Paradise By Christina G. Rossetti

Paradise By Christina G. Rossetti

Once in a dream I saw the flowers
That bud and bloom in Paradise;
More fair they are than waking eyes
Have seen in all this world of ours.
And faint the perfume-bearing rose,
And faint the lily on its stem,
And faint the perfect violet
Compared with them.

I heard the songs of Paradise:
Each bird sat singing in his place;
A tender song so full of grace
It soared like incense to the skies.
Each bird sat singing to his mate
Soft-cooing notes among the trees:
The nightingale herself were cold
To such as these.

I saw the fourfold River flow,
And deep it was, with golden sand;
It flowed between a mossy land
With murmured music grave and low.
It hath refreshment for all thirst,
For fainting spirits strength and rest;
Earth holds not such a draught as this
From east to west.

The Tree of Life stood budding there,
Abundant with its twelvefold fruits;
Eternal sap sustains its roots,
Its shadowing branches fill the air.
Its leaves are healing for the world,
Its fruit the hungry world can feed,
Sweeter than honey to the taste,
And balm indeed.

I saw the gate called Beautiful;
And looked, but scarce could look within;
I saw the golden streets begin,
And outskirts of the glassy pool.
Oh harps, oh crowns of plenteous stars,
O green palm branches many-leaved–
Eye hath not seen, nor ear hath heard,
Nor heart conceived!

I hope to see these things again,
But not as once in dreams by night;
To see them with my very sight,
And touch and handle and attain:
To have all Heaven beneath my feet
For narrow way that once they trod;
To have my part with all the saints,
And with my God.

Indifference Of God, Indifference Of Me

Indifference Of God, Indifference Of Me

(Saturday Evening Prayer For March 10)

Heavenly Father. This past week, we have basked in the joy on the mountaintop and lain in despair in the deepest chasm. Our spirit has both soared to the heavens and plunged to the depths of the sea. We have praised Your name and bemoaned what we perceived as Your indifference toward us. We have told of Your good works in public places and lamented our misfortunes in private. You tend to the lilies of the field and the sparrows in the air; why does it feel You have neglected us? In our heart and our mind, we know You are always with us. The fault of these perceptions lie not in You, but in ourselves.

Lord, forgive us of our sins and our unbelief. Show us our lives through Your eyes that we might see that which holds us back. Have we treated You as nothing more than a dog? Have we tied you up outside so You won’t leave, but refused to open the door to let You in? It is not Your indifference we perceive, but our own. When did we take back the keys to our heart, push You out, and bar the door behind You? In truth, we know nothing of ours keeps You near our heart; it is Your love and Your grace. Lord, take these keys to our heart and make it Your home once again.

Enter into our heart and remove the things which blind us to all You do. Fill us with so much of the things of heaven that naught of earth can remain. Let tears of joy replace those of self-pity. Overcome the anger and the rage with love and hope and the desire to build others up. Tear down the idols we have set up within ourselves and replace them with kindness and long-suffering. Return us to our first love.

We could ask You to build a hedge around us so these things never trouble us again, but we won’t. Instead, O God, we pray to be filled with desire; desire to read and study Your Word even more than we do now. Instill within us a greater urgency to pray, not for ourselves, but for others. Let us, as a sponge, draw in all knowledge of You and what You have done so we know we do not stand alone. Change our perception so we might recognize even the smallest snare of the Adversary. It is these things, even more than a hedge, that will keep us in You.

Hear our prayer now as we lift up our brothers and sisters who might be facing these same struggles. Take away their indifference. Lift them up from the depths and set them on the mountaintop so they might see Your grace. Fill them with joy and remove their sorrow. Bless Your children and draw them back to You. We trust You to care for the sick and bring miraculous healing. Break the hearts of the lost so they might seek You. Give us the words, the voice, and more importantly, the life, to witness for You.

All these things we ask in Your son’s precious name. Amen.

Failures And Shortcomings

Failures And Shortcomings

(Saturday Evening Prayer For March 3)

Heavenly Father. We come to You this evening filled and offer You our most heart-felt gratitude. Despite our failures and our shortcomings over the past couple days, You have not withheld Your blessings. Your mercies truly are forever. We thank You for allowing us the opportunity to see our mother come home from the hospital. You gave her the strength to get up and walk a short distance, and for that we praise Your Name. Continue to touch her body, increase her appetite, and uplift her spirit as You have uplifted ours. Thank You for the caregivers she has had thus far, and bless my aunt as she helps care for her from this point on. All we have gone through has been worth it.

Our prayer, O Lord, at this time is for others to receive Your blessings as we have. We don’t know the pain, the hurt, the sickness, or the suffering others are experiencing at this time. What we do know is that You can intervene. Nothing is greater than You. There is no sickness nor pain that can exist when You send down Your healing. You are the mender of broken hearts and the restorer of broken minds.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made, created by Your own hand. Keep us mindful that we are reflections of your image, lovingly made in Your image. May others always see You in our actions and hear You in our words. Stay our hand and bridle our tongues when we no longer have control. Let the light You placed inside us shine forth so others might see. Help us to be a blessing to those we come in contact with. Watch over us, lead us, and guide us, and may all we do be according to Your will.

