The Bunk Bed Story

I had been looking for used bunk beds for our girls. The bedroom situation being what it is, it wasn’t a want, it was a need.

Many weeks back, I began praying about it, knowing that God cares even about these little things in our lives. The price of a new one was prohibitive. Once you pay for even the cheapest model, you then have to buy the mattresses which can really add up. Having once found one years ago for our boys by looking in the classifieds, I figured Craigslist would have one. But every time I looked, either they were the wrong kind, or the used ones were deluxe models from places like Pottery Barn, putting the used price as high as $800 dollars.

I waited and prayed and waited and checked the listings several times a day. New items can be listed at any time, so I kept thinking I would find one. Time was going by and yet I found nothing that worked. Finally, I found a decent one for $250, but when I contacted the seller, she had just sold it to someone else.

Disheartened this morning, I checked again first thing on Craig’s. Nothing. Just as I was going to leave for the grocery store, I decided to look one last time. My eyes widened. Hold everything! Someone was offering a solid, older bunk bed that would be perfect for our girls. It included the “like new” mattresses that the seller said had hardly been used. The price? $75 dollars!

I called the number, sure it had been sold. The seller laughed. He had only put the ad up ten minutes before that! No, it hadn’t been sold. Long story short, I completed the transaction within the hour, and our girls will have an attractive, solid bunk bed to meet the need. They picked out their new coordinating quilts at the store a little while ago. Little sister’s has ladybugs that match the color on big sister’s bright pink quilt.

This story may seem unimportant and maybe it even seems silly. But I wrote this little post to tell you that God heard my prayer. It seemed like He hadn’t, and I had almost given up, and then the answer came.

If you have a need, lay it out in front of the Lord. He has his own time schedule, but when we commit our daily needs to Him, He delights to answer us. I still can hardly believe it. I called Tom to tell him, and I could hear the smile in his voice when he said, “Well, thank the Lord!”

Yes, thank you, Heavenly Father!

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:19

Saturday Evening Prayer

Tom and I had coffee with a long time friend recently. Years ago, our friend gave us a small hymnal from the last century, and it is one of my treasures. This time, just before we left, he pressed into my hand a small black book. On the cover it said Habermann Prayers.

I had never heard of it before, but knowing who it was from, I suspected we’d been handed another treasure. When we got home, I sat down to read it. The book is the English translation of the original German prayers from the 16th century. I quickly read who “Habermann” was. Here is the first part of the preface:

This little manual of prayers herewith offered to English speaking
Christians in their own language, has long been one of the treasures of
the German people. With the exception of a few prayers, as hereinafter
noted, it was originally written by one of God’s noblemen, by one who
“lived and moved and had his being” in the things of the Kingdom of
God. Dr. John Habermann (known also as Avenarius, Latinized form of
Habermann) died 1590 as superintendent at Zeitz, was a famous preacher
and a distinguished scholar of his day. He was noted for his profound
knowledge of oriental languages especially of the Hebrew. Still it is
not this but the fact of his little prayer book that has endeared him
to his fellow Christians. And this manual of prayers is the mature
product of an inner life rich in the grace of God. On every page it
bears the stamp of one for whom the communion with the eternal Father
in heaven through the faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior, is a blessed
reality. Nothing more natural therefore also than that he should “live
and move and have his being” in the language of the Word of God…

You can read the complete preface, and the entire text of this beautiful Christian prayer book from nearly 500 years ago at this link here. Note the language of deep reverence for God in sharp contrast with so much culturally influenced material today. I hope the hymns, Psalms and prayers bless your soul as you come to the Lord in prayer. In that I am writing this on Saturday late afternoon, here is the beautiful prayer for Saturday evening, before the Lord’s Day.

Praise be unto Thee, Thou great and unchangeable God! Praise be unto
Thy goodness and mercy! Praise be unto Thy eternal wisdom and truth,
that Thou hast preserved me during the day now past from all danger and
harm. I pray Thee, graciously perfect Thy goodness which Thou hast
begun in me, and suffer me to rest this night under Thy protecting
shield, and cover me with Thy wings. Suffer me to put my trust under
the shadow of Thy hands, that I fear no evil. Keep me, O God, as the
apple of the eye. Hide me under the shadow of Thy wings. Lord, Thou art
the portion of mine inheritance; my salvation is in Thy hands. Grant
unto me, according to Thy goodness, that neither fear nor trembling
come over me, and no terrors of the night overwhelm me. Be merciful
unto me, for in Thee do I put my trust, and under the shadow of Thy
wings do I find my refuge.

