Fragrance of Christ

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“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 – 17

When I think of sharing the word of God with others, I generally think in terms of speaking to people and touching them with God’s love. But here Paul is telling us that we can attract people to God by the fragrance we give off. Fragrances are generally considered to be pleasant smells, such as the scents of flowers or perfumes, or if you prefer, the aroma of your favorite food.

To diffuse means to disseminate or to spread in all directions. Close your eyes and think about the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting across the air and tantalizing your nose. You turn and breath deeply, trying to identify the source of the scent. Perhaps you follow the scent back to the source.

That is what Paul is admonishing us to do. We need to give off a pleasing scent that will let people know that we know Jesus. We are acquainted with Him and we have the knowledge of His Word in us. That knowledge diffuses and attracts the lost to Him. For those who reject Him, the aroma isn’t pleasant, however. Rather, it reminds them that they are on a path leading to death. That is, perhaps, why those who reject Christ are so hostile to His followers.

It is my desire to reflect Christ in all that I do. And that includes giving off the fragrance of Christ and diffusing His knowledge wherever I go.

Is your aroma enticing others to Christ?

Praying for the Unsaved

 

What is your motivation when you pray for the lost to be saved?  Generally I am motivated by the desire that the person I am praying for will have the best possible life on earth and a future in Heaven.  I don’t want anyone to go to hell, and I am certain the world would be a much better place if more of its inhabitants had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

I read a devotional this morning by Charles Finney (Principles of Prayer, Day 6) that challenges that motivation as selfish and the wrong reason to pray for the unsaved.   Finney states that we tend to think about how our lives would be improved by the salvation of others, when we should actually focus on the glory God receives when a sinner comes to repentance and salvation. We need to pray that people come to Christ so they will stop dishonoring God through sin and so that God will be glorified by the conversion.

Perhaps you have known someone whose life was radically changed when he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior.  Those close to such a person can’t help but notice the difference that salvation has made, and many of the person’s acquaintances are drawn to Christ through such a conversion.  God is glorified through all conversions, and our desire should be that God receives the honor and glory due Him. Jesus told us the Heaven rejoices over every person who comes to Him.  “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10) 

Christians need to pray frequently and fervently for the lost to be saved.  If we pray with the expectation that God will be honored as sinners turn away from sinful lifestyles and that God will receive glory as the world notices the changes, I believe we will see a great move of God in our nation.  We need to pray for the salvation of not only our loved ones, but also for the salvation of persons of influence.

Can you imagine the impact on our society if many of our political leaders, celebrities, and other public figures came to know Jesus Christ as their Savior and began to live according to God’s ordinance?

 

Preach the Word

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“Preach the Word:  be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.  For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge the duties of your ministry.”  2 Timothy 4: 2 – 5

I read these verses in my devotional time this morning while doing a self-study on patience.  I was struck by how appropriate these verses are for our times.  It seems that almost daily I read about laws being passed or courts rulings being handed down that are opposed to God’s Word. Yet, those making the laws and the rulings claim to be acting for the best interest of our nation and trying to do what is ‘right.’  I believe that most of them do believe they are acting to correct injustice and bring about fairness.  The problem is that they are using human reasoning without basing their decisions on a foundation of truth.  As Paul told Timothy, they have found ‘teachers’ who will tell them what they want to hear, and these teachers provide them with justification for making decisions that are contrary to God’s teachings.

Most of these decisions have to do with morality.  Sexual immorality is not merely tolerated, but celebrated, as the freedom to do as one pleases.  Abortion is hailed as giving women the right to have control over their own bodies.  Divorce allows couples to easily dissolve their unions and go their separate ways in the search happiness.  Proponents of these views include many who claim to be teachers of the gospel.  Rather than teaching, correcting, and rebuking those in their charge, these false teachers have given into liberal viewpoints and and political correctness; they are seeking to build their own kingdoms by telling their congregations “what their itching ears want to hear.”

Paul charged Timothy to preach the truth.  Biblical truths are not meant to ease our conscience and allow us to sin without guilt or remorse.  Instead, they were given to convict us when we go astray and lead us back onto the straight and narrow path that leads to God.  Those called to be ministers and evangelists are charged with correcting, rebuking, instructing, and training their flocks and to do so “with great patience and careful instruction.”

