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CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

Modern technology never ceases to amaze me. You would think by now that I would be blasé about cell phones, the internet, and the improvements in long distance calling, but I still get excited about how instant, inexpensive, accessible and of vastly improved quality our modern communications are today.
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Julie and I were just talking yesterday about how much easier it is to stay connected to the grandchildren, as well as everyone else, now. I mentioned that back in the 1980’s when we moved from Indiana to Colorado I could only call my mother once a week on Sunday nights. Today, thanks to the reduction in long distance rates, I talk to my daughters and grandchildren every day, many times a day sometimes, and for as long as I want!
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In the 1990’s when Laurie first went to Ecuador, the connections were very poor and sometimes frustrating, and the costs were prohibitive. I didn’t dare talk more than once a week. When she and Fernando were engaged but living on different continents the telephone bills were always in the hundreds of dollars. Today, we can call whenever and for however long we want for $24.95 a month with Vonage, and the connection is so crystal clear most of the time that you would think they were right next door.
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Why am I still having communication problems, then? **Sigh** It’s my little Katie. Bless her little heart! Every time I get on the phone with her I feel so dissatisfied when I hang up. I adore hearing her sweet little voice, but it’s difficult to understand her sometimes. Don’t get me wrong—she talks just fine. She’s smart and has no speech problems. I don’t know if it’s because she puts her mouth too close to the mouthpiece, or what, but a lot of times she seems a little—or a lot—garbled.
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Other times she’s too far away from the mouthpiece! “I’m putting you on speakerphone, Grandma!” she’ll say, and the next thing I know she’s running around the room, playing with toys and totally distracted from what she’s supposed to be doing—talking to her grandma! I’m either straining to hear her, or I’m saying, “Katie? Katie? Are you there?”
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She did it to me again last night. “I’m putting you on speakerphone, Grandma!”
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“No, Katie, don’t do that. I can’t understand you then.”
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“But Grandma, I can’t hear you if I don’t put you on speakerphone.” Maybe if she moved the receiver off her mouth and more toward her ear we’d get somewhere. **Sigh**
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Then there are the times she gets all excited and she’s going on and on, waving her hands and giggling and talking about something she assumes I know all about, but in reality I don’t have a clue what that child is talking about! She must think her grandma is a total dunce, always asking, “What? What?” The poor little thing was totally frustrated when they got to Ecuador and everyone around her spoke Spanish. She didn’t understand them and they didn’t understand her. Then even her English-speaking grandma, with whom she had always been so close, didn’t understand her, either! Pobrecita!
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And don’t even get me started on trying to talk to Matthew! He loves, loves, loves talking to Grandma on the telephone. If he knows one of them is talking to me, he’s right there yelling, “I talk! I talk!” until they put him on the phone and then—total silence. Oh, they tell me he is nodding and grinning from ear to ear, hugging the phone and giving it kisses. (Sweeeeeeet!!!) But for someone who so loudly demands his turn to talk, he has very little to say. Well, until this week. Suddenly he’s decided he really will talk to Grandma—and I swear that child is speaking in tongues! Here we go again. Grandma is an idiot. “What? What? I don’t understand! What?”
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There is one thing I do understand, though. When I hear that little voice say, “Wuv you, Grandma!”, I understand. When Katie says, “I love you and miss you so, so, so, so, so much, Grandma!” it comes through loud and clear. I can hardly wait to get there and be able to put my arms around them, hold them in my lap and talk with them face to face!
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The good news is, as long as sin does not stand between us and the Lord, the lines of communication are crystal clear between us and our Heavenly Father. God has given us the gift of prayer. We can come to Him at any time and talk to our Father whenever and for however long we want to. The good news is also that He understands. My childish ramblings, when I don’t know how or what to pray—He understands. He forgives my distractions. He loves hearing from me. He loves hearing me say, “I love you, Lord, soooooooooo much!”
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He hears our prayers: “…He heareth the prayer of the righteous.” Proverbs 15:29
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He wants us to come as His children: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.” Matthew 6:9
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He delights in our prayers: “…the prayer of the upright is His delight.” Proverbs 15:8
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He helps us to pray: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26
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He wants us to leave our cares with Him: “Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7
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He answers our prayers: “Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in Thy faithfulness answer me, and in Thy righteousness.” Psalm 143:1
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I would be a fool not to take advantage of the low rates and new technology we have available to us today to speak with my loved ones on the other side of the country or the world whenever I want to. How much greater is the free gift of prayer, and yet, so often we neglect to approach the throne of glory, our Father’s knee, and just talk with Him. Precious, awesome gift of communication with our Creator, Savior, Father—keep the lines open.