We thank You for all things, and we ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Storehouse Of Blessings Await

Storehouse Of Blessings Await

(Saturday Evening Prayer For February 10)

Heavenly Father. All we are, all we can ever hope to be, begins and ends with You. Before You laid the foundation of the world, we were already a part of Your plans. A storehouse of blessings had been prepared for us before we ever drew our first breath, and access to Your throne was made available. You created us, not to be abandoned, but to receive all You have to give. It was not because of pity You sent Your Son, but because of love. You grafted into the vine of the lineage of heaven; You chose to make us joint heirs in glory. All You ask in return is our love.

We come to You this evening with a heart filled with gratitude. The outpouring of prayer on behalf of our mother over the past few weeks has been amazing. We have seen both improvements and setbacks, but most of all, we have seen love. Too often, Lord, people doubt You because they say they haven’t seen You; how blind they are. Although your physical form has not been made manifest to us, we have seen You every day. You have been in every phone call, every text, and in every Facebook comment offering prayer and assistance. When You promised to never leave nor forsake us, You went farther than just hearing our prayers. You surround us in the hearts of our brothers and sisters.

Lord, we ask You this evening for continued strength. Be with those sitting at the bedside of sick and dying loved ones. We know our wants and our dreams, but we don’t know Your plans. If we are to know the joy of recovery, let us lift You up in praise for what You have done. If, however, that recovery is a call to come home to You, then help us to praise You for the time You allowed us. We ask that You help us set aside our selfishness so we might be accepting of Your will.

Above all, Master, please continue to allow us to point others to You. Give us the words that will help light the way to You and to the storehouse of blessings that await. In prayer, in praise, and in pain, let us not forsake the unity we have with fellow believers. It is in that unity that an unbelieving world can see an invisible God.

We thank You for all things, merciful Father, and ask them in the name of Your precious Son. Amen.

Dust Sculpted In The Image Of God

Dust Sculpted In The Image Of God

(Saturday Evening Prayer For December 16)

Heavenly Father. You are the true Creator. It was by Your word that all things sprang into existence. You placed the planets, their moons, and the stars in space and set them spinning along their paths. It was by Your will day and night were separated, the waters receded from the land, and plants and animals covered the earth. In the midst of such a glorious creation, You chose to create Man from the dust of the earth and breathe life into his lungs. It was in Your image You chose to make Adam as well as all who came after him. You are an awesome God, indeed. We are grateful for all You have done.

We pray this Saturday evening and thank You for all You have done for us. You have blessed us with so much, the greatest being redemption and forgiveness through Your Son. Yet, Lord, it seems we always want so much more from You. We are quick to make promises to You, but slow to fulfill them. When Your blessings bring prosperity, we take our eyes off You, yet when it is gone we quickly blame You. In our ingratitude, we risk becoming the dust You would shake from Your shoes. Help us to overcome ourselves and live up to the image in which You made us. In all creation, nothing but man was given the gift of Your likeness.

Tonight, O God, we come to You on behalf of a young man in desperate need of Your touch. For months he has lain in the hospital seeking the healing of man. In this very moment, Father God, we lift him up to You. The surgery he faces this coming Monday is one in which man cannot guarantee success, but You are in control. We pray Your guidance be with the surgeon and all of those who assist him. Keep them vigilant and strengthen their bodies and minds for the task. Be with his family throughout the next few days and weeks. You have strengthened them thus far and we pray Your strength will continue. You are the great Physician so no healing is beyond You.

Bless our readers. We thank You for each and every visitor we have had. I pray that something they might have read has reminded them we are more than dust, we are Your creation. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior we ask all things. Amen.

Deliverer And Our Salvation

Deliverer And Our Salvation

(Saturday Evening Prayer For November 4)

Heavenly Father. You are our strength and our shield, as well as our deliverer and our salvation. As our morning verse asked, “whom shall we fear?” All too often we let the things of this life fill us with unnecessary fears, fears we won’t relinquish. We pray and ask You to remove this spirit of fear we cling to and fill us with boldness. Let only the fear of You—that reverential awe that leads to wisdom—remain. Fill us with the courage so we might stand against the evils of this world and proclaim Your gospel. Remind us that You have built a hedge around us and that no weapon formed against us shall prosper.

We pray for those today who are in need of healing. While some know their days are coming to an end and look forward to seeing You, others have no such peace. Although we pray for healing for all, we pray especially for those on the verge of dying lost. In their final days or moments, let something be said that draws them to You. You said we would never be left alone or forsaken and that means even unto death. As they face that great gulf that separates life and death, give them that final chance at salvation. Show them You can still be their deliverer. Show them Your mercy.

