Tidbits and Blessings Blog
by Jeanie Malone
I’d love for you to join the conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments section under each entry.
Last week, we looked at how intercessory prayer is the key to our success. Others’ prayers for us and our praying for others are essential to our overcoming obstacles, recognizing right opportunities, and persevering in our purpose given to us by Christ, our Savior.
Praying for others, especially our enemies, involves praying for them to seek God with their whole heart so they will have the close relationship with God necessary for an eternally productive life. We must pray for our enemies with empathy, knowing that we have been forgiven much, including many offenses of which we aren’t even aware. We are to pray in this manner for those we personally know and don’t know and by whom we are offended or oppressed.
People are just the pawns Satan uses to instrument his evil. David prayed for God’s judgment against those who did evil. David prayed in accordance with God’s will for evil to be crushed, so God’s power, purpose, and plan prevailed. We learn from David’s example to hate evil and pray for evil to be crushed. Praying imprecatory prayers against people who do us wrong, such as David prayed against his enemies, is not what we are to do under New Testament Grace.
David was described in the Bible as a man after God’s own heart. In 1 Samuel 13:14 as part of God’s judgment against King Saul’s evil, Samuel says that “the LORD hath sought a man after his own heart.” This is echoed in Acts 13:22 when Paul recounted God’s miracles and power and the lineage of Christ through King David: “And when he had removed [Saul}, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he have testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.”
In the New Testament, we learn to separate the evil from the person. In Ephesians 6, Paul instructs us to be strong in the Lord, to put on the whole armour of God, and we are reminded that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (10-12).
In order to pray for others, we cannot harbor ill feelings toward them. The entire passage of Ephesians 4 teaches us how we ought to live with one another. The chapter ends with verses 29-32 clarifying, “grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
We are told not to “grieve” the holy Spirit of God. Think of the sorrow and deep emotional pain you feel when someone close to you passes away. This is the same deep emotional pain we are told not to cause the holy Spirit of God. It is no small matter for us to harbor bitterness, anger, or unforgiveness toward someone. It is a major offense to the holy Spirit of God for us to speak evil of someone.
Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount to “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:44-48)
Christ makes it clear that we must forgive others to be forgiven by God (Matthew 6:14-15) and that how we judge others, we will also be judged (Matthew 7:1-2). Furthermore, we cannot worship and serve God if we have wronged another and do not sincerely apologize to that person (Matthew 5:23-24). It is important that we repent of our sins and apologize to God and to those against whom we have transgressed.
I love the acronym for forgive given by Chou Allegra, founder of Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC, on a recent episode of Juniper Tree Live by Rhema Creationz and Broken Vessels Podcast:
F—Find out if your grudge is valid
O—Organize your grudge (the facts)
R—Relinquish control; drop selfishness
G—Get a different perspective
I—Initiate Self Care—Emotional and Spiritual; take it to God first
V—Value peace about all (peace within, peace with God, and peace with others)
E—Eliminate traps and set boundaries
Allegra goes into details regarding these important parts of the process of forgiveness on the Juniper Tree Live podcast. If we do some of these, but not all, our forgiveness and therefore our own healing, is incomplete. Peace and living our purpose are of utmost importance in this life. If we evaluate our own unforgiveness yet don’t eliminate traps and set healthy boundaries, we are setting ourselves up to make the same mistake again that will cause grief to ourselves, God, and others.
The Old Testament gives pictures of the Grace to come with Christ. In one of the Pilgrim Songs, or Songs of Ascent, composed and sang as part of the annual Jewish tradition of traveling to Jerusalem, Psalm 130 is a song of repentance. It humbly admits reliance on God for forgiveness, healing, and hope for the future. It is important in our prayers today that we recognize the need for ourselves and others to humble ourselves and seek God with our whole hearts in order to be productive in the purpose God has for us. We must love others as much as we love ourselves and want the same intimacy with God for them as we want for ourselves.
Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning. Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities (Psalm 130).
Who have you harbored ill feelings toward? Who do you need to forgive today? Who do you need to ask forgiveness from? Take the important steps to peace and living your purpose by forgiving and praying for those who despitefully use you and persecute you. Remember that Christ himself instructs to “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Click below to enjoy the podcast with Chou Allegra.
