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Mountains and Valleys

Many of us have read or heard of the very popular Bible passage Psalm 23, where David talks about God being his Shepherd, how he leads him beside still waters and restores his soul.  One part of this verse stirs something deep within my heart in verse 4.

Psalm 23:4 ESV

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]  I will fear no evil, for you are with me;  your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Have you ever had a season in your life you didn’t want to be in, where you asked God, “Why am I here?”  “What am I doing in this place?”  With fists clenched, heels digging in the ground, telling God, “I don’t want to be here!”  Sounds like the valley of the shadow of death is one of those places.  Other versions of this verse also read valley of darkness or death.

What do you think David saw when he walked through the valley of darkness?

The valley David refers to in this verse is a valley in the desert of Judah.  Anyone who walks through this valley is putting themselves at risk of encountering anything lurking in the darkness, wildlife, bandits, even a random flash flood.

What strikes me, David is walking through the valley where there is a shadow of death.  Where there was a lot of unknowns surrounding him.  Anything could attack or happen to him at any moment.  Yet, he didn’t run away from the darkness, he didn’t take a different route, he walks right through it.

Do you think David knew he was going to walk through a valley of death?

I think many of us would have turned around if we knew what lied ahead.  We always wonder why God doesn’t share details with us.  If we really knew, we wouldn’t go where God was asking us to go.  David then says in response to walking in the valley, “I will fear no evil, you’re rod and staff comfort me.”  David knew even if he was in the valley he was safe and protected because God was with him every step of the way.

In Everybody Always, Bob Goff talks about fighter pilots who train in the valleys in between the mountains.  When asked why do they train at lower elevations where winds can get them, their response was, ‘so we can get better.’

God isn't always going to lead us to the safest route forward but to the one where we will grow the most. God knows without risk we wouldn't grow #quote @BobGoff #EverybodyAlwaysClick To Tweet

David knew walking through the valley would be hard.  But he also knew in the valley is where he learned to depend on and trust in God the most.  Walking through the valley will be dark and seem like God is far away.  When we trust in what God is able to do and not in what we see, He walks us safely to the other side every time.

It is so easy to praise God when we’re standing on the mountain but not always so easy when we’re deep in the valleys.

Imagine what would happen if we took the same approach as David?  If we faced our fears, our darkness and walked through them, depending on God for our guidance and comfort when we’re afraid?

In the valley is where we grow the most and receive the sweetest most unexpected victories when we trust God to walk us to the other side of our darkness.

Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

God goes and prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies.  God doesn’t promise we won’t have to walk through our valleys in the absence of our enemies, but in their presence.  As our enemies surround us God our Shepherd, the master of provision provides for us everything we need in the midst of our battles.

The enemies in our lives are powerless over us when we praise him in our darkness–when we push through holding onto God’s hand, when we trust and don’t know how everything will turn out.  God’s generosity of mercy and grace then overflows in us, all the days of our lives and we will dwell in his house forever (Psalm 23:6).  In God’s house lies a sanctuary of peace and love like none other that sets us free from the fears of any darkness.

The next time fear gets the best of you, allow God to be your Shepherd leading you through your dark valleys.  Pray Psalm 23 over your situation.  Close your eyes and follow the voice of the Shepherd.  Trust in Him, take His hand, He knows the way.

A voice cries:[a]
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 40:3-5

What season are you in?

How do you allow God to lead you through your valley?

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5 P’s To Pray Over Your Marriage

Marriage is one of the biggest blessings in life, yet 40%-50% of marriages end up in divorce.  If marriage is such a blessing, then why do so many marriages fail?  I think there are many factors at play–a person’s background and upbringing, parents who had a loving successful marriage, children, poor role models, trials, dysfunctional habits.  But I think one of the most important factors that help couples STAY together is PRAYER.

A study written by the National Association of Marriage Enhancement stated out of 1156 couples, those who prayed together on a daily basis less than 1% ended in divorce.  The study went even further to analyze what the couples did at home together.   Were they apart of the same denomination?  Did they attend church together?  Did they share the same beliefs and values?  Did they do any worship activities at home?

The study found there was a higher level of marital satisfaction when the couples shared the same religious practices at home which included reading the Bible together.  Unfortunately, despite knowing this information, only 4% of Christian couples pray together on a daily basis.  The important message from the study was if you want a strong marriage that is long-lasting and able to endure trials and hardships, develop a consistent pattern of prayer and reading your Bibles together.

Who is ready to start praying!?!?!?

It all starts with prayer.  Here are 5 P’s to pray over your Marriage.  Make a commitment to pray together for the next 30 days and see what happens.  If you are ready to start reading the Bible together there is a Bible reading plan as well.  Those who pray together stay together.  Those who read their Bibles together become deeply rooted in God’s word.  God’s word then becomes alive and living in their lives.