In the previous chapter of this letter, Paul wrote, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  2 Timothy 3:16-17   If we are to become the people God intends us to be, we need to spend time daily in God’s Word.  We need to read the Bible and allow it’s truths to penetrate our hearts–to rebuke us when we go astray, correct us when we are in error, and instruct us how to live in a manner that pleases God.  And we need ministers who will teach sound doctrine–the truths of God’s Word.  In this way, we will avoid chasing myths and can be equipped to do the good work that God has called each of us to do.

Resilience Despite Mistakes and Adversity

I have just finished chapter 5 of Jodi Detrick’s book The Jesus-Hearted Woman.  The chapter is titled ‘Resilience.’  In it Detrick discusses the need to continue fulfilling the tasks God has called us to even when (1) we make mistakes, (2) others hurt us, or (3) life throws curve balls our way.  Detrick refers to these events as My Bad, Their Bad and Too Bad.  Her discussion questions at the end of the chapter focused on Joseph and the resilience he needed in order to become the leader God desired him to be. Unfortunately, Joseph experienced a number of My Bad, Their Bad and Too Bad moments along the way.

As a young man, Joseph had a dream that his brothers bowed down to him.  Unfortunately, sharing the first dream was one of Joseph’s ‘My Bad’ moments.  His brothers already were angry with him because he brought a bad report about them to his father, and they were jealous that their father loved Joseph more than his other sons. This dream added fuel to the fire.  Genesis 37:8 tells us, “So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.”  If this wasn’t enough, Joseph had a second dream in which not only his brothers but also his parents bowed down to him.  And, of course, he shared this dream with his father and brothers–another ‘My Bad’ action. His brothers were angry and wanted revenge on Joseph.

Joseph experienced a ‘Their Bad’ moment when his brothers sold him as a slave to a company of Ishmaelites.  Joseph was bought by Potiphar, a captain of the guard in Pharaoh’s army.  God favored Joseph, and he rose to a position of prominence in Potiphar’s household. Apparently Joseph wasn’t yet ready for the leadership role God had in store for him, as he was falsely accused of inappropriate behavior toward his master’s wife and thrown in prison–another ‘Their Bad’ moment.

We don’t know how long Joseph was imprisoned, but we do know that thirteen years passed between the time his brothers sold him and when Pharaoh released him.  At least several of these years were spent in prison.  It must have been difficult for Joseph to sit in prison year and year waiting for God to deliver him.  I am sure that he recognized that he and his father bore some responsibility for his brothers’ hatred toward him, but he was completely innocent of the charges brought against him by Potiphar’s wife.  It would have been easy for Joseph to become bitter about the circumstances of his life.  He could have convinced himself that God was against him and that his life was over.  But Joseph didn’t get angry and he didn’t give up.  He persevered.  He was resilient despite all the adverse things that had happened to him.

Genesis 39: 21 – 22 tells us, “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.  And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing.”  Joseph’s rise in the prison to a position of leadership did not come overnight.  He had to prove to the keeper that he was reliable and responsible. As he did, his responsibilities increased until Joseph was running the prison.   After some time had passed, the king’s chief butler and chief baker were imprisoned.  Joseph interpreted dreams for each of them which came to pass just as he had foretold. Joseph had shared his plight with the butler and asked the butler to mention his situation to Pharaoh.  How he must have hoped that his release from prison would come soon.  Yet, we read in Genesis 41:1, that another two years passed before the chief butler remembered Joseph.  ‘Too Bad,’ but again Joseph was resilient and persevered.

Eventually, however, Pharaoh had a dream which his wise men could not interpret.  It was then that the butler remembered Joseph.  Joseph interpreted the dreams, being careful to give all the glory to God.  He shared with Pharaoh that God was giving him an opportunity to prepare Egypt for the coming famine.  Pharaoh appointed Joseph to a position of great power, second in command only to Pharaoh himself.  Joseph was used by God to save Egypt and Joseph’s own family from starvation.

