Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Another Precious Mug Exchange - Fall 2017

"As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."
Proverbs 25:25

I cannot begin to say how much Stephanie's Mug Exchanges have meant to me.
It is SO much fun to meet the new friend you are to send a mug to, to see what they like, and to go out shopping to try to match up some neat goodies with the things they tell you about themselves.
The sending is just an absolute ball, and the receiving?
Well, let's just say that opening up a package, lovingly put together by another, completely different new friend, who did their utmost to make your package just as special as the one you sent out...
is just a HUGE blessing and joy!

We were heading out of town, and I wasn't sure if the package from my mug partner would arrive 
before we left.  
I had resigned myself to wait until we got back home, 
but, guess what happened?
The very day we were leaving, the package arrived!!!
There it was!
In all its glory!
Oh, my!
I was SO happy!!!!
I was like a kid in a candy store!

Zach opened the box for me as we traveled along, and this, dear friends, 
is what he found tucked ever so carefully inside!!!!!

A precious stationary box, lovingly made and decorated by my dear mug partner, Amy, and her son.
Lavender is my favorite color, so you can imagine the "oohing" and "ahhing" that was going on in the car when Zach pulled this beauty out of the box!
SO much love and thought went into this!
And, to think that her son helped her with it made me think of dear Zach and how he constantly helps me with things like this and is such a dear comfort and blessing, and well, I was just overwhelmed, and it all just reduced me right down to tears!
Not only is the outside of the box just beautiful, 
but, in addition to the outer loveliness, just look at what we found inside.

Amy and her son added beautiful lace to the mirrored lid,
included two writing pens...

...and when we lifted the wooden compartments, 
we found the loveliest note cards underneath!

 Not only are the note cards adorable,
but we found that the inside of the darling cards are imprinted with one of our favorite Bible verses ever!

Oh, how wonderful!
How did my new friend know just exactly what to include in this amazing box?
It was like she has known me for years!!

I recently had a birthday, and my dear, sweet, loving, thoughtful husband and son bought 
something for me that I have wanted for oh, so long!!!
A KEURIG!!!!!!!
I cannot begin to tell you how much not just I, but all 3 of us, have been enjoying using it!
SOOOO, imagine my joy and squeals of delight to find this sweet box of pods in the box!!!!
And, in one of my favorite flavors, to boot!!!!

Next, we moved on to one of my favorite, favorite ways to sweeten.
I use honey a LOT, since I have pretty much cut out almost all white, refined sugar.
I have no words to express my love for this ooey, gooey, golden goodness!
Especially, any local is the absolute best!
As we all know, it can get a tad expensive, so this huge 1 lb. jar just majorly blessed my heart.
I don't usually use much at a time, so this should last me for a long time.
I LOVE sweetening my coffee with half & half and HONEY!!!!!
So delicious, and I will think of my new friend, Amy, each time I open this jar of lusciousness!!

Zach kept pulling out stuff...I wondered when the flow of goodies would end!!
My pulse quickened as I saw something else lavender!!!!!!!
It has to be the sweetest gift box ever!

I instantly fell in love with the box....but, oh, my!!!
Wait until you see what was inside.

A wooden cross!!!!!

Dear Amy did not know, but lately, in correlation with the heavy events of our lives, God has repeatedly brought "crosses" across my path....through various channels.
It happens in ways that are so pronounced, it is completely evident that God wants me to notice the significance.
So, when Zach opened this box to find this dear wooden cross inside, 
I was nearly speechless.
(You know that doesn't happen to me very often.☺)

Amy said her daughter picked it out for me.
Bless her sweet heart, that girl was following a major prompt from the precious Holy Spirit.
Only He knew how much I would need this...especially, right at the time I received it.
Bless Amy and her daughter and son!

And, that's not all!!!!
As if all this wasn't enough, oh, my, are you ready for this?
Last, but definitely not least......

I can NOT begin to tell you how much I love, love, love, love, LOVE this mug!!!!!!!!

It is so dainty and feminine and delicate, and I am just crazy about it.
Oh, my word, it has become my new favorite!!!!!
And, it is BIG!!!
So, it holds a LOT of coffee, at a time.

I want to mention an added blessing in this box....Amy probably doesn't realize how much it meant to me.
She had wrapped the breakable goodies in two homey, dish towels that I just love!!!!!
It is the little things that matter most.

And, guess what was on the front of the note card Amy included in the box?
Any guesses?????

A beautiful cross, of course, with a sweet, heartfelt note written inside and signed like this...

A big thank you to Amy and her dear children for all of the love, thought, work, and energy they put into every, single thing in this box!!!!

