Prayer

Trust

577462_10200444369724239_1728339791_nBack on June 23, our good friend Sandra Kyung Lee entered into the presence of her Savior after a heroic battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. At her service at SeaCoast Grace Church, I shared that while we were trying to be attentive to Sandra’s needs, God did something within us that was truly remarkable…He used Sandra to bring us all closer to Jesus and to help us to experience the incarnation of “God with us”, through this wonderful thing called church.

One of the ways God worked through Sandra, was as this caring community that was serving the Lee family began to grow, the women of our church started a 90 Day reading plan and assigned various women to one another for prayer and reading accountability. The group designed the plan so that it would be accessible to Sandra, as her health began to fail her. So they decided that they would text or email one another. This worked for Sandra, as she was a rock star on the iPhone, relentlessly texting away with her left thumb.  From her home she could text, email and respond to the gals in the group as well as stay connected in community, especially as her life began shrinking around her. She, along with a few others, would also send out a Monday devotion. It became this great thing that ultimately over 100 women were committed to this organic challenge and to keeping each other accountable.

At the service, one of the gals from this group shared a devotional that Sandra wrote on Monday, October 15th, 2012. It gives a glimpse into the struggle of ALS, but it also offers hope and inspires me to have courageous faith as Sandra did. So today, I thought I would share it with you.

Trust

lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:20, 21 NKJV

The past several weeks have been difficult. My left arm and hand is getting weaker. I’ve experienced with other body parts this feeling before it became useless. If I lose my left arm and hand, it’ll mean I won’t be able to feed myself, nor write on my iPhone to communicate. I’ve struggled with anger these few weeks. I didn’t know where it was coming from. Now I realize the anger was from just feeling utter helplessness and having no control over the matter. I do carry hope of miracle. But dealing with this day-to-day, the anger snuck in without even me realizing it.

I confess that I was worried over what’ll happen if I lost this arm as well. “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body  (Matthew 6:20, 21, 25 NKJV).

God has demonstrated how faithful He is to us. His timing is impeccable. I have tons of stories in our lives as well as from others of how God has provided in the past. I must not forget and remember that God is trustworthy. When we forget how God parted the red seas in our lives, we may die without ever seeing the promise land.

I may be in the desert struggling to survive but if we ask God for manna, he will give us just what we need for the day. Let tomorrow take care of itself. Today, I will trust my Father who provides for me perfectly. Thank you Father!

– Sandra Kyung Lee

Just as Sandra completed her seventh LA Marathon on March 17th of this year to the cheers of those at the finish line, she also finished her race on this earth surrounded by those she loved and was welcomed into the arms of Jesus who I am certain said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Approaching God With Confidence

a-place2wrshpIt seems almost daily that I am hearing of great hurt in the lives of those around me. Families on the brink of divorce, battles with cancer, loss of loved ones…the list goes on and the occurrences seem to be on the increase. For those struggling, each prayer request is unique…seeking relief from the pain, anger at the loss, crying out for peace in the turmoil, understanding from the trouble, strength in the fear and uncertainty. Yet for those that know the Lord, despite the affliction, many are comforted by the One on the Throne. Although we all have our own stress and strain, perhaps not as deep as others, we are assured that our requests can be made to God and that we can seek refuge in the One who created and knows us. He knows both our strengths and weaknesses and yet he still invites us to come boldly to the throne.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NIV

Another translation says “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 NLT

Isn’t that great news! That we can come boldly to the throne with confidence, remembering who we are approaching, the Creator, the Alpha and Omega, the Omniscient God. He knows our needs and loves us so much that he offers us his mercy and grace.

I often can’t even begin to understand the suffering of those around me. Nor can I imagine enduring my own stress and strain without my Savior, but I am confident in the One on the Throne and I know that I can seek him with confidence in my time of need. I am comforted in the fact that I can boldly call upon him in prayer lifting up those who need additional comfort and support.  I can seek Him with sureness, knowing that he hears each request, sees each tear and feels each heartache. It is with this assurance that I know I will receive his mercy and grace. What a blessed assurance!

A Christmas Prayer

From the desk of Max Lucado…

Dear Jesus,

It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.

These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.

The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.

Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.

Hopefully,

Your Children

Remembering the victims and praying for the families of Sandy Hook Elementary in NewTown, CT as well as for our nation!

The Prayer of Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick, who lived in the Fifth Century, was originally from Britain. He was captured and shipped to Ireland, which at the time was a violent, dark land of warlords and Druids, and endured six years of servitude as a slave. During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer, and he emerged with a strong, unbreakable bond with Jesus. He grew spiritually deep and wise, and gave himself in service to his Lord. He escaped the captors and returned to Britain. Later, God strongly led him to return to Ireland as a missionary. His courageous ministry, braving danger at every turn, ushered Christianity into the entire land. This powerful prayer is often attributed to him…

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation

The Life You’ve Always Wanted

John Ortberg’s book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, is not just another book on spiritual disciplines. Choosing to focus more on the goal of internal transformation than the externals of the spiritual disciplines in the Christian life, Ortberg challenges the status quo on the subject, by discussing what this spiritual transformation looks like, and how we can obtain it through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I appreciate Ortberg’s perspective on training vs. trying, in which he states, “spiritual transformation is not a matter of trying harder, but training wisely” (p.47). If we have it as our goal to become more like Christ, and grow in our ability to love God and love His people, than we should choose wisely which activities or disciplines we need in our lives in order to fully demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. As Ortberg states, the disciplines are not a way to earn favor with God, but are simply a “means of appropriating or growing toward the life that God graciously offers” (p.51). This is a helpful paradigm, because it starts with our motivation, and removes the sense of legalism that is so often associated with the disciplines.

Unfortunately for many, we tend to compartmentalize not only our lives, but the disciplines as well. Forgetting that Christ wants all of who we are. This is why I also appreciated Ortberg’s thoughts on the well-ordered heart, because it takes the emphasis off the externals of our faith and puts the focus on becoming more like Christ.  In placing our focus on the goal of transformation, we begin to think like the apostle Paul who did all things for the glory of the God (1 Cor. 10:31). And in turn we allow God to impact every aspect of our lives.

Ortberg’s book challenges us to shift our paradigm as it relates to the spiritual disciplines, reminding us to place the emphasis on transformation instead of on obedience to Christ and God’s Word. While certain disciplines are commanded of us, they are not there to get us extra credit, or for us to demonstrate how much we love God, but they are simply there to help me live a more fruitful life for Christ. By removing the law, we experience freedom, which as Ortberg states “is the life we you’ve always wanted” (p.153).

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