Monday, August 23, 2010

Face the Storm

It rained this morning and I mean hard drops of rain. It started out slowly. I was walking the beach and could feel a few drops here and there. By the time I made it back to the beach in front of the room the rain had really started coming down. I was about to go in when I stopped and asked myself, "What are you doing?" There's no thunder or lightning. Hang out a little while." So I did. I had the beach to myself, the pool, and the hot tub. No one was around. It was pouring. My hat's visor blocked the rain from my face as I enjoyed a wonderful swim. Beneath the waters there was calm and silence. The rain was pounding the surface, but I was safe under the water. Even when I came up for air and eventually went to sit in the hot tub, the pounding rain continued, but I realized it wasn't really all that bad.

We have storms in life. We talk about them a lot, because like summer rain in Florida, they can be pretty frequent. This morning's storm was rough, but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. Beneath the surface of the water I found peace. The sun wasn't blazing down on me. The wind was keeping me cool. It was a perfect morning at the beach despite the rain. It can be a beautiful day in life too, despite the storms brewing. There's nothing going to happen that you can't handle with God's help. At first glance the storm seems fierce, but once you get to know it better, recognize what's going on and why, you will find peace in the arms of the Father who will see you through.

Take some time this week to walk in the rain, dance in the wind, and face the storm. With God leading you through, there's no need to worry or wait until it passes. Face it head on with the power of God and find out what's on the other side!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Prayer For You, My Friends

Lord, before I check my e-mail and get distracted by all of the junk as well as the daily roles of life, I come to you first to lift up this prayer for my friends.

Dear Lord,

I ask that you fill my  friends with the knowledge of Your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Fill them Lord so that they may live a life worthy of You and may please You in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in Your knowledge. May they be strengthened with all power according to your glorious might Father. May each of them have great endurance and patience joyfully giving thanks to You O Lord who has qualified them to share in the inheritance of the saints in Your Kingdom of Light. (Colossians 1:9-12)

In Jesus' Precious Name,
Amen


Friends, this is a great way to pray the scripture for one another. These verses in Colossians 1:9-12 were shared with my by a dear friend, and now I pray them for each of you! You can also pray this scripture during your own trying times in life. What an amazing reminder that God is in control and it is He who we look to for our daily steps in life!

Blessings and Prayers to Each of You!
Amanda

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pray It Out

Since the closing of one of my favorite gyms, I've turned to the in home walking series by Leslie Sansone for my regular aerobic/cardio workout. Don't let the name fool you, the Walk at Home series is way more than walking! It actually comes on a variety of levels. The one I'm doing is a high impact aerobic workout that involves some intense attention to lunges, squats, weights and resistance. It's no wonder between every set of moves that we're encouraged to "walk it out" before moving on. It's some tough stuff, but walking it out allows for a break without actually stopping the work out or losing momentum.

I'm finding the same is true when it comes to those out of control, intense moments in life. We face some crazy situations and we don't always know how to handle them. Sometimes it's easier to vent to someone about it or dwell on the situation trying to solve it ourselves. This method, however, stops us in our tracks and we lose momentum. Things come to a complete halt and we find it nearly impossible to move forward.   

Sometimes we need to "walk it out" or in these types of circumstances, we need to pray it out. God is waiting for us to come to Him with all of our needs and fears. He is our ultimate counselor and when we bring our troubles to Him, He will show us how to handle them. This was something that I had to put into practice several times this weekend. Little dilemmas found their way into my mind and I was on the verge of panic when I picked up Jesus Calling and read the daily devotional reminding me to come to God and to speak to Him not just in prayer time, but all of the time.



Through each circumstance, I took a time out to pray it out and talk it over with the Lord. I didn't put my life on hold until the answer was revealed. I kept going, kept up the pace, and continued walking while at the same time talking it out. God hasn't revealed all the answers yet, but I'm trusting Him to guide me one step at a time. He has answered the main prayer of helping me not to turn the small problems into something huge and I know He will reveal the solution in His time.

The next time things take an overwhelming turn for the worst, just pray it out. Don't stop in life, just take a breather and keep moving while talking it over with the One with all the answers. The journey is a lot more fulfilling when we stay in communication with our Guide!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day Six and Day Seven - Keep On Praying!

