Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

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Ain’t Nobody Ain’t Got Time for This – Luke 11:2–4

February 27, 2020

“And he said to them, “When you pray, say,
“Father, may your name be treated as holy.
May your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation.””

Do you pray? I don’t pray like I want…like I should.

Pray without ceasing implies something preceding.  Praying without an end, no amen, necessitates a prayer with a ‘Good morning Father, it’s me again’.

Yet, sometimes we cannot find the time to begin again.  

Really?  How do we not have time to pray the prayer that we have been taught to pray?

The frequency of pray is not reflective of the faithfulness of the hearer but rather the faithfulness of the pray-er.

If you don’t know what to pray, then pray the prayer we have been given.  The best way to pray without ceasing is to begin and then begin again.  Let your prayer life have more introduction then conclusions and you’ll be well on your way to the best of run-on prayers.

We all have got time for that!

https://ref.ly/Lk11.2-4 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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WOVEN BY FAITH – Dec. 23

December 23, 2015

“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God., so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”  Hebrews 11:3

MainTheater_Back-panoIn my opinion, a “good” movie requires a nice, tidy, conclusion.  I want to know how the story ends.  It is a relatively low standard for Hollywood to meet my expectation by providing a proper resolution.  I don’t need to pay money for an inconclusive tale.

I have life for that.  

Life is a series of inconclusive tales.  It seems that we are continually living a sequel as the story of our existence plays on.  We rarely get nice, tidy, conclusions before the sun rises and we are into the next scene.

I don’t know how the story of my life will play out.  I don’t know how the stories of my family members will play out.  By faith, I know how the grand story ends, but I don’t know how all the minor parts, my parts, will be played.

Many are accustomed to resorting to living by faith through the big storylines of our lives.
Yet few, myself included, seem to consistently live by faith through the minor parts; the parts that we think we can handle; the daily parts that just happen.

Every storyline of our lives are being woven together into a tapestry that will tell our tale.  The majority of that tapestry will come from the daily fabric of these minor parts.

Honors_Tapestry_Fortuna

As Christians, we are called to live by faith.  Our tapestry should carry a theme of faith through every thread of fabric.  How can we weave together a tapestry of faith if the minor parts, the majority of the fabric, doesn’t carry that theme?

Great faith resides in our response to the daily fabric of our lives.  The minor parts are played out in the trivial aspects of today.  The grand resolution resides in tomorrow.  I believe it will arrive but I don’t know when.  The minor parts will happen today and cause me to demonstrate whether I am a person of faith or intellectual adhering to a belief system.

For me, prayer is the most practical method of weaving faith into the daily fabric of my life.

Daily prayers for the seemingly trivial are the calisthenics by which my faith is strengthened and woven into my existence.

However, just like physical calisthenics, I am prone to abandon my spiritual calisthenics.  I prayer journal because of my tendency to live by self through my daily life.  A prayer journal reminds me that God is in control of all things and alive and active in the daily aspects of my life.  My prayer journal applies at least a couple stitches of faith into every day.

I have been using an app for my prayer journaling called Mobile Knee.  This app has helped me to double the amount of faith stitches from my prayer life.  There is really nothing new with this app; it just revealed a deficiency in my prayer life.

The first stitch is the act of entering and praying for a request.  This is the active act of acknowledging that God is sovereign over everything and has the power to change anything, even the trivial.  Therefore, I put down all the mundane concerns that are troubling my mind as an act of faith.  Each entry is a stitch of faith; each prayer weaves faith through my day and my life.

The second stitch is what I was not consistently and consciously acknowledging.  The app forces me to do something with the prayer requests that I have entered.  I can’t just turn the page.  I must either mark the request answered, archive it, or delete it.

Here is the problem; I don’t know what the resolution of most of my prayers are.  My intellectual mind argues that I can’t mark a request answered if I don’t know.   How can I mark a request answered when it clearly wasn’t?

By Faith! 

That is how I mark by prayer request answered.  It is an act of faith.  When I review a request, I acknowledge that God heard me, that He is my Father and is for me, that He answered that request in His sovereign knowledge and plan, and I press “answered” by faith.  A stitch of faith comes with each entry watermarked with the word “answered”; every prayer acknowledged as answered weaves faith through my day and my life.