IS YOUR HEART IN THE RIGHT PLACE?

My calendar for the month of August is filled up with doctors’ appointments, tests, labwork and all that “fun” stuff. Yuck! I have never been someone who runs to the doctor much, especially for myself, so all this attention focused on me and my health does not make me a happy camper. I guess it comes with the territory when one starts to get older and I’d better get used to it, because it probably won’t get much better.
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Apparently my stress test a couple weeks ago sent up a little red flag that there might be something to look at further, so the doctor sent me to get a 2-D EKG this week. It turns out that a 2-D EKG is nothing more than an ultrasound of the heart, just like an ultrasound a pregnant woman would have of her baby. It was interesting to watch my heart just pumping away throughout the test. The technician who did it was somewhat chatty. He talked about the test, my surgeon, other surgeons, and so on. Finally he said something that really caught my attention.
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“I see your heart is in the right place.”
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“Uh – excuse me?”
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“Your heart hasn’t moved. It’s right where it should be.” He went on to explain, “A lot of times when a person has heart surgery like you did, his or her heart will shift a bit. Many times it tips downward slightly, but your heart is in the right place.”
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I thought that was very interesting, and whoo-hoo – at least my heart is where it’s supposed to be, if nothing else!
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His words came back to me a few days later. It’s a good thing when your heart is in the right place physically, but to tell the truth, I had never imagined it would not be in the right place! The fact that we can now do an ultrasound on the heart and see things like that is amazing, isn’t it?
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It’s too bad we can’t run a test on our hearts and see if our hearts are in the right place spiritually, as well. I think those of us who have been saved for many years become complacent sometimes and figure that since we were born again, our hearts were cleansed and Christ dwells within, and we are just fine. We may feel fine, we may look fine to those around us, but God, who looks upon the heart, like that ultrasound machine, may detect that all is not well; that something has shifted.
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We may walk around with plaque slowly building up in our arteries over the years, and have no idea that we have heart disease until one day – wham! We’re hit with a heart attack. In the same manner, many of us go for years, living the Christian life, serving the Lord even, and not realizing that over time something has changed. We don’t have quite the same fervency and zeal that we had when we were first saved. Our values have become a little looser compared to what they once were, our standards perhaps a little lower. What once we would never have been caught dead reading or watching or doing, now has little impact because we have become accustomed to it, maybe even hardened to it. We are not looking for Christ’s return with the same eager expectancy we once had; we’re a little lazy when it comes to doing what we know we ought to be doing. We realize that some things in our lives have become more important to us than they should be, but we shrug our shoulders and go on the way we have for years. We neglect prayer and time in the Word of God.
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When was the last time our hearts had a true revival and became on fire for the Lord? When was the last time we broken-heartedly confessed to the Lord that we had let sin stand between us and Him? When was the last time we wept for the unsaved around us and then actually reached out to them with God’s plan for salvation? Something has shifted. Plaque is building up and we have heart disease.
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The Bible has a huge amount to say about the heart, and we can only touch upon a few verses right now, but first of all, it tells us that there is no hiding our true heart condition from the Lord. We may fool others; we may even have ourselves fooled, but I Samuel 16:7 tells us, “the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” He is the EKG, the ultrasound, the CAT scan of our spiritual heart condition with one difference—He doesn’t miss a thing. Those machines may not catch a small problem, but God sees it all.
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Several things happened to our hearts at the moment we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior. First of all, our hearts believed. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:10) Our hearts were no longer blinded to the truth then but became enlightened. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (II Corinthians 4:6) Jesus came into our hearts and dwells in us once we trust in Him. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;” (Ephesians 3:17) Our hearts are established blameless before God. “To the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” (I Thessalonians 3:13)
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Although our hearts are established for eternity blameless before God through the blood of Christ, we still sin and we still need daily cleansing from our sins if we truly want to walk and fellowship with Him. David, who God Himself said was a man after His own heart, sinned and needed to repent. In Psalm 51:10 David says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” He went on to say in verse 17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Because David humbled his heart, the Lord heard him and fellowship was restored. II Kings 22:19 says, “Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD…I also have heard thee, saith the LORD.” Our humble prayers and hiding God’s Word in our hearts are essential to healthy hearts before the Lord. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11)

