Thursday, October 20, 2016

What Good is Prayer

Devote yourselves to prayer, being
watchful and thankful.
        Colossians 4:2  NIV 

I urge, then, first of all, that requests,
prayers, intercession and thanksgiving
be made for everyone.
         1 Timothy 2:1  NIV 

     E.M. Bounds said, “Prayer should not be regarded as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty.”

     In his letter to the church at Colosse, Paul admonished his brothers and sisters in Christ to devote themselves to prayer. The Greek word for devote conveys the meaning to join, to give attention to, be faithful to, to spend much time together.

     Prayer is not a solitary action. Although we often talk about being alone in prayer, it is always alone with God, the two of us spending time together discussing faith, friends, family, life… As we worship, we can feel His presence. As we confess our sin, we can realize His forgiveness. As we bring our requests to God, we recognize our dependence upon God and become thankful for His goodness, mercy, love and grace. As we wait and listen for Him to speak, He teaches us and pulls us into relationship with Him.

     Prayer draws us close to God. Prayer is our place of power as God hears and answers. Often the change most wrought by prayer is in me as God carefully shapes and forms me into the likeness of Christ.

     Prayer is a delight. It is like wiggling your toes in an icy spring on a hot summer day. It is like a drink of fresh cool water after an extended walk on a dusty trail. It is like the first glimpse of spring flowers after a long gray winter, or first sight of a loved one not seen in years.

     Prayer humbles your heart before God and energizes you for the day’s journey. Time spent with God reassures you that you can make it through the trials of life, joyfully. Through prayer you find the peace that passes all understanding. Through prayer your disappointments become an assurance from God that He is working all things out for your good.

     Prayer allows you the privilege of a glimpse through that heavenly portal into the throne room of God—into the place where God’s glory shines too bright for your human eyes—“a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty.”

     What good is prayer?

© Joyce Powell - repost

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

When I Saw the Cross

May I never boast except in the cross
of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which
the world has been crucified to me,
and I to the world.

Galatians 6:14

When a Christian sees a replica of the cross of Christ, whether it is hanging in a church or around someone’s neck, it serves as a reminder of the price paid for our salvation, our freedom, and our hope. We have a small white cross, a gift from a friend in The Cross Ministry, hanging on the fence across the front of our property. We also have a metal cross hanging on the gate to our driveway.

One morning I looked out my window and saw a young man sticking his fingers through the chain link on the gate; testing out the temperament of our dog. A young woman stood behind him on the edge of the road. Still in my pajamas, I cracked the door open enough to ask if I could help them.

He replied that their car battery died and he needed help charging it and asked if I had any jumper cables. I did not see a car so I asked where it was, assessed the situation, and prayed a quick prayer for wisdom and after dressing and pulling the jumper cables from the trunk of my car, I asked them to get in.

As we drove the short distance to the house where their car sat, Jason began telling me his story. The huge gash across the top of his nose and the slight bruising on his face was enough to convince me he was telling the truth.

He and his girlfriend Katie were homeless; living randomly with whoever would give them a place to sleep. All their belongings lay strewn inside the trunk and across the back seat of the beat-up small red car. He explained that he was jobless and awaiting trial on a felony charge. He extolled his innocence and discussed how the other two involved in the crime made a deal to blame him in exchange for their own freedom. He could not leave the area until after the trial but was anxious to get back to his hometown because “everyone here is evil.”

He told the story of being recently beaten up and having his phone and wallet taken. Katie appeared nervous and said nothing.

After his car started, we talked while waiting for the battery to charge. He explained how he tried to get help from the neighbor. “She came to the door but would not open the screen!” He understood that he looked pretty rough and that she could have been afraid. So Jason and Katie began walking down the road trying to find someone to help. I don’t know why, but his next statement surprised me, “When I saw the cross, I knew you would help me!”

I asked if I could pray with them. He said yes, but she was not excited about hearing anyone pray as she sat inside behind the steering wheel. He told me she was evil. I knew they needed Jesus. Finally, on the verge of tears, she joined us and I began to pray. The first thing I asked my Heavenly Father was to help them see Jesus and invite Him to be their Savior if they had not already done that. I asked God to meet their needs and thanked him for the opportunity to help.

Before we parted, I invited them to visit our church, gave them my phone number and a hug. For the remainder of that day and many days after, I prayed for God’s mighty intervention in their situation.

