Thistlebend Quiet eMoment

by Laurie Aker

Focus Scripture: Luke 8:19-21 ESV

19 Then his mother and his brothers came to him,  
but they could not reach him because of the crowd.
20 And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers  
are standing outside, desiring to see you.”
21 But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers  
are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

Listen to what Jesus is saying once again.
It may take you by surprise that Jesus is reiterating the same point.
If something is repeated it must be important.
Also, it may be that we have a tendency to weigh
our spiritual condition on the wrong scale.

Today, tomorrow, and the remainder of the week,
would you quietly, tenderly, but fearlessly ask yourself,
“How am I responding to God’s Word?
Do I merely agree with it or do I really obey it as well?”

In the past, I have witnessed dear old friends
come to the realization that they had been “hearing” God’s
Word and “believing” God’s Word but not really doing it…

They thought that they were following Jesus.
Everyone around them thought the same,
but upon closer examination, they discovered that they
really hadn’t been following Jesus like they thought.
They discovered that they had no ability to follow Jesus
and His Word in their own strength.
They wept and wept in deep sorrow for all the
years that had past, for all the opportunities missed,
and for the impact their disobedience had on their children
and family members.
They had been trying to follow Jesus without completely
dying to self and leaving everything.
We have no ability to follow Jesus if we don’t follow Him
in complete abandon.


Our heavenly Father had Matthew, Mark, and Luke
record this little exchange in His Word.
There is an inseparable connection between love and obedience.

Luke 8:21
My mother and my brothers are those
who hear the word of God and do it.

You may be distracted,
lulled to sleep by your circumstances.
You may be so challenged by them that you aren’t able to focus
on God’s Word and take it seriously.
You may be giving yourself excuses.
You may be trying to hide the condition of your
heart from yourself and the Lord.

We all have a habit of measuring how we are doing according
to human standards. But Jesus’ words are clear:

Luke 14:26
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and
mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters,
yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:33
So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce
all that he has cannot be my disciple.

As painful as it might be to ask yourself the question now,
“How am I responding to God’s Word?
Do I merely agree with it or do I obey it as well?”
it is better to weep now rather than later.
Ask the Lord for His help.

Ask Him for His mercy on you, a sinner.
Confess your apathy, your fear, and your unbelief.

Ask Him for His grace to surrender all.

What might it mean?
Loss of control?
Possible failure?
Loss of self?
Admitting that things aren’t as they seem?


Write out the following verse from Luke 8 and recite it 3 times.
Take it with you throughout the day.

21 But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers
are those who hear the word of God and do it.”


Lord, I confess that I don’t want to have to surrender all.
May we all see that you don’t want to take anything away from us,
but that you want to give us life — abundant life!
You want to give us yourself!

In His hands for His glory,


by Susan Sampson

Who am I in Christ?

Who am I in Christ?

The sentences are the same but the emphasis makes all the difference in the world!  So where is my emphasis?

Self or Christ?

What is my purpose for living?  Who is my focus?  What am I thinking about?

The world, the enemy, and my own flesh are constantly pointing me to me!  But the Lord in His Word continually exhorts us to look to Christ.  To lift our heads above our circumstances and see Jesus, see truth from a divine perspective.  This is why Paul’s letter to us is so vitally important.  So huge.  So life changing.  For Christians it is absolutely essential to know who we are in Christ.  What our identity is now.  In Galatians 2:20a Paul tells us, “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”  And in 2 Corinthians 5:17 he states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 

So again we must all ask ourselves, “Where is my emphasis?”  What is my focus?  What is the priority of my life?

  • Feelings or truth?
  • Circumstances or truth?
  • Who I am in Christ or my to-do list?
  • Living in the passions of my flesh as I did as an unbeliever (Eph. 2:3) or walking by the Spirit?
  • Following the course of this world as I did as an unbeliever (Eph. 2:2) or the truth of God’s Word?
  • Carrying out the desires of my body and mind as I did as an unbeliever (Eph. 2:3) or carrying out the truth of God’s Word?

To the Colossians and to us Paul instructs, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3).

This is so hard for me to do.  I am challenged to my core to reign in my brain and take my thoughts captive, making them obedient to Christ.  Every morning needing to and wanting to fight the fight of faith, fighting to believe the truth of God’s Word.  Praise God for the indescribable gift of the Holy Spirit!  The faith we have is a gift from the Lord given to us by His grace.  Let us therefore in view of God’s love, mercy, and grace make it our daily moment by moment priority to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” and “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1-2).  

