Saturday, June 3, 2017

Guest Blogger David Turner: The Prayers That Make a Difference


On Saturday, November 05, 2016, I began a project which, at the time, was intended for just a few people. Since then, it has taken on a life of its own. I called the project “IAPFY” which stands for “I am praying for you!”, because this is what it is all about. 

The first email I sent to a small group of people was directed toward prayer:

“IAPFY”
(I AM PRAYING FOR YOU!)
*****
“Prayer is the Key to Heaven
But faith unlocks the Door”
*****

Your devoted friend in Christ at Calvary,
David
Philippians 4:12-13
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Saturday; November 05, 2016
DAY 1
This project has been going on for a lot longer than I expected, as the list of recipients of my email has grown substantially.  This was not a project which came to mind overnight  

Since November of 2008, I have received the same letters in the form of a text each morning from a life-long friend in Saltillo, MS, Jim Peach. For nearly 9 years now, my cellphone rings around 7am each morning telling me there is a text message with the letters “IAPFY!”. 

When I see this, I know all is well with my soul.
Just recently, a friend of mine had been struggling with her eye (the one that she can still use) and it has been giving her fits with constant watering and itching. She is a strong prayer warrior at Calvary Baptist Church, and uses her computer to keep the members of her Sunday School class alerted of prayer needs. The problems with her eye had hindered her with her ministry. She had been going to her doctors in Memphis, but there did not seem to be anything they could do.
Recently her shopping took her to a department store where she had a “chance encounter” with a young lady in the cosmetics department who, by coincidence, had been suffering from the same malady. The young lady asked my friend about supplements and suggested a change in dosage. My friend did as she suggested and the watering and itching went away “overnight”. 
I do not know if you believe in the power of prayer or not, but I do. I had been praying for a cure for my friend’s eye problems, and it came. 

I’m not saying that my prayers made a difference for my friend, because many people were praying for the same thing. We were each paving the way, in our own way, for the Lord to bring the answer.

The answer came, but in an unconventional way. 
I am sure you remember the blind man who came to Jesus seeking a miracle… he wanted to see. He had probably been to every doctor available in his time, and the answer was always the same, “Sorry, but you are blind…you will never see.” 

Jesus did something which, by today’s standards, would have been called unsanitary and unhealthy.  He stooped down, and, made a paste out of His spit and dirt from the ground, placed it on the blind man’s eyes, and told him to go and wash it off. He came back and told Jesus that he saw men like trees, and Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes, and his sight was restored.
There are many words to describe the blind man’s healing, as well as my friend’s healing. You have perhaps heard an old saying that goes something like this, “God works in mysterious ways…His wonders to perform.”
I tell you this because you, too, can make a difference. 

So often a person says, “I can’t speak well…there’s nothing I can do in serving the Lord.” There is always something that each one of us can do…we can pray! 

Perhaps there is someone in your circle of friends who may be going through some really tough times in their lives. You may have said, “I wish there was something I could do.” Well, dear friend, there is something you can do…you can pray! It may be that the Master is waiting just for you to pray so He can open the floodgates of blessings.
When was the last time you prayed with a friend who had very little time left to live? You may have thought about it, but said “I don’t know what to say!” Just say what comes to mind as you visit with that friend before he or she leaves this world. You’ll know what to say.

You can make a difference! 

Guest blog by David Turner
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In case you missed it, here's the link for yesterdays post: Resisting Temptation and Choosing Not to Sin


If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Jordan, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
#prayer 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Resisting Temptation and Choosing Not to Sin


I didn't expect to do a mini-series, but it seems a shame to move on without finishing the Lord's prayer. Today, we're looking at the last of the six "requests" in the model prayer. 

You probably remember that there are three God-centered requests (hallowed be Thy name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done) and three me-centered requests (daily bread, forgiveness, protection from temptation.)

When Jesus prayed, "Lead us not into temptation," He was not implying that God tempts us. The NLT is, I believe, more in line with His intent. It translates this verse as, "Don't let us yield to temptation."

The root from which the word translated as "lead" is derived comes from a word which means "to carry along." It might be used to describe being "carried along by the wind..." 

