Category Archives: S&S Blog

ON . . . INTERCESSORY . . . P R A Y – – I N G

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GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS.

All believers have the same assurance from God  as does Jeremiah:  Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.  [Jeremiah 33:3]

Our Father always gives us more than we ask [Ephesians 3:20], so when we appropriate this scripture from the book of Jeremiah, we learn that not only will God answer us, but he will show us great and mighty things,  “fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand)”  Amplified  in other words,  “I’ll tell you marvelous and wonderful things that you could never figure out on your own.”  Message  To use the vernacular,  He will blow  our minds!

Therefore, we must get ready to receive.

PRAY BEFORE YOU PRAY.

Get yourself in an attitude to receive answers and insight.  This means ridding your mind of preconceived answers and being open to God’s response – – whatever it is and however he communicates it.  Psalm 19:14 is a good prayer to pray be fore you pray:  Let the words  of  my mouth and the meditation of my heart  be acceptable in thy sight.  O Lord,   my  strength and my redeemer.  You want to pray the scripture, that is,    you  fashion your prayers so that you pray God’s Word back to him .  For he promises that  HIS  Word – – not  yours – – will accomplish what he sends it to do and not return to him void.  [Isaiah 55:11]

INTERCEDE FOR YOUR SELF,  F I R S T !

Search me O God,  and know my heart;

Try me, and know my thoughts;

And see if there be any wicked way in me,

And lead me in the way everlasting.  [Psalms 139:23-24]

NOW,  INTERCEDE FOR THE NEEDS OF OTHERS – – FAMILY MEMBERS, FRIENDS, ENEMIES – – AS THE HOLY SPIRIT PROMPTS YOU.

May the following list of needs and appropriate scriptural suggestions be useful to your intercession as you incorporate the scripture as a part of your prayer.  Also, insert, appropriately, the name of the person(s) for whom you are praying.

Here you go for starters!

SALVATION  – JOHN 3:16

For God so loved [ insert the person’s name:  your s or someone else’s ]  that he gave his only begotten son that  [not whosoever will, but the person’s name] may have everlasting life.

MERCY    –     PSALMS 119:38

Lord, I entreat your favor with my whole heart, be merciful to [name] according to your word.

FAITH     –     1 JOHN 5:14

And this is the confidence that  [name has] in Him, that, if [name] asks any thing according to His will, he hears.

SICKNESS     –     MATTHEW  8:17

He himself took [name] infirmities and bore [name] sickness.

LONELINESS     –     HEBREWS 13:5

I will never leave [name] nor forsake you.

AFRAID     –     PSALMS 56:3

When [name is] afraid, [name] will trust in Thee.

HUMILITY     –     MICAH 6:8

And what does the Lord require of  [name], but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with  [your] God?

LOVE     –     JOHN 15:9

(Jesus) As the Father loved me, I also have loved [name ]; abide in my love.

PRAISE     –    PSALMS 34:1

[NAME ] will bless the Lord at all times.  His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

END YOUR  SEASON OF INTERCESSORY PRAYER WITH THANKSGIVING!

PHILIPPIANS 4:6

With thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God.

PRAY YOUR WAY THROUGH THE DAY!

WATCH FOR THE GREAT AND WONDERFUL THINGS

OUR FATHER WILL SHOW YOU!

 

On Keeping . . . S I L E N C E . . .

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BLACK HISTORY MONTH is still eminently relevant to the collective psyche of the citizens of this country, the United States of America.  During this season of remembrance, we acknowledge the excruciation of  the  struggles  and imbibe the elixir of the successes of our African American ancestors.   One salient and continual purpose of Black History month is to teach/ remind ourselves of the “coping strength” of our elders:  How they “got over”  their physical and mental impediments  – – slavery, discrimination, hardships, beatings, and other well-documented atrocities.  I submit that prayer was their first line of defense – – the through line to victory from the dark,  brutal  days of Sojourner Truth to the hard-won enlightenment of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We can benefit greatly from focusing on pray-ING, the “coping strength”  that our elders relied upon to sustain them in their noble efforts.  I submit, further, that often  SILENCE is our best usher into prayer.  Maintaining silence in the face of adversity can be  the ultimate demonstration/ utilization of meekness  – – strength under pressure.  In fact, earnest prayer often comes from  pressure, patience and perseverance.  Force yourself to keep silence despite a rash desire to rant; instead let patience have her perfect work in you,  for patience is the very  foundation for your cultivation of the fruit of the Spirit.  This is faith under pressure.  Keep silence until you hear the instructions of the Lord.  The psalmist speaks about this:

I said to myself, I’m going to quit complaining! I’ll keep quiet, especially when the ungodly are around me.   But as I stood there silently the turmoil within me grew to the bursting point. The more I mused, the hotter the fires inside.  Then at last I spoke with God.   Psalm 39:1-3 

Follow the example of the psalmist and other scriptural recommendations:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven

. . . A time to keep silence,  and  a time to speak           Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7b  

But the Lord is in His holy temple:

Let all the earth keep silence before him.    Habakkuk 2:20

Out of fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks — Luke 6:45

At this point, the psalmist speaks from the deeply private issue of his heart : his journey through this world  –  his time of existence on earth – –

 Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more.  My life is no longer than my hand! My whole lifetime is but a moment to you. Proud man!  Frail as breath!  A shadow!  And all his busy rushing ends in nothing. He heaps up riches for someone else to spend.   And so, Lord, my only hope is in you.   Save me from being overpowered by my sins, for even fools will mock me then.   Lord, I am speechless before you.  I will not open my mouth to speak one word of complaint, for my punishment is from you.  Psalm 39 vv. 4-13 , NLT

The psalmist ends his prayer feeling comfortably confident that his only hope is in God whose control he can securely trust.

Follow, again, the psalmist’s example:   Feel the prompting that will come  from restraining your  impulsivity while allowing the Holy Spirit to “word your mouth.” Acts 2:4 tells us that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, then He will give us utterance.  In other words, your perseverance in silence will lead you to pray insightfully   to our Heavenly Father  about whatever matter is tugging at your heart.  I urge you to follow the spirit of your encounter with God and pray aloud.

This sincere meditation and prayer came forth out of the fullness of the psalmist’s heart.   What  will  come  from  yours ?

MAY YOU GO FORTH ON YOUR JOURNEY TODAY

IN THE C O P I N G    S T R E N G T H 

OF THIS ENCOUNTER !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A TIME FOR L O V E

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Valentine’s Day! Yes, love is in the air, on the web, definitely in the stores. At this time our cultural awareness impels most of us – – believers and non-believers alike– to embrace the same affinity – -LOVE. By consensus, no one expresses the expansiveness of one person’s love for another human being better than Mrs. Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Here her rhetorical question and answer:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Anyone who is the object of such well-spoken affection –whoever he/she may be—must be over-flabbergasted to receive it. Wouldn’t you be? And what about the author? From what well of expressive largess does such deep emotion spring? Phenomenal!

Lest we get too absorbed in Elizabeth Browning’s titillating expression of her love for her beloved husband, Robert Browning – –
and
Lest we overspend our time , examining our own personal coterie of special friends searching for THE one person upon whom we will dotingly lavish such exalted expression – –

Before we become so engrossed – -this seems to me to be a good time to recall the admonition of Apostle Paul: Don’t be conformed to the world. He reminds us that believers are to think differently. [Romans 12:1-2] Therefore, let us renew our minds about the topic of love. Ever wonder how many times the word LOVE appears in the Bible? Or what Jesus had to say about love? To begin with, notice that he explains how God, himself, set the example for demonstrating love, for Jesus asserts in John 3:16 that God “S O” loved the world that he gave. Here, love motivates God, the lover of mankind, to give his best gift to the loved ones. This
“S O” kind of love: That is deeply profound, too much love for most of us. And it is indiscriminate! Don’t we find it acceptably easier to love some persons more than others? What about those we “feed with a long-handled spoon” because hey have hurt us? And how about those whom we just lump together as “people”? Is he saying – – same degree of love motivation for all persons? What about the “less fortunate”? Isn’t targeted financial beneficence enough for “these people”? Won’t giving of our finances – -especially if we add portions of our time and talents – -to charitable organizations satisfy the world’s standards? Maybe.