May God bless and return every, single act of kindness back to them a hundred fold!!!

And, another huge thank you to Stephanie for another amazingly blessed mug exchange!!
I am so grateful to you, my friend.
You put so much into this, and, you, yourself, are such a gift to us all!!!
God bless you over and over and over again.

Thank you, sweet readers, for stopping by here to visit.
You are so special and dear to my heart.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Prayers of Warriors

"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
I Timothy 6:12

As Christians, it is no secret that we are involved in ongoing spiritual warfare.
Sometimes, it feels like we barely catch our breath in between battles.
We think we are in a lull of reprieve, then, all at once, out of nowhere,
the enemy attacks from a new direction using a tactical angle we haven't yet seen,
and, once again, we find ourselves needing to pick up our Sword and fight with all our might.
We can never afford the "luxury" of removing our armor.

As long as we stay armed, we are guaranteed overcomers...more than conquerors through Jesus Christ, our Captain.  Romans 8:37
He leads our collective army onward, marching ever forward, towards the final victory we 
will individually meet at the end of life or His coming, whichever comes first.

Our Captain has never lost a battle.
This gives us assurance and courage that it is possible for us to never lose one either.
The main thing we have to remember is that the battle is HIS, not ours.
We are fighting for HIM and for His truth and cause.
So no matter what we are facing or what strategic slant satan decides to use against us,
we can and will overcome him, if we always approach the warfare with the understanding that each and every battle belongs to the Lord, our Captain.

I've mentioned before that Mom and Dad began early in life to teach me how to wield the weapon of prayer.
They taught me that battles are fought on our knees in earnest petition to our Father in Heaven,
and prayer is a long-range weapon.

I have an utter obsession with the specific prayers that are mentioned in the Bible.
I love to read how those spiritual warriors cried out to God from places of total despair,
and I am enthralled as I read how God rose up in their defense in answer to those prayers 
and fought those battles for His children.
While it would be impossible to include all of the Biblical prayers that have come to mean so much to me in a single blog post, I wanted to share just a few.
Perhaps you may want to print them out and tape them in places you frequent throughout the day.
I would highly recommend memorizing them.
I have found that I often quote from these prayers in my own private praying,
and there is an amazing measure of faith that accompanies them.
If God moved so mightily on behalf of these prayer warriors and fought for them,
He will absolutely do the same thing for us.
We serve the same God they did.
He still reigns.
He still has full control.
We are His children every bit as much as the prayer warriors of old.
He is our Father.
He bids us come to His throne when we need help and mercy.  Hebrews 4:16

Here are some of my favorite Biblical prayers.

The Lord's Prayer
We make it a practice in our home to pray this prayer aloud together on a regular basis.
I don't think its importance could ever be emphasized enough.
To have recorded the exact words Jesus taught His disciples to pray is an invaluable gift.
If He wanted them to pray this way, shouldn't we?
Matthew 6:9-13,
"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."

Jesus' Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane
This prayer is the most anguished prayer ever uttered from human lips.
The soul of Jesus, our Savior, was consumed with a sorrow unknown to man.
He prayed so hard during this prayer that He suffered a rare, but very real physical phenomenon called hematohidrosis, in which the sweat released from His body was as "great drops of blood falling down to the ground."  (Luke 22:44)

Matthew 26:38-39,42,44,
"Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me.  And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.  
He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.  And He left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words."

Jesus could face Calvary, the ultimate spiritual warfare battle of ALL time,
because He prayed the prayer of surrender first in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The battle was won when He said, "Thy will be done."
It was a cup that could not be passed, and the only way to conquer was through surrender.
Sometimes, you and I will face unpassable cups in our spiritual lives.
Sometimes, the only way around is through.
Sometimes, God chooses not to move the mountain, but to move us instead.
When God closes a door that no man can open, it is futile to stand and continue to pound on that door.
These are places in life, where the only way to conquer...the only way to overcome...the only path to through total surrender.
It is then that the words of our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane need to be prayed.

The Prayer of Jabez
Perhaps you have read the book by Bruce Wilkinson.
I highly, highly recommend it.
You can buy it here.
My family and I read it together several years ago, and we have been collectively praying this prayer together ever since.
It has been life-transforming for us.
Jabez's prayer is found in 1 Chronicles 4:10,
"And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested."

Pray this prayer on a regular basis, and watch how your life changes for the better!

The Prayer of Jehoshaphat
2 Chronicles 20:5-12
"And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, And 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?  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 forever?  And they dwelt therein, and have built Thee a sanctuary therein for Thy name, saying,
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.  And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom Thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of Thy possession, which Thou hast given us to inherit.  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."