Our lives are continually being  woven together.  My prayer is that the weaving will be a tapestry themed by faith.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for hearing my prayers.   Thank you for answering my prayers.  Lord, give me a heart that desires to pray; pray fervently, with importunity, and by faith.  Weave faith into the very fabric of my life.  Help be to walk not by sight but by faith so that faith will be the tapestry of my life.  Thank you for the gift of faith.  Father, help me in my unbelief.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.
~ Benjamin Malachi Franklin, The Weaver

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“MY DAD – An Update / Answered Prayers” – Feb 14

February 14, 2014

“And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.  Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  Mark 11:22-24

I am so appreciative of all the prayers that you have lifted up for my Dad.  I want to give you an update and some more information.

IMG_5268My Mom and Dad are in their seventies and rarely sleep through an entire night.  Sunday night / Monday morning was no exception.  They had both woke around 3 AM on Monday morning.  Since they were both awake, my Mom made some eggs for breakfast and they watched some television.  My Mom went back to bed after a short while, and my Dad fell asleep in his recliner.

At around 7 AM, my Mom awoke to sounds of my Dad coughing.  She discovered that he was not coughing but throwing up.  My Dad was too weak to get up so an ambulance was called.  His blood pressure began to drop on the way to the hospital.

My Dad in the intensive care unit experiencing septic shock.

My Dad in the intensive care unit experiencing septic shock.

They discovered that my Dad had a massive infection.  Testing revealed  his gallbladder  had turned gangrenous.  He had a white blood cell count of over 60,000; normal is approximately 10,000.  He was placed into the hospital’s intensive care unit and he needed intensive care.  My Dad took a turn for the worse Monday night / Tuesday morning.  He had gone into septic shock through the night.  They had to put him on life support and were using four blood pressure medicines to sustain his blood pressure.  We were told that they were at the limit of what they could do to maintain his blood pressure.  The doctor told us that he was experiencing organ failure of the kidneys and heart.  They were at the limits of what they could do for my Dad.

I believe it was at this time, after the doctors and nurses had done all that they could do, that the Creator of the Universe said, “Now, it is my turn”.  It was at this point that I posted PRAYER REQUEST – My Dad and my family lit up Facebook and prayer-chains as best we could.

From that dark point of preparing to lose our beloved Dad and Grandpa, my Dad began his miraculous recovery.  Through the course of two days, they were able to get my Dad down to only one blood pressure medicine and all of his vital signs were getting strong.  However, he was still on a ventilator and dialysis, but by Thursday morning his breathing was getting stronger and he was able to demonstrate that he could sustain his oxygen levels and volumes without the machine, so they were able to take him off the ventilator and remove the breathing tube which had caused him so much distress.

His heart has started to recover so they have him off all of the blood pressure medicine.  He can sit up and talk; even laugh and smile a little.  His white blood cell count is down to ≈ 24K.  They still have not been able to operate to remove the gallbladder but his improving condition should enable them to operate sooner than we had hoped.  He is still on dialysis and we don’t know the extent of organ damage.

However, there is so much good news compared to just a few days ago.  We are overwhelmed with gratitude to our great God who has once again shown us that He answers prayers.  We have had several people from the medical profession tell us that what we have just experienced is truly miraculous.  Seventy-eight year old patients, weak from other medical issues, usually do not recover from cascading organ failure due to septic shock.

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My Dad – off of life support!

I wanted to share the full story with you and thank you for all of your prayers in this critical time because many of you have played a part and all are witnesses to the miraculous hand of God Almighty.  We are so very thankful that it appears to be the Lord’s will for my Dad to be with us a while longer.  Please continue to pray for my Dad and his recovery.  We do not know the extent of damage to his organs.

I am earnestly praying that there is no damage and that he will fully recover.

However, it is never to early too praise God.  I ask that you will join me in praising our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who hears and answers prayer.  I don’t know all of the reasons why He has chosen to restore my Dad to this point, but I do know that it is for His glory and He is so glorious.  Therefore, please join me in worshipping the King of kings, who hangs the stars in their place and calls forth the sun every morning, and yet still watched over His child, in the feebleness of old age, and heard the pleas of faith from His children.

