Don't you just love it when God tries to get your attention? I know I do. I can always tell when God is trying to direct me to a particular destination becuase it seems every road sign in my life will point in that direction. This past week it has been about spending more time in the secret place communing with him. First, I was asked to teach a Sunday School lesson on prayer so I began evaluating my own prayer life. Second, I have just wrapped up the study Can We Talk? by Priscilla Shirer. (I strongly recommend this study to anyone who is looking to dig deeper into God's Word.) Priscilla ended our last teaching session by quoting from Matthew 6:6, "But you, when you pray, go into your room and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." The whole week everything I read, studied, or heard was about prayer. The signs were clear. The directive had been issued. The only question was whether I would heed the call. I don't know about you, but I let the busyness and noise of life crowd into my life and take me from my secret place with Him. I can tell almost immediately when that happens. My prayers become cold and quick, and instead of desiring to spend time with Him, prayer becomes one more thing on my to-do list. Scripture directs us to "pray without ceasing." To me, that means to maintain an attitude of prayer throughout my day, but to enter into the secret place requires that I actually take time out of my busy day and sit alone - just me and my Father. Then the secret place becomes a sacred place - a place where perfect holiness meets imperfect man - a place where sinners are met with grace and forgiveness - a place where unrighteous becomes righteous - a place where a hungry soul is filled. What an awesome privilege we have to meet in the secret place with a heavenly Father who loves us and longs for us. Don't let a day go by without making time to meet with your bridegroom in the secret place. I am making it my prayer that the secret place becomes my favorite place to be. How about you?
For the last several weeks in our Sunday School class, different women have shared their testimony. It has been an awesome time of transparency. Isn't that what it is all about? Hearing of how God has worked in the others lives and seeing how they have claimed victory from defeat encourages me that God is at work in our world and He is ever in the business of transformation. Scripture tells us in Revelation that we "overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony." The first part to overcoming does not depend on us. The blood of Jesus was shed so that you and I could be free and could be overcomers. All we have to do is accept that the atoning blood of Jesus covers my sin and sets me free and we are halfway to overcoming. However, the second part to overcoming depends entirely on our willingness to step out in faith and share the word of our testimony with others. The dictionary defines testimony as witness, evidence, proof of fact, a declaration or profession of faith. Our testimony is witness to the proof that Christ has changed us from the inside out. It is our declaration of faith and it must be spoken aloud. There is power in the spoken word (see one of our earlier entries entitled The Power of our Words) and when we speak the word of our testimony aloud, that power is loosed to work not only in our life but in the lives of others. Never underestimate the effect your faith journey can have on others. Growing up I always struggled with sharing my testimony. I remember being asked as a senior in high school to share my testimony while we were in Europe, and I was terrified. I didn't think I had much to share and I always struggled in that area. I always wanted one of those dynamic testimonies that I had heard from other people. Well, be careful what you ask for - the testimony God has given me is not one I necessarily wanted, but I have been blessed to see that every time I have been given the opportunity to share my story, God has used it to encourage and set others free. You may not have one of those "flashy" testimonies you see on television, but praise God you have a story to share of how God brought you from darkness into light. Now, be an overcomer and share it!
Galatians 5:1 says It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. The word slavery in that verse means bondage. Bondage is anything that keeps us from enjoying the freedom that Christ has given us. Paul implies that we can accept God's free gift of salvation and still live under bondage. Salvation opens the prison door for us, but we must choose to walk outside of the prison walls and LIVE in freedom. Why did Christ set us free according to Galatians 5:1? For freedom. Christ does not want us living under the burden of bondage in our life. It all begins with a choice. We must choose to surrender whatever it is we are holding on to (or that is holding on to us) and walk in the freedom that Christ purchased for us. After surrender comes submission. We must submit to God's will for our lives. Where do we start? By studying His word. Psalms 119:45 says, I walk about in freedom for I have sought out your precepts. In John 8:31-32, Jesus says, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." The Word of God is 100% true and it is the way to our freedom. The more we allow God's truth to penetrate our heart and soul, the more freedom we will experience in our lives. I encourage you to dig into the Word of God. Let it take root in your life and remember that it is for freedom that Christ has set you free so stand firm and don't let yourself be burdened by the yoke of slavery. Be blessed to know that freedom is within your grasp.
It's been several weeks since I posted anything new. Life has been a little busy lately. I have just returned home from Colorado where I spent two weeks with my family celebrating my oldest nephew's graduation from high school. High School graduations are always inspiring but I don't think I have ever attended one as uplifting and gratifying as this one. You see my nephew, Johnny, was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in February of this year. With the diagnosis came the realization that his goal of obtaining first place in the state track meet was probably going to go unrealized. He has trained relentlessly for two years improving his technique and his time with the goal of winning state his senior year of high school. Needless to say, once chemotherapy started his strength and his energy deteriorated to the point where he could not even practice with the team. He had to sit back and watch his younger brother continue to train and ultimately take fifth place in the Colorado state track meet. I don't think Jacob had a bigger fan than his older brother. Johnny encouraged his brother and was truly excited for him and his success. Even though his senior year did not end the way he had anticipated, I could not be prouder of him. On the night of his graduation, he stepped up to the podium and gave a eloquent speech thanking his family, his teachers, his friends and challenging us all to never give up and to always trust God. Of course, we were all in tears. What God has done in his life in eighteen short years is truly amazing and I am excited about what is still to come for him. His chemotherapy treatments are done and his cancer is gone. He still has radiation treatments ahead of him, but I am confident that God will complete His perfect work in Johnny's life - just as He will in all our lives. God has blessed me with a nephew who is a beautiful reminder to me that we have a God who loves us and who will see us through even the worst of circumstances. I pray that you will rest in the truth of God's word that "blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence." Jeremiah 17:7. Amen.