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Friday, January 29, 2021

Floodwaters and the revelation of God's gracious tide...

Teifi floods again, January 2021Dear Praying Friends and Saints:

During a brief intermission between rainstorms, we drove down to the Teifi River crossing in nearby Llechryd to take a look at the water level. That was the second time the bridge has been totally underwater this winter, and it was nice to see it in the light of blue skies rather than the usual grey. Because I grew up in Maryland beside a river that normally had spring floods, and then living beside the mighty Mississippi River in Louisiana before moving here, flooding waterways always present a nostalgic attraction.

But they also reflect a much deeper attraction—that innermost longing for the day when the Lord breaks through the veil that lies over the nations. This was also the last recorded cry on King David's heart in Psalm 72:19, "And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen." And how our hearts rejoice at the words of promise found in Habakkuk 2:14, "...the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."

We read about a very different kind of flooding in Matthew 17:1-3. "Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was http://www.1st-art-gallery.com/Carl-Heinrich-Bloch/The-Transfiguration.htmltransfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him." A couple of years ago I unexpectedly found myself with the question, "How did they know that it was Moses and Elijah?" (They surely didn't wear gold bling name tags!)  The Lord clearly impressed on me that it was pure revelation by the Holy Spirit. As God's heavenly light flooded over them and into them, they just knew as they were also known.

No sooner had I again read this portion than a huge smile spread across my face. The more I thought about it the harder I smiled.  I was overcome by an expanding joy at their extraordinary experience of seeing heaven's mysteries opened up before their eyes and in their hearts. It was an almost uncontainable delight, and I could also feel the Lord's delight at this marvelous opening of their understanding. And then immediately I found myself plunged into a crying out for people to have this kind of intensely personal and life-changing experience with the living God.

Mississippi floodgates openedThe words come to mind from the well-known song of the 1904 Welsh Revival, Here is Love.
    On the mount of crucifixion
    Fountains opened deep and wide
    Through the floodgates of God's mercy
    Flowed a vast and gracious tide...

God's invitation in Isaiah 55:1, "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters..." is but one more of countless times and countless ways since the creation that the Lord has reached out to fallen humanity calling out for them to come into His marvelous light and everlasting kingdom. And each incidence is additional fuel for prayer.

And yet somehow throughout our long history on planet earth, we just don't seem to get it. In my readings on Monday, a stark example of this left me stunned. Rivers of living water will flow into chapels and
churches...At the end of Genesis 25, we see Esau trading his birthright for instant gratification—a bowl of stew! In his later years, he profoundly regretted such a short-sighted decision. In Genesis 27:34 we can hear his desperate cry, "When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, 'Bless me—me also, O my father!'"

Sadly, in our modern times, all of the many nations that have developed so remarkably in the past two centuries under the auspices of the Judeo-Christian tradition have done the same as Esau. Turning their backs on a priceless heritage, they have embraced materialism with its disdain for God's nature and order of things. And now we are all having to deal with the bitter fruit of impiety, relativism, and moral disintegration.

This decline has tragically affected the church as well, and many have gone the way of Esau. Preferring the comforts of the here and now rather than following Jesus' call in Luke 9:23, "...'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.'", the church has all but lost any influence on society within our own lifetimes—even to the point that religious liberty being severely challenged in many places. And if the salt has lost its flavor...

So in the middle of what seems to be an impending storm, our prayers are deepened and strengthened by the words of Habakkuk 2:14, "...the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

Dick & Gladys


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

A prayer for God's clarity in the middle of worldwide confusion...

Praying through EzraDear Friends and Prayers:

While I was reading and praying through a portion of Ezra two Sundays ago, something unusual happened. I stopped to pray aloud as I frequently do, but immediately the Lord impressed on my heart to stop and record the prayer from the beginning. Then yesterday I felt this prayer should be my whole update, and that was amazingly confirmed by an email I received this morning. Here it is and we hope you will join us in praying through it.

