For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Psalm 139:13-14 You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.
...and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn. Luke 2:7
"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." -Winnie the Pooh
See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know Him. 1 John 3:1
Psalm 9:9 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
24 Ways to PRAY for the Lost
(This is not written by me, Misty Cramer. It is a prayer guide we have used in our ministry, and I am sharing it.)
Praying for our unsaved young people is the best way to begin reaching them for Christ. The following verses give us a biblical outline for these prayers:
Thank you God that you are not willing that any should perish
He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) and would have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).
Thank You that all things are possible with You
Then who can be saved? Jesus glanced around at them and said, With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God (Mark 10:27). What is impossible with men is possible with God (Matthew 19:26).
For God to draw them to Himself in true faith and repentance
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…” (John 6:44).
For God to destroy any false ideas about salvation through Jesus Christ
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12).
For God to quicken unbelievers to their sins and trespasses
…you were dead in your transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1).
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
For God to dull unbelievers to the allurement to this world pleasures and the all-consuming worries of life so that the Word of God not be choked
7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.
22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful (Matthew 13:7, 22).
For God to grant genuine faith to believe
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10).
For God to give them a new heart
And the Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your being, that you may live (Deuteronomy 30:6).
That God would undo the work of Satan and open the minds of the unbelievers to the truth of the Gospel
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).
That God would deliver them from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves (Colossians 1:13).
That God would grant genuine repentance
But unless you repent, you too will all perish (Luke 13:1-3).
That God would apply His mercy
Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah (Ephesians 2:1-6, The Message).
That God would thrust out laborers
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans 10:14).
So pray to the Lord of the harvest to force out and thrust laborers into His harvest (Matthew 9:38).That God would stir them out of their complacency and indifference
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).
That God’s Spirit and power rest on the laborers
And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the (Holy) Spirit and power (a proof by the Spirit and power of God, operating on me and stirring in the minds of my hearers the most holy emotions and thus persuading them), so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men (human philosophy), but in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).
For our (preaching of the) glad tidings (the Gospel) came to you not only in word, but also in (its own inherent) power and in the Holy Spirit and with great conviction and absolute certainty (on our part) (1 Thessalonians 1:5)
That God’s Spirit reveal to them their sinful condition and quicken their conscience, plow up their heart, and ring conviction in their soul
He (the Spirit) will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God) and about judgement (John 16:8)
That God would stir them out of their complacency and indifference
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2)
That God would awaken them
Because they seeing, see not, and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand. For this people’s heart is become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have closed (Matthew 13:13)
That God’s love would be understood and embraced
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
That God would open a door to proclaim the Gospel
And at the same time pray for us also, that God may open a door to us for the Word (the Gospel), to proclaim the mystery concerning Christ (the Messiah) on account of which I am in prison (Colossians 4:3).
That God would minister to their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the (physical and spiritual) captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound (Isaiah 61:1)
To grant (consolation and joy) to those who mourn in Zion – to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment (expressive) of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit – that they may be called oaks of righteousness (lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God), the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified (Isaiah 61:3)
That they might escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will
…and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26)
That they would see God in creation
For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So are without excuse (Romans 1:20 AMP).
That their conscience bear witness
They show that the essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts and are operating there, with which their consciences (sense of right and wrong) also bear witness; and their decisions (their arguments of reason, their condemning or approving thoughts) will accuse or perhaps defend and excuse (Romans 2:15 AMP). For the Law is to make men recognize and be conscious of sin [not mere perception, but an acquaintance with sin which works toward repentance, faith, and holy character] (Romans 3:20, AMP).
That they would come to recognize sin and its penalty
Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. God has levied a death penalty for sinning and it’s eternal separation from Him. For the wages which sin pays is death (Romans 6:23).
That they would seek to know God
But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 4:29).
For the Holy Spirit to work in them
When he comes, he’ll expose the error of the godless world’s view of sin, righteousness, and judgment: He’ll show them that their refusal to believe in me is their basic sin; that righteousness comes from above, where I am with the Father, out of their sight and control; that judgment takes place as the ruler of this godless world is brought to trial and convicted (John 16:7-11, The Message).
That they would turn from sin
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out… (Acts 3:19).
That they would confess Christ as Lord
That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved (Romans 10:9, 10).
…the righteousness of God which comes by believing with personal trust and confident reliance on Jesus Christ (the Messiah). for all who believe (Romans 3:22 AMP).
That they would take root and grow in Christ
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness (Colossians 2:6,7).
