I shared with you all that one of the things I learned last month was how to pray using Scripture. It's something that I've done before, but I never really thought about implementing it more often as I pray. This enlightenment was due to several women sharing with me how they use Scripture to pray and after watching War Room, who would have thought?
This past month, I've been reading through and studying Hebrews using the She Reads Truth study pack, which has been a helpful tool as I study it more in-depth. On the back page of the study pack, they include a beautiful graphic with a verse from Hebrews. While flipping through the book on the first day, I found this graphic.
It's the author's benediction, or blessing, to the Hebrews. It caught my attention because it sounds like a prayer, so I started using it as a prayer.
Here is the original passage from Scripture:
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
And below is how you can use it as a prayer for friends, family, or for yourself. This is how I word it as a prayer for my fiancé.
God of peace, please equip Brandon with everything good that he may do Your will, working in him that which is pleasing in Your sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
When I don't know how to pray for Brandon, my friends, or family, I use this passage and others. I've also found that the more I use this passage in my prayers, I end up memorizing it as well. Nifty.
I'm praying this passage for you, dear readers, and I hope this helps you as you pray as well.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season
we will reap, if we do not give up.
Today's reads are for those that are weary in this world. I pray you find encouragement from these posts.
Choose Hospitality Over Entertaining // Jen Wilkin
When I'm Exposed // Escape Escapism
Loving the Skin You're In // Go-Giver Collective
The Wisdom of God in the Frustration of Man // Desiring God
American Christians, You Might Need to Start Living Like Missionaries
There is just something about the book of Hebrews that makes it one of my favorite books to study. I love it mainly because it's rich. It takes the Old Testament and shows its significance in light of Jesus, and that excites me every time I read it.
I love seeing how the Old Testament foreshadows Jesus; how the temple, the Levitical priesthood, the sacrifice system, and God's covenants with Abraham and Moses all point to Jesus. In regards to the covenants, sacrifice system, and laws that God instructed His people with, the author of Hebrews says:
They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.
How beautiful is that? The whole system that God created in order to reconcile man to Himself served as a copy and shadow of heavenly things and what was and is to come.
And then I started thinking about this more. A lot of life is a copy and shadow of heavenly things. Take marriage as an example.
God made marriage and He even established the first marriage between Adam and Eve. Marriage is a good and beautiful thing made by God, but it's also a copy and shadow of a heavenly thing. Marriage images the relationship between Christ and his Bride, the Church. Here's what John wrote about the marriage supper in heaven in the book of Revelation:
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”--
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”
This is the wedding feast to come for the Lamb of God (Jesus) and his Bride (the church). Wedding feasts and marriages on earth are shadows of what is to come for those that believe in Jesus.
A shadow points to its original object, but the original object is always far better than the shadow. With that in mind, I'm excited to be married and enjoy the blessing of marriage in less than a month. But my marriage on earth will be a copy and shadow of an even better heavenly marriage to come.
This time a year ago, I graduated college with a degree in Film and Video Production. I started support raising to work full-time as a campus missionary, and I entered into a dating relationship with my best guy friend from college.
I'm a year out of college, nearing the end of full-time support raising to minister full-time on campus, and 27 days away from marrying the man I want to spend the rest of my life on earth with.
By God's grace, a lot can happen in a year. A lot of changes have taken place in my life, and even more changes are ahead. Name changes. Location changes. Job responsibility changes. Learning to be a wife changes. And so many more changes.
But even though this life is filled with change, there is One that remains constant and never changes in the midst of these different seasons.
He's the same One that knows every hair on my head. He's the One that has numbered every day of my life. He's the One that knew that I would become passionate about campus ministry while pursuing filmmaking. He's the One that knew back when I first liked Husband-to-Be and didn't know what to do with my feelings that we would end up getting married.
A lot can happen in a year, but God knew exactly what would happen and what will happen. I may change and things may change around me, but He is constant and never changing.
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."
