In the dirt and the dark and the muck of her sin, she bravely sows seeds of His word. She buries them deep in the mess and the mud. Hands dirty, soul scarred, heart broken. She waits by faith for His truth to take root.
Cold and storms. Ice and sleet. The elements pound the seeds planted deep by faith. It is the season of Lent of the soul. Waiting, weeping, hoping, striving. Ages and seasons.
Darkness gives way to sunrise. Death gives way to life. Seeds of suffering, watered by tears, groan and grow. Against the odds, in the dark of the earth, they push through the debris of seasons past.
Because He is stronger. Because He rose from the ground. Because His death brings life. A shoot comes forth delivering hope. Buds, blossoms, fruit. It is finished.
Great suffering yields great fruit.
Timely Ways to Pray for the USA
With all that’s going on in America this year, have you ever felt discouraged about the state of our nation? I know that Mary and I have. In the late spring, and into the summer, we were feeling stressed. Truth be told, we’d felt like that for a few months. We both had a lot of changes going on in our lives, even without Covid-19, the election, and the chaos in our cities.
Called to Hope
However, as the summer progressed, God was drawing us back to the basics, and one of the things that meant was back to our Only By Prayer website. We did a major revamp of the site and went into a planning frenzy. As we sought Him for what that looked like, God reminded us that Jesus calls us to be people of hope and to faint not. One powerful tool that we always have when we need to fight the enemy and his schemes is prayer. Rather than despairing of ever seeing things change for the better, God reminded us to be a catalyst of change for the better.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The lord is my portion,’ says my soul. ‘Therefore I hope in Him.’
Lamentations 3: 22-24 NKJ
Pray for the USA
Patiently, He impressed upon us the importance to stop moping and to start praying for the USA more and to mobilize others to pray too. With that said, we’d like to give you an update on what’s in the works here at Only By Prayer so you can join us if you’d like.
Facebook prayer group. We revamped a Facebook group we started four years ago and renamed it Pray for the USA. We then launched an event called 5 Days to Fast and Pray for our Nation in August. To our surprise, as of October 2020, God has brought over 800 people to the group to pray. Thank you, Lord! We’d love to have you join us as well. It’s a non-partisan group, and we do not allow any political arguments on the page — just praying.
October Event. We are ramping up for our next event on Pray for the USA: 5 Days to Pray for the Election. This is another virtual prayer event held on October 28, October 29, October 30, November 2, and November 3. We are adding 24-Hour Prayer to this event in addition to our daily prayer topics. Be sure to check out the details.
Pray for the USAPrayer book! As we were organizing the prayer group, we realized how hard it can be sometimes to pray specifically about issues that are happening in our country. Mary felt God leading us to write a 31-day book of prayers targeted to culturally relevant issues of our day. Again the Lord came through. We recently finished this short book called Pray for the USA, and it’s now available for sale on Amazon. You don’t have to have an actual Kindle tablet to read it. You can download the Kindle app for your phone or computer and read it that way. We think you’ll find it helpful to pray through the relevant issues of our day. It only takes about two minutes or so to pray each prayer. If you happen to be a member of Kindle unlimited, you can actually read Pray for the USA for free. If you do purchase it/read it, we’d love if you’d leave us a review on Amazon.
ThanksLiving event. In November we are hosting our 12 Days to ThanksLiving event. It will run from Friday, November 13, to Tuesday, November 24. It will be held entirely on our website and is completely free. Details to follow soon.
Advent devotion. In late November through December, we will be leading a group through our Advent devotional (also published on Kindle) called Advent-urous: Seeking Jesus in the Season of Advent . This starts on Sunday, November 29 and runs through December 24, with a bonus week after Christmas.
3 Weeks to a Healthier You. In the works for January 11-29 is a new venture we are starting called 3 Weeks to a Healthier You, Body, Soul, and Spirit. More information to follow on this, but we are excited because the body segment will include an exercise program developed just for our group by certified fitness trainer Sarah Lewis. Sarah is also available for online training in these Covid times if you’e interested.
Finally, we thank you for your support. We hope you join us for Pray for the USA and however many of the other events you wish. We’re excited for the upcoming months and how God is working in each of our lives during these difficult times. We pray He is encouraging you and your families too. Let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below. May God bless you!
Are You Done Retreating?
