your heart

Prayers for the Week: The State of Your Heart

your heart

26And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. ~ Ezekiel 36:26-27 (ESV)

The State of Your Heart

My friends, welcome to this week’s Prayers for the Week post.  Today I’m led to share with you verses out of the book of Ezekiel.  Ezekiel was one of the Prophet’s of God, and as such, his message was given to him by God and Ezekiel passed that word on to the people of Israel.  Like most of the prophets of the day, Ezekiel’s words — God’s Words — were largely ignored, to their detriment most often.  The sad reality is that far too often, we are ignoring God’s Word for us just as often as the Israelites were doing, whether we be Christians, Believers, Saved, or not.

So tell me this morning, what is the state of your heart?  Have you given any thought to what God would want from you?  Do you ask Him to direct your steps, to change who you are from one who is about self to one that is selfless?  Allow me to give you a little insight into the heart of Mike Ellis, Christian, Believer, Saved.

Several things jump out at me when I turn introspective and start focusing on who I am as a Christian. Let me list some of them for you:

  • Sinner
  • Often selfish
  • Prideful
  • At times, angry
  • Caring
  • Compassionate
  • Loving
  • Devoted Husband and Father

The adjectives on both sides of the ledger could go on and on.  I imagine that as you look at yourself and think of adjectives to describe you, you will probably have a similar makeup of bad and good.  The key, though, is that I left off three very important ingredients in the makeup of my heart:

  • Saved
  • God-Fearing
  • Born Again

What does it take to gain these last three adjectives?  And what does any of this have to do with the state of your heart?  Simply put, to be saved, to be born again, is to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He came down on this earth, that He died on the Cross, that He was resurrected from death back to life, and that He did all of that to pay the penalty for our sins.  If you are God-Fearing, you fear being separated from God.  When you believe, and ask God into your life, you are Saved, and when that happens, you are Born Again, and the transformation of your heart as illustrated in the Ezekiel verses at the beginning of this post will take place immediately.  Additionally, when that happens, the Holy Spirit will enter your heart, and the Holy Spirit will intercede on your behalf and talk to God with you and for you. That is how your heart can be transformed from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh and spirit.  Thank you for reading this far, please keep reading and pray with us our prayer requests and praises for this week.  Do you want to share your prayers with us? Join our Facebook group and do so there, or leave us a comment with your prayer requests and we’ll pray that way as well!