That their life be transformed by the Gospel
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17)
A PRAYER USING SCRIPTURES
Father, hear us as we ask You to rescue the lost from the domain of darkness and bring them into the kingdom of Your Son. You alone can draw and enable them. You alone can send Your Holy Spirit with power to convict them of the sin in their life and their need to repent and believe in Your truth–that Jesus is the only way to You, that He alone is the way, the truth and the life.
Father, we ask you to forgive the sins of the lost. We come in Jesus’ name to demolish the strongholds in their minds that those sins have allowed. We come in the authority of Jesus’ name to overcome the power of the enemy in their lives, to ask You to bind evil spirits away from them in the name of Jesus and the blood of the Lamb through the word of our testimony.
We come against the blinding of their minds and ask that You send someone to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light; help us to be willing to go. Father, don’t let their hearts be hardened, but open their hearts to receive Your truth. Rip away any veil that covers their hearts, any false teaching that confuses their minds. Help them to hear your Word with power and conviction as the Word of God and not the word of man. Give them understanding, so that Satan will not be able to steal Your Word from their hearts.
Father, help them see their need for a Savior, to know they must confess their sins, repent and believe–or they perish. Help them choose Your mercy and Your gift of faith, to believe with their hearts and confess with their mouths, Jesus is Lord. We ask in Your will, that not any should perish. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Pictured is my nephew, Dawson, who is enjoying some rest of mind and body during a visit to our home last summer.
As I laid my head down on my pillow, I could feel the physical exhaustion wash over me. My body was craving the sleep it so badly needed. It didn’t take much to get myself comfortable, as I laid my tired head on my pillow, and allowed my eyes to close, something they had been desiring to do for the past many hours.
But what was happening? My exhausted body was attached to my head, which at this particular moment, was the home for the numerous thoughts regarding the painful circumstances many people were in at that very moment. No, this couldn’t be happening!
It was as if my mind didn’t care one bit about the exhausted body in which it resided. It was going to run its own course, taking me down trails, rough and rock ones, that I did not want to explore tonight. Couples whose marriages are failing. Youth who feel discarded. Death in the streets of Ukraine. Families struggling with finances. Parents feeling overwhelmed. Friends dealing with loss of loved ones. The trails in my mind were endless; they were dark. Lonely. And had no finish line.
I know you can relate to those nights. We all have them. Yet, I have come to realize how deeply important rest is in our lives. And not only physical rest, but mental and emotional rest, as well.
During those times, I frequently find myself telling God, “Lord, you know how exhausted I am. You also know my brain won’t shut off tonight. So, God, I’m just going to talk to you until I fall asleep; there will be no “amen” tonight. Thanks for listening.”
I don’t think the Lord minds one bit that I fall asleep while I’m talking to Him. I imagine at that moment, He’s taking the role of the Father, who is very content to have His daughter resting in his arms, providing her with the peace she needs that night to rest her body, and her mind.
My prayer is that you share with your Heavenly Father all those challenges that are keeping you up at night, so you are able to truly rest in the arms of your Father when lay your head on your pillow tonight.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus (Matthew 11:28)
Misty Cramer is an author and speaker, wife of 37 years to her favorite man, Todd, mother to five sons and two daughter-in-laws, and grandma to two of the cutest little humans on earth. She wants you to know you were created by a loving God who desires for you to have a relationship with Him. And not only that, but He desires for you to live life to the fullest, to have an abundant life (John 10)! Did you know that same God is able to do beyond anything we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)? Often we find ourselves just plodding along in life, without passion, without dreams, without a vision for our future. That isn’t the life God has in mind for us. Whether we are going through the dark valleys of life, venturing into the wonderful mountain tops of life, or find ourselves somewhere in between, God wants to walk with us, meet with us, and show us how to live life to the fullest.
#imagine320 #rest #sleeplessnights #restforyoursoul #jesus #devotions #christian #encouragement #exhaustion #peace #wednesdaysword
Pictured is my son, Zachary, who is keeping "watch" during an outdoor worship service last summer. Photo Credit: My son, Micah Cramer @5thchildphotography (Etsy Store)
Although the chair was far from comfortable, it had been my home for the past thirty minutes, and my body began to accept the fact that it would remain my home for at least another thirty. With that fact, I began to slouch, sliding my legs further underneath the desk in front of me. I then allowed my ears to turn the professor’s history lecture on the War of 1812 into a soothing drone, making focus difficult, and keeping my eyes open, even more challenging. What I think was moments later, a quick jerk of my head, caused me to abruptly open my eyes. I sat upright in my chair, and glanced around the room, checking to see if I had been caught in my “moment of indiscretion”, otherwise known as “sleeping in class”.
