Pray We Must!

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; (2) For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” 1 Timothy 2.1-2

I believe these words are most fitting for us at this critical point in our nation’s history. I am not speaking as democrat, republican, or independent. I am speaking as a Christ-follower. If EVER we prayed about the upcoming elections and those who are running for individual offices, whether local official, or those on the national scene, we MUST do so now. I don’t see how we can VOTE until we have PRAYED. We need to pray for those who are currently in office and will continue to serve us and make decisions for us. Look carefully at the words Paul uses here to instruct us in praying: (1) supplications, (2) prayers, (3) intercessions, and (4) giving of thanks. What do these various words mean when it comes to prayer? Supplications means we are asking God for something for the person we are praying for. It is “the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.”  In this case we are asking for the person for whom we are praying. Prayers – prayer is “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God.” Intercessions – this is “the action of intervening on behalf of another”. We go to God on their behalf. Giving of thanks – while we KNOW what this means, we may struggle to give thanks for someone who is currently in office or who may be elected to an office. If they currently occupy an office, it was God who allows them to be there. Thus, we must give thanks for them. Paul says “giving of thanks for ALL men.”
You may ask, “Why would I want to do this?” Paul gives us the answer: “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” This is for OUR benefit as well as theirs. Who doesn’t want to live a quiet and peaceable life? I certainly do. Have I always followed the instructions in these verses? I must confess that I have not. But the seriousness of the future of our nation and our local governments is crucial. So I am asking you to join me as we pray together for “kings, and all that are in authority …” Just my thoughts …

Go Ahead! Ask Me!

“Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is his name; (3) Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Jeremiah 33.2-3

When God speaks to Jeremiah here, he clearly establishes Who He is: (1) the maker there of; (2) the LORD that formed it (the earth?); (3) to establish it; (4) the LORD is His name. If I had been  Jeremiah and God had spoken this clearly and authoritatively to me, I would give careful attention to what He said next. When God speaks to us, as He does every time we pick up His book and read, it is with this same clarity and authority. I have noticed that God never stutters when He speaks to me. My trouble is never understanding WHAT He says, but in making the right choice to implement into my life that which He wants me to do.
Now let’s give attention to the next words God speaks to Jeremiah: (1) call unto Me; (2) I will answer you; and (3) show you great and mighty things; (4) things that you do not already know. Have you ever gone into a store and saw a clerk wearing a badge that said: “Ask Me”. He or she is supposed to have the answer to whatever you came into the store to get. Now visualize God with the badge on: “Ask ME!” That is not bold arrogance on God’s part. That is Omniscience saying, “I already have the answer – just ask me!” Jeremiah had some rough patches ahead of him and he was going to NEED God’s help. I love this … God’s promise was, “If you ASK Me, I WILL answer.” Then God said, “You think you know Me Jeremiah. Just watch. I am going to show you great and mighty things that you know nothing about!”
Now let God speak to you in that manner. Ask Me … I will answer you … I will show you things about me that you do not know! Friend, if that doesn’t make your day, nothing will. Just My Thoughts …

Consequences? Yes!

“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” Psalm 27.14

I want to continue my thoughts from yesterday on “Waiting on the Lord.” One thought that comes to mind for me is this: “Are there ny consequences if I choose not to wait on the Lord?” That is a powerful question and I can answer that is one word – YES! There are consequences when we don’t wait on God. I can’t enumerate all of them but I can take a shot at a few of them.
(1) When we choose not to wait on the Lord, we allow the good to become the enemy of the best. Satan whispers to us, “Go ahead. Do what you want. That seems like a good idea to me.” When we are content to settle for the “good” thing we think we can do instead of waiting for God’s best, we always come out on the losing end of things. (2) When we choose not to wait on the Lord, we are demonstrating a mind set that says to God, “I know more about what is best for me than You do!” The only thing that we know is what is happening at that very moment. We cannot see into the future at all, no matter how hard we try. God sees the beginning of our life, where we are right now, and where He wants to take us. If for one moment we believe that God does not always have our best interests at heart, we have believed Satan’s lie and we are doomed to fail. (3) When we choose not to wait on the Lord, we demonstrate to others by our actions that “Waiting on the Lord” is not really an option you are willing to consider. Such stubbornness, selfishness, and impulsive behavior leads us down a dead-end road. Any path on which God leads us is better than any dead end road. So I say again, “wait, I say, on the Lord.” Just my thoughts …

Waiting Puts God in Charge!