Intercessory prayer is powerful. It is what keeps us safe, focused, and driven to do God’s will. Oswald Chambers wrote in Disciples Indeed, “The meaning of prayer is that I bring power to bear upon another soul that is weak enough to yield and strong enough to resist; hence the need for strenuous intercessory prayer.” Chambers wrote in Christian Discipline, Volume 2, “Intercessory prayer is part of the sovereign purpose of God…We take for granted that prayer is preparation for work, whereas prayer is the work; and we scarcely believe what the Bible reveals—that God’s chosen way of working is through intercessory prayer. We lean unto our own understanding, or we bank on service and do away with prayer. Consequently, by succeeding in the external we fail in the eternal, because in the eternal we succeed only by prevailing prayer” (57).
There is a constant battle for our focus. I love the Irish proverb that says, “Your feet will take you where your heart is.” I believe this is true concerning our spiritual lives as well. Wherever we place our thoughts and attention is where we will end up. Whatever we focus on, we will do. We must continuously focus on God so we remember to pray for one another. We must focus on God so that we are weak enough to yield to Him and strong enough to resist satan.
Romans 8:26-28 says, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for the good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” We see that God Himself as the Holy Spirit prays for us, for needs we aren’t even aware of and cannot put to words to pray for ourselves.
Further in this passage we read, “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (verse 34). Christ makes intercession for us constantly. Notice the verb tenses in verse 34: Christ died—past tense, completed, no longer occurring; now look at the rest of the sentence: is risen again, who is even at the right hand…, who also maketh intercession.” He has risen; He is at the Father’s right hand, and he makes intercession for us. The present tense helps us understand that He makes ongoing intercession for us.
In Ephesians 6 where the armor of God is outlined, we are told to take up the armor “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (verse 18). It is commanded as something we are to do wearing the armor of God.
Job 42:10 records that “the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.”
God commanded the exiles to pray for the city where they were taken: “Seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace” (Jeremiah 29:7).
Corrie ten Boom said, “We never know how God will answer our prayers, but we can expect that He will get us involved in His plan for the answer. If we are true intercessors, we must be ready to take part in God’s work on behalf of the people for whom we pray.”
As intercessors, we must expect and be ready for God to put us to work, not only in praying for others but also in bringing about the answers to those prayers. If I pray for someone yet believe that I am too busy to encourage that person in the truth or help them in whatever way God leads, I am not truly breaking through in intercession for that person. If I am not totally dependent on and obedient to God’s leadership, my prayers are useless.
One of my favorite and most read books is The Kneeling Christian by An Unknown Christian. The author says, “Our Savior’s three greatest commands for definite action were: Pray ye—Do this—Go ye!” The author points out that “without obedience to the ‘pray ye,’ it is of little or no use at all either to ‘do this’ or to ‘go’” (16).
Successful prayer is aligned with God’s Word and is prayed by a soul totally dependent upon and trusting in God for not only his own life but also for that of others. That soul must be willing and ready to step out in faith to “do this” and “go” as God bids as part of His working in the life of the one for whom intercession is being made.
Sometimes we are urged by the Holy Spirit to pray for someone because they are in immediate need. There have been countless times in my life where the immediate need for intercessory prayer was confirmed—sometimes later in the same day, sometimes days later, or even weeks later, after praying for someone as God impressed me to do. I am always thankful when God confirms the need after I have prayed for someone.
I can say with heavy sorrow that I remember a time that God impressed me with urgency to pray for someone, but I brushed it off as stress and busyness affecting my mind. Later, God confirmed the need to pray for the person, and I had ignored the invitation to help this person by interceding on her behalf. By ignoring this invitation, I suffered punishment and missed out on the spiritual blessing that comes with intercessory prayer.
It may be a possible traffic accident, giving in to temptations, or that person simply needing a divine touch in their work and activities for that day. Regardless of the need, we should never ignore the invitation God lays on our heart to pray for someone. Often we do not know the exact need until after we pray, and sometimes we may never learn of the need, but we can be assured there is a need when God puts someone on our heart.
Sometimes God puts others on our hearts to pray for them long term for their obedience to God’s purpose for their lives. Sometimes we intercede for a person regarding salvation or submission to God for many years before we see the fruit of our prayers, and sometimes we die without seeing our prayers answered. Whether we see it come to pass or not, we know with certainty that God is serious about prayer and uses our intercessory prayers for one another for His will to be done.
A couple of years ago while I was very sick and not able to do much more than try to get well, God used intercessory prayer to sustain me. While attending an event at the church where I was saved as a teen, a dear lady asked me how my writing was going. Her question caught me off guard because severe sickness had all but taken writing off my radar. God used this precious prayer warrior to remind me of His plans for me. I knew by her question that she was interceding for me, even when I wasn’t strong enough to ask for intercession. I was so struck by the realization that God was using her on my behalf that my faith was fueled to hold on even though I was too sick in that season to see God’s purpose come to fruition in my writing.
Not long after that incident, I came across a personal note I had written in the margin of the book The Kneeling Christian. I had written that intercessory prayer sustains us in seasons of waiting and mentioned the intercessory prayers of two very powerful prayer warriors in my life. God was showing His love for me through these prayer warriors in a difficult season when I felt forgotten. Just knowing that we are remembered in prayer is a powerful catalyst to pick us up when we get knocked down.
It’s important that we remain so close to God that we hear His invitation for us to pray for one another. Intercessory prayer is a supernatural way God knits His people together. He strengthens our love for one another, so we understand the importance of encouraging one another in His truth.
Who is God calling you to pray for today?
In what ways have you experienced the power of intercessory prayer in your life?
When I am exercising on my indoor trampoline, or rebounding, I must focus on one stationary item nearby; otherwise my vision is distorted and I see nothing clearly. Looking out the window at something far away is not sufficient to keep my vision clear. I must focus on a near, stationary object.
In life, if we don’t focus on God, we don’t see anything clearly. In order to focus on God as we need, we must be close to Him. Psalm 141:8 sums up our desperate need to focus on God, “But mine eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.” We must focus on God, trusting Him, desiring Him and His wisdom, knowing we are destitute without Him. I love the bold declaration of David when he fled from Saul in the cave:
“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee anong the nations. For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, And thy truth unto the clouds. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: Let thy glory be above all the earth.” (Psalm 57:7-11)
Though David is hiding in a cave to stay alive, he is determined to praise God. His praise did not stop when life got hard. What is our response when our life gets hard? Do we praise God or shrink back in worry, feeling overwhelmed?
God promises us in James 4:8 that if we draw near to Him that He will draw near to us. We need a close focus on God to have a clear, correct perspective and understanding. He is never too far away for us to focus on because He promises to be near to those who seek Him with their whole hearts. If our desire is to honor God, He will show us how to do so.
In 2 Samuel 7, David considered that he lived in a sturdy house but the covenant of the Lord resided in a tabernacle, a temporary tent. The prophet Nathan told King David to do all that was in his heart to do, that God was with him. David desired to honor and love God. God’s response was to acknowledge that He had never dwelt in a house “since the time [He] brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt…but walked in a tent and in a tabernacle” (2 Samuel 7:6).
David’s heart of worship fixed on God impacted himself, others, and God. God’s heart was so moved by David’s love for Him that God promised to appoint a place for His people in Israel, “to plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime” (verse 10).
David’s love for God was returned not only for himself but also for the people of God more than they could have imagined to ask. David went to God seeking nothing for himself but wanted to bless God who already had shown Himself mighty in David’s life.
God has already been better to us than we could ever ask, whether you agree and acknowledge it or not. What has been your response to God’s grace and mercy toward you?
After the short time and exchange which established so much between God and David that would bless King David, his kingdom, and his lineage and would provide a permanent place of worship in an established land for God’s people, David went into the tabernacle to be with God, to meditate. Verses 18-19 say, “Then went Kind David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord GOD; but thou hast spoken also of they servant’s house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD?”
David’s desire was to bless God, and after the prophet Nathan told David how God intended to bless him in return, he simply wanted to thank God and speak personally with Him. He wanted the intimacy of talking directly to God. David’s desire to focus on God despite any circumstance and his desire to bless God was always rewarded greatly. It was this strong focus on God that gave David peace of mind and supernatural protection many times in his life.
God knows the desires of our heart, and He knows if He is our number one desire. The most important lesson I think we can learn from David is to have a continual focus on God, seeking Him, desiring to bless Him, and praising Him no matter what.
According to one of my all-time favorite preachers, Dr. Charles Stanley, “There is nothing that you and I do that is equal to or as important as spending time alone with God, and we call that meditation.”
It’s hard to get alone and quiet with God in our world that is so loud, but private, personal meditation is vital for our peace of mind and wisdom for living. We must control our environment as much as possible to have a quiet place for a few minutes. We can adjust our focus settings on our phones and devices, so we aren’t interrupted by notifications.
Even more within our control yet harder to do is to get our minds quiet, so we are able to hear God. We must stop the noise in our busy brains, so our thoughts can truly be centered on God and attentive to hear what He says to us.
It’s important that we not only speak to God but also be ready to hear what He says. We must pray for a receptive heart that is willing to receive whatever God says. We may meditate upon scripture, but our minds and hearts must be prepared. Each time we begin meditation, let us first pray.
Jesus showed us how we should pray, and in that model prayer we see certain components well-remembered by using the acronym PRAY:
P— praise for who God is, including but not limited to all the ways He blesses you, others, and His creation
R—repent of known sins and ask God to search your heart for unrealized sins
A—ask God for what you need and ask Him to show you what you did not know you have need of
Y—yield to God; surrender to His will, desiring His impact in every detail of your life, desiring His heart
Just as King David had many eyes on him, some supporting him and some seeking to see him fall, we have many eyes on us. People judge God by what we do and say or don’t do and say. People are encouraged or discouraged from a close relationship with God by our lives and our response to God.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
When David entered the tabernacle, he entered with a heart of worship and with a humble question basically asking God why him. Then he sincerely praised God for who He is: “Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee” (verse 22). David continued to praise God for the many miracles and great works He had done over Israel’s history. Then he thanked God for His personal blessings on David, even those yet to come, and asked God to bless the blessings he had promised.
This is similar to our asking God to bless our family with which He has promised or already blessed us with. When God blesses us with work to do for Him, it is good to ask Him to bless that work, our efforts, and our focus on Him to accomplish the work. When God blesses us with a job opportunity, it is good for us to seek to honor God in how we work and conduct ourselves, and we should ask His blessings on the work.
It is important for us to get alone with God, with our minds fixed on Him to talk to Him and listen to Him, just as David did when he made plans to build the temple. God blessed David beyond human imagination that day. The blessings would unfold over many years, and in fact continue to us today as we enjoy the blessings of our relationship with Jesus Christ, God who came in the flesh in the lineage of King David.
Get alone with God. Don’t be afraid of the silence. Remember the PRAY acronym to guide your quiet time. I pray for your patience and boldness to come before your Creator acknowledging Who He is, asking forgiveness and turning away from your sins, and surrendering every desire and every detail of your life to the One who has your best interest at heart and can do more for you than you ever could on your own.
Relationship habits determine the health of any relationship.
Jesus taught that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Your neighbor is anyone you have contact with, whether it’s once or an ongoing relationship. In a relationship, that love is expressed through devotion and a seeking to improve or secure the wellbeing of the other person. This love is seen in all healthy relationships including parent-child, grandparent-grandchild, romantic, friendship, and more. This love is usually expressed through devotion and compassion, two common threads of true love throughout countless relationships in the Bible.
From the beginning of David and Jonathan’s friendship, they show love for one another as oneself. When David and Jonathan first met after David slew Goliath, 1 Samuel 18:1 shows, “the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” Jonathan offered his clothes, armor, and weaponry to David, not asking for anything in return. (1 Sam 18:4)
After Saul became jealous of David and wanted him killed, Jonathan convinced his father that he had no right to order David’s death because David had only done good to and for Saul. (1 Samuel 19:1-7) Saul was not an honest man, so he sought many times after to kill David, but David’s and Jonathan’s hearts remained knit together as kindred spirits.
After the death of Saul and Jonathan on the battlefield, David mourned for them and never forgot his love for Jonathan. He had Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son brought to him and had compassion for him: “I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table” (2 Samuel 9:7).
David and Jonathan’s devotion to and compassion for one another and their extended families is one example of the continual give and take we see in healthy relationships today. The bible says they made a covenant and Jonathan loved David as his own soul, so it is likely that they gave unselfishly, not thinking about the themselves. Regardless of the type of relationship, a deep love for the other person is essential for a healthy relationship.
Another account of sincere devotion and compassion is in the story of Ruth, Naomi, Boaz, and Obed. During a famine in Bethlehen-Judah, many Israelites moved to Moab. Elimelech and Naomi were one of the families to move to Moab. Ten years after her husband died, still living in Moab, Naomi lost both her sons. She urged her daughters-in-law to return to their homes as Naomi chose to journey home to Bethlehem. Orpah kissed Naomi and departed to her family, but Ruth insisted to stay with Ruth.
Ruth was impressed by all she had learned about the God of the Israelites and replied to Naomi, “whither thou goest, I will go…and thy God my God…the LORD do so to me, and more also” (Ruth 1:16-17). Ruth had spent the latter half of her life with Naomi, learning about her God, and she felt a strong devotion and desire to continue in this family, though no longer legally bound. Ruth chose to remain devoted instead of switching paths.
Once Naomi and Ruth were in Bethlehem for barley and wheat reaping season, Ruth went hard at work to provide a means for her and Naomi, who would likely not be able to work or secure employment because of her age and status. Hard-working Ruth caught the eye of Boaz who owned the field where Ruth was working. Her devotion, kindness, and virtue won his heart. (Ruth 3:10-11)
After Boaz and Ruth married and had a child, Naomi continued to be an important part of their family, supporting the care of their child Obed. “And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it” (Ruth 4:16). The word used for nurse is translated from Hebrew as “aman” and means to “confirm, support,” according to Strong’s Concordance. We also see God’s love for Israel through Obed’s continuing lineage, which two generations later brings King David.
Another story of deep devotion and compassion is the account of Hosea and Gomer. Gomer was not a loving nor faithful wife. In fact, their marriage began as God told Hosea the prophet to “go, take a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD” (Hosea 1:2). Even after they married, Gomer often took lovers who lavished her with expensive gifts. After years of continuing her whoredom, she found herself in desperate trouble which she couldn’t connive her way out, and Hosea compassionately came to her rescue and bought her, though she was already his wife. He was devoted to his marriage and his wife, though for a long time she was not committed to him.
We see devotion in the relationship between Joseph and Mary when common sense didn’t fit their unique situation. We see in Matthew 1:20 that the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream telling him that Mary’s child was conceived of the Holy Ghost. He trusted love over common sense. He had compassion and showed devotion.
We could spend hours and pages listing more examples of true love in God’s Word in all kinds of contexts such as romantic, friendship, family commitment, and we would continue to see the common threads of devotion and compassion.
We clearly see that these two relationship habits of compassion and devotion, which stem from true love for others as if for ourselves, is the glue that holds a relationship strong during stormy seasons. Every relationship will experience times of more and less growth, but what gives strength in all times is the continuance of devotion and compassion.
Sometimes we don’t feel loved, or we don’t feel like loving others. We have to remember the big picture of what love really is. It’s not an emotion. It fosters a myriad of emotions that span the full spectrum from hate to desire. Love is a decision we make and either keep or change. To stay committed to a relationship, we must understand and agree within ourselves to be devoted, no matter what, and we must understand and agree within ourselves to show compassion, no matter what.
Sometimes the devotion and compassion look different than what we may expect or what others expect. This has to do with healthy boundaries, which we will discuss in more detail next week.
We all need relationships. We were born for relationships. It’s a give and take. If we only learn to take and not fully grasp the joy of giving continually, we miss the point entirely and live as miserable, unfulfilled creatures.
This week, I challenge you to love others as yourself. For at least three relationships, focus on putting the needs of others above your own wants. Pray for yourself, the other person, and the relationship, asking God to help you see and love the other person as He sees and loves this person. Ask God to help you say and do things that will foster the other person’s walk with Him. Give grace, then give more grace, and see how this affects not only the other person, but more importantly, your perspective and expectations for the relationship.