According to James, however, believers must fulfill the requirements of the “royal law.” He insists:

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. [James 2: 8-9]

Believers must satisfy this royal law by loving SO much in the spirit of the love demonstrated by God as referred to above. We must exhibit the “S O ” kind of love to our neighbor. WHO, THEN, IS OUR NEIGHBOR? A neighbor is anyone we discover or who comes into our path and who can benefit from our personal attention and/or largess.

Yes, love is a basic Christian tenet. Jesus even summarizes the entire Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:1-17] as LOVE: love God and love your neighbor. [Matthew 22:36-38] A neighbor is anyone we can love by giving, by sharing.

Jesus teaches this essence in his parable of the Good Samaritan [Luke 10:25-27], where a traveler interrupts his journey to attend to the needs of a severely beaten person whom he encounters. He gives compassion, time, resources and finance to someone in need whom he does not know. In a few words, he loves. Isn’t Jesus teaching here again, that believers must extend/give their love indiscriminately to our neighbors? And that we must love each neighbor with the same kind of love we have for ourselves?

Further, Jesus teaches us about this kind of neighborly sharing in his parable about a feast in which the host sends messengers out into the “neighborhood” to convince unlikely attendees to come enjoy his hospitality. The host prepares to share with others by: sending out save the date notices, making preparations, then when all things were ready, issuing the formal invitation. Consider this host’s determination to share as recorded in Luke 14:22-24:

22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

But even more instructive for me concerning sharing is Jesus’ parable about the Rich man and the beggar, Lazarus.

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot , nor can anyone cross over from to us. 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Lazarus was in the rich man’s neighborhood. But the rich man ignored Lazarus. Forget about his inviting Lazarus to dine sufficiently with him , this rich man didn’t even offer Lazarus the CRUMBS from his sumptuous table. Certainly the rich man had enough and to spare. He seems more bloated with insensitivity than with food.

What about us ? Are we equally as insensitive of those in our neighborhood who would be satisfied with the crumbs from OUR tables? I will admit that giving the “S O” kind of love requires the spiritual fortitude to which some of us believers still aspire. However, we can make the intermediate step that will lead us toward that hallowed state. For now, let’s just focus on the table in the parable: the overflow of crumbs. What about the table God has set before each of us? Are there crumbs that a neighbor would gratefully receive? Do we have enough to share? If we have anything at all – –money, time, talent, influence, whatever- – then we have enough to share! We do!

Now the question is for me and for you: What are you doing with YOUR crumbs?

Finally, let’s pray now that the Holy Spirit will guide us to those in our neighborhood to whom we can demonstrate our love by sharing.

My friend, on your journey this week, may you dare to love your neighbor by sharing , even if only the crumbs!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

S&S Call Encounter Notes: Childhood Faith

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CHILDHOOD FAITH

. . . a little child shall lead them . . . Isaiah 11:6

We are moving increasingly into the Christmas season.  Christmas is simply about children.  Think about the children in your life and what Christmas means to them.  How will they celebrate Christmas?  What is important to them during this season that is observed worldwide?  Think about yourself as a child growing up – –  your young, pre-teen, pre-adult years.   What did you expect to do?  What did you do?   Was it a time of family?  Fellowship? Faith?  Whisper a prayer for a recall of  your childhood Christmas memories – – no matter  whether especially pleasant or especially painful. Ask God to bring them back to your remembrance.  Then ask him, appropriately, to recapture the happiness  or/and  to release the hurt.

God is surely able to make all things work together for your good and give you some memories  to share.  [Romans 8:28 and Psalm 45:1]  Yes, Christmas is about children, for they  are an heritage/blessing from the Lord.   [Psalm 127:3]

Note, again,  . . .  a little child shall lead them . . .

Know that in our family, we believe that the infant son who was born in Bethlehem over two thousand  years ago to the young virgin Mary and her espoused husband, Joseph, was actually the son of God who came to earth to bring reclamation, reconciliation and restoration to the broken bond of love between God and his beloved creation.  Therefore,  in the spirit of Proverbs 22:6 and in terms that she could understand, we trained our daughter from babyhood in this belief.  We told her the story of the birth of Jesus.  we sang such songs as these:

Jesus, Jesus!  O what a wonderful child! Jesus, Jesus! So tender meek and mild.

