Lord, we follow and we stray, help us to continue down your path looking forward as we travel through 2021.
~ Lisa Blair
Dear Lord, So much is going on in our Nation; the COVID 19 virus is continuing to take lives and fill hospitals with little to no available beds. Our democracy is being stressed beyond our wildest thoughts. Our economy is suffering as the virus brings us to our knees. It is my prayer that while we are on our knees, we pray to you for forgiveness. I pray we, hi as a Nation, recognize you as our Lord and Savior, the only one that can save our Nation. Please save us of our sins, heal us (spiritually, emotionally, and physically), Lord, and help us put you first in our lives, forever seeking you in all conditions.
Lord, by your grace we entered the New Year, 2021. We are survivors. We are here! Let us proclaim you King above all kings and leaders. Let us surrender to your will, your way, and your life. Let us become more dependent upon you. Teach us to obey your Word. Please help us to heal historical wrongs against one another in the USA and abroad. Please help us save the earth and quit polluting and wasting valuable resources. Let us become a world of people seeking to help one another as you expect us to do, loving one another, helping those in need, and treating our neighbors as we want to be treated. Help us to be strong and courageous. Not to fear or be afraid of any outside forces. (Deut. 31:6 NIV)
Lord, do not allow us to return to the old norms that caused us to suffer from fractured relationships with you. Let us create new norms that are ensconced in your Word.
We are your handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which you have prepared us to accomplish. (Eph 2:10 NIV) Since we are in Christ, we are new creations in Christ. the old man is gone; we stand here new. (2 Corinth. 5:17 NIV)
God’s promises are eternal. Theywill never fail, fade away, or end. He is not a man and cannot lie. His truth is forever.
~ Lisa Blair
I am studying the Book of Genesis this year at BSF, Bible Study Fellowship, and have come to realize that Genesis is so much more than what we learned in Sunday School or Church. It is a deep and lengthy study. One of the most profound things is that God established a covenant with Adam and Eve after they were expelled from Eden. God made a similar covenant with Noah after the flood subsided. The covenant was God’s promise that He would continue Adam’s genealogy to give life to Christ through Mary and save us from eternal sin through the resurrection of Christ.
All of God’s promises stem from His love for us. Each promise has a purpose and is true today just as it was when He made them. God will never forsake us or leave us. He will lay His eyes upon us. His Word will always be good, and it will always just.
This is the fifth and final installment of the series, God’s Promises Shape Our Lives. The focus of this installment is the Promises of the Holy Spirit. This series highlights some, though not all, of God’s promises. The Holy Spirit intimately knows the worst of us and the best of us, yet He remains faithful even when we persist in rebellion against Him. He protects us and walks with us, even when we sin. There is nothing in this life that we cannot share with Him. The Holy Spirit resides in us, and the blood of Jesus reigns over us. We are completely encapsulated by the Spirit of God. The lyrics to one of Tasha Cobb’s songs says, ”He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own… No fire can burn me, no battle can turn me, no mountain can stop me, ’cause you hold my hand. Now, I’m walking in Your victory ’cause your power is within me, no giant can defeat me, ’cause you hold my hand. (Lyrics to You Know My Name. Tasha Cobb Leonard.) God’s promises protect us without failure or compromise because He walks with us as we navigate through this life.
Walking in the Spirit
Walking in the spirit means that when we were saved, we invited the Holy Spirit to reside in us. We no longer victims of this world driven by the lust of the flesh. We are no longer condemned to walk in our flesh, lusting for the things of this world, things associated with the external world such as riches, recognition, and possessions. The Holy Spirit indwells in us and through Him, we are free from sin. We have the power to turn away from temptation and the gift of repentance. We are renewed every day. Each day is a new day in the Lord. Each day His Spirit resides in us and strengthens us to walk in the Spirit.
Romans 8:1 NKJV
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16 NKJV
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
Galatians 6:8 NIV
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
2 Corinthians 4:16 NKJV
Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
God is (forever) our guide. We can choose to lean on our own understanding or trust in the Lord to light our path and direct our steps, especially in times of grave difficulties. During these times of uncertainty, the evil one conspires to entice us, to weaken us, to separate us from God. God’s Word, His promises, strengthen us and are our tools to overcome the circumstances that may have afflicted us through no fault of our own, such as, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, eviction, critical illness, and ultimately loss of hope. Our strength is in the Lord and when we rest in His arms, His strength, the world looks different than when we resign hope and only see failure.
Psalms 18:28 NIV
You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.
Psalm 48:14 NIV
For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.
Proverbs 3:5,6 NIV
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 16:9 NKJV
A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
John 8:12 NKJV
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.”