I seek the Lord in the time of need; my hand
is outstretched in the night without ceasing; for my soul has none
other comfort; and I know of none other helper in heaven or earth but
Thee alone. At midnight when I awaken, I meditate upon Thy name, so
altogether lovely, upon Thy goodness and fidelity, vouchsafed unto me,
and I praise Thee because of Thy righteous judgments. When I am
troubled I remember God, when my spirit is overwhelmed I speak of my
Savior. For He redeemeth my life from destruction and saveth me from
the snares of death. Lord God, my Savior, by day and by night do I cry
unto Thee, pardon all my transgressions, which during this day and the
week now past I have committed against Thee. O Lord, deliver my soul
for Thy mercy’s sake. Thou art gracious and just, and our God is
merciful. The Lord preserveth the simple. I was brought low, and He
helped me. Therefore will I rejoice and praise Thee, and sing aloud
upon my bed. For the days of my life will appear as noonday, and
darkness as the morning’s light, and I will rejoice that Thou, O God,
art my hope and my rest in life and death. I lay me down, and none will
terrify me. Thus do I commend my body and soul into Thy hands, Thou
Faithful God. Thou hast redeemed me through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Amen.

Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

~ Psalm 141:2

Drop-off!

I was weighed down with two large bags of library books and DVD’s in one hand with Emmy’s hand in the other in the library parking lot yesterday.

After going clumsily, and for my arm, painfully, through two sets of doors, we finally arrived at the book and media drop. I felt the bags grow lighter with the removal of each item. What a relief it was to put the one empty bag inside the other and make my way with my daughter to the children’s room.

The thought struck me that I often carry bags of burdens with me unnecessarily. So many things to be concerned about, so little time, has been my life’s motto. Despite knowing intellectually that God has given me a way to lighten the load each day, I often carry them myself anyway.

The old song says, “…O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” It’s true. How many hours have I wasted and how much joy have I forfeited because I was brooding over what I couldn’t change anyway? Never once has a worry or concern that I carried ever gotten better because I had it in my possession. The heavy bags of care only sag my shoulders with the weight I am not equipped to handle.

But as we hand over each successive care to the Lord for His keeping, like my bags of library books, the weight grows lighter and lighter, and so does the state of our hearts.

We sometimes have to head repeatedly for the drop-off place for our burdens. Otherwise life will freshly load us down with troubling news or new developments. We have to refuse to carry them an inch. The drop-off slot is as near as God’s ear. In prayer, we can shift the burdens to the One who has promised us that His yoke is easy and his burden, light.

If you are carrying bags of care today, head for the drop-off spot in prayer, and enjoy the relief it can bring.

A Way to Help

Those interested in helping the suffering in Japan can do so through Christian Aid Mission. This group has been around for many years, and we have recommended them in the past as a trustworthy organization. They are bringing the aid directly to the needs through their contacts there in Japan. They sent out this press release today which is a call to pray and give on behalf of the hurting.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., March 18, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ — The Christian Aid relief coordinator for Japan is calling Americans to pray and collect aid in Sunday services for the Fukusima families who lost loved ones in last week’s killer quake.

Christian Aid Mission is sending the aid to Japanese believers working among residents evacuated from the nuclear reactor town on the northeastern coast of Japan. Fukusima is located just below the epicenter of the quake near Sendai.

“This weekend, the emphasis should be on prayer in our churches and collecting a special emergency offering,” says Stephen Van Valkenburg, the overseas director in charge of disbursements to Japanese pastors and missionaries who are delivering relief on the ground.

Contributions for the suffering survivors may be made to Christian Aid Mission and designated to Japan Disaster Relief, gift code 850DIS. Credit card donations may be made online at www.ChristianAid.org or by calling 800-977-5650.

“Your contributions to Christian Aid will be sent directly to strategic indigenous ministries in Japan that are meeting basic needs and planning for the future,” says Van Valkenburg. “Gifts are not sent through a bureaucracy or to pay for overhead, but go directly to Japanese Christian missionaries who are already physically there on the disaster scene. They are with the suffering people, reaching out to the survivors in word and deed — in the name of Christ, the one who loves and cares for them in this time of tragedy.”

Van Valkenburg listed three requests for prayer:

Pray for the families who are burying their dead or still searching for lost loved ones. 50-60 are still missing from one of the four chapels in Fukusima. When people face the death of loved ones and the loss of all their earthly possessions, their hearts are laid bare. Christians need the strength to face their trials and then the ability to reach out to those around them.

Pray for believers to be used by the Lord to personally pray for the hurting ones around them. If a Buddhist and a Christian believer are together in a shelter, the believer needs special grace from the Lord to show hope.

Pray that the authorities will get the nuclear plants under control and that these problems will turn the hearts of many in that nation to cry out to God.
“These believers need our help to reach out to the suffering in the name of Christ,” says Van Valkenburg.

