Abide

How often I go to God with big prayer requests. For family, for friends, for places and people who need God’s help. I believe God answers prayer. The Bible encourages us to ask God for what we need. We’re to go boldly and often to God with our heartfelt desires (Philippians 4:6,7).

But in John 15, Jesus points us to our relationship with Him as the starting point for prayer. Calling Himself the “true vine,” He reminds us that we’re His branches. Branches can’t bear fruit if disconnected from the vine.

In my busy, noisy world, I’m likely to blow right past the relationship with Jesus in my prayer quest. Jesus stops me dead in my tracks with these words. 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).

Abide is from the Greek word meno, which means to “remain or dwell.” I’m to make my home in Jesus. I’m to plant myself in Him and His words in me. This sets up the condition for faithful living as well as answered prayer. When I abide in Him, I’m more likely to be praying His will. Powerful words. Powerful reminder.

I’m struck by the fact that Jesus uses the word abide eleven times in the first ten verses of John 15. If I tell my kids something eleven times, you can bet I mean it!

So what does abiding look like for me practically? Here are a few thoughts:

1. I carve out time to spend in God’s Word each morning.  I plant His Word in my heart.  Then, I try keep in step with His leading and be alert to His whispers throughout my day. I try to guard myself against jumping ahead of His leading.

2. I’m fierce with my Sabbath. Humans need to come apart or we “come apart.” Few voices these days encourage us to take time off to rest, reflect, and abide.

3. When I abide in Jesus, I may have to let a few of life’s “outer things” slide a bit.  Care of the soul may not be as obvious as care of my image.

And if we abide in Jesus? “This is to my Father’s glory,” He reminds us, “that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8).

How about you? What helps you to abide in Christ? He’s worth your best energy. Let’s ponder that today.


stand your ground

Remember those earlier days…when you stood your ground in the face of suffering  (Hebrews 10:32 NIV).

Life hurts.  It’s not like Jesus didn’t warn us.  “In this world you will have trouble.”  But “take heart,” He reminds us.  “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).   I need to stay connected to Jesus if I hope to stand my ground in the spiritual fight.

To stand one’s ground is to endure .  The Greek word for endure is hypomeno.  It comes from two words:  hypo or “under”, and meno, “to remain.”   Meno is the same word Jesus uses when He tells us to abide in him (John 15:7).  So to endure is to “remain under”  a painful  trial with grace.   It’s bearing up under a load of trouble with a tranquil mind.

Will you be able to stand your ground when trouble hits?  You can’t endure apart from Jesus.  Abide in Him daily.  Rely on the Holy Spirit. Stay filled up with God’s Word.  Pray always.  And don’t travel alone.

And remember: If you don’t abide in the light, you can’t  endure in the dark.  

 


A Minute a Day for Saeed

Be alert and self-controlled so that you can pray. 1 Peter 4:7

My son and his friend were recently having dinner in a local restaurant.  Suddenly, everyone’s cell phone alarm went off at exactly the same time. The National Weather Service had just issued a flash flood warning for our area.  So a chorus of loud buzzers echoed throughout the small eatery reminding everyone to be alert to potential hazards.  I wonder what would happen if we as believers had our own early warning system calling us to pray?  The Bible reminds us that we wrestle continually against the forces of darkness  so we’re to always be  ALERT for prayer.

I recently met a young woman who’s story burdened me so much that I have committed to pray for her every day.  So I created my own little “early warning” system to remind me to pray.  I set my iPhone alarm for noon each day reminding me to pray for one minute for Naghmeh Abedini and her husband Pastor Saeed Abedini.  After you hear their story, I hope you’ll consider doing the same.

I happened to be seated next to Naghmeh at a recent gathering where she had been invited to share the plight of her husband, Saeed, an American citizen imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith. I got to hear firsthand about the living nightmare she and her family have endured for nearly two years.

Like many, I have been troubled by Pastor Saeed’s imprisonment and went to the event eager to learn more about his condition and what world leaders are trying to do to secure his release. I came away with a new hero. His wife.

The attractive, articulate young Naghmeh spoke to a group of men and women gathered at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “We as Americans don’t like to suffer,” she said quietly as one who knows this full well.  Suffering has been her daily companion as she wrestles with the agony of knowing of Saeed’s prison hardships and even torture.  As daily, she watches her children, Jacob and Rebecca, missing their dad. “But it’s when we reach the end of our human strength that we discover the supernatural peace that only Jesus can give.”

