On Wings Of Eagles

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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Woof, Woof, Woof!

Luke 11:5-8 (ESV)
5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.

Continuing with stories about dogs that have a lesson for each of us I found this one about being persistent.

Having assembled my usual cup of tea, Bible, paper, and pen, I finally sat down to write. I had just gotten comfortable to pray, read the Scriptures, and begin another chapter, when I heard a sound outside the front door. A small woof drifted to my ears from our front porch. Having just begun a new story, I ignored Joy’s soft bark and kept writing. It wasn’t long before I heard it again. “Woof,” she barked, this time a little louder. I was in the middle of a stream of writing, and it was a beautiful day outside, so I continued to write. I tend to get in the flow of my writing and tune out the world around me. I was on a roll, writing a new devotion, and I wanted to stay in the stream of thought.

In a couple of minutes, I heard a louder, more insistent woof from outside the front door. Joy was persisting in her request to come back inside our house. I knew she wasn’t going to give up and take a nap on the front porch, as I’d hoped, so I got up and let her in. She happily trotted into the house, stationing herself on the back of the couch for her afternoon nap. I went back to writing and all was well. I completed the project despite the interruption. It wasn’t long, though, before my mind turned back to Joy’s increasingly insistent woofs outside the front door. As I read my Bible and prayed, I thought about her woof, woof, woof as a model for prayer. Let me explain.

I was reading Luke 11, where Jesus taught His disciples about prayer. First, He gave them a pattern to use in the Lord’s Prayer, and then He taught them about the importance of persistence through the parable of the persistent friend, found in Luke 11:5–8. There Jesus likened His heavenly Father to a man who’s just gotten himself and his family tucked into bed for the night after a long, tiring day. Any parent with young children knows that this can be quite an accomplishment, particularly in close quarters.

Suddenly at midnight the homeowner’s sleep is disturbed by a knock on the door by a friend in need. Reluctant to disturb his family and get out of bed, thereby waking his whole household, he refuses the request. However, the friend persists in his request, ultimately succeeding in his pursuit of assistance from the homeowner. Jesus uses the story to teach us that prayer is not a passive or singular exercise. He encourages believers, through this and other parables, to persist on the stubborn points in prayer.

Don’t get me wrong. God is not unwilling to answer His children’s pleas. However, the nature of this present age and the reality of spiritual warfare in the fallen world we live in necessitate faith-filled, persistent prayer. Jesus knew that, of course, which is why He gave us this parable. Like the persistent friend in Jesus’ parable and my insistent dog outside my front door that day, believers who persist in their faith-filled prayers are sure to get an answer in line with God’s will.

Dear Lord, we confess that we can be distracted and easily discouraged over circumstances in my our and easily give up. Help us to be persistent and keep faith that You are working and will answer our prayers. In the Name of Jesus, Amen. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Just Say No

Ephesians 6:10-13 (ESV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Here is a story I found that goes along with our verse today.

My little Cavachon, Joy, and I were out for a walk on a beautiful summer’s evening. She trotted along next to me, her usual happy self. As we rounded a bend in the sidewalk and headed up a hill, I suddenly noticed a large black dog with its tail erect staring at us. I didn’t like the looks of his stance. He began to run toward us, with his owner casually walking behind, stating how friendly he was. I had an inner sense he was anything but friendly, in spite of his owner’s words.

The dog charged out of his yard, came onto the sidewalk, and towered over my little pet. He gave a few casual sniffs then turned to walk away. Suddenly, however, he turned back toward Joy with teeth bared, ready to snap! There was no time to run, and in a split second I knew that would make matters worse. I looked that dog in the eye, stepped boldly toward him, and shouted, “No!” right in his face. He was startled and stopped his attack. By that time his owner had reached us and began pulling her so-called friendly pet back into her yard, apologizing profusely.

As we began to walk on, both Joy and I were a bit shaken. I reassured her with loving pats and kind words. I continued to pray and recognized that the incident was a lot like spiritual warfare (the unseen battle between God’s holy angels and Satan’s demons played out through earthly circumstances or people). The devil comes to tempt or attack Christians or their loved ones, often when they least expect it, and disguised in seemingly innocuous ways. However, the Holy Spirit can help believers to have an inner sense that something is amiss, as I did out on my dog walk that night.

Because I was listening to the Holy Spirit’s prompting in my heart instead of the dog owner’s voice, I was able to quickly step into the path of that aggressive dog, shouting “No!” and preventing a sure bite. Jesus did the same thing to Satan in the face of his wilderness temptations as detailed in Luke 4. When the devil tempted Jesus, the Lord spoke directly back to him using the Word of God as a spiritual weapon. He overcame the devil with His Word!

Jesus wasn’t passive; He actively resisted the devil, and we need to do the same. Through daily prayer, Bible reading, memorizing Scripture, and practicing the Lord’s presence, the Christian can begin to see unseen or disguised dangers intended to harm their friends or family and just say no in prayer!

Dear Lord, we believe Your Word is truth and that we can use it as a spiritual weapon as You did. Help us to use Your Word as a weapon so we may stand against the devil.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Wait for the Master’s Voice

1 Kings 19:12 (ESV)
And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.

In the town of Talkeetna, Alaska, there are two darling chocolate Labrador Retrievers, aptly named Tally and Keetna. They lived at the outdoor adventure shop that their owners ran. Tally and Keetna greeted all the tourist visitors that came to their shop. Their wagging tails greet everyone that enters the shop.

When people come into the shop the owner is always happy to share her dogs’ tricks. Besides the usual “sit,” “stay,” and “down,” Tally and Keetna were experts at another great dog trick. Their owner joyfully broke a dog treat in half and had them sit side by side. As they obediently sat, their owner balanced half a Milk-Bone on each of their snouts. “Wait,” she commanded. Neither one of them moved an inch. They sat motionless, waiting for the command of their master before indulging in a delicious doggy treat.

In the midst of the busy adventure shop, the Labs were the picture of patience and obedience. Then their opportunity for reward came. “Okay!” their master declared. Gulp! Each dog flipped her treat off of her snout and into her wide-open mouth. It was as if those dogs were grinning ear to ear as they happily chomped down their treats.

Tally and Keetna had been trained to wait for and listen to the command of their master’s voice before they ate their treats. I’m sure that they had plenty of training and prematurely eaten Milk-Bones in the process. Like the two well-trained chocolate Labs, Christians can be trained to wait patiently for their Master Jesus’ commands.

Jesus promised in John 10 that believers would be able to hear and follow His voice. In those verses, Jesus likened Himself to a good shepherd and the believer to sheep. Like sheep who are familiar with and follow their shepherd, so it is with the well-trained Christian. He used this word picture to explain what the Holy Spirit’s leadership for the believer would be like. He further explained that the believer would be able to become sensitive to His voice and learn to follow Him instead of the voice of the evil one. Knowing and following the Master’s commands is a promise to all believers.

With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can train ourselves to sit quietly, in prayer, and listen for His leading. When His specific commands or promises come, it will be a blessing to obey, and we will surely see the reward of our obedience.

Dear Lord, help us to be and listen for Your voice and Your leading each day. Forgive us for those times that we have been disobedient and rushed ahead of You. Help us to train our self, to hear and obey Your voice. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Candy’s Heart: A Lesson in Faith

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Candy is a spunky little West Highland White Terrier who belongs to a sweet little girl. They have been constant companions for many years as they go about doing chores on the horse farm where they live. Compared to the large, athletic horses that live on the farm, Candy is pretty small. In fact, she’s not quite halfway up to the knee of one of those huge horses, if you put them side by side. But what Candy lacks in stature, she makes up for in her disposition. She’s all heart. When visitors come to the farm, she bounces down the front steps, tail wagging in a friendly greeting. She’s always cheerful, and it just brightens anyone’s day to visit Candy.

It was a big shock one day when they found out she developed a serious heart condition called chordae tendinae rupture and congestive heart failure, and her survival hung in the balance. The family sent out an urgent prayer request for their sweet little Candy.

In her prayer request, you could discerned a real gift of faith. Her faith demonstrated Hebrews 11:1 perfectly. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Contrary to the evidence, and well aware of the dire straits that Candy was in, they reached out for God’s hand to guide the veterinary care being given to their darling dog. That’s what faith is. Faith reaches out to other believers for prayer in spite of the evidence.

Many people prayed, asking the Lord to bless the faith of the family and put His healing hand upon Candy’s heart. Over the next few days, many prayers for Candy were made. It was nip and tuck for a while, but Candy made it. At nearly fourteen years old, she has survived for more than two additional years with the intervention of God and excellent veterinary care, because of the faith of a girl who reached out for prayer and asked God to do the impossible.

Dear Lord, we need Your help to see through eyes of faith. We ask you to open our eyes to the possibilities with You rather than seeing the impossible. Thank you, Lord, for giving us eyes to see. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Power of Prayer

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I found this story the other day that shows the power of prayer even when we are sleeping. Here is the story.

While I was sleeping, God was at work. It was unusual for me to sleep until 8:00 on a Thursday morning. Usually I’d be up at 6:00 getting ready to take my kids to school. But that day our girls didn’t have school. I didn’t find out what happened until later. I should preface my story with this. I pray about everything. I try to put Philippians 4:6-7 into practice in my life. One of the things I pray for, in addition to my own family, is our dog, Joy. I regularly pray for her and pet her and ask God to bless and protect her. I pray specifically that she’ll live a long, healthy life.

