Monday, August 31, 2015

TRUST AND FOCUS IN PRAYER


I have caught myself, more than a few times, speaking to God as a genie - having a wishlist for instant satisfaction. I get conflicted sometimes, remembering how immediate Christ's response was to most of those that asked of His power - usually healing. Now-a-days it seems I receive more of His "No" or "Wait" replies. I should be grateful that He even answers and comply with my Majesty - Father God through His Son Christ Jesus. However, I am stubborn in some areas and desire to know how God operates as much as possible.

For instance, Jesus says in John 14:13-14 to ask for anything in His name and He will do it to glorify His Father in Heaven. Many have assumed "anything" means anything and asked for things that evidently received a "No" answer. I have found there are frivolous things to request of my King. However, we do have a helper in this area.

  • "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." (Romans 8:26-27 ESV)
Notice "we do not know what to pray for as we ought". The word "ought" in the original Greek is dei which means know as necessary. So, the idea is communicated that there are things on God's heart and mind that He deems necessary for us to bring to Him in prayer, yet we are clueless. But fear not, "the Spirit helps us in our weakness." How does The Spirit go about this? He "searches hearts" and "intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" with "groanings too deep for words".

In another instance, it is so difficult for me, at times, to accept "No" or "Wait" from God as Father when I am going through the trial/challenge. I understand the function of prayer but just do not grasp God's strategy or process of answering. In Other Words...I comprehend that prayer should be more than a respectful presentation of one's petitions before God. Concepts such as thanksgiving and praise should be incorporated into my prayers also. They are faith-builders. They cite God's track record with me and confirm His Faithfulness. This I know. It is the answers of "No" or "Wait" and the elusive why that trouble me. This is definitely where trust plays a part in a big way.

I guess prayer is my privilege and answering is God's prerogative. Prayer is my privilege in that I now have access behind The Veil through Christ who "is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us [me]." (Romans 8:34) His prerogative, if I should be so blessed to receive an immediate answer, would be well received. However, sometimes God says "No" and sometimes God says, "Wait". During these times I need to learn to trust God without an explanation from Him. Adopt the attitude of Father God knows best. The Holy Spirit depicted that attitude through the prophet Isaiah - 
  • “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9)
His superior knowledge and direction does not mean to stop seeking Him in prayer. No. I believe, seeking His face/presence first in prayer goes a long way in knowing how to tackle every issue. Persistence helps also (see the woman of Luke 18:1-8). However, if you were someone with many answers and that is all anyone came to you for - I imagine that would get old very quickly. I would desire to spend some face-time with the individual and show them there is more to me than just this one facet - answering problems. I believe that is God's heart with prayer. Not to treat it solely as the means for getting, but also the means to bless God and discover many other sides to His Majesty.

In the past, I have asked God, "Don't you desire me to be well instantly?" I continue to return to 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Here it charges me to "fix [my] eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." I am reminded of a great song entitled "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus". The lyrics go - 
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the Light of His Glory and Grace."

I am learning to trust in God's answer(s) and turn my eyes more upon Him in prayer.

Friday, August 28, 2015

HIS STANDARD

This world has quite a number of measurement systems. We have measurements for a t.v. picture, for all kinds of data information traveling over the internet, for sound quality of concerts and sound systems, for food and for people's health. The list seems endless, because for every product or service a measurement tool is not far behind.

Why do we have this measurement tool ingrained in almost everything produced? Because we desire the best outcome and somewhere along the way A Standard was set and possibly reset to compare all future results. For example, there is a safety standard for new vehicles that has to be met before a new car, truck or SUV can be sold and driven.

The spiritual revelation to this is that the Old Testament, especially The Law, was meant to say loudly, "You will Never measure up to God's Standard - Perfection!" While in the New Testament, God says even louder, "BUT, I will provide The Standard to stand and die and live again in your place! He is my Son - Jesus." Our part is to accept Jesus as The Standard of our lives and base our decisions in life out of our new-found relationship with Christ - The Standard.

