Day 9 of 30 Days of Prayer

Dear God,
Give us the vision to see Your love in the world despite of human failure. 
Give us the faith to trust Your goodness regardless of our ignorance and weakness. 
Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts.
And show us what we, individually and collectively, can do to have peace in our home, at work, in the community, in our church, in our nation, and throughout the world.  Amen.

Are you a follower or a fan?

ImageI’m not a fan of most things. I rarely keep up with celebrities, artists, sports teams, or popular books. I’m just now reading Ayana Mathis’s The Twelve Tribes of Hattie that debut last year, with the Oprah’s seal of approval. (I haven’t actually read it, just checked it out at the library.) Sometimes, for days on end, I stay away from Facebook and Twitter. Even though Scandal is one of my favorite nighttime dramas, I record it and watch it on Friday.  Most times, I can live without the television.  A fan is an enthusiastic devotee, a fervent, passionate admirer.

When I become a follower on a social media site, I’m merely just a fan, and not as devoted as I should be. Same with sports, I prefer football to basketball, basketball to golf, and tennis to baseball. (I’m only watching the Williams’s sisters. I’m a fan of them.) I simply prefer not to watch baseball on the screen. Please if I must, take me to the ballgame and give me some peanuts and crackerjacks. I can watch sports while I read a magazine, pay bills, fold laundry, or do something else. I can hang out on social media sights for one or two days, maybe a month or two, then I’m done. I’m an admirer of these things, not totally committed.

However, what I’ve discovered is I’m more than a fan for Jesus, but a follower because he’s my savior, Lord over my life.  Once I was just a fan. I went to church twice a month, rarely if ever cracked opened the Bible at home. I didn’t memorize scripture or even attempt to understand God’s promises. When I sat in the pew, I heard what the preacher said, but I didn’t listen; I didn’t even search the scriptures for more meaning. But I was a fan, enthusiastic about God, an admirer of Jesus.

Along the way, my life transformed from a fan to a follower, from a spectator to a servant, from an admirer to an imitator.

Here are the signs if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ:

  • Followers give Jesus the master key he wants to turn their life upside down.
  • Followers give Him more than an hour a week on Sunday.
  • A follower’s prayers are more than whispered prayers at night in their bed before going to sleep.
  • Followers do not consider God a small box of religion.
  • Followers are not defined by their religious credentials.
  • Followers do not believe their good deeds get them to heaven.
  • Followers have a relationship with Jesus, not simply knowledge but intimacy.
  • Followers love him with all their heart.
  • Followers have unconditional joy and peace that God is in charge despite the circumstances.

How many lives would change if you followed Jesus? When you stand before God will you be judged as a follower or a fan?

Hard Pressed But Never Destroyed

January 4 2013BMy best friend and I not only shop together, call and text but we also pray together and share scriptures when needed.
So, today I’ve been praying for a specific need because that was her morning text. This afternoon she called a bit depressed and perplexed. I did what a friend does: I listened, agreed, offered comfort, listened some more, offered a bit more advise. When our silence grew deafening, the only thing I knew to do was pray over the phone for her in her ear.
She’s a praying woman and I know she will find her answer.
Afterwards, I began trolling through a list of things, although I’m supposed to  finish a chapter of my novel and send out two resumes. I was growing weary at the writing, and daunted by the task of job hunting. In my list of things, I found the following devotion that represented the day, ironically, I’m sure my best friend sent it to me on January 12, 2012.

Hard Pressed, But Not Destroyed

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed, We are preserved not pickled! 2 Corinthians 4: 8 to 9 (NIV).

The Message translation of the Bible says this ”We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us in trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us our lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!”

When the sailors of old faced the worst of the storms, they would call out to encourage one another with this statement of faith, “Hold fast”. When the wave buffeted against them and the winds howled and the storm raged, and it seemed like everything was against them, they would call out, “hold fast”.

Ephesians 6:13 – 14  (NIV)  says, “and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then”.

At times we may feel like we are going through the mill, and we are having a hard time. That is the time you need to hear these words “Hold fast! For the storm will not last forever.”

Notice if you will, that no matter what life throws at you, no matter the circumstance, there is a  “But not” from God, but not crushed, but not in despair, but not forsaken, but not destroyed! -Because God is an awesome God. We are preserved not pickled!

Remember the words of the Apostle Paul from 2 Corinthians 4: 8 -9 (NIV)

“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

No matter what we face, not matter how difficult the storms of life, it will not last forever, we will be preserved not pickled. Because if God be for us who can stand against us? Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.

33 Days of Prayer Journey: Day 25

Dear God,

You are a gracious and welcome guest in my heart. Enter my heart and guide my prayer.

Thank you for all the opportunities and pleasures to keep today holy. Thank you for prayer and worship. Thank you for the books and music that uplift me, and the friendly chats with people. Thank for the peace that rules in my heart.