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My Fab Fam
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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Prayers, Promises, and the Role of Faith

Has God ever made a promise to you?  Well, of course He has; His Word is full of promises.  But what I really mean is, has God ever spoken a specific promise into your heart?  Do you struggle to believe it?

I can with complete certainty say that God has given me a promise I have yet to see fulfilled.  I have begged God to bring it to fulfillment, but there are times that I begin to doubt if He ever will.  But a sweet mentor momma said something to me today that gave me food for thought.  She said that she believes when we ask for something within God's will, He gives it to us immediately.  Maybe we don't accept it because we don't believe it's already ours, and we, therefore, never see it's fruition in our lives until we reach heaven.  Or maybe it has only come to us in part and we have to walk it out in faith before we can see the fullness of the promise right here on earth.  I'm sure I am not explaining this as well as she did, but the main idea is that we "can be confident He will hear our prayers if we ask for anything in line with His will; and if we know He is listening when we make our request, we can be sure He will give us what we ask for" (1 John 5:14-15).

To give some credence to my friend's argument, let's look at the King James Version:

"And if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him."  (emphasis mine)

Can I just pause here to tell you something?  When I went to pull out my concordance and Bible dictionary, I had to pause and pray.  And my prayer went something like this, "Lord, You know what I want this verse to mean.  Help me be open to the truth, even if it doesn't say exactly what I want it to."  I wanted this verse to say that we do, indeed, receive the answer as soon as we ask, but I wanted to be open to reading it exactly as He meant it, not the way I wanted to interpret it.

But, as I read that King James translation, I could already feel my heart beating a little faster.  It says "we have," not "we will have," or "you might someday have," but "WE HAVE."  Whatever we ask, we HAVE.  Right now, we have!  Are you getting excited with me???

Perhaps you need a little more convincing before you are ready to jump up and down, since we all know that although perfect, the exact meaning of Scripture can get a little lost in translation.  That's why I like to look up words in the original language.

First, I looked up "have" in my Strong's Concordance and found that the original Greek word is numbered 2192.  So, I then went to my handy-dandy word study dictionary and found 2192, "εχω."   Zodhiates defines it thus:  "to have, to hold, implying continued possession."  This is an active verb, something that is happening now.

But, just to be doubly safe, I looked at an on-line Greek/English interlinear Bible.  This site confirmed that the exact Greek word is εχομεν (transliterated "echoman"), which is a form of  "εχω."  "Echoman" is present active (happening now) and literally means "we are having."

"Echoman" is also an imperfect verb.  Thus, there is more to support my friend's theory that though the answer comes immediately, it might not immediately come in full.  Imperfect verbs combine past events with repeated, continuing events, such as in the sentence, "We are walking," which implies we are already walking (have been walking), and we are continuing to walk.

In the same way, when verse 15 says "we have" what we've asked for, it means we are receiving and are continuing to receive what we have asked for.  So, it certainly says we get our answer immediately, but the imperfect tense tells us that we continue receiving it over time.  Not at a later time, but over time.

For example, if we pray for an inch of rain and that is in God's will, we will receive an inch of rain.  We may not see the rain immediately because God may be creating a storm thousands of miles away that will bring our rain.  It may take days to reach us, but He began working out our answer immediately.

In the same way, if we are praying for strength or patience or salvation for a family member or any other thing in line with His will, He has already answered with a resounding, "YES!"  We may not see His work at all, but we must believe His promise that He gives us anything we ask in line with His will.  I'm not a "name it and claim it" kind of person when it comes to things that are not explicitly in God's word (prayer request for a new car, a nicer house, a spouse, another child, etc), but I am certainly a believer in claiming the promises God has spoken through His Word.

For example, He tells us he does not desire that anyone should perish but that everyone should have everlasting life.  So, we know salvation is absolutely in line with His will.  We can be confident then, if we are praying for a loved one's salvation, that He hears us and is giving us what we ask for.  Our prayer requests are immediately answered, though time may be required to see the fullness of that answer.  To remind myself of this, I will pray something like this:

"Lord, you tell me that if I ask for anything in line with your will, you will hear me.  And if I know you are listening, then I know I will have what I ask for.  I also know that it is not your will that anyone perish, but it is your will that everyone would have eternal life.  So, I know it is your will for --- to come to salvation.  Please continue to do a work in ---'s heart.  I know you are already working.  Thank you.  Help me to keep believing even when it is hard to believe.  Amen."

God has made a specific promise to me.  When I have asked, over and over, for that promise to be fulfilled, now please, He has responded with, "Yes!  It is being fulfilled.  It is becoming."  He is working out His promise and the answer to my prayer right now.  I can choose to believe it and, through faith see it, or choose to doubt and perhaps, therefore, never see its fulfillment until I stand before Him.  The promise will be fulfilled.  Will I see it?  Perhaps that is up to me.  Perhaps my vision is impacted by my hearing--will I listen to the truth of God's promises or the lies of the enemy?