James, half-brother of Jesus, tells us that temptation is not from God. (James 1:13) He does, however, lead us to situations in which we will be tempted. One example of this is when the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness, at which time He endured the temptation of the evil one. (Luke 4:1) 

The goal of allowing the temptation is always to refine us, strengthen us, and demonstrate the power of God in our lives. It's not to see us fail.

When Jesus prayed that we not be led into temptation, He was saying, (Leanna Paraphrase) "When you lead me to the place of temptation, either keep me strong or rescue me, but don't let me yield to it." 

I don't always pray like this. Usually, I save my "don't let me yield" prayers until the midst of temptation.

Jesus didn't wait until the last minute to pray for deliverance. He was intentional. When you decide before hand to be sinless for the duration of your life, you do what it takes to avoid yielding to the evil one, including praying in advance for help in standing firm. When the redemption of the world is depending on your sinlessness, you choose not to sin from the start.

It's the kind of prayer Jesus intended us to pray, as well, because He presumed we, too, would want to be sinless. 

Therein lies the rub. Do we want to be sinless or not?

Ponder that for a few moments if you dare.

If we want to be sinless, we'll do what it takes to get there and stay there. We'll beg God to help us in advance, to keep us strong, to protect us from yielding. We'll avoid situations that set us up from failure. 

Instead of staying home from the work God has assigned us, as David did, we'll continue about our Father's business. 

Instead of walking on the rooftop and gazing at a stunning temptation until we give in, we'll flee the temptation. 

Instead of inviting our temptation into our home, we'll run the other direction. 

Avoiding temptation can be done in the heat of the moment, when we are at our weakest, but it's best begun in advance. 

Do we entertain the idea of sin? Do we indulge the enticement? If so, resisting when temptation comes will be hard to do. 

Temptation is coming to us all. The choice to yield is up to us. If we want to avoid sin, let's make a choice now. Do we want help in resisting? Ask for it in advance.

We may not resist every time, but we'll come a lot closer if we pray for protection from yielding ahead of time.

"And don't let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." Matthew 6:13 NLT
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In case you missed it, here's the link for yesterdays post: Praying for What We Should Instead of What We Want

If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Jordan, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
#prayer #temptation




Thursday, June 1, 2017

Why We Should Forgive Even When We Don't Want To


When Jesus modeled prayer for His disciples, He included a request for forgiveness that's stunning in it's implications. "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." (Matt. 6:12 nasb)

There are two words in that sentence that are game-changers in the realm of forgiveness. "As" literally means "in the same way." "Have" indicates an action already completed. 

Jesus' words (Leanna Paraphrase) might also be written:

"Father, forgive me in exactly the same way 
I've already forgiven the ones who've hurt me the most."

It's a severe kind of forgiveness, and it isn't always the kind we want. The problem we face is that this "forgive me as I've already done" is the forgiveness Jesus offers.  

It must have been shocking to His disciples because, as soon as the Amen sounded, Jesus explained further. If you forgive, God will forgive you. If you don't forgive, He won't. 

It's that simple. It's that hard.

Do we want forgiveness? We can have it. Forgive first.

Yeah. It sounds a little harsh, but it's not.

Bitterness, unresolved anger, and unforgiveness have to go. They won't be welcomed into heaven, and we might as well stop clinging to them now. 

Those emotions bind us to the thing that needs forgiving with tenacious ties that are difficult to escape. If we want to be forgiven, the first step is to cut our ties to unforgiven hurts and let them go. 

It'll bring great freedom, and God knows it. That's at least part of why He's made our own forgiveness conditional. 

Forgiving doesn't mean we allow abuse to continue. It means we stop holding to the hurt and allowing it to control us. 

Forgiveness doesn't mean we wait for our offender to repent and ask for forgiveness. It means we do our part, regardless of what the other party does or doesn't do. 

Forgiveness doesn't mean we only forgive "lesser" offenses. "But you don't know what they did..." will not work with Jesus. He's the One who carried the sin of the world while He was dangling between heaven and earth, nails in His hands and feet, hammered to a couple of wooden posts. Do we really want to try to tell Him how much worse our hurt is than His? 

