Archives for posts with tag: prayer

outoforderYou see this sign and what do you immediately know: something isn’t working correctly or is broken and needs to be repaired.

I was reading an article by Mike Adams on Townhall.com when I began to think of other ways we are hurt by getting things out of order. You’ve heard the old expression, ‘getting the cart before the horse’, but putting things in that order really is a funky way of moving a cart around, especially if it’s loaded.

Putting feelings before our will/our faith.  Feelings or emotions are the last things that should guide any decisions we make or conclusions we draw.  When we forsake our will and its adherence to the Truth of God’s Word to how we feel about people and things, we will always fall short of the truth. How? By focusing our aim on something that falls short to begin with. Not one of us is perfect or completely right so why would I allow my will to settle for falling short because I might feel better about it.  In the end, feelings don’t account for much. If I feel great about myself but I don’t trust Jesus, I’m still lost even though I feel good about where I am. If I feel terrible about myself but I don’t trust Jesus, I’m still lost even though I’ll be depressed when I die. Have faith in God and let your feelings follow.

Putting the praise of people ahead of the praise of God. This is a close cousin of  putting feelings ahead of our faith. Who is going to validate your life? Who tells you you’re good? If it’s people, know that you will be aiming at a moving target for what is an approved response.  If it’s God, know that the standard you seek to attain will be the same: yesterday, today, and forever, though not popular at given times, seasons, or places.

Putting convenience before our commitments. How many good things could we have accomplished if we didn’t give in to procrastination or momentary laziness?  How many times have we excused ourselves from following commitments by saying we will catch up to them later?

Making decisions and commenting on subjects before seeking the Lord in prayer.  How many complaints and conflicts can be diffused before they begin by simply asking the complainer or the conspirator, “How have you been praying about this?”  “What part of the Scripture led you to this conclusion or course of action?”

If you would like to add to this list, please do. How do things get out of order in your life or in the lives of ones you love?  Help me know where the turn-around battle needs to be fought.

Remember, being out of order is meant to be a temporary situation. There is nothing, by grace through faith, that can’t be restored or turned around.

prayinghands“This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” (Hebrews 8: 10 – 11)

Touch me directly. Set your hand upon me. I am not content with lessons shared by the preacher or teacher. I am not content with holding the hand of one who holds yours. I am not content to know that a deep and abiding relationship is possible.

When will I come alive? When Your whisper is upon my ear. When will I be awakened? When Your Word touches my lips. When will I be energized? When Your breath, the breath of Your Spirit, alights upon me – when I will feel the rush and fire of Your Presence for myself.

Call to me and my heart will answer. The Day is approaching but I have no fear for it. I only fear moving from Your side. So, hold me close. Speak the Word that draws me closer still. You alone captivate my will, restore my soul, and lead me forward.

Lead me, Jesus: not just in the quiet stillness of the morning or in the fresh hope of each day but in all the routines where I may have shut you out and not even been aware of it.  Lead me most within the mundane repetitions of my work or waiting for I desire nothing to be mundane anymore. I want all things to be made new. I want all things infused with Your Presence. I want all things to be overshadowed with Your Goodness and Mercy. I want all things to be made Holy.

 

morningsThere is a version of meditation that is adapted from the Lord’s Prayer for those of us who need help ordering the first few moments of our day. I call it Seven.

  1. Stand: It begins with the focusing of your will upon the day and asks three questions from Ephesians, chapter 6. How will I stand apart unto God, today? How will I stand against the schemes of the devil? How will I stand alert to the opportunities of this particular day? These focusing questions can take place while you are still in the bed, or while you are in the shower, or when you are sitting with your coffee, or while driving to work. I usually try to set this down in a journal because I’m kind of ADD and if I don’t spell it out, I tend to go to the next thing instead of taking my stand.
  2. Scripture: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10: 17) Every morning should start with some word from the Lord, some clarifying revelation or expectation for your work or your relationships. I like to follow the Life Journal Bible Reading and use their acrostic, SOAP: Scripture, Observation, Application, & Prayer.
  3. Singing: The way I encourage myself and build up my faith is through singing. You can use songs you already know: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs or make up one of your own.
  4. Supplications: This is where I intercede for others and pray specifically for the Lord to bless people in my life or within my sphere of influence.
  5. Stations: This is the time for visualization, putting myself in the particular settings and situations I know I will occupy during the day and asking God to help something significant to come out of those blocks of time or those particular conversations.
  6. Silence: This can be very brief or an extended time where you wait upon the Lord’s whisper giving you direction, assurance, or a peace-filled resolve to get going. This is also the time I usually do my morning stretches.
  7. Sending Steps: What is the first thing you need to do now that you have been before the Lord?  Ask yourself the One Thing Question: “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

Don’t grab your phone and check your messages first thing. Don’t go sit at the computer and see what’s breaking in the world. There is always something breaking and falling apart in the world. Find out first how Jesus will hold things together for you, today!

Maybe for you, you need to try just one or two of the Seven until they are familiar. You start where you can start.

fightToday, I want to share one of spiritual weapons God gives us and how it is used to fight the battle with the Lord. Tomorrow, I have another to show you.

The first weapon I want to make sure you are trained to use correctly is your mouth.  You need to train your mouth to fight the good fight of faith.