I'm taking some time to reflect back over what I learned this past month...
1. Praying through Scripture is a powerful way to pray.
Ever heard of a movie called War Room? A lot of women within the church are talking about this movie, but watching it made me think more about praying Scripture. After watching this film, a leader from a Bible study I attended shared with us a prayer that she uses for her family that weaves together verses from Scripture. And then it dawned on me, there is power in praying through Scripture!
I'm pretty sure I've been doing this, but it was like a light bulb came on and I thought, "Why don't I write down Scripture as my prayers for those that I'm praying for?"
2. War Room is the first Christian genre film that I've actually liked.
And that's saying a lot from a woman that studied filmmaking in college. I admit it. I don't like watching typical Christian-genre films. The acting, filmmaking, and dialogue are painful, and it gives Christian filmmakers a bad reputation as artists. Christian artists are made in the image of God with the talent to create, and yet our art falls short when we sanitize it. I didn't feel this way about War Room.
Sure, there were lines and acting that made me cringe, but overall I thought it conveyed a powerful message with characters that had depth.
3. Matt Maher's Sinners and Saints album tells a beautiful story.
I shared with you all about going to the Matt Maher concert last month, but I never realized how fluid his Sinners and Saints album is, especially the section from "Abide" to "Waiting" to "Because He Lives." Matt Maher tells a beautiful story through this album. You can listen to it here.
4. Music albums (CDS?) tell stories.
It has taken me 23 years of life on this earth to realize that musical albums tell stories just like films and book tells stories. Learned this tid-bit from the Matt Maher album.
5. Abiding in Jesus is the only thing that bears fruit.
I've been learning a lot about abiding in Jesus this past year, meaning I've been learning to choose to sit at Jesus' feet and spend time in prayer, in the Bible, or relying on Him in hard situations over trusting in my own efforts and activity.
This past month I was reading John 15, and I was reminded again of what Jesus said: " I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."
It's that last part that gets me every time. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing. Nada.
And that's not a "You can't clean your room" nothing. It's a "You will not bear fruit, the things that really matter like the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, etc. You will not bear these apart from Jesus" nothing. And that is scary, but also comforting.
Because when we abide in Jesus, we will bear fruit like love, joy, peace, etc. Our activities do not produce this fruit: going to church, or attending a Bible study, or discipling someone younger than you. Those things are great, but abiding in Jesus is the only thing that bears lasting fruit.
These are just a few of the things that I learned in April. What did you learn this past month?
When I'm knee deep in a project and fixated on the details, it's always helpful to take a step and admire the progress but also reevaluate where the project is heading. I use to do this when I edited my films in college. I'd watch the cut a few times, be encouraged by the progress, and then think through next steps. That's how I feel about wedding planning, and that's certainly how I feel about this blog.
She Laughs Without Fear is currently beyond what I imagined it would be as a blog. I thought it would just be a little domain that remained in the recesses of the internet, without many viewers, and just me and my thoughts about Jesus.
Well, this little blog now has a number of followers, and I've been blogging here far longer than I imagined two years ago. It has become a little internet home.
As you noticed I haven't been writing as frequently lately. Part of the reason for that is that I'm knee deep in ministry and wedding planning. And part of the reason is that I needed to take a step back and reevaluate and remember why I write on this blog.
After some thinking, here's what I came up with, my hope for this blog:
I want She Laughs Without Fear to be a source of encouragement for you, the reader, but I also want it to be a place you experience truth: truth as I share honestly and Truth as I share what I'm learning from God's Word.
This means that I plan on sharing more stories from my life, what I'm learning about God and His Word, prayers, and resources, and I'd love to hear more from you, the reader!
Okay, the big picture break is over. Time to get back to the fun details of sharing! :)
Shalom! I'm Madi, a laughter-loving, movie-going, spontaneous-dancing, follower of Christ. Join me as I seek glimpses of God's grace in the ordinary and everyday.
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She Laughs Without Fear