If you cannot memorize all seven verses of this prayer, perhaps you can more easily memorize this condensed version,
"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?
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."

Pray this prayer when you are feel surrounded by the enemy, when you feel that you are outnumbered and have no hope of overcoming.
Pray these words when your battle is with another person.
Let God fight for you, and you won't need to lift a finger.
God sent ambushments against Jehoshaphat's enemies, and when he awoke the next morning,
he found that God had already fought and killed every one of his enemies!
He prayed, and God did the rest!

The Prayer of Hezekiah
 2 Kings 19:14-19
"And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.
And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, Thou art the God, even Thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; Thou hast made heaven and earth.  LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, Thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God.
Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands,
And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.  Now therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech Thee, save Thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou art the LORD God, even Thou only."

Again, here is a condensed version for memorization purposes,
"O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, Thou art the God, even Thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; Thou hast made heaven and earth.  LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, Thine eyes, and see: and hear...O LORD our God, I beseech Thee, save Thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou art the LORD God, even Thou only."

The Prayer of Jesus' Apostles
Acts 4:24-31
"And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:  Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?
The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.  For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.  And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.  And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness."

Condensed version for memorization,
"Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:  
And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus."

Five Prayers of David

"LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.
But Thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God..."
Psalm 3:1,3,7

"Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer."
Psalm 4:1

"Unto Thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in Thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.
Shew me Thy ways, O LORD; teach me Thy paths.
Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; 
on Thee do I wait all the day.
Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to Thy mercy remember Thou me for Thy goodness' sake, O LORD."
Psalm 25:1,2,4,5,7

"Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For Thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in Thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of Thy wings."
Psalm 61:1-4

"Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.
I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.
I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.
They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty...but as for me, my prayer is unto Thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of Thy mercy hear me, in the truth of Thy salvation.
Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.
Hear me, O LORD; for Thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies.  And hide not Thy face from Thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily.
Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies."
Psalm 69:1-4a,13-14,16-18

God bless you, dear readers!
I so appreciate you taking time to stop by and read what He places on my heart.
May He meet any needs you have, as you continue to place your trust in Him.

In closing, I want to share a few songs that are really ministering to my family and me right now,
in the midst of some very fiery trials and difficulties.
If you think of us, please keep us in your prayers!
We appreciate it so very much and love each one of you.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

According To Your Faith - Keep Striking!

"Then touched He their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you."
Matthew 9:29

What if we really grasped the true meaning of the words, "According to your faith"?
What if we truly embraced and adopted them as our life's theme?
What if we walked out our Christian walk with the thought continually in view that we would receive
from God exactly what our faith could take in?

I have mentioned before that Mom used to often remind me of something her Dad, my Papaw, aka "The Walking King James", would say, "God will be everything to us our faith will take Him for."

Now that Mom is gone, and I no longer have the precious blessing of hearing her remind me of these things, they seem to have even more of an impact on my life and pack more of a powerful punch. They say, you never miss the water 'til the well runs dry. You don't realize how much the little things your loved ones do mean to you until they are no longer here doing those familiar things.  

I have often felt led to write about prayer here at Homespun Devotions.  Prayer, by my personal definition, is the ongoing communion one has with Almighty God.  It is a never-ceasing conversation, picked up at various times throughout the day, a sort of ebb and flow of words both spoken and heard and interspersed and sprinkled into every, single event and happening in the course of life. Prayer is a dialog between the core of one's heart and the heart of God.

But, what is the force behind prayer?

What would compel a person to call out to an unseen Being, and whisper the deepest secrets, longings, and petitions of the heart?

What drives prayer?

Is it not faith?
Is it not the belief that God is really there....listening to all that is being said?
That He actually cares?
That He is entirely capable of making every one of those cherished yearnings come to pass?
That He has no limits?
That He can do anything?

Faith is the fuel that powers our prayers.

Hebrews 11:1-3,6 says,
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good report.  Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.  But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."

There is SO much depth in these verses.  Dissecting them would require more books than one could ever write and certainly could never be confined to the space of one blog post.  So, what I want to zone in on for the sake of this writing is please God, to have a relationship with Him, to get what we desire in prayer, there are two basic requirements.

