Friday, September 19, 2014

I Have a Confession

I Have a Confession                                                        September 19, 2014

I have a confession to make – I have judged others. More specifically, I have judged the Israelites who were delivered out of bondage in Egypt only to “create” a god to go before them a few days later. I mean, really?  I always felt that if God parted a sea and allowed me to not only cross but to cross on dry land and then destroy my enemies before my very eyes, I’d serve Him wholeheartedly forever. I’ve also said that if I saw the presence of God directing me in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, I’d follow Him anywhere – even when I couldn’t see Him.

But those Israelites didn’t do that. Before the sun was fully set on one miracle it seemed they forgot all about God and turned back to doing things their own way. I just don’t get it. Correction – I didn’t get it. But I believe I do now. And so, my confession…

Yesterday I got up early in the morning and went straight into the presence of God. He calls me early to be with Him and though I’m not a morning person, that seems to be His meeting time of preference – with me anyway. In fact, the verse He gave me for my “ministry” says, “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” (Isaiah 50:4 KJV) He really does waken me morning by morning. But, and that’s a BIG BUT, I don’t always rise when He wakens. And so we go back to my confession.

Yesterday I did well. I got up when He awakened me and had a joyous time with Him. I believe it was because I started my day with Him that everything went as well as it did. One notable part was as I was reading and doing my “thing” I felt an urge to pray for my children and plead the blood of God to protect them and their schools. The feeling was strong so of course I prayed and confessed Psalm 91 over them until the Spirit gave me peace. An hour later, my seventeen year old sent a text asking that I come and get her from school because police were everywhere and she thought there was a shooting scare.

My flesh wanted to panic but God said, “Don’t worry. I already took care of this – remember.” So instead of panicking I sent text messages to prayer partners and then gave God a praise. I even posted how awesome God was on Facebook and how before there was a situation, He allowed me to be a part of the solution! He is sooooo GOOD!

That was yesterday. Today was different. Early this morning God woke me up and I decided I would lie in bed a little longer and meet with Him later. (Don’t judge me J) But a little later became much later and then it was time to get the girls off to school and mow the lawn and then transfer daughter number one from one school to the other school and deliver DVD’s for my church’s media ministry and visit one of the elderly mothers from our church association and then I had to go to the library and take my husband to lunch and... (Whew!) Long story made short, later never came. I mean I prayed a quick prayer but there was no quality time with the Father. I had chosen to go my own way.

So now I can say I understand the Israelites a little bit better. They didn’t necessarily mean to turn away from God so quickly. They probably had no intention of turning their backs on God at all. But as one minister friend told me, you don’t have to choose to leave God’s presence, simply stop ACTIVELY seeking it and you’ll lose it anyway. 

Yesterday’s police presence at my daughter’s school was a proactive-preventive measure.  Though my child says she did see the police actively pursue a suspect, there was not a shooting incident. Before things got out of hand, God called me to pray and dispatch His angels of protection. Some of them arrived in blue uniforms. Yesterday I saw God move mightily on my behalf. Today I stayed in bed and built a golden calf out of my body’s desire for a little more rest.


Yes, I have judged the Israelites of the Bible. Today I confess that I understand their downfall much better. It was wrong, but I understand and I shall judge no more.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lessons From A Lop-Sided Heart

 Lessons From A Lop-Sided Heart                                                              September 18, 2014


Have you gazed up into the sky and discovered a cloud that looks like something other than a cloud? You know the kind I’m talking about – the ones shaped like puppies or hearts or angels. Or maybe you’re not a sky gazer but you’ve seen pictures of such clouds on social media. Perhaps you’ve also seen pictures on social media of food items that bear the likeness of someone or something else. Anytime I’ve viewed these thing on social media I’ve thought, “Oh how cute.” But then I dismiss them.

Why do I bring up these questions you ask? Well today I saw something in the bottom of my coffee cup that made me stop and pause.  (Why didn’t I think to take a picture of it before refilling my cup – rats!)  In the bottom of my cup was the shape of a heart. Okay, and. Well I saw it and thought, “Oh a heart.” “Look again,” I hear in my spirit. Okay, I see a lop-sided heart. “Look closer.” By now it’s losing its shape but that small voice keeps speaking.

