faithcounts

Following God One Step at a Time

Call to Prayer

I was planning to do another book review today,

but with headlines about more killing by ISIS,

I have decided to make a call to prayer instead.

— ISIS has taken over 2 more major cities, Palmyra in Syria and Ramadi in Iraq. —

More than 30 thousand people have fled,

but they have nowhere to go.

In Palmyra, ISIS murdered 400 people in the street,

most of them women and children.

ISIS is purposefully destroying the towns and villages they attack.

ISIS wants to leave only destruction and death behind them.

Only God can stop ISIS, so we need to pray for that.

We can help people who have fled looking for safety,

most of them with only the clothes on their back.

We can pray for God to have mercy,

and protect the people fleeing for their lives.

We can also give money to bring aid to those who flee.

You can give to the Internation Rescue Committee, who are very well respected,

and work efficiently to help the most people.

You can give to Doctors Without Borders, who go wherever their help is needed.

Another good charity to give to is the Christian Aid Mission,

and give to (IGE) Cradle of Christianity Fund,

(part of the Institute of Global Engagement).

Pick 1 or 2 organizations to give money.

Then pray.

Here is my prayer —

“Oh Lord, so many people are fleeing the evil called ISIS.

They have no homes to go back to, because ISIS destroys them.

Many of the men are killed, leaving mothers and children to fend for themselves.

ISIS has no mercy, Lord, for they even rape and murder children.

I know that you are in sorrow over what is happening in this beautiful world you created.

Have mercy on us.  

Have mercy on these families who have nowhere safe to go.

Lead them to shelter.  Bring them the food and water they need to survive.

Help them find a new life somewhere, somehow.

We feel powerless to help, but they feel hopeless and scared.

Give them hope, Lord.

Take whatever money we can give, and multiply it.  

Make it cover all the needs of these people fleeing for their lives.

Rally your angels, Lord, to help these people,

and to stop ISIS.

This will not end as long as ISIS is still spreading their evil.

Several countries, including the U.S., are fighting ISIS,

but they are losing ground to ISIS.

ISIS continues to take over and destroy more cities.

There are so many people needing help,

that we feel overwhelmed.

Guide us to make the right decisions to help them.

Lord, put it in the heart of each person reading about ISIS,

to give money to good charities who are helping.

Move each person who hears about ISIS to pray.

Lord, God, only you can stop ISIS,

and help the people fleeing from them.

We cry out to you, Lord.

The people of Iraq and Syria are crying out to you Lord!

Hear them!  Help them!

We thank you, Lord, for hearing our prayers.

We know you will answer.

You, God, are blessing us today.

We thank you, in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Please stop and donate to one of the charities I listed above,

or one of your own choosing,

then pray your own prayer to help the people fleeing from ISIS,

and to stop ISIS from spreading evil.

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The Gift of Righteousness

Most of us know that Jesus forgave all our sins, and we are so grateful for that.

Jesus gave us even more!

(Reading a blog Bible study at IF:Equip), I was inspired to write about  another gift –

Righteousness!

The Gift of Righteousness means we no longer need to follow the laws of the Old Testament.

We don’t have to perform blood sacrifices, or avoid certain food like pork.

In Romans 3:19, Scripture says,

“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law…”

And the next verse (20) says,

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the law…”

No one!

So how do we get righteousness?

Verse 22 – “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”

So it is not by keeping the law, and following the rules, that we get righteousness,

it is solely through our faith in Jesus Christ!

Why is this gift of righteousness so important?

In Matthew 13:40-50, Scripture says, “This is how it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them (the wicked) into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The righteous are those who have faith in Jesus Christ.

They will be saved from the blazing furnace of Hell.

The wicked have no righteousness.

Who are the wicked?

The wicked are all those people who do not have faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior.

They will be thrown into Hell.

That makes me really glad that Jesus gave us righteousness,

because otherwise, we would all go to Hell.

Remember, no one can be righteous by obeying the law.

We aren’t that good at obeying!

If you want to read some of the Bible Study posts that inspired me to write this post,

go to IF:Equip Sermon on the Mount.

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God’s Story

Our church just finished the Bible study, “The Story”,

which is about God’s story.

The last chapter is on Revelation of course. 

But did you know that Revelation was written as encouragement to the early church?

Encouragement?

Yes!  I know we usually think of Revelation being scary and confusing.

So how is it encouragement?

Well God wins the war against satan,

and we get a new Heaven and a new Earth.

There is a lot of talk about the end of times coming soon,

because of all the terrorism, climate change, and natural disasters happening in our world lately.

And you know what that means –

Jesus comes back!

Now we don’t know when Jesus is coming,

And we are told to be prepared for whenever He returns.