Do we want forgiveness? Forgive first. Why? It's pretty simple, really. Forgiving first is the only way to gain God's forgiveness. 

Why should we forgive when we don't want to forgive? Forgiveness is the first step to freedom from even the deepest hurt. 

What about when it's hard? We don't have to do it alone. God will help. The Holy Spirit will "lead us into all truth" (John 16:13) If we need help getting to forgiveness, we can follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. He'll take us straight to the truth: If we want forgiveness, we have to forgive. 

To what hurts are we clinging? Today, let's release them, and ourselves, by taking the first steps to forgiveness. "I forgive..." Say it. Do it.

"Father forgive them for they don't know what they are doing..." Luke 23:24 niv
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In case you missed it, here's the link for yesterdays post: Praying for What We Should Instead of What We Want

If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Jordan, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
#prayer #forgiveness


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Praying for What We Should Instead of What We Want


When Jesus modeled how to pray for His disciples, He included prayers for daily provision. "Give us this day our daily bread" is a request for what we need on this particular day. 

It's not a request for tomorrow, or next week, or next year. It's only for today.

We, in the U.S., live in a land of abundance. In much of the country, there's plenty of water, electricity, and phone service. Even internet access is available almost everywhere. 

We're accustomed to having our needs (and wants) met on a routine basis. There may not be enough money in every budget to purchase what we need, but there's no shortage of the necessities. 

In our resource-rich land, we assume that all the resources will always be here, but nothing is guaranteed. Utilities could be swept away with a single storm. One nation-wide drought could cause food prices to soar completely out of our reach. It could cause water supplies to dwindle to critical levels.

I've turned on the faucet to find only a drop or two of water before. It's not a good feeling. After the ice storm of 1994, I spent more than two weeks without running water or electricity. I know how quickly our daily needs can become daily impossibilities.


For the most part, though, we're not accustomed to depending on God. By depending I mean the utter-lack-of-something-unless-God-provides-it kind of dependence. 

I don't really want to ask for the basics every day. I'd rather pray one big pray and get it done so I can have time for "gimme" prayers. Wouldn't you? 

Praying this particular "give us" prayer isn't a "gimme" prayer at all. It's not asking for the things we want. It's asking for what we need, and for one day at a time.

There's hidden benefit in the "daily bread" prayer. It's reminds us of the difference between what we want and what we need. It turns our focus and trims our requests. Praying for needs and not wants limits our greed and covetousness and simplifies our desires. It sows seeds of gratitude in our heart. 

This morning, I'm asking for my needs for this day... wisdom, direction, volunteers, provision, the ability to learn more of the Arabic I've been assigned. I'm thanking God for those needs I can see are already met... electricity, clean water, appliances, a roof over my head, health, friends, freedom to worship and the ability to understand the Scriptures, and so many more blessings.

Why not join me? Ask for today's needs, and leave the wants for another day. Be sure to thank God for all He's supplied.

"Give us this day our daily bread..." Matthew 6:11 nasb
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In case you missed it, here's the link for yesterdays post: Three Things We Should Always Pray

If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Jordan, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
#prayer 














Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Three Things We Should Always Pray


A recent Bible study included a question on the first three things Jesus prayed in the model prayer. I started to fill in the blank with "daily bread..." and realized I was mistaken.

Like most of us, I, too, have a tendency to get to what I consider the "important" part of my prayer... the "me" stuff... my needs, my desires, my loved ones.

Jesus' prayer made it abundantly clear that we're not supposed to be the main focus of our prayer time, no matter how many needs we perceive, no matter how many wants we have.

The first thing for which Jesus prayed was that God's name would be hallowed. The meaning here is that we will make His name holy and treat it with respect and the honor it's due. 

Part of treating His name as holy is by living in a way that honors Him and makes His name famous. If our lives demonstrate to the world that God is good, loving, forgiving, merciful, and kind, we have made His name "hallowed." We've shown respect to His name with our lifestyle.

Honoring God's name with our actions isn't something we can do on our own. We need God's help to do it. Essentially, we're to begin by praying God will help us to treat Him with the respect and honor due Him, to act toward Him in the manner we should. 