I have tried quite diligently to be perfect for God. (I know, I know – no man/woman is perfect.) But still I strive. And striving for perfection is worthy goal – so long as you realize it is not fully attainable this side of Heaven.  But my motive for trying to be perfect for God was what needed to be reviewed after examining my heart – get it, my heart.  Okay, in all seriousness – why was I always down on myself for not doing all that I wanted to do or felt I needed to do to please God? It’s because I keep trying to earn God’s love and repay Him for all He’s done/doing for me.  That is not a worthy goal. That’s a massive waste of time and energy.

There’s so much more I want to say on the subject of works, but that’s not what God is dealing with at the moment.  He wants to deal with the heart.  When it comes to God’s love for me and my love for God, it will always be uneven. Like the lop-sided heart in my coffee cup, an illustration of our hearts – God’ s and mine as one – will always be one-sided. His side will always be exponentially larger. While through Christ I have the ability to love, GOD IS LOVE. While in Christ I can do good, GOD IS GOOD. No matter how much I love (or do), I will never even come close to being His equal.

Psalm 113:5 (NIV) reads, “Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high.”  In the New Living Translation that same verse reads, “Who can be compared with the LORD our God, who is enthroned on high?”  While it is true that when I accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord His spirit came to live inside of me. As a result I have taken on His characteristics and gained His ability to love and do good. However, this vessel of clay that houses  that Spirit prevents me for being exactly as He is.

So today I shall cease and desist trying to earn God’s love and approval and His favor. I shall simply bask in His love for me and love Him in return as His Spirit in me enables. I accept that I am not saved by my works but saved unto good works AND I recognize and accept the difference. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What's It All For?

  What’s It All For?                                                                                        September 11, 2014


This morning after some personal and private time in the presence of my God, I turned on Joel Osteen for an uplifting word and further encouragement. I was not disappointed. His sermon topic was, “Today is Your Day.” He encouraged me to have faith for today which I found interesting. I had never really thought about when my faith was for; I just wanted to make sure it was active. But he encouraged listeners to stop expecting God to do something “one day” or in the “great by-and-by” – expect God to bless you today; to deliver you today; to heal you today. I can do that.

A little later I turned on Bishop TD Jakes and he said something that also made me pause. Truthfully I cannot remember exactly what he said, but the thought that entered my mind when he said it was, “Why? What’s it all for?”  Why do we want the blessings of God? Why do we want the favor of God? Why do we want God to bless us today?

In the book of James we read we have not because we ask not or when we ask we ask with wrong motives.  So it’s good to ask God to bless us – as His children it’s our right. He is glorified when we are blessed by receiving what we ask of Him. But what is our motive in asking God to bless us? I’ll take it a bit further, since my blog is called “Sharing the Journey” we’ll look specifically at me and this journey I’ve invited you to witness.

I have been praying for the will and ability to lose weight more years than I care to remember.  I am WELL over what is considered healthy for my height but, as my doctor has said (and I quote), “Other than being obese you’re in excellent health.” If I am in excellent health despite my weight, why have I wanted to lose weight for so long? More importantly, why haven’t I been successful?

Another prayer has been for deliverance from debt. In fact, long before I incurred any debt (other than a $100 a month car payment) the Holy Spirit told me that I would I would be blessed financially.  This word was spoken directly to me (in my heart) by God.  It was spoken to me again by a guest preacher visiting the church I attended. He didn’t know me, had never seen me before, and knew nothing of my financial status (which was pretty good then). But he cut short his sermon because God was giving him a word of prophecy for several people, one of which was yours truly.

After that word was received and confirmed, I strayed away from the faith. When I returned to a right relationship with God I felt for sure all previous promises had been forfeited.  But God said not so! (Hallelujah – I get excited just thinking about it!)  He sent six different prophets on seven different occasions to tell me God wanted to bless me financially.  There was of course more to it than that but for now, just know God wanted me to know that it was not His will for me to be broke, busted, and disgusted.  But that’s exactly what I was – am. Why? And why do I want my situation to change?

