Reading, Writing, Arithmetic … and PRAYER.

Sheri Prescott, GFC South Tampa

We are still in the beginning of a fresh, new school year and no matter where our children are learning (at home, public school, private school, or a mixture), we have a powerful tool to help them succeed.

Prayer.

As a mom with one in college, one in high school, one in middle school, one in elementary, and one in preschool, I’m continually learning to take their educational needs to the Lord in prayer. Although great curriculum, a caring teacher, and bright educational environment are helpful, as moms we can’t control the good moments (a best friend to sit with at lunchtime) or the obstacles (when pencils are thrown across the room in frustration over a math worksheet) our children will face this school year. The good news is that we know the ONE who created our cuties and He knows how they learn best. Will you join me in praying together for our kids this school year?

1. Pray that they would love Jesus more than they love anything else and follow Him all the days of their lives.

He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” ~ Luke 10:27

2. Pray they would fall in love with learning, soaking up what God wants them to learn every day.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” ~ Psalm 32:8

3. Pray they would be self-controlled and hard working.

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection, and to mutual affection, love.” ~ 2 Peter 1: 5-7

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads to only poverty. ~ Proverbs 14:23

4. Pray that God would spark a passion in their hearts to develop the talents He’s placed within them – looking at every day as His classroom.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Let’s keep our littles in the best way possible… in prayer.

Together We Run

Chrissy Mayer, GFC Temple Terrace 

I run but I do not consider myself a runner. 

I run because someone said it was good for me to get exercise and I figure if I run, as opposed to walk, I can be done sooner and my skin thanks me for the good sweat.

The runners high after ain’t too shabby either!

This past weekend I decided to head out bright and early, before my brain and body could realize it was as muggy as the armpit of a dog in a steambath. Once I turned the corner of the path leading to the trailhead near my home – I soon found an extra pep in my step just as I began to grow weary.

Something God quickly reminded me of that morning is there is a big difference between running alone and running with othersOn any given Saturday morning the trail is rich and vibrant with life and the energy of “one-ness”. So many generations, different stories, different paces, different seasons – yet everyone with a single goal and focus: a commitment to the journey of growth and the pursuit of health.

Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us “Let us think of ways to motivate and spur one another on with acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another..”

Yall, we need each other!
You were not created to do life alone!
Find your people…Get in a group…Like now!
We were called to run our own race, YES, but God knew we would need encouragement.

Look for those who need YOUR encouragement.

1 Cor 12:25-26 “This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.”

Look for those who are alone.

When I was on the trail I intentionally kept an eye out for others who were alone. It became like a fun game actually! I started to look for those who didn’t come out with anyone else but who were brave enough to show up. I looked to affirm their effort and presence with a simple smile between breaths, a nod and single hand wave and I would watch them perk up. I hoped to communicate, “Hey, great job showing up! I see you! You belong here!” 

Look for those in your same season.

I saw a momma jogging with her babes in a stroller and two more following behind. She looked tired and was struggling. “Wow! You’re are killing it”, I thought to myself. “You’re a boss!”, I shouted as we exchanged glances. Again, I noticed her perk up too.

Look for those who encourage YOU.

Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”

We tend think of encouragement only in the sense of telling people something that makes them feel good but the definition of the word means to “give support, confidence and to stimulate ones development”. Sometimes encouragement may not always “feel good” but it is necessary if we want to run our race well and persevere.

Look for those who challenge you

We need to search out others with more wisdom and experience. We can learn so much about pace and form from those who have been running far longer. And we must also develop the humility to receive correction. As I was well into the second half of my run that morning, the Holy Spirit reminded me of an instance only a few days before and how quickly I had gotten defensive (when I was nearing the end of my run) and a dear friend (who has been running most of her adult life) pointed out my poor form and how “I was leaning forward too much”, which can result in injury. As I became convicted of my bruised ego, I kept running but worked to correct it. I knew that my friend was only calling me out because she didn’t want me to get hurt and only cared about me “winning!”. She loves me and is for me. When I got home I texted her and thanked her for pointing out something I couldn’t see (when she didn’t have to) and told her I was grateful for her wisdom.

