One Night Lit the World (Advent, Week 3)

Have you ever been in a situation where you were too terrified to speak? Shocked into frozen immobility?

Imagine for a moment the night of Jesus’ birth from the shepherd’s point of view. Suddenly their peaceful, starry night sky lit up with the glory of the Lord! And if that wasn’t enough, then an angel of the Lord dropped in with a heavenly message.

Can you even imagine? No wonder the angel’s first words were, “Do not be afraid.”

That shekinah glory of the Lord that Luke records here refers to the splendor and brilliance that radiates from God’s very presence. Scripture tell us that the shekinah glory manifested in the pillars of cloud and fire that led the Israelites out of Egypt. It shone from the burning bush for Moses. It appeared in the brightness of the cloud at Jesus’s Transfiguration.

The glory of the Lord was quite an attention-grabbing, heart-stopping manifestation, indeed. It was a sign of both God’s nearness and His remoteness.

And the Levitical shepherds of Bethlehem were completely surrounded by it. After 400 years of God’s silence where His glory never visibly shone over His people, God made His mighty presence unmistakably known.

Though the shepherds were likely terrified, the angel’s announcement did not foreshadow gloom and destruction. He trumped the Good News that the Savior promised by God had finally arrived!

And the angel’s Good News was not limited to the shepherds, but intended for all people. Not just those who are good for goodness sake. It was the Good News of the Gospel that Jesus Christ had arrived into this world to save all who believe from eternal separation from Him.

God’s plan of salvation promised in the Garden of Eden had finally been put in motion that night. That one, extraordinary, life-giving night. And God tasked those shepherds to get the word out.

It was an announcement of great joy that we are privileged today to share with others — especially during this beautiful Advent season. It is God’s message of love, reflected in the innocent eyes of a Baby.

The shepherds didn’t realize that they would be hearing the heavenly announcement that night which would change the course of eternity. That it was a night like any other in all of history before or since.

Those stunned shepherds were privileged to be part of one extraordinary night that changed the history of the world and become bearers of a story full of wonder.

So, like the shepherds, the angel reminds us, “Do not be afraid.”
Don’t be afraid to receive the Good News.
Don’t be afraid to believe that it is for you.
Don’t be afraid to celebrate with great joy that your eternal address has changed from lost to found, because of the sheer grace and vast love of God almighty.

Joy to the world, the Lord has come!
Let earth receive her king.
Let every heart prepare Him room,
Let heaven and nature sing! 

 


We would be honored for you to join us on this life-changing tour.

 

The Lamb Wrapped in Swaddling Clothes (Advent, Week 2)

And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. {Luke 2:6-7}

Knee deep grass covering the hills gently waved in the desert breeze as the sun rose over Bethlehem. My eyes strained to see Jerusalem, but it was too far away.

As our group made its way toward the Church of the Nativity (built over the place believed to be Jesus’ birthplace), we walked through a small, beautiful garden just beyond the courtyard colonnades. As we approached the church, I took a picture of this plaque hanging on the wall near the entrance.

Those words of John 1:14 brought tears to my eyes. Not simply because of the city in which I stood, but because of the meaning behind what I was reading: the Word became flesh.

A Child is Born

In the Hebrew culture of Mary’s day, a new mother usually remained secluded for forty days following the birth of a son. Then she would enter the tabernacle or temple to offer a sacrifice of purification (Leviticus 12:1-8; Luke 2:22).

Forty is a significant number throughout Scripture that usually symbolizes a period of testing or trial before bringing forth something new.

For instance, God caused rain to flood the earth for 40 days and nights before bringing forth Noah from the ark to a new beginning on dry land. Moses spent 40 days and nights on Mount Sinai before bringing forth God’s law to the people. The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years before God brought forth His people into the promised land. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert being tempted by the devil before bringing forth His earthly ministry.

What a blessing forty days of secluded peace must have been for a new mother to gaze uninterrupted on the gift of life. Feelings of wonder, awe and excitement often accompany a birth. Yet the process can be painful.

There is a letting go before embracing the new.

In God’s strength we let go of our imperfect dreams to embrace God’s perfect plan. Let go of past ambitions to welcome future blessings. Let go of life as it was to discover life as it unfolds. This letting go may take 40 days, 40 years, or a lifetime.

Yet birth evokes hope.