He has answered our prayers.  All praise be to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Here is one of my Dad’s favorite songs.  Because He Lives

PRAYER: Lord, You are so good.  Thank you for answering our prayers.  Thank you for giving us more time with my Dad.  May you be glorified.  May you be highly praised for what you have done of the last several days.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“WRESTLING WITH GOD” – Jan 26

January 26, 2014

“Jacob was left alone.  And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.  When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.  Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.”  But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  Genesis 32:24-26

slagheap / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I watched the video of a wrestling match in Georgia between high school wrestlers, Demetrius de Moors and Michael Lind. (2012 National Sportsmanship Awards – Demetrius de Moors)   The aspect of this wrestling match that makes it noteworthy from the thousands of other wrestling matches that occur every year is that Michael Lind has Down Syndrome.

Michael Lind was a member of his High School wrestling team but had never wrestled in a match.  Demetrius was set to compete in Georgia’s prestigious South Metro Wrestling Tournament and agreed to wrestle Michael in an exhibition match.  If you watch the video, you will see that the struggle was a complete mismatch.  Michael did not stand a chance against a wrestler like Demtrius, but why should he, Michael has Down Syndrome.

The appreciation that I have for Demtrius comes from the mercy that he showed Michael.  He allowed a match to be competitive that was not.  He allowed Michael to contend with him while the match could have been over in seconds.  He made Michael work rather than just rolling on his back.  Demitrius contended with Michael at the level of Michael’s ability for Michael’s good.

Jacob Wrestling with the Angel

This video brought to mind an even greater mismatch and display of mercy in the wrestling match between Jacob and God.  I could not help but think about Jacob and his wrestling match – probably the greatest wrestling match in history.

I am most encouraged by the mercy shown to Jacob in this incredible wrestling match.  Throughout the night, Jacob wrestled with a man on equal terms, but it was never equal.  The prophet Hosea tells us that Jacob was wrestling against God (Hosea 12).  The reality of the greatest wrestling match in history is it could have been over quicker than Demitrius could have pinned Michael.  However, God allowed it to continue all night long.  Why?

God contended all night long at Jacob’s level for Jacob’s good.

Jacob was not a good guy.  Jacob’s successes in life had come by cunning and deceit.  He had been dragging God’s blessing out under all sorts of circumstances.  He had outwitted Esau, Isaac and Laban.  He devised schemes to get blessings them.

I wonder when it was that Jacob realized his opponent was special.  We are not told when Jacob came to an understanding of his opponent but he surely would have know when his hip was supernaturally touched.  Jacob may have thought he was doing pretty well in his own strength – he was holding his own with God (if he knew that).  Jacob never asked for a blessing throughout the entire night of contending with the man.  I wonder if he was trying to earn it on his own.  Maybe, he was trying to force God to bless him.

All God had to do was supernaturally touch his hip and Jacob was defenseless, but God made Jacob work through a long night.  God broke through any delusions that Jacob may have had at the breaking of the day.  Jacob received a new revelation with the rising of the sun on that day – he could not win in his own strength.  At that point, all Jacob could do was hang-on, completely at the mercy of his powerful God, and beg for a blessing.  Jacob was shown that he could never prevail in his strength.

It is only by the power of faith and prayer, reaching with a firm hold on God, to the point of being blessed, that we prove, like Jacob, to be true wrestlers of God.

He strove with the angel and prevailed; he wept and sought his favor.  (Hosea 12:4)

The U.S. Army / Foter.com / CC BY

I am reminded that God allows and even puts his people into difficult and sometimes impossible situations.  We all have an opportunity to contend in our own strength or prevail upon God.  We can resist, scheme, and manipulate, even against God himself.

However, we are always in a horrible mismatch.

I know that I am too quick to revert to my own strength just as Jacob did.  I have wrestled in my own strength through whole seasons of life.  I am blessed to know that God allowed, in His mercy, the gross mismatch to continue until I was humbled from the delusions of my strength.  I wonder how many times I have actually wrestled against my merciful Lord just to be taught once again that it is He who delivers me; Him and Him alone.