1.  We must believe "that He IS".
The elementary fundamental of faith is that we believe that God exists.
I find it hard to comprehend or understand but there are people in this world who do not believe there is a God.  It is the height of foolishness to make such an absurd assumption.  Not my words.  His.
"The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God."  Psalm 14:1
Need I go into all of the blatant and obvious proofs that God is...that He actually exists?
I think, for the most part, I am preaching to the choir through this blog, and it is probably safe to say that if you are kind enough to take the time to read this, you and I agree on at least the rudimentary persuasion that there is a God.

2.  We must believe that God "is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him".
The second primary, essential component of faith is that we have to believe that God answers prayer.
That He actually hears what we are saying, and He rewards those who diligently seek Him.  Otherwise, what is the point of praying?

So, if we believe that God exists, and if we believe that He rewards those who diligently seek Him,
we can say, with absolute assurance, that we possess, at least a portion of what is called "faith".

There are "measures" of faith.  (Romans 12:3)

It takes faith to initially trust God for believe that when we come to Him and ask Him to forgive us of our sins, He truly does forgive, based upon the following verses from His Word.

"For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee."  Psalm 86:5

"All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out."  John 6:37

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  I John 1:9

"And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."  Acts 2:21

"He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea."  Micah 7:9

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."  Acts 2:38

"As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us."  Psalm 103:12

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."  Romans 10:13

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out..."  Acts 3:19

"For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."  Hebrews 8:12

It takes a basic faith to be converted and become a Christian.  But, does faith end there?  What about the "dash" between the date of our conversion and the date God calls us home to Heaven?  Just how much will "our faith take God for"?  Will we settle in to a state of complacency and never receive anything more from the God who saves us?

Charles H. Spurgeon said, “A little faith will bring your soul to heaven; a great faith will bring heaven to your soul.”

I don't know about you, dear reader, but, speaking for myself, I surely want my soul to go to Heaven when I die, but I want more.  I want Heaven brought to my soul while living here on earth.  I am not content with a mediocre Christian walk.  I want more than "nominal" Christianity.

Nominal - existing in name only; very small; far below the real value

Nominal is not for me.
Is it for you?
Don't you long for more from God?
We "have not because we ask not".  James 4:2

One day, two blind men followed Jesus, "crying and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us."
Jesus asked them, "Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.  Then touched He their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened."
Matthew 9:27-30

According to your faith, Jesus said.
Had they only believed He could heal one eye, only one eye would have been healed.
Had they believed He could restore partial vision to both eyes, partial vision would have been restored.
Had they never approached Him that day, they would have gone on the rest of their lives blind.

"God will be everything to us our faith will take Him for."

What will your and my faith "take Him for"?

Our lack of receiving has nothing in the world to do with His ability to provide.
His resources are there in unlimited supply.

"Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for Me?"
Jeremiah 32:27

"Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?  And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."
Matthew 17:19-20

In Luke 18:1-8, we read,
"And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:  and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.  And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?   I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?"

It takes great faith to keep praying when you see no results, when it seems that the heavens are brass, when it feels like no one is listening, and there is no hope of change in sight.

It takes great faith to pray intercessory prayers, to push past the fear and doubt and unbelief, to press into a determined pattern of prayer, to make up one's mind that regardless how long it takes, giving up is not on the table for consideration.

It takes great faith to importune, like the woman in Jesus' parable.
The judge didn't fear God, and he didn't respect or care about people.
The thing that finally broke him down and persuaded him to grant the woman's petition was her "continual coming".
Her dogged determination.
Her utter refusal to give up or stop asking for what she wanted.
This judge had no love in his heart for the importuning widow.
She got on his nerves and was a source of weariness to him.
But, because she kept coming to him, pleading with him, and it appeared that she had no intentions of giving up or backing off until he gave her what she was asking for, he caved and did as she asked.

Our Heavenly Father is nothing in the world like the judge in this parable.
He IS God, and He holds in His heart the deepest regard for His creation.
He loves us with an undying, unconditional love.
He loves us so much that He came to earth in the form of an infant, grew up in a human body, and willingly laid down His life on a cruel, rugged cross to die for our sins.
He was tempted, tested, and tried in every imaginable way.
He did everything He possibly could to prove His unfathomable love for us.
As Jesus ended this parable, He said, "And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?   I tell you that He will avenge them speedily."

Those who persist and press through the temptation to give up and who continue to cry day and night unto the Lord of Heaven will be avenged.  It may not happen right when we think it should.  It may take some effort.  We may pray to the point of exhaustion, but Jesus promised that if we continue to pray, God will avenge us.

