Monday, July 16, 2018

The Engagement Part 2

“The Engagement”
Part 2

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Rev. 19:7  (NIV) 

As the plans for my son’s wedding day approaches with great anticipation, every small aspect is reviewed carefully. We consider. We pray. We reconsidered. We pray. We alter details.

Although I prayed for this precious future daughter-in-law, engagement, and wedding day for decades, tiny mishaps occur. I witness the frustration and anxiety of the future bride. Wedding plans get skewed.  Just like life.

It reminds me that I am engaged to the Bridegroom of Eternity, Jesus. In addition, my life’s plans will often go awry. Life always seems to throw the unexpected our way. Sometimes we catch joy, at other times sorrow skids to home plate. 

Often the Bible speaks in analogy, so that we can understand its concepts and principles. God’s Word states the Church is the Bride of Christ. As a part of that Kingdom of Believers, I will be his bride. Yet as His bride-to-be, I must make myself ready. I must pray the same type of kingdom prayers that I pray for my children. I pray that I will remain faithful when times get hard. I ask that I will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Every bride wants to beautiful and ready for her groom. Revelation 19:7 states, “The bride has made herself ready.” The next verse continues with a description of the bride’s gown, “Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)” As God allows life’s mottled circumstances to produce godly fruit in our lives, it becomes a bridal gown of righteousness for us to wear for eternity. Now isn’t that a thought!

Today as I lift up prayers for my son’s upcoming wedding, I realize that I am in an engagement period of my own. I am going to add a few prayers for my own bridal day in heaven. I want to be ready. In yesterday’s devotional I wrote, “I believe a key to answered prayer is for our requests to be inline with God’s intent for our lives. I like to call them kingdom prayers…so if my requests will benefit his plan for my life and his kingdom, he is pleased to answer, “Yes, my daughter.”

His will for my life is for my character to become more like his Son, Jesus. He wants me filled with the Holy Spirit not only in the good times of life, but also in the difficulties I encounter. His answers to my prayers may appear different from what I expect them to be. However they are answered, I want to prepare myself with righteousness for my Groom.

So as I pray kingdom prayers for my son and his fiancée, I will pray for myself, also.  I will pray. I will consider. I will pray. I will reconsider. I will allow life’s circumstances to alter my character into righteousness.

Will you join me in a kingdom prayer for righteousness?

 Father, help me to remember that I am to make myself ready for a heavenly wedding. I ask that as my life’s plans go awry at times, You will utilize my anxiety and frustration to produce a bridal gown of righteousness.  

Application steps:
Review the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5. Write down which characteristics you need to demonstrate more in your day-to-day life. Ask God to help you today to recognize the life circumstances where you can develop and exhibit those godly attributes. Put the list in your pocket or hang it on the fridge as a reminder of your preparation for Him during your engagement.

Refection points:     
Do I pray for myself as well as for my family?

How can I prepare myself for eternity today?

What fruit of the Spirit would my family and friend say I lack?

Power verses: 
Matthew 25:10, "But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. (NIV) 

 Luke 12:35-38, "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. (NIV) 

Ephesians 3:16-19,
 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (NIV) 

© 2004 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

The Engagement Part 1

“The Engagement”
Part 1

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
But God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.
Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! Psalm 66:19-20  (NIV) 

 “Mom, I would like to introduce you to my fiancée,” my son said proudly.

Although we had been expecting the joyous announcement at any time, my heart pounded excitedly. I hugged both my son and future daughter-in-law with a heart full of praise and thanksgiving. And I began to ask a million questions.

“Have you set a date?”

“Where will you have the wedding?”

That night as I lay in bed, I reflected on the thousands of prayers that I had floated upward to the Father on behalf of my future daughter-in-laws. From the time my two chubby tow-headed sons toddled on the floor, I had prayed for godly daughter-in-laws. And especially over the past couple of years, I had prayed diligently for God to bring a godly woman into my youngest son’s life. My prayer partner, Shelley, and I prayed for a wife for my son with specific requests. Such as: 

“Lord, let her be a Christian.”

“Let her sweet love pour over my son.”

“It would be nice if she likes to play family games.

“Father, let her have a great sense of humor.” 

“Oh, and let me love her family, too.”

My sweet prayer partner once said, “Gee, Susanne, I feel like we are praying a shopping list. Perhaps, it did sound like that, but God answered my prayers in miraculous detail for each of my daughter-in-laws. I believe God likes us to be specific in our prayers. Because if were not specific, we might not recognize the answer. 