“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” Psalm 27.14

Waiting on the LORD has taken on new meaning at this stage in my life. I am aware that no one ever waited on the Lord in vain. I am aware that waiting on the Lord means that I must wait on His timing and not my own when it comes to the future. Waiting on the Lord is quickly becoming a daily practice of allowing God to do what HE wants in my life and relegating my “own agenda” to a place of non-importance. What I want for me will never be as important as what He wants for me. If you are following my train of thought, I hope you are noticing that the transfer of control, the issue of what is best, and the matter of absolute trust have moved to the forefront of my life and I am CONTENT with waiting on the Lord.
The psalmist mentions two other key thoughts here: (1) be of good courage, and (2) he shall strengthen thine heart. I am reminded of God’s words to Joshua in Joshua 1.6: “Be strong and of a good courage:” EVERYTHING in Joshua’s life was changing and God knew He needed to encourage His servant. These words “he shall strengthen thine heart” speak volumes to me. If I thought about everything that I can imagine that could go wrong, I could literally worry myself into a distraught state of mind. But when I allow God to control EVERYTHING – and I mean EVERYTHING – I am total peace in placing my present and my future in His hands and my heart is “strengthened” by that.
How hard is it for you to wait on the Lord? Are you afraid He may not know exactly what is best for you? Don’t challenge His omniscience! As the psalmist said above, “wait, I say, on the LORD.” Just my thoughts …

Let’s Get to Work!

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; (13) Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  Colossians 3.12-13

When Paul writes here to the Colossian christians, The counsel he gives is literally priceless. Let’s take a peek. Because they are “God’s elect” he tells them to put on: (1) bowels of mercies, humbleness of mind, meekness, and longsuffering. One translation states it like this: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” I don’t think any of those words need explaining. As God’s “chosen ones,” our lives should reflect the qualities of a compassionate heart, kindness toward believers, a humble spirit, meekness (don’t mistake that word for weakness), and patience. If you are like me, you get hung up on the patience past.
Now, if we are able to accomplish what he tells us in v. 12, then his instructions in v. 13 should come much easier. Here it is in the ESV: “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” I want to “bear with others” the same way I want them to bear with me. Most of us entertain a complaint in our heart and mind against somebody all the time. Rather that let that keep you stirred up unnecessarily, do what Paul and Jesus both suggested, forgive them. “Well, they don’t deserve it” you say. Neither did you and neither do I. We are to “forgive” as the Lord has forgiven (us). Now, look carefully as v. 14: “And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness” or “which binds everything together.” (ESV) I think most of us have some work to do today on our attitudes and out behavior. Just my thoughts …

Sometimes Listening Is Best!

“Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. (21) There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.” Proverbs 19.20-21

The advice we receive here from Solomon is to be taken to heart. (1) Hear counsel; (2) receive instruction; (3) these two actions will lead to wisdom. I’ve always been puzzled by people who are unwilling to ask for counsel from someone who is able and willing to give them help. It does not make me a weak person to admit that I don’t know everything and that someone else may be able to give me a different perspective or additional information about the problem that I am facing. In fact, my unwillingness to ask for help is a sign of weakness. Solomon is clear when he says, “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end”. Only a fool doesn’t WANT to be wise. I have never met anyone who intentionally did not want to gain wisdom.
V. 21 takes us further in this discussion. Our heart has many devices (one translation says ‘Many are the plans in the heart of a man’). Sometimes we entertain so many ideas in our hearts that we don’t know which one we want to execute first. But our failure comes when we fail to seek the wisdom that only the Lord can provide. Solomon reminds us: “the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand”. God’s purpose for us does not change just because we change our minds or our circumstances change. The counsel (purpose) of the Lord stands unchangeable. Let me encourage you today to always give consideration to God’s purpose for you before you consider any other course of action. Remember that His  counsel or purpose will stand. Just my thoughts …

