Forever Flowers

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever. Isaiah 40:8

As a toddler, my son Xavier enjoyed giving me flowers. I appreciated every freshly picked weed or store-bought blossom he purchased with his dad. I treasured each gift until it wilted and had to be thrown away.

One day, Xavier gave me a beautiful bouquet of artificial flowers. He grinned as he arranged the silk white calla lily, yellow sunflower, and purple hydrangea in a glass vase. “Look, Mommy,” he said. “They’ll last forever. That’s how much I love you.”

We can trust God’s unchanging love.

Since then, my boy has grown into a young man. Those silk petals have frayed. The colors have faded. Still, the Forever Flowers remind me of his adoration. And there is something else it brings to mind—one thing that truly stands forever—the limitless and lasting love of God, as revealed in His infallible and enduring Word (Isa. 40:8).

As the Israelites faced continual trials, Isaiah comforted them with confidence in God’s enduring words (40:1). He proclaimed that God paid the debt caused by the Israelites’ sin (v. 2), securing their hope in the coming Messiah (vv. 3–5). They trusted the prophet because his focus remained on God rather than their circumstances.

In a world filled with uncertainties and affliction, the opinions of man and even our own feelings are ever-shifting and as limited as our mortality (vv. 6–7). Still, we can trust God’s unchanging love and character as revealed through His constant and eternally true Word.

God affirms His love through His dependable and unchanging Word, which endures now and forevermore.

INSIGHT:The Bible has changed lives in each generation that has read it. The apostle Paul told us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). This means that the inspired words did not come merely from human authors but from the Holy Spirit of God who guided what they wrote. As Peter told us, “Prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). The word that translates as our English phrase “carried along” actually refers to the wind blowing along a sailing ship. Scripture could not have been written without the gracious guidance of a Divine Author, the Holy Spirit.

How does knowing that all Scripture is inspired by God—who does not change—comfort you?

The Church: What Is It All About?

Colossians 1:18, Colossians 1:24

Church buildings are plentiful in our country. Locating one may be easy, but wisely deciding which to join involves more thought. God’s Word gives us some specific instructions in this matter.

First, let’s explore the original biblical meaning of the word “church.” The term ecclesia meant a group of people who are called out of the world’s system by God’s grace for the purpose of assembling to worship and serve Christ. Ephesians 5:22-30 further specifies that believers are the body and Jesus is the head of such a fellowship. Under His leadership, we can enjoy the unity and purpose that He intended.

God’s design for this sacred gathering involves worship, instruction, encouragement, evangelism, and ministry to those in need, both within the fellowship and outside its walls. A healthy, vibrant congregation is possible when members rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The work of the church is to be done in His power, in humble and prayerful submission to the Lord.

To help you determine whether a church is following the design laid out in Scripture, here are some important questions to ask: Do they believe God’s Word is infallible and inerrant? Is the church discipling her people? Does the fellowship have some kind of missionary or evangelistic program?

Joining a congregation is an important decision, as a fellowship of believers is one tool God uses to mature and encourage His children. Those three questions can be helpful in discerning God’s will. Listen for His Spirit to warn or direct as you prayerfully investigate your options.


“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)

This encouraging command has been used in many generations of Sunday school teachings and sermons to challenge the saints. The apostle Paul uses nearly half of the 74 appearances of the word in the New Testament in his epistles.

This simple statement in Philippians 4:4 seems to summarize all of the other passages: “Rejoice [imperative command] in the Lord [the qualifier, or the ‘way’ to rejoice] always [in every circumstance and condition].” Joy is a godly thing.

Because of our sinful condition, we cannot easily “rejoice in the Lord.” We can have fleeting moments of happiness and experiences that fill our hearts with delight and pleasure, but true joy—the ability to “rejoice”—only comes “in the Lord.”

A quick review from the “Songs” of Israel can help us grasp how the righteous rejoice:

  • “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” (Psalm 32:11)
  • “Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.” (Psalm 33:1)
  • “Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified.” (Psalm 40:16)
  • “My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed.” (Psalm 71:23)
  • “Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” (Psalm 97:12)

Joy and rejoicing from born-again believers produce emotion (gladness, cheering, praise, singing, thanks, etc.), but the object of the emotion is always the source of our joy—the Lord Jesus our Savior, King, and Creator. HMM III

“Be ye merciful.”

Deuteronomy 21:22, 23

We select from the bulk a few of the special laws which the Lord gave to his people. They were all full of instruction, and should be carefully studied.

