LIFT UP

Have you ever been in the middle of a storm in your life when you were just so devastated, that even though you possessed great faith, it was a struggle to even pray?

It seemed like the burden you were carrying was overpowering you?

Maybe you even felt distant from God even though you really knew in your heart that He is always with you?

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At times like this, we need to reach out to the Christians God has placed in our path whom we trust enough to have them lift us up to the Lord in prayer.

Their faith can help carry our burden to the Lord. I think that is such an honor and privilege that we have.

That thought struck me recently while watching the movie “Miracles from  Heaven.”  For those of you who have seen the movie, maybe you would agree that it was something that could have been further developed in the script. I think it would have been a great addition for the movie to show the importance of praying for others.

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Has the Lord ever impressed upon your heart to lift someone up to Him in prayer that you knew was really struggling? Maybe the person did not even ask you specifically to pray for them.

This has happened to me a few times recently. Somehow, I knew without a doubt, I was suppose to pray for them and that things would turn out well for the people. It was a great experience to see how the Lord worked favorably through interceding for the people.

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Sometimes I think we should ask more people to pray for someone who needs prayer. We know that Jesus said “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”  –Matt 18:19-20 (NIV) When we unite in prayer with other Christians, there is even more power. I found this truth in my life recently while praying for a dear friend who was sick.

In the middle of writing these thoughts, it was interesting to have a friend reach out to me and ask me to pray for her as she really felt led to pray with a Jewish friend of hers who is very ill. My friend really wanted to share Jesus with the person. It was an honor to join in prayer that the Lord give my friend the words she needed to share Jesus with her friend. We continue to pray that the person asked Jesus into her heart; she wasn’t really able to respond to know for sure.
The story of the paralyzed man in Luke 5:18-25 shows how the faith of his friends helped in his healing.  The paralytic’s friend’s brought him to Jesus, and “When Jesus saw THEIR faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”  –Luke 5:20 (NIV)  This story came up in conversation with a dear friend last weekend and fit in perfectly with these thoughts I was in the middle of writing. (Thanks, Nigel!)
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Photo credit by John 9:25 under Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) 

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I recently heard that the thought that we are meant for relationships. Just as God in three persons is in relationship with God.. Jesus.. Holy Spirit, so we are all needed to be in relationship with others. What better way to be in relationship than to be lifting others up to the Lord in prayer?

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When someone asks you to pray for them, no matter how small the need, remember what a privilege it is.

I think it’s also important to let the person know when the prayer has been answered if the person did specifically ask you to pray… Even if it wasn’t answered in the way you expected. It is faith building to see the Lord work through the gift of lifting up others to the Lord.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  –Galatians 6:2  (NIV)
This cover “Pray with Me” that a friend of mine wrote seems like the perfect ending to these thoughts. Take a listen and be blessed!

EASTER JOY

Since the Easter season is really celebrated for fifty days until the time when the Holy Spirit was sent, let us reflect on the meaning of Easter Joy in our lives.
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Photo credit by Vicki DeLoach under Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Easter is a joyful time
   When we see God’s love at the fullest.
          LIFE IS BEGINNING ANEW. 
If we look around, we see God’s love unfolding in nature—
   the trees begin to blossom
      and the chirping of the birds can be heard.
            LIFE IS BEGINNING ANEW.
Easter is when God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ,
    to die for YOU and ME
       and then to RISE on the Third Day.
            LIFE IS BEGINNING ANEW.
We are God’s creation,
    Jesus’ love must be reflected in each of us.
        The Lord loved you so much that He died for YOU!
            LIFE IS BEGINNING ANEW.
Let us share that Easter JOY of the Resurrection
     With every person we encounter
          And enrich their lives by our presence
              Because of what Jesus did for YOU!
                   LIFE IS BEGINNING ANEW.
 