5 P’s to Pray Over Your Marriage

1.  Prosper

Pray for your marriage to grow, flourish and prosper.  Pray your marriage will bear God’s fruits and grow deeply rooted in his love.  Pray your communication with one another will be effective and prosper.  Pray for unity, peace, and harmony with each other and in your marriage.

Verses to pray, Galatians 5:22, Ephesians 4:3, Ephesians 3:17-21, Colossians 3:13-14.  

2.  Preparation

Pray God will equip and prepare you for what he has in store for you.  Pray for patience along the way, because it will be tested.  Patience prepares us for God’s plans.  Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to be working within you to dwell richly in your hearts.  Pray for strength and courage to endure and persevere any trials that come your way.  Pray to be in a position of readiness, to be alert and aware of anything getting in the way of God or putting your marriage at risk or in danger.  Ask God to rid our hearts of any arrogance, pride deceit, malice, anger or bitterness (Mark 7:21).  

Pray for God to fill your heart with His desires.  Pray these verses over your marriage, Psalm 37:4, Romans 12:12, Galatians 6:9, Philippians 4:13, Joshua 1:9, Colossians 3:16.

3.  Praiseworthy

Pray your marriage will be a godly example, admirable and meritorious for God.  Pray that you will be gracious towards one another, express gratitude and thankfulness.    Pray you are gentle, kind, patient and forgiving towards one another.  Pray you will see your spouse through God’s eyes and praise your spouse daily.  Pray you will love your spouse the way God loves them.  Pray you will be encouraging towards one another and build each other up (1 Thes. 5:11).

Pray these verses over your marriage, Philippians 4:8, Ephesians 4:32, Galatians 5:22, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Psalm 115:1-2.

4.  Purpose

Pray your marriage is a godly marriage that shines the light of Jesus (Matthew 5:15-16).  Pray God will be the center of your marriage giving your marriage power and purpose.  Pray you will not get in the way of God’s purpose and plan your lives and marriage.  Pray for God to be Lord over our lives and marriages.  Pray for your husband to allow God to be Lord in His life and be the spiritual leader he has called him to be.  Pray you will give love and respect to one another.  Pray for willing and obedient hearts that allow God’s purpose and plan to become alive in your lives.  Pray you will allow God’s will to be done in your lives and marriage.  Pray God will use your marriage for his greater purpose and plan.

Pray these verses over your marriage Romans 8:28, Psalm 138:8, Matthew 5:15-16, Jeremiah 1:5, Jeremiah 29:11.

5.  Protection

Pray for protection against Satan, lies, doubt, temptations, sin, and discouragement.  Pray the enemy will stay out of your marriage.

Pray the armor of God over your marriage in Ephesians 6:10-20.  Pray your marriage will stand strong in the Lord by putting on the armor of God.  Pray you will not fight against each other but in prayer against the enemy.  Pray you will stand firm in God’s truth by buckling the belt of truth tightly around your waists.  Pray the breastplate of righteousness will guard your hearts.  Pray your feet will be fitted with readiness by putting on the shoes of peace (the gospel).  Pray the shield of faith will be an extra layer of protection that will extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Pray the helmet of salvation will help protect and guard your minds against doubts, lies, and temptations.  Pray you take the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers to stay alert and keep praying.

Most of all, pray you will stay committed and dedicated to prayer and reading the Bible.  Praying these verses over our marriages gives power and purpose to our marriages.  If you don’t have a Bible, download the YouVersion Bible app to your phone to be able to look up Bible verses.

There is so much more than we could add to our list.  If there is something lacking in our marriages or that we’re struggling with–cover it in prayer.  Maybe both sides struggle with patience or need to communicate better.  Or maybe there needs to be more encouragement towards one another.

It doesn’t matter what our circumstances are or if we are going through a trial.  When we are covered in prayer and in God’s word, nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38).  Prayer keeps us protected against the enemy attacking our marriages, keeps us alert to what we need to pay attention to and keeps us in communication with God.

Every marriage will endure trials and hardships.  Is our own strength and love enough to get us through?  No, but God’s strength and love are.  The love of Jesus is the glue that keeps our marriages together and builds us stronger than we ever were before.

When we fail or fall short, God’s grace makes up for our short comings (Romans 6:23).Click To Tweet

Is your marriage worth fighting for?

How do you get through your trials?  Where do you find your hope?

We need the love and strength of Jesus to help our marriages prosper, be prepared, be praiseworthy, be purposeful and protected.

Do you desire a strong, long-lasting marriage that is filled abundantly with God’s eternal blessings?

