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Monday, February 25, 2008

A Pilgrim's Prayer

Dear Friends & Prayers:

A few weeks ago we had friends visiting us, and took them St. David's Cathedral in the southwest of Pembrokeshire. In the background are the ruins of the old Bishop's Palace, and to the right is the cathedral itself which is still in use today. Historically it was a very important church center and the home of David, the patron saint of Wales, in the sixth century. It is still quite an impressive place today.

It was a frequent destination for people making pilgrimages, and I was impressed by this "Prayer for Pilgrims to use on arrival at St. David" that was written several hundred years ago. And so I am including here for you.

Our Father in heaven,
We thank you for the life and witness of St David:
We thank you for his constant faith and trust in Jesus your Son,
for his simple life of obedience and his rejection of the materialism of the world.
We thank you for his zeal in telling others of your love and grace; for his tireless work in extending your kingdom; and his seeking to make this nation of Wales a Christian nation.
We thank you for this place of worship and pilgrimage on the site where David spent much of his life.
As we have come here today, send your Holy Spirit: to renew and revive our faith and trust in your Son Jesus who died for us; to give us strength to live obedient lives, serving the Jesus who rose again to be our Lord and Saviour; that just as David went out to proclaim the Good News of Christ in his day, so we, in all that we say and do, may continue to make Christ known in the world today
In the name, and for the sake of Jesus our Lord. Amen.

I think this can be a good model for our own prayers today. I hope that you read through this prayer again, that you make it your own prayer as well, and are challenged and encouraged by it as we are.

Many blessings in His great love,

Dick & Gladys


Monday, February 18, 2008

Knowing ourselves enveloped in His presence

Dear Friends & Prayers:

It has been a solid week now of below freezing temperatures. It's not really so cold compared to others' standards, but for us it is pretty chilly. Yesterday's 22 F. degrees was the lowest it has gotten this year, and it made us very thankful for having a warm house!

Outside, things everywhere were hard frozen. Here on the old quarry wall that runs alongside our house, the water that drips constantly along this ledge was turned to icicles, and made us realize that winter hasn't bid us farewell quite yet.

It has always fascinated me to see things coated with frost, and appreciate how everything looks new and special. It's as if every element in nature is in some temporary state of suspended animation, waiting to be released again by warmth and sunlight.

A closer examination reveals how each leaf and bud and blade of grass is individually coated with intricate and unique design. This brings to mind how the Lord surrounds us and makes us new and special also. Just as the frost and cold accentuate each leaf here, such is the reality of God's presence in and around our lives. We are His workmanship - each one of us are unique and created with specific characteristics and abilities with which to serve Him and others. It is during these special times when we are made aware of His presence and His interest and delight in us that we are filled with joy and our strength is renewed.

As the day warms up and the frost melts away, the moisture in the air is still there, but it becomes invisible. And in the same way, though our awareness of His presence may change or we be drawn to other things, He hasn't gone away from us. He changes not! He says He will never leave us or forsake us. And it is so very important to keep our hearts atuned to this truth, even when we must be busy with other things. Every breath we take is evidence of His love if we but realize it.

So our prayer is that you be made intensely aware of His love and care for you today. May this realization be at the center of your heart. And also, as we consider time and again the multitudes of people who go through life with no knowledge or recognition of God's love, and His provision for abundance of joy and eternal life, our heart cries out for Christ to be revealed to them. We pray that perhaps some "divine frost" will bring their personal reality into focus - and that Jesus would make Himself known to them in a life-changing way.

Envigorated by His constant love,

Dick & Gladys


Monday, February 11, 2008

The cries from Egypt!

Dear Friends & Prayers:

Frosty mornings have been turning into beautifully clear sunny days recently, and though it is still cold, we can feel the change in the air. Can this be spring again? The trees are softly changing color as the buds swell pregnantly, soon to burst forth into millions of tender new leaves.

Here we are atop one of the towers of the Cilgerran Castle where we came last week to survey "our" valley from a different perspective. From here I took the picture in last week's update where you can see our house over on the right. We hope to start soon on a vegetable garden on the sloping area down towards the river, and that we can manage to stay inside the garden!

This week I've started reading through Exodus, and my heart was caught by God's words to Moses, "Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them." The whole reason the Lord appeared to Moses and called him into service was because he heard the cry, not of a few particular individuals, but of "the children of Israel" as a people. And as a result He sent deliverance.

This struck me profoundly, because we are also crying out for deliverance. There is a basic difference however. The children of Israel were seeking relief from their affliction as well as the fulfillment of God's promises to them. This had been their growing concern for centuries. But as believers, our condition is different. Our salvation, our eternal survival, is already taken care of. And we are called to be followers of Jesus who "...did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” So like our divine Master, should we not be crying out for the deliverance of the unsaved?

We are constantly delighted to find more and more people who are crying out to the Lord for an outpouring of revival, but aren't we still relatively few in the Body of Christ? So our prayers are being focused towards the "cries of a few" spreading throughout the church and becoming a generalized and conscientious plea. What about all the people we know: loved ones and family members, friends and acquaintances in the workplace and beyond, whose eternal destiny is not assured? Shouldn't the oppression of darkness make us cry out in much larger numbers?

We see the numbers growing, and we pray that it soon become a generalized cry among believers everywhere. We know that He hears from heaven, and is inflaming the hearts of believers with His love for a dying world. And we look forward with great hope for Him to "come down and deliver them out of the hand of the oppressor."

Challenged by His perfect love,

Dick & Gladys


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Bread of Heaven - our source for everything!

Dear Friends & Prayers:

I have been reading through the story of Joseph during my morning times at the chapel, and have been so blessed and empowered in prayer I'd like to share one of these highlights with you. After Joseph was sold by his brothers as a slave, he was bought by Potiphar in Egypt.

Genesis 39 relates how "The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man." So when Potiphar saw that the Lord was with him and how everything he did prospered, he put him in charge all of his affairs. Now here's verse 6 that just blew me away:
"Thus he left all that he had in Joseph's hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate."

What struck me was the total freedom which Potiphar from concern for administrative matters. He didn't even know what he was worth, and could just do whatever his heart desired. I don't care to speculate on what that may have been. But the Lord impressed on my heart how He has given us that same freedom to apply ourselves to the things that His heart desires! I found myself overwhelmed by His care for us here in Wales, especially the privilege of dedicating our time to prayer, both in the chapel and with friends, and encouraging others with the hope and assurance we continually receive.

Every day Jesus is doing for us what Joseph did for Potiphar, and infinitely more! We have recently experienced His marvelous provision of a better dwelling place, and have just enjoyed being able to provide "bread" for our first house guests here without worrying about "What shall we eat? or What shall we drink?" He says in Matthew 6, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." And that is freedom indeed!

So with this perspective fully seated in a grateful heart, I set off in prayer for you, and all our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, to know more fully this freedom and power that comes from the provision that Jesus Christ made for us at Calvary. I refer here to the freedom in knowing that He is the one who accomplishes all the eternal work. Like Joseph, He has everything taken care of, and so we, like Potiphar, can concern ourselves only with the "bread" that we eat. He is the bread of life, and so our work is to partake of Him - to have communion with Him. And He in turn gives power to our prayer, and that changes things, including ourselves!

Ephesians 1:19 says, "[that you may know] ... what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power."

Upheld by His wisdom and grace,

Dick & Gladys


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