Shut and Locked by Mary Loudermilk
“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” (John 20:19, ESV)
Life has taken some unusual twists and turns for all of us in recent days. Our minds are filled with questions as we try to understand how things could have changed so rapidly. Our schedules are altered (or canceled) and social interactions are limited. New phrases mix into our conversations as we talk about “sheltering in place” and “social distancing.” Many of us had never heard of coronavirus until it crashed into our comfortable world a few weeks ago. Now uncertainty surrounds us. We are limited in what we can do and where we can go.
This week while thinking of various friends now facing difficult situations, I realized I cannot be there in person for them. One friend lost a family member. Another is currently in a rehab facility with no visitors allowed. Still another is a shut-in with health issues. A fourth is out of the country and alone. Because of current restrictions, I am limited to calls, texts, and email messages. As I prayed for each one, I realized how limited I am in what I can do. But then God reminded me that while I have limitations, He does not.
John 20:19 is part of a passage of scripture relating events following Jesus’ resurrection. Suddenly, life as the disciples knew it no longer existed. For over three years they had walked and talked with Jesus. Their hearts were stirred as they heard His teachings and saw Him perform the miraculous. Now? Now they were hiding, locked in with their fears and uncertainty. Where should they go? What should they do?
Then Jesus stepped into the locked room.
“Peace be with you.” Yes, peace was exactly what His disciples needed. His presence in their midst and the words He spoke allowed them to look to the future. This moment in time was not the end. It was the beginning of something even greater than what they had previously known.
As I meditated and prayed that evening, God reminded me of some things.
Walls cannot lock Him in or keep Him out.
Borders do not restrict His movement.
Viruses do not cause Him to fear.
Regulations do not limit Him from coming near us.
God has no limitations on what He can do. I may not understand how He will use this current situation for His glory, but I don’t have to understand. All I need to do is trust.
When the children of Israel left Egypt on their journey to the Promised Land, they found themselves in a difficult place. The sea was behind them and a wilderness lay ahead. At that point, they saw very little to encourage them. But God had a plan to draw Pharaoh and his army into position so He could destroy them. God’s reality was very different from the people’s perception.
“For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, ‘They are bewildered by the land; the wilderness has closed them in’” (Exodus 14:3, NKJV).
It may look like we are bewildered by current circumstances and that we are shut in by a wilderness, but in reality, God will use the things happening in our lives for our good and His glory. I cannot be with my friends during these difficult times, but God will be. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. Nothing is impossible when He steps into the room.
Don’t put limitations on God’s power. He has none.
Information from: Pure Ministry - UPCI Ladies Ministries - email@example.com
Keep Trusting by Karen Harding
One of my favorite hymns is "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus." I want to encourage someone today to keep trusting. Turn it over to Jesus. It is so hard, when we are going through something, to relinquish control. The thing is, when we let go, He takes over. I'd rather let Jesus work it out. He knows a lot more than I do. He knows what's best for me.
Get into His Word. Trust him. Jeremiah 32:27 says, "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?" The answer is no! Lord, there is nothing too hard for You."
I trust Him. He has never failed me. He will never fail you either. His Word declares, "And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him" (Psalm 37:40). He is waiting for us to let Him help. Psalms 121:1-2 reminds us to do this: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth."
We don't have to know how He will do it; we just need to trust that He will. He will give us peace. He will answer our prayers. He still heals. He is still our provider. He is still a way maker. He is everything we need. Don't stay up all night worrying about things. Let Him stay up and handle it. Let Him work it out. Stop fretting and start trusting. God's got this. Can somebody say amen?
Information from: Pure Ministry - UPCI Ladies Ministries - firstname.lastname@example.org
Praying During the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic
By Lisa Marshall, Global Missions Prayer Leader
In this time of uncertainty, the church must look to God for our answers, our protection, and our hope. While the needs are great, we must not forget that our God is greater. During these tumultuous times, we may not be able to gather for prayer together, however we can pray confidently knowing when our faith unites with His power, all things are possible.
Declare the Sovereignty of God. Praise Him for being:
our Savior, Lord and King
the Great Physician who can heal as well as reveal insights for medical treatments
the Prince of Peace who can calm panic, reduce fear, and bring unity
the Wonderful Counselor who gives wisdom and brings comfort
the Almighty, for whom nothing is too hard
Pray for an end to the virus's spread. The coronavirus did not take God by surprise; He is still governing and sustaining the world. Pray for God's healing mercy and that He would graciously bring this pandemic to an end. Pray for healing for all those affected by the virus.
Pray for the worldwide Body of Christ. Pray we will rise to the occasion and be a shining light to people and societies that are filled with fear. Pray that in the midst of fear, people will get desperate and turn to God and Truth. Pray for a worldwide harvest of prodigals.
Pray for government leaders. At all times, Christians are called to pray for those in positions of authority (1 Timothy 2:2). This is especially true during a time of national emergency. Pray for the president, vice president and his team, governors, mayors, and all those making decisions related to public health and safety. Pray for a spirit of bipartisanship as lawmakers work together to protect people. Help them to know what to do, when to do it and the proper steps to take. (Daniel 2:21b-22)
Pray for healthcare workers and first responders. Pray Psalm 91 protection upon doctors, nurses, emergency responders, and other medical professionals who are doing research on the coronavirus.
Pray for church leaders. Pastors around the country are making difficult decisions related to public worship and the safety of their members. Pray that pastors will have wisdom to faithfully shepherd the congregations under their care, even if they are unable to physically gather (I Peter 5:2). Pray that Christians will love their neighbors well during this time (Mark 12:31).