At Christmas we celebrate when God temporarily let go of His Son to birth His plan of redemption for all mankind. Mary’s natural birth was an emblem of new birth. That virgin birth brought forth the Light of hope into a dark world.

Love and hope birthed in a manger. 

Manger and Swaddling Clothes

That day in Bethlehem profoundly affected my spiritual journey. Gazing across the soft hillsides where such wonders occurred so long ago stirred my soul. I cannot wait to return there next year.

Yet perhaps that historic church does not mark the actual spot of Jesus’ birth.

Known as the “Tower of the Flock,” Migdal Eder was located just outside the city of Bethlehem (in Bethlehem’s suburbs, if you will). Migdal Eder was the tower from which Levitical shepherds carefully watched over the lambs on the hills around Bethlehem. The shepherds’ sole purpose was to raise unblemished (paschal) lambs that would be offered as sacrifices in the Jerusalem temple a few miles away.

Migdal Eder is first mentioned in Genesis 35:21 in the account of Rachel’s death after giving birth to Benjamin (Jacob’s youngest son). Then the prophet Micah also referred to Migdal Eder: “And you, O tower of the flock, … to you it shall come…the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.

Scripture tells us that Jesus was born in a manger, but it does not necessarily denote a dark and dirty cave near an overbooked inn. The definition of a manger (Luke 13:15, Proverbs 14:4) often means a stall or crib where animals are kept. Like that of Migdal Eder.

It was a settled question that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. In fact, according to Jewish tradition, the first revelation of the Messiah would come from Migdal Eder, in the vicinity of Bethlehem.

Why is that significant to the Christmas story?

As the sacrificial lambs were born, those Levitical shepherds in the Tower of the Flock would wrap them in birthing cloths to protect their unblemished state. So when the amazed shepherds (recorded in Luke 2) hurried to see the great wonder that the heavenly host proclaimed, they arrived to gaze upon a baby born in the place where Passover lambs were born, swaddled like a Passover lamb.

The spiritual significance would not have been lost on those Levitical shepherds: Jesus’ birth pointed to Jesus as the Messiah, the paschal lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

God did not make the message of redemption complicated or intimidating. He invited everyone to behold the sacrificial miracle of Christmas in the perfect face of His Son, the Lamb of God, wrapped in swaddling clothes.

As our group prepared to depart Bethlehem, dozens more groups arrived to view the church and experience the wonder. As I surveyed the blur of faces, I thought about the massive crowds that would have gathered to register in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago following Caesar Augustus’ decree.

As I recall the streets of Bethlehem filling with people, I ponder the significance and location of Migdal Eder, the Tower of the Flock.

The Lamb swaddled.

The Son sleeping.

Perhaps, just perhaps, God never intended there to be room in the inn.

 


We would be honored for you to join our tour. Information here.

Can Anything Good Come Out Of Nazareth? (Advent, Week 1)

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.” (Luke 2:4-5)

Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

That’s what Nathanael asked Philip in John 1:46 when Philip announced that they had found the One about whom Moses and the prophets wrote.

Rather than take offense at Nathanael’s skeptical question, Philip simply invited Nathanael, “Come and see.” Moments before, Jesus had invited Philip to follow Him. Now Philip invited Nathanael to see Jesus with his own eyes.

It comes down to inviting.

In the heart of today’s bustling City of Nazareth, the Church of Annunciation sits over the site believed to be Mary’s house. Originally built in the mid-4th century by Constantine, the church invites visitors to see the place where the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that God had chosen her to be the mother of the Messiah.

In Nazareth, Mary received a holy invitation to be a key player in an epic story that re-wrote history.

Christmas and invitations go hand in hand. God invites us to receive by faith the most priceless Gift ever given. You and I invite others to see the hope of the world reflected in the holy eyes of a Baby.

And then there was Bethlehem.

The word “Bethlehem” likely brings to mind nocturnal shepherds watching over their flocks. However, its meaning extends far beyond a pin on a map.

The word Bethlehem comes from two Hebrew words: (1) beth and (2) laham. Beth, roughly translated, means house. It does not necessarily denote a specific kind of building, but rather its function. Laham is a masculine noun which means bread (Genesis 18:5; Numbers 21:5). In fact, Leviticus 21:6 refers to laham as sacrificial bread.

So what is the significance? Bethlehem means House of Bread. What is a house of bread? A bakery. How did Jesus self-identify in John 6:35? “I am the bread of life.