That morning as our girls and I slept late, my husband was reading the newspaper on the front porch. He told me later that he hadn’t noticed Joy wasn’t wearing her electric collar. As it turned out, our invisible fence had been broken, but we were unaware of it. Our kids go to a Christian school, but the local public schools were in session that day. As a school bus drove down our street, Joy ran to the edge of our yard to bark at it as usual. This time, however, she ran through her invisible fence, out of the yard, and into the path of the oncoming school bus. On her own at only fourteen pounds, she didn’t stand a chance.

As my husband watched in horror, the school bus ran over Joy. He was expecting the worst. But, God! The bus ran straight over Joy without one wheel touching her! She shot straight back into the yard, up onto the front porch, and to the front door. She was shaking but otherwise totally unharmed. Not one hair on her furry little head was touched. That was nothing short of a miracle!

When my husband told me the story later that morning, he was astonished. Immediately Psalm 34:7 sprang into my mind, “The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” I knew in my heart that God had answered my prayers and sent an angel to protect our little dog.

This has served as such a great reminder that God hears and answers prayers of all kinds. We can pray about everything in our lives, the small and the big. God has chosen to work through prayer, and when we truly pray about everything, we can rest and trust that God has heard and will answer.

Dear Lord, help us to remember that You care about every detail of our life and that we can truly pray about everything. There is nothing that is too small for Your attention. We pray that we would know Your loving kindness even more deeply today and remember to bring all our concerns to You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Escape temptation

1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

We are all vulnerable to temptations and the devil knows exactly what they are. Imagine this scenario:

You are at your desk at work and are tempted to buy cookies from the vending machine. You have an apple in your desk that could ease your hunger better, but a voice whispers “You know you don’t want that.” So the movie begins.

You see yourself eating the cookies. You think about how the cookies will taste and how the sugar buzz will feel after you eat them. You dig in your pocket for change so that you can get those cookies. What happened? You’ve just been seduced by Temptation T.V.

Channel 666 on your mental dial, this channel broadcasts 24 hours a day and its programming caters to your food weaknesses. Its images appear even better than the real thing. But it never lives up to its advertising.

Whenever you find yourself being tempted, check to see if your mind is tuned into Channel 666. If so, think or say in faith, “Lord, I am being tempted. Your word says that I am able to bear this temptation and I believe your word. Show me the way out of this temptation right now and give me the strength to choose that path. I receive the escape and the strength right now in Jesus’ name.”

Whatever the Holy Spirit tells you to do, then do it immediately. The more you tune in to the truth from God's word, the weaker the signals get from Channel 666.

Here is another tip: Do not keep foods in your house that tempt you. Think about a person that has a weakness for cookie binges. They keep some in their kitchen cabinet and are tempted to eat them. They think to themselves why doesn’t the Lord  just remove the temptation.

Well, I am sure the Lord told them that they needed to get rid of the cookies and that was the way He provided for her escape. Remember: The best way to win a fight is to avoid getting into one in the first place.

But if you must face temptations, then combat them with God's word and look for the escape route. God has prepared the path for you - all you have to do is take it!

Dear Lord, thank You for the escape You give us when we are tempted. Help us to turn for the evil one and put our trust in You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.  

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Stay disciplined

1 Corinthians 9:27 (ESV)
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

A couple years ago I made up my mind that I want to be a super-fit 55 year-old. I have a few years before I reach that age (God willing), but there is no time like the present to get started.

Since I have certain physical limitations instead of joining a fitness club I chose to start walking each day and watching how much I ate. It was my goal to walk between 3 and 5 miles a day. Some days were very hard.

But I did it because being fit and healthy is important to me. I want a disciplined body because I want to stay qualified for my life’s purpose.

In today’s scripture, Paul talks about disciplining his body and bringing it under subjection. When something is under subjection, that means that something else controls it.

In the case of your body, your mind is supposed to control what it does. But too often, we fail to exercise that authority!

A vivid example of that was played out in the media not too long ago.

A well-known athlete cheated on his wife with multiple women. Even though he disciplined his mind to excel in his sport, he failed to discipline his mind to resist temptation.

And because of this, his body led him into a situation that hurt his wife, damaged his family, and caused him to lose respect from those who admired him.

When it comes to your weight loss goals, you too must be careful to be a person of integrity, which means wholeness. You keep your word to yourself and others. And your actions match your words.

I’ve seen many examples of people who say that being healthy and getting fit is important to them, yet they act in ways that will bring them the exact opposite result. It seriously damages your confidence and esteem when you say one thing and do another.

So today, resolve to go to the other side of hard by disciplining your body. It starts with disciplining your mind. You can control your thinking and direct your thoughts where you want your body to go.

If you keep your eyes on the prize, you will win and stay qualified for the purpose to which God has called you!

Dear Lord, we pray today that we would discipline our minds to stay focused with the goals before us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.