John 16:13 NKJV
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
Praying in the Spirit
The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, sometimes our hopelessness camouflages what we should pray for, leaving us unable to pray for the condition or circumstance. When we do not know what to pray for, the Holy Spirit intercedes and prays on our behalf. He prays for us in the Spirit. However, He can only do that when invited, we must seek Him to help us.
Romans 8:26 NKJV
Likewise, the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Praying for Wisdom, and Knowledge
As humans, we seek wisdom, though not always in the right places. We seek wisdom from peers, leaders, and fallen souls when we should wisdom from God through the Holy Spirit and His word. we should seek wisdom from God who gives it to us generously. It is His wisdom and knowledge that strengthens us to walk upright. It is His wisdom and knowledge that will refrain our conditions as we see them. It is His wisdom and knowledge that leads to our victory over our circumstances.
Ecclesiastes 2:26 NKJV
For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight; but to the sinner, He gives the work of gathering and collecting, that he may give to him who is good before God. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.
Amos 3:7 NIV
Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plans to his servants the prophets.
Luke 21:15 NIV
For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.
James 1:5 NIV
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
So, What does this all mean?
The scriptures highlight God’s love for us. They prove that He is trustworthy and will carry all of His promises out. He activates and fulfills all promises He has made. His promises will manifest to either take us through our current circumstances or deliver us out of them.
When we feel defeated, we cannot waiver but rather stand fast. We cannot compromise what God promised, choosing a quick remedy over His plan. We may feel our ways are more expedient, but experience proves they generally cost more than had we waited on the Lord to fulfill His promises for us. Only God knows where our path leads, and only He knows what is required of us to walk down the path. It’s important to always remember His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Always go into prayer before making life decisions.
Seek God and ask that He reveal the things you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3) and do not make your own decisions on how to move forward without God’s input. As humans, we tend to believe that we should do as we please and then make amends. However, spiritually speaking, we are to go before the Lord, seek His Word and direction through faith, and move forward in His grace.
Developing an ATTITUDE of GOD FIRST in our lives places us on solid ground. The more familiar we become with His promises, the more quickly we can stop in our tracks when doubt and hopelessness try to invade and destroy us. His wisdom and knowledge lead us to acknowledge that God’s promises yield results. I personally find when I relinquished my will to His Will, His Word, and His Way, I find a place of peace that allows me to comfortably make decisions that align with His Word.
It is my sincerest hope that this series has helped you and me by reminding us that God is always with us, and we can turn to Him at any time in our lives. We can rest assured that decisions that align with God’s Word are the right decisions to make. To nonbelievers, our decisions may seem to be folly or misdirected, but to believers, we know that God is directing our steps, and God’s Promises are shaping our lives.
Update, God is so good. I completed this series last night, and felt something was missing. When I awoke this morning, God directed me to this devotional. It is the perfect closing for the study of God’s Promises.
Resources: Life Principles Bible by Charles Stanley, NKJV; Song-Apple Lyrics; Biblestudytools.com; biblegateway.com; He Whispers Your Name, 365 Day Devotionals, by Cherie Hill
I mentioned a young boy who drowned in his pool and whose family, friends, and extended family are praying for a miracle in my previous post, Praying Through The Darkest Times. I am one of the extended family members. His grandmother and I serve as group leaders at a local Bible Study Fellowship group. It is an International Bible study organization, established on the fact that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.
I believe God is using Malachi in a mighty way. I will post some of the family’s daily experiences of how God’s miracles are often procedural, a process over time. Not all miracles are immediate, but they are all miraculous. His ways are not our ways and He uses various experiences to mature our Christian walk, some are very difficult to digest, others easier to understand at face value, they are obvious. Join us in praying for full recovery. Malachi has already defied the odds. The posts are from Facebook, Miracle for Malachi.
This post was written by Brenda Johnson on FaceBook
I don’t know your family, but your faith is absolutely inspiring. I’m sure every second has been trying, but your trust in Gods plan shows what beautiful people you are. I’m not a well versed Christian, but I believe God is doing something bigger than we can see on the surface. He sees your pain and sees your faithfulness in the most difficult time. 2 Corinthians 5:7 For we live by faith, not by sight. Continued prayers that God has something planned for Malachi that the doctors have never seen and didn’t learn about in med school. I’ve heard Pastor Steven Furtick say a setback is a setup for a miracle.
This post was written. By Trisha Bernal, Malachi’s mother.