Pray for the vulnerable. Authorities tell us that those immuno-compromised people are especially at risk as the virus spreads. Pray for protection for the elderly, those with chronic illnesses, and those facing financial hardship. Pray for students who are being required to vacate university and college housing with very little notice. Over the next few weeks, there will be many opportunities to meet tangible needs. Pray that God's people meet these opportunities with wisdom and grace (Matthew 25:35-40).
Pray for honest reporting. Christians should pray for those in the news media. Pray that reporters and journalists would accurately report updates about the status of the virus, and not seek to peddle conspiracies, politicize the threat, or stoke fear where it is unwarranted.
Pray for the economy. Pray the economy will recover quickly from this unexpected pandemic. Pray that the necessary supplies the public needs will be replenished in a timely manner.
Pray for a spirit of generosity. During this time, churches will face a loss of income at a time when there are many opportunities to meet physical needs. Pray that God's people will manifest a spirit of generosity and sacrificially give of their time and resources to meet needs that will arise (II Corinthians 9:6-8).
Pray for a posture of trust. Scripture teaches us that God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control (II Timothy 1:7). Pray for enduring faith during this season of heightened fear, anxiety, and confusion. Appropriate precautions should be taken, but Christians must continue to rely on God and trust His purposes and plans (Romans 8:28).
Pray for the spread of the gospel. In this time of great anxiety, pray that God's people would be ready to meet the world with the comfort and hope that only the good news of Jesus Christ can offer.
Pray for the family and friends who have lost loved ones. To date, thousands of people have died as a result of the coronavirus. Pray for those grieving the loss of these people. Pray for healing and wellness for those who were in close contact with these victims before they passed.
(Information from: Pure Ministry - UPCI Ladies Ministries - email@example.com)
Still Raising the Dead by Rhonda Burk.
Without realizing it, we are teaching our children continuously. Through the words we speak, the actions we take and what they hear in the house of God, these will form our children for the rest of their lives. Proverbs 22:6 tells us, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." This scripture is a promise many need to be reminded to hold on to.
Brother Erik was raised by a mother who taught him to pray. He not only had witnessed a beautiful life of prayer, but now, with children of his own, it was time to put what he had learned into practice. He, his wife Tara, and their children Meagan, Nolan, and Mason loved living away from it all. One of the benefits of living outside of town was the privilege of owning their own farm animals. Meagan took a strong liking toward chickens, and they began buying her a few. This story is about one of those chickens, who was ironically named "Darkness."
As the family prepared to leave home for the day, no one thought anything about the container of water left close to the chickens. Darkness, however, was a little too curious and fell into the water while they were away for the day. Upon returning home, Megan found the horrible site of Darkness floating, stiff as a board, in the water. He had been in the water long enough for it to steal all of the life and light out of Darkness. Sadness gripped the heart of these parents, but the faith that was passed down from grandmother gripped Meagan's heart.
"We have to pray, daddy," yelled Meagan. And for a few minutes pray they did, while holding the stiff body of Darkness in their arms. Nothing. No movement. This is when Meagan stood firm upon a belief that had been drilled into her since she could understand English. "But you said God can do ANYTHING, if we pray in Jesus name that ANYTHING is possible. Please, Daddy, let's pray again." By faith, Meagan stretched her uncut hair across Darkness.
It was a couple of hours later when the sputtering, choking sounds of life coming back into the body of Darkness, turned the praying into praising. God had once again fulfilled his Word and His promise. Darkness was full of light and Meagan's faith was impacted for life.
"When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also" (II Timothy 1:5).
Note: Rhonda Burk, Illinois District ladies President, is a sinner saved by grace, a student first and then a teacher, a blessed wife, mother of three, grandmother of five, licensed minister with UPCI, and First Lady at Landmark, Bethalto, Illinois.
(Information from: Ladies Prayer Intl April 2020 Newsletter - UPCI LM - firstname.lastname@example.org)
A Focus on God’s Attributes
I’ve always been able to hold up my end of a conversation without difficulty. Except, that is, when it came to prayer, and particularly when I tried to express my praise to God. Attempting to begin and end my prayer times with praise and adoration, I often found myself flat-out speechless. I wanted to praise God with all that was within me, but I couldn’t think of one sensible thing to say. I recently read a book called Invading the Privacy of Godby Cecil “Cec”Murphey. The book describes how Cec’s prayer life was revolutionized when he settled on the practice of praying God’s attributes as praise. I began imitating that practice in my own times of praise, and over the course of a few months, I developed a “program of praise” that has proven wonderfully helpful. It has opened a door for me, and my praises to God now flow freely from my heart and lips during prayer. I focus on one attribute of my awesome God and Father each day, using the Scripture-based sentencesas “praise starters.” At the end of each month, I start the list over, combining traits when the month is shorter than 31 days.
READ more online at: https://files.constantcontact.com/aebf4de5001/6989a7b3-35e2-494b-a648-417332f3e64f.pdf
(From: The Praying Life - World Network of Prayer - email@example.com)
A Passion To Pray by Tim Massengale.
In the opinion of many, of the many spiritual disciplines nothing is more important than prayer. Nothing will quite impact our spiritual development like a well-developed prayer life. However, prayer has sadly become one of the most neglected of disciplines in our hurried lives. If you hunger for a closer walk with God, the following six points will help you to develop your prayer life in a more meaningful way.
The importance of prayer. With God, everything revolves around relationship. God desires you to know Him, to love Him, and to make Him the number one priority of your life. While He desires our service, it falls a distant second to relationship.
In Luke 10:38 we read of Jesus in the home of Mary and Martha. Martha was focused on service, taking care of her guests. In contrast, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and drank in the words that Jesus spoke. Martha complained that Mary was not helping. Jesus told her that Mary “hath chosen that good part” and that Martha should not be so “careful and troubled about many things."
READ more of A Passion To Pray just click here.