In some seasons finding your people isn’t easy.
Keep showing up.
Sometimes finding a group can be downright scary.
Keep showing up.
Sometimes you’d rather stay home. I get it!
But I can tell you – When you keep showing up you will always be glad you did.
Show up and encourage someone.
Show up and be encouraged.
You can run on your own. Sure. But it is so much more fun to run together! 

Ugly Cry

Lauren Delgado, GFC Temple Terrace

Have you ever just needed a good cry? I mean a sloppy, messy, noisy cry. As a mom who breastfed both of my littles I had some moments when I cried over spilled milk. I can remember once walking into the kitchen as my husband was frantically cleaning up a bottle of milk that had spilled on the floor. He looked up at me with that sweet apologetic face, knowing that this hurt deep. What’s interesting is I could probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve cried over my milk being spilled. But, I definitely could not count how many times I’ve cried over the happenings in life that have brought me down. From parenting, to arguments with my husband, to drama at work, or even just traffic… I’ve cried. 

      What you may not know about me is that I am not a crier. I didn’t cry when we got engaged or even when we got married. But, I can remember right before I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter, I was sitting in the car listening to the radio and all of a sudden I began to sob. I should have known then, but tears just poured down, for what seemed to me, no valid reason. This was an insignificant crying moment, but there have been many times that I should have cried and instead chose to keep my cool, remain calm, and put on a face to prove that I’ve got it all together. However, where does that always land me? At some point I end up in a sloppy, messy, noisy crying fit. Whenever I choose to suppress emotions and feelings, a few hours or days later, I find myself crying over something insignificant.

     In Psalms it talks about how even though we may have cried our tears, we still need to cry out to God. “In my trouble I called to the Lord. Yes, I cried out to my God for help. There in His temple He heard my voice. He heard my cry for help.” Psalm 18:6

As a woman I struggle to ask for help because I can usually handle it all on my own. I can carry a  purse, diaper bag, two water bottles, a stuffed animal or toy, a handful of dirty tissues, and push the stroller. So why would I need help? Past this strong exterior I know that I have a need for a God that can hold me when my tears are falling. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” And let’s be honest ladies, sometimes we need to cry it all out so HE can fill us back up. Let’s take some time today to do a little self help, and maybe cry out to God and ask for Him to intervene? We all might be carrying or holding onto something that we need to let go. Let’s not be afraid to cry over the “spilled milk” in our lives.

PRAYER – Fasting and Prayer

Corliss Taylor, GFC Lutz

(Chronicles 20:1-30)

Are you looking for a way to see more power demonstrated in your life?  Prayer is the answer.  It seems so simple, yet it is often times so hard to consistently do.  Whether you are praying with intense passion (effectual, fervent) or praying for someone else (intercessory), prayer brings power. When you add sacrifice to prayer (fasting) it certainly gets God’s attention. Fasting and prayer done simultaneously is another level of hunger to hear from God. Fasting and prayer shows God you desire Him more than you desire the thing you are giving up.  Job 23:12.

 Fasting is defined as abstaining from a certain thing.  Most often fasting is associated with food, but it can be used with television, social media, and anything else that diverts your attention away from God.  In the “Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus makes it clear that fasting is not a commandment, but a warfare tool to see results. Matthew 5:16-18. Fasting, when combined with prayer, can bring spiritual discipline, Biblical instructions, a closeness to God, health benefits, and even power to get others delivered (Matthew 17:21). When there is opposition or oppression, the combination of fasting and prayer, used as a weapon, helps to release God’s supernatural power in your life.