Many of us want God’s blessings for personal reasons. We want to be comfortable. We want to be able to do things we are currently unable to do. We want to be looked upon favorably by others. Dare I say there are even some of us who want to be envied. Really, what’s it all for?

I believe until our will lines up with God’s will and our desires are His desires, it’s all for naught.  Yes God wants me to prosper and be in health even as my soul prospers.  He wants to satisfy my desires with good things. He wants me to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. But why?  I’m neither a theologian nor a Bible scholar.  But I’m on a journey to know my God AND to make Him known and I’d like to offer my theory on the matter.  Until it is all for his glory and the up-building of His kingdom, it is for the wrong reason.  It may be a good reason, but unless it fits with Matthew 6:33 that good reason is a wrong reason. And when our motive is wrong I don’t think we will have ALL He desires to give us. 


Father, I don’t know it all but you said in your Word if any man lacks wisdom he should ask.  I’m asking you, dear God, give me wisdom and understanding in this matter. I recognize that faith the size of a grain of mustard seed is all that is required to move mountains, but my mountain is not moving and my faith is real. I also recognize that you are not a man that you should lie and that your words will not return unto you void but will accomplish what you send it out to do. So the problem is not with you. I’ve checked myself and re-examined myself in the light of your word and yes I am lacking in many areas. Though I strive for the mark…. Ah, Holy Spirit I hear you and I thank you. Work on me, Lord Jesus. Make me what you would have me to be.  And for those who you send to read this and pray with me, let them also hear your voice. It is your desire that we be blessed and have our prayers answered, but in your time and under the right circumstances. What’s it all for? You know, O God. Make it known. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How Has The Lord Commanded You?

 How Has the Lord Commanded You?                                                         September 9, 2014

It’s amazing how the Holy Spirit will bring things to your remembrance concerning the Word of God.  Today I’ve been reading in 1 Kings. When I came to chapter 13, I was reminded of something my pastor told me:  “If the things a man or woman of God says to you is not confirmation of what the Holy Spirit has already spoken to your spirit, don’t receive their prophecy.” It was a hard word to receive in the beginning because I’ve had some men and women of God tell me some really great things – things that line up with the Word though not with what had been spoken directly to my spirit.  But because I know my pastor is a true man of God and only leads as the Lord directs, I took this hard word to heart.

Still, speaking strictly for me, it was always easier to receive a word from a servant of God than it was to receive it directly from God. I suffered from a complex (for lack of a better word) that caused me to second guess and even doubt what the Spirit of God was saying to me in my heart – especially if what was being said went against the advice of man but fulfilled my heart’s desire. I’d question whether it was really God saying these things to me or my own selfish desires making me hear what I wanted. Therefore, when Pastor gave me this instruction, I received it, but again, that doubt/fear complex rose up in me.

Then today as I read 1 Kings 13 (a passage I’ve read before) something checked in my spirit and reminded me of my pastor’s instruction.  You see, in this passage of scripture a man of God goes to King Jeroboam and gives a word from God. When things happened as the prophet had spoken, the king invited the prophet to return home with him to eat and drink and to receive a gift.  The prophet declined the invitation saying, “I was commanded by the word of the Lord: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.’” (verse 9 NIV) The prophet had received a word directly from God commanding him in what he should or should not do. This is important so hold on to it as we go further into 1 Kings 13.
           
The prophet did as he was instructed by God. He was obedient.  However, on his journey back home a second prophet came to him and gave him a different word, a word that changed the command God had given.  The original prophet then put aside the command of God and did as the old prophet (the second prophet) directed because the old prophet said to him that an angel of the Lord had told him to change what God had said. The second prophet was in fact a man of God, but in this matter he was lying. Not knowing that prophet number two was being untruthful, prophet number one forsook the command God had given directly to him and took the word of the man of God.

This has happened in churches all over the world I’m sure. I pray that most men and women of God don’t give false prophecies purposefully but…  Either way, it brought home with great clarity all that my pastor had spoken.  I always felt that if I obey the man or woman of God and they lie to me, they would be the one punished and not me. But here, the prophet who set aside the Word of God to obey the word of man paid for it with his life. (I have to add here a disclaimer – I would only disregard a word from a trusted man or woman of God IF God has already spoken something directly to me that was different about the said matter.) The sad part is, the old prophet (number two) really did get a word from God and told the first prophet that he would die and not be buried with his ancestors. This prophecy was not a lie but neither did it contradict the word the first prophet had received directly from God.


