The Power of Prayer by Trish

Just recently I was watching the news and heard the tragic story of a little boy who went missing while playing with his cousins outdoors. The family lived near a wooded area but it was unknown if he had wandered off, or if he was kidnapped. It was a tragedy and I cannot imagine the horror this family went through. Instantly I said a prayer for his safe return. As of a couple of days ago the news broke that the little boy was found, unharmed, with only scratches from his two days in the woods where he had wandered into. 

I know there were countless prayers across the country for his safe return and it was nothing short of a miracle that this young boy survived the weather conditions, and was safely returned to his family. What if there was no one praying? God longs to hear and answer the cries of His children. He delights in the faith we place in Him. In fact, without it, it’s impossible to please Him. (Hebrews 11:6) 

I was speaking to my best friend the other day who happens to be “Supermom,” she’s amazing! She was sharing how one night she encouraged her two young children to pray with her. As they sat down, she said, “Let’s just pray in the Spirit and if God reveals something to your heart, pray it out.” Her young son tapped her leg and said he felt like God was showing him a little boy in Africa and called him by name, saying he no longer wanted to go to church. My friend said, “Well, keep praying to see if God shows you anything else and we will believe that God will turn this young boy’s heart back to church.” We will never know the outcome of this story on this side of heaven, but I believe in my heart that a little boy in Africa is turning his affections back to God and to church and the prayer of little boy here in the U.S. was used by God for this to happen! 

Now, I know many of you reading this would say, “That is too far-fetched.” But as you nurture your relationship with God and spend time in prayer, the Holy Spirit will reveal things to you and teach you how to pray specific prayers in faith.  

I remember when I moved to Phoenix years ago. I was 18 years old and I move there with nothing but $500 in the bank, and a whole lot of faith. I was trusting God for a car, and I knew what I had to work with wasn’t much, but I trusted the Lord. Each morning my precious mentor would require me to meet at 5:00 am for prayer. I hated it at first because I wanted to sleep, but it instilled a lifestyle of prayer in me.  One morning, I felt God lay on my heart to spend 3 days praying in the Holy Spirit during my lunch break about a car. This was on a Monday and for 3 days I obeyed and prayed. In my mind I thought I was praying about a car I was going to get. 

The final day of my 3-day assignment was on a Wednesday and that night, coming home from church, I was in horrible car accident at one of the busiest intersections in downtown Phoenix. Someone running a red light struck us on my side of the vehicle.  That pushed our car over to the curb, beyond the lanes of where oncoming traffic would be. Thankfully, there wasn’t any oncoming traffic at that specific time. My side of the car was so damaged I couldn’t open my door.  I remember searching my body to see if anything was broken or cut and nothing.  I climbed out of the driver’s side and was completely fine.  My mentor was also coming home from church and saw the scene of a bad accident. I saw her car pass by and screamed her name. She turned around and drove me home that night. I walked away with only a bruise on my chest from the seatbelt, and a back that just needed a good adjustment. All parties involved were fine! As we drove home I was quiet and just thanking God for His protection when I heard God speak to my heart, “This is the car you’ve been praying over for 3 days.” I still get emotional when I think of this story.  

Sometimes we think of prayer as a checklist or something we do to “clock in” our time with God when actually prayer is for our benefit.  The Holy Spirit guides us and teaches us things to come. The Bible says that even now Jesus is at the right hand of the Father praying for us. If Jesus Himself has a prayer life, how much more do we need one? 

Prayer with the Father is so much more than making our requests known although that is part of it. It is communion and sweet fellowship with the Lover our souls. The One, who created us, knows us by name and even knows the number of hairs on our heads. He knows you, He loves you and He longs to hear your voice in prayer! 

By the way, the end of my story is sweeter still.  By Friday of that same week, God laid it on the hearts of a beautiful couple to give me my first car. God is good and His mercy endures forever!

The Full Extent of Love by Kenika

February is pretty epic because it’s the month of my birth, but apparently there is another holiday as well called Valentine’s Day.  This year is special because it will be my and my husband’s first Valentine’s Day as a married couple.  After almost 9 months of marriage, I’ve had a good amount of time, plenty more to go of course, to understand some of the peaks and valleys of love.  I’m pretty sure I thought I knew enough about what it would take in order to make the plunge into marriage, and I am now fully confident I didn’t know the first thing about real love.  Okay maybe I knew the first thing, but not the hundreds of others!  

