15th day to PRAY for 2015!

Posted by on Feb 15, 2015 in A Community, A Story, Blog | 0 comments

How appropriate to end these 15 days of prayer for 2015 on this 15th day of February!

I would like to say that I planned it this way all along. In fact, what I did control was a bit of condemnation over the past few days as I realized that I had never sent one last prayer. As always, it went something like this: “Way to go, Karla. Not finishing what you start. What does it matter anyways? You keep sending these prayers out through cyberspace – to whom? You got caught up in the busy and forgot the important. Are you even praying yourself much less encouraging others to do so?” I used to stay on the mat for some time in this cycle of defeat! Thankfully, calling the truth to mind, remembering who I am and the story in which I live gives me the footing to make the next step off of the mat and into the light. (My friend Pres gave me this great “mat” metaphor in his book No Mercy.)

Father so lovingly reminded me in a perfect moment like this: “I got this. You are right on track. My way plus your meandering way is a fine way. (Actually Father’s way looks meandering at times too.) As long as I have your focus and you seek my counsel, we are on good footing. I work it all out. I am weaving; you are walking. We are together on this journey.” And then he does things like this – opens the window and moment for me to write not just on any day but the 15th day. No matter it is the second month of the year and we are already through January. I don’t think Father cares much. I think he loves working it out this way and surprising me in his love with this perfect moment. Ahhhhh . . . no better way to live.

I have actually been praying for you and your family this prayer that I write today for some time. I wanted to leave you with the words – “grace and peace.” Our pastor Gary Hutchinson gave me a definition of grace that has stuck with me and given me such great perspective. I had always learned grace as a gift we did not deserve but given anyways. And while that is not a wrong definition, it certainly creates a focus on the foul-ups. Instead, Gary gave us the definition of grace as “God’s empowering Presence.”

James Ryle defined it in his book The Empowering Presence of God as, “Grace is the empowering Presence of God enabling you to be who He created you to be, and to do what He has called you to do.”

“God’s empowering Presence” – that is a focus of strength. Just let that phrase rest over you. Think about all the verses of grace that you know and replace the word grace with this definition of grace – “the empowering Presence of God.”

“My grace is sufficient for you.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 My [empowering presence] is sufficient for you.

If you read on in 2 Corinthians 12:9, you then see this promise of power! “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

As I started looking deeper into this word of grace, I found it commonly linked with the word “peace” and used often in the beginning or end of the New Testament letters as a promise or a blessing. It actually was a common Hebrew saying but used for much more deeper reasons in the Bible.

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 1:7

This blessing is repeated in 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, Titus, Philemon, 1st and 2nd Peter and finally Revelation.

Even the last verse of the Bible sends us with the encouragement of “empowering presence” in Revelation 22:21, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”

If you think of the word grace as his “empowering presence,” now add to this idea a definition of peace as his promise of nearness and friendship. In John 14:27, Jesus says: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” My NIV study Bible says that Jesus is using peace in an unusual way not as the common greeting but as a reminder of “God’s redemptive work achieved for us. We have total well-being and inner rest of spirit in fellowship with God.”

So, sit back and think about this for a minute and realize that when you read in almost every book of the New Testament – “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ,” you are given “empowering presence” and his promise of friendship. In the days of 2015, in the face of whatever circumstances come your way, you have this gift. He will empower you with his presence, and he will walk closely hand in hand. We are strong, and we are not alone. Despite any feelings of isolation or despair, if you believe the Bible, you can dismiss these feelings and call the truth to mind!

Pray with me: “Grace and peace to us, our families, our children from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ.” We will walk in it, this truth, and we will remember this promise, this position and this possibility for our year of 2015!

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