I am very challenged by the story recorded in 2 Kings 13:14-19.
When Joash, King of Israel, was in need of victory over Aram, King of Syria, he came to visit the prophet, Elisha, who was sick and soon to die.
Elisha told King Joash to get a bow and some arrows, to put his hand on the bow, and then Elisha
put his own hands over the hands of the king.
He then told Joash to open an east-facing window and to shoot an arrow in that direction.
After Joash shot the arrow, Elisha explained the symbolism of his directive,
"The arrow of the LORD'S deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them."
The arrow Joash shot through the window was a representation of victory over his enemy.
After explaining this fact, Elisha then told Joash to take the remaining arrows and strike the ground with them.
In response, Joash struck the ground three times.  
Elisha immediately became angry with Joash and said, 
"Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice."

If only Joash had kept striking!  Why did he stop at only three strikes?  Elisha had just told him that the arrow was a portrayal of sure victory over his enemy.  Wars are made up of individual battles.  Elisha knew that three battles would not be enough to completely annihilate Syria.
Joash was seasoned...he should have known this, too, right?  Wouldn't you think he would have kept striking the ground repeatedly, until he made sure and certain the number of times would be a sufficient number of battles to finish the job?

I don't know if it was hopeful thinking on Joash's part...maybe he was hoping he could get by with less than what was necessary?  Was he hoping to not have to put forth so much energy to engage in so many battles?  Was he trying to take the easy way out and hope he could squeeze by with less than what was required?  Was he tired?  

Had Joash continued to strike the ground, he would have accomplished complete victory.
As it was, he stopped at three times, and that is exactly the number of times he got to strike Syria.  It was not sufficient.  It fell short of being enough.  

I have pondered this story over and over and over again.
I have read others' interpretations of it, and I have sought the Lord for clarity of what He is trying to tell me, personally, through this story, and this is what I believe.

As critical as I can jump in and be of King Joash, I can see that he and I have a lot in common, 
in the "strike-a-few-times-then-give-up" department.
I am way too quick to throw up my hands, become "weary in well-doing", think God is not listening and there is no use to keep asking, and accept less than God's best.
As "believers" in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as those who partake of His Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4),
we live far below our privileges...simply because of our refusal to enter into persistent, determined, resolute, strong-willed, intercessory prayer.

I reckon the arrows that Joash struck on the ground to the weapon of prayer.

How much do we want what we are praying for?  Do we "strike" in prayer a meager three times, then stop?  Are we in this for the long haul?  To do whatever it takes to get God, our Father's attention?  To intercede and labor in prayer until we see our petitions granted?  

God rewards those who diligently seek Him.

In the Greek language, "diligently" or "diligence" means...
earnest swiftness or intensity,

In the English language, "diligence" means...
constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind.

Dear friends, may I ask you a personal question?
Of course, I do not need an answer.
God does.
Tell HIM.
What do you need?
What are you lacking?
What are you praying for?
Are you physically ill?
Financially bankrupt?
Spiritually drained?
Mentally exhausted?
Facing an insurmountable, immovable, unbudging mountain in your path?

What do you need?
How much do you want it?
Can you believe?

"According to your faith be it unto you."

Think of it this way.
Think of your own personal Goliath.
What is looming over you right now?
What do you need most from God?

Now, think of this.
What is the best, most desirable outcome in your situation?
If God asked you, "What do you want?  How do you want this to end?  What is the best-case scenario for you?", what would you say?
How would you respond to that question?

Then, what if after you told him, He said to you,
"According to your faith be it unto you."

Can you envision the perfect outcome?
How much do you want to see that?
Are you willing to "diligently" seek God for it?
To keep praying, even when it seems hopeless?
To intercede, even when it becomes beyond difficult?
How many times are you willing to strike the arrow?
What if one more prayer would deal the final blow to your enemy?
What if it just took one more time, and you gave up striking?

Pray on, my friend.
Keep asking.
Keep knocking on Heaven's door.
Go to war in prayer.
Don't stop striking until you see the hand of God move on your behalf.

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
Hebrews 4:16 

If ever I can join your fight in prayer, always know that I am here for each and every one of you precious readers.
So many of you have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with my family and me,
and we have all reaped the benefits of those "refuse-to-give-up" prayers.
I want to return that strength to you when you need it most.
We're in this thing together.
We may all be from different denominational persuasions,
ethnic backgrounds, 
varying positions of service on God's battlefield,
and diversely unique stations and seasons of life,
but you are my are my sister.
I'm praying for you now and trusting God that you will remain strong in your fight of prayer.
That you will see Goliath fall, mountains crumble, and waters part in your situation.
Always remember this.
You are not alone.

"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

"It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."
Romans 8:34

If video doesn't load, click here.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Baby Eli: A Precious One-Month Smilestone!!