Some may scoff and dismiss it as a cutesy coincidence that God introduced the Bread of Life to the world from a bakery. But wait. What is a bakery’s function? To provide food. Time and again Jesus fed the multitudes, both physically and spiritually. And the Word made flesh continues to feed us through Word and Sacrament today.

Advent is a time for us to praise God for the gift of the Bread of Life, who taught, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Then there was Mary.

Mary’s betrothal time should have been filled with happy preparation for her new life as Joseph’s wife. Instead she grappled with the staggering news that she was pregnant. Not because their passion raged out of control, but pregnant like no other woman before or since ─ by the Holy Spirit.

A virgin conception? Incredulous at best, blasphemous at worst.

Yet Mary believed God’s angelic messenger. She trusted by faith and set the holy standard for surrender and submission: “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

Even though people could legally stone her to death? Let it be.

Even though Joseph could divorce her? Let it be.

By God’s amazing grace, Mary’s womb carried the One who conquered our tomb. Let it be!

And finally there was Joseph.

Chosen by God among all men on earth to be the guardian of our Lord. In steadfast faith, Joseph believed God’s message in a dream. Unwavering, he stood by Mary when culture dictated that he shun her.

With relentless perseverance, Joseph traversed miles on foot to become a midwife on the fly. He followed Caesar Augustus’ census decree and registered with the lineage of David — from which would birth the Divine.

Joseph adopted the Father’s Son and safeguarded the Light of the world.

Mary and Joseph were handpicked by God to nurture the Cherished of God. They didn’t ask for it. They likely faced persecution over it. They could have given in to fear and trembling, yet God strengthens those who turn to Him in faith.

Even though God’s plan turned their quiet life chaotic, Mary bowed low to lift His praise high: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

So, can anything good come out of Nazareth?

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

 


Coming in 2019:

New 8-week DVD Bible study series based on the book of Nehemiah
(Published through Concordia Publishing House)

O Night Divine! Advent Devotions

This Sunday, December 2nd, begins our Advent season. The most wonderful time of the year!

Advent, from the Latin word for coming, initiates the church year. Even though you and I tend to think that Advent and Christmas wrap up the year, Advent celebrates the year Jesus’ earthly life began.

Advent focuses on Christ’s coming — past, present, and future. The past contained Old Testament prophecies that pointed to His birth at Bethlehem. The present focuses on His presence among us today through Word and Sacrament. And the future focuses on Christ’s second coming at the end of time.

Perhaps 2018 has been a banner year for you. Perhaps you are waving the surrender flag. Some years are filled with unforgettable memories; others are inundated with memories you’d rather forget.

Either way, Advent celebrates a beginning. 

As you begin Advent on Sunday, what is your prayer?

As we walk through these four weeks of Advent together focusing on Luke 2, my prayer is for you to see Christ and the significance of His birth with fresh eyes.

Beginner’s eyes, if you will.

I pray that you experience the wonder of Advent as we celebrate the coming of our Savior. And before 2019 rings in, I pray that you, like Mary, will treasure up all these things and ponder them in your heart (Luke 2:19).

Join Me in the Holy Land

It was a warm desert day when I stepped into the Garden of Gethsemane that morning eight years ago. The sun fell in slants over the ancient stone wall, illuminating the centuries-old olive trees.

So this is where He prayed, I thought.

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” … Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” Matthew 26:36, 38

This is where Jesus sweat blood as He contemplated the unfathomable suffering of the cross.

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39

I found a secluded spot in the Garden that morning and fell to my knees. I poured out the shattered heart of a fresh divorce and the fear of becoming lost in the random shuffle of life. This was the intimate place of further still. The place where God met me alone amidst my greatest sorrow to began the healing process.

Then our group then went to Calvary where we received communion … looking straight at the empty tomb.

Words simply cannot describe that moment. That is why I want to share the experience with you!

Pastor Wayne Graumann and his lovely wife, Kathy, have joyfully partnered with me to offer a 10-day Biblical tour of the Holy Land. Wayne baptized me 27 years ago and holds a very special place in my heart.

