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In A Golden Vial

And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.” ~ (Rev 5:8 KJV)

Growing up in the Catholic Church, I used to believe that the term “saints” encompassed a specific group of people that met certain criteria of godliness, miracles, and being dead, and were subsequently canonized by the pope. I have since come to realize that God’s miracles are not bound by the lives of a chosen few. As His children, we are given an inheritance, an authority to call on His power during our stewardship in this world. Believers, as God’s people, are saints. There are other translations of this verse that even use the phrase “God’s people” instead. We are saints. I am a saint.

And when I pray, God holds the words precious. Precious. He holds my communion precious. Now, when I first read this, I thought “vial of odours” meant perfume. Vials hold liquid, right? I thought my prayers were like a sweet-smelling perfume to the Lord. It’s a lovely thought.

As it turns out, it’s even better than that. I read a few other translations which instead of “odours” say “incense”. Perfume in the bible was valuable and could even comprise an inheritance. But sweet incense was in another league altogether. It was used in the tabernacle on the altar of incense and was for sacred use only. It was so precious that God didn’t allow any personal use of it at all.

That is what our prayers comprise. That is what adorns the throne room in golden vials. Too precious to use on earth, too valuable to be used for anything other than God Himself, this is what our prayers to Him become – so highly does He value them.

That is beautiful. That is amazing and humbling. And it’s also convicting. How many times have I prayed in a hurry, prayed while multitasking, prayed for mundane or worthless things? How often have I prayed for selfish things? How often has my prayer life been focused on myself and not the Kingdom? All I could think about after reading this verse was a back room full of my selfish and rushed prayers that were not sweet-smelling at all, but instead were stinking up the place.

Granted, a large part of my prayer life, especially lately, has been focused on Jesus Himself – more intimacy with Him, more of His heart and less of mine, just more of Him. After reading this verse I was pretty glad of that! But the major cry of my heart today is still this:

I want a prayer life that reflects the value God places on it.

Then the more I meditated on this verse, the more I realized something. It doesn’t talk about a back room of hidden-away, less-than-perfect prayers. There’s no hidden shelf labelled “Rebekah A’s stank pile”. There’s a golden vial of incense, held safe in the hands of the elders.

That’s what mercy is. That’s what grace is. That’s who God is.

He deserves every second of time that I have. He deserves every ounce of my energy. He’s GOD – He deserves every bit of passion in my heart. Sometimes I give it to Him, and He counts it precious. Sometimes I give Him the dregs, the tired leftovers after the world has had first dibs. He counts it precious. His love is steadfast no matter what, and to me that’s miraculous and mind-blowing.

So I encourage you to bask in that mercy today. Don’t be judged by it, be encouraged. Encouraged that no matter what your prayer life is looking like these days, it’s never too late to reconnect. God has been cherishing it all along. So let’s tune our hearts to His and place a golden vial in our own hearts – one that cannot be filled but for Him. Let’s count it precious. Let’s have prayer lives that SHOW how much we value His presence.

Ever awed by His tender grace, I pray deeper communion over you today. I pray your heart beat just a little bit closer in time with His. May He fill your mouth with prayers that move mountains. And may His golden vials be ever filled with your sweet-smelling words.

~Rebekah A

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Getting Closer to Him

As Christians we must learn to walk in spirit and truth. A Christian cannot stand in one place; we are either moving closer to Him or further from Him. Therefore, it is vital that we never stop growing in God. In my own life, these last few weeks have been a wonderful time of restoration and growth in Him. There is nothing like kneeling down in prayer and not just hoping or wishing or thinking or feeling, but truly knowing you are connecting with your Creator.

God desires a closer relationship with each one of us.  It is essential to remember that God supplies the spiritual fire, but we must tend to the flames. A campfire needs kindling to be started, and logs to burn. If we do not keep watch and add wood as the fire burns, it will go out. It is like that in the spirit. It’s not enough to have a one time spiritual experience with God and expect the flames to continue to burn indefinitely without any input from us. A relationship is a two way street; even with God. We give what we can, and God supplies the rest. Do not be mistaken, God provides far more than we ever could and more than we deserve. Salvation is a free gift and there isn’t anything in this world we could do to deserve it. But a relationship takes two individuals being committed to do what is necessary to maintain it. If we do not do the things we know to do to keep the spiritual fire burning, it will perish. In my personal walk, I have been leaning on the things I know to do to grow in my relationship with Him. These are simple things that we all know to do, but we can get lax in them at times. If we put these seven suggestions into practice, God will reward us by giving us deeper insight into who He is, and greater understanding of His unending love.

Seven Steps to a Closer Relationship with God:

  1. Continue regular fellowship with other believers and attendance of church and church related activities. The bible is clear that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together and He has set leadership over us for a reason. It is very difficult to navigate this journey alone. God designed us to be part of the Body of Christ.
  2. Make reading, studying and memorizing Scripture a priority in your life. This is an area where a lot of us could use improvement. I know personally, I am not disciplined enough with my bible reading. The written Word is the known will of God! If you are wondering what God’s will is in your life, reading His Word is the perfect place to start.
  3. Commit to deeper prayer. To know God, you must be in communication with Him. In my own life there is not a day that goes by where I don’t pray. Yet, If I am honest I have to admit that there are many days where my prayer is very “surface”.  As Christians we need breakthrough prayer to be the rule and not the exception.
  4. It is time to start fasting regularly. If you want to be open to God’s leading and open to Christian growth, you will need to weaken the flesh and strengthen the spirit. Fasting seems to be one of the best ways to do that. My ability to focus on Him improves dramatically during times of fasting.
  5. Minimize ungodly influences from the outside world. By this I mean consuming less television, secular music, movies, video games, facebook etc… The bible says we are in the world, not of the world.
  6. Live more Christlike. One sure way to get to know Him better is to model yourself after Him more. We need to give like He gives and love like He loves.
  7. Never never forget what He has done for you. Always come to Him with praise and thanksgiving in your heart and above all else seek Him first!

Jesus is our everything! Keep this fire burning… dare not let it go out!

~Rebekah L.

One Body

So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. ~Romans 12:5

Tonight at church they taught on how we’re all one body and how sad it is when the body of Christ gets an autoimmune disease.  Just as in those unfortunate individuals who have diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, it is horrible to think of the Body of Christ attacking itself… but it happens.

I myself have been the victim of such attacks more than once now.  Part of me is convinced that it was due in part to whispering behind my back that was partly responsible for my past relationship falling. Twice, my family has had pastors who sought to slander our family’s name when they could.  I have even had people apologize to me for things they were ordered to do behind my back at our pastor’s insistence.

I personally testify to just how much more painful it is when a child of God hurts you since we tend to put our guard down more with those in church.  They should have the same spirit of Christ in them as we do, so why should we have to protect ourselves?  Just as silly as it seems for us to do things like shooting our own foot, it would seem silly to those who truly love Christ to think of hurting another member of the church… but it happens.

We are all important. We all matter.

One of my pet peeves is how some people will mock others that do not live by the standards that God has placed in their lives.  Whether it be a certain way of dressing, make-up or no make-up, piercing/no piercings, etc, I get so upset when people start judging each other. As I once heard it said, “we are all guests at God’s table. Who are we to judge who is worthy or unworthy to sit there?”  If God has called you to a more strict level of living, don’t judge others if God has not done that to them at this time.  Just the same, for those who God has not called to a more strict life, who are they to judge those that Jesus has?

Jesus, 

My heart breaks at the thought of those who attack the Body.  We are all Your children and we love You- help us focus on You and reaching those who don’t know you and stay away from strife, envy, slandering, gossip, and a judgmental attitude. Jesus, lead and guide us towards a path of living for You and You alone. Let us not look at others and judge ourselves by how they are walking (either farther along the path or less) and instead judge ourselves by the mirror of Your Word. 

I love You Jesus with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. 

Rebekah M. 

Bringing it Back

Lately, I’ve felt like I’m slacking a bit.  I have just had a harder time praying and fasting like when I NEEDED to just to survive my day from all the pain my ex leaving me created.  However, I just don’t want to live complacently. The “norm” isn’t good enough.  I want more of Jesus; more of Him in my life. I want to be a witness and a light for Him. This morning I made myself get up and pray before going to work and I read my daily bread before the first office visit.  I had almost forgotten what it was like to just bask in His presence. I’m a great cheerleader for those who want to do so, but sometimes it’s hard to get myself to do the same.  Today, however, I just prayed this morning just to give Him my day. Just to say “Jesus, I submit my day to You.”  It was so wonderful to sit in His presence again, just to do so- no petitions, no goal in mind other than just to be with Him before starting my day.  It was wonderful.

Jesus, 

I thank You for the strength You give us each day. I thank You for being my wonderful Lord and Savior.  Oh how I’ve missed our morning talks.  I love You Jesus with all my heart. 

Rebekah M. 

Food For Thought

I was talking with my prayer partner today, and the subject of Communion came up.  I told her how I’d gone to a church that treated Communion as an actual meal, taken together. We would read that verse together every week, then spent some prayer time with God, just asking Him to examine our hearts and shine His mirror upon them, showing us our imperfections. When we spent time with Him over things we needed to fix the coming week, and repented or prayed as necessary, and we felt the ok from God, we’d go up and get our food, and eat it together. Once everyone was done, we’d start the service.

I loved it that way, because even if you hadn’t spent much time in prayer that week, it was still a weekly call to come before your Savior and be open to Him. It’s also a reminder of what He did for us. At His last supper He took the bread and said “Take this, all of you, and eat it. This is my body, which will be given up for you.” Given up. Broken, bloodied, and crucified. Sacrificed in a horrific and painful way…for us. How much grace and love was behind that sacrifice? And how often do we think about it? Moreover, how often do we thank Him for it? The magnitude of His love for us is astounding. As it should be. Our gratitude should be overwhelming. We should think about Jesus’ time on that cross and be moved to tears. How can we not trust our Lord, the one who sacrificed for us before we even existed – because He knew He loved us even back then, and knew He found us worth it.

As we talked, I was moved more and more by what He gave to us. Every thing we have and do, even what we eat, is a gift given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. Everything. It is all a blessing, given by His grace.

So readers, today I ask you to be moved right along with me. When you sit down to a meal today, and hopefully from here on out, give thanks. Not just for the fact that you get to eat, but also for what had to be sacrificed so that you could. Whether you’re calling it Communion or just a regular meal, whether you’re eating in a group or just with God. Give thanks, and open your hearts to Jesus just a little bit more. Maybe He has guidance for you; maybe He just wants to dine with you as He dined with His friends on that last supper. Regardless, see what happens when you sit in His presence for that much longer, thanking Him for what He’s given you, and sitting open to His advice. Let Him in that much more, and get to know Him that much better. He bled and died so that you could.

~Rebekah A