Tag Archives: prayer

When We Cannot Do What God Asks

13 Dec

Does God ever ask you to do something you cannot do?

I’m still reading Luke alongside Mom’s Toolbox and it’s been fabulous.

Over the weekend, I read Luke 6. I was reminded of a recent Sunday School lesson and something one of my friends pointed out in this chapter.

Jesus told the man with the shriveled hand–“Stretch out your hand.”  See Luke 6:10

The man shouldn’t have been able to do what Jesus asked. Yet, he did it.

How? Jesus provided the power.

Diseases were being cured and evil spirits cast out, “and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.”  Luke 6:19

In verses 27 – 36, Jesus gives all of us instructions which on our own, we cannot do. Truth is, we often do not want to.

  • Love your enemies
  • Do good to those who curse you
  • Pray for those who mistreat you
  • Turn the other cheek
  • Give more than what someone takes from you
  • Give without expecting repayment

Without Jesus providing the power and strength, how can we do these things God asks of us? We cannot.

Lord, please give me a heart that longs to do what you ask. Remind me to pray and ask for the desire and obedience you provide to do what you ask. Thrill me with your pleasure and joy as you grow me in my walk with you.

Candy, Cash or Christ – How can we build spiritual appetites?

29 Nov

If you stood in a room full of kids and announced you had a prize for anyone who could hop on one foot for 30 seconds, what do you picture happening next?

Probably a room with shaking walls from all the bouncing, and children falling over one another.

Undoubtedly, some kid would scream out, “Is it candy?”

Thank goodness we outgrow this behavior. Well, at least some of you probably have.

Now picture standing in an auditorium of adults and calling out, “Loads of cash and buffet tables, just down the hall. First come, first serve. No limits.”

Perhaps everyone would look around like, “Yeah, right. Too good to be true….What’s the catch?”

Cynicysm, or let’s call it realism, does seem to come with age.

But if a few bold folks decided to go check it out, a stampede would ensue. What if it is true? What if they get it all?

Psalm 19:9-11 (NIV)

9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
   enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
   and all of them are righteous.

 10 They are more precious than gold,
   than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
   than honey from the honeycomb.

11 By them your servant is warned;
   in keeping them there is great reward.

Respect of God.  Knowledge of His word. These are more desireable than gold.

His decrees bring more sweetness to life than honey.

Not that God’s Word should be more desireable, but that it is; whether we realize it or not. 

Verse 11 says His word illuminates His servant, and brings a great reward.

As adults, we try to curb our natural desire for foods that are unhealthy.

But, money? Another story. It’s a necessity after all.

Yet the temptation to crave more than we need has us acting much like children with a sack full of halloween candy. I’m as guilty as anyone.

How can we invite more of God’s illuminating word into our lives?  Are we as willing to do it as a kid hopping on one foot for candy?

How can we foster our children viewing God’s Word as desireable?

For me, praying for desire for God’s Word has transformed my life. And having my kids walk in on me in the midst of Bible reading or prayer has taught them more than any direct instruction I’ve ever given.

Leave a comment. What are you doing to grow your own appetite, or encourage that of your children?

How many wars get ignored?

11 Nov

How many of us are affected daily by the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Does it change our routine? Our spending habits? Are the number of settings at the dinner table different? Does the war show up in our prayers?

With so many years of war-time and so many families with a loved one serving, the number of people saying “yes” to those questions is increasing. But the majority of us do not have such a personal connection. We’re not constantly attuned to what service men and women are doing every second of every day on behalf of their nation’s citizens. Nor do we experience the turmoil of the family members serving at home without their spouse, son or daughter, mom or dad.  And we don’t see the family members whose roles are transformed into caretakers of the ones who come home wounded and changed. We aren’t confronted daily with the ongoing grief of those who mourn the lost.

One day a year is not enough to acknowledge the service, the sacrifice, the realities of war.

Yet, we are all in a war of our own every day and few acknowledge its existence.

The Word of God tells us clearly that spiritual war surrounds us. The battle for your eternity and how you impact it is constant.

Rev 12:7 – 9 tells us there are evil spirits in the world.

“And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”

The eye-witness accounts of the four gospels tell of numerous encounters between Jesus and evil spirits. Demons were repeatedly confronted and defeated by Jesus as He walked this earth. These demons are Satan’s angels and their mission is to take over humans  — to steal, kill and destroy anyone they can.

Yet, these evil spirits cannot stand against Jesus. Any person who confesses with their mouth and believes in their heart that Jesus is Lord, the Holy Spirit seals, protecting the final victory forevermore.

But what about the meantime?

We are in battle. Let’s not just wait for the final victory and show up trampled and wounded. Let’s acknowledge the war and change our daily approach to life.

How? Here are two scripture passages to show us.

1 John 4:1-6

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

And we are equipped by our Lord with all that is needed to conquer. Take hold of it daily.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Be aware. Be ready for daily battle. Be prayerful for all the saints in the spiritual war.

The national battles and the spiritual battles are both real, even though we do not see them right before us. They are real whether we acknowledge them or not.

What’s Biggest Today?