We can only surmise as to why God delayed Joseph’s release from prison.  Certainly, in prison Joseph was developing the leadership skills he would need later as a leader over Egypt.  During those years, Joseph continued to serve the Lord and God’s favor was on him.  As the leader of Egypt, Joseph had grown and changed much from the arrogant teenager his brothers had sold into slavery.  When Joseph appeared before Pharaoh, he was humble and quick to give the glory to God.  God opened Pharaoh’s eyes to see that Joseph was the right person to lead Egypt through the coming famine.

Any one in leadership positions faces My Bad, Their Bad, and Too Bad situations on occasion.  The challenges Joseph faced prepared him for more leadership responsibilities. Like Joseph, we must be resilient and allow the adversities we face to help us develop as leaders.  As we do, we will be able to do more and accomplish more, until we complete the work God has called us to do.

Discerning God’s Will for You

We are two Sundays into the new year, and I have heard two sermons related to accomplishing God’s will for your life.  The first Sunday my brother Andy was the guest preacher at our church.  His sermon focused on not allowing sin to creep into our lives.  He used Samson as an example of someone who allowed the ministry God had given him to be destroyed by sin.  Sin separates us from God and prevents us from hearing from God and accomplishing God’s will for us.

The focus of Pastor Jackson’s sermon this week was that God does have a purpose and plan for each of our lives.  He used Jesus as an example.  Jesus followed the will of His father and perfectly accomplished all that the Father planned for him in only three short years of ministry.

So, it seems more than a coincidence that while organizing our home office that I should come across notes I took 5 years ago on finding God’s will.  God had my attention.  So I’ve been giving a lot of thought to doing the will of God so far this year.

Here are some of the steps I go through to discern God’s will for me.

1) Maintain regular contact with God through prayer, reading the Bible, worship, and listening. I cannot know God’s will for me if I am not spending time with Him each day.  I usually begin my time with the Lord with a few minutes of worship and a quick prayer asking Him to open my heart to what He wants to say to me.  Then I spend some time reading the Word.  Generally some portion of what I read will stand out and I write it in my journal.  I end with prayer, asking that God will guide me through the day and help me to honor Him in all I do.  During the day, I catch myself whispering quick prayers and listening for what God is saying to me.

2) Hold everything up to the light.  When I believe God has spoken to me, I consider if what I believe I heard is in accordance with God’s word.  God will NEVER ask me to do anything that goes against the instructions He has given us in the Bible.

I recall a story on a major evening news show many years ago in which a woman was interviewed for making an ‘unusual’ life change.  The woman claimed God told her to leave her husband and children to become a stripper; she said she was sharing God’s love with those who patronized the night club in which she worked.  WRONG! This woman was clearly acting in opposition to God’s will for her and her family, yet she seemed to firmly believe in what she was doing.  The problem was that she was following an idea that popped into her head, without spending time in prayer and reading God’s word.  If she had communicated with God, He would have revealed to her that her behavior was wrong.

3) Seek input from other Christians. Share what you believe God is saying to you with your close Christians friends and/or your pastor. Ask them to pray with you for you to clearly discern God’s will. Proverbs 15: 22 tells, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”  Ideally, you will get godly counsel and your friends will also pray for your success and may even assist you in fulfilling the work you have been called to do.

4) Fast and pray.  When the disciples wanted to hear from God, they typically spent time in prayer and fasting.  An example of this is found in Acts 13:2 -3, “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”

5) Ask God to close the doors you are not to go through.  Often we are presented with multiple opportunities which seem to be equally good.  Examples would include being offered jobs by two different companies or being accepted at more than one college.  In these cases, there may not be a wrong choice, but often there is a best choice.  When I was applying to college and when I am looking for a new job, I specifically ask God to let me only get one acceptance or job offer, so it will be absolutely clear where He wants me to be.  In the case of applying for colleges for undergraduate and graduate school, God made it clear to me where I was to go and I only applied to one school each time.  There was some risk to this strategy, as the colleges could have rejected me. But, I was absolutely certain that I had heard from God and was accepted into both schools.  Of course, when I am job hunting, I apply to multiply companies.  God has been faithful to let me be rejected by all by one possible employer.   Knowing God was guiding me, I have been able to go to job interviews with confidence.  God has not let me down.  I have loved each job I have held and knew that God put me there.

God does have a plan for each of us.  As we accomplish tasks and grow in our faith and our dependence on Him, He is able to give us bigger tasks to complete.  I encourage each of you to earnestly seek God’s plan for your life.  His plan will be more amazing and fulfilling that any plan you could device.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Letting Go of A Dream

Tonight I am contemplating how difficult it is to let go of dreams, even when it is clearly in one’s best interest to do so.  This spirit was brought on by watching You’ve Got Mail.  I love this movie and have watched it many times.  It is a romantic comedy and, as such, it ends on a happy note. Yet, much of the movie deals with the struggle of a young woman to keep afloat the children’s book shop her mother opened 42 years earlier.  Eventually she makes the difficult decision to close the shop. She feels that her mother’s dream has died. She expresses her despair to her Internet pen pal as, “People are always telling you that change is a good thing. But all they’re really saying is that something you didn’t want to happen at all… has happened.”

Store closingDifferent life

 

The movie resonates with me because I know the feeling of having to decide to discontinue being in business.  In our case, we sold our business rather than closing it. Several years ago my husband and I opened a restaurant in a small town.  We had high hopes and great expectations that this business would be enjoyable, support our family, and be handed down to our children.  The business was profitable but not exceedingly so.  We worked hard and it consumed most of our family time.  There were days we enjoyed it, but many days it just felt overwhelming.  Over time it became apparent that we were not cut out to be business owners, and  we decided to sell the restaurant.  It was not an easy decision.  On many levels, we felt like failures.  Fortunately, a buyer was found and we walked away with our finances and credit in order and returned to more traditional employment.

I watched You’ve Got Mail many times during the months we agonized over what to do and the ensuing months between putting the restaurant on the market and closing the deal.  We weren’t being forced out of business, yet I empathized with Kathleen Kelly’s struggle and felt her despair.  Ironically, after watching the movie tonight, I got on Facebook and saw that a local business woman has decided to close her business after 10 years.  I am acquainted with this woman and know how hard she has worked to make her business a success.  She is a gifted seamstress and makes unique and interesting handbags.  However, her business was hurt terribly when the economy crashed and, although the economy has recovered somewhat, her business has not.  Many people in our area are concerned about another government shutdown and/or furloughs.  Others have seen their insurance premiums rise as the Affordable Care Act proves to not be the solution to the healthcare crisis.  Many others are simply more cautious with their money, having struggled through significant periods of unemployment.  I am sure that other factors played into her decision to close the business.  My heart aches for her, even as I recognize that this is not the end of the world.  It is, however, the end of this particular dream.

My husband and I have had a good life since selling the restaurant.  I don’t regret the decision at all, yet there is still a twinge of pain in remembering the death of that dream.  Neither do I regret the decision to open the restaurant.  New doors have opened for me because I have had the experience of being a business owner. Today I assist others in evaluating whether business ownership is the right decision for them.  If they decide to move forward, I assist them in writing their business plans, applying for loans, developing marketing strategies, and making other decisions about their businesses.  I have valuable insights to share from my experiences in opening, running, and selling my business.

My friend will move on and find new dreams to follow.  I hope that she will look back on her period of business ownership as a good experience and that she will have learned many valuable lessons that will guide her as she moves forward.  Someone posted on her Facebook page the comment, “When a door closes…a window opens!” That was certainly true in our case.  Closing the door on our dream of restaurant ownership opened other doors and allowed us to choose a path that was better for us.  And I believe it will be true for my friend, as well.

My husband and I are blessed to have built our lives on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ.  We know that God has a plan for our lives and we trust Him to guide our steps.  Some times the path is rocky and filled with trials and disappointments; other times the path is smooth and filled with triumphs and joy. Either way, our hope is in the Lord.  In Jeremiah 29:11, we read, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'” We don’t know what the coming year holds for us.  We look forward to it in anticipation of new dreams and plans as we strive to follow God’s leading.

Whether you have let go of a dream or are trying to make a new dream come true, please know that God has a plan for you.  He wants to help you make the dreams He has for you come true.  I pray that 2014 will be a year of letting go of old dreams and making new dreams come true.

What dreams is God placing in your heart for the coming year?

Christmastime

A poem by Erica Green –December 2013

A tree in every window;
Shoppers fill the malls.
You hear the distant jingle bells
As people deck the halls.
 
“Christmastime is coming!”
You hear the people cheer,
“Buy more presents! Sing more songs!
The day is almost here!”
 
People don’t remember
All throughout the year,
They don’t think on goodwill toward men
Till Christmastime is near.
 
The baby in the manger.
A gift from God above,
Welcomed to earth by angels,
He was a gift of love.
 
So please try to remember,
As you trim the tree,
He gave the greatest gift of all,
The gift that set you free.
Nativity

The Story of the Christmas Guest

When I was a child, we received a Christmas card featurning Helen Steiner Rice’s poem ‘The Story of the Christmas Guest.”  This beautiful poem quickly became a favorite of mine.  It reminds me of Jesus’s words to His disciples regarding caring for those in need found in Matthew 25:34 – 40

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

I hope this poem speaks to your heart and reminds you that the true joy in Christmas comes from sharing God’s love with those He brings into your life.

The Story of the Christmas Guest
by Helen Steiner Rice
 
It happened one day at December’s end
Some neighbors called on an old-time friend.
And they found his shop so meager and mean,
Made gay with a thousand boughs of green.
 
And old Conrad was sitting with face ashine.
When he suddenly stopped as he stitched the twine.
And he said “My friends at dawn today,
When the cock was crowing the night away,
 
The Lord appeared in a dream to me.
And He said, ‘I’m coming your guest to be”
So I’ve been busy with feet astir,
Strewing my shop with branches of fir.
 
The table is spread and the kettle is shined,
And over the rafters the holly is twined.
And now I’ll wait for my Lord to appear;
And listen closely so I will hear,
 
His steps as he nears my humble place.
And I’ll open the door and I’ll look on his face.”
Then his friends went home and left Conrad alone,
For this was the happiest day he had known.
 
For long since his family had passed away.
And Conrad had spent many a sad Christmas Day.
But he knew with the Lord as his Christmas guest,
This Christmas would be the dearest and best.
 
So he listened with only joy in his heart,
And with every sound he would rise with a start,
And looked for the Lord to be at his door.
Like the vision that he had had a few hours before.
 
So he ran to the window after hearing a sound,
But all he could see on the snow covered ground
Was a shabby beggar whose shoes were torn.
And all his clothes were ragged and worn.
 
But old Conrad was touched and he went to the door
And he said, “Your feet must be cold and sore.
I have some shoes in my shop for you.
And I have a coat to keep you warmer, too.”
 
So with grateful heart the man went away.
But Conrad notice the time of day
And he wondered what made the dear Lord so late,
And how much longer he’d have to wait.
 
Then he heard another knock, and he ran to the door,
But it was only a stranger once more.
A bent old lady with a shawl of black,
And a bundle of kindling piled on her back.
 
But she asked only for a place to rest,
A place that was reserved, for Conrad’s great guest.
But her voice seemed to plead, “Don’t send me away,
Let me rest for awhile this Christmas Day.”
 
So Conrad brewed her a steaming cup
And told her to sit at the table and sup.
After she had left, he was filled with dismay
For he saw that the hours were slipping away
 
The Lord had not come as He said He would
And Conrad felt sure he had misunderstood.
When out of the stillness he heard a cry.
“Please help, me and tell me – Where am I?”
 
So again he opened his friendly door.
And stood disappointed as twice before.
It was a child who had wandered away,
And was lost from her family on Christmas Day.
 
Again Conrad’s heart was heavy and sad,
But he knew he could make this little girl glad.
So he called her in and he wiped her tears,
And he quieted all her childish fears.
 
Then he led her back to her home once more.
Then as he entered his own darkened door,
He knew that the Lord was not coming today,
For the hours of Christmas, had all passed away.
 
So he went to his room, and he knelt down to pray.
He said, “Lord, why did you delay?
What kept You from coming to call on me?
I wanted so much Your face to see.”
 
Then softly, in the silence, a voice he heard.
“Lift up your head – I have kept My word.
Three times my shadow crossed your floor.
Three times I came to your lowly door.
 
I was the beggar with bruised cold feet;
I was the woman you gave something to eat;
I was the child on the homeless street.
 
Three times I knocked, three times I came in,
And each time I found the warmth of a friend.
Of all the gifts, love is the best.
I was honored to be your Christmas guest.
 

T’was the Years Before Christmas

I read this stirring poem tonight.  It was written by a good friend Steve Weber.  In Steve’s own words, “God gave me a poem that came faster than I could write it for my sermon this morning based on the “silent” 400 or so years before Jesus’ birth. the title of the poem is, “T’was the Years Before Christmas”. Hope this provokes you to realizing that when God appears to be silent in your life it may very well be because He has something climactic planned.”

I am reprinting here with Steve’s permission.  I hope it blesses you and helps you to keep your focus on the true reason we celebrate Christmas–the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Merry Christmas!

 

Twas the years before Christmas and all through the land
The people were restless under Rome’s command
God’s silence was deafening in every home
His voice not heard for centuries as His people groaned

Who would deliver, who would set free
These people who once had such vic’try
When would God come to set His people free
When would the King Jesus return for you and me

As each voice rose up with a clatter, Lord Jesus knew what was the matter
The sheep needed their Shepherd so to the throne He did go
Dear Father they need me down below.
The time has come, all is in place, though they know not now, they will soon see my face

So to a young girl did Gabriel arrive, to deliver a message no man could contrive
“Dear daughter of the king, you shall carry His seed, that the world may know I am indeed…
The One whom the prophets spoke of before, the King, the Messiah, the Jesus of lore..
Fear not my dear girl, for you have been chosen, for with God the impossible is what has been spoken

The world as you know it will not be the same, your sins forgiven, no more shame
But He will not come as a prince or a King, but the Savior wrapped in clothes bearing “the Name”.
To Shepherds will I announce his arrival in time, and you will be called blessed because you are mine
Though the world may mock and your heart will be broken,
fear not my dear daughter, for your God has spoken”

Then turning away from heaven above, the seed entered Mary with tremendous love…
Now they shall know, now they shall see, T’was the years before Christmas prepared just for thee.
Now receive Him my friend, do not turn away
Let His love lift you as you surrender each day.
Though the journey be long and troubling at times
I am with you dear child because you are mine

by Steve Weber

Symphony of Prayer

“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”   Matthew 18:19-20

When I read this Scripture, I always envision a group of people joining together in prayer. For example, in our church, we often surround a person who has requested prayer and physically reach out and touch them while praying for them.   At other times, we hold hands and pray.  Of course, we can agree in prayer over the phone or even through emails.  Yet, I tend to think of Christians praying together in one place.

Tonight I was introduced to another way of thinking about this verse.   In his book Secrets of a Prayer Warrior,  Derek Prince offers a picture of Christians harmonizing in prayers, much as a symphony harmonizes.  Prince calls this harmonizing “the prayer symphony” and uses it to build a foundation for effective prayer.

According to Prince, the word translated as ‘agree’ comes the Greek word sumphoneo, or symphony.  He also states that ‘gathered together’ literally means ‘have been led together.’  As Christians, we are led by the Holy Spirit.  “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14) Therefore, Prince writes, this verse is telling us “that any time two or three have been led together by the Holy Spirit into a meeting place, which is the name of Jesus, then they can count on His presence.  Additionally, if these ones shall symphonize–come together in perfect harmony–concerning anything that they shall ask, then it will be done for them.”

If we think of agreeing and coming together as being led by the Holy Spirit to pray in harmony , we can come together in the spirit of prayer wherever we are and pray as we are all lead by the same Holy Spirit.  Prince likens Christians being led in prayer by the Holy Spirit as a conductor leading an orchestra of musicians through a musical score.  The conductor is the Holy Spirit, the musicians are the Christians being brought together, and the score is the Word of God.  As the read the score, His will is revealed to us so that we know how He would have us pray.

Prince continues, “With these components in place, the Holy Spirit lifts the baton of His authority and unites the playing of many different instruments.”  He then encourages each of us to consider prayer as “taking your place in the orchestra and playing your instrument.  You are not confined to one instrument, of course, although you probably have an affinity for a particular one.  These instruments are praise, thanksgiving, worship, petition, intercession, supplication, command, commitment, dedication, persistence, blessing, and cursing.”

I am excited to continue to read this book and discover more about prayer and the secrets of becoming a true prayer warrior.  As I come to the Lord in prayer, I will be encouraged to think of millions of Christians around the world joining in the Symphony of Prayer and playing their particular instruments as we agree together according to His Word.