So how do we do that?

We can’t count the days, because we don’t know the day He will return.

So instead, make each day count.

That way when Jesus comes back,

you will be ready!

So, I will say it again,

Make each day count!

Amen.

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Child Abuse Help

Today is Blue Sunday.

It is the last Sunday in April, set aside for praying against child abuse.

I hope you will join us today, or any day you choose, to pray for protection of children.

(If you need prayer, please leave a comment at the bottom of this page, and I will pray for you.)

There is child abuse in every country in the world.

In the U.S.A. alone, there were 3 million cases of child abuse reported in just 1 year.

–Jesus said,  “And anyone who welcomes a little child on my behalf is welcoming me.

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,

it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck

and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:5-6)

This gives us an idea of what Jesus thinks of child abusers!

Many abused children grow up angry, or withdrawn and afraid.

They have low self-esteem.

Some of these children grow up and become child abusers, too.

This is so sad, that even knowing how awful their life was,

they cause the same pain to other children.

Some abused children end up in prison.

Some abused children are able to grow up and become good parents and role models,

but their road to health is long and hard.

They would not grow up well, unless some people show them love and caring.

They need to know that God loves them,

and that there are some safe people in their life.

For those who find love, you can see the results of God working in their lives.

Some had enough people to love them, either as children or as adults,

and they grow up and heal to be able to help others.

Both Joyce Meyer and Beth Moore (speakers and authors),

talk about being abused as children.

They are examples of those who grew up to help others,

and also to teach about love, and about God.

Joyce Meyer says, “God always had a plan for my life, and He has redeemed me. He has taken what Satan meant for harm and turned it into something good.” (see Romans 8:28).

To read Joyce’s whole article and for more information on her life and testimony,

Go to her website.

Joyce also has a prayer team who will pray for you if you request it.

Beth Moore also addresses her difficulties growing up as an abused child.

She has written several books about how to get healed, 

and moving past the pain with God’s love and forgiveness.

I have read so many of her books, but I would suggest two in particular to be helpful –

Breaking Free”  and “So Long Insecurity”. 

We live in a sinful world, with much pain and evil.

Children are born innocent and helpless.

They need and deserve our love and care, and protection.

God help us if we do not provide this.

We can all encourage and care about children in our family,

in our neighborhood, in our schools, and in our church.

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Book Review of Divided

This is a book review of “Divided” by Bill Delvaux.

The 1st thing I read that told me I was going to really like this book, was —

The author explains what happened in the Garden of Eden to make Eve disobey God.

It is surprising, and spot on!  It was an AHA moment for me.

You need to read about it.

“Divided” is about the struggle we all have coming to terms with God,

and with Truth.  Eve struggled, too.

The author shows us how he, and others he knows,

have gone through this struggle,

sharing with us his learned insights.

The author tells us it is normal to have doubts, fears, shame …

And he explains how to deal with them with God’s help.

This is the kind of book that by reading it thoughtfully,

It will challenge you.

It could even change some of your behavior.

BUT, if you read it and follow the author’s directions, answer the questions,

and have some quiet time with God –

It can transform you!

Some of the keys shown to you in the book —

Listening.  Truth.  Exposing idols.  Finding your heart. 

Are you ready to have a deeper faith in God?

A deeper love for God?

A more meaningful life, based on Truth?

Then read this book!

Although I was not familiar with this author, I received a free copy of the book from the publisher

through BookLook Bloggers, in order to write a review.  The opinions are my own.

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Give What You Can

We all have different ways we can give back to God, and help people.

Some of us have money we can give.

Maybe it’s a little each week.

Maybe it’s monthly.

For years, my husband and I have given extra money to charities at Christmas,

instead of buying gifts for each other.

There are many charities that need extra money at Christmas.

You can look at your finances and find a way to give just a bit more than you are now.

My husband and I switched to basic TV.  No movie channels.  No sports channels.

This allowed us to give more on a weekly basis to our church.

You can look through your stuff that you don’t use anymore.

Can you sell something, and give the money to a charity?

I sold some old jewelry and gave the money to an orphanage in Haiti.

Or maybe you can give your extra stuff to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

What if you don’t have much money to give?

Some of us have time to give.

Maybe you can work at church in the children’s area.

Maybe you can visit the sick.

Maybe you can volunteer for a clean up day in your church or neighborhood.

You can look at your schedule, and find some time spent watching TV or playing video games.

Use some of that time each month to volunteer.

Maybe you can give up 1 week of vacation, and go on a mission trip instead.

Some of us have a useful skill.

Maybe you can coach kids on a team.

Maybe you can fix bikes to give to kids who don’t have a bike.

Maybe you can make a repair in an elderly person’s home.