It is with heavy and grieving hearts that we write this. When God hears our prayers sometimes he answers them in ways that we would never imagine, or wish for, and yet it is somehow intertwined in the overall story of life and even in the beauty of redemption. As I texted a friend this morning, I mentioned that I was grateful that Malachi- my little messenger of God, has thus far been used to bring thousands of people to their knees in prayer. I have been encouraged and blessed by so many people, many of whom, I have never met before.
We were hoping for an immediate miracle of healing by our human definition. Unfortunately the quick fix is not always the victory that God calls us to. Instead, sometimes the victory is in proclaiming God’s grace and goodness in the struggle no matter how long it lasts. Sometimes the victory is in finding joy and unity in standing for one who will never stand on their own again. Sometimes the ultimate victory looks so very different than we had hoped and we have no idea how we’ll get past the pain to see the blessing.
According to doctors, our little Malachi will never be able to walk or talk or even eat on his own again, and this is the best case scenario. But… he is alive and his story is still being told. He may not use his mouth to speak but he is truly a messenger of God. His life is not lifeless. He will lead the way in wheelchair races driven on of course by his big brother. He will have the coolest hats ever. He will still bring joy to his family and those around him. His life and injury will not be in vain. Pray for us. We need it. Pray that we better understand God’s perfect plan in all this. Pray that the church is unified and built up by my son.
As I was crying over his bedside a minute ago, in agony I prayed “God how could You have given Your only Son to die on the cross?” My pain in this moment is intense. He CHOSE that pain so that we could experience blessing in the form of ultimate salvation. May Malachi’s life continue to proclaim this truth as we unite as a family, as a community and as a church. God has called my boy to big things.
Earlier post from Trisha B, mother
Tip for a child friendly way to tell kids: Trisha and Goose told their kids that Malachi’s brain isn’t waking up. Since his brain controls his body, he won’t be able to move or talk, but he’s still very much alive. We’ll all be able to still hug him and cuddle him and care for him – and have wheel chair races! Malachi is alive and still with us. Praise God!
I pray that each one of you processes this with a kingdom mindset knowing that God’s perspective is not our perspective. God is good. There is no plan B with God. He is not surprised by this and he is still in control. He WILL work all things together for our good, and His glory, for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes.
Please remember that we are STILL praying for healing for Malachi and peace, comfort and strength for family and friends. There is a tough road ahead but it is not without hope. Our God is mighty! We WILL see his glory. Although we don’t yet know what that looks like, we approach His throne of mercy and grace, with thanksgiving and make our requests known to Him.
Photos and Content from Facebook, Miracle for Malachi.
Faith overcomes doubt, fear, hurt, desperation, and darkness.
~ Lisa Blair
When we pray we are expressing faith in action. COVID has brought a new level of fear, depression, anger, and bewilderment. Our first response is often, “what do I do now”? The answer is – pray. Prayer is essential in times like these, it is also important to ask others to pray on your behalf. When we ask others, we are asking for intercessory prayer which is much more powerful.
Intercessory prayer can bombard the airways in a way an individual has difficulty doing. Why is intercessory prayer better or stronger, because there are many people praying on your behalf for the same thing. Prayers go up to God through the airways. As we know, Satan owns the airways and works diligently to slow down our prayers and once they break through, to stop their delivery to the concerned party. Perhaps you recall in Daniel 10:13, Daniel prayed to God for His people, Gabriel was sent by God but he was hindered for 21 days by one of Satan’s demon princes. Michael the archangel intervened opening the airways so Gabriel could activate God’s blessing. Intercessory prayer is driven by fervent prayer, meaning non-stop prayer. It is during this time that we pray on behalf of another as a group, for a person, a place (neighborhood, city, state, nation or the world), or situation. James 5:14 says, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him”. We are all the church and I would say, we become the spiritual elders as we mature in the word. Throughout the Bible intercessory prayer has covered those in authority (1 Timothy 2:2); ministers (Philippians 1:19); Jerusalem (Psalm 122:16); friends (Job 42:8); fellow countrymen (Romans 10:1); the sick (James 5:14); enemies (Jeremiah 29:7); and all men (Timothy 2:1). To quote Gotquestions.org. What is intercessory prayer? “God call all Christians to be intercessors. It is God’s desire that every believer be active in intercessory prayer. What a wonderful and exalted privilege we have in being able to come boldly before the throne of Almighty God with our prayers and requests.”
EXAMPLES OF ACTIVATING PRAYER
I have two examples of how a cry out for prayer has helped two families in the last three weeks and overcame what could have been the darkest moments of one’s life.