In the book of Matthew, specifically Chapter 26, we could say, three of Jesus’ disciples are caught in such an “indiscretion”. Jesus had just finished the Last Supper with his disciples. He knows that Peter is about to deny him. He knows Judas is betraying him. He knows his death is imminent. And he goes to Gethsemane to pray, asking if Peter (and others) will “keep watch with me”. Before Jesus goes off to pray, he even shares that his “soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”. It is beyond our comprehension...his depth of pain, his loneliness, the betrayal he was feeling as he walked into the Garden that night. The weight of the world pressing down on him at that moment, would have made it difficult for him to make the journey. And yet he did, to spend time with his Father. And he had what seemed like one simple request, to the three who walked with him: “keep watch with me”. He desired back-up. He desired his friends to be close to him, to watch, to pray. He wanted them to be alert. To be protected from the schemes of the devil. Yet, he also wanted to spare them the full devastation of seeing him crying out to the Father, spare them from seeing him sweat blood as he bowed before the Father, so he had them stay back a bit. And he walked further into the garden, among the trees, alone with the Father, crying out to him.
Watch. Pray. The instruction, the plea, doesn’t seem to be that difficult, does it? At least not for us, us who are able to simply read “the story”, and point our fingers at those who failed the test. We know the “end of the story”. We know this was Jesus’ last night on earth. We know; but they didn’t. They were tired, their bodies exhausted. The night had been long. Jesus, there’s a lot going on. Couldn’t we call it a night? They let their bodies rest on the side of the tree. They laid their head against its bark. They let the weight of their eyes be drawn closed, and just like I did in the classroom of my professor, they feel asleep on their Teacher. And not just once, nor twice, but three times. Three times Jesus returns from his time with the Father, to find his beloved three....sleeping.
I read this passage and think, “oh, I would stay awake”. I mean, it is Jesus, after all. If Jesus asked me to stay awake and keep watch, if Jesus asked me to watch and pray, of course I could do it. Or could I?
My challenge with our “Wednesday Word” this week, “watch”, is that we each take time to do just that. To “watch and pray”. What might Jesus want us to watch for this week? What temptations may be luring in the darkness for us, temptations that can be identified when we “watch”? What might Jesus want us to pray for this week? Who does he want to bring to our mind during our time with the Father? As we head into Maundy Thursday, and then into Good Friday, I wonder if we could each read the scripture in Matthew 26. Walk the journey with Jesus again. Can we take the opportunity to allow God to show us a piece of what it must have been like for his Son, Jesus, in those days leading into his death? It won’t be an easy journey to allow even a portion of the pain, the realization of what Jesus went through for us, to seep into our souls. It won’t be a pretty journey, as betrayal, sacrifice, sin, and death are never pretty. But keeping watch, praying, will be life-changing. We cannot remain the same when we allow God into the deepest portions of our being. He will change us. Be ready. And keep watch.
Misty Cramer, is an author and speak whose desire is to encourage others, as she shares the hope Jesus provides in the midst of life’s darkest challenges, as well as it’s brightest triumphs. If you would like to receive “Wednesday’s Word”, as well as other encouragement, you can subscribe to her website, and follow her on Instagram @mistydawncramer and Facebook, Misty Cramer, Author & Speaker. She would love to connect with you! #imagine320 #wednesdaysword #watch #keepwatch #jesus #easter #devotions #christian #encouragement #exhaustion #peace #mandythursday #goodfriday
Pictured is Christopher and myself, during a visit to our home a few months before his death.
As I write, it is 10 years from the last embrace I had with my brother, Christopher Cederberg.
And so, on this Tuesday night, I find the word REMEMBER, at the top of my list for my Wednesday’s Word Series. Because it is this word, that is etched in my mind, as I replay the last evening of his life.
I remember well the taco dinner we had together. We had a full house with he and my sister and her children visiting. The laughter and chaos during dinner can still be heard in the back of my mind. The children running around the house, and making their way to the basement after dinner is etched in my heart. And mostly, I remember the conversation, as all of us adults moved to the living room. I remember the authenticity of my brother sharing about his drug addiction. The fact that although he had been clean for a bit, the urge to use was still strong, sometimes stronger than others. Oh, how he wished the desire would disappear. Yet, it taunted him, like a lion in the brush. Eager to use any weak moment, as an opportunity to pounce.
I then remember the family, circled in our living room, taking turns praying. Thanking God for the evening we had just spent together. Asking for strength in the days ahead. Praying specifically for Christopher, and the addiction that clawed at him.
