Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Power in Prayerful Praise

I’ve noticed about myself as of late, that my eyes have been looking at the trials or the negative things around me and it is overwhelming me.  The result is not a pretty sight within my soul.  Thankfully, God being the loving Father that He is, sends me gentle reminders to look to His Word for answers.  Here is a powerful story in the Old Testament that speaks to my soul and re-aligns my eyes back on Him.

In II Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat and the Israelites are faced with an overwhelming army that is ready to destroy them.  Jehoshaphat is notified and calls for a fast and then assembles all the Israelites.

Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard  and said:

“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven?  

You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. 

 Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.

 Our God, will you not judge them?  For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Power and might are in your hand….we have no power, we do not know what to do.  His prayer starts with praise acknowledging God’s powerfulness, and then humble recognition that we do not have power and do not know what to do.   How freeing is that?!  To remember who has the power and to simply and humbly let go of the need to know what to do!
Jehoshaphat hears a word from the Lord and he says…

 ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s.  Tomorrow march down against them…. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”

After he says this they all begin to worship and praise God.  They did not have the answer of HOW God was going to do this, and they did not wait for God to DO this.  They simply began to praise Him.

The next day they head out in a most extraordinary way.  They lead their army with a choir singing praise. 

“Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”    

As they marched forward in worshipful prayer, God moved in response to their obedience and destroyed the army before they even stepped foot on the battleground. 

With joyful hearts they returned to their city and entered the temple, singing and praising God for His faithful rescue. 

They faced their trial with prayerful praise, they entered into their trial with trusting praise, and ended with celebrating praise. 

So yet again, with a thankful heart, I put my headphones on, crank up the music, and sing His praise,… remembering who has the power.

Hands open, palms up,
A visual of the unseen.
Letting go of my way.

Arms raise to You,
Act of giving –
Giving of self, of life, of needs and wants.

Head bows.
Accepting in pure humility,
Helplessness of self.

Face smiles
As praises pour from lips,
Cannot be contained.

Heart accelerates;
This mystery of dying to self,
Brings joy.

Hands close in fists
Clinging to Your strength and power,
Which is to be revealed.

Not for self,
But for self and life, needs and wants
To shout – Look At God! Look What He Can Do!

Father, You are all Powerful, to You be the Glory.  Thank you that I don’t have to face these trials on my own power.  Thank you that I don’t have to have all the answers.  Thank you that I can trust you as I continue my journey, one prayerful step at a time.  My heart sings your praise.
In Jesus Name, Amen

- Sue Parrott

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Last Place First

There’s a story in Luke 2.41-49 that I’m sure we’re all familiar with.  Jesus is twelve years old and has traveled with his parents to Jerusalem.  They are on their way home when Mary and Joseph realize that Jesus isn’t with them. 
If you’re wondering how this could happen – let me tell you it’s easy when you have numerous kids, bunches of relatives and multiple caravans.  It’s easy to think they are with someone else, only to find they’re not.  Unfortunately, this is the voice of experience.
When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.  After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions.  Luke 2.45-46 (NIV)
When his parents saw, him they were astonished.  His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this?  Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
“Why were you searching for me?” he asked.  “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”  But they did not understand what he was saying to them.  Luke 2:48-50 (NIV)
I’ve always struggled with this passage of Scripture because it sounds like Jesus is scolding his parents.  At first glance it seems that he might just possibly be a bit disrespectful.  But after reading this again, I saw something in there that I’d never noticed before.
It says that his parents returned to Jerusalem and then it took them three more days before they found him!  I always thought that it took them three days to get back to Jerusalem.  They had searched in Jerusalem for three interminable days before it dawned on them to look in the temple.
Mary and Joseph had seen the angels, the shepherds and the wise men.  They’d experienced the virgin birth of their son but in the twelve years since all of that had happened they had forgotten who their Son really was and they went last to the place they should’ve gone first!  No wonder Jesus said what he did.
I couldn’t help but wonder, as I read this, if I do the same thing?
I have a problem . . . What’s the first thing I do?  I get on the phone and talk to a friend.  I try to fix it on my own and only after I’ve exhausted all my other resources do I finally bring it to the ONE I should have gone to FIRST.  Why is prayer always my last resort instead of my first inclination?  Could it be that I’ve lost sight of who He is and what He has done in my life in the past?  Could it be that I don’t really KNOW who He is?
I’m building a habit of going to God first, spending time with Him daily and seeking His face continuously but unless I continue to reinforce it, I will easily slip back into old behaviors and patterns.
Let me ask you?  Is He the LAST place you turn to when you can’t solve things on your own or the FIRST place you run to in the good and the bad?
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.  (Matthew 6:33 MSG)
Lord, give us eyes to see You.  Faith to seek You first.  Courage to do what You are calling us to do.  May You always be the first place we run.  Instill within us a heart that doesn’t turn away from You no matter how difficult the road may be.  Teach us to steadily follow Your path, no matter what the cost.  Amen.