Lord Jesus, in the midst of all of this hoopla of the coronavirus, U.S. election mess, and all the stuff around going around in the world. Golly, Lord, it's just amazing the whole package of stuff. And, Lord, in the midst of it all, there is one thing is certain—there's one absolutely unequivocal truth, and it is that all of our hearts will stop beating and our lungs will stop breathing and we will die the physical death that stops every single ordinary person throughout history. And at the same time, Lord, there is also the undeniable evidence that You have come to bring eternal life.

Lord, we observe what happens with Your people throughout the scriptures time and time again, for example in the last chapter of Ezra where they all recognize their sin and they weep before you, God. They recognize their misdeeds and beseech Your mercies for forgiveness. Lord, we look at Jesus, we look at how You came to establish an invisible Kingdom, a kingdom that transcends human generations, and death, and the power of sin.

Lord, as Peter begins to speak at the house of Cornelius in Caesarea and says, "Here we are together in the presence of God...", and then the Holy Spirit falls on the gentiles. And yet, Lord, the political tumult continued from there. And now here we are, nearly two thousand years later, and the political upheaval after upheaval after upheaval after revolution after empire—it goes on and on like the waves of the sea. And lives are born and extinguished and born and extinguished, like the stars coming out at night, countless, and then the sun comes up and they're gone, invisible.

Sun rises and the stars disappear in Beulah, 2006And Lord, that throughout these generations, God, You are the door, You are the good shepherd, You are the one that leads us out and in, through the blood of Jesus. So Lord, we just ask, Father God, that You would continue to build Your eternal kingdom throughout as many generations of humankind are left, until you come and resolve once and for all the "free-for-all" of humanity with its individuals proclaiming their version of truth, one by ones, and in groups by the millions. And yet 100 or 200 years into the future, should You tarry, it all comes to naught save the fact that Christ Jesus came to rescue and redeem sinners.

And so Lord, we just pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal the truth of our human condition to every person on the face of the earth. Show all people, Lord, that we are born not to die, but that we are born to be born again. And if we are not born again, then our physical death is unspeakable death. But if we are born again, then our birth into life is unspeakable life, full of glory and full of praises and worship forever and ever, because Your kingdom is forever.

So Lord Jesus, we believers, Gladys and I, together with millions around the globe, Lord, find ourselves in the midst of all of this commotion and hullabaloo and rigamarole of information and misinformation and disinformation and strategic lying and mass deception. Lord, help us to recognize that it is all a smokescreen, Father God, and that with our last heartbeat we can put Praying through Ezraall of that down and be welcomed into Your eternal kingdom.

Father we just pray for revelation—we pray for revelation not of political truth, rather we pray for revelation of spiritual truth, Lord. We pray for people to acknowledge that we are all sinners, we are doomed and destined to die. But Lord, through your amazing, incomprehensible grace and simple faith, it is just as you said, that whoever believes in You should not perish but have eternal life.

SSun rises and the stars disappear in Beulah, 2006o we just thank you, Lord, for every ounce of strength and energy and giving us word and deed—in speaking and writing and reaching out in practical ways—to express the infinite love of God to those around us in this perishing world. Lord, we ask that You would strengthen our brethren. Lord, give boldness to our words as we speak Your truth in a world embroiled in lies. You are the truth, and we thank you, Jesus.

We would also like specifically ask you to join with us and millions of praying saints around the world for the events connected with the U. S. Presidential Inauguration tomorrow, January 20th, and during the following weeks and months.  We can agree with 1 Timothy 2:1-4. " I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

With our sincere thanks, Dick & Gladys


Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Praying for a "Baptism of Truth" for America in these decisive days...

americanplains.jpgDear Friends and Prayers:

These are unprecedented times in America. The November presidential election has been surrounded with irregularities, claims of fraud, and a massive lack transparency. The confidence of countless millions of Americans in the honesty and integrity of our electoral process is being severely challenged. News media are boiling over with stories about tomorrow's proceedings when the U. S. Congress votes to certify the result of the Electoral College vote in December. People of any political persuasion should want to know "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." So we are praying for a "Baptism of Truth" to take place.