Wow! What an amazing weekend of prayer this has been. I didn't post on day six because I was just taking a day to unplug and rest in the Lord and the new lessons He is teaching me. It was nice not to have a particular schedule for the day; I just let the day flow and I went along with it. I thought about day one - coming into God's presence; day two - drinking of God's Word; day three - listening for God's voice/hearing from Him, day four - seeking God in the quiet; day five - again seeking Him and turning to keep my focus on Him; and then day six - living and resting in God's Joy and Peace (His presence).

Day seven, today, was a wonderful surprise from the Lord. Back when I started this prayer week with my church, I learned of the six principles listed on day one through six above. I also learned from the ministry I work with, to treat this week as the six days of marching around Jericho and on day seven shouting with praise and Joy knowing and believing that God will bring down the walls in my life and help me move on in Him.

Honestly, I wasn't sure how day seven would go. Truth be told, I didn't plan anything for any of the prayer days. I let God plan and move me and that was a completely new experience! It was no surprise that I woke up this morning with a clear path from the Lord. Walls are going to come down, but it's going to take time. I am committing to another full week of prayer as this week. I'm taking it one day or one week at a time, but hoping I can get myself in a permanent prayer fast of leaving behind self and devoting an extra hour a day to prayer. This has been a life changing time of spiritual growth and I have absolutely loved it...the good, the bad, and the ugly...LOL!

Another wonderful experience today was during this morning's worship service at church. It was a great wrap up to the church wide week of prayer and an intro to the next sermon series on God's grace. At the end of the service we closed with a time of music and prayer pouring our hearts out in song while others went to the front to pray and pray over others. Near the closing, the song grew louder and we began singing louder and shouting praises to the Lord. That's when it hit me. We were shouting on day seven and the walls were coming down! Another path, although not completely clear, was revealed and I left the service with a sense of God's affirmation to continue in Him and continue practicing the reality of His presence no matter how I feel.

It's been a great week of new experiences, new lessons, and some face to face moments learning a few not so simple lessons about myself. I am excited to continue in this prayer fast as well as keep posting as often as possible. God has blessed my life and through your responses, I am seeing that He has blessed your life. Praise be to His name. The walls are not all down, the paths are not all clear, but one thing is for sure, prayer and open communication with the only One who is truly in charge of my life MUST continue. The great God of the Universe wants to talk to me and I am listening! Holy Spirit help me continue!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Day Five Prayer Fast: Seek and Turn

Come. Drink. Listen. Seek. Turn. Live in Joy and Peace.

Day five in this week devoted to prayer finds me seeking and turning. How?

Today started with a prayer and a reminder from Jesus Calling not only to give troubles over to the Lord, but also to leave them there and move on to the next thing. As I look back on the fun I had today with my niece and family, I realize that is what I did. This evening, however, when things died down, I felt the need to pray some things out and seek the Father. Did I? Honestly, No. I tuned into a few more television programs and read a few more e-mails until one of those e-mails hit a little too close to the core of what needed to be prayed over. Only then, and slowly, did I turn off the television, let go, and let God.

The words "Seek Him" came to mind and I asked, "Lord, how in the world am I supposed to seek You?" The thought had been near all evening and while I thought I was trying to find ways to do that, I was really looking for more things to keep me preoccupied and away from the ultimate sit down one on one. The moment I asked how do I seek, the Lord pointed out that all I have to do is come to Him, drink of His word and listen. Jeremiah 29:13 says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Seeking began with praising; praising God for His mercy, grace, and love and praising Him for the direction I know and am believing He will give. Seeking Him caused me to turn my eyes, ears, heart and soul towards Him and truly pray out what was going through my mind. Things I had not thought of or even considered came to mind and I was worried. Even though we were to come into this week of prayer leaving the planning up to God, I still had what I thought was a sense of the things the Lord would cover this week; apparently I was wrong. I had some alarms and definitely had to take a moment to remind myself to give them over to God and ask for His help to leave them with Him and move to the next step. It wasn't easy and just when I thought it was hopeless, God surprised me!