In the end I must admit, it’s easier to have someone come from God and tell me what to do and which way to go. But why depend on man who has faults when a perfect God loves me and had opened a way for me to come boldly before His throne and learn from Him the way I’m to go and what I’m to do.  All I have to do is trust Him and seek Him.  He’s told us that if we seek Him, we will surely find Him.  Sound advice from man is okay, but better than okay is a word from God. So ask yourself, “How has the Lord commanded me?”  Obey the word of the Lord.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I've Got A Right To Praise (part 2)

I’ve Got a Right To Praise Part 2                                                                  September 7, 2014


Just a couple of days ago, I wrote “I’ve Got a Right To Praise” (http://dutchesshorton.com/Praise.html.). In this writing I confessed that there are days when I get up to pray and read God’s word and I’m not all there. In these times prayer feels more of a chore than the privilege it really is. That confession was true and as I wrote it, it felt good to get it out there instead of keeping it as my little secret. It felt good because it was cleansing – and I’m certain I’m not the only one who has felt this way.

Well, I have another confession. When my “Coffee with Christ” alarm sounded this morning, I didn’t want to leave the comfort of my bed, but Christ is more important to me than a few more minutes of sleep.  So I rolled out of bed and came out to meet my Savior and prepared my cup of coffee.  As I was coming into my prayer closet (my living room), I was thinking today is another one of those days, Lord, where I’m not going to be all there. I didn’t get to bed on time so I’m really tired and now that I’m up there is so much to do.

Immediately there was a check in my spirit telling me, “It doesn’t have to be this way.  You should never come before Christ ‘not all there’ because you’ve got a right to praise.” I had to sit down a moment and think about that and then I had to pull out the laptop and ‘share this journey’.  

Because I have a right to praise my prayer time should NEVER be a chore. Because I have a RIGHT to praise I should never enter God’s word without a spirit of expectation. Because I have a right to praise my quiet time should never be a time of boredom or strained conversation. If I don’t say anything but, “Thank you, Lord for allowing me to see the beginning of a new day; for breath in my body; for a bed to rise up from to give you praise; for a roof over my head and a ‘prayer closet’ to enter into.” If I don’t say anything but that, it ought to stir up my spirit and get me excited about time with the Father.


So confession is good because in confessing where I was, the Holy Spirit was allowed to show me how to get out of that dry place, to deliver me from the doldrums even before I fully realized I needed to be delivered.  Now I realize that should I ever be given the gift of a new day yet feel no excitement in coming before my God to say thank you, all I need to do is look back at all He’s done and look forward to all He’s doing and remember I have a right to praise. Like David in 1 Samuel 30:6 I must encourage myself in the Lord because He deserves so much more than a half-hearted word of prayer or half an ear when He’s speaking to me. Just the fact that I have a right to praise is enough to make me praise Him. So if you will excuse me… 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Free Indeed

Last week in church the question was asked, “Do you have to see it to believe it?” Of course in my mind I answered the question with a definitive NO. But is that true? Do I really have the faith I claim I have? Do I truly believe God will do all He’s promised to do – even as my circumstances scream it’s not possible? And if so, if I really believe it without seeing it, why am I stuck in this place of mediocrity?

I keep saying to myself (and to my auntie who is a constant source of encouragement) that I need to do more. I need to pray more and study more. I need to be a better Christian. But that’s not what God said. Yes, He has told me to be holy even as He is holy. He’s told me to be courageous for He is sending me and will be with me. He’s told me to seek His face and to walk upright before Him. And I do – most of the time. I could do better. Truth be told we could all do better. But that’s not why I’m stuck and not seeing the manifestation of the promises of God in my life.