The first is a case of a person whose grandson died unexpectedly, what do I mean by unexpectedly? He was young, in good health and God saw fit to take him home in his mid -30’s. His grandparents were devastated by the news and his grandmother went into a deep depression. As she was falling deeper and deeper into depression, she contacted her prayer group and asked for prayer to strengthen her and return her to the light. She continued to spiral, but during that time the group made intercession through intercessory prayer, praying and sending up cries for her recovery. We prayed for approximately one week and our sister in Christ contacted us sharing that our prayers were answered and she came out of the depression almost as quickly as she entered it. She also shared that our prayers not only provided the strength to continue on, but also to help her overcome her grief.
The second case is that of a member of our group whose grandson, age 3, fell in a swimming pool and was not breathing when he was found. He was rushed to the hospital were the doctors said there was little hope that he would survive, he was unconscious and they placed him on a ventilator. His grandmother asked us to pray for her grandson and we did for days, never ceasing. Today she reported that he is still in a coma, but is taking breaths on his own and the breathing tube has been changed to allow him to take more breaths. Recently he had an MRI to determine the extent of damage to his brain. We are waiting for their report and pray that God will continue to answer our prayers. God is restoring his lungs and we pay he will restore his brain to full capacity. Our God is an awesome God.
FAITH IN ACTION
Faith in action means that we do not let the things of this earth destroy us. We may be experiencing situations that seem hopeless, but they are only helpless for non-believers. Those who are believer’s and have received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, have access to the Lord.
This does not mean that our prayers are always answered as we see fit, only the Lord knows what we need to mature as Christians. What it does mean is that through faith, not doubt, we are praying for an outcome that resolves the circumstance or situation we are praying to relieve.
WHEN WE PRAY
When we pray, we pray in faith that God will answer our prayers. We expect nothing less. There is no doubt or fear. We are standing fast on God’s word, Ephesians 5:13 NIV “…and after you have done everything, stand“. This means that after you have prayed for what may seem impossible, pray and stand, do not let the evil one pollute your mind with doubt. Reject it on its face and say, “I stand on the word of God and the prayers we sent up will be answered, depart from me Satan in the name of Jesus.” And, continue to stand until you see or hear of the answer you have been praying for. Sometimes, the answer may not be the one expected, but our Lord will never forsake us or leave us, you can stand on that.
Prayers of the Righteous, Youtube
We can pray individually, with others, in groups, via text chat, email, on Zoom, Google Meet, submitting your prayers to prayer groups. There are no limits on How people pray. Technology has increased our outreach for prayer. It has created new avenues to invite others to act in intercessory prayer.
A FEWONLINE PRAYER GROUPS
Prayer Wall. College Park Church. Yourchurch.com
The Upper Room Prayer Ministry. prayer-center.upperroom.org
Peter’s walk on the water is a look at what pure faith delivers, the unfathomable.
~ Lisa Blair
Jesus instructed Peter to step out of the boat and walk to him. Yes, he told him to walk on water, can any of us do so without reservation? Is our faith that strong? Peter responded by climbing out of the boat and began walking on water. When he looked down, worldly logic informed him that he was doing the impossible, that he was defying gravity, and as quickly as his faith lifted him, faithlessness caused him to sink.
Satan is our weight, and he is our sinker, he is our albatross. As long as we allow him to dictate our lives, our faith waivers, and from time to time fails. The lack of faith causes doubt. Christ asked the disciples in Matthew 8:26, why are you afraid? O ye of little faith,’ then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was calm. Christ was saying, faith has no bounds but those we place on it. Faith requires total focus on Christ. The scripture says, do not look to the left or right, I’ll add – do not look down, keep your eyes on me (Christ), and follow me. Like Ruth told Naomi, where you go, I will go; what you believe in, I will believe in as well, meaning your God is my God. That is a statement of faith and dedication. Her affirmation yielded action; Ruth followed Naomi. This story, along with the story about Peter shows us that dependence and commitment are an act of faith, faith in what? Faith is the belief in God – the belief in the Almighty.
Peter’s faith placed him on the water. His faith supported him above the water. How well does our faith help us? Can we walk on water even for a second, or better yet, take multiple steps? The story generally refers to Peter’s lack of faith. Once he focused on what he was doing, he no longer kept his eyes on Christ. When he looked away, he began to sink. As Christians, our goal should be to keep our eyes on Christ. We should intentionally stop ourselves from looking to the left or right or down, and when we do, refocus on Christ, who is the Word.
Peter demonstrated his faith in Christ, and we often do the same. Then when life gets tough, we begin to doubt, which leads to sinking into the problem; it begins to encompass our every thought. That is when we must remember Christ’s query, why are you afraid, O ye of little faith, of wavering faith? It is time to lock your focus, your trust in me (Christ), and move forward in your walk.