God wants to answer our requests. Christ gave us insight on the Father’s attitude concerning our prayers when he told his disciples the following two statements.

 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7 NIV)

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11 NIV)

Now these verses do not guarantee that everything we ask for will be given to us. But they do encourage us to go before the Father and ask boldly for what we would like. I believe a key to answered prayer is for our requests to be inline with God’s intent for our lives. I like to call them kingdom prayers.

God wants my sons to marry within the Christian faith. He desires that I love and get along with my son’s wives. So if my requests will benefit his plan for my life and his kingdom, he is pleased to answer, “Yes, my daughter.”

So, what kingdom prayers could you pray for your children? It doesn’t matter how young or old your children may be, God bends his ear to listen to a mother’s prayers. I know he hears and listens, then answers our prayers that are within his desired will.  How do I know? The engagement has been announced, the wedding planned, and I am off to shop for a mother-of-the-groom dress. My future daughter-in-law was not handpicked, but kingdom-prayer picked.

Father, help me learn to pray kingdom prayers for my family. Give me the insight and fortitude to continue in prayer for requests that may appear trivial, but will make a lasting difference for my children and their future.

Application steps: 
Ponder in your heart things you would desire for your family’s future. Write them in a journal; then begin to pray, believing God to answer. Watch and record, in the journal, the variety of ways he answers your kingdom prayers.

Refection points:     
How can I pray for the future of my family?

Do I pray regular for my family?

Do I pray kingdom prayers or prayers of my own wants and desires?

Power verses: 
Jeremiah 33:3, 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.' (NIV) 

Ephesians 6:18, 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. (NIV) 

 James 5:16, Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (NIV) 

1 John 3:21-22, Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. (NIV) 

1 John 5:14,This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. (NIV) 

© 2004 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Bridal Veil. Part 2

“The Bridal Veil”
Part 2

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key verse:
Revelation 19:7-8, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” (NASB)  

The groom lifts the lacy bridal veil and kisses the bride.  The separation between the two lovers is removed and intimacy for a lifetime begins. It’s my favorite moment in a wedding ceremony.

In yesterday’s devotion, when I stood before Bridal Veil Falls, in Yosemite National Park, I could not see beyond the veil of the waterfall. Although, we determined we could approach the throne room of God, because of Jesus.  We can see clearly through the veil of His crucified body—we have complete access to intimacy with God. Jesus cleared the way for us to become His bride for eternity.

But what can we do anything?  Yes. As a bride prepares for weeks to wed, we should attend to things in our life that will please our Groom. Scripture suggests several behaviors to rid ourselves of if we want to please God.  These actions include gossip, bitterness, envy, and pride. 

However, not only does the Bible instruct us on what not to do, it enlightens us to what attitudes do please God. Read what The Message tells us,

     So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.   Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.  And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. (Colossians 3:12-14)

The groom lifts the veil to see clearly his beloved bride.  When Jesus lifts my bridal veil, I want him to be pleased.  I desire to approach Him with anticipation of His hand lifting my veil and seeing acts of righteousness.  

So, what do you say?  Let’s get closer to the Living Water. Let’s get soaked in His divine love.  Let’s prepare ourselves for the bridal veil to be lifted and to gaze in the eyes of Jesus. 

            "Hallelujah! The Lord our God, the Almighty, has become king. 
  Let us rejoice, be happy, and give him glory
                because it's time for the marriage of the lamb.
                    His bride has made herself ready. 
  She has been given the privilege of wearing
                            dazzling, pure linen."  (Revelation 19:6-8 God’s Word)  

Lord Jesus, I desire to be pleasing to you. Help me to approach you with eagerness and confidence.  Show me how to change my attitudes and actions, so that I may please you everyday. 

Application steps: 
Read all of Colossians 3.  On a sheet of paper, list the good and the bad behaviors.  Ponder how you can prepare yourself to become a pleasing Bride of Christ dressed in righteous acts.  

Refection points:       
What negative behaviors do I harbor?

What godly actions do my friends and family witness?

Is Jesus pleased when He lifts the veil when I approach Him in prayer? 

Power verses:  
Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (NIV)  

1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.   It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.   Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.   It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  NIV)  

3 John 1:11, “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.”  (NIV)  

© 2005 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

The Bridal Veil. Part 1

“The Bridal Veil”
Part 1

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key verse:
Hebrews 6:19, This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil. (NASB)  

Tall majestic pine trees lined the path.  Fragrant forest scents seasoned the air. I did not expect to see anything more scenic than this path through Yosemite National Park.  I continued hiking up the path when, I jolted to a stop in hypnotic wonder.  Before me thundered The Bridal Veil Falls.   Thousands of gallons of springtime water sliced down a gray granite wall spraying sparkling drops to refresh the awestruck tourists.  Amazement washed over me. 