I’m stuck because I forgot my life verse. Matthew 6:33 says seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all other things will be added unto you. (I tend to combine KJV and NIV in that verse but the message is there.) I’ve been seeking His righteousness and the things of the kingdom but I can’t say I’ve sought them first.  Those “other things” have been a distraction and a snare for me. And I confess, I began to seek after the things of this world. I began to seek the promise rather than the promisor.

Also, I have allowed a spirit of fear to come upon me and have its way.  God has gifted me to write and speak but I’ve done very little of that because of that nasty little four-lettered word – fear. You see I wrote a book and had it published and had great expectations for it. My expectations were not met. It did well but it wasn’t all I’d dreamed it would be. Without realizing it, because of the cases of books still sitting in my attic waiting to be sold, I decided I wouldn’t write anymore. Why bother if no one wants to buy it? I was afraid I’d fail. In fact, that spirit of fear said I’d fail again. But I didn’t fail the first time.  I wrote what God led me to write and all who bought and read it testified it was a blessing and encouragement to them. That is not failure. If just one soul was blessed because of the words God gave me to share, I was a big success.

Today, my eleven year-old daughter showed me a saying she’d downloaded on her phone. It said, “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” Okay, Father. Message received. I’d taken myself out of the game because I was afraid. I’d bought into the devil’s lies that was not good enough, wasn’t doing enough, couldn’t do enough, to be all God had called me to be. But even before He called me, God equipped me to do what I was created to do.  I just finished reading “Cure to the Common Life” by Max Lucado and he shared that God put tools and gifts in me before I was conceived by my mother. Those tools and gifts are to be used for God’s glory – for the building up of His kingdom and I am going to use them for just that!

As far as the manifestation of the promises go (and these promises will blow your mind) I believe – I KNOW – that when God decides the time is right according to His kingdom calendar, I will see every one come to fruition. I believe even though my natural eye can’t see it. I believe it because my faith says it is so. My faith says it is so because God said it is so. And if God says it is so, well that’s a done deal because He is not a man that He should lie and His word shall not return unto Him void but will accomplish that for which He sent it out.
On this Independence Day, I declare my freedom from the spirit of fear! The Son of God has set me free and I am free indeed! I thank God for His promises and for His word. And I thank Him for each and every soul that He calls to read these words. It’s the 4th of July where I’m at and America is celebrating her freedom. Let’s celebrate with her and declare WE ARE FREE!


For further study see:
John 20:24-29 – believe without seeing
Leviticus 11:45, 1 Peter 1:16 – be holy
Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:9 – be courageous
Deuteronomy 4:29, Psalm 27:8 – seek the Lord
2 Timothy 1:7 – we are not given a spirit of fear
John 8:36 – free indeed

To get my book, From the Shepherd’s Heart: A Devotional go to http://dutchesshorton.com/books

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Let Us Pray

Let Us Pray

Today I feel led to not write a devotional, but to pray for you and for myself. Times are getting hard for so many and God wants us to know that if we trust in Him, if we keep our eyes on Him, if we forget about ourselves and keep our minds stayed on Him, He will make a way. Not only will He make a way, He’ll make a great way.

God can take nothing and create a universe. He can take dirt and make a man. He can take you and me, and make us all that we dream of being and more. I believe this. Do you? If so, please join me now in prayer, and then pass it on to someone who you know will be blessed by it. No strings attached please. Just let them know you were praying for them.

Father God in Heaven, I call upon your holy name with a humbleness that is not quite natural for me. But I know that I can come before an awesome and holy God no other way. I beg of you, Father, search me and all who pray with me now. Show us ourselves, Father, in the light of your holiness. Let us see ourselves as you see us. We are sinners, Father, saved by grace.

If there is one who knows you only as God and not as Father, save their soul today that the angels in Heaven may rejoice. Let us all see our sin and repent. I do that now, Father. I repent of all my sins. I know that they are many and were it not for the cleansing blood of Christ I would be lost. But thank you, God, for Jesus. Thank you for the saving blood that washes away my sin. Your word promises that if we confess our sins, you are faithful and just to forgive and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) I confess my sins to you now, Father, and thank you for your righteousness through Christ Jesus my Lord. (Romans 3:22; 5:21)

Father, I pray that today I will walk in the power which you have given me - that same power that raised Christ from the dead. (Ephesians 1:19-20) When I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, I entered into a covenant with you, the sovereign God of all the universe. In that covenant you said that if I were obedient to you and obey your commands that blessings would be mine. (Deuteronomy 28:1-14) And even with such a great promise attached to my keeping covenant with you, you in your infinite wisdom made provision for me and the weakness of my flesh. In Deuteronomy 30:6, you said that you would circumcise my heart that I might love you and live. What other God would make such a great promise as found in Deuteronomy 28 and then come back and make sure I was able to keep my part of the covenant? None but you is so loving and wise and I praise you for it today.