The second item for which we're to pray is that God's kingdom will come. The third, that His will would be done. These are requests that His kingdom and His will would prevail, both on earth and in heaven, and that they begin in our own lives.

We're to start our prayer by submitting to God's ways (His kingdom) and His will.

For example, we might pray something like this:

"Heavenly Father, You are good, righteous, and loving. I thank you for being so kind to me. Help me to live in such a way that everyone around me gets a glimpse of You when they see my life or interact with me. 

I want things to be done Your way in my life. I want Your will and not my own. Even though I have a list of wants and perceived needs as long as my arm, none of that's important if it's not what You have planned for me. 

"Don't give me what I want just because I ask. Give me what You know is best..."

When we begin our prayers by submitting to the holiness and sovereignty of God in this way, it changes our hold on our requests. We no longer demand our way. 

We relinquish our will to His from the very start.

Today, let's begin our prayers the way Jesus did - by focusing on the Father and not ourselves. Let's start our requests the way Jesus did - by surrendering to the Father and not demanding our way. 

When we do, we'll find it's much easier to live as Jesus lived, completely dedicated to the Father's will and not our own. 

"Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name..." Matthew 6:9 nasb
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In case you missed it, here's the link for yesterdays post: Living Up to the Memories of Memorial Day 


If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Jordan, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
#prayer 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Living Up to the Memories of Memorial Day



I first posted this on 5/30/16, Memorial Day last year. I read it again last night and realized that I've already said what needed to be said, and it's still true. I'm positing it again with the hope that you'll read it once more and find it as meaningful as I did. 

Memorial Day is not about picnics or an extra day off work. Those are nice, of course, but Memorial Day is about the men and women who gave their lives, their bodies, and, sometimes, their minds, for our nation... who suffered, too often for the rest of their lives, because of what they experienced on our behalf. 

They fought for honor and freedom, and today's our chance to reclaim a little of both. 

Let's remember them today, but, more importantly, let's live every day as if we remember. 
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Not everything you read on the internet is true, especially about Memorial Day. Today, I intended to check the date of the first Memorial Day and was astounded by the number of places that claimed to have started the day of remembrance. According to Wikipedia (admittedly, not always a bastion of truth), there is documentation to support the claim that, in 1862, women in Savannah, Ga. decorated the graves of Confederate soldiers.

That may be true, but here's what I know for sure. After the Civil War, there were mothers who grieved for their sons. Sisters who grieved for their brothers. Daughters who grieved for their fathers. Wives who grieved for their husbands. 

In the South, we visit the graves of those we love. We decorate those graves with flowers, if we can. It's a kind of "sprucing up" that makes the grave seem less cold and barren.

If there was a mother with a son in the ground, that grave was visited and, probably, decorated. She grieved for that son. She remembered him, and not just because some government mandate proclaimed the day. 

She remembered him every single day. She missed her boy as long as she drew breath. Nothing about that grief has changed today. Mothers still grieve for their sons and daughters who die in battle. 

We all grieve for our lost ones.

On Memorial Day, we remember and honor the soldiers who died while in service. What's easy to forget is that every solider who has fought and killed the enemy in battle leaves a part of themselves on the battlefield. Every soldier who kills, although righteously, has a little death of their own.

I know about it firsthand because my daddy fought, and was wounded, in World War II. He came home with the scars to prove it. Because he wasn't wounded in battle, he turned down the Purple Heart. It was one of our own soldiers that shot him. That wound, and his time in service, left scars deep inside that plagued him for the rest of his life.

We have lots of veterans who've lost a piece of themselves in service, and, because of my daddy, I see Memorial Day as a chance to remember them all. To honor them all.  A day to pray that our God, who will one day wipe away every tear and heal every hurt, will do that for the men and women who have served our nation.

They bought our freedom with their hearts and with their blood, and we have accepted their sacrifice with such casualness in recent years that I'm ashamed of us. Ashamed of myself for not doing something to bring about a change. But I'm not in charge of changing hearts, though I sometimes wish I were. 

We were a great nation, built and preserved by men and women willing to die for us to stay free. We, as a people, have chased a dream that cannot satisfy, abandoned our solid foundation of truth, and become shallow and foolish in the process. 