He’s the Real Thing

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. ” Zephaniah 3.17d

So often we read a verse of Scripture and don’t take time to think about what we just read. That would be easy to do with the verse above. But I want to challenge you to think seriously about what Zephaniah has written. (1) God is in our midst and He is mighty; (2) He will save; (3) God will rejoice over us with joy; (4) He will allow us to rest in His love; and (5) He will joy over us with singing.
We often give lip service to the matter of God’s omnipresence and His omnipotence. But they deserve more than a mental assent that God possesses those characteristics. His presence among us reflects His love for us, His watch care over us, and His desire to make Himself available to us. The fact that He is omnipotent must not be overlooked because He possesses the power to handle ANY situation that comes to us and He WANTS to exercise His power on our behalf. Next we read that He will save. We have taken advantage of that truth by receiving Him into our hearts and lives. What does it mean that He will rejoice over us with joy? God CAN rejoice because we have believed on His Son and God is joyful that we are part of His eternal family. The phrase “he will rest in his love” is translated elsewhere with this phrase: “he will quiet you by His love”.WOW! To know that God’s love will bring us a sense of quietness and peace is a truth we can draw on often. Finally, “he will joy over you with singing.” I never thought about God singing before, but wouldn’t you love to hear His voice, knowing that it gives Him joy to sing over us.
Look carefully at the different phrases above and allow God to be all He wants to be in your life. Just my thoughts …

I Trust God – Really?

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (2) I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” Psalm 91.1-2

The words of verse 2 are only made possible in the mind of the psalmist because of his conclusion found in v. 1. He concludes that the safest place to be when there is trouble, or an adversary, or something else that he cannot handle, is “under the shadow of the Almighty.” The terms he uses in v. 2 are very descriptive and powerful. He describes God as his “refuge” and his “fortress.” A “refuge” is a place to hide when trouble is coming – whether it is an event or an adversary. A “fortress” is a place of safety when trying to fight off the enemy.
The next two words seal the confidence of the psalmist when he says, “my God …” Would it be fair for me to ask each one reading this, “Who is YOUR God?” Sometimes we use God’s name but the One that we have picture in our minds looks nothing like the God of whom the psalmist speaks. Do you view your God as your “refuge” and your “fortress”? Have your grown in your walk with Him to such a degree that you CAN say, “my God” and your image of God resembles the psalmist’t God?
Now let’s look at the final phrase: “in Him will I trust.” Most adults would agree that trust is something that must be built over time. In a marriage, when trust is broken by either partner, it takes a considerable amount of time to rebuild that bridge. But when it comes to God, our trust is built over time as we learn to trust Him more and more. He has NEVER done anything to break our trust, but it takes us time to see Him show Himself trustworthy time-after-time. Let me encourage you today to see God the way the psalmist has seen Him in these verses and exercise your trust in Him to such a degree that if He doesn’t show up, you fail. Just my thoughts …

Great Expectations

“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. (36) For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” Hebrews 10.35-36

The writer of Hebrews is challenging us to “cast not away (our) confidence …” You and I know that confidence placed in man has the possibility of disappointing us. But that is not the object of confidence of whom the writer speaks. He is talking about our confidence that is placed in God. Such confidence is never misplaced. The writer continues with “which hath great recompense of reward”. Confidence that has God as its object can expect to anticipate a “great recompense of reward.”
But that is not all there is to understand. We “have need of patience … “ Serving God with eternity in view is sometimes a wearisome task. We know there is something better to come and we even anticipate it, but the day-after-day battle with Satan and the things of this world can sometimes wear us down. We wonder to ourselves, “Will it ever come?” But we are encouraged to not give up: “after ye have done the will of God”. All we are responsible for down here on earth is to do “the will of God.” God has not hidden His will fro us. It is found in reading His Word and seeking His face.
But look at this last line: “ye might receive the promise.” 1 John 2.25 says: “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.” There many wonderful promises in the Word, but this is one of the most exciting – ETERNAL LIFE. We have the promise of Christ’s return which gives us a great expectancy. 2 Peter 1.4 says: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” Our expectation level should remain high as we look forward to the fulfillment of these promises. Just my thoughts …

He DOES Understand!

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4.15

For those times in my life when I need to be reminded that God understands my situation and knows how to help me, this verse comes to mind. Jesus is our high priest. He knows how we feel because He took the form of man – lived in a frail human body. He knew hunger, thirst, and tiredness and every other frailty of our bodies –  just like we do. So when we begin to think that God could not possibly know how bad things are in our lives, we forget what this verse says. Try to grasp this phraseL “but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”, When we think of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness in Matthew 4, Satan appealed to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. These are the exact areas of our lives that Satan appeals to us today. If he is not afraid to temp Jesus, he certainly isn’t afraid to tempt us in the same way.
The comfort I find here is that God DOES understand my every need. You and I need to embrace the truth that God looks on us with compassion and love. He always has our best interests at heart – even when it doesn’t seem like it. The next time you are faced with an “infirmity” that you think God couldn’t possibly understand, just remember that Jesus was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” and embrace His care and His love. Just my thoughts …