A Death and a Recovery

  • November 15, 2020 at 12:57 pm in

By now, you may have heard that Henry Slaughter passed away Friday morning from pneumonia which was a result of COVID. I can’t help but think of Henry and Hazel without thinking of my grandparents. My grandparents recorded some records years ago and had the opportunity to meet Henry and Hazel during one of their recording sessions. I never had that chance, but I always felt like Henry was one of the faithful. He will be missed.

In other news, Steve Weatherford is finally home after being in the hospital since early October. He had quite a fight with COVID, and I wasn’t sure if he was going to pull through, but God … I’m rejoicing with his family while praying that God will continue to restore his health 100%.

I know that God answers prayer, and I can tell of instances where He has done miracles in my life, but I find it easy to become like the Israelites who would see God do amazing things and then the next day, they would forget all about it. God, help me to be faithful, to praise You for answered prayers, to trust You when You do not answer the way I want you to, and may I always be ready to give an answer for the Hope that lies within me.

CD Report: Dear Yesterday (Michael Booth)

This CD was released last year, but I figure it’s better to do a late report than none at all. Through every song on this recording, you will be encouraged. Whether directly praising God or being reminded that God is able and that He never gives up on His children, you will especially want to listen when you are having a rough time. Michael Booth has a smooth tenor voice that is easy to listen to.

Songs include: What Only God Can Do, Dear Yesterday, He Never Gives Up, Everyday (It Starts All Over Again), We Trust in the Name, This Side of Heaven, Glorious Unfolding, and Thy Will Be Done.

Suffering Is Necessary

who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. ~Hebrews 5:7-9

“Well-meaning” Christians are quick to say that our trials cause us to grow. It never occurred to me until today that Jesus learned obedience the same way that we do: through hardship.

Although I know that Jesus was a man when He walked on earth, I think of Him as being God. In reality, He was both, but I expect that His human side could have rebelled against God’s authority just like Lucifer did many years before. Instead, He understood the reason for His existence and “humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the Cross” (Philippians 2:8).

First Peter 4:12 tells us:

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.

So what do we do? We think it strange. Why is this happening to me? What have I done wrong? It may have nothing to do with what you’re doing wrong. You may be about to do something right.

The Hoppers sang a song which said:

Now if I had no mountains
Lord, I might forget to pray
And if there were no trials
Well, I might even stray

We like to think we would be even stronger Christians without hardship, but I bet you go to your knees a lot more when you are being tried. It is during those trying times that we can unequivocally declare that God’s Word is true. Early in life, we live by faith, but experience is the best testimony.

I find it comforting that Jesus knows what our life on earth is like. He understands heartache and temptation and probably fear, but He tells us to cast all our cares onto Him and rest in the assurance that He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

When you find yourself going through a difficult time, read the Gospels. Think about everything Jesus gave up to come to earth and be one of us. But notice how He responded to each situation. Most of the time, He was filled with love and compassion, knowing that people are like sheep without a shepherd. They needed someone to lead them. Thank God that today we have the Holy Spirit. May we follow His leading and respond to hardships the way that Jesus did.

 

Photo by Timeo Buehrer on Unsplash

Lord, Teach Us to Pray (Part 5)

And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.  ~Matthew 6:13

God does not tempt people to do wrong (James 1:13). Instead, He provides a “way of escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13) if we will look for it. The reason so many people feel helpless to change their sinful lifestyles is because they are helpless without Christ. But also, many want their sin and Jesus too while the fact is that you cannot have both. Everyone comes to a Y in the journey where they must choose which way they will go. Will you choose the straight and narrow path that leads to life, or the road of destruction that leads to death? Only you can decide. Once you have truly surrendered your life to Jesus, then He is able to give you the power to withstand temptation while He receives the glory for another life that has been set free.

Some would say that God never promised us a rose garden, but I like to think of the Christian life as just that. Life is full of thorns that will try to scar us along the way. Sometimes the patch may be so thick that we don’t think we can penetrate it, and we want to turn around. In fact, early on, sticks and thorns may be all we see. In due time, however, the roses begin to bloom, and we realize that, had we not persevered, we would have missed the beauty that God had planned for us.

I guess this ended up being not so much about prayer as it is about temptation. Part of an effective prayer life is confessing sins, but if you find that you are continuing to do those sins that you have asked forgiveness of, examine your heart to know if you really want to be free. If you do, then ask God to show you the way of escape and take it. Do not keep riding the fence. You may not have tomorrow to make things right.

Lord, Teach Us to Pray (Part 4)

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  ~Matthew 6:12

Some versions use the word “sins” instead of “debts,” and I expect that is what Jesus is getting at here. Forgiveness is not easy. In fact, I expect it is one of the hardest things for a Christian to do, and yet Mark 11:25-26 tells us, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Wow. Take a minute and ponder this before reading further.

