March 15, 2011 § 4 Comments
If God’s plans can’t be thwarted, if He is omniscient, if He is omnipotent, then why pray?
What difference does it really make?
Logically it doesn’t make sense. And yet:
God tells us to pray…
Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
Luke 5:17 “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
So what does praying do? Why pray?
In this short blog post I can’t even begin to scratch the surface of prayer, but there are some simple things that God has been speaking to my heart about prayer…
1. True prayer changes the pray-er. Suddenly the person praying is no longer looking at his or her circumstances, he is no longer figuring out what he can do to fix things. Instead the he is humbling coming to the Father, the Almighty King, and laying his concerns at the feet of God. In order to pray the pray-er must admit things are beyond him and that things are not beyond God. So God is on the throne and the pray-er is on his knees. Check out 2 Chronicles 7:14
2. True prayer brings God near. Deuteronomy 4:7 says, “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” So God is near us when we pray. Oh when He is near us we feel comfort, experience His peace, and can rest in His perfect weaving together of events (our sin, our obedience, others’ sins, others’ obedience, natural events) into His tapestry of grace and love. Working out good for those who love Him. Yes, when we pray we can see Him in our everything working out His perfect plan even when it doesn’t match our longings.
3. True prayer that changes hearts and brings God near brings peace that guards our hearts and minds. Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Because God is near, because we are humbled, then we can experience peace that guards our hearts and minds in Jesus! Oh that our hearts and minds would be guarded in Christ Jesus so we would obey Him, bring joy to Him, follow Him all the days of our lives! Amazing that God would bring that about when we pray!
Why do you pray? What have you learned about prayer? Share with me…
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January 5, 2011 § 7 Comments
Nearly three years my quiet time was revolutionized when I was introduced to the Chronological Bible at a ladies retreat. It is a Bible that puts the Biblical account into chronological order and then into daily readings for each day of the year. For example January 1 the reading is Genesis 1:1-3:24.
Since the Biblical account is given in chronological order, when I read yesterday about Noah from Genesis, I also read some of the verses in 1 Chronicles that mention Noah’s genealogy. When I read about David hiding from Saul in a cave, I also read the Psalms he likely wrote in that cave.
This allows me to read through the Bible every year and I get such a great perspective of what and when God did things. I am seeing His hand and His story in more detail. I am more in love with His word than ever because reading this Bible helps me put the pieces together. Also Iva May does blog full of daily questions and commentary to consider over each of these readings. Her blog site is: http://www.ivamaystories.blogspot.com/
All that to say I HIGHLY recommend the Chronological Bible. It comes in different versions, so look around to find your favorite one.
Also I am throwing out a challenge. I have not been the best at memorizing scripture until I found someone in the last year or so to hold me accountable. Now that I have that person, I want to help others by being that person. I am also feeling compelled to memorize longer portions of scripture. Again, not because I am so cool, but because I am so needy of the word! Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (NAS) Without His word treasured or hidden in my heart I am certainly going to sin. I need more of Him and more of His grace. As I have been memorizing I am able to breathe grace in and out. I am able to accept grace for myself and give grace to others. Oh, but without His word, I am desperate.
So I am memorizing the book of James. I have finished the first chapter. I would like to have the whole book done by June. Can you help keep me accountable? If you tell me what you are memorizing, I will help keep you accountable.
I can’t wait to see where God is going to take us this year! May God bless the time you spend with Him. Praying, Reading, and Memorizing!
September 6, 2010 § 2 Comments
Have you ever tried to change a two-year old’s clothes while he or she is clinging to a “treasure.” It could be a book or a toy or a shoe for that matter, but he does not want to let it go. You pull the shirt over his head and his hand will not go through the sleeve. You try to convince this child to let go of the treasure in his hand. You promise to give it back. Yet he wails and moans as you tear it from his hand get the shirt off and put the new shirt on. Quickly you thrust the item back into his hand and you marvel, “If only he would trust me to give his treasure back.”
I have a hard time laying things I love and treasure down at the feet of God. I admit that I hoard things, dreams, plans, people. Sometimes I even hold tight to the time God has given me and act as if I can make my day go my way. God can and sometimes does tear our treasures from our hands. Oh, but He longs for us to lay them down. He doesn’t promise us that He will give them back, but He is faithful, He has a plan. Isn’t it worth the risk?
God is infinitely more loving and faithful as a parent than I am. If I know how to give my child good things, then God knows better than I. (Matt 7:11) So why is it so hard for me to let my dreams, plans, people go at Christ’s feet? I make a mess of things, but “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Eccl 3:11) You would think I was a child who couldn’t understand that God has a different plan or a different time or even a better treasure in store for me. I just have to trust Him and lay my treasures at His feet.
It isn’t as if God doesn’t know what it is like to lay down His own treasure. Colossians 2:3 when speaking of Christ says, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” God allowed Jesus, arguably the treasure of heaven, to be crucified. He gave up His greatest gift, a special part of Himself, His Son. God the Father planned to do it before the world began. So if God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving, can give up Christ for enemies, can I give up my treasures for God’s glory? Can I lay my hopes, dreams, timing at His feet and trust Him to give me what I need?
Sometimes we have to lay our dreams and hopes down in order to move on to a new or different stage in life. In order to change clothes for the day my son had to set down his treasure. So God calls us to let go of our hopes, dreams, and treasures so that He can prepare us for the next thing. He has plans for us (Jer 29:11) and is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” (Eph 3:20) So why do we think we have to hold tight to things we cannot keep anyway. Why not let the rest in the safest place, God’s hands?
Precious Holy God. Forgive me for hoarding my “treasures.” In comparison to Your glory and heaven, my “treasures” are dust. Oh Father, help me to lay down my hopes, dreams, my children, my husband on Your altar. That You may have Your way with them. That I may do what You have called me to do and noting more. Father help me to rest in Your faithfulness. Help me to remember I can trust You to do more than I could ask or imagine. Thank You for being that big. In Jesus’ precious and holy name I pray. Amen.
So what treasure do you need to lay at God’s feet today?
August 18, 2010 § 2 Comments
Psalm 40:1-3 “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.”
I am in a season of change. I often feel like nothing will be the same and I honestly am not sure I like it. Do not getme wrong, most of my changes are good ones. Some however are not so good. All change for me is scary. I prefer to keep things the same. I am comfortable there, I even find comfort in the slimy, miry pit that God has rescued me from. Sometimes I start making my pit homey. I add my pictures to the walls as I cling to the things of this earth for my comfort. I get satisfied with life that is less than victorious. LIfe that is not full of purpose or meaning for eternity, but life that is comfortable.
I am thankful that God doesn’t leave me like that, in the miry pit decorating muddy walls. Instead He rescues me from myself. There are times He shakes my world. He changes the road I pictured long and straight takes a sudden bend. I call out to Him and He rescues me from my pit. However life outside the pit is now on a firm rock. I love it, but I also fear it. On this rock I do not have my comfortable sin. I have firm places to set me feet sure, but the sun is also brighter out here. It hurts my eyes. I have to be willing to let go of that past. Let go of the sin or just the way things used to be, so I can cling to the Rock. Jesus.
The amazing thing to me is that once I truly let go and accept the change God is doing in my life or circumstances, He does put a new song in my mouth. Can you see the psalmist and me? We are in the pit we are crying to get out, but once change occurs I struggle at first. God puts me on a rock, then gives me firm places to step. The journey isn’t over from the pit to the rock. It has just begun. As I walk in that change and accept the change from the pit to the rock, God changes my heart. He puts this song of praise in my mouth. Why a song of praise? First because God deserves the credit for rescuing me, changing me, bringing me a firm purpose and direction. Second because I need Him to remind me He deserves the praise. Honestly, it is easy for me to claim the praise for myself. I want to think I pulled myself from that pit, I figured out which rock to stand one, and I have discovered the firm paths. In reality it is God. God rescues me from the pit of my sin, my circumstances that are holding me back, and even myself. Finally God puts this song of praise in my mouth so others hear.
Yes I said others hear. I realize not everyone sings on key. The song is a metaphor for the praises God deserves from us. Did God work out circumstances so that you got the job you currently have? Praise Him. Has God freed you from addiction? Praise Jesus. Has God worked in ways only He could to provide you with money and groceries. Thank God. However the next line in Psalm 40:3 is quite important. God isn’t asking us to praise Him in the shower or in our hearts, He is asking us to do it out loud so others can hear. He is asking that we tell our stories. The stories where God did amazing things like rescuing us from the pit of ourselves, from the pit of addiction, from the pit of complacency. When we do share those stories the end of Psalm 40:3 says, “Many will see, and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.” Our stories of change, of pit rescues, of redemption, even of victory through painful times, can help others put their trust in God.
Father, help me to sing a song of praise to You that others will put their trust in You. Amen
July 6, 2010 § 7 Comments
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to see the fault in other people? She is just too demanding, he is needy. If only she didn’t gossip (unfortunately we often gossip when we make this comment). They drink too much, wear the wrong clothes. Those people are not following God. They should get their act together. If they would get THEIR act together then our country would be MUCH better. My fellow Christians, I beg to differ. Yes, our country is not acknowledging God. Yes, our country is calling wicked things good. Yes, our country as a whole is NOT living the way God would want us to live. However getting our country right doesn’t start by telling non-believers what to think or do or believe. No! God tells us in 2 Chronicles 7:14 how to “heal” our land…He says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
You see it starts with US. God’s people. Not unbelievers, not the unchurched, not those of different faiths, not government officials, not schools. No, it starts with those who have a personal relationship with Jesus. It starts with humbling ourselves. We don’t have it figured out. We are in need of God’s grace and mercy as much if not more than those who don’t know God. It starts with humbling ourselves and remembering that we are helpless and hopeless without Jesus.
Next we need to pray. In Ephesians 6:18 it tells us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests…” We need to pray. When we are humble, we are apt to turn to God and know we can’t do it ourselves. So the natural thing to do is pray. Pray for wisdom, pray for healing, pray for direction, pray for those who don’t know Christ, pray for wisdom for our government, pray for our churches, pray for a love for God’s word for you and all those who love the Lord, pray….PRAY! It isn’t hard, just pray for God to move and pray that you are willing to do what He calls you to do. Pray!
Seek God’s face. I have often thought that I was seeking God’s face. I went to church each Sunday and sometimes even on Sunday and Wednesday nights. I prayed, I sang worship songs, I listened to sermons. Oh, but I wasn’t daily reading God’s word. I wasn’t seeking God’s face, I was allowing others to describe the what they found when they sought God’s face. I was content with their rendition of what God’s face was. I wasn’t hungry to see it myself. Just like a picture doesn’t give justice to the Grand Canyon, neither relying on someone else’s experience of seeking God do justice to knowing God. I confess that there are times I lapse into being content with seeing the reproduction of God’s face instead of being a seeker of God’s face myself. Let us, children of God, NOT be content with what others have found as they seek God, but let us personally seek God’s face. I am not saying that church, Bible Study, worship services, or Sunday School are worthless. I am saying that we also need to seek God on our own. Read His word daily. Memorize His word! Seek His face ourselves!
Turn from our wicked ways. How often, as I seek God’s face on my own, have I discovered that my ways are wicked. That I am desperately sinful and in need of God’s grace. As my view of God becomes clearer and bigger, I realize how desperately sick and sinful I am. Oh, that I would turn from those wicked ways. I pray that God will give me the strength to turn from my wicked ways.
So my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, let us start with ourselves. If we can start there, then God WILL hear us, God WILL forgive us, and God WILL heal our land!
April 15, 2010 § 1 Comment
So at Bible Study we read and discussed the account of king Josiah from 2 Chronicles 34. He was a whopping eight years old when he became king. I can imagine the people who were behind getting him to the throne at such a young age. We know nothing of their intentions or who helped him with such an important job during such a young age. What we do know is that at the young age of 16 he began to seek the Lord and four years later when he was only 20, he began to purge Israel of all the idols and pagan worship practices. This young man didn’t even have the book of the law yet. He didn’t know how God wanted things done, but he did know that God was the ONLY God. He was zealous in his removal of all things that were not of God or for God in Israel. I was thinking if only I was a zealous of ridding my life of things that are not for or of God. Does that mean that I have to stop living in the world? NO. Does that mean I never talk to someone who doesn’t know God. NO. Does that mean that I carefully examine my life to make sure it matches God’s directions for my life. YES. Oh to be like Josiah and be willing to make hard decisions. To be zealous that not one thing be left that would turn my heart away from God. It says he even went to the ruins outside of cities and ground the pagan alters to dust. He didn’t say, well, no one lives there anyway, it will be ok. He fully and completely removed worship of any other god from Israel. All before he was aware of God’s law…
At age 26, while the work of rebuilding the temple was underway, they find the book of the law. So what does Josiah do? He reads it and realizes how Israel’s behavior has been hideously sinful. I wonder how many 26 year olds now would realize how sinful our society is when reading God’s word. I do not doubt the power of God’s word, but how true is it that we harden our hearts. I don’t want to hear I am wrong or sinful. I want to hear all those passages about kindness, compassion, forgiveness. Justice, discipline, punishment, I would rather skip over or point to someone else. I certainly would not want to take credit for such behavior. However this man, King Josiah, is willing to admit his sin and confess it. He is heart broken over the behavior of his kingdom. Are we heartbroken over the behavior of our society? Do we see those deceived and destroying themselves and say nothing? Or do we offer the cure to their disease? O, Father that I would not only recognize the sin in society, but that I would work to affect change. That I would live out and speak out Your good news of salvation. That I along with Josiah will root out sin in my life and point others to the cross.