It's not about the feelings involved in prayer or that special sense or feeling that God is there; it's the everyday practice of the presence of God and the reality of God with us that is key. When I was stripped of these notions and concepts and truly open to whatever the Lord wanted to say, when I stepped down and allowed Him to step up, that's when I heard from Him. That's the moment I was completely caught off guard. God laid something entirely out of the blue on my heart and although it cannot be shared here or now (because it will be typed up later), I can do nothing but praise God for His surprise and direction and ask that He bless the project that He has so clearly defined.

Praise God for His all knowing, ever present, all powerful wisdom in all that He gives us. Even when we think it is a horrible circumstance, God means it for good. Seeking Him Has led to a turning point in one area and I am praying, praising, and trusting for the Lord's continued direction in other areas.  Please know that I am praying for the same for You, my church, missions, family, and friends!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Prayer Fast Day Four - Quietness

Fourth day of prayer and the earth continues to shake beneath my feet as I sit quietly before the Lord in prayer. This morning began with prayer texts from a close friend along with a reading from Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest plus the day's reading from Jesus Calling.

Jesus Calling confirmed the day's assignment to simply rest before the Lord and take time to sit quietly in His presence. Psalm 37:7 says, "Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself..." I felt relief from those words and a sense of freedom as I just let go. The words stayed with me as I took a walk with the dog followed by a 2 mile bike ride.

Back from the time outdoors, I sat down for time with My Utmost for His Highest. I began with the reading for August 4th (even though today is August 5th) and kept going backwards reading various devotionals through July and back at the end of June. There was a lot of information packed in there and much to dwell on. I have much to pray over the next few days. I'll leave off with the reading for July 22, which is also available online at: http://www.myutmost.org/07/0722.html.


 


SANCTIFICATION

"This is the will of God, even your sanctification." 1 Thessalonians 4:3

The Death Side. In sanctification God has to deal with us on the death side as well as on the life side. Many of us spend so much time in the place of death that we get sepulchral. There is always a battle royal before sanctification, always something that tugs with resentment against the demands of Jesus Christ. Immediately the Spirit of God begins to show us what sanctification means, the struggle begins. "If any man come to Me and hate not . . his own life, he cannot be My disciple."

The Spirit of God in the process of sanctification will strip me until I am nothing but "myself," that is the place of death. Am I willing to be "myself," and nothing more - no friends, no father, no brother, no self-interest - simply ready for death? That is the condition of sanctification. No wonder Jesus said: "I came not to send peace, but a sword." This is where the battle comes, and where so many of us faint. We refuse to be identified with the death of Jesus on this point. "But it is so stern," we say; "He cannot wish me to do that." 

Our Lord is stern; and He does wish us to do that.

Am I willing to reduce myself simply to "me," determinedly to strip myself of all my friends think of me, of all I think of myself, and to hand that simple naked self over to God? Immediately I am, He will sanctify me wholly, and my life will be free from earnestness in connection with every thing but God.
When I pray - "Lord, show me what sanctification means for me," He will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus Christ puts into me: it is Himself in me. (1 Cor. 1:30.)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Earth Is Shaking - Prayer Day Three

The Earth may not literally be shaking as I write this, but it is definitely safe to say that the Lord is shaking the ground beneath my feet. The moment I joined in for devoted prayer this week, God began working in very evident ways. Day one, I came into the presence of the Lord; day two I drank of His word; and now on this third day of prayer I find myself listening intently. I have to be honest that I did not intentionally begin this third day of prayer ready to listen and devote myself to prayer, but the Lord is moving, things are definitely shaking up, and I am at a loss for words.

Comfort zones and "safe" areas are being shaken and things are being looked at in a new light. God is moving and I am learning to sit still and allow Him to speak into my life and move me. I don't know how things will move or how I will move physically or spiritually. Thanks to a wonderful morning in prayer with a close friend, I know now that I am to simply sit and listen giving this time over to the Lord and waiting for Him to reveal what His plan is. I only have to be willing, able, and available for what He has in store.

The remaining days of prayer this week will be devoted to silence and prayer. A friend shared with me the words found in Joshua. The Lord told Joshua and his mighty army to march around the city of Jericho for six days silently and wait for Him to reveal His plan. Six days of silence were followed by day seven when the Lord gave the command for all the children of Israel to shout in unison and praise to Him. On that day, the walls fell. The city was given to them. The victory was theirs. All they had to do was follow the Lord; He had done the work and rewarded them with victory. (Joshua 5:13 - 6:15).