  1. This begins with your profession of faith. Your profession needs to be a public confession, a practiced confession, and a personal confession that Jesus is Lord.
  2. Your mouth needs to become a prophetic instrument not just something that gets turned on and doesn’t know how to get cut off. “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4: 11) How do we reach this point? Learn to listen. For those for whom this is difficult, practice putting your hand over your mouth as if you are thoughtful. Then, even when you think of something to say, keep your hand in place.  Practice this a lot.
  3. Utilize your mouth for meditation by filling your self-talk with repetitions of the Holy Scripture. Couch all of your dreams, goals, and plans in positive, scriptural affirmations. If the Holy Spirit cannot bring up Scripture for your mouth to use, check the subject of your meditation.
  4. Practice using your mouth to praise God. The Psalms are a great reference for this. Psalm 40 says when God establishes our way He puts a new song in our mouth, even a song of praise, (Psalm 40: 3) so do not resist or discount this work of God. After all, it was Judah, the tribe of praise, that God placed in the forefront of his battle lines. Along, these lines, let as much as possible of your praying be spoken aloud or sung unto the Lord.
  5. “Speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4: 15) being honest with yourself and others.
  6. Proclaim the Good News. “The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.” (Romans 1: 3 – 5 NLT)

grapevinetrellis“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.”  (John 15: 1)

Excerpt from The Face of Grace: (a book resource we will release this summer.)

This passage from the gospel of John is very important to me because it carries me back to when my father was still alive and growing grapes on our farm in Virginia. It is also important to me because it illustrates the face of grace and the pathway God follows to reveal His glory.

The gardener prepares the soil as my father did when we first decided to plant a vineyard. We chose the field that had good drainage and the elevation to shield it from frost. We cleared the field of stones (over 10,000) and turned the land over multiple times to break the hold the briers had and we were successful.

We then built a wire trellis for each row we would plant and measured out everything so we could work the field properly once the vines were planted. Jesus declares, “I Am the true vine” and we’re about to see how He tends to his vineyard.

The gospel’s next verse is oft mistranslated. “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15: 2) The first part of this verse should read, “He raises up every branch in me that does not yet carry fruit, and everything that bears fruit he prunes, in order that it bears much fruit.”

When a vine is first set, or planted in the ground, it cannot hold itself up. It gets droopy and left to itself would sit in the mire and mud and likely die. Therefore, the gardener extends extra care to these tender plants and raises them up tying or staking them to a stob. When we planted our vine, we took this step and also set a solid tube tree protector around each vine that provided extra warmth to spur growth, as well as, provided the vine with a channel in which to grow taller.

Jesus points this process is underway when he says to his disciples, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” (John 15: 3)

Thus, we changed the prognosis of the vine from stuck in the mud to climbing towards the trellis. Once connected to the trellis, we trained and banded the vine to follow the trellis just like the Holy Spirit trains and holds us in following Christ.

I would love to pray for you. If you can, leave a comment and let me know how you need the Lord to raise you up, today. And, thank you so much for reading my blog.

contagiousI always wanted to be a contagious Christian but not like this. Karen and I both had our concerns and body aches confirmed today. We have the flu and are under quarantine until Sunday. Yes, there is much that needs to be done between now and then but we won’t be the ones who will do it.

I realize I am not indispensable to the Kingdom but I sure want to be helpful, or as my grandfather used to say, “useful as well as ornamental”. So, pray for us while we heal and recover.

Pray also you are ready to move instantly at God’s command upon your heart and will. Don’t ever make it necessary for God to look for someone else because you were too slow or stubborn to respond. As Jesus describes in the parable of the Good Samaritan, God can call the Samaritan but the injured man would have been glad to receive help sooner if he could have received it.

Thanks ahead of time for everyone’s prayers and service this week, especially to my brother, the Rev. Ed Johnson who has stood in for me a lot lately.

random-thoughtsThomas Sowell, the economist and syndicated columnist, often had “Random Thoughts” columns that reflected on the state of our economy, politics, and culture. You could probably still find many online through Townhall.com. I am a big fan of his columns and his books.

My random thoughts seem to all run towards the subject of repentance and faith. These are the thoughts I want to share with you this morning.

“The purpose of grace is not tolerance but repentance unto salvation.”

“The power of grace is not for the purpose of holding contradictory things together but to be free of contradictions as we hold to the Truth.”

“The purpose of grace is not to make us good and dead but alive and well.”

“Christian love and peace is much more than the enemy of my enemy is my friend, so be careful with whom you march and meet.Be even more careful that you don’t reduce the love of Jesus to some skill you perform better than others.”

“By (new) nature, the child of God is evangelistic, ready to suffer ridicule, humiliation, and even death, for the sake of the gospel.”

This week, I saw Gregory Peck in the movie The Big Country (1958). I admire the way his character conducts himself with integrity and doesn’t have to have it authenticated for it to be constant. It’s a long movie but worth watching. This random thought arose again from watching it. “Grace doesn’t have to prove itself loving (demonstrable with a sign) before it calls you to repent and believe.”

Quote of the week comes from a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speech given at Western Michigan University in 1963. “We must never substitute a doctrine of Black supremacy for white supremacy. For the doctrine of Black supremacy is as dangerous as white supremacy. God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men and brown men and yellow men but God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race, the creation of a society where all men will live together as brothers.”

“Pray for preachers of the gospel. I think we forget (or have never learned) that there is a blindness that binds the heart and mind of listeners to their own biases, if not repented of, leaves the listener lost to the good news and that only Jesus can take that blindness away.”