The good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that we can prevail upon God.  It cannot be done through good works or extreme devotion.  We wrestle with God and prevail upon our Father in heaven through faith and prayer.  We live by faith when we seek our Lord with broken hearts, calling upon His favor.

May we be quick to remember how to contend without the need for God to put us on our head.

PRAYER: Lord, I know that I can be a slow learner.  I know that I can be forgetful of lessons that I have already learned.  Thank you for your patience.  Thank you for your mercy that you have shown me while I contended in my own strength.  Father, grant me a teachable heart.  Humble me so that I will come to you in a manner that you will allow me to prevail upon you.  Grant me a faith that relies completely upon you.  Teach me how to do that.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“GET LOW” – Dec 19

December 19, 2013

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”  Matthew 6:6

Winter cycling has no allure for me.  I don’t get that anxious feeling of excitement when the allotted training time begins to approach.  It is easy to find an excuse not to do what feels like an obligation.

My excuses come easily because I am cycling on a trainer in my basement.  Spinning on a trainer is cycling at its worst.  I start in my basement and stop in my basement with only the sensation of the increasing burning fatigue in legs that are pedaling to nowhere.

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I cycle in my basement for the sole purpose of preventing the loss of last season’s gains.  I want to emerge from my basement in the spring at the same level of fitness that I entered it in the fall.  The only way I know how to do that is to keep pedaling to nowhere.

I have added another goal to my winter cycling to try to increase my motivation.  I am working on my aero-position.  My hope is to build the endurance and flexibility to stay as low as possible on my aero-bars for an entire 24 mile ride.  However, this goal has made an already unpleasant training time even more unpleasant.  My tired legs now have company in their protestations.  The combination of legs and shoulders questioning what I am doing has caused serious motivation problems.

I was beginning to question the value of my goal when I am down on my miserable aero-bars with the only wind coming from a fan.

I was reminded of the importance of my goal when I listened to a fascinating podcast  the other day.  It was an interview by Richard Diaz at Diaz Human Performance and John Cobb.  John Cobb is renowned for his expertise in fitting cyclists, particularly triathletes and time-trialers, into the most optimum aerodynamic position on the bike.  I have posted links to several of his fitting videos at the end of this post.  I was reminded in this podcast that you don’t ride on aero-bars for a leisurely cycling experience.

You ride in an aero-position to go fast. 

It takes 746 Watts to produce one horsepower (Hp).  A puny car can produce 100 Hp or 74,600 Watts.  According to John Cobb, “a good performing human for an Ironman distance can average only about 200 Watts”.  I know that I am not what he would consider a good performing human so I am sure that my average watt production over a 100-mile course will be probably be in the 150-160 Watt range.

So, we don’t have very good motors.  If that is the case, you have a limited motor, limited horsepower, but if you are trying to go “X” distance, pretty fast, then the only thing you can do is get through the air easier…The power to get through the air doubles the faster you go so it is incredibly important to pay attention to all kinds of little things to reduce the drag…your basic position is a huge thing.
~ John Cobb (not a direct quote)

Anyone who has spent time cycling knows this to be true.  We don’t have very powerful motors.  The best of cyclists are humbled by a head wind.  Steep climbs cripple our speed.  Our fastest times come on the downhills only with the aid of gravity.  We don’t have good motors so we must be as efficient as possible with converting that power into forward motion.  The most efficient position is staying low on the aero-bars.

You have a choice, you can suck it up and stay low, it is five more minutes, or you can take a turn and go to the donut shop and relax.  You can go either way.  ~ John Cobb

Richard Diaz asked a question that crystallized why my winter goal is worth it.

Richard Diaz:  When dealing with a really big wind, I get out of the saddle and try to muscle my way through it, in interval fashion.  Do you gain a mechanical advantage by doing intervals through a big wind?

John Cobb:  You cannot build enough power to offset the aerodynamic gain by being lower… if you are willing to suck it up into a head wind position, you need to choke up on your aero-bars so you can build more leverage, get into a harder gear…and concentrate on your on your pedal stroke, pull on your bars hard, stay in your aero position concentrate on really pushing down on those pedals hard and the lower cadence will help you with that…and you can concentrate harder on your technique and then you will get through that wind pretty fast.

