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Revelation 19:7  Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Are you ready to be married to Christ? If you have given your life to Jesus and have become a Christian, then you as part of the church of Christ are betrothed (engaged) to be married to Jesus at the time you enter heaven. For the skeptical, here are a few additional passages that refer to this relationship: Matthew 9:15; Mark 2:19-20; Luke 5:34; John 3:29-30; Revelation 21:2; Revelation 22:17.

I have been reading Beyond Me by Kathi Macias,  a book that challenges me to step outside my comfort zone to minister to others. Yesterday I read Chapter 9 (Sealed for the Day) and realized it was only two days until Valentines Day. I couldn’t resist sharing some of these new insights about the ancient Jewish weddings and how it relates to us today.

Marriages were arranged in Jewish weddings. The groom had to pay the bride-price to the father of the bride.

Betrothals were the beginning of the engagement period usually lasting one year. The time was used to prepare for marriage. The groom was to build a house and get it ready for his bride. The bride was to learn everything she needed to know to become a homemaker such as sewing, cooking, gardening, and so much more. She would also sew her own bride dress.

The bride did not know the exact day and time of the wedding. Yet she and her bridesmaids must be ready for the bridegroom to come at any time and take them to the marriage ceremony. The groom would take his bride to her new home following the ceremony.

We could learn a lot about marriage and life from these ancient Jewish traditions. First, engagement and marriage weren’t taken lightly. One would have to get a divorce to break an engagement. Second, preparation for marriage was a serious priority.  Both marriage partners went through a time of preparation to assure they would be able to offer more to their intended. They spent a year developing the skills and assets they could offer, not just thinking about what they were going to get out of this new relationship.

When I consider that I am to be the bride of Christ when I enter eternity (yes, even Christian men will be the “bride” of Christ), the thought of it overwhelms me. Jesus, our Bridegroom has already paid the bride-price when He was crucified for my sins. He is now preparing my mansion in heaven. Am I preparing myself to be His bride? Or am I simply taking for granted His total sacrifice and expecting to give as little as possible in return?

Anyone who is or has ever been married knows that marriage relationships take time to develop. We have been given a lifetime to prepare for our marriage to Christ. It takes quality time to know your intended better. How are you preparing yourself to spend eternity with Jesus? Are you using your life to get all you can for yourself, or are you investing your life for eternity?

We do not know when our Bridegroom will come for us. But everyone will meet Jesus on some unannounced day. Are you ready?

Lord Jesus, fill our hearts with a growing and ongoing desire to know you better and to serve you more. May the anticipation of our marriage to you fill our lives with joy.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

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I went for a prayer walk this morning around the Hemingway Campground. This is a location that is rich in its spiritual history. Hemingway Campground was begun in 1961 when campmeetings were more plentiful and many came to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord in these holy places. Hemingway Campground still holds an annual campmeeting, though the attendance is slow in comparison to what it was in the earlier years. Times are so different today than it was then.

We are encouraging community members to use the Campground as a place for walking, and more specifically prayer walking – spending your time walking in prayer for the Campground, the community, the churches, etc. (I say “we” as I am a member of the Board of Directors for the Campground.)

As I was walking, this morning I listened for his whisperings, and felt the desire to share a few things I felt he brought to my mind.

As is typical, I began getting bogged down in little things when I looked up at that great big sky and the clouds and treetops and realized This is God’s world and he is a Mighty God. So I continued to walk and dwell on the greatness of God and of the things he is able to do. It isn’t about us or about our programs. It is about God.

Then I began to pray for the many people who have made commitments in the past. I prayed that God would keep those commitments alive, or that he would cause a stir that might awaken commitments that may have been tucked out of mind in some. If all those persons who confessed Jesus as their Savior were actively serving him, our world wouldn’t be in the mess it is in today. Too many commitments are based on pleasing people instead of God.

As I continued to walk I seemed to be drawn to a question: Who are we serving? Are we serving memories of the Campground or are we serving God, a God who is alive and well today? What is the role of a place like Hemingway Campground in the world of today…? …where people are spoiled with air conditioning and stay indoors to keep out of the heat and mosquitoes. …where youth are too busy with the damands of ball practice and band practice so it isn’t possible for them to participate in a week-long summer camp. …where we have to compete with technology at every turn to get the attention of the youth. …where many churches are so competative with one another that they are unwilling to bond with them to win the lost for Jesus.

Christianity isn’t about denominations. It is about living for Jesus. It is about studying the Bible to learn what it says, and believing it whether or not it fits into the belief system of everyone in your church or not. It isn’t about finding someone who will agree with you 100% on how to interpret the Bible or how to worship our God. It is about agreeing that God is God, that Jesus is his one and only Son and the one and only way to be one with God. If we attach too many legalities to this belief, we lose touch with the Spirit of Christ and return to the Old Testament Spirit of the Law.

