Prayer at Gethsemane

Mark 14-36

Christ’s final hours were upon Him
The disciples waited nearby
His closest, Peter James and John
Were invited to watch and pray
Jesus shared His overwhelming grief
And went off alone to pray

He called out to the Father
If possible, let this cup pass from Me
Yet He submitted Himself
To His Father’s will and plan

When He returned
He found fast asleep those He asked to pray
Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour
For temptation is coming your way
To resist your spirit needs to be strengthened

Jesus went again to beseech the Father
He returned only to find
His three closest friends asleep on their watch
They had no idea what to say
No excuse is given, they remain silent

A third time
Jesus goes alone to Father and prays
When He returns it’s no surprise
He finds His disciples asleep on their watch
His time with them has come to an end

For His hour is at hand
His betrayer will come with throngs
And greet Him with a kiss

Jesus arises
He knows what’s to come
And the great suffering He will endure

Instead of fleeing
Jesus Christ rises
To meet those who seek to kill Him
He stands ready to accomplish the Father’s will

He is alone
Soon His prayerless disciples will flee
The angles are restrained
As the Son of God is betrayed
Given over into the hands of evil men
The Father is silent in His resolve
His plan will be accomplished

Sin will be punished
Those bound by sin and death will be set free
Grace and mercy will be offered
Not to those who deserve it
For there are none

But salvation will be given
To those hell-bound sinners who repent
To those who confess Christ Jesus as Lord
They will be saved

by Susan Wachtel
September 16, 2015

The Winds of Change

This week the infamous Santa Ana winds were blowing on Wednesday.  Whenever the winds blow hard the phrase “the winds of change” comes to mind and probably even more so this week because we anticipated that there might be changes coming down the pike at work.

With the economy continuing to tank and folks losing their jobs and remaining out of work for extended periods of time…I always have in the back of my mind the possibility that a work layoff could be in my future.  Each day, it makes me so grateful to have a job…and not take it for granted.  It reminds me that every good and perfect gift, employment and the ability to perform the work, is a gift from my heavenly Father above.  I’m also mindful to be thankful for today what God has given me and try to be faithful through His power and strength. 

While we anticipated the strong possibility of changes coming at work…we didn’t know exactly when, who or how many folks might be effected.  I was praying in the weeks and days leading up to this time and I’m so grateful that God gave me such a sense of peace regarding my work situation.  I had peace with the thought that I might be let go and I gratitude if I was permitted to keep my job.

Thankfully work has been very busy, so there wasn’t any time to waste being preoccupied with thoughts of “what if”.  Instead all of us were working hard to keep up.   

When praying about work, I found that my will was fully submitted to God’s will for the situation.  This time around I wasn’t dictating to God what I thought was the best outcome.  I had been through similar circumstances four years ago and handled it much differently.  But this time…I was absolutely at peace with whatever happened.  God had indeed given me the peace that passes all understanding.  My husband Chris was praying that by God’s mercy my job might be spared so that we would continue to be able to meet our financial obligations without undue stress.  However, I continued to pray for God’s will to be done.  It almost felt like if I prayed that my job would be spared, I was in essence praying for my co-workers to lose their jobs.  So instead, I prayed for God’s will to be done. 

I praise God for the peace that He gave me…absolutely trusting in His will and plan.  I was confident that God knows my future and my friends and co-workers future…and He has a good and perfect plan for each our lives that He is working out.  I may not always understand why God permits certain circumstances…but in heaven it will all be made clear.

While I anticipated changes…I didn’t know the exact day they would hit.  Just in case I would be let go, I ordered my prescriptions while I still had a job and insurance coverage. 

This week that fateful day came…a little earlier than I expected.  It was a hard day as people whom I consider friends were laid off.  It didn’t seem to make any sense who was laid off because I knew the great work they did and the positive attitude they brought to work every day.  It was a hard and sad day. 

When the dust started to settle, I went to lunch and called Chris. I told him that it had been a very hard and ugly day, but that his prayers had been answered.  At the end of the day…I still had a job.

A number of folks talked about having “survivor’s guilt” and not understanding why good people were let go when others still had jobs.  I guess to some degree I felt that way.

I’m certain with the new responsibilities that I will have due to the recent layoffs, it will cause me to depend upon God even more.  There is no way that I could manage it on my own strength and might.

When I pray each day…there has been an ongoing list of people whom I’ve been praying for regarding their employment situation.  Now my prayer list has greatly expanded.  But I know my God is faithful.  He is merciful and pours out His loving kindness on each of us.  I pray that the God of all comfort will draw each of these people near and reveal Himself as Jehovah Jira the God who provides for all our needs.

Things won’t be the same at work and I’m already missing the people I worked with each day.  Oh Lord…cause me to depend upon You more, be filled with gratitude and faithful in prayer. 

Thy Kingdome Come

It seems like each day God continues to work on me and challenge me.  It’s easy for me to pray the Lord’s Prayer…and say “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  But the real work starts in my heart.  Am I ready, willing and able to let God’s will be done in my heart, my mind and even my mouth?
 
One area that God has challenged me is when I see something unlovely in the life of another Christian.  When that unattractiveness is displayed towards me or others….I find it so easy to want to go to God and complain about them.  But God is challenging me, instead of complaining or building a case against a brother or sister in Christ…I need to remember that this side of heaven, none of us is perfect…that includes me. 
 
Instead of complaining…God is challenging me to be in prayer for them.  That God would reveal to them an area of weakness or sin or an attitude that He would have them to repent of.  That they would have a heart that is tender and yielded to the Lord.  That they would have the ears to hear Him and a heart that responds in loving obedience and repentance.
 
When I see that area of weakness in another Christian…it should be a reminder for me to be praying for them.  That neither they nor I will give the devil a foothold by having a wrong attitude or response.
 
We are on the same team…I need to help build up the body of Christ, not tear them down and pray that they will do the same for me. 

Grace Expectations

Have you ever noticed that expectations…both great and small…can be a huge source for unhappiness and discontentment?  Discontentment with family, friends, work, home and church to name a few. 
 
After running smack dab into the wall of expectations…I think perhaps there’s a better way.
 
That’s not to say we should do away with expectations all together.  It’s reasonable and even godly to expect our spouse to be faithful and fulfill wedding vows.  It’s reasonable for parents to expect a child to be obedient and respectful.  It’s reasonable…but goodness knows it doesn’t always happen.
 
I don’t think having low expectations is good thing.  God doesn’t have low expectations of us.  He commands our love and requires our obedience and there are consequences when we fail.  God’s expectations, unlike ours, are not motivated out of sin or selfishness. 

Sometimes we’ll say we have no expectations in an effort to spare ourselves the hurt and disappointment that we feel when other people or circumstances fall short of our expectations.
 
So what’s a better way?  I believe that God is challenging me…to run my expectations through the grid of His will.  Is what I’m expecting in line with God’s will for the people and circumstances in my life?  When it is, then I can freely and boldly bring my requests to God in prayer. 
 
That’s not to say that God will impose His will upon each person and that everything will turn out the way I want.  But it means that I can pray with confidence.
 
When my expectations don’t line up with God’s will…it’s often because my expectations are motivated out of selfishness, fear or wanting to be in control. 

When others fall short…and circumstances don’t measure up to my expectations…it’s imperative that I deal with people graciously.  God has been gracious and merciful to me.  I’m also motivated to be gracious because I’m well aware of my own sinful nature and past failures. 

Perhaps the key is to have “grace expectations”.  Expectations that line up with God’s will and grace given generously to those who fall short. 
 

God’s Will

 
Oh how the enemy robs me
When I fail to yield to God’s will

When I want what I want…in my timing
Unwilling to wait upon the Lord

When I plan my ways according to my will
But the Lord directs my steps elsewhere

Then anxiety fills my heart and mind
The peace of God evades me

When I try to manipulate circumstances
Unwilling to admit they are far beyond my control

When I stand in judgment of people
Who just don’t cooperate and mess up my plans

Then frustration and anger reigns
Consumes my every thought

When I don’t trust that God is good
Unless He answers my prayers in the manner I deem best

When my prayers are orders
Instead of a humble petition to omnipotent God

Then I raise myself up
In place of God

Oh Lord, give me the mind of Christ
Help me to die to self daily, pick up my cross and follow You

Put me in the refiner’s fire
Consume any wicked way that remains in me

Help me to wait upon You Lord
With confident assurance all Your ways are good

Susan Bunts Wachtel
February 26, 2010

Recently I was reminded of a time in my life…when I wasn’t yielded to God’s will.  Some of that struggle went on after I became a Christian.  Praise God…He keeps on whittling away at my sinfulness and conforming me into the image and likeness of Christ.  It’s an ongoing work this side of heaven.

God’s Will


God’s moral will
Is clearly revealed in scripture
Reinforced by the Holy Spirit within

But knowing God’s will for my personal life
Is often better understood
In hindsight…after the fact

What step should I take next
What direction should I go
What choice should I make

It’s tempting
To try and interpret His will
From the unfolding of recent events

May I tread carefully
Not stumble into dangerous territory
By reading the signs and putting God in a box

Rather than seeking a desired outcome
May I desire to walk closely with You, Oh Lord
Knowing that Your presence is my great reward

By Susan Bunts Wachtel
April 7, 2009

“God’s Will” was inspired by recent events in Chris and my life involving the purchase of our first home together. As we’ve gone through some ups and downs it’s been hard to know what God’s will is. But I think we are finding out…day by day as we walk with our Savior, Jesus Christ.

The above photo is from our collection of wedding photos taken by Sherry Hebestreit. Sherry did a marvelous job. Both Chris and I were not sure about having a photographer for our wedding. But Sherry did a lovely job and we cherish the memories of that day especially when we look at the photographs. If you would like information on how to contact Sherry, please send me an email and we’ll forward your inquiry on to Sherry Hebestreit.

Just Thinking


Tonight, while driving home from Bible study with my husband Chris, I was thinking on how amazingly blessed we are. As individuals and as a couple. Our church has been richly blessed with Pastors, teachers and leaders who are faithful to preach the full council of God’s word uncompromisingly. Blessed to live in a nation where the Gospel can still be freely preached. Blessed as a Christian who can tap into the abundant resources available today, as never before.

I spent a lot of time today listening to John MacArthur’s sermons on spiritual warfare. This evening I started to download the messages from this year’s Shepherd’s Conference. John MacArthur and Grace Community Church have “opened their vaults”…and the years of wonderful Bible study are free for downloading. They truly are unleashing God’s word one verse at a time.

I’m feasting on a veritable smorgasbord of God’s word regularly.

The Holy Spirit brought to mind God’s sober warning…to whom much is given, much is required. I have to ask myself…do I diligently and passionately seek God and study His word. Do I crave it and treasure it and obey it?

In third world countries where the Bible has been outlawed…when the people receive a Bible…share it with one another. Each person taking a page. Then they pass the pages around. I’m sure they memorize it…since they may never see it again. They hunger and thirst for God’s word and the truth therein. Do I?

I may fill my days with God’s word…through Bible study and church…podcasts and music. Being fed richly and abundantly.

But it’s out in the real world…in everyday life that I see if I’ve let God’s word change my heart.

Am I dying to self and living for Christ? Day by day, more and more am I laying aside my plans and seeking God’s will? Am I willingly to be obedient to God…even when I don’t understand His plans? Do I see sin as God sees sin? Do I love the unlovely? Do I seek to be holy as He is holy? Do I live for God and desire to please Him? Or do I still seek after the approval of men? Or worse…do I seek to please myself? Is my focus and delight on God or me?

I can sit in church as much as I like. I can attend Bible studies every day of the week. But until such time as I love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and seek to obey and please him…I’m not letting God’s word work in me and transform me as God desires to do.

When I get a grip on the absolute goodness and holiness of God and His nature…then by the power of the Holy Spirit within…I can submit myself to His eternal and glorious plan.

Will I?

“Susan, choose this day Whom you will serve!”

A new day will soon be dawning…and I will have a choice to make.

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