“Christian Aid is sending financial assistance to provide basic needs and to give Christians the resources to reach out to the unbelievers around them. At this critical time, the Japanese people are seeking answers and looking for hope. With Christian Aid’s help, local believers are able to provide comfort, encouragement and hope through Jesus Christ.

“As physical needs are met through generous gifts sent from all over the world, there is a still special role that Christians have in enabling Japanese believers to show their fellow countrymen how to have peace with God. In times of crisis, the needs of the spirit are always far deeper than the physical needs. “Japan has been resistant to the gospel. Pray that God will pour His love upon these people and they will come to know a love that is deeper than their present sorrow.”

Pastors and church group leaders who want to send an offering by mail should forward funds to Christian Aid Mission, P.O. Box 9037, Charlottesville, VA 22906. Checks should be designated to gift code 850IDS, Japan Disaster Relief.

ABOUT CHRISTIAN AID: Founded by Bob Finley in 1953, Christian Aid is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. It links American churches and mission-minded individuals to indigenous missions in 122 countries. Today it sends help to more than 800 native mission ministries that deploy over 80,000 missionary workers serving the Lord among 3000 tribes, tongues and nations. Visit online at http://www.ChristianAid.org or call 434-977-5650 for more information.

Two Prayers

sunriseThe beauty of written prayers is their thoroughness. So often in prayer our minds wander and we are distracted. These two Orthodox prayers are beautiful expressions of the heart to the Lord at both ends of the day.

Prayer at Daybreak

Eternal King without beginning, You who are before all worlds, my Maker, Who have summoned all things from non-being into this life: bless this day that You, in Your inscrutable goodness, give to me. By the power of Your blessing enable me at all times in this coming day to speak and act for You, to Your glory, in Your fear, according to Your will, with a pure spirit, with humility, patience, love, gentleness, peace, courage, wisdom and prayer, aware everywhere of Your presence.

Yes, Lord, in Your immense mercy, lead me by Your Holy Spirit into every good work and word, and grant me to walk all my life long in Your sight without stumbling, according to Your righteousness that You have revealed to us, that I may not add to my transgressions.

O Lord, great in mercy, spare me who am perishing in wickedness; do not hide Your face from me. And when my perverted will would lead me down other paths, do not forsake me, my Savior, but force me back to Your holy path.

O You Who are good, to Whom all hearts are open, You know my poverty and my foolishness, my blindness and my uselessness, but the sufferings of my soul are also before You. Wherefore I beseech You: hear me in my affliction and fill me with Your strength from above. Raise me up who am paralyzed with sin, and deliver me who am enslaved to the passions. Heal me from every hidden wound. Purify me from all taint of flesh and spirit. Preserve me from every inward and outward impulse that is unpleasing in Your sight and hurtful to my brother.

I beseech You: establish me in the path of Your commandments and to my last breath do not let me stray from the light of Your ordinances, so that Your commandments may become the sole law of my being in this life and in all eternity.

O God, my God, I plead with You for many and great things: do not disregard me. Do not cast me away from Your presence because of my presumption and boldness, but by the power of Your love lead me in the path of Your will. Grant me to love You as You have commanded, with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind, and with all my strength: with my whole being.

For You alone are the holy protection and all-powerful defender of my life, and to You I ascribe glory and offer my prayer.

Grant me to know Your truth before I depart this life. Maintain my life in this world until I may offer You true repentance. Do not take me away in the midst of my days, and when You are pleased to bring my life to an end, forewarn me of my death, so that I may prepare my soul to come before You.

Be with me then, O Lord, on my great and sacred day, and grant me the joy of Your salvation. Cleanse me from manifest and secret sins, from all iniquity hidden in me; and give me a right answer before Your dread judgment-seat.

Amen.

Prayer Before Bed

To the Holy Spirit:

O Lord, the Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth: have compassion and mercy on me, Thy sinful servant! Absolve me, who am unworthy. Forgive all the sins I have committed this day both in my humanity and my inhumanity, behaving worse than beasts in sins voluntary and involuntary, known and unknown, from my youth,from evil suggestions, haste and despondency. If I have sworn by Thy name or blasphemed it in thought; if I have reproached anyone or become angered by something; or slandered or saddened anyone in my anger; or have lied, or slept unnecessarily; or a beggar has come to me and I have despised him; or have saddened my brother or quarreled with him; or have judged someone; or have allowed myself to become haughty, proud or angry; or, when standing in prayer, my mind has been shaken by the wickedness of this world; or have entertained depraved thoughts; or have over-eaten, over-drunk or laughed mindlessly; or have had evil thoughts or seen the beauty of someone and been wounded by it in my heart; or have spoken inappropriately; or have laughed at my brother’s sins when my own transgressions are countless; or have been indifferent to prayer; or have done any other evil that I can not remember – for I have done all this and more: have mercy, O Master, my Creator, on me, Thy despondent and unworthy servant! Absolve, remit and forgive me, in Thy goodness and love for mankind that I, who am prodigal, sinful and wretched, may lie down in peace and find sleep and rest. May I worship, hymn and praise Thy most honorable name, with the Father and His only-begotten Son, now and ever and unto ages of ages.