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is His reward."
Psalm 127:3

In my last post, I shared two of the many times God has laid a heaviness upon my heart to pray,
even though I wasn't sure for whom or what I was praying.
One of the times I mentioned was the night before I found out my niece, Kristen,
who was expecting a baby boy, collapsed in the ER from a blood clot in her lung.
Many of you have followed Kristen's journey, and you have fervently prayed for her and her precious baby, and you are already aware that last month, God answered our many prayers!

Little Eli was born, perfectly healthy and beautiful and just amazing,
and his sweet Mommy came through the C-section delivery just fine.
Oh, how we have praised our dear Lord for this amazing answer to prayer!!!
He is SO worthy of all praise, and He has proven, once again, that there is nothing too hard for Him.

Recently, little Eli and his grateful family celebrated his ONE-MONTH BIRTHDAY!!!!

Isn't he just a living doll????
What a little sweetheart!!

Kristen had a CT Scan yesterday, and guess what, dear friends??
The blood clot in her lung is GONE, praise God,
and she was able to go off the blood-thinning shots!!!!
We cannot praise God enough for the amazing miracles He has performed!!!

Precious Eli and his Mommy, Kristen

Every time I think of all God has brought these two through,
my heart just fills to overflowing with praise to the God Who can do anything!!!!
Praise His wonderful name!!!

Kristen, so graciously gave permission for me to share some photos of the little birthday guy
and their sweet dog, Harley!

Be still, my heart!!
This is SO adorable!

Such a happy, little guy!

Have you ever seen anything so cute??

So many times, I have to break down and cry as I praise the dear Lord for the mercy He has extended to my dear family and me.
How we praise Him for the precious, dear, sweet gift of baby Eli, now one month old!!!

I just wanted to share an update on him for all of you prayer warriors who have helped to 
pray us through!!

So many times, I have come here, so heavy-hearted and desperate for God's help,
and I have asked you, dear friends, to pray.
So many times, in answer to my plea, you have taken our burdens as your own,
and you have bombarded Heaven for my family and loved ones and me,
and you have reached the throne of God and touched His heart on our behalf.

It gives me so much joy to share the results of the prayers YOU have prayed!!!

I want to encourage you today.
Whatever you need can be found in the Source of all of our strength.
God is still alive and well, and He is still listening for the prayers and cries of His children.

"For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers..."
I Peter 3:12

I am now working on a post that will be entitled "According to your faith",
where I, once again, delve into the subject of prayer.
I hope to share it with you soon....we have had a lot going on in our family and lives,
and there hasn't been a lot of time for blogging lately.
God knows when the time is right for a particular post,
so, stay tuned!!

May He bless each one of you, meet all of your current needs,
and keep each one of your hearts turned towards Him.

I love and appreciate each one of you,
I cherish each comment you leave here,
and I am praying for every, single person who will ever read these words.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

When God Says Pray, & Why We Should Never Ignore That

"Pray without ceasing."
I Thessalonians 5:17

Before I begin this post, I wanted to ask you to please pray for the family of a young woman who was killed in a one-car traffic accident.
Her little 2-year old son was in the back, unhurt.
I can't imagine the pain in the hearts of this family, and I know they would greatly appreciate your prayers during this sad time.


This is the amazing, beautiful view outside the home of our nephew, David, and his wife, Stacie.
I could literally sit and take in this view for hours.
My eyes...and heart...are drawn to the far, distant hills, and to the God Who created them.

Those of you who have been reading Homespun Devotions for a while,
know that a little over five years ago, God called my mother home to Heaven.

Losing her, and Dad, nearly twelve years before her, has been beyond hard.
I will miss them forever.
Anyone who has lost their parent(s) can attest that there is nothing on earth that can fill that kind of void.

We never had much in the way of money or worldly wealth while I was growing up.
But, even though we struggled, financially, Mom and Dad possessed and passed on something to me that is greater than any monetary treasure they could have ever bestowed.

Mom and Dad taught me how to pray.

Prayer was observed as the first resource in our home.
Through their example, and by means of their normal behavior,
Mom and Dad never made prayer their last resort.
If one of us or another loved one was sick, we prayed.
If we were broke, we prayed.
If we needed food, we prayed.
If the car wouldn't start, we prayed.
When Dad's prospective employer was hesitant about hiring him, due to his health problems,
we prayed.
During the treacherous Ohio blizzard of 1978, we prayed.
If we couldn't pay a bill, we prayed.
We prayed about everything.
We went to hospitals and nursing homes, and we prayed...for people who were sick, lonely, and depressed.
We rarely missed Wednesday night "prayer meeting".
We gathered together in our living room, at the end of each day,
and we all three prayed an individual prayer out loud around our family altar.