Look at what God did for Jehoshaphat when he and the children of Israel used fasting and prayer to protect a nation. InChronicles 20 we see the children of Moab, Ammon, and some of the Meunites coming against Jehoshaphat to do battle. Envision this, three countries with enormous armies coming to destroy Jehoshaphat.  In the face of overwhelming conflict, Jehoshaphat’s attitude was an example for us today. The Bible says Jehoshaphat feared but he resolved to 1) inquire of the Lord (pray) and 2) proclaim a fast for all Judah (verse 3). In his prayer, (verses 6-10), Jehoshaphat poured out his soul.  He finished by saying his eyes were on God for guidance (verse 12). In the world today we see wars, unrest, sickness, shifting of jobs, spiritual and emotional conflict. Creation is at a crossroad as the coronavirus pandemic, and its impact, attacks the global economy. If ever there was a need for God to speak, it is today.  Like Jehoshaphat, we know we are not victims. We are soldiers armed for the battle through fasting and prayer.

 When it seems as if we have no might against crisis, we must keep our eyes on Jesus. If you want to incorporate fasting and prayer as part of your spiritual armor, consider:

1) Deciding what you are physically capable of abstaining from (which may require a doctor’s approval). It could be fasting one meal, one food group like sweets, or something that is near to your heart like playing video games.

2) Setting aside a time to do the fast, prepare, and start. If necessary, tell key people who may be impacted by your fast like a spouse or aging parent. Corinthians 7:5.

3) When you start your fast, keep a steady intake of the Word going into your spirit.  You should read it, listen to it online, write it in your journal, etc. (Joshua 1:8).

4) Look for and expect an answer.  God honors sacrifice (Isaiah 58:6).

Blessings.

PRAYER – Intercessory Prayer

Corliss Taylor, GFC Lutz

(Acts 12: 1-11)

Have you ever thought a situation was hopeless?  After I accepted Jesus, I initially thought that everything should go my way.  It did not take too many rejections for me to quickly realize being a Christian did not mean getting all the things I asked for.  I found being a Christian meant I had to follow God’s way to see manifestations.  Two key principles I learned about seeing God move on an otherwise dead situation were: 1) focus on God’s Word and 2) when you pray for someone else, God will strengthen you.

Growing up, my aunt was one of my best friends.  When she received a negative report from the doctor, I was deeply saddened. My aunt had a family.  She was young.  All of these thoughts began to cause me to despair.  Then, I remembered the scripture I read that said, “Therefore, confess your faults one to another and pray for one another, that you may be healed”. This charge is found in James 5:16. Confess is defined as admitting or acknowledging.  Faults are defined as an inadequacy or mistake.  Prayer is simply talking to God.  When we know we have a seemingly insurmountable situation, James says we are to discuss the matter with another person we trust to help us get the victory through prayer.  So why are we not using the prayer tool of intercession more often?

Looking at the testimony of Peter in Acts 12:1, we see an amazing illustration of intercession.  Peter had been arrested in Jerusalem because King Herod decided to use his power and disturb the Church.  Peter had not committed any crime, he was simply a Christian boldly doing God’s will.  When the Church heard the news, they prayed for Peter without ceasing (verse 5).  So much focus was on Peter and praying for his situation to be reversed that God sent an angel to rescue Peter (verse 7).  Look at the power of this miracle.  The angel appeared, gave Peter clear instructions on how to get the breakthrough, and proceeded to lead Peter out of the prison doors (verses 8-10).  Prayer caused the victory.  Likewise, when my aunt went to the hospital, my family gathered to pray.  We had “around the clock prayer” with some family members at their home, many during the day, and others in the hospital by her beside.  Eventually, after much prayer, my aunt experienced a supernatural recovery.  

Intercessory prayer should not be underestimated.  The Word of God tells us in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  When God joins your prayer circle, His presence makes all the difference.  So, how do you effectively intercede?
1)
Listen to hear what the need is of the individual.  2) Find out the will of God for that trial in the Word.  It is the Word that will move God’s mighty hand.  3) Once you have scripture, pray it as often as possible with someone who has the same end goal in mind as you.  4) Watch for God to answer.  Be mindful, pleading for the needs of others builds your spirit man in strength.  Going to God on someone else’s behalf has the power to change outcomes. (Job 42:10).