Let us humbly ask the Lord to search our hearts to show us our sins of unbelief and pride that we may confess them, repent of them and be forgiven and cleansed (1 Jn. 1:9).  We have to choose by faith to believe the glorious truth of the gospel – that Jesus has done it all!  He obeyed the law perfectly for us.  He took the condemnation we deserve for not obeying the law!  He bore the wrath of God in our place!  He died so we could live! “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).

I loved the quote Laurie referenced from C.J. Mahaney: “Only those who are truly aware of their sin can truly cherish His grace.”

Father, please give us your grace today to be able to believe what we’ve been given, receive it and walk in it and say to the world, the flesh, and the devil, “I don’t deserve it, but I am in Christ forever by the glorious grace of God!”  

May Christ alone be glorified and may we enjoy Him this day!  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3).

by Steve Fuller

How Should I Pray?

Let’s say you are without work.  And imagine you just returned from an interview for a job you really want, and you decide to pray about the job.

But as you think about praying, you start to wonder –

  • Why pray, when it’s the interviewer who will decide who gets the job?
  • Maybe instead of praying that I get the job, I should just tell God that I submit to his will.
  • Maybe to have my prayer for the job answered I need to believe without any doubt that God is going to give me the job.

These questions can weaken and discourage our prayer.  So how can we answer them?

Learning From Jesus

What helps me with those questions is Jesus’ prayer in Mark 14:36.

It’s late at night.  Jesus knows that the next day he faces hours of horrifying suffering as God’s wrath for our sin is poured upon him on the Cross.

So he heads to the garden of Gethsemane, and asks Peter, James, and John to pray for him.

Then he goes off a little farther away by himself, falls to the ground, and prays –

“Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)

Each of these lines have helped me answer crucial questions about prayer –

“Father, all things are possible for you.”

Jesus understood that the Father was sovereign over everything, which means it is entirely up to the Father whether Jesus is spared the Cross, or sent to the Cross.

That’s true for Jesus as he anticipates the Cross, and it’s true for every situation we face.  God can do whatever he chooses to do.

So as you think about how much you want this job, it’s crucial to understand that God is able to give you the job, or to not give you the job.  It’s ultimately up to him (Proverbs 21:1).

That doesn’t mean you don’t prepare for the interview.  But it does mean that what happens is not ultimately about how well you interviewed, or who happens to do the interview.  What happens is ultimately up to God.

That’s why it makes sense to pray for the job, because when you pray you are talking to the One who is in complete control of who gets the job.

“Remove this cup from me.”

Sometimes we think that if we were fully submitted to God, then all we would need to pray is “Do your will.”  But that’s not how Jesus prays.

There’s mystery here.  But it seems clear that part of Jesus’ heart did not want to go to the Cross.  So Jesus prays and asks God to keep him from the Cross — “Remove this cup from me.”

This was not all that was in his heart, as we will see in the next request.  But it was part of what was in his heart.

And that’s how God wants us to pray.  God wants us to ask him to fulfill the desires of our hearts, as long as those desires are not against God’s Word.

So even though we don’t know God’s ultimate will, we should ask God for what seems right to us according to his Word.  So we should go ahead and pray for jobs, healing, salvation, provision, protection, and so forth.

So don’t just pray “Do your will.”  Pray as Jesus prayed — for the specific desires of your heart.

“Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

When you pray to get the job, do you need to believe with absolute certainty that God will give you the job?  That’s not how Jesus prays.

Jesus prays and asks God: “Remove this cup from me.”

But Jesus also understands that what’s most crucial is submitting to God’s will — “Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Sometimes God will give us a supernatural, spiritual gift of faith by which we know exactly what God is going to do.  In that case we can pray with absolute confidence that God will do precisely as we ask.

That is a spiritual gift which God sometimes gives to some of us.  But it’s not something God always requires from us.

So apart from a spiritual gift of faith, we should pray as Jesus did in Gethsemane.  Express to God the desires of your heart earnestly, persistently, and passionately –

Please, Father, have the interviewer hire me.
I plead with you, Father, heal me.
For the sake of your name, free me from this trial.

This is crucial, because God might have ordained that your earnest pleading be what moves his heart to do exactly what you are asking.

But at the same time, because you understand that God knows best, also pray –

Yet not what I want, but what you want.

This is also crucial, because it will remind you that God might have other, even better plans for you.  And it will help you keep seeking your joy in God, and not in specific answers to prayer.

Learn how to pray — from Jesus.


This article has been reposted from the Living by Faith Blog.  The original article may be accessed here.