Prayer Requests & Praises

  • Stephanie starts us off with a prayer request: Please pray for my husband, Tim! I had to bring him to the ER because he’s having shortness of breath. He’s been given a breathing treatment and a steroid shot and was just taken back for a chest x-ray.
    • Update: Tim is on some medications but still struggling, so please keep praying!
  • We have been praying with Amanda on a request she has this week.  This has been a roller coaster of emotions all week: Please pray for my brother and his K9. He is a K9 officer and his dog was hit by a truck. She has significant internal injuries and her rear leg was almost completely severed. She made it out of surgery for the internal organ damage (Praise God!) but must recover from that before they can address the leg. My brother prayed and waited many years to be a K9 officer and his first dog bit him so badly he was on desk duty for several months. His faith has never wavered  He’s inconsolable and weighed down with guilt right now. Thanks to you all!
    • UPDATE: Jelka was stable through the night and did not need a transfusion as expected. They still haven‘t addressed her leg and she has blood in her chest tube making them think she might have an internal injury they missed. Thank you for the prayers – they are working!
    • UPDATED UPDATE: Jelka is in the clear! She will be going home in a few days. They haven’t done anything to her leg but the blood flow is good. If the tendons are in okay shape, they will repair but if not they will fuse the leg. She’ll most likely be able to go back to police work in the fall. Thank you all for your prayers! I told my brother my warriors got results!
    • Then, this update: My brother’s K9 is not doing well. She is bleeding in her chest. They are taking her into surgery but aren’t confident she will make it out. Please pray!
    • Lastly, this Praise! Thank you all so much for the prayers for my brother’s K9 partner. They have worked miracles. Here she is yesterday – only 3.5 days after she was hit! She still has to have surgery on her leg but wow!
  • Hiro has a praise report and a continued prayer request: I didn’t get a chance to thank all of you for your prayers a few weeks ago. My father is doing well. In fact, he has been talking about Jesus a lot. And he is reading the Bible and in class (he teaches Karate) he relates Karate Philosophy to Jesus’ stories. It’s fascinating.
    He grew up Buddhist and Shinto. So it’s deeply rooted in him. He also reads the teachings of many other religions as well because he has so many students around the world. A cool fact, He had a special tree planted in his honour when he visited Israel/Palestine (there was a brief time of peace a couple decades ago). So with all these religions he is influenced by I can imagine how difficult it is for him to follow one. But it’s been so wonderful to hear him talk of Jesus. Please continue to pray for him as he has many personal obstacles he has to overcome.
    Thank you Mike for this Facebook group.
  • Please pray for Dakota Miller and his family, a 13 year old who accidentally shot himself, and is in critical condition.  I am not sure of the status of his injuries at this time.  There was some confusion as to the legitimacy of this prayer request as it seemed to closely resemble one that was a fake request going around Facebook, but here is a story about it that sheds more light on it.
  • Continuing regarding Dakota Miller prayer request. Please pray with me: “Lord, we don’t know if the prayers that were lifted up were for an actual situation or not — only You know that. What we do know, Lord, is that real or imagined, hoax or true, we know that You care for us, and want what is best for us. Thank You for loving us as you do. We learn in our Bible the very true words written by the Apostle Paul as given to him by You in his letter to the Philippians: “6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
    8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
    Lord, whether Dakota Miller be true or made up, we don’t know, but what we do know is that You hear our prayers. So, Lord, we direct our prayers to the Dakota Millers of this world, those unknown souls who struggle, who may not know You, and we lift them up to You. Grant them the Peace that only You can give, and thank You for the saving faith we have been given by believing in Your Son, Jesus. It is in His precious name that we pray. Amen!”

Now, please pray with me the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.

Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those that trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the Kingdom, and Power, and Glory
Forever and ever. Amen.

There are only two people that know the state of your heart: you and God.  If you need us to pray for you, please ask, please let us lift you up to the Lord so that He can work a miracle in your life!  Thank you for joining us and praying with us today!

Trust in the Lord

Prayers for the Week: Trust in the Lord

Trust in the Lord

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones. ~ Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV)

Brothers and Sisters, welcome to this week’s Prayers for the Week post.  We continue our exploration of the Proverbs, those wonderful words of wisdom that form one of my favorite Books in the Bible.  Today we are focusing on our need to trust in the Lord.

Far too often I think that we believe that we need to make sure we are doing our part in our daily lives.  While this is absolutely true, we do need to shoulder our burden, we need to make sure that we aren’t putting the emphasis entirely on ourselves to take care of things.  Simply put, we need to trust in the Lord to take care of the things that He wants to do for us.

So much has been written and discussed lately on repealing and replacing Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act.  This past week, the House of Representatives passed their own healthcare bill, and immediately many went on the offensive about just how bad it is.  Is it bad legislation?  Perhaps it is.  I don’t know as I haven’t read the bill.  What I do know though is that the current law is bad legislation.  It hasn’t helped my family one bit.  It has meant nothing but heartache for a lot of people.  But I’m not hear to talk about politics.  What I’m here to talk about is how yes, the laws of the land we live in do affect us, but more importantly, our relationship with God affects us even more.  So many of my “religious” friends were talking about how this law is bad, and about how no Christian should ever have a smile on their face knowing that people are losing their insurance.  Well, what I know is this: I will trust in the Lord with all my heart, and I will not lean on my own understanding!