- Kristi Huseby

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Nature of God

Lately, I’ve found myself reflecting on the nature of God – particularly His gracious character. I think of a perfect and holy God who has provided a way for imperfect, selfish and sinful people to be in relationship with Him.  We serve a God who actually delights in a close relationship with us! That’s too much for my ungracious mind to comprehend, but every so often I get a glimpse of this truth, which enhances my love and awe for God.
Allow me to share with you an illustration that helps me understand God’s gracious character. In his book, Holiness by Grace, Bryan Chapell tells how, as a child, he found a piece of rotted log which he thought looked like a horse head. He took it home, pounded nails into it and proudly presented it to his father as a tie rack. His father remarked how wonderful it was, propped the piece of rotted wood against the closet wall and used it as a tie rack for years. Chapel then writes,
“In my childish mind this creation was a work of art ready for the Metropolitan Museum. But as I matured, I realized my work was not nearly as good as I had once thought. In fact, I understood ultimately that my father had received and used my gift not because of its goodness but out of his goodness. In a similar way our heavenly Father receives our gifts, not so much because they deserve his love, but because he is love.”
I read this years ago, but I still stand in awe of God’s gracious character every time I recall it. God is perfect , yet He receives the imperfect gifts I bring to him. As I seek to hear God’s voice and do His will, it brings me great comfort to know that we serve a God who is gracious to receive me and instruct me in his love – not because I am good, but because He is good.
Father, You are a gracious God! You are perfect, yet You delight in being in relationship with me – I don’t understand it, but I’m grateful for it. Fill me with the knowledge of your grace -- fill me up and let Your grace spill out of me to others. Thank you for your goodness. In the name of Jesus, the perfecter of our faith, I come to You. Amen.

- CJ Ganzevoort

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


What we value in life is reflected by how we live each day.  

It’s not by what we say we value, let’s be honest, it’s by how we live – what we spend our moments in life doing day in and day out.

I love this phrase by Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love - If one person “wastes” away his day by spending time connecting with God, and the other person believes he is too busy or has better things to do than worship the Creator and Sustainer, who is the crazy one? 

Our culture even in our Christian circles is so “busy”. I know that at times I feel so busy I feel as if I am in a sleepy fog.  Someone may ask me how was my weekend, and it was so full of things it can sometimes feel like trying to remember a dream.  I find myself telling people how busy I am, and it’s “busy” doing good things.  And I often hear others talk about how busy they are as well.  And we all understand it because that’s just the way things are…but should it be?

Do you think that really is what the Deceiver wants for us? To just go with what we see around us, what we feel, what we perceive is normal for our culture.  Day by day to just be living, but not really to be ALIVE, not being able to DO what we are really here to DO.  Not to move where God desires us to move, not to act on the things HE desires us to act upon, not to love intentionally those God calls us to love, and all because we have filled our lives with “good things”. 

How do we know we are doing what HE desires of us without first communing with our Father to ask of Him to guide our daily moments?

The Deceiver’s greatest scheme is not for us to commit some great sin, but perhaps to have us waste time.  Really…what are you doing with your moments, your time, your one life?

Mark 4:18, 19 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word, but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word making it unfruitful.

 Is your body awake and your mind busy, but your soul asleep? 

Awaken my dear brothers and sisters!
Our Father is calling us out of our slumber.
His love is bursting forth as the brilliant light of the sun dawning.
Rising in gloriousness, silently urging our attention.
Turn your heads towards Him, Let your faces be warmed by His touch.

 Sit up!  Do not lay down any longer in your bed of complacentness.
Throw back the weighted blanket of your own making,
Filled with camouflaged materialism, and misguided comfort.
Do you not feel your body getting stiff from inactivity?
Your mind turning to lethargic apathy?

Look!  Look outside, the trees are dancing, colors are colliding.
Listen!  His whisper is heard in the gentle wind, “Wake Up, My Dear One!”
Come!  Come alive, come play and worship with sweet abandon,
We were made for this day, Now!  Not later.
Live in His kingdom, right now.  Awaken your soul.

  Luke 22:46  Why are you sleeping? He asked them.  “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

 Father,  It is amazing that You desire time with us!  You designed us to need You and created each of us for a special purpose.  Forgive us for getting caught up in the things of this world, and allowing our culture to mold our time wasting habits, filling our lives with the things we think You desire for us to be doing without quietly listening to You, spending time hearing Your voice telling us how You love us, and designed us for a unique purpose for Your kingdom.  Wake us up Lord, so we won’t be doing our good things, but so that through us You will do great things.  May we use our moments for You, to You be the glory! 
Jesus, Our Savior

- Sue Parrott