This coming spring, I want to go fast.  I don’t have a good motor, even at my fittest, but I can get lower.  I can work on my endurance at staying low.  My limited power will be most efficiently converted into forward motion this coming spring because of what I am doing this winter.

When I got done listening to this podcast, I went to my basement and lowered the handlebars on my tri-bike as far down as they would go, mounted up and spun to spring speed.

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As I spun away in my prayer like aero-position, I could not help but think about prayer.  Humans are spiritually powerless.  Yet, I don’t see very many people living in a way that demonstrates that they have pitiful spiritual motors.  The cyclist who rides upright with his jacket open usually does not understand how much his position is holding him back.  In a similar matter, many Christian fail to appreciate how their spiritual position is holding them back.

All of a Christian’s spiritual power comes from the Spirit of God.
We are powerless in ourselves.
All of our spiritual power is a gift from God.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.  Acts 1:8

We receive power through the Holy Spirit to follow Christ, to bear His fruit, to do His will and to persevere through this life.  We might try to muscle our way through difficult times but we will never be able to build true enduring power.  We might try to muscle obedience but we will never be able to build enough power from within ourselves to overcome our sinful flesh.

We have to be willing to suck it up and stay spiritually low.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God you will not despise.  Psalm 51:17

I know of no better example of staying spiritually low than prayer.  Why don’t we pray?  Is it because we think we have the power to accomplish what is necessary?  Is it because we think that we are powerless against fate?  Is it because it is uncomfortable?  Is it because it is boring or feels like a waste of time?

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Matthew 7:7-8

Lel4nd / Foter.com / CC BY

I don’t drop to my knees for a good time.  I don’t come before my God with a broken and contrite heart for a leisurely experience.  I come to my Father because I have a pitiful spiritual motor.  I come to my Lord because I need His strength.  I want all that holds me back from this world to flow across me as smoothly as possible.  Therefore, I need to get low.

I need to get low and I need to stay low.  I want to go fast spiritually.  I do not have the spiritual motor to be the person I want to be.  I am powerless to give God the glory He deserves.

I need to get lower and stay down there because that is where my power comes – God has promised to give the power that I need, when I need it.

“If I should neglect prayer but a single day, I should lose a great deal of the fire of faith.” ~ Martin Luther

PRAYER: O Lord, I need you.  I am powerless without.  I can do all things through You but I can do nothing without You.  Father, fill me with your Spirit.  Help me to get low.  Help me to come to You with a broken and contrite heart.  Father, I know that I let too much of this world hold me back.  Create in me a position that will speed me towards the person I desire to be – glorifying you in all that I am.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Resources:
Aero positioning for road bikes
Differences between a road bike and triathlon bike  
Setting your seat height – Sam Warriner and John Cobb
“SLIPPING THE RESTRAINS OF BURDENS” – Sept. 16

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“LOST IN THE IMMEDIATE” – May 9

May 9, 2013

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

I can feel my heart-rate quicken as I struggle to suppress the concerns arising in my mind.  I push back against the thoughts of the unknown and try to focus on what I do know.  My mind spins through endless scenarios and a cold sweat forms on my brow at the realization that the next step will be made blindly.  I am guessing and I have no choice.  There are decisions to be made and I don’t know the answers.  I cannot know.  I infer and postulate but I don’t really know.  I theorize and deduce but I cannot foresee beyond the immediate.  I know the statistics and probabilities but my stomach clenches at the thought of my route through life being determined by the law of averages.

... the charm of the uncertainty ...!!!I am lost and I know it. 

I fight against the powerful foe of uncertainty as I struggle to know which way I should go.  There is not enough information to make a truly informed decision.  I am lost but an even worse option is to allow the security of the immediate to immobilize me any longer.  I must make my best guess at what is around this impending blind corner and do something.

I throw back the covers of my bed and roll onto my side until my feet hit the cool carpet.  I am up and prepared to be succumbed in this battle with uncertainty; countless battles await the lost in a typical day, who can only cope with uncertainty.  They can never defeat it.

