by Susan Sampson

I heard Laurie tell about a family she heard about who lost their baby when the mother was full term.  In the hospital the father was on his knees praising God for the life of their still born baby.  Others commented on what strong faith this family had.  And then what Laurie said really struck me because I would have also been in awe of “his” faith, comparing myself to this family and thinking there’s no way I could ever respond like them.  Laurie said the family didn’t have strong faith. It was God’s amazing grace carrying them through.  It’s all God.  This is how God is glorified.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).  If we see people as having “strong faith” then we are only seeing from a human perspective.  Faith is a gift from the Lord.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast”  (Eph. 2:8).

One of the sins I struggle with is unbelief and doubting my salvation.  I believe the Lord kindly showed me how I was putting my faith in my faith and not in Christ alone.  And again I am confronted with the depth of my pride, thinking somehow I had something to do with getting my faith.  I have been believing the lie from the enemy that because I have such small faith, I must not be a true believer.  But the truth is in Mat. 17:20, “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”  And another truth from God’s Word is that one of the fruits of the Spirit (not of the flesh:) is “faithfulness.”  And the beautiful truth is that fruit grows. Listen to what Paul says about growth.  “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Cor. 3:6).

So we must confess and repent.  Leaving the land I have been living in of unbelief and walk forward to the Promised Land that God has already given me in Christ.  I must crucify my flesh. Leaving my old girl who’s name could very easily be, “doubting Thomas.”  And put on my new self “which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col. 3:10).

But here’s where I again stumble and fall.  Putting to death my flesh hurts.  Crucifixion is painful.  It does go “against my grain.”  My flesh only wants comfort and ease.  My flesh only wants what feels good.  My flesh is not going to go away until I am at home with the Lord.  I want to be in control.  I want my life to be manageable – a.k.a. easy.  But this is not the way of Christ.  This is not the Gospel.  In God’s economy, it is death that brings life.  John records the words of Jesus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:24-25).  One of our dear sisters testified how the Lord is showing her that it is in enduring the pain of self-death that true joy and freedom are found.

My prayer is that the Lord would pour out His amazing grace and enable each of us by the power of Christ in us to REPENT and leave the dry and weary land we have been living in and walk and live in a Garden of Victory!  Laurie challenged us to truly believe God’s promise, Christ in us the hope of glory. Lord, have mercy and enable us to walk by faith and not by sight or by feelings!

“I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon; his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon.  They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow; they shall flourish like the grain; they shall blossom like the vine; their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon”  (Hosea 14:5-7).


by Angie Thomas

I was really struck by Laurie’s discussion in the lecture about God’s name being “hallowed.” Mariam Webster defines “hallowed” as “sacred, revered, holy or consecrated.”  How amazing to think that His name alone is to be revered and considered holy.  David models this well for us in the Psalms.  Here are just a few examples:

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness” (Ps 29:2).

“Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above the earth and heaven” (Ps 148:13).

“He sent redemption to his people; he commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name” (Ps 111:9).

“Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the LORD; exult before him!” (Ps 68:4).

I have found that one of the things that has most transformed my prayer life is starting my prayers by hallowing or praising His name, acknowledging who He is.  Just acknowledging who He is can often change the rest of my prayers.  It is powerful. The second piece that has transformed my prayers is confession.  It is so freeing and cleansing to be able to confess our weaknesses and failings to the Lord.  It emphasizes our need for Him and points us to the cross.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  This can be followed by thanksgiving, praising God for what He has done and for what He will do. Psalm 107:22 says, “And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy.”  It is then, after our minds are filled with the glory of God, our hearts are cleansed from our sinfulness and selfish desires and are filled with joy and thanksgiving for Him, that we can offer our petitions rightly to Him.

Many of you are familiar with this form of prayer identified with the acronym ACTS: Adoration (Praise), Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication.  I remember when I was first introduced to this method I thought it seemed so cumbersome and too regimented.  Mostly, it just revealed my pride that I could just pray to God however I wanted.  Don’t get me wrong, we totally can talk to God without adoring Him, confessing our weakness, and thanking Him for His grace and favor, but our prayers will be hindered by their human focus instead of our God focus. Of course, there will be times when our prayers will be a desperate cry to God for His help and the Bible encourages us that in those moments (as always) the Spirit intercedes on our behalf. But, I would encourage you to follow the example of Scripture that also demonstrate the components of adoration, confession, and thanksgiving.  You will be so blessed as you see your prayer life transformed!

May we seek to know the heart of our King more and more each day through prayer and worship of Him and may our eyes be opened to see His answers to those prayers and His mighty hands at work!

By Susan Sampson

I am reminded of the lecture. Paul writes in 1 Cor. 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” The price was the royal blood of the Son of God. We have been justified by His blood. The penalty for our crimes was taken by another. Crimes?!?? We really don’t see our sin as God does, do we? I know deep in my heart I still think there is some good in me. Murderers deserve the death penalty, not cute little suburban housewives. Woe is me, I am a woman of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips. Lord, please have mercy on us. Give us eyes to see and hearts to understand the glorious truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ — that we as sinners deserving of eternal damnation in hell have been freely justified by the Lord as a free gift of mercy and love. The debt we all owe is in the trillions of dollars and Jesus Christ has paid it in full. We have been set free. He took the blame for our heinous crimes. Is there a greater love? The innocent for the guilty? Is this not enough reason to be on our knees everyday in humble gratitude? Lord, please forgive my pride and arrogance! Have mercy on us and give us grace to live each day in view of the mercy you have freely bestowed offering our bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to you.

I absolutely loved the picture Laurie gave us of our “old girl” knocking at the back door. Our flesh will always be with us until the day we die. It cannot be redeemed. It cannot be fixed. It cannot be made pretty with makeup. We have no choice other than to put our flesh to death. We don’t have to answer the back door! We must deadbolt the back door and open the front door! “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20). Jesus Christ lives in us! This is a fact. God’s words are true. Another crime is not believing this truth. I confess my unbelief. It doesn’t feel like Christ lives in me, so I don’t really believe it’s actually true. If we don’t let Christ live in us and through us by putting our flesh to death then are we not crucifying Him all over again?! If we allow our “old girl” to reign then isn’t Christ’s death and torture wasted? Oh my goodness, what powerful words. Father, give us ears to hear your words. Give us grace to know your great love for us that you demonstrated at the cross. May we have faith by grace for grace to truly believe and live what the Bible says and not what we see or feel or think.