Amen.

Thank You, Friends

GoodShepherdI want to say a warm thank-you to Hope readers who have remembered me in prayer the last few days. I am home from the hospital, and while a little worse for the wear, am grateful that things are stable. Your messages of Christian love and support were so deeply appreciated!

The Scripture says that we are to give thanks in everything. I am thankful to the Lord for medicine, wonderful caring doctors and nurses, good hospitals and all the help available to those with medical needs. I’m also thankful for a loving family who cheered me up. One night Sam, Tom and William all came to visit together, and seeing their smiling faces coming into the room was such a delight. Son Jon then also came to visit after work, even though it meant a drive for him, and just sat and talked for a long time. I thank the Lord for my precious family.

I’m glad to be home again, and while the next few weeks are “crunch time” as the doctor put it, as we near the arrival of our little girl, we are trusting the Lord for the outcome. Being able to write and post on the Hope site is a peaceful way to spend time with my feet up. Thank you for stopping by, as always. Our hope is in the Lord, and the redemptive element in difficult times and weakness is the reminder that without Him, we can do nothing!

“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…”

–Deut. 33:27

Robert Philip on Communion With God

“The highest human honor is access to the king.  Even a single interview with the monarch is highly coveted, and if obtained never forgotten.  How much more should access to the ‘King Eternal, Immortal, and Invisible’, be prized and improved. But alas, it is not so in general.  We are naturally averse to ‘draw nigh unto God’.  We invent excuses for the neglect of prayer and are prone to hurry over devotion.  The time which ought to be sacred to God is often sacrificed to the world; but we seldom sacrifice to God any of the time which belongs to the world.  There is nothing that we have more reason to be ashamed of than our low views upon the subject of secret prayer.

In the Old Testament, the high priest had access annually to the mercy-seat in the holy of holies; and when within the veil God communed with him from between the cherubim.  He could say with certainty as he entered with blood and incense, ‘I will hear what God the Lord will speak for He will speak peace to His people’.  Now with such an introduction as the typical blood of the atonement, and such a welcome awaiting him, what should we have thought and said of the high priest if he had neglected to go into the holy of holies, or had not gone to the mercy-seat, or had come out before he heard what God the Lord would speak.  Had any priest been guilty of this neglect, all hearts would have been shocked at his impiety, and all voices united in condemning him.  We should have expected to hear that, like the offerers of ‘strange fire’, he was suddenly consumed by fire.  But is it not more shocking and sinful not to draw nigh unto God now that the eternal throne is the mercy-seat, the blood of the Lamb our introduction and plea?  And access to God on the mercy-seat is now daily.  At all times, in all places, and under all circumstances, we may ‘come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need’. Why, then, is this freedom of access so little prized or improved?  The Ark of the Covenant was, no doubt, splendid, and the golden mercy seat sublime, and the cherubim majestic; but these were only ‘shadows of good things to come’; whereas we have in our closets the ‘good things’ themselves.  There we may behold the brighteness of the Father’s glory in the face of Jesus and see His person and work in all that was shadowed within the veil.  All the real value of the holy of holies and its magnificent mercy-seat was, that there God heard and answered prayer.  The types are now useless and the answer of prayer secured by the intercession of Christ. The closet is preferable to the temple if communion with God be our object.  When we retire to it we meet God only, we speak to God alone.

“Alone with God! How solemn and sublime! Such access to Him has no parallel in heaven itself.  We could not have entered within the veil of the temple, even if we had lived when the temple was in all its glory; but, if we could have entered to pray before the mercy-seat, what would it have been compared with thus meeting in the ‘closet’ with nothing but God, and with God all to ourselves?  Why should we ever be reluctant to pray, or heartless in prayer?  Secret prayer is a private interview with God, as real as that at the bush in Midian, or that on Mount Peniel, vouchsafed to Moses and Jacob.  If therefore we would readily welcome such visits from God as the patriarchs were favored with, what ought we to think of the daily privilege of visiting God in secret, and being noticed, heard and remembered by Him for good?  Truly prayer is access to God.  How willingly and cheerfully ought we to enter our closets, and pray to the Father who seeth  in secret and rewardeth openly!”

–Robert Philip, taken from Communion with God; A Guide to the Devotional Spirit

Published and available through Reformation Heritage Books.