I will probably never see Jason and Katie again. I will probably never discover the resolution to their situation. But there is one thing of which I am sure—they came to me because of the Cross. No matter how little I might have impacted their lives, I have never forgotten Jason’s words which impacted mine, “When I saw the cross, I knew you would help me!”

Later in the day, as I told the story to my sweet husband, I could see the look of anxiety spreading rapidly across his face. “Honey, don’t you think that might have been a little dangerous,” his protectiveness raised the decibels of his voice. I responded with a “maybe” but…

Two crosses on our fence proclaim to the world that we believe in the Christ of Calvary. Those small symbols speak volumes. Just like Jason, I know there is hope and help at the Cross.

© Joyce Powell

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Hope for the Battle (from Words of Hope)


For the


Put on the full armor
of God
so that you can take your stand
against the
devil’s schemes.

Ephesians 6:11

Roman soldiers, when marching into battle, carried a shield approximately four and one-half feet long by two and one-half feet wide. Usually made of three sheets of wood glued together and covered with canvas and leather, the shield protected the soldier from his chin to his knees. During times of siege, the soldiers would gather in a “tortoise” formation shaping a rectangle with shields raised around the perimeter.

The soldiers in the center would lift their shields, resting them on the Roman helmets and overlapping in order to prevent arrows from penetrating their tortoise-like shell. In this manner, the entire formation stood strong and protected from the enemy.

When writing to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul explained how, in the Christian life, we battle against spiritual forces. He used the wardrobe of the Roman soldier, something with which the people of Ephesus would have been familiar, to explain how to use the armor of God.

Paul not only listed the shield but told the church to “put on the full armor of God…” then proceeded to list the necessary items:

The belt of truth
The breastplate of righteousness
Feet fitted with the gospel of peace
The shield of faith
The helmet of salvation
The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God

And in verse eighteen he added:

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

Here, Paul outlined what I like to call the Spiritual Tortoise Shell. After putting on all the armor, pray—in the Spirit—on all occasions—with all kinds of prayers and requests. And, do not forget to be alert, watchful, and attentive. Watch out for the snares or attacks of the enemy. And always keep on praying for all the saints.”

While this letter was written to the church at Ephesus, it was also intended for circulation among other churches. In this manner, the Apostle Paul emphasized the need for both individual submission to Christ as well as love, mercy, charity, and kindness toward all the saints—fellow believers and followers of Christ—through constant prayer.

Although written nearly two thousand years ago, these instructions remain valid and necessary. What would happen in our world today if every person who has surrendered to Christ as Lord would follow the instructions to keep on praying, in the Spirit, for all the saints? I hope the next time the enemy sets his sights on me, my fellow Christians will have me covered with a spiritual tortoise shell because of their constant prayers. God’s armor is our hope for the battle.

©Joyce Powell

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Under His Wings

Every day I pray for those who read this blog.
 No matter where you are in the world,
 you can have the confidence that
 has you
 under His wings. 

Hope For Such A Time as This

wExcerpt from "Words of Hope"

For Such A
Time as

And who knows
 but that You
 have come to royal
position for such a time as this?

Esther 4:14b 

The closest I have ever come to royalty was during a trip to London where my husband and I walked the one-half mile red-surfaced road called The Mall. British flags, St. James Park, and the Queen’s Guard stationed along the route leaves no doubt that Buckingham Palace lies ahead; standing in royal prominence. When the Queen is in residence, the Union Jack waves above the palace to announce Her Majesty’s presence.

In front of the palace and just outside the gates, the Queen Victoria Memorial, standing eighty-two feet high and made of gleaming white marble, radiates as the sun smiles on its surface, and standing beneath her memorial while watching the Changing of the Guard drew me into a world that I could never have imagined.

The opulence of the gilded gates and proud stallions accompanied by the red and black clad soldiers and shining brass instruments of the marching band displayed a world I could only watch from the outside—never hoping to be invited in and certainly never thinking that I could be of any benefit to the people of the country of my ancestors. I am only a “commoner.”

But God has a way of taking a common and ordinary person and turning her into an uncommon and extraordinary person. Such is the story of Esther. A beautiful, young, Jewish virgin, orphaned and being raised by an uncle, snatched from her common life and thrust into the king’s harem. Placed under the care of the king’s eunuch, she was soaked in oils and spices, fed a special diet, and prepared for her night with the king. When it came, she won his favor and found herself positioned as Queen Esther.