Truly, Father, you are my God and earnestly I seek you. My soul thirsts for you and my body longs for you. (Psalm 63:1) Continue to turn my heart toward you statutes and not to selfish gain. (Psalm 119:36) Continue to work in me that I might will and do your good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13) I love you, Father, but I want to love you more. Satisfy this desire as only you can, for me and all of your children who pray with me now.

Let the name of the Lord be glorified in this dark and evil day. Show yourself mighty, Father, so that all who look upon your faithful ones will know that we are called by the name of the LORD. Be glorified today and forevermore I pray. In Jesus’ matchless name, Amen


Monday, May 12, 2014

Ramblings of a Searcher

"Ramblings of a Searcher" was first written and published December 2013 to my web site,  http://dutchesshorton.com/ramblings.html and I believe it is a fitting introduction to my attempts at blogging. It tells you a little of who I am and what I feel God is leading me to do. Yes, I am God's Girl and I pray everything I write will in some way draw you to be His too. 


It’s been such a long time since I’ve sat at my computer and just let the Holy Spirit speak to me and through me. But for days now He’s been calling out to me; reminding me who I am and whose I am; reminding me that I have purpose inside of me; reminding me that He has plans for me, but He will not force me.

It’s been a couple of years now that the Lord gave me a scripture to summarize the ministry He’s called me to. It comes from Isaiah 50:4 (KJV) “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary…” The Lord God hath given me the tongue of an encourager and an edifier. (There is a difference but we won’t get into that right now.) Part two of that verse says, “…he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” Or as the NIV reads, “…He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.” And herein lays my problem.

I love to sleep and rest and relax. I could truly spend an entire week or longer doing absolutely nothing. Everyone except my immediate family probably finds that really difficult to believe but it’s true. Even worse, I’m not ashamed. I could go days on end doing no more that playing Solitaire Arena of Facebook. Of course, I’d mix in a few rounds of Candy Crush Saga because they actually make you wait 15 minutes between games of Solitaire Arena (unless you want to pay for magic wands – not). I flip channels on the television and nap and am completely content. Well almost content. Because the entire time I’m busy doing nothing, the Holy Spirit is gently but oh so firmly calling; wakening me morning by morning like one being instructed. He won’t leave me alone and I’m so grateful.

I don’t fully understand this season I’m going through but I know in time God will reveal it and will use it for my good and His glory. I posted once before that I was stuck on stupid but I thought I’d gotten off that merry-go-round. Apparently I got back on because I’m going around and around and around yet again. Pray with me won’t you as I open my ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. I no longer want to be content doing nothing or running in useless circles on my stupid-wheel. I want to be about my Father’s business. I realize that the days are getting short and I, like my Father, wish that none would perish but that all would come to repentance. Let no one be lost because I was not doing what I was supposed to be doing. In fact, as you pray for me, look at yourself and be sure you too are doing what our Father has called us to do.

Pray with me now: Father God in Heaven, holy is your name. We come to you today, Father God, first of all to say thank you for not allowing us to die in our sins; for giving us another day to get right with you. I thank you, Father, for the assurance that Jesus died for me and that my place in Heaven with you is secure. But I also thank you that just going to Heaven is no longer my goal. I want to take as many souls with me as I can. Stir up the gifts in me and in those who now pray with me so that we may be about your business. That we may go about doing good, letting our good works shine that people may see and glorify you. Even as our souls are satisfied let us not be so content that we sit down on the calls on our life. We are chosen in Christ. May we make every effort to make our calling and election sure. In Christ Jesus we pray, amen.