8 Nov
“…we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek”  Hebrews 6:18b-20. 
What’s biggest in your life today? A problem. A need. A hurt.
Even something good can feel like the biggest thing. A surprise. An accomplishment. An opportunity. 
But our LORD is the greatest of all. Nothing is bigger, nothing more powerful. Nothing can stand against Him or rise above Him.
I’m in the midst of a wild storm, clinging to the One and Only Living God and His Word to me. May my hands and heart be blistered from gripping His anchor which never fails.
So if you’re tired or hurt today, God is greater than that hurt.
If you’re thrilled about something, it still can’t compete with the fullness and everlasting joy of our God.
Click on the song link below and worship Him right now. Tell Him He is above all things.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca1EEYayu4M

Get Real or Stay Stuck – Series Post #4

21 Oct
Know how when you’re on a diet–ahem, or making a lifestyle change–you’re often advised to list everything you eat? It makes you get real about what you are putting into your body.
My food journal often looks great the first half of the day. Boiled egg whites, whole wheat bread, grapefuit. Perhaps there’s grilled chicken over salad or tuna at lunch. Early afternoon snack is  an apple and light cheesestick. 
But, around 4:00 o’clock, things often take a turn. And the food journal stays incomplete the rest of the day.     Who wants to put they ate 3 cookies and a stack of Pringles in their diet log?
A food journal also shows you what you aren’t eating. Enough fruits, veggies, fiber — the good stuff.
On my good girl to God’s girl journey, I had to get real about my diet. Eating great on Sunday morning church and being spoon-fed on a weekday morning study group was about like my food log. I wasn’t getting anywhere, my spiritual diet had me stuck in the same place for years.
This is when I got real and prayed to God. “Make me want to read your word on my own. Make it jump off the page at me, teach me what you want me to learn, show me what you want me to see. Give me a craving for it!”
Maturity requires a healthy diet. Maturity brings rewards and responsibilities
Take a few minutes to read this great blog post by Waylon Bailey, a pastor in Louisiana.  What’s your diet missing?
http://waylonbailey.com/2011/08/a-checklist-for-taking-the-next-step/

Linking up with

Life: Unmasked

Extra Care Required

26 Aug
Earlier this week, I wore one of the few shirts I own that requires ironing. My mother taught me years ago to pay attention to clothes before I bought them, noting what kind of care they’d require. (She was sweetly and unendingly practical.) Most of the time, if the tag contains the letter combination I.R.O.N., I put the garment back on the rack. But, a few make their way home with me.
I faced the mirror to assess the wrinkles (on the shirt, not on the face).  Are they so bad I can’t get away with wearing this? Then the perfect little solution hit me. My flat iron (yes, this kind I use) sat on the countertop, hot and ready. A few careful strokes later and I decided my shirt was presentable. Viola!
This morning, I read a devotion by John Piper based on James 4:2 – 4. Piper explains that we are adulteress toward God when we use prayer to try to get from God something we desire more than God.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Uh, okay. What’s that got to do with flat-ironing your shirt?”
Short cuts.
Are we so busy that we treat prayer as a short cut? (Help me to do XYZ today God, Amen.)  Are we lazy to the point of finding a short cut way to do prayer? (Only praying when we drive and we have to be “still” anyway?) Or, might we pray  “only as needed” for big stuff like illness or job loss.
Being distracted away from God with everyday life keeps us from experiencing Him as our richest delight. If our prayer life varies a great deal based on the  ‘tag’ (to-do list) of our day, some extra care is required.
 Search me, God, and know my heart;
   test me and know my anxious thoughts. 
See if there is any offensive way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting.  Psalm 139:23 – 24 (NIV)

Are You Blessed?

2 Aug

“Blessed.” What does this word bring to mind?

Most people feel it infers something received from God.

When a family moves to a new house, sometimes they’ll say,           “We’re very blessed.” Or, if everyone’s healthy, we’ll say, “We’re so blessed.”  That’s how I usually hear this word, in reference to  something that’s profitable, either materially or emotionally.

I don’t think this is incorrect. It’s right to thank God and acknolwedge him as the giver of wonderful things in our lives.

We read this in Genesis 12: 1 – 3. God tells Abraham he will bless him, and that he will bless all the people on the earth through him.

The Greek translation of the word “bless” in this passage is “barak,” a verb that literally means “to bless.”  One definition in Webster’s dictionary defines this as “to favor divinely.”

However, if that’s where we stop with the word “blessed,” we are missing another meaning. Blessed can infer something that God gives which is not of the tangible variety.

The Greek translation of “blessed” in many verses is “makarios.”  This means “happy.”

Happiness is an internal gift from the Lord, which should not be dependent upon circumstances. In fact, one of the most studied pieces of scripture in the entire Bible uses this form of “blessed” nine times. And the circumstances the word “blessed” is coupled with in these verses don’t necessarily make us think “happy!” At least not in our way of understanding.

I’m referring to The Beatitudes, also known as The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5: 3 – 12.  I’ll be studying and blogging on these verses in coming posts. I hope you’ll begin studying them and praying over them with me. Let’s see what God will reveal to us.

In the meantime, thank God for all of the ways he has blessed you in the “barak” meaning. Be specific with your praises and thanksgiving!

 

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