Years ago, there was a man I hated. I really did. He had hurt my family, and the sight of him or the sound of his voice would send a wave of hatred coursing through my body. Every time I thought I had conquered it, there it was again. After I had grown in my relationship with the Lord and truly came to know Him, I despised myself that I could not get over these feelings. I prayed frequently for God’s help, and eventually I was able to forgive this man, but it took quite a few years. Now this does not mean that I get together with him and “let bygones be bygones.” There have been other times when I have had to put offense aside and forgive someone while being willing to still interact with the person, but I don’t believe this is always necessary. Sometimes it depends on the crime that was committed and whether or not this is someone that God placed in your life and desires for you to continue in relationship with. You must, however, make sure that you do not wish anyone evil and that you are willing to place them in God’s hands. It’s true that if you pray for a person, your heart will soften towards them as well.

The more you realize that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness and that you can be pretty annoying yourself, the more I expect that you will show grace to others. I know it works for me.

Lord, Teach Us to Pray (Part 3)

Give us this day our daily bread. ~Matthew 6:11

Daily provision. I expect that most of us do not have a habit of asking for our daily bread, although some may have felt more of a need to do so this year. Although there are people who do not know where their next meal is coming from, the majority of Americans eat very well. So well, in fact, that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that every morsel, everything we own comes from God’s hand. We should definitely be thanking Him on a daily basis for His many blessings. Even if things are tighter this year than they usually are, thank God for your family. Thank Him that you still have a roof over your head and a car to drive. If you are in need, then present your petitions, but I encourage you to spend even more time in thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for.

Lord, Teach Us to Pray (Part 2)

Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven. ~Matthew 6:10

I believe that this is the hardest prayer to pray–that God’s will would be done. I am not immune to wanting my way and yet sometimes the answer is No. Like children, we can pitch our fits and whine and scream, or we can trust Him and say, “Yes, Sir.” As I get older, I am learning to more quickly respond appropriately, but this has come after many times of not getting my way and yet realizing that God’s will truly was better.

This verse doesn’t mean that we should not ask specifically. I have heard people pray along the lines of, “Lord, if you are willing, please heal _____________.” Although I understand the sentiment, this does not seem like a fervent prayer to me. Bartimaeus cried out, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus answered his cry (Mark 10:46-52). When you pray, know that God is able to do what you ask. He knows your heart so you may as well be honest with your longings. The key, though, is in surrendering to the omniscient God who knows what you do not.

As I write this, I am thinking of Steve Weatherford who is still battling COVID not knowing whether or not he will survive, my friend who is in pain after heart surgery, and my dad who has a long road to recovery after neck surgery. These are all things I cannot control, but I am fervently interceding for each of these needs. I want those I love to be well and free of pain, and I am praying accordingly. At the end of the day, though, I acknowledge that God is God, and I am not. All I can do is ask and then leave my friends and family in God’s hands.

If you have an urgent need right now, I want to encourage you to keep asking, seeking, and knocking. Then rest in knowing that your petition has been heard. You will receive your answer in due time regardless of whether it is Yes, No, or Wait.

Lord, Teach Us to Pray (Part 1)

Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

So He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.  ~Luke 11:1-2a

As we continue our series on prayer, I’d like us to look more closely at what we have now dubbed “The Lord’s Prayer.” I’m not sure why we have chosen that name for this portion as I would more readily think of John 17 in that manner, but for better or worse, you understand what I am referring to.

When people memorize this passage of Scripture, they do not typically include the verse before it and could easily lose sight of the fact that God has given us a model prayer. That does not mean that we should mindlessly quote this word for word and let that suffice, but I believe there is an order in prayer that could help our prayers to be more effective.

As Jesus began His prayer, He acknowledged that He was praying to His holy Father. I imagine that if we understood just how holy our Father is, we would shudder with fear as we approached His throne. Instead, it’s easy to pray flippantly, taking no thought for the way we live our lives, treating God as if He were a fairy godfather awaiting us to present our petitions so that he can grant our every wish. As you are praying this week, I encourage you to think about the One that you are praying to. Examine your heart and repent of anything that might hinder your fellowship with Him. It might be a good time to get in the habit of talking less and listening more.

Steve Weatherford Needs Your Prayers

  • October 11, 2020 at 1:02 pm in

Hey Everyone, for those who haven’t heard, Steve Weatherford has been fighting for his life this past week due to COVID-19. Steve was a long-time member of The Weatherfords before launching his solo career a few years ago. Would you please pray that God will heal Steve and encourage him during this very difficult battle? Pray for Steve’s wife Standalee and their son Skylar as well.

Pray Precisely

And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.“ Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:7-8)

For a long time, I have tried to understand how this verse reconciles with the story of the unjust judge where the widow pled day and night for justice and finally received her answer. I have also heard people interpret Matthew 6:33 to mean keep praying, seeking, or knocking.” So, what do the above verses mean?

I have come to the conclusion that Jesus is not telling us to refrain from praying about the same thing repeatedly. He wants us to pray fervently about important matters, and that may sometimes mean asking for something on a daily basis. I think he is rather addressing those who use pious words or who say the same phrases or prayers over and over. My mom used to tell us to “use precise words,” and I expect that is partly what Jesus is getting at here. Since the Lord knows what we need before we ask, the only reason to use a lot of big, lofty words is to be seen of men. (We covered that in the last post.)

As you pray this week, make sure that you are praying from the heart in accordance with the heart of God. That is when you will begin to see results.

 

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