As I stood transfixed before the Bridal Veil Falls, I thought how the Woman at the Well, in the fourth chapter of John, must have felt—tired, worn-out and hopeless.  Then Jesus dropped by.  The Living Water desired to quench her soul-thirst.  He told her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (NIV) 

But Jesus is even more than that to us. In addition to the Living Water, Jesus described himself with various illustrations so we could begin to understand the importance He brings to our lives.  He is the Rock, The Foundation, and The River of Life.

However, most importantly He is the only one who can bring us before the Heavenly Father.  Through His death, on a tortuous cross, we have access to the throne room of God.  See what Hebrews 10:19 tells us.    
    “So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into "the Holy Place." Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The "curtain" into God's presence is his body.”  (The Message)
It is through His body, the Veil or Curtain that we obtain the privilege of entering into God’s Divine Presence. 
Isn’t that exciting?  Just as I hiked up to the Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite National Park, scripture tells us we can “walk right up to God” because of JesusI don’t know about you, but I am ready to be splashed by some of the Living Water bouncing off the Veil.  I want to be like the Woman at the Well who was so revived by the Presence of the Living Water that many from her town believed in Jesus, the Christ. (John 4:39)

Are you ready to get wet? 

Oh Lord God, draw me close to You.  Thank you, that because of Jesus I can approach Your throne without hesitation.  Please drench me with Your Living Water.  

Application steps:  
Go outside and grab the garden hose.  Turn the water on.  Spray it heavenward and then let the refreshing spray fall back on you. (Forget your hair!). Now think about Jesus.  Thank God for His Living Water and for making a way for you to walk right into the revitalizing Presence of God.  

Refection points:       
How often do I approach God through the veil of Jesus?

What sacrifice did it cost Christ for me to be able to have access to the Father?

Why do I hesitate to let Christ drench me with His love? 

Power verses:  
Ephesians 3:12, “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (NIV)  

Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (NIV)  

Hebrews 10:22, “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (NIV)  

James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (NASB)  

© 2005 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

  Merry Christmas in July 

By Susanne Scheppmann
Key Verse:
    “Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11NKJV) 

I should have used that newly advertised “prescription strength” deodorant today. Our outside temperature was a sweltering 115 degrees. It felt about 350 degrees in my car as I toodled around doing my errands. The air conditioning never had a chance to cool the car before I opened the door and drug myself into the next store.  

I felt roasted as I drove. To my chagrin, a traffic signal changed to red and I braked reluctantly at the busy intersection. The car stopped and I saw waves of heat radiate off the pavement.

Then I saw a mirage—a bouncing Santa Claus. Upon closer inspection, I discovered a bulky, garish balloon outside an electronics store. A sign hanging in the overheated air read, “Celebrate Christmas in July!” The sign tried to cajole potential consumers to spend their money in the store, without celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.

Suddenly, an idea pushed its way into my overheated thoughts. “Why couldn’t we celebrate Christmas in July? Wouldn’t it be fun to have Christmas without all the holiday fuss in December?”

As the car idled, my mind raced. My family could celebrate the birth of our Savior and make it intentional—especially if it was in July. We could decorate a tree in our backyard. We could barbeque a turkey breast. Then after dinner, we could sit on the patio and read the Christmas story as we watch the sunset. 

The light changed and so did my attitude. I no longer dreaded a day full of errands in the sun-baked desert. In fact, I added a couple more stops to my list. First, I swung into a discount store to pick up a stronger deodorant and a few “stocking stuffers” for my family. Then I headed off to the grocery store to prepare for Christmas dinner on the grill in July.

I believe honoring Christmas in July will help my family to focus on the birth of our Savior in a unique way. And who knows—it may become an annual festival that will create lasting memories for our family and our faith.

So, “Merry Christmas in July!”

Dear Lord, help me to remember to celebrate You throughout the year. Grant me innovative ways to weave the story of Your life throughout my family’s ordinary day-to-day routines. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application steps: 
Read Luke 1:1-2:20. Consider how you can celebrate Christmas throughout the year.
This month plan a special activity to honor the birth of Jesus.

Do I reflect on the birth of Christmas only in December?

How would my life change if I celebrated the birth of Christ year round?

Power verses:
Matthew 1:23, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, ‘God with us.’” (NIV) 

Luke 2:11-12, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (NIV) 

John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (NIV) 

© 2008 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.