The spiritual application is found in Proverbs 16:11 - 
  • "Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord; all the weights in the bag are of his making."
The "weights in the bag" of God's making are things like truth, honor, love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I am sure there are more, however, when Christians are faced with decisions - God's "honest scales and balances" are what I encourage you to use. You can research His verdicts on matters in The Bible. Then you will be able to know and move according to a more higher and perfect way - His Standard.

Monday, August 24, 2015

NO ESCAPING HIM

There is no escaping God's presence only momentary removal of His favor or Grace.

We have no say on where His presence is - His presence is everywhere. God is the one who made the declarations and promises of where He would be/reside and what He would do there. He Said He would be a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path (Psalm 119:105). He Said He would go before us as an all consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). He Said He would protect us at our right and left as many enemies fall (Psalm 91:7). He Said He would come alongside us and lead us in all truth (John 16:13). He Said He would be our rear-guard (Isaiah 52:12). He Said He would cover us like an eagle's wings (Exodus 19:4). 

"Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord." (Acts 11:19-24)


God's Presence is manifested where His Favor is dispersed and His Favor is dispersed where He observes obedience. Here, in a first century church account we read that because "men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord."  The obedience of these men to Christ's Great Commission resulted in His hand of favor. The local church in Jerusalem heard about God's favor in Antioch and sent Barnabas to investigate. Upon arrival, Barnabas witnessed the results of the favor of the Lord - lifestyle decisions for Christ or converts to Christianity. Barnabas' response was two-fold - (1) he was "glad" and (2) he "encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts." Obedience to God's Word results in Godly blessings, favor or grace in the Believer's life. The challenge then becomes remaining diligent in the Christian walk; in obedience to Christ. 

Notice because of the promises of God's presence in our lives, the men from Cyprus and Cyrene had Christ with them. So, His presence is never an issue, especially with promises like Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20; and 1 Corinthians 6:19What we do have a say on is the flow of His favor in our lives. The thoughts, actions and words of the men from Cyprus and Cyrene in obedience with God's Word is what made the difference for a whole community. Spiritually, mentally and physically we can distance ourselves from the blessings of the Lord with our thoughts, actions and words, but Believers can never be rid of His Presence. Hallelujah! And Amen. As I have stated in an earlier writing - He is Emanuel, God with us and there is No Escaping Him.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

BE HIS/HER FRIEND


Christians not only have God's Word, The Bible, but Father God's examples through Christ to copy as a resource for correct living. In this writing I am interested in communicating - as a parent, it is Biblically based to be a friend to your children.

I have seen the idea put forth that parents can be everything else to their children except friends. I do not know where this came from - the thoughts of men (psychology) or the influence of the devil. Either way, this idea that friendship cannot and should not be attained or held with our children is not from God.

I only need one Scripture to dispell this notion, but I have three - one in the Old Testament and two in the New Testament. Proverbs 18:24 is the Old Testament verse and it says, "One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." The original Hebrew word for "friend" here is ahab or aheb, meaning to have affection sexually or otherwise. So, this friend could be a wife, parent or God - but it is definitely someone "that clings/sticks closer than a brother".  The wife as a friend fulfills the sexual affection potential of the definition. The parent fulfills the affection as friend in that they usually know more about us than our siblings. However, many teachers use this verse to describe "the friend" as God who is personal with us, knows everything about us and fills the role of a parent - Father God. I desire my fellow brothers/sisters in Christ to keep this image of God as the "friend who sticks closer than a brother" and use it as basis for being a close friend to your own children.

Moving to the New Testament, John 15:15 states - "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." Because Christ said, "I no longer call you servants", it makes me ponder the time-frame He called us thus. Jesus goes on to say, "I have called you friends" and it makes me wonder when He started calling us that. Whenever the switch was -- God's Word now declares us His friends and His actions, as our example, prove His Word - "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (John 15:13) I know so many parents who would be willing to lay their life down for their children. How much more your children as your friends.

Once again, I ask my fellow Christians who are parents to consider putting away any such notion of not being a friend to your children and embrace this role that Father God spoke about and exemplified through Christ Jesus our Lord - Be His/Her Friend.





