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  • “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers” (Romans 1:9).

     

    Recently, while sorting through our family members’ clothing and preparing for the transition from winter to spring and summer, I came across two small T-shirts with these words printed on the front: “My mom prays for me”. They were given to our two boys several years ago, and I never had the heart to give them away. They are a precious reminder of the fact that as mothers, we earnestly pray for our children. In fact, we tend to pray more fervently and more frequently for the ones who are close to us, especially when there is a need. Intercession, or intervening for another, happens when we willingly put ourselves in someone else’s place and pray on their behalf. Interceding in prayer for someone far away or for someone we don’t know may not always seem natural to us at first, but a heart and readiness to pray for our own children, whether natural or spiritual, is something we are often more ready to do.

    “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30).

    God is searching for anyone who is willing to intercede – to stand in the gap before Him – on behalf of others. We live in a world in desperate need of God. Our first priority is to pray for and meet the needs of our own children, who have been given to us. But it doesn’t stop there. A gate into intercessory prayer is to see any person we are praying for as if they were our own child, sister or brother, dear parent or closest friend. We need to be willing to care about the salvation of others, as we would care for our own family members.

    Intercessory prayer requires a true humbling of the heart. We don’t intercede for other people because they are worthy of it, or because there is some gain in it for us. Moses interceded over and over again for people who rebelled against God and were given over to their own selfish ways. Many people we pray for may not know exactly what they need, or how to get out of their mess. They need our help.

    As women of God, we need to rise and intercede on behalf of our neighborhoods, our cities and our nations. Will you answer the call?

     

    BY INGUNN TURNER

    Ingunn Bakke Turner was born and raised in Norway. Nate and Ingunn Turner are UPCI missionaries to Estonia and pastor in the capital city of Tallinn. 

    Reposted with permission from Ladies Prayer International

    Trust is something we put into action every day. I trust that other commuters driving on the highway will obey the rules and stay in their lanes. I trust that my internet or Wi-Fi connection will work, allowing me to access Google or Instagram.

    We trust man-made laws and technology, even when they sometimes fail or fall short. So, why is it so difficult to trust God? Why is it that we lose trust in Him when He doesn’t immediately answer our prayers or quickly fulfill His promises? Why do we so easily forget that He is the one who fuels our dreams and purpose?

    Lately, my mantra has been I trust You, God. Even when it feels like everything is falling apart. Even when I have no idea what to do next. Even when it looks like all my hard work has gone to waste. I trust You, God.

    That dependence and reliance on God is somehow one of the most difficult things for me to give, because I’m releasing control. Instead of relying on my own strength, reason or wisdom, I’m admitting that I don’t know everything and God does.

    Maybe that’s why I admire the character of Joseph so much. When Joseph was only a boy, God gave him a big dream. Joseph didn’t know the extent of his dream. He didn’t know he would one day save millions of people, including his own nation, from starvation. At the time, he only saw a snippet of the dream. But the incredible thing is that Joseph wasn’t personally ready yet for his dream’s fulfillment.

    “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.” (Psalm 105:19 NLT)

    God knew the perfect time to plant the dream within Joseph. God knew what needed to happen in order for that seed to grow and develop, and He knew it would take years. But those years wouldn’t be stagnant for Joseph. Instead, God used that time to develop him into a man of wisdom, maturity, dependability, trust, mercy, generosity and perseverance.

    In order for Joseph to become that man, he had to go through heart-breaking trials. He experienced rejection, abuse, disappointment, slander, temptation, loneliness, power struggles and isolation.

    Why would God allow those things into his life? How could a God who had promised Joseph good things allow those awful situations to happen? Because God knew what Joseph was made of. He knew the potential Joseph possessed within him. He knew the power of Joseph’s dream. So, God presented Joseph with multiple opportunities to show that he trusted God.

    “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (1 Peter 1:6-7 NLT)

    We all have God-given dreams and purpose. But maybe you’ve haven’t seen that dream fulfilled yet and you’re beginning to doubt whether you actually received a promise.

    “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT)

    Maybe you don’t think you’re good enough.

    “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20)

    Maybe you find yourself growing angry, confused or disappointed.

    “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT)

    Maybe you’ve put so much hard work into developing your dream and it looks like nothing is happening.

    “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6 NLT)

    You’re not alone. If God gave you a dream, He trusts that you can handle it and the necessary development to fulfill it. So, trust Him in return.

    “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19 NLT)

    BY JEN ENGLISH

    You can follow Jennifer English on her personal blog https://jensrandommusings.wordpress.com/

    Forgiveness is powerful. The person who forgives extends mercy and peace, while the person being forgiven receives absolution and another chance.

    When it comes to our relationship with God, we can know that He forgives us when we repent with a contrite heart.

    “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 KJV)

    Yet, so often, we limit the empowerment that comes from God’s forgiveness. We heap our past mistakes on our shoulders, allowing ourselves to be weighed down with guilt, shame and frustration. God doesn’t want us to wallow in our mistakes, stuck in a rut of hopelessness and fear. He doesn’t just forgive; He wants to cleanse.

    “‘Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.’” (Isaiah 1:18 NLT)

    I tend to picture a cute lamb with pure white fleece when I read this verse. But that’s not how our sins look. Instead, they’re unruly, obtrusive and ugly — nothing like an innocent lamb. And, realistically, that’s not how a sheep looks after a few months of living in the real world. Its fleece gets long, matted, dirty and cumbersome.

    So, how does that wool create beautiful clothes, blankets and rugs? You can’t just take the wool straight from a sheep and create a masterpiece. The process requires a few steps first, and God uses a similar cleansing process with us.

    1. Shear the sheep.

    When processing wool, a shearer first needs to carefully cut the fleece away from the sheep’s body. The shearer must know exactly where to cut, how to position the sheep and how to calm it down. Meantime, the sheep is uncomfortable, scared and, ultimately, exposed.

    But this step is necessary to remove the fleece that would otherwise weigh the sheep down. In the same way, God wants to shear the sins that burden us, obscure our vision and trip us up. We can trust Him as the shepherd to know what to cut away and to take care of us in this vulnerable time.

    “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.” (Psalm 23:1-2 KJV)

    2. Grade and sort the wool.

    The next step is to sort the sheared wool into sections based on quality. Wool has different value depending on where it originated from on the sheep’s body. So, wool from the shoulders might be used for clothing, while coarse wool from the legs might be made into a rug.

    Likewise, God examines and directs our lives so we can best fulfill our potential. He sees how one chapter in your story can be used to develop a ministry, or how a rough part of your life can become a powerful testimony. He can even use the parts of you that nobody, including you, considers valuable.

    “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)

    3. Clean and scour the wool.

    This is when the cleansing process really starts to heat up. Sheared fleece contains dirt, oils, sweat and fecal matter — all of which can make up to 50% of the fleece’s weight. At this point, the fleece has the potential to be valuable, but it’s not quite ready. The wool needs to undergo a treatment with hot water and soap. It soaks and soaks, and then it is squeezed and squeezed. It might even have to go through the process again.

    God does the same thing with us, as He washes away our impurities. It might feel like you’re drowning, or suffocating or waiting endlessly, but you can trust God. He won’t scald, crush or abandon you.

    “Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7 NLT)

    4. Card the wool.

    The wool still isn’t ready, though. It needs to be combed through with metal teeth to separate the individual wool fibers and remove leftover impurities. After the fibers have been broken apart and smoothed, they can finally be spun together into stronger strands of yarn.

    We might experience “combing” times when it feels like we’re being torn apart, bruised and broken. It might be hard to believe this is part of God’s plan to develop us, but He’s in control.

    “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 KJV)

    You are not defined by your past mistakes. Your sins have been removed and erased. You have been forgiven. What’s more, you have been cleansed, so walk in freedom!

     

    BY JEN ENGLISH

    You can follow Jennifer English on her personal blog https://jensrandommusings.wordpress.com/