Could this new bill (which, by the way, is not even a law yet) be bad for the country?  Perhaps.  Is there likely to be changes to the makeup of the bill that may help make it better?  Perhaps.  Will this bill help everyone out?  Probably not.  But in the end, does any of that really matter?  Our journey on this earth is just a small path on our way to our true home in Heaven.  If you are a true Christian, if you are a true follower of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, then you are not of this world.  Jesus told us in the book of John: In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 – ESV)

My prayers always go out to those that suffer, those that face persecution, those that are downtrodden, those that are taken advantage of, and that will not change.  More and more, though, I turn my gaze towards God, towards Jesus, and more and more I give thanks to Him for all that He has done for me.  Do you do that?  I urge you to start doing so if you don’t already.

Now, I’m sorry for talking so much about politics, it was not my intention to do so.  Please join us in praying for our prayer requests and praises.

Prayer Requests & Praises

  • Paul has a prayer request regarding his mother: I just got a report on my Mom. The stroke was severe. There is basically nothing they can do. We will take her home and keep her as comfortable as possible for the short time she has left. Possibly a few weeks, maybe less. Thank-you so much for your prayers and friendship!
    Now, the good news! My Mom has known Jesus for many years. She will have an eternity with Him and I will join her one day! Praise God!
  • Prayers for Creecy and her family: Her Mom recently passed away.
  • Lastly, pray for all of those that are afraid to mention their prayer requests.  Pray for the anonymous requests, that they would be heard and answered by God, and pray for the Peace of the world.

Now, please join us in praying the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.

Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those that trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the Kingdom, and Power, and Glory
Forever and ever. Amen.

Prayers for the Week: All about Hope

Hope

13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. ~ Romans 15:13 (ESV)

Hello my friends, and welcome to today’s Prayers for the Week post, written on remote location from Stephens City, VA.  Yesterday my wife and I, our daughter, my niece and her husband (and our grand-niece), his Mom, and my sister and my Mom participated in the 10th Annual Step Sisters 5K.  The Step Sisters is an organization that helps out breast cancer survivors by helping them around their home when they get home from the hospital, cleaning, cooking, that sort of thing.  The Step Sisters helped out my mom when she had breast cancer, and yesterday, we were helping them out by participating in the annual 5K.

I asked Cindy for a verse that was speaking to her, and she came up with Romans 15:13.  The reason, she said, was simple — today was all about hope.  As soon as she said that, I knew exactly that Romans 15:13 was the verse to use.

I don’t have a long commentary today, so let’s go right into the real meat of the post, our prayer requests and praises.

Prayer Requests & Praises

  • Shannon starts us off this week, with a prayer request for healing.  Here is what she wrote: I had been having some bad headaches and nothing was working. Monday I had some trigger point injections in my lower head, neck and shoulders. The past 2 days I’ve been in more pain that I was with the actual headache. Please pray that the pain and soreness goes away soon and the injections work for the headaches. Thanks
  • The other day I left this word of encouragement on the impact and power of prayer: So part of my morning routine as I’m walking our Golden Retriever River is to pray while we walk. It’s a great start to the day for me, and I lift up the group and all of the prayer requests we see while we’re walking. For me personally, I pray for Cindy, and I pray for our daughter Sophie — for the stresses that they see in their work/school life, and for Sophie to have the focus she needs to handle the tasks of the day. Additionally, I always pray for God to provide me with the wisdom needed to take care of my clients. For a while I wondered if remaining in the IT Industry was meant to be after my layoff, but through Bible study, I came to the realization that one of my gifts from God is the way I can tackle the challenges of IT work.Last week I spent the week wiring a new office space for one of my clients, and today I was there all day until about 4PM resolving the issues that came up from their move yesterday. While it was challenging, demanding work tackling the myriad of issues that they had (most self induced, I might add), we made it through, and I know it is in part because of the wisdom that God gave me that day.In the end, the thing I think I’m trying to say here is that prayer works, we have been witness to that in our lives, and even if the answered prayer isn’t forthcoming just yet, Believe and Expect God to handle it for you — because He will. I leave you with this verse as a reminder:

    For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

  • We’ve got a big praise for Hayden’s Mom: Answered prayers for Hayden — his mom has been fighting cancer for a year now and is now in remission! Praise to God, the Great Physician!
  • Prayers for my friend Rebekah who is fighting cancer and has a treatment today. Rebekah, this is a prayer group we have, so anytime you need any prayers, please feel free to list them here and the prayer warriors will pray with you and for you!
  • Praise for my Dad’s cataract surgery, he had a great procedure and is doing great!  Thank you all for the prayers you lifted up for him!