I schlepped my suitcase in the door and dropped it on the floor. “Are you done retreating?” Erik asked me as I came in the house. His question stopped me in my tracks.
My sister and I went on retreat for a few days to plan for a prayer event. We felt the need to get away to the country so we could focus on hearing from God. While on retreat we prayed, worked, planned and had a sweet time studying God’s word.
When our retreat was finished, I walked in the door and my son greeted me with Are you done retreating? which he followed up with the equally stunning Good, now it’s time for you to advance.
It’s time for you to advance.
Spine-tingling. Profound. Prophetic words from my son. They felt like a direct message from God. So I asked myself his question, Am I done retreating? Am I done hanging back, hanging around and hanging on?Am I ready to advance with God for the next thing He has for me?
Sometimes we have to retreat to advance.
Maybe it seems your life is in retreat. Your hoped for promotion turned into what seems like a demotion. Your big house downsized to a tiny house. Your full nest has turned into an empty nest. Perhaps God is fine tuning your focus and calling you to retreat so you can advance in your relationship with Him.
We’ve all been retreating.
Since Covid blasted on the scene in March, we’ve all been on retreat—from our jobs, from entertainment, from church, from our friends and it seems from life. But what an opportunity the quarantine provided for an at home holy huddle. But now some of our restrictions are lifting. We are beginning to see some return to normalcy.
So. It’s time. Pick up what you have learned on your retreat and advance. Take a step of faith and move forward with God. Advance in your relationship, in your calling, in the work God wants you to do for such a time as this.
“For by you, I advance through a troop. By my God, I leap over a wall.” Psalm 18:29
Are you done retreating?
How are you advancing with God? Please leave me a comment below. I’d love to chat with with.
Let’s take 5 minutes and study about a good work from the word of God. Now, please get your journal and a pencil and lets get started!
6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. 7 For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in myimprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.
8 For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;
What does God promise to do for you in verse 6?
I am very happy God is not finished with me yet. Be assured, who we are today is not who we will be next year or even next month. God constantly works to make us over into the image of Christ! And you are a good work! Amen!
According to verse 7, what does God give us?
Grace! Grace to believe all things, hope all things, bear all things, and become all things through Christ Jesus!
What does verse 9 say must accompany our love for Christ?
Why does love need knowledge and all discernment (see verse 10)?
How will knowing what is excellent keep us blameless until the day Christ returns?
As you finish your study time today, take a moment to thank God for all the excellent things you have in your life. Pray and thank God for how He is continuing His good work in you until the day of Christ Jesus.
Want more information on Philippians 1:6-10? Click on the links below to access an article or a podcast:
Cancel culture is alive and well in America today.
If you dare to disagree with whatever “they” deem to be acceptable thinking on a topic or issue, the mob gangs up and cancels you — your social media presence, you job or business, whatever it is that is important to you and your livlihood. You’re now a cancel culture victim.
We see it on both sides of the political aisle, as people and companies are boycotted by those who disagree with them, all with the intent of destroying reputations, social status, and finances.
This ultimate rejection isn’t new. It’s an old tactic that’s been around a long time.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].
John 10:10 Amplified
Satan is the original cancel culture maven. He wants you to fail, so he will do all he can to discourage you, steal your blessings of peace and joy, kill your relationship with God, and destroy your life’s purpose and calling. In short, his desire is to cancel every Christ-follower.
How do we recognize our enemy? Let’s look at a few of his tactics.
Sometimes the voice of rejection that is shouting the loudest in my head is my own voice.
What?! How could this be? Well, think about what you’re filling your head with. What thoughts are talking up the precious real estate in your brain, as Dr. Caroline Leaf is fond of saying.
First, the enemy plants a negative thought in our minds, and before we know it, we’ve not questioned whether it’s true or not, but we’ve accepted it as true, and we let its poison have free rein in our minds.
For instance, after years of believing that God would equip me to do what He was calling me to do, the thought popped into my head that that wouldn’t be true for me any longer. What God was calling me to do in this next phase of life was just too big for me to do, too audacious.
Who was Just Little Old Me to think that God would take the time to equip me to do this? I chewed on that thought, I hate to admit, for months, and my faith plummeted. I felt stuck, depressed, and lethargic. I wasted a lot of time in the doldrums by letting those thoughts run unchecked through my brain.
Another problem is the voice of comparison.