New life, and hope to all he brings.. Listen to the angels sing:

Glory!  Glory!  Glory to the new born King!

And this one:

Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear;

things I would ask Him to tell me if He were here!

Scenes by the wayside, tales of the sea,

stories of Jesus, tell them to me.

First let me hear how the children stood  ’round His knee,

and I shall fancy His blessing resting on me.

Words full of kindness, deeds of grace

all in the lovelight of Jesus’ face.

Into the city I’d follow the children’s band,

waving a branch of the palm trees high in my hand.

One of His heralds, yes, I would sing

Loudest hosannas, “Jesus is King!”

Yes,   we wanted her to know that Christmas is about the birth of a special child.  Still, we were happily surprised about two weeks before Christmas when our probably seven year-old daughter created a nativity scene – – right there in our family room!  Such a precious memory!  Hear now about a time she put her childhood faith into action.

A Christmas Story  –  Daughter’s First Nativity Scene

“Daddy, Come and see the place I have made in the den to represent the birth of the Baby Jesus!”  she said, tugging on her father’s arm.  Curious, her daddy obligingly went and looked.  “See Baby Jesus, on his blanket?  He’s smiling at us!”  Her daddy looked.  What he saw was Phillip, her beige teddy bear, lying on her favorite yellow baby blanket.  What he said was, “That’s nice, sweetheart.”  “Stay here, Daddy.  Sit down for a minute.”

Daughter ran to the kitchen.  “Mama, come and see how I have helped you this Christmas.”  Mama lowered the fire under her pots and followed her excited daughter into the den.  “See, Mama, I have made the creche for you so you won’t have to make it this year.”  “How very helpful of you, Baby,”  her Mama said,  smiling widely.

“Wait right here, Mama.  I’ll be right back.”  Daughter ran to her Grandmother’s room, where she found her reading her giant print Bible.  “Grandma,  bring your Bible into the den for a minute.”  Then, she gently helped her grandmother walk slowly to the den where her Daddy and Mama were still waiting, chatting about their daughter’s creativity.  “Grandma,  look at Baby Jesus!”  she exclaimed.  Grandma looked then hugged her grandbaby and kissed her on both cheeks, pronouncing Phillip “the best Baby Jesus she had ever seen in her life!”

Pleased that her family endorsed this place of honor that she gave to her most cherished companion, Daughter was proud of her effort – -why she had even brushed Philip’s  fur, polished his eyes and smoothed the wrinkles in his plaid bow tie to get him ready for his special duty station.  Finally, the kiss she had given him seemed to leave his face fixed in an innocent smile.

She said, “Let’s sing Silent Night!”   Next, came the highlight for her first nativity scene:  «Daddy will will you read the story of the birth of Jesus from Grandma’s Bible?”  Of course he complied, reading from the second chapter of Luke with special emphasis and humility.

Then she said, knowing how they all would be blessed, “Grandma, will you pray a Christmas prayer for us and for all the children everywhere?”   Grandma cleared her throat in a second and began talking to her dear Lord.  She thanked him for her family, especially her precious granddaughter, and she pronounced blessings on children everywhere.  All eyes were misty by the time she said,  “Amen!”

This experience  deepened our “grown-folks” understanding that Christmas is about childhood faith.  Because of our daughter, that same nativity scene- -Phillip and all – – became a part of our Christmas observance each year, even when the family moved to a city over six hundred miles away.  After we established the tradition , anyone and everyone who came into our home at Christmastime must pay respects to the nativity scene.  Our faith is in God.  We nourish our faith by standing/meditating  on the word of God.  As David asserts [Psalm 119:105] the Word of God  guides our footfalls on life’s journey and God is always available as our refuge, strength, and help in times of distress. [ Psalm 46:1-2]

Most of all , Christmas is about love:  God’s love for us and our love for him.  A little child knows God loves him:   Yes Jesus loves me!   Yes, Jesus loves me!  Yes, Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so!  [Luke 18:16]

Because we all are children of God [Romans 8:16 and 1 John 3:10], we  should praise  Him with the same devoted enthusiasm as little children:

I am so glad that my Father in heav’n

tells of His love in the book He has giv’n.