Deuteronomy 21:22, 23

Pause here, and lovingly adore the Lord Jesus, who submitted for our sakes to the accursed death of the cross. Sin brought a curse upon us, and our blessed Substitute took that curse upon him and bore it in our stead. “He was made a curse for us”—blessed miracle of condescending love!

Deuteronomy 22:1-12

Deuteronomy 22:4

All these precepts are involved in loving our neighbour as ourself, but it is very gracious on the Lord’s part to point out particulars; let us be particular in regarding them, and in every way act kindly towards others.

Deuteronomy 22:5

All indelicacy is to be shunned. No idea of merriment can excuse that which has a lewd appearance.

Deuteronomy 22:7

We must not be devoid of feeling, but act considerately towards the least of God’s creatures.

Deuteronomy 22:8

Care of life is a duty, hence cleanliness in person and abode is to be carefully maintained; and we must not expose ourselves, or others to needless risks.

Deuteronomy 22:9-11

God would have his people distinct and separate, and therefore he forbids mixtures in sowing, working, and clothing, to remind them of this. We must sow only the pure gospel, work only with gracious motives, and be adorned only in Christ’s righteousness. Mixtures are an abomination in religion.

Deuteronomy 22:12

This was one of Israel’s distinguishing marks: Christians also should be known by their robes of holiness.


Through day and darkness, Saviour dear,

Abide with us more nearly near;

Till on thy face we lift our eyes,

The sun of God’s own paradise.


Praise God, our Maker and our Friend;

Praise him through time, till time shall end;

Till psalm and song his name adore,

Through heaven’s great day of evermore.


The Most Common Word For Prayer in the New Testament

Ephesians 6:18

The most common Greek word translated “prayer” in the New Testament is the word proseuche. This particular word and its various forms is used approximately 127 times in the New Testament. It is the word that Paul uses in Ephesians 6:18, when he says, “Praying always with all prayer….” The word “prayer” in this verse is a translation of the word proseuche. Today I would like to tell you about this word and what it means for you and me.

The word proseuche is a compound of the words pros and euche. The word pros is a preposition that means toward, and it can denote a sense of closeness. For example, one scholar says the word pros is used to portray the intimate relationship that exists between the members of the Godhead. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God….” The word “with” is taken from the word pros. By using this word to describe the relationship between the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is telling us that theirs is an intimate relationship. One expositor has translated the verse, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was face to face with God….”

The word pros is used in Ephesians 6:12 to picture our close contact with unseen, demonic spirits that have been marshaled against us. Nearly everywhere it is used in the New Testament, the word pros carries the meaning of close, up-front, intimate contact with someone else.

The second part of the word proseuche is taken from the word euche. The word euche is an old Greek word that describes a wish, desire, prayer, or vow. It was originally used to depict a person who made some kind of vow to God because of some need or desire in his or her life. This individual would vow to give something of great value to God in exchange for a favorable answer to prayer.

A perfect illustration of this word can be found in the Old Testament story of Hannah, the mother of Samuel. Hannah deeply desired a child but was not able to become pregnant. Out of great desperation and anguish of spirit, she prayed and made a solemn vow to the Lord. First Samuel 1:11 tells us, “And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life….”

First Samuel 1:19, 20 goes on to tell us, “And they [Elkanah and his wife Hannah] rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the Lord, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her. Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son….”

In exchange for God’s gift of this son, Hannah vowed that her young boy would be devoted to the work of the ministry. By making this commitment, she gave her most valued and prized possession in exchange for answered prayer. Technically, this was a eucheshe made a vow to give something to God in exchange for answered prayer.

In Greek culture, before prayer was verbalized and offered to a “god,” a commemorative altar was set up and thanksgiving was offered on that altar. Such offerings of praise and thanksgiving were called votive offerings (from the word “vow”). These votive offerings were similar to a pledge. The person would promise that once his prayer had been answered, he would be back to give additional thanksgiving to God. These votive offerings of praise and worship were elaborate and well-planned. Giving thanks to a deity was a significant event, so it was done in a serious and grandiose manner to outwardly demonstrate a thankful heart.

All of this is included in the background of the word proseuche, the word used more than any other for “prayer” in the New Testament. Keep in mind, the majority of Paul’s readers were Greek in origin and knew the cultural background of this word; hence, they understood its full ramifications. What a picture of prayer this is!

This tells us several important things about prayer. First, the word proseuche tells us that prayer should bring us face to face and into close contact with God. Prayer is more than a mechanical act or a formula to follow; it is a vehicle to bring us to a place whereby we may enjoy a close, intimate relationship with God.