I learned, early on, that circumstances were often rearranged when we would pray.
Mountains that seemed to be immovable were brought low and conquered.
It didn't take me long to realize that, within the life of a Christian,
prayer is not just a tool, it is a weapon that, when properly wielded,
will absolutely turn the tide.

Mom and Dad's prayerful influence and daily, consistent encouragement to pray
has had a lasting, permanent effect upon the person, wife, and mother I have become.
Prayer is an integral part of who I am.
It is woven through so many fibers of my being that, it seems,
 I hardly know when I stop praying and when I start up again.
God and I are having a conversation the biggest part of the time,
and prayer keeps me in close proximity to Him.
We seldom stop communicating....and even when we do stop talking,
it is there, in the back of my mind.
Always flowing...ongoing.
My prayer life is a precious thing to me, and I say that, not with haughtiness or boastfulness,
but with much love and respect for Jesus in my heart.

Now that I am married, thankfully to a man who also loves to pray,
Kevin and I endeavor to make our home a house of prayer.
In addition to individual prayers, we believe it is vitally important to have regular family worship...
the three of Mom, Dad, and I used to do.
A lot of "stuff" comes to the surface during those times of all three of us listening to each other
pray out loud.
One of my greatest desires, as a mother, has always been to ingrain a quality of prayer into the fiber of Zach.

The other night, it hit me how automatic prayer has become in our lives as a family.
Kevin had to work, and Zach and I were on our way to Bible Study.
We started listening to the radio, and all of a sudden I felt a strong sense of needing to pray.
So, I asked Zach if he minded, and, bless his heart, this boy who loves to pray about as much as his Mama, quickly turned the radio off.
He was all in.
We prayed...and prayed...and prayed...nearly the whole 40-45 minutes there.
If he needed to add something, he would pipe up and start praying,
and I would stop, then I would resume again when he was done, etc.
This is something that is happening more often, as Zach grows and matures.
I can't put into words how precious those times are to me.
Not only to have that beyond-dear time with this boy in prayer,
but to be reminded, once again, what a habitual and instinctive force prayer has become in our lives.

There is no way to measure the value and power of effectually and fervently
wielding the weapon of prayer.

If video doesn't load, click here.
Written by Charles & Ira Louvin

In the posts found herehere, and here, I have been talking about spiritual warfare and how important it is to memorize the Word of God, so our Sword stays steadily sharpened.
Prayer is also a vital component of God's strategy for us to win the ongoing battles in this spiritual war.

When the Apostle Paul wrote instructions concerning our need to put on the whole armor of God
in Ephesians 6:11-18, he put strong emphasis upon prayer, after he had named off several individual pieces of armor that we should put on.
In verse 18 he says this,
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints..."

Jesus spent much time in prayer when He was on the earth,
even spending all night in prayer and rising very early so He could be alone to pray.

Wouldn't you have loved to hear some of the heart-wrenched prayers He prayed?
Every, single one of His prayers were fervent, and they were effectual.
I have no doubt.

Jesus Christ realized how valuable it was for Him to stay connected to His Father at all times.
Therefore, He took the necessary time to make sure He fit that communion into His day,
even if it meant giving up sleep, comfort, and ease.
It was just that important to Him.

Shouldn't it be to us?

"And He (Jesus) spake a parable unto them to this end,
that men ought always to pray, and not to faint..."
Luke 18:1

We've probably all seen the plaque at some point throughout life.
"Prayer Changes Things"
If I remember correctly, I think the first time I saw it was on my prayer-warrior Papaw's living room wall.
Papaw prayed more than anyone I have ever personally known.
Each morning, he rose early, in order to find time to spend interceding to God for his family,
the congregation he pastored, and the many needs presented to him by others.
Seeing that plaque on his wall is a vague memory, but the message stuck.

When my sister, Sandi, called and told me my niece, Kristen, who was expecting a baby and also suffering from a blood clot in her arm, had driven herself to the ER and collapsed after getting there, then found out a blood clot was in her lung, I'll admit that not just a "normal" fear, but full-blown terror gripped my heart.
And, what was astonishing to me, at the time, was that the night before this phone call, I had felt an overpowering, pressing burden to pray.
I remember telling Kevin and Zach that I needed to pray, and it needed to be NOW.
I didn't even know who or what exactly I was praying for.
I just knew that someone needed help that only God could provide, and it was imperative that I fervently pray.