When I think about what my truest understanding of love is, my mind immediately goes to John 3:16, one of the most popular, familiar, and commonly quoted verses of scripture.  It makes perfect sense that it would be, because it is a description of the Gospel in a very simple form.  You could poll one hundred women about what love is, or one hundred men on what love looks like, and I am positive that the responses would run the gamut.  But when I look at John 3:16 I see the full extent of love in the sacrifice that God made for the world.  This is our model of true love and we can learn a lot from this level of self-denial.  I could try to break it down but I really like the way William MacDonald dissects this verse in the “Believer’s Bible Commentary” so I’m going to let him take it from here: 

3:16 God, we read, so loved the world.  The world here includes all mankind.  God does not love men’s sins or the wicked world system, but He loves people and is not willing that any should perish.  The extent of His love is show by the fact that He gave His only begotten Son.  God has no other Son like the Lord Jesus. It was an expression of His infinite love that He would be willing to give His unique Son for a race of rebel sinners.  This does not mean that everyone is saved.  A person must receive what Christ has done for him before God will give him eternal life.  Therefore, the words were added, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish.” Boreham says: “When the church comes to understand the love with which God loved the world, she will be restless and ill at ease, until all the great empires have been captured, until every coral island has been won.” 

3:17 God is not a harsh, cruel ruler anxious to pour out His anger on mankind.  His heart is filled with tenderness toward man and He has gone to the utmost cost in order to save men.”

Out of the Box by Bombi

So, it’s me again with another 40-something life review. Seems like there are many my age that have their 2nd degree by now, or are grandparents. Some have even started early retirement. Some have taken on a new hobby, tried their hand at publishing their writings, or finally went skydiving.  And then there’s me. 

I think for a long while I would feel bits of intimidation around other people my age. I didn’t check off the boxes in life like they did, I always seemed to do my own thing. Sometimes I would feel like conversations with my peers were kind of lopsided. This feeling wasn’t too overwhelming, but it was enough to still feel a way. Sometimes polarizing, other times it really wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was big enough for me to take notice. 

There is a song that says, “Time makes you bolder,” and I agree. In my middle age I’ve come to a place that I’m more than okay with me. It’s freeing to know I don’t have to be anyone but me. While perhaps many words could be used to describe me, one word I hope that comes to mind is “friend.”  Anyone can be a friend, right? For me being a friend is more than a thing, it’s an honorable calling. The power of friendship is so strong, one might even feel its bonds closer than family.  

Now that I’ve lived a little bit, I feel it’s safe to say that this isn’t something that comes from a seeking, needy, or even a broken place. It’s not that at all. I believe it’s God-given. Safe to say, if I were asked to choose between singing a song or being a friend, I’d say “FRIEND” every time. I truly believe that’s something God put on the inside of me.  

Maybe that doesn’t sound too spiritual or very ambitious to you. Before you brush it off I’ll remind you of something that you may forget from time to time and that is this, Jesus is a friend. Yes, the One you call your Savior and Lord is the ultimate friend. I believe that if friendship weren’t important, He wouldn’t have been one, or even mentioned friendship at all in His word.  

I want to encourage you, if you feel like you don’t check off many or really any of the so-called boxes of where you could or should be in life, just know you don’t belong in that box. You probably belong outside of it. There are passions that God has place inside of your heart that might not be like anyone you know, or even anything you’ve really seen, but they are just as important as anyone else’s. Before you brush off, ignore, judge, or even dislike the things that gnaw at your heart, take a moment and ask God to shine His light on it and show you what to do with the stuff He placed in your heart. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised and maybe even utterly fulfilled.  

“But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” 

Proverbs 18:24 (NIV) 

Let Grace and Love Abound by Sonya

“Much more will those who receive abundance of grace and gift of righteousness reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:17 

Let grace abound for the forgiveness of sins and our wrongdoings. We are so fast to make a judgment or look down on someone for his or her sin. Romans 5:20, “Where sin abounds, grace abounds much more.” Grace needs to be given in relationships and Jesus offers that grace to us each and every day. We are a performance-based society that focuses on the laws and what we can do and what we do wrong.  It is a mentality that we have to prove something to the other person but when we fall or fail we tend to not get the support and love from others. Why is it hard to forgive and choose grace when someone has wronged you? For me, when I get offended I feel unloved by that person and I tend to put a wall up in that relationship instead of confronting that person. God is really working on my heart to just go to that person directly and let grace and love abound and forgive that person. This is hard for me in my marriage because I get offended easier by the one that I love the most. Each day I can point out something my husband is doing wrong or not doing enough of. This is wrong as I may assume the worst instead of seeing the best in him.  We need to know we are all imperfect people that need a Savior.  Who are we to judge someone who needs grace and forgiveness?  We cannot reign in life through Jesus like Romans says if we get offended, impatient or angry being hung up on the sin of that person. Paul continues to say in Romans 6:14, “For sin will not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” I am so thankful for God’s grace because it frees us to not be bound by sin! When I look at my spouse I need to see him through God’s eyes, full of grace and love.​ 

 This Valentine’s Day I want to extend more love and grace to the one I love and not be hung up on what I want to change or what offends me. Let’s pray that God gives us eyes to see each person through His lenses.  There is an abundance of grace God gives us to a life overcoming of sin and forgiveness of sin. Having a heart full of grace and love will change the way we interact in our relationships.  I hope there is a sweeter love between you and the one you love this Valentine’s Day.