Now, please join us in praying the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.

Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those that trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the Kingdom, and Power, and Glory
Forever and ever. Amen.

Jesus' Triumphant Entry

Prayers for the Week: Jesus’ Triumphant Entry

Jesus' Triumphant Entry

12The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” ~ John 12:12-15 (ESV)

Welcome to this week’s Prayers for the Week post.  Today in the Christian calendar is Palm Sunday, the date that we remember Jesus’ triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem.  It is a day of celebration, a day when all the world seems right, a day when it seems like nothing can go wrong.  But for those of us that are Christians, we understand all to clearly that this is, in many ways, a smokescreen, a day which will lead to much distress throughout the coming week, a day when we learn that just as we praise Jesus today, later in the week we will be shouting “Crucify Him!”

The rollercoaster of emotion in this week is real, and it is something that I see in myself each year at this time.  For those that may not understand the calendar of events this week, here is a brief summary for you:

  1. Today, Palm Sunday, we remember Jesus’ triumphant entry – the fulfillment of prophecy – into the city of Jerusalem.
  2. Thursday is called Maundy Thursday, and on this day, we remember the Last Supper of Jesus and His Disciples in the Upper Room before His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.
  3. Friday is Good Friday, the day when Jesus is Crucified and dies on the Cross.
  4. Next Sunday is Easter, the day when Jesus is resurrected from the dead, proving that He is the Son of God.

Today we celebrate. Thursday we watch and scatter as Jesus is betrayed.  Friday we are the mob shouting for His Crucifixion.  Sunday we celebrate because despite our sins, Jesus died for us to pay the penalty so we don’t have to, and we learn that Jesus really is our Savior if we just Believe in Him and put our faith in Him.

Welcome to Holy Week, everyone, the week when the roller coaster of our emotion is in full display.

Now, please continue reading and pray with us our prayer requests and praises.

Prayer Requests & Praises

  • Kelly has a prayer request: Please pray for my GodFather – Uncle Alan. Went to the doctor about a week ago and he will be having a quadruple bypass next Wednesday. Thank you.
  • Continued prayers for Stephanie: Thanks for the prayers guys. I seem to still be battling it to an extent. I feel like I can’t get rid of the fluid in my ear and it’s effecting my hearing so another call is in order for the doc!
  • Continued prayers for Barb’s husband, who is getting better: His DVT is feeling better, still there, but the Lovenox seems to be helping. Thanks for asking, and for your prayers!
  • Continued prayers for Jodi’s brother Ken, who is also getting better: Ken was finally moved out of ICU today!!!! Talking about moving him to a recovery/therapy center for about a month. Meanwhile, his spirits are down, because he is confined and bored and is stressing himself out about everything from hospital bills to taxes to missing Sue (his late wife who passed away in Sep.)…Please continue prayers!!!
  • Praises for Ivon’s prayer request: Update… Grandma had her surgery yesterday and it was a success. Her new pacemaker is in and she’s doing great! Thank you so much everyone for all your wonderful, answered prayers.
  • Lastly, continued prayers for my brother-in-law Jerry, who had his knee surgeries.  He was in a lot of pain but he is doing much better now, so prayers and praises are the rule of the day today!

Now, please wrap things up with us by praying the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.

Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those that trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the Kingdom, and Power, and Glory
Forever and ever. Amen.

Happy Birthday Sophie!

In this special post, we celebrate our daughter Sophie, who turns 14 on this day, with a special collection of photos from across the years.  It’s incredible to me to see our daughter over the years.  It really puts into perspective how fast our children grow up!  Sophie was born 7 weeks early, weighed just 4 pounds, 2 ounces, spent the first two weeks of her life in the NICU, but has never looked back!  Now she’s taller than her Mom, almost taller than me, starts high school in the fall!  Enjoy this look back in time as we get ready to explore the big blue world of High School!