Eventually, her uncle Mordecai made her aware of a plot to wipe out the Jews. He asked her to go before the King to save her people. Esther feared for her life for to go before the king without an invitation could mean immediate death. But Mordecai sent her a message, “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)

Esther responded to her uncle with a request for the Jewish people to fast and pray for three days. Then she would go before the king. On the third day, she dressed in royal garments and stood in the king’s hall; waiting to be accepted or put to death. The king extended to her his gold scepter, and she entered his presence. By the end of the book of Esther, we find that her request was granted, and the perpetrator of the annihilation plot along with his entire family was put to death; saving the Jews.

You may think this Biblical account of the life of a young Jewish orphan is not relevant to you. I would challenge that assumption. Today, just as in Esther’s day, we fight similar battles. The circumstances may be different, but the battle remains the same; for it is “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms? (Ephesians 6:12)

Often the battle appears overwhelming as more and more we see the cross of Christ and the Word of God trampled beneath the feet of our nation’s legal system. It is possible family members may turn their backs as you answer the call of God on your life. Friends may drop like flies sprayed with bug killer as you find God walking through the pages of His Word.

But do not be deceived by the enemy. When you surrender your life to God through His Son Jesus Christ, you are royalty. You have access to the throne room and the power of the King of Kings. And King David reminded you and me in Psalm 139 that God has a plan for each life when he wrote, “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.”

So never forget that although you may feel like a commoner; ordinary, average, typical—God can use you to do the uncommon; rare, unique, exceptional, extraordinary—when you surrender your life to be used for His glory. There is hope—“And, who knows but that you have come to royal position (in Christ-mine) for such a time as this?”

© Joyce Powell

Monday, September 26, 2016

Hope Replaces Condemnation

Excerpt from Words of Hope


Therefore, there is now
 no condemnation
 for those
 who are in
 Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1

Condemnation comes in many forms; criticism, disapproval, rebuke, judgment… Our world today seems filled with those who easily find fault in others; condemning you for your beliefs, words, or actions with no thought as to how their criticism and negative words might change the course of your life.

But, have you considered that you may be your own worst enemy when it comes to condemnation? Most likely you have heard the phrase “jack of all trades—master of none.” Those are the words that satan whispered in my ears for decades. Every time I heard a great pianist perform, an accomplished singer sing, read a fine work of literature, or saw a remarkable photograph displayed, my mind would rush to the “if only I had” focused on one thing: piano, vocal, composition, photography—“then I would not be a…jack of all trades and master of none.” Heaping condemnation upon myself became a bad habit.

Perhaps you too have played the self-condemnation game. But Romans 8:1 says “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” While we usually think of this verse in the context of freedom from sin by the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ, I would like you to think outside the box for a moment. 1 John 3:19-21 tells us that God is greater than your conscience, your thought process, or the rationalization of your behavior.

Psalm 139 beautifully proclaims God’s activity in your life before your lungs inhaled for the first time. Almighty God looked upon you while you grew in your mother’s womb. Verses fifteen and sixteen explain that before your body was formed, all the days God ordained for you were written in His book; before a single one of them came to be.

God loves you, and you are so precious to Him that rather than condemn you, when you were an embryo, in a little tight ball, He planned your days and wrote them down in His book. That does not mean we will never face trials, temptations, or sorrows but that as soon as you surrender your life to the Father through Jesus Christ His Son, you are in safe hands; no longer condemned. Sin cannot condemn you, satan cannot condemn you, and you cannot condemn yourself. 

Never again allow satan to whisper, “You are not good enough,” in your ear. Never again allow him to convince you that you have sinned too often, been too bad, or done too much wrong to be useful in God’s Kingdom. Never again allow satan to make you believe that you are “just ok” in your service for the Father, because 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Do not let it be you! Find hope in the words Jesus spoke to a woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8:11b, “And Jesus said unto her, ‘Neither do I condemn thee go, and sin no more.’” (KJV) Let hope replace condemnation in your life.

Friday, September 23, 2016

WORDS OF HOPE Now Available

Words of Hope: Help for the Hurting Heart
(Giving Joy to the Heart) (Volume 1)
Paperback – September 23, 2016

by Joyce L Powell (Author)

Praising God for His unmerited favor!

May be purchased by clicking the link to the right under "Available on"