The enemy whispers...
the mess is too big to ever be cleaned up,
God is disappointed with us and has given up on us,
We can never (or never again) experience the freedom and victory intended for us in Christ.

Yet God promises...
anything is possible with God,
He rejoices over us with singing,
and overwhelming victory is ours!

Who will we listen to?  Who will we believe?


In Mark 5:23, Jairus pleads with Jesus, “My daughter is dying. Please come, heal her so she will live.” He doesn’t barter with Jesus. He doesn’t negotiate. He just pleads. He asks Jesus for His help. And Jesus, who loves the honest heart, goes to give it. But before they get very far, they’re interrupted by emissaries who tell them, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no need to bother the Teacher anymore.” Get ready. Hang on to your hat. Here’s where Jesus takes control. The Bible says: “But Jesus paid no attention to what they said.” I love that line! He ignored what the people said. Why don't you do that? When falsehood, accusations, or negativism come, just ignore it. Close your ears. Walk away. Ignore the ones who say it’s too late to start over. Disregard those who say you’ll never amount to anything. Jesus said to Jairus what He says to you: “Don’t be afraid—just believe!” “Trust Me,” Jesus is pleading. “Just trust Me.” 

from He Still Moves Stones by Max Lucado


Post scripts:

If you do not have a good Bible dictionary, I can not say enough about Zodhiates' The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament and The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament by Baker and Carpenter.  I would also highly recommend their compliments, The Complete Word Study Old Testament and The Complete Word Study New Testament, both by Spiros Zodhiates.  He even has The Complete Word Study: New Testament with Greek Parallel.  (I'm drooling.)

The on-line Greek Interlinear Bible was also rockin'.  Check it out here.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Encouragement for the Church

I have recently witnessed a local body of believers in conflict.  I have been on my face for them and I have searched the Scriptures for some wisdom and encouragement in this matter.  Here are some of the lessons I am learning.

(1)  Our sisters and brothers are not our enemies.  Never.  We are all part of one body.  When we fight against each other, it is like cutting off our own arm.  We make mistakes; our sisters and brothers make mistakes; still, we are not enemies.  We are one body.  "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred and you are that temple" (I Corinthians 3).  When we fight against each other, we are damaging our testimony for the love of Christ.  We may think we are only harming those we are fighting or speaking against, but we are damaging our own witness for Christ as well.  We are crippling the entire church, "which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills everything in every way" (Ephesians 1).

(2)  To be effective, we must be humble.  When we live in close community, as the church is called to do, we will have differences.  Can we agree to disagree?  (Am I humble enough to remain silent on issues that are not significant to salvation?)  Sometimes, we will be wronged, and occasionally some of us will even experience great pain inflicted by our own brothers and sisters.  Can we offer some mercy, remembering at what great cost we have been forgiven?  Can we forgive, recognizing that at some point we may have unwittingly caused, or may yet cause, another great pain.  And we will be wrong.  Can we also admit our mistakes?  If we are not willing to admit we are wrong, and perhaps even appear wrong when we are right, or appear weak for not fighting, we will fall.  Those who are proud, He is able to humble.  (See Luke 14:11.)  I'd rather be humble than be humbled.  Oh, Lord, give us humility.

(3)  When there is strife, it is because Satan sees us as a threat!  He knows the power that is Christ's church--that incomparably great power that raised Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1).  He knows that if he can keep us focusing our energies inward, we are not using them outside our walls to win souls for eternity.  He knows we carry weapons that will stop him in his tracks if we would only wield them against him and not each other.  He's worried, so he works to divide.  When a weed of conflict comes up within the church, Satan is at the root.  ALWAYS.  When we disagree with a sister or brother, do we recognize that Satan is working to divide because he knows how strong we are when we unite?  

(4)  When there is strife, God is working unify and strengthen His body.  "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith  develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4).  See the blessings in the trials.  See the men filling the altar to beg for the will of God to be done in His church?  See the women who join hands and bend knees to pray for their Godly men to have discernment and wisdom?  See the ways God is strengthening His army?  Unifying the troops?  Can we remember we all serve the same kingdom?  Can we just fall on our knees together and beg the God of mercy to guide us forward in love?  Can we stand from our prostrate prayers united?  Can we persevere until we have reached maturity?

(5)  God has a different plan for all of us.  It is tempting to believe that if God calls me to push forward in this battle and fight, then He must be calling all my brothers and sisters to the same battle.  However, that may not be the case.  Perhaps, this battle is not theirs and He has another battle for them to join.  I cannot judge a brother or sister if they leave, and I ask they not judge if I stay.  Or vice versa.  

As my heart is pained and I imagine the pain of others, I wonder at the depth of agony in the heart of our compassionate Father when He sees and feels the hurts of his children.  I beg Him to give us a keen awareness of our enemy who prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  May it not be us!  Father, may we seek unity with our sisters and brothers.  May we have a passion for a lost world.  May we work together to win souls and not be distracted by the conflict that Satan creates.  Begin with me, Lord!  And, Father, forgive us when we make a mess.  Thank you for your promise that "You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7).

As my heart grieves over the wounded church, I take courage in this:  We are a powerhouse!  If we were not, why would Satan be working so hard to stop us?  We are a mighty force in a dark world, sisters!  We must believed it.  Oh, please, LORD, help us channel our energies outside the doors of the church and into a hurting world.  May we stop wounding each other, recognize the energy that is within us, and pour it out to saturate a dry and thirsty land with Living Waters!

Amen and amen.

Satan is certainly at work, but, "Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world" (I John 4:4).  And, "Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us" (Romans 8:37).

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I know there are drawbacks and perks to everything.  Many people do not like Facebook because it is a time sucker.  Sometimes I feel that way too.  But, for the most part, I like the way it helps me know what is going on in the lives of friends, family, and even acquaintances.  I almost always find something inspirational when I'm scrolling through my "news feed," and nearly every day someone allows me to the privilege of sharing their burdens through prayer.

This morning, one of my friends posted this:

"What if you refused to say one negative thing today?" I thought about this and figured I might last an hour or so, lol. Seriously, it's worth a try!

I thought it was worth a try too.  Unfortunately, I failed in my very first conversation of the day with my neighbor.  But, I decided to try again.  I walked away from that conversation, sat on my deck, and opened my email.  And God confirmed my conviction with some encouragment from Max Lucado.

I like the story about the fellow who went to the pet store for a singing parakeet.  The store owner had just the bird and the next day the man came home to a house full of music.  When he went to feed the bird he noticed for the first time, the parakeet had only one leg. He called the store and complained. “What do you want,” the store owner responded, “a bird who can sing or a bird who can dance?”
Good question for times of disappointment.  What do we want?  It’s what Jesus asked the disciples when they complained.  And in Luke 24:27, Jesus began to tell them the story of God’s plan for people, “starting with Moses and all the prophets, and everything that had been written about Himself in the Scriptures.”  Jesus’ cure for the broken heart is the story of God.  So what do you want?  If you’re disappointed, turn to the story of God.  He’s still in control!

I realized my complaining was a lack of gratitude for what God has given me.  And if I truly believe that God gives us everything we need (and sometimes everything includes pain and hardship) and that all things work for my good (even when I can't understand the how's and why's) then even the situations that disappoint me will be recognized as good, goodness, Godness.  Everything is working together to give me a clearer picture of my Lord.  Everything is working together to draw me into a closer relationship with Him, if I'll allow it.  When my heart and mind finally absorb this truth, then I will be able to truly give thanks in all things, knowing this (even this!) is the will of God for me in Christ Jesus.  

So, what is it that I want?  More stuff?  No pain?  No heartache?  An easier life?  Or more of Jesus.

Just give me Jesus.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Constant Struggle: Abundant Life Within Boundaries

As a momma, I think the biggest struggle for me is trying to enjoy the abundant life while still maintaining some order.  We have to have rules, boundaries, guidelines.  But sometimes, those same rules that are put in place to help us may also hinder the abundant life.  I'm beginning to believe rules really are made to be broken.  I mean, if my family followed our own rules every day, we would miss out on a lot of fun.  For a few examples, how do we balance...
...maintaining bed time and allowing a few late-night giggles?
...enforcing naps and embracing spur-of-the-moment visits with our aunts who are visiting at Nana's for the day?
...healthy eating and special treats?
...completing our to-do list and playing Operation with our daughter?
...weeding the garden and pushing baby girl on the swing?
...having dinner on the table by 5 and taking time to run an errand for my man or dislodge a rock from big girl's bubble gum machine?

Jesus, too, broke the rules when it brought abundant life.  An example that comes to mind immediately is when he healed a man on the Sabbath.

But then, if we are breaking, or even bending, the rules all the time, we have chaos and that certainly hinders the abundant life.  For example, if I let the girls stay up and giggle too long or too many nights, they will be tired and cranky the next day.  Always skipping naps to do more enticing things = more crankiness.  Too many treats = poor nutrition, no energy, and poor health.  Always playing with our kids = dirty houses, quick and unhealthy meals, and self-centered kids who expect everyone to respond to their every plea.  Always pushing baby girl on the swing when we are outside = a garden over-run with weeds and producing less food.  Pausing for every plea for help while fixing dinner = late dinner, which in turn means late bedtime, and cranky kiddos.

And therein lies my struggle.  How do we know which things are the most important?  A few thoughts come to mind.  First, we start our day with God, asking Him to guide each step.  Second, we seek God all day long.

A friend posted this on Facebook recently:

Every nerve jolt to freak out, melt down, start yelling, fly into rage or panic is a divine cue to slow down, breathe deep, start praying, and lean into God. -Mark Buchanan

Every time my plan gets interrupted, my tendency is to freak out a little.  But I'm learning that every interruption is a divine reminder that God holds my day.  Every interruption is a cue to seek Him, to ask what He wants me to do.  Sometimes I need to keep on the beaten path; sometimes I need to let go and take a detour.  If I'm seeking Him, He will provide the right mix of order and fun.  The abundant life.  The Spirit-led life.