This is not how I normally wake up.  I usually roll out of bed without a second thought of the uncertainty inevitably entailed in the coming day.  I rarely ponder the transient nature of my plans.  I make various assumptions to prepare my daily schedule.  My assumptions are usually right but that does not mean that my schedule is anything more than a guess.  There are some things that we just cannot know.  There is no road map.  If I had the road map of life, then  I would probably make a whole slew of decisions differently. We can make wise and informed decisions based on the available information but that is different from knowing.  That is different from having a trusted guide.

MapWe consider ourselves lost in the temporal world when we do not know how to get from point A to point B.  We will not feel certain if we were to leave on a trip without an understanding of the route.  Anxiety is the resulting emotion from having to plot a course without the certainty of a guide.

The reality is that no one knows what tomorrow holds.  We do not know if there is a surprise in the very next second.  The future is blind to our eyes.  We are all lost in the moment because no one who can foresee the future.  Visions of the future are hopes and dreams; creations of the mind based on a preponderance of logical inferences and assumptions.  The plans that we lay out for tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, next decade are a guess.  They may be  informed guesses but still guesses.  They are guesses because we are lost in the immediate and the future is a dark labyrinth of uncertainty.

I am amazed at the apparent ease of most people in the face of so much uncertainty in their life.  This comfort with uncertainty probably comes from the fact that we do not know anything differently.  I probably would never be anxious about setting out on a trip without a map if I had never read a map.  If I never had experienced guidance, then I probably would be very comfortable in a perpetual state of being lost.   We awake every morning to engage our day in confidence without a second thought because that is all we have ever known.

We are all lost whether we want to admit it or not.  However, we don’t have to be.  There is one who is not bound by the temporal.  There is one who can see through the future’s dark labyrinth of uncertainty.

God is the only one who can truly remove uncertainty of the future. 

As a follower of Christ, I do not know the future.  I have not been given the road map to know what is behind ever corner.  That is why I am a follower.  I accept by faith that God knows the plans that He has prepared for me.  I accept by faith that His plans are for my welfare and that He is working all things together for good. (Romans 8:28)

I don’t need to know the future.  I am lost in the immediate but I have a faithful guide.  I have the Creator of the future laying out a path for me.  My job is to follow by faithfully setting my mind on Him.  The decisions of life do not have to cause me anxiety.  When faced with a particular unknown corner, I pray.  I seek the Lord for guidance, through the scriptures and prayer.  I focus my mind on the things of the Spirit and I do what seems right to me at that moment with the information that is available at that time.  I make the decision in faith with the understanding that my Lord knows my mind.  He knows what influences me.  He knows how I will react.  My decisions will not be a surprise to Him.  He knows all about me and He loves me.  My decisions, as fallible as they may be, are a part of His plan that is being worked out for my welfare and good.

Those who are in Christ may be lost in the sense of what tomorrow holds but they are not lost in the sense of their final destination.  A child of God need not worry about the uncertainty of the future because they have a faithful Guide who will lead them to eternal life.

This is why we follow by faith.  We would be lost if we did not.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for laying a path for me.  Thank you for the assurance of knowing that You are working out everything, in ways I cannot even comprehend, for my welfare and good.  Father, forgive me for worrying about the future.  Forgive me for the unbelief that I demonstrate when the uncertainty of the future preoccupies my mind.  Help me to trust you.  Help me to set my mind on the things of  You and not on the uncertainty of this world.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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WHY DON’T WE ASK? – Feb. 9

February 9, 2013

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7

This is a selfmade image from the english wiki...

This is a selfmade image from the english wikipedia. The photographer has uploaded it as GFDL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had to go to Wal-Mart after work, yesterday.  Imagine if a very special man with a very special offer met me in the parking lot.  Imagine, I have successfully navigated the circus that is Wal-Mart on a Friday afternoon.  I have crossed off each item for which my wife has sent me on this adventure after having navigated crowded aisles multiple times in a search pattern of every decreasing concentric rings.

