:24-30; Luke 6:43-45; Col. 1:9-11; John 15:5; Rev 14:13

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