Dear Lord, we also ask that You might touch the lives of those who are hurting and facing heartache. Be with those who are facing hard decisions and the uncertainty that goes with them. Whatever they are facing, grant them wisdom and peace in their choices. Let them see that the best choice is to turn their burdens, and their trust, over to You. Although we might not understand why things must happen the way they do, help us to trust Your will.

Finally, O God, we thank You for being with us throughout our lives. Too often we let the little things distract us from You. Help us to focus solely on You, trusting that everything else will fall into place. We thank You for all You have done for us so it is in the precious name of Jesus we ask these things. Amen.

Believing Heart In An Unbelieving World

Believing Heart In An Unbelieving World

(Saturday Evening Prayer For October 28)

Heavenly Father. We come to You and thank You for each and every thing You have done for us. You have blessed us with grace and mercy, peace and comfort, salvation and redemption, and a believing heart. We know our lives are not our own and all we have belongs to You. Let us daily declare to an unbelieving world that You are our God. Let our words and our deeds be an example of You and Your love. At a time when the enemy raises up those who declare You a myth, help us to show the reality of God. Give us the words that the world needs to hear and fill them with Your drawing power.

We also pray, O Lord, and ask that You might help us overcome our unbelief. When doubts and fears rise up against us in the face of Your truths, remind us to believe. Strengthen us against the wiles of Satan when he tries to tempt us. We know that nothing he has to offer can compare to the eternal gifts of God. Your are a God to be both loved and feared; let us not become complacent in our love that we forget to fear You. Just as a dam holds back the awesome force of a raging river, it is Your mercy that holds back Your vengeance.

As we come to You now, believing Your promises to be true, we call upon You to send down Your healing touch. Be with those in the hospitals that are facing uncertainty. When the doctors are without a clue, guide them in the right direction. While we know You can completely heal with but a touch, we also know You bestow knowledge on those in the medical field. Be with those at home who suffer from afflictions in silence. We are assembled—united—by love in a common goal so we might see our loved ones healed.

More than the physical illnesses of mankind, God, touch the spiritual illnesses. Remove the scales of deceit from man’s eyes and let him see Your glory. Let them, through us, see the truth that comes from serving You. Break open their stony hearts and plant the seeds of faith inside. Let them see that there is only one way to heaven, and that is through the blood of Christ.

We thank You for hearing and answering these requests. Bless those who read these words as You have blessed me. All these things we ask in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

Elders And The Anointing

Elders And The Anointing

“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”–James 5:13-14

No one enjoys being sick (unless you are a hypochondriac,) but sickness is something everyone will eventually face. For some, it might be something as simple as a mild headache while others may battle a lifelong illness. It is easy to look at your situation and question why God has allowed you to face something debilitating, when others can take an aspirin and are fine. Why would God allow cancer to take hold in a believer’s body while a murderer might only need glasses? (A silly comparison, I know, but you get the point.) It all comes down to grace. God has healing waiting for the believers. It comes from prayer and the anointing with oil by the church elders.

When calling upon the elders or others for prayer, compassion is important. In Numbers 12, Moses’ brother and sister—Aaron and Miriam—were not happy with him because he married an Ethiopian woman. God called the three siblings to the tabernacle of meeting and, appearing in the pillar of cloud, spoke to them. After telling them how important Moses was to Him, God’s anger was aroused and He cursed Miriam with leprosy. Verse 13 tells us this. “So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “Please heal her, O God, I pray!” Despite what she and Aaron had said, Moses was compassionate and wanted to see his sister healed. This is why we are required to humble ourselves down and pray for each other.

It is a wonderful thing to know people love you enough to pray for your healing, but we mustn’t neglect praying for ourself. Jeremiah 17:14 gives us an example of one of the prophet’s prayers. “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise.” When we ask God for healing, we must take into account the condition of our soul. It is more important to ask God to heal our sinful soul than our sick body.

But what about the times we ask for healing but it doesn’t come? Too often, people are quick to blame God, even calling into question His power. Sometimes, God’s healing is waiting for us once we leave this life. Sickness was “born” the moment Adam and Eve sinned and ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. At that moment, the tree of life was cut off from mankind. It is waiting for us in Heaven, as Revelation 22:2 tells us. “In the middle of the street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”

Whether God gives us the healing we ask for or not isn’t what really matters. Sure, we want to be healed, we pray to be healed, it is our fervent hope that God heals us, but what if we aren’t? We must remember the one thing He has promised never to withhold from His people: grace. Even Paul, in 2nd Corinthians 12:9, had to be reminded of this. “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Sometimes, our witness of God’s grace in our lives has a bigger impact on people than our miraculous healing.

Even if God withholds healing, we should never quit praying for those who are sick or injured. Several times, we have called upon you to pray for someone who was sick, and thanks to your prayers, we have seen God’s healing touch. Sweet little Mackenzee comes to mind. Her progress has happened so much faster than what the doctors dared to expect. This one instance alone is enough to keep me on my knees asking God to heal whoever needs healing. Even if the answer is “no”, we can still find faith in the asking.