I have patiently waited in the check-out line trying to occupy my eyes on images other than the scantily dressed models on the magazine covers that line the check-out lane but not to the point of actually engaging anyone in a conversation.  The pleasant checker hands me my receipt and plastic bag full of the essentials needed to get us by until the real shopping trip can be made. Now to the exit; a side-step of an errant child, a pause to let a pack of teenage girls giggle by, an acceleration past an elderly couple, a right-turn through the glass doors that still open by my Jedi skills and I am into the foyer.

I am almost out but looking through the second set of glass doors, I can see that it is gray with a wind driven rain.  I pause to pull my baseball hat down an inch, zip up my jacket three inches and prepare to make the dash.  Just as I lean into my first step, a hand gently grabs the back of my arm, “Hello, friend. Do you have a moment?”  The frustration of actually having “a moment” and a lack of any other intelligible excuse results in a surprising, “Yeah, I guess so.”

My new “friend” stays in the middle of the store foyer as shoppers stream around us, to explain to me, “We have been watching you and you are loved by God.  Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”  With the conclusion of this statement, he then waited patiently for me to make a request.

I immediately start looking for those who are watching me. I am in expectation of a hidden camera crew bursting forth to catch my expressions of surprise.  My “friend” obviously catches my skepticism portrayed by a half smirk and dull eyes and asks, “Are you going to ask for anything?”  No longer able to contain my sarcasm, my hands snap open in front of me with the thumbs to the sky and my head cocks to the side as I droll out the word, “Really?  You can give me a-n-y-THING I ask for.  No offense “friend” but I am not interested in playing whatever game you’re playing here.”  My “friend” looks down upon his appearance that I have just referenced.  He is wearing Wranglers blue jeans, Bogs, a brown Carhartt jacket zipped halfway down to show a flannel shirt and topped with a camouflage Cabelas baseball cap.  He suppresses an obvious smile and with a delight in his eye responds by saying, “Fair enough.  Let me show you some things.”

We walk back into the store and over to the long pharmacy line.  As we pass along the line, my “friend” begins to touch people.  He touches a hunched over arthritic elderly woman, who immediately stands tall and walks straight.  He touches an over-weight man confined to a wheelchair with the swollen legs, who shrinks before our eyes and strides away in new found comfort.  He touches a child with no hair and a mask, whose skin color changes along with a brightness in her eyes that attest to the removal of that hidden disease.  He takes me outside and with the words “be still,” the rain stops, the clouds part and the most pleasing of sun-rays cascade down upon my face.  He snatches my bag from my hand and proceeds to walk through the parking lot pulling out Subway sandwiches from my bag and hands them to the passing shoppers.

He then takes me back to the store foyer and with the grandest of smiles and the brightest of eyes, asks, “Do you know who I am?”   With tears streaming unashamedly down both cheeks, I reach out to grasp him by the forearms as I need his strength to lift me from weakened legs.  Through tears of joy, I cry, “I do know you.  You are my Lord and my Savior!”

He tells me, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.  Do you believe that?”  All I can do is muster a mumbled, “Yes I do with all my heart.”

He tells me, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  Do you believe that?’  “I do, I do,” is all I can repeat.

He gently lifts my head and looks deep into my eyes to my very soul and asks,

“Then why don’t you?”

As I blink to clear my eyes, He is gone and I stand bewildered in the store foyer with shoppers parting around me annoyed at my intransigence.

I realize that is a lot of imagining.  However, the question lies before us, “why don’t we ask?”  I think that there are many folks out there like myself who neglect to pray.  If Jesus really did appear to me in Wal-Mart, I would not hesitate to respond to him with all of my cares and concerns.  He wants them.

I have no answer for the fact that my first reaction is not to fall to my knees.

Jesus told us that we have not because we ask not.

Jesus has told us that we have a good Father who knows how to give good gifts.

Do we believe Him?

Our prayer life is a statement of our belief in those promises.  Let’s be a people who have a prayer life that reflects a belief that we live each day with Jesus and He is for us.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for living so often as somone who does not know you.  Forgive me for not seeking you as I should.  Lord, I want to be a man of prayer.  I want to be a man whose prayer life is a demonstration of my belief in all of your promises.  You are so good Father.  Thank you for even allowing me to communicate with you.  Help me to seek you first in everything that I do.     Amen

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