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The Lord shares the characteristics of a healthy heart in His Word. A healthy heart spiritually is one that is:

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Pure “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
Soft“Today, after so long a time; as it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.“ (Hebrews 4:7)
True“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22)
Obedient“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” (Romans 6:17) “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:8)
Trusting“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.” (Psalm 112:7)
Devoted“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,” (Mark 12:30) “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.” (Psalm 119:2) “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.” (Psalm 119:10)
Wise and Understanding“My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.” (Psalm 90:12) “So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding.” (Proverbs 2:2)
Receptive“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God…But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:11, 15)
Generous“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (II Corinthians 9:7)
Loving“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.” (I Peter 1:22) “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5)
Expectant“And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.” (II Thessalonians 3:5) “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” (James 5:8)
United“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.” (Acts 4:32)
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When our hearts are in the right place, we will reap the benefits. Once I recovered from my heart surgery, it was wonderful how much stronger and better I felt compared to how I was feeling when my heart was trying to work with all those blockages. Some of the benefits of a healthy heart spiritually are:

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Peace“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
Joy“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” (Psalm 28:7)
Praise“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:19)
Strength and Courage“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14)
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No matter how long we have been saved, no matter how spiritually “mature” we are, no matter how active we are for the Lord, we need to stop and do a heart check. Do I have the characteristics of a healthy heart? Am I reaping the benefits of a healthy heart? Is there something coming between my heart and the Lord? Has my heart for the Lord slowed down over time?

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Is my heart in the right place?

THE BATTLE IS NOT YOURS

Have you ever gone through a period of time when everything seemed to be going so well, when progress was being made or you had experienced some great success, and you were excited over the all the good things that were coming your way—and you thought to yourself, “Oh-oh! We’re in for it now!” You’re holding your breath, just waiting for that other shoe to drop.
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That has happened often in our lives in the spiritual realm. We can be sure when we are seeing fruit for our labor, and victories are being won for the Lord, that Satan is not going to sit meekly on the sidelines and let it go without trying to shoot us down. The Bible tells us that we are in a spiritual battle and …we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)
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This week we’ve seen several examples of that in our family, although I’ll only mention one for now. We’ve been rejoicing that the work Fernando and Laurie are doing down in Cuenca is finally underway, and that already they are seeing souls being saved, lives being touched and a body of believers encouraged and excited and growing in the Lord. After months of struggling just to get their family settled and being assaulted by one delay, obstacle and problem after another, finally in this last month they have felt that they are accomplishing the work the Lord called them to do in Ecuador. I just said a few days ago to a couple of people when we were discussing their work, “Just watch. Satan isn’t happy about this. He’ll be throwing something else at them very soon!”
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Two days later we found out what it was going to be. They are going to have to move again—for the third time in less than a year. Since the owner of their house lives in the States, they’ve been dealing with his father, Señor Morocho. They came home the other day to find Señor Morocho on their doorstep with the news that his son is planning to sell the house, despite the fact that the Naranjos have a two year lease. Apparently contracts aren’t worth much more than the paper they’re written on down there. Oh, they could take him to court, but Señor Morocho is the one who would have to deal with it, and they’ve been trying to witness to him and don’t want to do anything that would turn him away—and it’s not his fault anyway.
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You can’t imagine how disheartening this was when they first heard it. The first move had been hard—moving a family of seven from the United States to Ecuador—emotionally and physically. The second move had been bizarre—being forced to move out of a brand new house because mold was growing out of the walls in every room. Now, after only eight months in a house which is perfect for the family as far as space is concerned, but in which they had had to invest a lot of time and money in order to make it habitable, they are faced with the prospects of having to start all over again. They had just finished a major repair job in which several of the cement walls throughout the house had to be opened in order to replace leaking pipes—and deal with mold again due to the leaky pipes. Laurie had said to the girls just a few days before, “At last, this house is finally beginning to feel like home, isn’t it, girls?” Now they, too, were upset at the thought of having to move again. And on top of everything, they will be forced to spend a huge amount of time and money and energy now on another move just when they need to be using all their resources on this new church work.
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A snippet of a verse came to me yesterday when I was thinking about this battle they are going through, and I looked it up to read the whole passage. The part of the verse I remembered was “the battle is not yours, but God’s.” To my surprise I found that it is from II Chronicles 20—the very passage Fernando sat down and read with the family that night when they heard this dismaying news. As I read this chapter, there were several things I drew from it that are so encouraging to realize and remember as we go through spiritual battles of our own. I’d like to share them with you:
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II Chronicles 20 gives an account of an alliance of nations (Moab, Ammon and the inhabitants of Mount Seir) marching to war against Judah and King Jehoshaphat. This army was “a great multitude,” we are told, and Jehoshaphat was afraid and called all of Judah together—men, women and even the little children—to fast and pray.
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First of all, they acknowledged God’s power and might. And [Jehoshaphat] said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? (vs 6)
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Secondly, they acknowledged what He had done for them in the past. Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? (vs 7)
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Third, they acknowledge that He is their protector. If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help. (vs 9)
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And finally, they acknowledge that they are helpless without Him. O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee. (vs 12)
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The Lord answered their prayers. First came His promise: Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. (vs 15) Don’t worry! It’s not your battle, but Mine!
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Then came His instructions: Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you. (vs 17) What?! All they had to do was stand fast, be still and watch Him accomplish it?!
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Jehoshaphat and Judah did three things then before the battle had even begun. First they worshipped the Lord. And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD. (vs 18)
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Second, they went forth believing and trusting God. And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. (vs 20)
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Third, before the battle began, they praised the Lord! And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever. (vs 21) It was while they were singing and praising God that He fought the battle for them, causing the alliance to turn on one another and destroy themselves. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. (vs 22)
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The results of this battle? Victory, of course, but also afterwards there were blessings far beyond what they could have dreamed. (…they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much. vs 25) There was thanksgiving. (…on the fourth day…they blessed the LORD. vs 26) There was rejoicing. (Then they returned…to Jerusalem with joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies. vs 27-28) God’s name was glorified among the nations. (And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms… vs 29) There was peace and rest in the Lord. (So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about. vs 30)
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Did you see in each of these points what we can gather for ourselves when it comes to the battles we must face? We begin with prayer, acknowledging that God is our Protector and Defense and that He is great and mighty and powerful. Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world! We recall in prayer what He has done for us in the past and confess that we not only don’t know what to do, but cannot do anything without Him anyway.
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God’s answer to our prayer is “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be dismayed! Don’t worry! Stand fast. Be still and know that I am God. Watch Me fight this battle for it is Mine, not yours!” When we are truly believing and trusting Him, we are free from worry and fear and free, then, to worship and praise Him. The result is victory, for who can stand against Him? And with the victory come blessing, rejoicing, thanksgiving, peace and glory to God!
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Prayer and faith are the key. As the old saying goes, Let go and let God… Be encouraged—we do not go through our battles alone. He marches before us, and in Him, victory is sure. Just stand back and watch Him do it!