Wednesday, August 12, 2015

GOVERNMENT...NOW, THEN AND NOW

More and more as I observe the legal, judicial and executive systems of America and the nations of the world, I note their human imperfections. These faults in the governing systems of the world are at every level. However, many, if not all, are highly polluted from the top with their leaders. Bad leaders lead badly.

Within each Branch there is instability. In the legal system laws are being passed that both make no common sense and are biased toward a people group. In the judicial system, murderers are getting away with their crime and the innocent are wrongly imprisoned. Then in the executive system, there are the administrators who are political in nature so nothing gets done and the programs that are overseen waste money. It is amazing to ponder how America and countries like her are still operating.

The systems within the government of America which once strove for the protection of a unified trinity (legal, judicial, executive branches) that would provide justice and mercy in it's right proportion have switched masters. Now that trinity serves itself and whomever is President.

I am sure many, if not all, of you are not surprised at this description of America's government and many other governments in the world. However, I want to paint a more hopeful picture in your mind.
  • "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this." - Isaiah 9:6-7
  • "She gave birth to a son, a male child, who 'will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.'” - Revelation 12:5
  • Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. - Revelation 19:15
As I look at my nation and the world scene, there is no greater hope than to have The Government in Christ's care or upon His shoulders. His titles tell of His Majesty's character - Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. One day on this earth we shall continue to see "the greatness of His government and peace". His physical presence will be located on David's throne in Jerusalem, ruling the nations from there with His iron scepter.

Christ will bring a trinity I long to see. Justice speaks to who or what is right and wrong and the sentence associated with that case. Grace touches upon the mercy and favor of The King and Judge should He see fit to grant it. Righteousness sums up both Justice and Grace - The King and Judge is right in everything He says and does, especially the decisions concerning His dispersing of Justice and Grace. Again, it is this time when Perfect Justice and Perfect Grace display Perfect Righteousness in/through Christ Jesus that I look forward to.

Until that time, Paul encourages us - "Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you." (Hebrews 13:17) Paul even instructs young Timothy that we should pray for them - "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority,that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." (1 Timothy 2:1-2) 

So, as I observe the State of the Union and the world governments, I am infused with hope as I am reminded of a Perfect Government to come, but until then I pray for what and who has been given us.

 

Monday, August 10, 2015

THE CHURCH'S PLACE

Picture in your minds-eye a throne room and the characters therein. To find yourself in front of the king could mean either a blessing or judgment. To be in front and to either side of the throne could mean you were part of court. The council supporting and advising him in the matters of the nation would be standing off to the side and behind the king's throne. The queen would be directly to the king's right sitting on another throne.

Now imagine God's glorious throne. For someone to be standing directly in front of The King one may still be either receiving a blessing or judgment. The ones located to the side and still in front may still be associated with The King's court. However, there are two caveats to this Throne Room - (1) there are no advisers or council because God needs none and (2) there is a place for The Bride of Christ - Believers.

Because of Christ's sacrificial and substituting death and resurrection for everyone, those who believe in His gift of salvation and redemption are elevated, blessed and seen through Christ's Righteousness. A number of Scriptural passages testify to the Believer's lofty position In and Through Christ.

Ephesians 2:6
"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,"

2 Timothy 2:12
'...if we endure, we will also reign with him."

Revelation 3:21-22
"To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Revelation 5:10
"You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

Revelation 20:4
"And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

Revelation 20:6
"Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years."

Revelation 22:5
"There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever."

There is no doubt of the Bride and Groom motif in Scripture. Passages such as Matthew 9:15; 25:1, 5-6, 10 speak about the Bridegroom - Christ. Verses such as John 3:29 and Revelation 19:7; 22:17 declare the Bride - The Church - Believers. This idea is a great and marvelous thing to ponder. The power, benefits and place Christians will have in Christ after the Marriage and Marriage Supper of The Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9) will be awesome! However, it is my belief, as Christ's betrothed, that we Christians - His Bride - show forth His power, benefits and place now!

It is long past due for The Bride of Christ to start acting like the soon-to-be Wife of Christ. I pray the Holy Spirit will reveal to Christians everywhere we are enthroned with Christ and so have the benefits thereof - now and in the future! It is time Believers - The Bride of Christ - sit down next to Christ and practice reigning - for that is The Church's Place.