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  –Revelation 21:5  (NIV)
 
So that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen.  –Romans 15:32-33  (NIV)

COME, FOLLOW ME

Can you imagine being one of Jesus’ first disciples and hearing Him say “Come, follow Me?”

Having Jesus, in the flesh, call you PERSONALLY to follow Him?
Can you imagine how special it must have been for those disciples whom Jesus looked deep into their eyes, piercing their soul too, and said, “Come, follow Me?”
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Photo credit by Sherman M. Leavitt under Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND  2.0)
When Jesus called some of His first disciples, Jesus was like a  “stranger” calling them from afar, as they didn’t really know Jesus personally.
For other disciples, some had heard about Jesus from a friend or relative so they were somewhat familiar with Jesus.
And, for some disciples, Jesus knew them personally when He called them.

Isn’t that just like us?

There are some of us that don’t know about Jesus but slowly we realize something is missing and we feel a beckoning from a stranger named Jesus.
 Some of us hear about Jesus from a friend or relative and we hear Jesus calling us to heed His call in our life.
And, some of us know about Jesus and then realize we need a personal relationship with Him.

Can you imagine leaving mother, brother, your job and even home to follow Jesus?  But, that is what He called those early disciples to do!

Many of them left what they were doing immediately to follow Jesus!  They trusted that Jesus was in charge of their lives and would provide for them no matter what.
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Even though Jesus is in heaven with God, His Father, and not here in the flesh with us, Jesus still calls each of us and says, “Come, follow Me!”
 
In what ways has Jesus called you to “Come, follow Me” recently or even a long time ago?
Is your personal call from Jesus to “Come, follow Me” the most important thing in your life?
Do you follow Jesus’ lead to “Come, follow Me” daily….Following where He leads you?
Have you had to leave some of your family, your job or home to follow Jesus’ call to “Come, follow Me?”
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Maybe you haven’t heard the Lord’s call that drastically in your life, but I think reflecting on Jesus’ calling His very first disciples shows us how to follow Jesus’ call in our lives too….

–To make Him number one in our lives

–To not put anything or anyone above Him in our lives

–To follow His call daily in our lives

–To make us dependent on Him alone to provide for us.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed Him.  –Matthew 4:19-20 (NIV)
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  –John 10:27  (NIV)

BOUQUET

Have you ever enjoyed  looking at a bouquet of flowers, mesmerized by the beauty of the bouquet where there may be many different colors, different sizes, different shapes, and even different kinds of flowers?
Did you notice how each is unique and beautiful in its own way? Maybe you liked the color of a particular one, or maybe a particular kind of flower is your favorite and brings back a special memory of some event in your life.
Isn’t that just like the people in your life? We are all different, even coming in different colors, sizes, and shapes!  Each of us brings different things to life and have different gifts to share with one another.  When we all work together, despite our differences, we are a beautiful representation of God’s handiwork. It is just like the beauty that a variety of flowers brought together can reflect.
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Photo courtesy of C. Palmiter

When you first get a bouquet of flowers, the flowers might be just starting to bud, and over a period of a few days, you might notice the flowers opening up more and being at their full bloom state.
Taking the time to listen to others and share God’s love with one another is like the flowers that are reaching their full bloom state.  We are sprouting, growing nice and tall, opening up to reflect some of God’s mercy and goodness to those around us.
If God’s love does not fill our lives, we are more like the poor, wilting flowers, and we can’t survive long that way.
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To preserve the bouquet of flowers for the longest period of time, what do they need?

…Fresh water daily

…the sun,

…and maybe even a little pruning to their stems.

Isn’t that just like us?

Daily, we need…
…God’s Word to refresh us.
…The “Son” being reflected in our lives to others.
…Receiving the “Son” from others in our lives.
Sometimes, we need a little “pruning” or correction in our lives to get us back on the path of following Him.  It may be painful but He is always there ready to love us and guide us back to Him.  He is our Loving Father!
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For “All man are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.   –1 Peter 1:23-25  (NIV)