POTPOURRI II

Just a few random thoughts from this week:

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I’ve been feeling rather down all week. That’s a little unusual for me. I may have a few “down” moments now and then, but to feel that way all week long is not the norm. I’m usually pretty cheerful and content, and when I do have those occasional blue times I try to count my blessings and be thankful for all the good things in my life. It’s been different this week. I’ve kind of moped around. I was cranky with Bob. I had headaches a couple days. I didn’t feel inspired to write at all. At least I didn’t cry—although I wanted to.

I’m not sure what my problem was. It could have simply been hormones (if you know what I mean) or more likely, the fact that Bob went to Louisiana again this week to help Julie and David with their move. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not jealous that he got to go (for the second time this month!) although I would have loved to have gone, too. I’m actually very happy he could go and help them in areas where they really needed the kind of help he could give. And I don’t feel bad about having to stay home with Robbie. It would be nice if Robbie could travel more easily, but since he can’t it is just something we gladly accept as part of the privilege of having Robbie. I don’t usually get lonely when I am home alone because I have plenty of interests to keep me busy, but this week I couldn’t really get interested in anything, so I was lonely. It bugged me that I didn’t really know why I was down.

We all have mood swings and our ups and downs. I’m glad, though, that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. God’s love is constant. His kindness is everlasting. Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. (Jeremiah 31:3) My salvation is secure in the work Christ did on the cross for me and I can know for sure that I will spend eternity with Him. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life. (I John 513) His promises are true. His mercy and grace are eternal and great is His faithfulness! It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22, 23) We can be certain of God with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17b)

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One of my very favorite hymns is Great is Thy Faithfulness. Let’s all praise the Lord right now and sing it together!
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Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.
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Refrain
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Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
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Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
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Refrain
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Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
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Refrain
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There! I feel better already! Don’t you?