The idea of sacrifice is also associated with this word for “prayer.” It portrayed an individual who desired to see his prayer answered so desperately that he was willing to surrender everything he owned in exchange for answered prayer. Clearly, this describes an altar of sacrifice and consecration in prayer whereby a believer’s life is yielded entirely to God.

Although the Holy Spirit may convict our hearts of areas that need to be surrendered to His sanctifying power, He will never forcibly take anything from us. Thus, this particular word for prayer tells of a place of decision, a place of consecration, an altar where we freely vow to give our lives to God in exchange for His life. Because the word proseuche carries this meaning of surrender and sacrifice, we can know that God obviously desires to do more than merely bless us—He wants to change us! He wants us to come to a place of consecration where we meet with Him face to face and surrender every area of our lives to Him, and in exchange, we are touched and changed by His power and Presence.

Thanksgiving was also a vital part of this common word for “prayer.” This tells us that genuine prayer, when offered in faith, will include thanksgiving to God in advance for hearing and answering the prayer. Thus, when we come to the Lord in prayer, it is imperative that we never stop short of thanking Him for answering our prayers and requests before we ever see the answers manifested.

I think you can see that the word for “prayer” used most often in the New Testament is more than simply a prayer request. This word demands surrender, consecration, and thanksgiving from us. The idea of the word proseuche is this: “Come face to face with God, and surrender your life in exchange for His. Maintain an attitude of consecration as an ongoing part of your life, and be sure to give Him thanks in advance for moving on your behalf…”

The possible references for the word proseuche are far too many to list right now, but I suggest that you study for yourself many of the 127 places where it is used in the New Testament. However, be sure you don’t just study this subject of prayer—you also need to do it!


Lord, I come before You right now with the specific petition that is on my heart. I know that You want to answer my prayers and fulfill my requests, but You also want me to surrender more of myself to You. Before I ask You to meet my needs today, I first want to consecrate myself more fully to You. Forgive me for hanging on to parts of my life that I’ve needed to surrender to You. Right now I yield these areas of my life to You, and I ask You in exchange to please fill me with more of You. I thank You in advance for answering that prayer. I also thank You for hearing my specific prayer request and for fulfilling the needs I am confronted with today.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I confess that I am surrendered and yielded to the Lord. Every part of my life is becoming more yielded to Him every day. As the Holy Spirit shows me areas that I need to release to Him, I do it quickly and without delay. Because I have given my life to Him, He is filling me with more and more of Himself. He hears me when I pray; He accepts my thanksgiving; and He fulfills the needs that I present to Him today!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. How often do you come before the Lord for a time of intimate prayer and worship? Do you set aside time to spend with God once a day, a couple of times a week—or do you only experience His Presence during worship when you attend church services?
  2. Can you recall a time when God dealt with your heart about something you needed to yield to Him? When you finally relinquished it into His hands, how quickly did you experience an answer to your specific prayer requests?
  3. Is there anything you need to yield to the Lord in your life right now? Write down whatever comes to mind that you need to release to Him.

We must never stop short of thanking God for answering our prayers and requests before we ever see the answers manifested.


Our Values Determine Our Priorities

The other day I was interacting with a businessman in an attempt to motivate him to spend regular time with Christ. In response, he proceeded to lament over how little time he had for himself… that the pressures of business were overwhelming, etc. etc.


Finally, I asked him, “Mel, if I were to give you $100 for every morning you spent 10 minutes with God, would you find the time to do it?




“Would you find the time if I gave you $200?”








“Mel… I think you have just illustrated the fact that OUR VALUES DETERMINE OUR PRIORITIES.”


I then asked, “Mel, if you had a serious kidney disease where your very survival depended upon being on a dialysis machine every morning from 2:00 – 3:00 A. M., would you find the time to do it?




“Hmm… It sure sounds to me like OUR VALUES DETERMINE OUR PRIORITIES!”


Mel, like the rest of us, needs from time to time to be reminded that the purpose of the Cross was not to furnish us with a spiritual fire insurance policy, but to usher us into precious and intimate fellowship with Christ:


God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1 Corinthians 1:9)


Therefore, regular time with Him — call it a “Quiet Time” if you please, is a must if we are to know Him intimately.


So can we say that if we are not spending consistent time with God, it is simply because we do not value it badly enough; that it is not a priority with us? After all, we now understand that: OUR VALUES DETERMINE OUR PRIORITIES!



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