It is my prayer to do the same these six days of prayer waiting for God to reveal His plan and purpose on day seven. I am praying and believing the Lord will provide and break down the walls in my life hindering me from being all that He wants me to be. I invite all of my friends and family to pray with me during this time!

Blessings,
Amanda

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Prayer Requests for Day Two

Special prayer requests to go along with today's day of prayer:

Highland Park Prayer Requests

  1. Prayer for Pastor Brett Rickey for spiritual protection, strength and discernment
  2. Prayer for Pastor Brett's family
  3. Prayer for the church, church family, community, missions
  4. Prayer for direction and confirmation from God as He opens many new opportunities
Pastor Brett's blog is available here: Cool Leadings
    Ministry to Women
    1. Prayer for Liz (executive director) for spiritual protection, strength and discernment
    2. Prayer for Liz's family
    3. Prayer for the women we are serving.
    4. Prayer for direction of the ministry, and God's provision over all needs
    5. Prayer for ministry partners and their families - Special prayer for those who are fighting cancer (Howell, Stan, JP, Ms. Stull)

    It's Not Always Pretty - Day 2 in the Prayer Fast!

    It's day 2 in the week of devoted, intentional prayer at my church and through the ministry I work with and God is not holding back! I'm realizing that my devotion/quiet time with God prior to this time of specific prayer was not near long enough, deep enough, or devoted enough on my part. I was breezing through some scripture, sending up a quick prayer and off I went.

    The past two days, I've allowed myself to really stop and sit and think, speak, be silent, pray, sing, and be still before God. It's not easy and it's not pretty. When we bring ourselves to a stopping point, our world literally stands still and everything that we have taken in through our five senses comes rushing back to us and we realize just what we're living in and around on a daily basis. Pain, sorrow, peace, joy; it's all there and it's not always easy to digest. The Lord is using this prayer time to teach me that if I would slow down in every second of my life and dwell on what is happening, I would learn to lift it to Him immediately in prayer before walking on. Doing this eases the burden from my shoulders and assures me that things are covered under the mighty wings of the Father because I've given it to Him and let it go. (Letting go is key!)

    Thank you Father! Forgive me for taking so long to come to you. Your timing is perfect. Thank you for being faithful to me even when I was not to You. I am blessed and growing knowing that you are with me on the high places and in the low valleys!

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    God Is Calling His People to Pray!

    This just in! If you've read my earlier post, you know by now that my church is in the midst of a week of devoted prayer 24/7!

    This evening, I received an e-mail from my good friend and the director of the ministry I am serving full time with. She devoted this past weekend to prayer and believes God is calling her and the ministry partners of LUV to 24/7 prayer this week!

    Friends, God is speaking through His people and His church. He is calling us to come to  Him and hear from Him; to be refreshed and equipped spiritually and physically. I write these words during another hour devoted specifically to prayer for my church, community, family, friends, missions around the world. God is speaking and He is using the words my pastor preached on this past Sunday from Isaiah 55. Below is the scripture from Isaiah. As you read it, think on these 6 key imperatives that God gives us when He wants us to move (from Pastor Brett Rickey's sermon; check out HPNaz.org)

    1.) Come  2.) Drink  3.) Listen  4.) Seek  5.) Turn  6.) Live in Joy and Peace

    Please click on this link to read Isaiah 55!!

    Day One of 24/7 Prayer at HPNaz!

    My church, Highland Park Church of the Nazarene, has just kicked off a 24/7 prayer week this week and I'm excited to share a daily blog on my experiences with God through this particular week devoted to prayer. Here's the first entry:

    I wasn't able to attend the prayer kick off Sunday night, but spent an hour in prayer after the service Sunday morning. I'm really excited to be on board and spending at least an hour in prayer each day especially this week. Yesterday's prayer time was more than an hour and was just filled with praise for what God has, is, and will be doing in my life, HPNaz, this community, and missions around the world. God is teaching me to take the first step and just "come" to Him!

    Blessings!
    Amanda

    P.S. - You can follow HPNaz's pastor Brett Rickey's blog at Cool Leadings