Those who pray together stay together.Click To Tweet

Marriages are worth fighting for.  I fight my battles with prayer.   

Will you pray and/or read the Bible with your spouse for the next 30 days?  

Pray these verses over your marriage and watch them come alive in your life.  God’s Words and prayer are transformational when they are active and living in our lives.  

Whatever we lack in our lives, we are made complete in God.  In Jesus, we have life and have it to the full (John 10:10)!  In God, we lack nothing.  We don’t need to look for another source to fulfill us when God is in the center of our marriages.  I promise, your faithfulness and patience will reap great rewards than you could ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20)!

Marriages are not meant to defeat us but to fill us abundantly with God’s eternal blessings Click To Tweet

Have a blessed week!

Print out this Free Printable Bookmark to help guide your prayers or print out this post.  Keep this handy in your Bibles so you can reference it when you pray and read.  You can also follow along with the 30 day Bible reading plan to help fill your hearts with God’s Words!

Marriage Prayer-Click to Download PDF

       

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This post was first published on www.alaskachristianwomensministry.com.


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Does Our Faith Save Us?

The other week I went to a special viewing of the movie “Facing the Darkness.” It was a documentary produced by Samaritan’s Purse about the Ebola Crisis Outbreak in 2013/2014. It featured Dr. Brantly who was the first documented American to enter into the United States with this deadly disease. He was extremely close to death until a major breakthrough occurred.  An experimental drug emerged that could possibly save his life.  His only options were to do nothing and die at the expense of the disease or be given an experimental infusion drug only tested on animals.

I can’t imagine being in this situation, knowing you were going to possibly die in both situations. Dr. Brantly took a leap of faith and chose the latter, which ended up saving his life. He became the face of Ebola all over world. Dr. Brantly contracting Ebola showed the world, no one is excluded from this disease, it can happen to anyone.

His diagnosis was the catalyst for the Center for Disease Control pursuing a cure for a disease that spread and killed people at a very rapid rate. Because of the Dr. Brantly situation there is now a vaccine created for this virus.

At the end of the movie Dr. Brantly said something so profound. He said, “Faith is not something that makes you safe. My faith did not save me but got me through it. My Faith actually brought me to the Ebola crisis.”

Dr. Brantley’s situation asks deeper questions.

Is our faith enough to save us?

So many people in the Bible can ask the same question.

Did Daniel’s faith save him from being thrown in the lion’s den? No

Did Shadrack, Meschack, and Abendago’s faith save them from being thrown in the fiery furnace? No

Did the Israelites’ faith save them from being attacked by the Egyptians? No

Did Jesus’ faith prevent him from being crucified on the cross? No

You may be thinking, then what is the point in having faith if it doesn’t keep me safe?

These examples of faith did not PREVENT them from being put in scary, dangerous circumstances. Standing firm in their faith DID PROTECT them and allow for God’s greater plan to happen.

If Daniel didn’t have faith we would have never seen God’s power to shut the mouths of lions.

If Shadrack, Meshack and Abendago didn’t have faith we would had never seen God’s power protect them from being burned in the fiery furnace and how God was with them.

If the Israelites didn’t have faith we would have never seen God’s ability to part the Red Sea providing a way out from their enemies.

If Jesus refused to put his trust in His Father’s hands, we would have missed out on the greatest plan that ever existed—our eternal salvation.

Think about it. Each example of faith, including Dr. Brantly’s brought them to the heart of a crisis where their lives were at stake. Through each act of faith, we were able to see how trusting in God’s plan moves mountains and makes the impossible, possible.

How big is your faith?

Matthew 17:20 “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Our faith allows God’s greater plan to play out. Our faith does not save us, but God’s grace does.

Ephesians 2:8-9. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Our faith will not SAVE us from our bad circumstances or GUARANTEE us a life without struggles. Our FAITH will not prevent us from being thrown into a pit of lions, a fiery furnace, being attacked by our enemies or contracting a deadly disease. Having faith does not exempt us from harsh realities of this world.

Our faith DOES allow God to be in control and puts the trust in HIS capabilities. Our faith is the very thing that will get us through to the other side and live in the abundant blessings God has to offer. It doesn’t matter what circumstances we are up against, when we have faith we become OVERCOMERS in Christ. Our faith allows us to experience PEACE in the storms and JOY in our struggles because of what God has already gone ahead of us and done.

Where will you allow your faith to take you?

Our faith may lead us into scary, dangerous places.

Our faith will never take us where God’s grace cannot protect us.Click To Tweet

God’s grace and love are greater and bigger than anything in this world.

1 John 4:4 “ You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

How has having faith in God protected you in your hard circumstances?

All you need is to have faith the size of a mustard seed and you will see the mountains move.

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