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Tuesday, December 4, 2018 Fourth Day of Advent: The Gift of Prayer

Before you read today’s post, let me apologize for the errors in yesterday’s post! After years of editing documents, you’d think I’d know to read three times and edit four times!

Enjoy today’s post!

I consider prayer a gift from God. Some people consider it a privilege and I understand why they feel that way. It is a privilege and honor to come into the presence of the Almighty God and talk with Him. Some people consider it an obligation. There have been times, especially in the last few months, when I was not where I should be spiritually, and I’ve also considered it an obligation. But truly, it is a gift. One that we do not take advantage of—or at least I don’t—often enough.

Prayer is a gift because it allows us to come into the presence of God and communicate with Him. Prayer allows us to share our innermost thoughts, desires, and needs, which deepens our relationship with Him. But it is much more than that.

The Gifts inside of the Gift

Have you ever received a Christmas gift and opened it to find another wrapped box inside? You open that box only to find another wrapped box. You continue to do this until you get to the smallest box and there is the actual gift. I find prayer to be like this.

These “gifts within the gift” are best illustrated through what we know as The Lord’s Prayer. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He gave them this prayer as a guide:

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13 New King James Version)

Inside this gift of prayer, not only do we find the gift of praise and adoration, but we also offer our gift of praise and worship.  In The Lord’s Prayer, “hallowed” means sacred, holy, revered. We must recognize God as sacred and holy. And we must always revere Him.

Forgiveness is a gift found through prayer. “Forgive us our debts (sins) as we also have forgiven our debtors (those who have sinned against us).” God’s forgiveness is a gift given to us as soon as we ask to be forgiven. Inside this gift of forgiveness we find that once God has forgiven us our sins, He remembers them no more. Note the caveat here: we must forgive those who have sinned against us, so that God can forgive us. (The Gift of Forgiveness will expound on this, to be posted on December 7, 2018.)

A third gift of prayer is praying for our needs and the needs of others. “Give us this day our daily bread.” There are those who feel guilty praying for their own needs. They may think, “There are so many people who are worse off than I am.” That may be true and you can certainly pray for them. But in this verse, God is telling us to pray for our needs, too. Others might say, “But God already knows my needs. This is truth, but He wants us to ask in faith and trust that He will answer our prayers in His own way and in His timing.

Protection is also a gift of prayer. “Deliver us from the evil one” is praying for protection against all that the enemy of our souls might try to bring against us, our loved ones, our nation.

Once again,  we find praise and worship in the last verse. This tells us that our praise and worship are important to God. Our praise, worship and adoration are sweet to His ears.

I am thankful for the gift of prayer.  There is nothing more enjoyable than spending quiet time with God, communing with Him through prayer.

Oh, Abba Father, how sweet is your fellowship. How wonderful it is to spend time with You. You alone, O God, are worthy of all praise and honor. You alone are worthy of glory. During this Advent Season, may we make the time to spend with You, the Holy Child and the King of Kings. Amen.

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A Lesson Learned from a Frustrating Day

This has been one of the most frustrating days of my life!

My husband, Dave, and I flew to Jacksonville yesterday for an appointment at The Mayo Clinic. The appointment was scheduled last May. Yes, almost six months ago–that’s how far in the future they are booking appointments.

Some of you know that Dave has suffered with several back and nerve issues. For the last six to seven years he has been in constant, unrelenting pain. He has seen orthopedic doctors, orthopedic surgeon, a spinal specialist at Emory Hospital, and two pain management doctors in Newnan. Not one doctor has been able to give him an absolute, definitive diagnosis, much less recommend a course of treatment. This appointment at Mayo was pretty much our last option.

When the appointment was scheduled, Dave was told to plan on being here two to three days. He would see different specialists, have any tests performed they felt necessary, and we’d have a recommended treatment plan presented to us before we left for home.

We saw the first doctor this morning who basically left us with the impression that a) he didn’t care about Dave’s case; and b) he really didn’t think Dave has a serious problem–if a problem at all. He had his nurse schedule Dave for a consultation with the pain management doctor here at Mayo. Naturally, we assumed it would be sometime this week. After all, that is what we were told. Right? Oh, no. Not at all. The appointment is for Tuesday, October 28. We are finished here for the week. But we’ve paid for the hotel room for three nights, flights tomorrow (Thursday) to Atlanta are full and some are overbooked (we fly standby) so we are staying here until Friday.

It was an incredibly frustrating situation that I allowed to really get to me and I complained for hours.

Finally, God had heard enough. He spoke softly, but with authority. “You think this has been a frustrating day? That you have it bad? This has been nothing. What about all the women you have seen with scarves covering their heads because they lost every single hair on their head during their chemo treatments? Or what about the young girl in Registration this morning whose legs were prostheses and whose hands were stumps? What about the wizened little man who joked and laughed with you, but his color and his body language says he’s losing his battle with cancer? These people are fighting the battle of their life while today’s situation for you was an inconvenience. It was a test and you failed completely.”

I was broken. Completely broken. I cried and asked for forgiveness and cried some more. How could I be so self-centered when there are people all around me, not only here at Mayo, but also in the world, who are suffering unimaginable diseases, abuse, poverty? How could I pass these people by without silently lifting a prayer for them, or reaching out and speaking, offering encouraging words? May I never reach this point of self-centeredness again.

God was gracious, as always, and extended mercy and forgiveness to me and I thank Him for that. But my prayer is that He will help me to always be aware of people around me, that He will even put people in my path and i will know beyond a shadow of doubt that the person and I have crossed paths for “such a time as this.”

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Day Eight: The Gift of Forgiveness

                                                  THE GIFT OF FORGIVENESS

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

Psalm 32:1
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Today’s gift is forgiveness. One of the most precious gifts God has given us, for without forgiveness, there is no relationship with God.

I love the two verses at the top of this blog. The first verse assures us that when we go to God in prayer and repent of the sins we’ve committed, He is waiting and ready to forgive. I can almost see Him in my mind’s eye. He is standing, watching me as I kneel and He is silently encouraging me to come to Him and repent. When I do ask for His forgiveness, I see His face break out into a huge smile as He grants me forgiveness.  Of course, you realize there is nothing really scriptural about what I see in my mind’s eye, but I still like to visualize it. It helps me realize how eager God truly is to forgive me.

I think the main reason God is eager to forgive me because until there is forgiveness, our relationship is not as it should be. We cannot commune together like we normally would.  I am not able to praise and worship as I’d like to and I am not able to receive His ministry until that sin which stands between us is forgiven and wiped away.

There is a condition to forgiveness. Matthew 6:14-15: For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

That is really a strong statement – God will not forgive us if we do not forgive others who have sinned against us.

I can hear some of you saying, “but you don’t know how deeply wounded I am.” Yes, actually I do, because I’ve been deeply wounded. So deeply wounded that even though I knew I must forgive, it took me a very long time to forgive and mean it. The Bible says that God knows our heart – so he knew that I realized I had to forgive this person, but I wasn’t ready yet. So, He waited until I came to Him, repented of my part in that situation and He forgave me. There is, honestly, no better feeling than to be forgiven and restored to God.

If you have sin in your life today, I encourage you to go to God and ask for forgiveness. He is waiting for you.

Dear Father, I repent today of sins of omission and sins of commission and ask for your forgiveness. Thank you God. Thank you for the freedom found in forgiveness and the restoration of our relationship. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.