So my prayer continues to be that we as Christians will grow in Jesus, not in denominations and strictness of beliefs. …that we will grow in holiness as we seek to learn how God wants us to live and as we listen to the Holy Spirit and allow him to apply the scriptures to our hearts.

I almost stopped walking on this round as I neared my car once again, but I felt the need to go around once more, this time seeking God’s direction in my personal life. I determined not to rattle on, but to listen. I hadn’t walked far when I saw a bird of prey (probably a kite) circling not all that high over the open space in front of me. I felt it was watching me as closely as I was watching it as several times it hovered directly overhead. It circled the field several more times studying the ground and the tree branches on my side of the field. Then it suddenly changed its position by pulling in its wings and diving toward the ground. As it opened its wings and flew upward again I noticed its intended prey, a butterfly, fluttering on its way. As I walked the rest of the way around the circle that last time, I pondered what kind of message I should take away from this. I pondered whether my part was in the bird who put all its energy into attacking that butterfly, or whether my part was the butterfly who is continuing to keep going in spite of the attacks that come from various circumstances in my life. Surely the butterfly was blessed to have escaped the beak of the kite, a very real threat. I prefer to see myself as the butterfly.

 

2 Chronicles 6:40-42 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

Solomon ends his prayer of dedication by appealing to God to be attentive to the prayers offered in the temple. He invited God to come into the temple and make it his home along with the ark of the covenant.

When Solomon prayed that the priests be clothed in salvation, he was praying that their spiritual welfare would exceed their fine outer appearance. 

Then Solomon prayed for the saints, those who loved God, that they would always take joy in the goodness of God.

Solomon prayed for himself, that God would never reject him as his anointed one, and that he would always be mindful of the promise he made to his father, King David.

These prayers are still perfectly suited for our churches and sanctuaries today. I encourage you to pray this scripture over your own church.

Our God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in _____ (our church). Fill ________ (our church) with your presence. Clothe ________ (our pastor) with your salvation. May the people in our congregation rejoice in your goodness. O Lord God, do not reject us, your chosen people. Remember the promise you made to us through the blood of your son, the resurrected Jesus Christ. (Adapted from verses 40-42.)

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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2 Chronicles 6:18-31  (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

The impact of Solomon’s words in verse 18 is a reflection of the wisdom God gave to Solomon. In spite of all the great craftsmanship and the elaborate construction that went into the building of the temple, Solomon knew that the completed house of worship could never contain the totality of God himself. God’s spirit could indwell the temple and it would certainly be a holy place. But it could only limit God to expect him to allow himself to be contained in the temple.

Solomon continued to pour out his heart in prayer for the people who would come to the temple. He prayed for justice among his peoples and forgiveness for the repentant. He prayed that the people’s hearts would be teachable when God’s discipline brought famine or other afflictions upon them, bringing them to repentance, followed by God’s forgiveness and healing. Solomon prayed that as a result of their afflictions, repentance, and forgiveness, the people would learn to fear God and walk in his ways.

There are many truths we can take away from these verses.

  • We cannot put God into a box. We can search the scriptures to learn about him, and sometimes it may stretch our minds beyond where they want to stretch. But we must never assume that the almighty God we worship must fit into a shape or form that we can understand fully. If he could, he couldn’t be God – we would be greater because we could contain him.
  • We should regularly pray for God’s spirit to indwell our churches, that God’s presence would be so strong that it would bring conviction on those who would do wrong.
  • We should pray for teachable spirits among our church members so that they would recognize situations when personal hardships or disaster is brought on by the hand of God to bring them to repentance for some grievous sin. (I am not saying that every such disaster is caused by our own great sins, though more often than not God will use our hardships to teach us something we need to learn.)
  • We should pray for members to come to God with a repentant heart that they may know the cleansing freedom of his forgiveness.
  • We should pray that Christians will have a healthy fear of God, that they may always walk in his ways and enjoy a growing relationship with him forever.

Father God, may we never tire of praying for our churches that they may truly glorify you. May your spirit indwell every worship service, that those who are in your house will feel your presence. May those who worship you with a right heart be filled with your refreshing joy. May they leave your sanctuary as salt and light that will draw others to you. And Lord, may those who come into your heart with wrong motives, or with sins they are trying to hide, may they feel the conviction of your presence. May they feel their hearts laid bare before you that they will repent in shame, receive your forgiveness, and then discover the true peace that comes from having a clean heart before you, the same peace that had been waiting for them from the beginning.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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