Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jesus — The True Reason for the Season

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’ ” (Luke 2:10-11)

        “I don’t want anything religious,” a young woman snapped, as she and her friend searched for boxed Christmas cards at a Walmart store a few years ago.
        My heart sunk.
        She wanted cards that said Happy Holidays on them — the more generic, politically correct phrase that so many people say these days to avoid offending anyone. She didn’t want cards that talked about Jesus. I wanted to pull her to the side and explain that those religious cards she referred to really aren’t religious. They’re proclamations of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who shed his blood and died for our sins, so we may have everlasting life. I wish I had the nerve to share this Good News that day with that young woman. But I didn’t.
        There are so many people in the world who don’t know Jesus. Who need to hear the good news of great joy. And this is the perfect season to tell people about Him. So many have the wrong idea about Jesus. Some say He is a prophet, a good teacher, but no way is He Lord. They don’t realize that Jesus is Lord, and that by placing their faith in Him for salvation, they will have everlasting life — the greatest gift of all. No Christmas gift on earth surpasses the greatness of everlasting life. Not a one!
        Christmas is just a few days away. As we decorate our Christmas trees, and buy and wrap our presents, let’s not forget the true meaning of the season — that a Savior was born to give us the true, incredible gift.

        Let’s also remember to share this Good News whenever the opportunity presents itself. If we don’t feel comfortable sharing the love and the gift of eternal life with strangers, try to share this with family members and friends. Most would agree that everyone wants to hear good news these days. After we share it, pray that they will receive the gift of God and unwrap its eternal treasures that will last forevermore!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Power of Prayer Partners

 “If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20)

       More than two decades ago, if you were to tell me that, Pam, one of my best buddies from college, would be my ace prayer partner and confidante today, I wouldn’t have believed you. Sure, we were great friends in college among the many we hung out with, but we were unsaved and in full party mode.
       About 10 years after we graduated, we lost touch with one another. Nine long years had passed, and one day, to my pleasant surprise, I received an invitation to attend her wedding. “He asked … She said ‘Yes!” said the inscription on the front page of the invitation. “Marriage is singing praises to Jesus with the one you love. … It is with much rejoicing that … we will write our lives as one with Him and place our future in our Lord’s sovereign hands,” said the poem on the second page. “Wow!” I thought. “I’m so happy Pam invited me to her wedding. I think she might be saved!”
        After attending her wedding and waiting for her to return from her honeymoon, we began to call each other on a regular basis. We shared our testimonies about how we received the Lord, how He was working in our lives, and the challenges life was sending our way. Soon, we began reading scripture and praying together at the end of our conversations. Before we knew it, praying together on the phone and even fasting and praying together on our lunch hour, when we used to work around the corner from each other, became a habit. And we’ve been praying together almost daily ever since for the past seven years.
       What a journey it’s been. Our prayer time has truly transformed us as women of God from the inside out.

Hearts of Flesh
       We’re more loving toward others, joyful, peaceful, compassionate, merciful, tenderhearted, and forgiving. We’re more aware of our own sin, and we’re able to speak into each other’s lives and correct one another if we sense one of us is heading in a direction that’s out of God’s will. And we can do this without getting offended.

Long Past Milk and Veggies
       We’ve grown spiritually as we’ve read the Word together and have seen God’s handprint in all aspects of our lives. We’ve gotten to know the Lord more intimately and have grown closer to Him and each other. On a few occasions, God has actually spoken to us individually about each other before we revealed anything to the other.

Answered Prayer
       We’ve seen God lead, guide and direct us and answer our prayers in amazing ways. Like when God blessed us with new jobs after enduring difficult career situations; motivated our children to do better in school and attend church, improved relationships between our family members, brought peace to our marriages, healed those who were sick, and drew a couple of our friends into a relationship with Him. Recently, we’ve seen signs of Pam’s daughter wanting to develop her own relationship with the Lord and planning to go back to school — all because we’ve prayed together. 

Tapping into the Power
       What we’ve learned is that prayer is powerful. As Christians, we often don’t take advantage of this relational gift God gives us to communicate with Him, nor do we realize just how powerful it is, especially if we’ve been praying for something for a long time, and our circumstances haven’t yet changed. But as time passes, and we look back, we realize God was working on our behalf the entire time even when we didn’t see it.
       Because there’s so much power in praying with a friend, I urge every Christian to find a prayer partner: guys included. Prayer partners are lavish gifts from God. Priceless. Jesus knew the power of praying together, as He promised to always be in our midst when we pray. Another bonus: Our friendships with our prayer partners, built on the foundation of Christ, will last forever.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of prayer. While individual prayer is powerful, praying with a trusted friend is even more so, because you promise to give us your presence and the answers in your perfect timing. Thank you for desiring a relationship with us through your son Jesus. In His name, Amen!
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