Maybe you can tutor kids.

If you are thinking that you can’t do any of these things,

then try encouraging others.

This is something that requires little or no money or time or skill.

Give someone at church a compliment about what they do.

Tell a church greeter they have a great smile.

Tell a piano player that you enjoyed their playing.

Give your waitress a thank you for being attentive and refilling your beverage.

Send a card to someone who is sick, and tell them you are praying for them.

You can probably find one person who you can encourage this week.

Maybe you will find several people you can encourage.

Giving, is something Christians do that set them apart.

Whether you give money, time, skill, or encouragement,

you are showing you care about people.

In John 13: 34-35, Jesus said, “Love one another.  As I have loved you…

 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples…”

This is why we give.

We don’t give just because of rules.

We give because Jesus loves us.

We all have something we can give.

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I Learned Something New This Easter

I have heard years of sermons about Easter.

Most of them have been similar,

on the death and resurrection of Jesus, and saving us all from sin.

I love the message, even having heard it so many times.

But this weekend, I heard a sermon that was new to me.

This sermon was about Psalm 22.

If you are not sure which Psalm that is,

it begins with “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Now that is probably familiar to you.

Many Christians know all the words Jesus Christ said on the cross.

But why did Jesus say those exact words?

He knew that by the age of 12 – 14, most Jewish boys,

would have memorized Psalm 22,

because in fact, in Jesus’ day, boys in school memorized the entire Old Testament.

When they were told what Jesus said on the cross,

they would have immediately known it was a quote of the 1st line of Psalm 22.

They would then have gone over in their mind,

what the rest of the Psalm said.

Jesus was pointing out that the prophecy in Psalm 22,

was about him, the Messiah!

Many of the Jewish people have missed the connection,

between Old Testament prophecies, and Jesus Christ.

Jesus was asking them to have ears that hear and eyes that see.

If they did actually see and hear,

they would know that Jesus was the Christ, the long awaited Messiah!

Here are portions of Psalm 22:

1) “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?”

6) “But I am a worm, not a human being; I am scorned by everyone, despised by the people.”

7) “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.”

8) “He trusts in the Lord, they say, let the Lord rescue him.

Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

9a) “Yet you brought me out of the womb;”

10b) “From my mother’s womb you have been my God.”

14a) “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.”

15b) “my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;

you lay me in the dust of death.”

16) “Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me;

they pierce my hands and my feet.”

17) “All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.”

18) “They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.”

19) “But you, Lord, do not be far from me.  You are my strength;

come quickly to help me.”

20a) “Deliver me from the sword,”

23) “You who fear the Lord, praise him!…

Revere him, all you decendants of Israel!”

24) “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one;

he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”

27) “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord,

and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,”

30) “Posterity will serve him;

future generations will be told about the Lord.”

31) “They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn;

He has done it!”

And here we hear an echo of three more words Jesus spoke on the cross,

“It is finished!”

Jesus said from the cross both the 1st line and the last line of Psalm 22.

Over and over again in the short life Jesus had on earth,

He pointed to Old Testament Scripture,

and said it was about Him.

Not many listened.  Not many had ears to hear, and eyes to see.

I am thankful for those who did see and hear and believe,

so that I have heard also.

This Easter, I have learned something new, and something old about Easter,

and it is Psalm 22.  

Thank you God.

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Do You Need Encouragement Today?

Do you feel sad or discouraged, confused or disappointed?

It is normal for us to feel this way sometimes,

but we don’t like to feel this way.

Even happy, confident people feel this way sometimes.

God knows how you feel.  Do you believe this?

You can know this, because God created us all. 

He knows everything about you, and every one of us.

He is our Father in Heaven, and He wants to bless you.

Do you have trouble believing this?

It’s true.  He wants to bless you.

Thank God for ways He has already blessed you —

  • Do you have food to eat? Thank God for this blessing.
  • Do you have a place to live? Thank God for this blessing also.
  • Do you have clothes to wear? Thank God.
  • Do you have friends or family who care about you? Thank God again.

As you notice everything God has already given to you,

you will begin to believe, that He wants to bless you every day.

Believing that God wants to bless you,

pray for what you need. 

Then pray for what others need, for God wants to bless them too.

If you are a person who believes in God, and wants to follow Jesus,

then you have an advantage.

You can pray to God in the name of Jesus.

In Luke 11:11 Jesus says,

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?”

Jesus is telling us, that God the Father wants to bless us with what we need and ask for.

If today, you are still discouraged, confused or disappointed,

then pray now for truth, wisdom, and hope,

and believe that God will bless you with each of these.

If tomorrow, you still feel discouraged, confused or disappointed,

pray again for truth, wisdom, hope, and peace.