He and I will tag-team teach at various sites on our journey, which include: Nazareth, Cana, a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, Caesarea, Megiddo, Mt. Carmel, Mt. of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Bethsaida, Jaffa, the Jordan River, Caesarea Philippi, Jerusalem, the Mt. of Olives, Palm Sunday Road, Garden of Gethsemane, Western Wall, Via Dolorosa, Bethlehem, Qumran, a float on the Dead Sea, Jericho, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Pool of Siloam, and the Garden Tomb (Calvary).

Won’t you join us?

Imagine Tours & Travel has led tours to Israel for over 20 years with excellence. Your 10-day tour price includes: round trip airfare, deluxe motor coaches, first class hotels, guided sightseeing, entrance fees to sites visited, breakfast and dinner daily, all taxes and fuel charges, and all gratuities.

Detailed Tour Information
Registration Form

We welcome all adults who desire to walk where Jesus walked: men, women, couples and singles. We know it takes time to plan, stockpile vacation time, and save funds, so we are letting you know 16 months in advance of our departure!

I pray that you will join us on this life-changing adventure!

If you have any questions whatsoever, please reach out to me directly at dpyle@artesianministries.org.

Riding a camel on the Mount of Olives!
Experiencing sunset in the Holy Land

Bible Study Winners and An Exciting Announcement

This past weekend I attended the LWML Texas District Convention where this brand new study was officially launched. Your incredibly supportive response has been overwhelming!

So many of you sent emails and messages of encouragement. Your comments on the giveaway blog post brought tears to my eyes as you wrote about the women and places where you wanted to share this study.

Thank you so much. 

The two winners of a DVD/workbook set each are:
1) Arla Mae Luther
2) Meridee (Canada)

Congratulations!! I will be reaching out to you by email later today.

NOW FOR THE EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT

After much prayer and planning, I will be leading a tour of the Holy Land, along with Rev. Wayne & Kathy Graumann, in November 2019! WOOHOOOO!!!

As many of you know, my initial visit to Israel in 2010 truly changed my spiritual journey. Receiving communion while looking at the empty tomb is forever etched in my soul.

Won’t you join us on this 10-day Biblical tour of Israel? Pastor Graumann and I will tag-team teach at various sites as we visit them throughout the Holy Land.

Registration is open RIGHT NOW (on my website’s “Events” page or with links below) to give you 16 months to plan, save, invite friends, and ask the Lord prepare your hearts.

Detailed Information and Itinerary
Registration Form

You will hear more information about this tour as time goes on. I pray that you will consider joining us for a life-changing adventure through the places from Scripture.

Dear friends, it is grace upon grace to be able to serve the Lord and you.

Launch Day! “Where Love Abides” Bible Study

I have been waiting for this wonderful day for the better part of two years!

Today, it is a JOY to offer my latest DVD Bible study series in partnership with the LWML, “Where Love Abides.” It is an in-depth study of John 15, where Jesus talks with His disciples about God’s vineyard and our place in it.

Here is a quick snippet from the study’s back cover:

Seasons matter in vineyards. They also matter in our spiritual journey. We experience winter seasons that seem prolonged and harsh. We endure seasons of pruning where God removes the superfluous to nurture deep roots in Him.

We also experience bountiful seasons of harvest where we, through the power of the Holy Spirit, experience the abundance of God’s beautiful fruit. But this fruit is not just for believers to sit back and enjoy. God calls us to go into all the world and share it.

Jesus, our Vine, lovingly invites us to abide in Him (John 15:4) as He abides in us. What does that mean? What does it look like amidst our modern, fast-paced days?

As you walk through His Word with this study, you will gain a clear understanding of both the blessing and responsibility of being chosen for God’s vineyard.

Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” When we abide in Him through the faith He gives, He draws us into an intimate relationship with Him as branches in His vineyard — that beautiful place Where Love Abides.

LET’S DO A GIVEAWAY!

I’m giving away TWO sets of this new Bible study. WooHoo! To enter, simply:

  1. Leave a comment below and let me know how/where you plan to use this study;
  2. Sign up (look to the right) to receive my weekly devotions;
  3. Share this post on your social media outlets (and let me know where so I can share your posts and tweets)!

I will pick two winners and share them in this coming Tuesday’s blog post right here.

Today is a day of praise to God for what He is doing through the LWML as they continue to offer Christ-centered, in-depth resources to build an intimate relationship with our Lord and Savior!!

God’s blessings as you dive into and share this new Bible study in your homes, churches, and communities. To God be the glory!