"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
James 5:16

Not that I am in any imaginable way righteous.
It is only through the precious blood of Christ that I have been redeemed.
It is HIS righteousness working in me that opens the opportunity for me to approach Him in prayer.

Kristen's situation was not the first time I had felt an overwhelming burden to fervently pray, even though I didn't know for whom or what I was to pray.
One other time, in particular, that will be forever embedded into my memory happened on the night of April 30th, 2016.
I remember telling Kevin and Zach that a burden that I could not seem to shake was upon me to pray.
I didn't have a clue who needed help or what was happening, but I knew, without a doubt, that someone desperately needed my prayers, and I should not procrastinate.
I remember that even after I prayed, I could not seem to find relief, and there was this nagging sense of needing to continue to pray.
It just wouldn't let up.
What I didn't know until my sister-in-law called was that just a few, short hours after the crushing heaviness in my spirit, a demonic-controlled, maniacal man, (animal seems more appropriate), would enter the apartment of my dear niece, Victoria, and she would die an agonizingly brutal and painful death, at his cruel and murderous hand.
(If you would like to read more, you can click on these links,
Prayers Needed For My Family,

I can't tell you the number of times I have wondered why my earnest prayers were not enough to protect Victoria or spare her life that night.
At some point in my wondering, God showed me that my prayers WERE heard, and that they were answered, too.
Our Lord was there, incredibly near to her during those final hours.
He was with her...comforting her, as she lay bleeding and dying, and He never left her side.
I will never know how many ways He answered my prayers that night.
Maybe, He lessened the intensity or duration of her agonizing death.
Perhaps, He shielded her from worse...if such a thing exists.

As I prayed, I did not know the reason for the heaviness in my spirit, but the Spirit of God knew,
and as I entered into that time of prayer, He carried my burden to the throne of grace in an intelligible way that God completely understood.
Later, it all became clear, and I found out who had needed that prayer.
He knew all along.

In these two situations, as in many, many other times throughout life, I have learned to trust that sense of burden that comes over me.
I have learned to drop whatever I am doing and fall to my knees when I feel that compelling call.
I have learned the meaning of Romans 8:26,
"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."

This kind of praying is not easy...
not knowing who or what we are praying for,
not even knowing why we are praying,
yet feeling such an intense burden for prayer.
Does anyone else ever feel the temptation to not put forth the energy and effort required for such intercession?

It is a temptation to which even the very disciples of Jesus Christ were not immune.

Jesus faced the most challenging, excruciating night of His life, and He needed support.
Not just moral support, but earnest prayerful support.
When He asked the three men in His inmost inner circle to pray for/with Him,
He came back a little while later only to find them asleep.
They could not seem to muster the stamina required to shake off their drowsiness and intercede on behalf of the One who would soon lay down His life for them.
As a result, Jesus lacked support when He needed it most.
And, as a result, they lacked the necessary personal fortitude to remain faithful to their profession of faith when faced with the threat of persecution.

Sometimes, it would be easier to succumb to the pleasantry of letting someone else do the heavy lifting when it comes to entering into intercessory prayer.
But, I have learned to pay take heed...when I feel an inward prompting to pray.
I have learned that there is always good reason behind a nudge from the Holy Spirit.
I have learned that if I fail to pray, something, or more importantly, someone, could suffer for my disobedience and negligence.

Mom used to often tell me that "prayer is a long-range weapon".
It reaches as far as it needs to, and even when I cannot be there in person to show support,
I can pray...even when I don't know exactly who needs those prayers.

God is always listening for the prayers of His people.
"For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers..."
I Peter 3:12

He invites us to approach His throne when we are in need.
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
Hebrews 4:16

There are times a special burden for prayer is placed upon the heart of a burden-bearer.
When we feel called to such a task, it is of vital importance that we push through the temptation to ignore such a call, regardless of personal cost.
So much is riding on our faithfulness.
God help us to rise to the challenge and be the prayer warriors that He and our loved ones need us to be!

We may never know or realize the scope of the effectiveness of our prayers on earth, 
but I am deeply comforted by the vision John saw and described in Revelation 8:3,4,
"And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.  And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand."

Your prayers and intercessions count, my friend!
They are being carried to the throne of God by the hands of angels!
Don't ever give up on producing your cause before God through the channel of prayer.
"Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob."
Isaiah 41:21

May we ever be mindful of those God-sent urges to pray.
May we press through our weariness, fatigue, and temptation to give up, and
pray on!

To read a sampling of past posts on prayer, click these links:
A Praying Mother's Reward
What If I Don't Pray?