Pray each day, for we need these things every day,

and we can feel discouraged any day.

In order to turn away from discouragement,

ask God, “Who needs my help, Lord?”

Someone will come to mind. 

Choose a way to help them, just one thing.

Can you do yard work?  Cook a meal?  Drive them to the doctor, or grocery store?

Knock on their door or call them, and offer to help.

If they don’t want help, then go home and pray for them.

Maybe the next time they need help, they will ask you for help.

Helping others or praying for them, is a good way to feel encouraged. 

Do these things, and you won’t be discouraged, confused or disappointed for long.

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Can’t Sleep?

Can’t Sleep?

Do you ever find yourself awake in the middle of the night?

Your mind keeps going, and you can’t get any rest?

That happened to me last night,

and here is what works for me –

When I am awake and I need to sleep,

I ask God, “Who should I pray for?”

The first name that pops into my head,

I pray for that person.

I may not know what prayers they need,

but God does.

So last night a missionary family that I met at church came to mind.

I prayed for them.

I prayed that Jesus would protect them,

and clear their way as they travel to their new missionary home.

Before I knew it, I fell asleep, and I awoke in the morning,

remembering that I had prayed for that family.

I have no doubt that they needed those prayers,

and I have no doubt, that God heard my prayers.

I believe this works in two ways:

1 – I wake up and am worried about things,

things that happened that day,

or things that might happen tomorrow.  I can’t sleep. 

By focusing my attention on someone else, I forget whatever I was worried about.

It has been proven that praying relaxes people, similar to meditation.

The people get prayers, and I get some sleep.

This is a win-win situation.

God is blessing both of us.

2 – The second way this works, is when God wakes me up during the night,

because someone needs prayers.

If I realize I am wasting my time just lying there awake, and ask God who to pray for,

then that person gets their much needed prayers,

and once I am done praying, I fall asleep again.

This has worked very well for me.

I trust that God uses these prayers to help people who need it.

I pray for basic things we all need,

like healing, protection, peace, and whatever else I think of.

One time, the person I prayed for during the night,

posted on her blog, that she had been struggling with an issue that night,

and by morning she had peace about what she needed to do.

This gave me encouragement to continue using prayer when I can’t sleep.

My advice is — The next time you are awake,

                        and you want to get to sleep,

                        Try asking God, “Who should I pray for?”

                        Then no matter what person comes to mind,

                        pray for them, and God will bless you both.

If you want to share a story about how you helped someone,

by praying for them during the night, please add a comment below.

We would love to read your story.

Also, if you have a prayer need, please share it in the comments,

and I will pray for you.

4 Comments »

Christian Benefits

Whether you are a Christian or not,

it is helpful to know what Christian benefits are, and are not.

You might be surprised.

Many people incorrectly think that Christians

have health, wealth, no problems, and an easy life. — NOT!

God does not promise any of these to Christians.

If you think you should accept Jesus for the gifts you will get,

you would be disappointed.

I have been reading the book “Jesus > Religion” by Jefferson Bethke.

The book has a section on this topic of Christian gifts,

which has me thinking…

God does promise Christians God’s love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace.

Those are huge promises!

God also promises us to share with Jesus His inheritance in Heaven,

and eternal life with Him.

Amazing!  That is “Good News”, as the Bible says.

God does also promise Christians to rest in Him,

which is good because we all tend to be too busy and tired all the time.

God gives us the gift of keeping Sabbath as a day of rest.

This is a much better gift than you might think.

Just start taking your Sundays as a day of rest.

If you do, you will be amazed at the peace and rest and contentment you will find.

In Acts Chapter 2, verse 38, Apostle Peter tells us,

if you repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ,

you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We also then benefit from the Fruit of the Spirit,

which come from the Holy Spirit,

and grow as we mature as a Christian.

These fruit are —

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

humility (also called gentleness), and self-control.

By now, you should be realizing that the benefits of being a Christian are top notch!

By now, you probably also noticed that God does not promise things —

not cars, big house, nice clothes, not money, nor fame.

Some of these things might be given, and also can be taken away.

The author of “Jesus > Religion” says that

1 thing that cannot be taken away from a Christian is —

           your identity in Christ as a child of God!

The Apostle Paul, (in Romans Chapter 8, verse 38) tells us another–

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,

neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,

neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,

will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Where else on earth are we guaranteed to be loved?

Guaranteed love is found only in the heart of Jesus Christ for one of His followers.

Right now I am a bit overwhelmed by these promises from God.

I had to stop and catch my breath, and blink the tears away, and thank God for loving us.

Thank you God for forgiving us, and for all you do give us every day.

Your generosity, Lord, is overwhelming.

 

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