I remember how my heart sank that night when he told us he would be leaving for a birthday party that evening, spending the night in town, instead of returning to my house. Concerned for what his night may hold, the uneasiness began to press down heavily on my chest.
I remember vividly, standing in my living room, hugging him, and both of us saying, “see ya in the morning”, as we planned to meet as a family the next day. Once again, I remember his embrace, his strong arms and over six-foot tall stature towering over me.
Because the pain is too vivid, to deep, for family, even after these 10 years, I won’t go into detail about the memories the next day held, as we learned of Christopher’s death, from an accidental drug overdose at age 32 years. But I will share that I remember all too clearly every moment of the day, as if time stood still. As if someone pressed the slow-motion button, and the world moved forward at a pace that gave way to more time than we wanted, to sit in the agony the day held for our family.
I have wrestled with REMEMBER for some time now. And over the past 10 years, I have learned to value it in a different way than I had been able to in the past. Remember caused me a lot of pain. It would replay parts of the journey that I didn’t want to watch again. It would haunt me, as I would look back at times when Chris was alive. As I would consider how things may have gone differently that night. In fact, I didn’t want to remember; I wanted to have life look so different. I wanted to have Chris here, on this earth, with us, his family. As he should be. I didn’t want the “need to remember” what it was like before he died. So, I found myself angry, pounding down Remember, because frankly, I shouldn’t need, Remember, at all. Remember wasn’t supposed to be part of our story.
However, I now find myself reconciling with Remember. Not that the pain of remembering isn’t still there. Not that my heart doesn’t still cry out at this loss. But I’m also able to embrace Remember, as I allow my heart to journey to the gratitude of having Christopher at our home the night before he died. As I’m able to be thankful for the conversation and dinner we shared together. For the prayer time we had, minutes before he left. I allow myself to remember, giving permission for time to stop, then for it to move forward in slow-motion, so I am able to soak in those moments. Granting them the opportunity to dwell within my core, becoming a part of the woman I am today.
And mostly, I remember this. I remember that we serve a God, a Savior, who meets us right smack in the midst of our difficulties. Our challenges. And yes, our addictions. Christopher knew Jesus. He had a relationship with Jesus. And just like all of us who are dealing with any type of sin, anything that dares to pull us out of God’s will, Jesus was walking with Christopher on the journey of life. He was walking with him when he was doing great, playing with his nieces and nephews, talking with friends and family. He was walking with him on those days when the journey was hard, when the tugs of the addiction were strong. He was walking with him during those times when his body gave into those cravings. When he wasn’t strong enough to stand against the temptations. And he was walking with him, when he left this earth. And when He entered his new home in Heaven.
Remember. Remember is my friend now. Because I am reminded, we are never too far gone for the love of Jesus. That He doesn’t need us to be perfect, or even close, in order to start a relationship with Him. (Romans 3:23) In fact it’s our imperfection that creates our need for a Savior. (Romans 6:23) That even in the midst of us falling into temptation, He loves us and offers us forgiveness. (1 John 1:9) That we don’t have to understand all that this life holds; we don’t have to know all the answers to the questions of “why”. And most importantly, that when we believe in Him, when we let him know we want to be His follower, we are able to experience eternal life with Him, in Heaven, after our time on this earth. (John 3:16) And with that promise, I will see Christopher again. Now that, is something worth REMEMBERing.
To my family who are reading this, I pray for you, for us, as we continue to navigate the life we lead now without Christopher. I ask that God would work in our hearts in a mighty way today, somehow providing us with a comfort and peace that may only be explained as divine. I love you all, and praise God that He has placed you in my life.
And for those of you who are reading this with a tears in your eyes, because you too have lost someone, someone who you love beyond what words can express, someone whom "remembering" brings pain of what should have been....my heart is with you, too. I'm praying for you right this minute as I write. May God grant you the strength and courage to move forward one day at a time, remembering the truths that He has to offer you today and always.
Misty Cramer, is an author and speaker whose desire is to encourage others, as she shares the hope Jesus provides in the midst of life’s darkest challenges, as well as it’s brightest triumphs. If you would like to receive “Wednesday’s Word”, as well as other encouragement, you can subscribe to her website https://mailchi.mp/7844a4ba7f8b/welcome and follow her on Instagram @mistydawncramer and Facebook, Misty Cramer, Author & Speaker. She would love to connect with you! #imagine320 #wednesdaysword #jesus #devotions #christian #encouragement #exhaustion #peace #addiction #alcoholaddiction #alcohol #drugaddiction #druguse #drugs #overdose #death #remember #hope #salvation #john316 #loss #family #siblings #love #heaven #eternallife #sin #forgiveness