Appointed to Go

Ten months after I began working at my first law firm as a file clerk, the firm acquired a small New York firm to expand its practice in the northeast. All of the acquired firm’s client files then needed to be integrated into our firm’s conflicts, filing, and docketing systems.

The task was gargantuan, so my boss appointed me to accompany her to New York to get the job done. We spent two weeks in those dusty New York file rooms inputting information into our computer system, generating new labels, and organizing all of the files according to our firm’s standards.

But there was a great perk: the hotel where we stayed sat in the heart of Manhattan and we had a weekend between the two work weeks to explore. Talk about fun!

I was twenty-three and had never been to New York. It was October, so she and I enjoyed crisp fall weather, ate at great restaurants, and spent our free weekend visiting the Empire State Building, taking in a Broadway show, and visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Even though the work was tedious, being appointed to go to New York was one of the best experiences of my working career. Why tell you this?

Because you and I have been appointed by God.

He chose us as branches for His vineyard and appointed us to bear fruit that lasts. Our work in His vineyard may be tedious at times, but it is rooted toward His mission from the very start. Our effectiveness as His missionary fruit-bearer rests in Jesus, the true Vine, working in and through us.

Jesus willingly set aside the privileges of heaven for over thirty years to invest Himself in disciples who would continue His message following His death and resurrection. As soon as Jesus began calling disciples to become fishers of men, their appointed work was not classroom study but active practice.

During three-years of earthly ministry, Jesus taught us that workers of all vocations were to be laborers in the vineyard (John 4:36).

Jesus made it clear that the disciples would play a real, active part in the Great Commission beyond His time here on earth (Luke 24:45-53). Over and over in the New Testament, we see Jesus appointing His disciples to go bear fruit. We see this first and foremost in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

Jesus sent the disciples into the world with the specific mission to witness what God had done in Jesus, not to be preservers of man-made traditions which can divide.

Our effectiveness as His disciples (branches of the true Vine) rests in Jesus’ working through us. And even though Jesus’ hands-on discipleship training was confined to His earthly ministry, He appoints us without reservation to a worldwide ministry.

When Jesus ascended to heaven He sent the Holy Spirit ─ just like He promised ─ so that we could carry out the Great Commission. Being chosen by God means that you and I are part of Team Jesus. Now, as part of His team, we have been appointed.

For instance, I was chosen to be an employee of the law firm. However, once an employee, I was then appointed to go to New York to help set up the new office. Being appointed is specifically task-based.

You and I are chosen to be branches in His vineyard, but each of us is appointed to complete varying tasks within. His vineyard.

When He created each of us, God gifted us with certain abilities and skills. When He appoints us to specific tasks He provides the opportunity to grow and to develop those skills. All disciples are grown and matured to bear fruit for the glory of God, and the sweetest fruit comes from our areas of God-given giftedness.

What abilities and skills has God given you? How are you leveraging them to bear fruit for His glory?

For example, I have served as a vocalist in my church’s music ministry. However, don’t ever ask me to run anything technical. That is definitely not my gift. I am pretty sure that I would short circuit the whole church and plunge us into darkness.

Yet when God brings all technical and vocal arts to work together, each appointed in their areas of giftedness, He creates beautiful music to draw people to glorify Him.

Being appointed is not something to fear but a privilege to embrace as we go about doing His work.

Going involves movement and momentum.

I pray that God uses both to strengthen and to grow your gifts as you bear fruit for His glory.

 

Brand new DVD Bible study releasing on July 5, 2018:

Friends, Not Servants

“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15

In the first century Roman culture that surrounded Jesus, the term “slave” did not necessarily mean mistreatment or indentured servitude associated with the oppression of any particular race.

Slaves under Roman rule often held positions of authority and power. Oftentimes, they had been enslaved as foreign prisoners-of-war or enslaved due to non-Roman families who had sold them into slavery to repay a debt. It was a common practice in those days.

While serving his master, a slave could earn wages, enter into contracts, and even buy and sell property. Some slaves even owned slaves themselves.

In Jesus’ day, slaves could serve in many different capacities, including a hairdresser, midwife, or even a cook. They also served in chain gangs, as well (which is how we understand slavery from our American history courses).

It was typical for Roman slaves to strive for release from servitude by the time they reached thirty-years-old, as was the usual practice. Once freed, they could live out their lives as ordinary, free citizens, carrying with them the wealth and/or possessions acquired during slavery.