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We don’t always get to hear about the answers to our prayers, especially when we are praying for strangers. Julie heard about the answer to one of her prayers like that the other day. When they put their house up for sale in March she had started praying for the people who would buy their house. Several times over the next two months she told me that she was praying that whoever bought their house, whether they were saved or unsaved, would feel the presence and peace of God when they came into their home.

They did not get to meet the buyers, and in fact, even their realtor did not meet or speak to the buyers. She was out of town when the sale went down, and a fellow agent handled the whole thing, dealing only with the buyers’ agent. The other day their realtor Patti was going through old e-mails and came upon one she had tried to respond to several times a few weeks before. The e-mail expressed an interest in buying a house in David and Julie’s neighborhood, but when Patti had tried to get in touch with the people to tell them about Julie and David’s house she never received a reply. She decided to give it one more shot the other day since she had other houses she could show them..

A woman answered the phone and Patti told her she was calling in response to her e-mail. “You’re too late!” the lady replied. “We just bought a house on Amblewood Lane—9750 Amblewood Lane.”

“Why that’s my listing!” Patti exclaimed. “The one I’ve been trying to call you about!”

The lady went on to tell her that they had tried to buy two other houses previously and both sales had fallen through unexpectedly. Just when they were feeling confused and upset and wondering what the Lord was doing, they had stumbled upon David and Julie’s house by accident while looking for a different address and had called their agent to request a showing. “We are so thrilled! We really love that house!” she told Patti. “From the very moment we walked in the front door we truly felt the peace of God in that house!”

When Patti told Julie about those words, Julie said she got goose bumps! She was so excited and rejoiced, not only that her prayer had been answered, but that the Lord let her know that it had been answered.

This little incident had me thinking about a couple things this week. First of all, about answered prayer: We don’t always get to hear about the answers to our prayers. Many times we think that perhaps we’ll find out those things when we get to Heaven, and perhaps we will. What a special blessing, though, when the Lord does allow us to see how He’s worked and how perfect His timing is and how it’s affected the lives of others!

The other thought I had was really more a question: When others walk into my house, do they feel the presence and peace of God within these walls? We are so concerned that the house be neat and clean when company comes, that we have nice refreshments to serve, that the air smells fresh, and sometimes even that the atmosphere is welcoming with candles lit and background music! Those things are all well and good in themselves, but I wonder if I take as much care in making our home a place of refuge and rest, peace and love? Do others sense His Spirit when they walk in my front door, or do they feel tension and discord instead? Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. (Psalm 127:1) A clean house and Glade airspray can only cover up so much, but when Christ is the center of our home it shows.

The book of Ephesians speaks a great deal about how we ought to live with one another, especially in chapters four, five and six. Ephesians 4:2-3, 31-32 kind of sums it up, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. May our homes bring glory to God and peace to all who enter!

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A few months ago my pastor asked me to take on some of the projects neither he nor his staff ever seem to have the time to do—things like doing Powerpoint presentations for his messages each week, researching things on the internet for him, acting as a liaison between him and certain businesses, etc. I was happy to agree. I had asked the Lord to show me how I could serve Him more, since being home with Robbie means I can no longer teach or do other things at the church building. This was a perfect opportunity to serve within my church—from home!

One of the projects Pastor Phil recently asked me to take on was to help him put together some boxed sets of CD’s from two series of messages he had preached in our church the last couple years. What the pastor asked me to do was to listen to all thirty messages from Galatians and the twenty-six messages from Philippians and choose out the dozen or so from each series that I liked best and that I thought gave the best overview of the book. From those he would choose eight that would go into the boxed set. He also wanted me to design the covers for the boxes.

Do you know how long it takes to listen to more than a year’s worth of messages??? I’ve been trying to listen to three a day, although I’ve missed a few days here and there. I finished Galatians this week, and I have to say, it really was a blessing. When I mentioned to Pastor that this project would be good for me since I am only able to go to church on Sunday nights, he laughed and said, “Maybe it’s an overdose!”

Trying to listen to fifty-six messages in only three or four weeks is a lot, but it’s been good medicine for my soul! Getting an overdose like that has just made me appreciate all over again the preciousness of God’s Word and how much we need it for our spiritual growth and health. Proverbs 19:7-11 says, The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

We could all use an overdose of God’s Word from time to time!