Naghmeh is Iranian born but raised as a US citizen in Boise Idaho, accepting Jesus as her savior when she was just nine. She prefers a quiet life to the grinding schedule of worldwide travel speaking on Saeed’s behalf. Her itinerary has included appearances before the United Nations and European Parliament. “I wasn’t an upfront person,” she smiled. “Saeed would be very surprised to see me speaking all over the world on his behalf.”

When asked about her surprising sense of calm, Naghmeh says that she depends on Jesus each day to even get up in the morning.   A self-described anxious person by nature, she says the Lord has enveloped her in a supernatural peace throughout this harrowing ordeal. After speaking to the United Nations, she even had Muslims and atheists come up to her to ask the reason for her unexplainable calm in the face of such a fierce ordeal. And she tells them. It’s only Jesus.

More than anything, Naghmeh wants to glorify Jesus as she works for Saeed’s release.  And she asks for believers everywhere to join her in continued, fervent  prayer for his release. Click here  to join the worldwide Prayer Vigil for Saeed,  September 26, 2014. 

And every day, will you join me in setting your cell phone alarm to pray a minute a day for Saeed?   Together, let’s  pray each petition in the Lord’s Prayer for Saeed and his family.  It only takes one minute.

Hope I will hear other cell phones going off at noon as many of you agree to Pray a Minute a Day for Saeed.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


when is suffering sifting?

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”  Luke 22:31-32 (ESV)

Let’s face it.   Fiery trials are not fun.  And yet, it seems like the more serious I get about following Christ, the tougher the resistance from the enemy.  Can you relate?  I’ve heard it said, “New level, new devils.”  Jesus warned Peter that Satan had demanded to “sift you like wheat.”  The “you” in this verse is plural.  It means “all of you.”  Or if you’re from the deep South like I am,  “Satan has asked to sift y’all like wheat…”

Several friends of mine have recently answered God’s call to serve in hard places.   Each one has hit a wall of one kind or another lately.  One of those is my friend Ashley.   In six short weeks, Ashley and Peter with their four small children (the youngest was just born a couple of weeks ago!) will leave all that’s familiar to take the Gospel unreached people in Japan.  A few months ago, I asked her if her family had experienced any “sifting” during this process?   I think you’ll be inspired by what she  shares about her season of sifting.

Guest Post:  SIFTING SEASONS:  by Ashley

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”  Luke 22:31-32 (ESV)

I do not fully understand this passage on sifting, but after a careful study, I feel like I have gone through three years of sifting without even realizing it. Three years ago I began praying for God to break my heart for what breaks his and this prayer left me in holy shambles.  It knit me to the heart of my Savior and rendered me broken, on my knees for the world.  When the Lord gives you just a glimpse, just a taste of his heart for those he created, everything that used to matter no longer lures you or fulfills you like it once did.

Three years ago I would not have called myself materialistic.  I was a thrifty, penny-pinching, stay at home mom to a spouse in ministry, always shopping consignment and finding new ways to save.  I learned how to cloth diaper and would go through the huge hassle of bringing items we no longer used to consignment just for the extra $10 in my purse.  I now see that this obsession with saving and selling was a form of materialism and complete trust in my own ability to provide. Continue reading


Week Six: Answer God’s Call

We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).

Do you hunger to make a difference in this world?  Even children yearn to discover their purpose.   My husband’s father, the late Dr. Howard Chadwick, served God faithfully as a minister for over seventy years.  He used to encourage our three children to search wholeheartedly for their life’s calling.  “Look around you at the needs you see in the world,”  he would tell them.  “Then take an honest look at your own gifts and talents.  Your calling may be found where those two intersect.”  Or put another way,  Where is your holy discontent?

This week is the final stretch of our 40-Day Challenge.  Let’s wrap up with Step Six:  ANSWER God’s Call. We’ve devoted 40 days to training our hearts to hear God’s voice I hope you’ve learned how to become more ALERT and I’m guessing you’ve noticed signs of God at work.  I especially pray that you’ve become more sensitive to His voice.

But friends, here is where I must pause.  If the wonderful blessings of learning to hear God’s voice, draw near to Him in prayer and claim the promises of His Word extend no further than our own little world, then so what?  I am convinced God’s amazing blessings during this prayer journey are so that I will be His hands and feet in this hurting and broken world.

Therefore, I constantly ask myself Is my life a so what? or a so that?   Continue reading