During our prayer time this morning, I was drawn to pray the words of this old hymn. I couldn't recall why it seemed so familiar to me, and then realized that I had actually written about it in this email from June of 2018. For some reason at that time the old patriotic song "America the Beautiful" came to mind. So I am republishing it here because it seems so appropriate for now.

When I started singing the song, I realized I didn't know all the words and so looked it up online. It was first written as a poem by Katherine Lee Bates in 1893 and subsequently published with music by klbates.jpgSamuel A. Ward in 1910.

You may be familiar with the first stanza as I was, but I couldn't recall having ever heard the others, and I found them very moving. Here is the well-known first verse.

 America the Beautiful
O beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

I won't include all of the seven stanzas here, but want to just share some of the last lines of them. You can see the complete words at this link. They reflect the values that we long to see in our beloved America today."

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

America! America!
God mend thine every flaw
Confirm thy soul in self-control
Thy liberty in law!

America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

Congress-Prayer.jpgWhen we pray for revival, we are praying for the working of the Holy Spirit to change individual hearts and lives. And that means we are also praying for changes in the nations. Psalm 9:20 says, "Put them in fear, O Lord, that the nations may know themselves to be but men." As we pray for our nations and our leaders, here is a good goal to hold in our hearts in Proverbs 14:34, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people."

An especially good prayer for America right now comes from Paul's prayer in Ephesians 1:16-17, "I pray for you [America] constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you [America] might grow in your knowledge of God."

Dick & Gladys


Friday, January 01, 2021

Out with the old—in with the new; and the incoming great harvest!

Out with the old...2020Dear Praying Friends:

As the old year gives way to this brand new 2021, a lot of things come to mind for each one of us. When I was out for some exercise on Tuesday. I walked by this old abandoned combine harvester and it brought to mind the year we just finished for more reasons than one. I'll let you think about it and make your own observations.

Launching off into a brand new year is always good food for thought and prayer. The concept of "new" is wonderfully creative and refreshing. This verse makes that point beautifully. Lamentations 3:21-23 exhorts us, "This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."

In with the new...2021As we look ahead to this new year, we can confidently have a mighty hope, not because of any material reason, but because of God's absolute faithfulness. 2 Corinthians 5:17 reminds us, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." It is precisely this gift of newness that encourages and excites us, and not so much for ourselves but for those around us.

So many things in the world are world are obviously worn out and stuck in the mud. But God has been using the circumstances to equip us, the body of Christ, for the great harvest ahead. There is a greater opportunity before us now than we've seen in our lifetimes. And I believe the ingathering will come more through individual members of His church touching those around them with this newness of life than organized corporate outreaches.

I arrived at the chapel this morning as last night's full moon was Last 2020 full moon setting over old chapelsetting, and I was drawn to reflect on God's amazing and ongoing goodness. When I read in Genesis 1:29 when "...God said, 'See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.'", I was overwhelmed by the expanse of that declaration. And sure enough, here we humans are—still sustained by the word of His power all these innumerable years later—newness out of nothing!

Another realization that came to me in this same verse was how the Lord has given us so many blessings, and memories began to flood over me with tears of gratitude. And even more specifically, He has kept us fed and warm here in Wales all this time.Cardigan Bay viewed from above Rhoshill And we are just two people. How great is our God!

His purpose is to bring all to know the power of His new mercies and the gift of His love. Genesis 8:21 says, "While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night
shall not cease.
" And that's how long His new mercies will continue as well! Jesus expands on this promise in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Our prayer is that through God's family countless souls come to experience the fullness and joy of seedtime and harvest in this new year ahead,

Dick & Gladys


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