Believers in the Old Testament were called servants of God: Moses (Psalm 105:26), Joshua (Joshua 24:29), and David (2 Samuel 7:5), among others. The apostle Paul even used the term slave or servant to describe his work as a messenger and agent of God (Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 4:1).  

A servant in the first century culture was simply an agent doing whatever his master commanded, even if he did not understand the purpose.

That scenario makes me think of a bank teller today. If the bank manager asks a teller to transfer money from one account to another, the manager does not owe the teller an explanation or a reason for the request. The teller is merely an employee who follows instructions without question.

So how can we be assured that we are friends of Jesus, not slaves? Look back at John 15:15 above. Being a friend of Jesus means that He reveals to us what the Father revealed to Him (John 3:11, 3:32).  

Jesus testifies about what He has seen and heard, and His message is truth (John 8:40). Jesus did not hold back anything from us that the Father made known to Him in order that you and I would be fully equipped. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He enables us to obey all He commands us: love one another as He loves us.

Even though there are still hidden things of God that we do not know, Jesus relates all that He does know.

The intimate relationship that Jesus enjoys with the Father, He expands to include His friends.

We can share our joys, our struggles, and our doubts.

When you and I abide in the true Vine we are granted access to a relationship with and knowledge from the vineyard Owner – God Himself. Servants or slaves would never be given such unfettered access in their master’s house; friends alone receive such privilege.

As branches abiding in Christ our true Vine, we are not simply granted access into the Master’s vineyard. We are welcomed into His family as adopted sons and daughters (Ephesians 1:5; 2 Corinthians 6:18).

Usually when something is bought at a price it becomes a possession. Yet Jesus did not sacrifice His life to gain us as trophies.

He sacrificed His life and calls us friends.

What an incredible blessing it is to be a friend of Jesus!

 

Brand new DVD Bible study releasing on July 5, 2018:

Abiding Prayers

When I was a little girl, I always knew that God was “up there somewhere.” Our family really did not attend church, but Mom always led us in grace before dinner each evening: “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food. Please take care of our family, please take care of everyone. Amen.”

Although acknowledging in prayer that God is great and good, our family’s evening meal prayer was not a picture of abiding. It did not provide a clear picture of who God is or what Jesus accomplished on the cross.

I did not know a single verse of Scripture, so His Word did not abide in me. I had a small Bible that my grandmother gave me as a Christmas gift when I was a young girl, but I never opened it. I tucked it away in my keepsake box and there it remained … for decades.

Oh, how I wish now I’d opened His Word to meet my Savior!

The Lord’s words are LIFE and we abide in Christ through communion with Him and the study of His Word.

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7

This verse is not a promise of reward, but rather a statement of relationship. When we abide in this way, our prayers are much different than that meal prayer of my childhood. The prayers of believers who abide will be of such a nature that they are in full accordance with the counsel of His Word.

Such abiding prayers lean toward fruitfulness.

When Christ and His Word abide in us, prayer becomes a powerful tool for change ─ not for our glory, but for the Father’s glory (John 15:7-8). The power of prayer is dependent upon the faith given to us (His disciples) by God.

The power of prayer is unlimited to those who abide in Christ ─ unlimited power because we have been connected to the ultimate Source of all power.

Scripture contains numerous special exhortations to pray (Matthew 7:8, John 14:13, John 16:24), yet many Christians admit they do not regularly pray.

Perhaps some days we feel that our prayers are like droplets in an ocean. We wonder if they are making any difference to anyone at all. Doubting questions takes our eyes off the One who hears our prayers. You know, questions like:

How can God hear my question above the millions uttered each second? Why should my prayer matter? What difference does it make?”

I have asked all of these questions, and then some, but Scripture tackles all of our doubts. God always answers the prayers of His people: “When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.” Psalm 91:15.

God answers our prayers. Period.
He is not deaf.
He is not ignoring us.
He is not too busy to listen.

Our prayers may not be answered the way in which we like or ask, but God always answers them in accordance with His will and His plan for our life.

Prayer is an integral, inseparable part of our life in God’s vineyard.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are reminded to pray continually.

God longs for that personal, quiet time with you ─ His precious child.

Consistent, abiding prayer enables every believer to live in abundant freedom with the One who breathed life into you, redeemed you, and loves you like no other.

 

Brand new Bible study coming on July 5, 2018: