Tag Archives: Prayer

The ecstasy and the agony…

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to You. When my heart is faint, lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.  Psalm 61:1-2

So the last time I wrote, I was buried under a slew of  physical problems that just would not let up.  Starting a couple of weeks ago, I was reduced to sleeping about three hours at a shot, then every two hours, then one, then down to waking up every forty five minutes.  That alone is not good for sanity, let alone all of the other stuff that was going along with it.

Just over a week ago, I had a dream that seemed to go on a long time, but in real time it probably wasn’t all that long.  In my dream a multitude of people gathered around me and just kept praying what seemed to be most of the night.  I didn’t recognize them.  Before they would break, a gray haired man would lay his hand on my head and speak over me.  I didn’t know what he said–it didn’t matter.  Then they would circle me again and pray.  This same pattern repeated several times.

It wasn’t the next morning, but the morning after that I was getting up from yet another miserable night of non-sleep and pain.  This whole nightmare of physical problems had been going on for over a month.  My husband had left for the day and I was on my way out of bed, when suddenly–no bells or whistles, no angel songs or harps–my pain just went away.  Better put, God just took my pain away.  It was gone.  That awful pain that hurt when I walked, made my brain hurt and sent shock waves down my neck, shoulder and back–was gone!

That’s that ecstasy.  Here comes the agony, I guess…

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.  If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.  1 John 3:16-18

That night I still only slept for 45 minutes at a shot, so I stayed home from work to just rest and gather myself for a day.  I hadn’t been out of the house for two full days and wasn’t planning on leaving for another day.  I was in my sweats having my quiet time, reading 1 John out loud (for concentration’s sake) all of the way through.  And I was texting a Native American friend from jail back and forth intermittently.

She was telling me how she was going to try to take her car back that was a lemon from a place that ripped her off.  She has no credit and he took advantage of her plight.  He told her she could exchange it for a different vehicle but she would need more money and she didn’t have it.  I was literally reading the above verses out loud when she said she didn’t have more money and didn’t know what to do.

So I asked if I could give her the money.  After some back and forth, the question was how she could get it.  We arranged a meeting place and time not too far from my house.  She called earlier than the arranged time, a bit lost.  So I redirected her and said that I would be there in five minutes.  I threw on a sweatshirt and a pair of boots and jumped in my vehicle for a ten minute errand–at least that’s what I thought.

On my way across the highway to meet her, suddenly I was hit by a truck that obviously I did not see coming–all I knew was that my airbags exploded, my Equinox spun around and I was plowed into the parking lot.  Next thing I know I’m in an ambulance headed to the hospital with a whiplash collar.  That was all a precaution, but suffice it to say, it was a grand mess, of which I am still wading my way through.

The upshot is that I got into it because I was seeking to obey God by putting action to my words.  All week I had to coach my friend into not being angry at God at what happened because she saw it all take place.  Her faith is all so new.  I told her that is what Satan would want, but God’s got this.  I have to trust that as I sort out the insurance, the financial loss and all of the fallout.

Sometimes we have to get our hands dirty I guess.  Isn’t that what Christmas is about?  Jesus got His hands so dirty He got nails pounded through them.  That’s mushing Christmas and Easter together, so I’m speeding ahead.  So that’s what the Gospel is all about, not just Christmas.  So it is the ecstasy and the agony.

But I’m ready for a calmer week.


On the Other Side of the Lake

A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons.  He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid.  Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed.  And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept them…

On the other side of the lake the crowds welcomed Jesus, because they had been waiting for Him.  Then a man named Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, plead with Him to come home with Him.  Luke 8:35-41 NLT

I am struck by this contrast on the two different sides of the lake.  On one side, Jesus did something huge, setting a man free from a legion of demons.  Everyone in town knew him as the crazy man in the caves, who probably screamed out at night and scared the kids.  Now he’s clothed and in his right mind and Jesus did it.  Yet they begged Him to leave because they were afraid.

Hebrews 3:12-15 warns us about not having the same reaction: Take care lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.  But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin…Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.

Waiting for Jesus on the other side of the lake were people who needed healing, people with faith, with a welcoming heart and open arms.  One lady knew if she could just get through the crowd and touch his robe she’d be healed.  Jesus told her that her faith had healed her.  The opposite of faith is fear.  The thing that made the people drive Jesus away was fear across the lake.

One of the things that makes us drive Jesus away today is fear.  When we say that Jesus doesn’t do miracles like that today, or that He can’t fix this or fix that…or whatever it is that makes us not come to Him in prayer believing that He can impact a situation–part of our unbelief is mixed with fear.  When the disciples called out to Jesus in the boat and said, “Don’t you care if we drown?” it was fear.  He rebuked them for their lack of faith.

In 2 Timothy 3 when it says that we will have a from of godliness but deny God’s power, is it fear that makes us comfortable with a lack of power?  We are comfortable with our own power, rather than relying on the Holy Spirit, because maybe we’re afraid of where God is going to take us, or what He’s going to demand of us, or who He’s going to ask us to love…So we stick to a less-than power out of fear.  woman-at lake.jpg

Or, as Hebrews 3 calls it, “an unbelieving heart–an evil, unbelieving heart.”  And that heart condition causes us to fall away from the living God.

Which side of the lake do you live on?

This link if my graphic.  It is an infographic and it can’t be loaded on this page.  Please click it, and then pray about the answer to my question.

On the Other Side of the Lake


Prayer in the Spirit…

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet...Revelation 1:10prayer

“I was in the Spirit.”  Have you taken notice of those five words much, or have you just sped over them?  I’ve been thinking about them in the last week or so.  I’ve been thinking about prayer, and pondering how much I really just scratch the surface of what God has for me and for the rest of us.  In Ephesians 6:18, at the end of the armor of God, Paul writes: “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication…”

I haven’t heard maybe any sermons on what praying in the Spirit means.  But I’ve read some things about it from guys from the 1700’s, and one guy from the early 1900’s.  Could it be that all of our television, Internet and video games have wrecked our depth to have that be a part of the normal Christian experience?

JD Greear writes about it in his book Jesus Continued.  So it isn’t all just guys that are dead that talk about praying in the Spirit.  He writes, “Our greatest power in prayer occurs when our prayers are prompted by the Word of God and the Spirit of God.  Prayers that start in Heaven are heard by Heaven. (pg. 153)”

For me, the ‘in the Spirit’ promptings come one of two ways.  The first is through dreams.  It doesn’t happen as much as it used to, but when it does, God gets my attention.  I’ll give an example.  I had a dream that a friend from church was covered in road rash.  She came and the ladies from church took her into this prayer cabin and totally covered her in prayer and she came out without any rash at all.  She was just fine.  I woke up, laid there and prayed for her for quite awhile, not knowing exactly what was going on.  Whatever it was, I knew it had to be rough.

The next day she was supposed to be at work and she wasn’t there.  Someone  mentioned she was at her husband’s court with him.  He was a doctor and was getting sued for some bogus malpractice suit.  It hit me that was what the dream was about, so I began praying fervently again for both of them.  At the end of the week we had a women’s gathering at our church and she described how those two days were the worst days of her life.  I would describe the prompting that God gave me through the dream as ‘praying in the Spirit,’ as there was no other way that I would have known how to pray.  He gave me a picture of what she was going through with the road rash.

The other way that God has worked for me is to give me burdens that will not go away until I have prayed them away.  When Scott O’Grady from the USA was shot down and behind enemy lines in Bosnia for eight days back in 1995, I couldn’t stop praying for him.  I must have prayed for him at least 8-10 times a day.  This was before 24 hour news, so I just kept praying!  When the news came that he was rescued, I cried.  When I read his book, Return With Honor, he tells of how  he laid still for hours at a time because captors were feet away from him.  At one point God gave him a vision of a “choir” of thousands of people from all around the world praying for him.  I was in that choir!

Jeremiah 33:3 says, Call to Me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Samuel Chadwick (1860-1932) said, “Prayer in the Spirit is the energized prayer of the righteous man that is of great force.  There is passion in the praying that prevails.  God never keeps hot hearts waiting.  ‘When you search for Me with all your heart I will be found by you.’  Jeremiah 29:13-14  Prayer that is energized by the Spirit brings power, turn ordinary mortals into people of power.  It brings fire.  It brings life.  It brings God.”

I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what He will say to me.  Habakkuk 2:1

headphones-312817_960_720.jpgAnd the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”  1 Samuel 3:10

 


I Must Get To the Sanctuary of God

pray.jpgBut when I thought how to understand this it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went to the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.  Psalm 73:16-17

Asaph wrote this Psalm.  He was David’s music director and was a priest and he set David’s words to music.  The context for today’s verses is that Asaph was getting twisted around by seeing the arrogant and wicked prospering while the righteous struggled.  He was bitter about it and it messed up his relationship with God.  In verse 22 Asaph recounted that when he was bitter he was like a beast, brutish and ignorant.  In other words, when you hold bitterness against God in your heart, you can’t hear from God, just like an animal.  You can’t be led.  It blocks off your relationship with God.

O God, I can get so bitter, cutting off the channel between us.  I can get bitter at others, which is just as bad.  I can mutter about others, and it’s really me that’s in the wrong place.  Like the King and Country song, “Oh, oh God, Forgive us (ME)…”  Show me where I harbor bitterness.

Another significant thing about what Asaph testifies is that he knew enough to keep his bitterness to himself.   In verse 15 he testifies, “If I had said, ‘I will speak thus,’ I would have betrayed the generation of Your children.”  If he had told others about what he had against God, he would have betrayed them by telling them something about God that wasn’t true.  How often do we vent to others, only later realizing that it wasn’t God who was in the wrong, but us?

God, keep a zipper on my lips.  If I speak against You or others I am really betraying the generation of Your children.  I am telling things about You that aren’t true.  I am a stumbling block.  

Asaph stayed in this funk until he went to the sanctuary of God.  In those days, they had to go to the Temple to meet with God because that was where His Spirit dwelt.  Praise God that His Spirit now dwells inside of us and we can meet with God anywhere, anytime!  It wasn’t until Asaph went before God that his attitude was adjusted.  It was in praying to God and seeking His face that Asaph realized that it wasn’t God that was off.  It was his view of what success is and his view of how God works.

Oh how my soul longs to get in quiet communion with You this week.  This is where I hear from You.  Clear out my schedule and keep distractions far away from me.  May I meet with You and see what you have to say about what’s been going on.  I so need You.

Then Asaph stopped being bitter and he started hearing from God again.  And he was able to write the beautiful words of praise found in verses 23-28.  Asaph realized that those who are far from God perish, but those who love and fear God will be rewarded in the end.  He also realized that it is better to be near God and to make Him his refuge than to have money.

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; You hold my right hand.  You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me to glory.  Whom have I in Heaven but You?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Psalm 73 23-26

When you are bent out of shape about life’s unfairness, don’t vent it out–go to God.  It is in our prayer closet that we get a proper perspective.  Don’t hold on to your bitterness, it only shuts off your connection with God.  Pray it out and listen to what God has to say.  Get close to God’s heart.  The nearness of God is our good.

*Image from Auntie Em’s Guide to Life


Come Boldly

boldly go.jpg“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:16 

 

I had a God moment this week.  A gal from jail wrote asking that I come to court to support her as she appeared before the judge.  Let’s call this woman “Jane.”  Another Bible study chaplain friend and prayer warrior also came.   Jane was asking something rather audacious of the courts.  She was asking for something she didn’t deserve.  She has been in and out of jail and prison most of her adult life because of drugs.  Her last charge could have put her back into prison for three and a half years.   Jane wasn’t supposed to appear until mid December and got her court date moved up, plus she was asking for something opposite of what the judge and lawyers were recommending.

She has sat over four months in the county jail most recently.  She’s studied the Bible each time she’s been in, come to Bible studies I’ve led for over 16 years.  In and out.  But Jane says she is broken, finished, done with meth.  She wants Jesus and wants a different life.  I hear desperation and maybe hope.  She applied for Teen Challenge (David Wilkerson’s faith based powerful rehab program) on her own, and I mean on her own.  Her Native American background makes most of what she attempts to do apart from her culture on her own.  Here it is a culture riddled with drugs and death.

Back to court.  The District Attorney and her public defender that looked like he just got out of high school bantered sacrilegiously previous to the beginning of the proceedings.  I think they must not care about the cases as individuals, but must have to distance themselves somehow.  As the hearing finally begins, the judge  reviews her case and tells of how this looks hopeless as she reviews the years of drug and battery charges, the years of incarceration.  We sit and pray silently.  It stretches out much longer than we would like–just get to the punch line.

Finally, yes!  She allows Jane to go Teen Challenge for at least six months.  Actually it is a 13 month program and its recidivism rate in the first year is like 20% (vs. a 70% National average).  In my 17 years of jail ministry, I have not seen an inmate actually follow through on pursuing going there and a judge actually placing someone into this program.  Hallelujah!  God sees and He hears and He is working in Jane’s life to bring about a miracle.

Jane was released to leave for Teen Challenge that same day.  She motioned for my friend and I to wait downstairs and we nodded that we would.  We waited with her mom and one of her sons, and a couple of others.  When she got down in her street clothes, she first came to give her mom a hug and mom pulled her close and said in a low, stern voice “if you stay at my house, you cannot bring your Bibles with you.”  It was the voice of the enemy so quickly in her face and ours.

We stood around the corner, respectfully waiting to give her a hug and quickly pray with her.  I told her I would mail her Bibles to her, but she must have her Bibles with her at Teen Challenge.  She said, “Oh no, I’ll put them in the garage.  She never goes there.”  God is able.

I must come boldly to the throne of grace–boldly and audaciously to ask and keep asking God to do big things just as Jane did this week.  He is not an overworked judge, He is one who is one waiting to dispense mercy and grace for me.  For Jane.  For all of us.


Need wisdom?

wisdom.jpg

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed in the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.  James 1:5-8

A dear co-worker’s family has been going through some upheaval with her husband’s job.  It has been a three month roller coaster and they have faced several forks in the road where each choice would take their family down an entirely different path.  He lost over ten pounds in the process because he was so worried he couldn’t eat.  My word to both of them was this passage: if you need wisdom, ask for it and God will give it to you.

Her response was to say, “I guess we haven’t prayed about it.”  How easy it is to name the name of Jesus, but yet not apply Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your steps.”  The husband’s response when I shared the James 1 verses with him was interesting.  He shook his head like he was smacked by the verse and asked, “would you say that again?”  It seemed like such a different idea to him to think that if he needed wisdom to simply ask God and He’ll give it to you.

James tells us that God gives wisdom generously to those who ask.  That’s a great promise.  When he declares that God will give us wisdom to all without reproach, that  means that God doesn’t find fault, he won’t rebuke or criticize us.  I hate telling someone about something that happened or is happening and they jump in with criticism that starts with, “You should have…” or “Why didn’t you…”  God promises that He will give us His wisdom generously and He won’t tell us how stupid we are for getting into that jam in the first place.

James  also gives us some conditions to our asking for wisdom.  We are to ask in faith, without doubting that God is listening to us, that He cares, or that He can actually do something about our situation.  It’s like bringing an umbrella to a prayer meeting calling out for rain.  We need to come to God believing that He can do anything, without ‘hedging our bets.’  That indicates that we bet on both sides just in case God doesn’t come through.

James calls that double minded faith, saying that such a person will not receive anything from the Lord and even calls them ‘unstable.’  Having a half-hearted or not-all-in faith sounds like that in God’s eyes it doesn’t amount to much.  James 1:7 also tells us that such a person will not receive anything from the Lord.

So when you need wisdom, ask God for it.  He gives it generously to anyone who asks, without criticizing or casting blame.  But ask in faith, being all-in when it comes to trusting God.  To my co-worker, stop trying to figure things out on your own.  You say you believe in God, so now it’s time to trust Him, do things His way, and place your life in His hands.  When you do, ‘you’re in good hands,’ as the All State commercial rings out.

 


Prayer and the Throne of Grace

throne room

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:14-16

Picture the throne room in Heaven.  It is filled with God’s glory, power, and radiant majesty,  a holy place from which Jesus rules over the entire universe while He sits at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:3).  Here are three things about this throne:

It is a throne of grace.   In the midst of this throne room filled with God’s majesty and power, Jesus bids us to boldly come and present our requests to Him.  This is amazing, so amazing that I can’t even wrap my mind around it.  When we need help,  Jesus, the king of the universe,  is waiting for us to come so He can give us His mercy and grace.  In fact, in Isaiah 30:18 it says, “The Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.”  NIV  He longs for us to come to Him in prayer.  

Conversely, when we turn to someone or something else instead of to God, He rebukes us.  In 2 Chronicles 16, King Asa asked for help from the king of Syria instead of going to God for assistance.  God sent Hanani the prophet to Asa to tell him that God helped Asa in the past, so why didn’t he ask God instead of going to the king of Syria.  Hanani then said, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.  You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”

It is a throne of intercession.  Jesus can identify with our weaknesses, He knows our weaknesses and He is praying for them.  Hebrews 7:25 declares, “Consequently Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”  Jesus is not only ruling and reigning, but He is praying for us day and night.   Also, Hebrews 2:18 reads, “For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”  When you are confronted with your weaknesses, or are tempted to sin–call out to Jesus!  He will help you.

It is a throne of well-timed help.  According to John Piper, in his devotional “His Timing is Perfect,” Hebrews 4:16 is more literally translated, “that we may find grace for a well-timed help.”  God’s grace will not come too early or too late.

What good news to rest on as we bring our needs, our dreams, and our failures to the throne of grace in prayer!  


Confidence in God’s enabling power

Image result for 2 Thessalonians 3:5

The Lord is faithful.  He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.  And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command.  May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God, and in the steadfastness of Christ.  2 Thessalonians 3:3-5

In the midst of all of our up’s and down’s, our stupid choices, our rebellion and disobedience, we can take heart in knowing a few things.  May your heart be encouraged with them today.  Let’s take a look at truths that we can be bolstered by, one by one:

  1. God is faithful.  What He says He will do.  What He promises is true.  We can trust God and we can trust His promises.  The things that are in the Bible are true.  They aren’t just made up to make you feel better.  God has follow through and consistency, unlike our best intentions, or the best intentions of others who we put our faith in, only to be let down.  Philippians 1:6 is one of those faithful promises: I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
  2. God will establish you.  That means that God will make you strong and able to maintain spiritual growth.  God will finish the work He started in you, God will give you the strength and the ability to stand and to grow.   Paul had confidence that God would keep the Thessalonians strong because God kept Paul strong.  I have confidence that God will keep a hold of you with His righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10), because He has done that for me, even in the worst times.
  3. God guards us against Satan.  Now that’s good news.  As you read through the Psalms, you will see that David says over and over again that God is his refuge, his shield and his protector.  Just as David had physical enemies that were always trying to do him in, we have spiritual enemies that try to do the same to us.  We might not even realize that the struggles we are having are because of Satan’s schemes at work against us.  Whether we realize it or not, God guards us.
  4. If we belong to Jesus we will grow in our obedience to Him.  God does this in us because He is at work in us.  Philippians 2:13 states: It is God who works in you, to will and to work for His good purpose.  Paul could say he had confidence that they would be obedient because he had confidence in how God works in our lives.
  5. We can rest in the love of God and the steadfastness of Jesus.  Paul prayed in Ephesians 3 that we would know how high and deep and wide and long the love of Christ is because we are rooted and grounded in love.  You are loved with an overwhelming love and nothing can separate you from that love.  Jesus now sits at God’s right hand, ruling and holding the world together.  And more good news: He also kneels for us according to Hebrews 7:25, He lives to make intercession for us.

Be encouraged today, knowing that God is at work in you.  He is faithful and will protect you from Satan’s attempts to discourage and to derail you.  You are loved by God and that love never changes.  

Rest in God’s enabling power and call on Him to work in your life today.


Taking it to the next level

next level

…Bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.  May you be strengthened with all power, according to HIs glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.  Colossians 1:10b-11

When teams make the playoffs each year, but never win the championship, the coach usually says something like, “we need to take it to the next level.”  God, take my walk with You to the next level.  Raise the level of my living from the ordinary to the extraordinary.  How to do that?  Start by praying and asking God to show you how.   Paul’s prayer is a good guideline.

May you bear fruit in every good work.  Bearing fruit can be the fruit of the Spirit as mentioned in Galatians 5.  We could be so busy telling others about Jesus or serving in some way that we lose focus and get crabby, selfish and hard to be around.  The first place we need to bear fruit is in our character, consciously walking in the Spirit and not setting our minds on things of the flesh.

Another aspect of bearing fruit has to do with actually seeing God work through us in other people’s’ lives.    John 15:5 tells us, “Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  Fruit can be that whatever you endeavor to do for God actually makes a difference.   Some people live their Christian lives never seeing fruit, which would be like having an apple tree in your yard that never bears apples.  Fruit is the natural outcome of having a healthy relationship with God.  To take it to the next level, call out to God to bear fruit through you.

May you get to know God better.  The best ways to do that is through Bible study and prayer.  Seek God and keep seeking HIm.  Ask God to show Himself to you.  Place yourself around people who seem to know God and learn from them as much as you can.  Another way to get to know God better is to do something for Him that really stretches your faith. Watch God work when you do that!   I love reading biographies of people who have accomplished great things for God.  It stretches my faith and helps me to get a picture of what God can do in my  life.  Just like you set goals to lose weight or to learn a hobby, set a goal to put you on the path of getting to know God better.

May you have endurance, patience and joy that comes from God.  It is easy to grab for the easy things in life and to give up if something gets hard.  The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint.  May God build in you the ability to not be weary in serving Him, but as Paul encouraged Timothy to do in 2 Timothy 4: “Proclaim the message, persist in it, whether convenient or not.”  He also told Timothy to endure hardship and to fulfill his ministry.  And may you have the joy of the Lord that rests upon you.

May God be at work in your life in all kinds of ways.  May you get to know Him better and see fruit in the things that you endeavor to do for HIm.  And may God give you His energy, patience and overflowing joy.

 


Do your prayers sound like this?

growth

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to HIm.  Colossians 1:9-10a

Most of the time my prayers do not sound like  Paul’s prayers.  But when I really want to see someone grow in their Christian life, I borrow these words.  They really distill what we need to have to make it spiritually.  And when I’m stuck on how to pray for myself, I do the same.  Let’s take his prayer apart:

Being filled with the knowledge of God’s will.  According to quora.com, the average adult makes around 35,000 choices a day.  Just try to order a sandwich from “Subway” and you’ll notch about 30 choices.  It would be really nice to get a little note from God with our directions for the day.  Instead of getting that, we get the Holy Spirit who is always with us to guide us.  God, direct me today so I know I’m doing what You want me to do.

In all spiritual wisdom and understanding.   Just this last week I encountered a situation with a difficult parent where I needed God’s wisdom regarding how to respond to her bullying and berating.  I asked God for understanding what she really is angry at and how to stop butting heads with her.  God is not like a magic eight ball that gives immediate answers, but I trust that He will speak ideas into my heart and mind as I proceed.  Take your most difficult situation that is facing you and ask God for His wisdom and understanding.  

So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.  In the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” the character played by Tom Hanks, Captain Miller,  dies in his mission to save Private Ryan, the only son left in his family.  James Ryan went back to Normandy to Captain Miller’s grave.  Ryan stood by his grave and said, My family is with me today. They wanted to come with me. To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel coming back here. Every day, I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I’ve tried to live my life the best I could. I hope it was enough. I hope that at least in your eyes I’ve earned what all of you have done for me.” (From http://www.thesource4ym.com/movieclipdiscussions)

We don’t have to earn anything related to what Jesus has done for us.  That’s what grace is all about.  Private Ryan  felt a strong gratitude and had a  sense of purpose in life because of the sacrifice made for him.   We need to live our lives with a different purpose and sense of value because we know that Jesus  gave up His life for us.

Fully pleasing to Him.  If we do something that God instructs us to do, then we’ll be pleasing to Him.  That’s what obedience is.  If we don’t do something that we know God has commanded us not to do, the same is true.  If you want to please God, obey Him.  That’s what Samuel told King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold to obey is better than sacrifice.”

May you be filled with the knowledge of God’s will today,  along with gaining wisdom and understanding from His Holy Spirit who is at work in you.  May God direct your steps and give you ideas, creativity and skill that comes from Him.  May you walk differently because you belong to Jesus, being filled with gratitude because of His sacrifice for you.  And may you please God by being obedient to Him.   May you turn from sinful ways and delight in doing things God’s way.