I don’t have to look very far to find those doing similar work as I am who are
By the time I’ve made it to the bottom of that list, I’ve forgotten all about the calling on my life and how God has equipped me in the past.
But God hasn’t.
Finally, I started listening to the right voice in my head. The voice of the Holy Spirit who reminded me that I can do all things God wants me to do “through Christ who strengthens me.”
I stopped giving the negative voice in my head so much real estate and started thinking God’s thoughts. I realized that Satan was trying to cancel God’s purpose and plans for me in this next phase of life, but that on the cross God had already canceled Satan’s hold on my life. I just needed to believe it.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception [pseudo-intellectual babble] according to the traditions [and musings] of mere men, following the elementary principles of this world, rather than following [the truth — the teachings of] Christ.
Colossians 2:8 Amplified
If we didn’t have a choice in the matter, God would have never told us to “see to it.” It’s my choice what I think and what I believe. Don’t let Satan push the cancel button on your calling.
See to it that you find it and live it out.
How about you? What is the enemy trying to cancel in your life right now? And what do you need to do to cancel him? Let me know in the comments below.
Take 5: Grace and Peace
Take 5 Bible studies are made for busy people who want to dive right in to Scripture. Get your Bible journal and pencil and let’s do Take 5: Grace and Peace. Please read the scripture below.
1 Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, 5 in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. Philippians 1: 1-5
How does Paul describe himself and Timothy in verse 1?
In the original Greek, the word bond-servant transliterates as doulos, which means one who gives up his will for the will of another.
What two things does Paul say come from God and Jesus?
Grace and peace only come from God and Jesus. God gives us grace through Jesus so we can be at peace with Him.
What does Paul do in verse 3?
What does Paul do for the Philippians in verse 4?
He prays for the Philippians. The word used for pray is deesis, which means a seeking or an asking. Deesis comes from the root word deo which means to bind or fasten. Prayer literally binds us together.
How do you participate in the Gospel?
Go back and read through our Take 5: Grace and Peace verses for today once more. In your journal, record one thing God wants you to do because of Philippians 1:1-5.
Chat with me!
Please share a comment on what you learned today from your study time. I’d love to chat with you!
By Mary Kane
copyright 2020. all rights reserved.
Try another Take 5! by clicking on the link below!
Thankfully, due to the mask requirement no one can see the stress lines etched on our faces.
The truth about my 2020 stress level
Am I stressed? Hmm, let’s see. In the past year I changed careers, switched churches, experienced a global pandemic, and dealt with a significant health problem. An adult child move back home, sons 1 and 2 got married (#covidweddings), I sheltered at home, and I spent 3 months Zooming with my students in a little room in the front of my house. Yep, I’m a little stressed. It’s time to get real about our thinking and feelings.
The truth about my 2020 feelings
Honestly, there have been times this year when I’ve felt completely untethered. It’s a struggle to get up and jump on the crazy train each day. I wonder what’s the use?
All the while pray for my country, my president, my family, my fellow Americans and things still seem to continually spiral down. I’ve struggled with short bouts of depression, and at times I can’t seem to find joy in anything (baking, sewing, riding my bike, CHOCOLATE). America seems to lost its bearings. Same. Where is all this headed?
Count it all stress
We’re Christians for crying out loud. Are we supposed to count covidstayathomeelearningsocialunrest all joy? Must we give thanks in everything?
Yes. Why? Not because all things are good, but because they will be used for good. Therefore, we give thanks now for the later joy. Hard things shape us, knock off our rough edges and sculpt us into the image of Christ. Hard things keep us humble, on our knees, and in the presence of our Father.
What should we do?
Read Ephesians 6. What does God provide? Armor. We weren’t put on this earth for a Christian vacay. It’s time to armor up buttercup, and join the battle. In this present challenge, find a way to use your gifts for others. And then, ceaselessly pray about everything until you make it to the other side.
Maybe God has untethered us because we were tethered to the wrong things. Do we trust in America or do we trust in God as our money says (the money shortage is another post)? God is not surprised by what is happening. This is not the end of the world. Believe it or not, God is using all this in the next step of His plan. It will all turn out for our good and His glory.
How are you dealing with 2020? Please leave me a comment in the reply section below. I’d love to chat with you!
all rights reserved. copyright 2020
Do you need a little help managing your 2020 stress? Please click on the links below: