Twenty Eight

Has God ever winked at you? Could there be a unique way He is revealing Himself in your life? I was born October 28th, 1980, and it wasn’t until many years later that I recognized how God was speaking to me personally through the number 28. About a decade ago, I began to notice that I would often check the time exactly on the 28th minute of the hour. This caught my attention and amused me greatly. Could God be winking at me? Could He be affirming me and reminding me of His constant presence in my life? Eventually I shared my experience with my husband, who attributed these occurrences to a subconscious phenomenon. That was code for, “I think you’re a little crazy.”

Over the years, my encounter with the number 28 has expanded far beyond the clock. In fact, my husband now acknowledges and celebrates these unique encounters with me. A cashier says, “Your food will be ready shortly. Your number is 28.” An unfamiliar girl approaches me and asks, “Can you help me find my last scavenger hunt clue? It’s number 28.” I repeatedly open my email box to find 8,228 unread messages (don’t laugh!). I am writing this post on the 28th day of the month. In 2008, I turned 28 on the 28th. While traveling dark, unfamiliar Michigan highways, I looked to find my next exit was 28. How much further to go? 28 miles. What street to turn on? 28th St.

On and on it goes. It’s as if my attention is constantly and continually being wooed to the number 28. Some may call it coincidence, but I believe it is Jesus. He is wooing me, seeking me, and finding me in the everyday moments of my life. He is bringing comfort and clarity to the dark, challenging places and reminding me of my significance in the seemingly insignificant and mundane. He knows me intimately, loves me deeply, and is teaching me to practice His presence always.

In the Bible we read, “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” (Psalm 139: 17-18 NLT).

Dear Reader, I pray you know the deep love of Jesus and the unique way He’s pursuing you. Your experience may not be exactly like mine but I guarantee Jesus wants you to know how much He loves you. How might God be winking at you?

Amy MukesAmy Mukes is the wife of Eric Mukes and together they have four amazing children whom she teaches at home.  She is passionate about education and literacy and also desires to equip parents with practical tools to raise their children with the gracious love of Jesus. Amy is currently developing a City Group that will be filled with experiential, interactive learning where parenting skills and family life will increase and flourish under the Gospel of Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit. To find out more about City Groups, click here.

 

 

 

Conversations with God

James 5:16-18 says,

16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

Let’s think about this. It didn’t rain for 3 1/2 years because of one person’s prayer. The earth did not produce fruit until it was released to do so by the prayer of one person.

The author of James is emphatic in letting us know that Elijah was a normal person, just like us. He was prone to bouts of depression and fear even though he also performed one of the boldest moves in the Bible (the Baal altar incident), he had incredible supernatural experiences, and ran faster than a chariot at one point! We too may wax and wane in our passion and strength of faith, yet we are the ones God calls righteous and we are the ones whose prayers are effective.

How then, do we pray?

Prayer is not a formula. It is not passive, it is not a last resort, it is not in one direction, it is not a list, it is not a wish or a hope.Prayer is heartfelt communication with the God of the Universe. It is a two sided conversation of  speaking and listening. Sometimes, it’s a tear. Sometimes it’s a groan. Sometimes it’s one word. Sometimes it’s many words with heightened volume. Whatever form it comes in, if it is from your heart and aimed at the God of the Universe, it is prayer, and it is a constant and real substance, called incense (Psalm 141:2), which is continually before His throne. Our prayers do not vanish with the evaporation of our breath. They are always before His Throne of Grace.

So what do we talk to Him about?

If we are saved, we have  access to Him anytime, day or night. We can talk to Him out loud or privately within our minds. We can talk to Him about EVERYTHING!!!  He says to come boldly, to give Him our problems and worries no matter how large or small.  He says to ask for the impossible things and to be thankful for what He has already done for us. He desires for us to agree with Him for His will to be done on the earth, to pray corporately and alone. He wants us to be united when we pray, in one accord putting aside our different opinions. He calls us to pray for all people, even our enemies and for those in authority. He calls us to pray for our churches, our families, our schools, our bible study groups, to ask for protection from the evil one. He wants us to be honest when we pray, to tell Him about our day. His ears are open to hear what makes us happy, what makes us sad. He is eager for  us to express our dreams and desires, our whole heart to Him.

We may say, “But if God already knows everything, why do we need to tell Him?” The answer is: intimacy. A wife may know basically what her husband does everyday. He gets up, has a cup of coffee, maybe spends some time with the Lord, walks the dog, eats breakfast, and goes to work. He comes home, eats dinner and hangs with the family for a bit then goes to bed. Of course God sees our lives and He does know the desires of our hearts, just like a wife probably know which things are preferable to her husband to have on the dinner menu. But when he tells her and explains WHY he likes those certain dinners and what he would like to try in the future, it changes everything. She gets a peek into his feelings and what makes him come alive. It makes her want to cook those dinners all the time and find more things that will please him!! It’s love on a whole different level. It’s a love that seeks to meet the heart’s desires!! This is what God wants to do with us! This is why He wants our hearts in prayer. He does not want to just observe us and automatically take care of us (Though He will because it’s His nature). He wants a relationship, a sharing of the hearts. He desires to be a constant companion in an ongoing conversation.

When I first became good friends with a woman named Jil, we bonded through email. We knew each other from church and were friends, but it really kicked into high gear when she moved to Texas. We constantly emailed and texted. We were in an ongoing conversation all the time. We were always checking our devices. This is exactly what “praying without ceasing” is like. It’s an ongoing, open ended conversation with the God who adores you!

But it’s not all about what He wants. It all starts with what He gives, how He comes to meet with us. God made the choice to send Jesus to become one of us, to take on our weakness, our pain, our rejection so that He could be a sympathetic and merciful advocate. The Bible says that Jesus has a prayer life, sitting at the right hand of the Father God, and He prays for us! (Rom. 8:34).  That kind of love, that offer of real friendship makes me want to respond and make space for an authentic and intimate prayer life. We get intimacy. Out of that, we find identity, direction, wisdom, love, provision, all of the promises in the bible!! We receive restored relationships, bodies healed, joy, an inheritance, and authority over the enemy. God tells us things that He doesn’t tell everyone. We get the “treasures hidden in darkness”. We get to know Him and HIS WAYS (Isaiah 55:8). The list could never be exhaustive because He is not finite as we are.

I hope you feel encouraged to begin or continue seeking the Lord in prayer. I’ll leave you with Psalm 116:2 (NKJV), “ Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.”

What are you going to talk to Him about today?

XO,

Sharon

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Sharon Rhodes is a mom of three incredible boys and the wife of Allen. She’s passionate about prayer and evangelism and helped to pioneer the Agoura Campus of The City Church. She leads the Agoura Campus prayer team and also leads a City Group. If you’re passionate about prayer and would like to join Sharon, sign up for her City Group here.