Wonderful things in the Bible I see – –

this is the dearest, that Jesus loves me. 

Tho I forget Him and wander away,

Still He doth love me wherever I stray.

Back to His dear loving arms I would flee

when I remember that Jesus loves me.

 

O if there’s only one song I can sing

when in His beauty I see the great King,

this shall my song in eternity be:

O what a wonder that Jesus  loves me.

 

I am so glad that Jesus loves me!  Jesus loves me!  Jesus loves me!

I am so glad that Jesus loves me!

Jesus loves even me!

As you think of the depth of your love for Jesus the Christ, whose entrance into human history we celebrate duringt this season, I invite you to adapt the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s  poem,  “How Do I Love Thee?”  Think of Jesus and say to him:  “How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.”  Finally, I invite you to listen to our playlist  during the next days and re-kindle your own love for Jesus the Christ.

May the Holy Spirit  make your journey through this season melodious!

 

S&S Call Encounter Notes: On SEEING T H I N G S

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The Jesus Question

When you look at your life with your spiritual eyes, what thing do you see?

The thing that comes before you may be good, bad, happy, sad – – whatever.
How will you use this thing victoriously as you move on your life’s journey?

The Process for Achieving Victory

1. Meditate on the thing you see. If you can see it; it is subject/susceptible to change. Consider 2 Corinthians 4:18b – – for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2. Speak/name the thing you see. When you speak what you see, its impermanence becomes apparent. It becomes subject to your power. Consider Jesus’ admonition in Mark 11:22 – – Have faith in God – – and his subsequent assurance in verse 23 that you shall have what you say.

3. Believe in the power of the Word over the thing you see. Pray in the spirit of Philippians 4:6-7– – Be anxious for no-thing, but in every-thing, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God. And the peace of God, that passes all understanding shall keep your heart and mind through Christ Jesus.

4. Receive God’s provision. Consider and affirm Psalm 23:5 – – You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil [of blessing ], my cup runs over.

5. Announce/attribute your victory to the glory of God. Thank and praise God in the spirit of Matthew 5:16 – – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father, who is in heaven.

A Biblical Example from Luke 18:35-43

Bartimaeus [Mark 10:46] was ready to speak the name of his thing when Jesus asked the question. The blind man said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” This shows that Bartimaeus believed in the power of Jesus, the Living Word. Jesus granted the request, and immediately Bartimaeus was no longer blind. He received God’s provision, then responded appropriately by following Jesus and praising and glorifying God.

Thus, “Everyone in the street joined in, shouting praise to God.” Message, v.43b

Give God glory for the things you see to do this week!
God be praised !

The Childless Mother

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Word   –     Jesus says:  Behold thy mother!    John 19:27

Application – Spend time at the foot of the cross, spelunking the chasm  of Mary’s grief at the death of her son.  Do you know the grief of a childless mother?

The  Childless Mother

 

I am the childless mother.

My son was killed before I even held him in my eager arms.

I never had the  chance to give him a loving mother’s embrace.

I never suckled his infant mouth.

 never hushed his insistent cries with my soothing kisses.

 never lullabied him to dream his special dreams

 never shed a tear of joy at his first cry

 never changed his diaper. 

Instead I saw him dead.

Perfectly formed, but dead.

 Two ears, unhearing

 Two eyes, unseeing

 Two arms, unreaching

 Two hands, unclasping

 Two legs, unmoving

 Two feet, unstepping.

Dead warm body.

 One heart, no longer beating

 One mouth, no longer eating

 One brain, no longer sensing.

One cold soul.

 Bereft of infanthood, its comfort concerns

 Bereft of childhood, its inquisitiveness

 Bereft of youth, its puerile arrogance

 Bereft of old adulthood, its growing sensibilities to things human and divine

 Bereft of old age, its legacy of hard-learned wisdom.

 Bereft of mortal life.

Full-term, smothered, stillborn, never to be well-grown.

– – Klara Shannon Hadley