The men and women who died for us didn't die so that we could have big houses and fancy cars and decadent lifestyles.

They fought and died so that we could have freedom of religion, speech, and press. Freedom to bear arms. Freedom from search and seizure. Fair trials by a jury of our peers. Freedom from excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment. Freedom from excessive federal intervention in our lives (States' rights). 

In case you didn't recognize them, those are the freedoms guaranteed in our Bill of Rights. Those rights are our foundation and the cornerstone of these United States.

They are worth preserving because the kind of freedom we've had is rare and precious. If you don't believe me, look around at the nations of the world. Our freedoms are evaporating like dew on a hot morning, and change is coming. We won't like it. I promise you that.

We will have exchanged true freedom for a tawdry sham of freedom, and we will grieve what we've lost. If we have the sense to recognize it.

The people of God CAN make a difference. If we will. But we cannot do it with boycotts and harsh words. I know those things make us feel like we're doing something, and they have their place, but there is nothing in scripture about doing a boycott to change a nation.

What God says about changing a nation, about saving a nation that's dying, is this:

If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 nasb

If the people of God do not do what must be done, our nation will perish. 

If the nation doesn't hold us responsible, they should. 

We can save our nation, if we will. But we cannot save America if we continue to be complacent about our own personal sin, arrogant about our supposed righteousness, and halfhearted about our commitment to our Lord. 

It is past time for those who claim to be the people of God to step up to the plate, hit their knees, repent, turn, and pray. We're the only ones who can save America, but we will have to do it on our knees. 

On this day of remembrance, let's honor those who've died for us, but let's also take time to remember the reason they died and what we've lost as a nation. On this day, let's make a start to save this once-great country. 

It's too big a job for us, but I'm confident of one truth. Saving America is not too big for our God.
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Please like and share to extend our digital reach... This matters more than you know.

In case you missed it, here's the link for yesterdays post: Touching the Mezuzah and Remembering the Plan 

If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Jordan, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.
#MemorialDay 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Touching the Mezuzah and Remembering the Plan


Yesterday, I finally felt normal again after this long siege of bronchitis. I was full of energy. There was plenty of housework I could have done, but it was a beautiful day. I headed outside to work in the yard. 

I was in and out of the house all day long. Usually, I barely notice the mezuzah holder on the doorpost. It's been there so long I've lost a sense of its presence. Yesterday, it caught my eye almost every time I opened the door.  

Periodically, I'd pause long enough to touch the box and kiss my fingertips. It's part of mezuzah protocol, a sign of respect, not for the ornate holder, but for the Scripture inside. 

I've written about my mezuzah (that's the word for the Scripture inside) before, but I'm writing again because my over-large, too-gaudy-to-be-tasteful mezuzah box has captured my attention once more.

People sometimes see the mezuzah holder and ask if I'm Jewish. I'm not. It's a tangible symbol that God's presence abides in my home and His Word is the guiding principle here. Visitors see it before they enter my front door. 

Some people have a "beware of dog" sign. The mezuzah box is my sign. "Take note. God's in charge here."

There's no power in the shiny holder, but the Scripture inside is powerful. It's alive and active and cuts straight through to my heart. (Heb. 4:12) 

The Scripture inside is written in Hebrew and includes the Shema and my life verse, Jeremiah 29:11. (The Shema is standard. I included the verse from Jeremiah because it's my favorite.)

"Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." (Deuteronomy 6:4,5 nasb) 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 nasb

Yesterday, as I repeatedly touched the box, those verses were constantly in my mind. I'm to love God with all my being. He has a good plan for me, and it won't be thwarted... not by sickness, by all the things I worry about, or by the schemes and tactics of the evil one. 

I can trust the plan, even when I can't see it.

After being sick for so long, I needed that reminder. Maybe we all do. God's in charge, even when the world seems a dark and discouraging place, even when circumstances threaten to crush us. He's still on His throne and His plan is still unfolding. 

The truth of my mezuzah is pretty simple: We can trust the plan because we can trust the One who made it, so love Him because He's good. 

"For the word of God is alive and active...it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 niv
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post by Guest Blogger Ruthie Howard: Is Jesus All I Need?

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