Category Archives: prayer

How much faith do you have?

faith ps 16 to 18

Judges 13 This chapter reveals a God who cares for His people even if they don’t seem to care for Him. God loves all His people, especially barren women and wants to bless these them. For four chapters, we read about Samson, the son of Manoah and “Mrs. Manoah.” It is the “Mrs.” that has the initial contact with the angel of God. It is she that quoted verbatim his words to her husband, Manoah. But, like Zechariah, when Manoah heard that his wife would bear a child, he needed more confirmation. And, both sons, John the Baptist and Samson would be a Nazarite.

Mr. Manoah may not have understood all the details about Samson’s birth, but he is commended for his obedience and faith as he entreated the Lord.  And like Jacob, he wanted to know the name of the “man of God.” He needs confirmation on all accounts. After seeing the miracle of the flame and the rising of the angel to heaven, he then has a crisis of belief: “surely we will die for we have seen God.”  Not so, Mrs. Manoah! She was perceptive: look at the evidence, God answered our prayer, he accepted our offering, he wouldn’t have shown us these things or let us hear things like this! How great was her faith! And God blessed her with a son.

When God speaks, do we believe Him 100 %! Or do we need more confirmation like Manoah and Zechariah did?

 

God’s Patience

judges 9 to 12 patience of godaThere is a pattern that becomes very evident in this book and it is what we read in Judges 10:1 “The Israelites cried out for help to the Lord: “We have sinned against you. We abandoned our God and worshiped the Baals.” How many times does a nation have to walk around the wilderness to get the message that God is God and He will not share His glory with another? The patience of God is mind-boggling! And here we are in the 21st century viewing this same pattern and God is still patient with us today.

Judges 9-12 reveals that once again the nation started out correctly but soon diminished into chaos and idolatry. It is then that they come back to God in tears and repentance only to remain that way until the judge died and the people are left without a godly leader. Yet the patience of God is remarkable. He allows us to wallow in the mire but is ready to forgive and reinstate us to a higher state. How often are we like Thomas Jefferson when we come to chapters like these? When Jefferson found a passage he didn’t like he took scissors to it. But, we are not to be like that because God has placed these chapters in here for a reason that we might learn and apply biblical principles to our lives.

What lessons is God teaching you as you read this book?

 

 

What’s in your wallet…”er” your armor?

Deut 20 add prayer to your armor2aDeut 20 There is a catchy commercial that asks that question thinking that money is always the answer but not always. How do you fight battles of both kinds: physical and spiritual? For both, we need special armor.

Moses addresses the first as he prepares the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. They would face enemies with horses, chariots, and numerous men. The fear was real, but Moses took the fighting men aside and told them a powerful truth: Some trust in chariots, some in horses and some in the numerous men. In that time, “do not be fainthearted. Do not fear and tremble or be terrified of them” because the Lord your God goes with you to fight on your behalf to give you victory.

Our battle is spiritual, but the principles are the same: do not be fainthearted. We struggle not against flesh and blood but the spiritual forces of the evil one. We may experience fear of the enemies around us and wish we could have wings of a dove to fly away to safety, yet God has provided us with the spiritual armor; the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of the gospel which is the good news. Our shield is that of faith by which we can extinguish the flaming arrows of our adversary. Our helmet is that of salvation, and we have the Word of God! Don’t forget the most important piece of armor: the powerful forces of prayer and petition.

Whether a physical or spiritual battle, know and cling to this truth: Our God goes before us, and He will not allow his righteous ones to fall. Take up your armor and stand firm.

So what’s in your wallet…’er’ your armor?

Are you a Soothing Aroma?

 

Levitcus ch 1 aroma2aLeviticus 1 to 4  What a gift of smell God has given to us! It brings smiles, or it carries a warning to beware. As a teenager, I worked to pay my way through school by working in a bakery slicing fresh bread. I will bet that right now you recall those aromas vicariously. Or think of walking into an apothecary shop and being greeted with the smells of herbs and spices.

God loves aromas too, and they are soothing—or they are repugnant, and it all depends upon our heart and our mindset as we approach him. When God smelled the sacrifices Noah offered, he promised he would never flood the earth again. Jesus Christ was the fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Paul reminded the Corinthians that they were one of two kinds of aromas: a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.

We are to be a fragrant offering to God, but what exactly does that mean? It means that when God, pardon the pun, smells us, He “smells” not our sin but our cleansed and perfect new creation; a soothing aroma to his nostrils. Our prayers of thankfulness soothe him as we seek His face for answers. He is soothed by our repentance when we fall short. And He is soothed when we offer words of wisdom, discernment, and the gospel message to others.

So today, are you a fragrant, soothing aroma to God?

I just can’t understand it …

2Cor 3 praying2aAre those your words when you are flummoxed by an unbeliever who can’t or won’t believe in Jesus? Keep reading.

2Cor 3 Understanding Unbelievers—

One of the hardest things for a believer to understand and recall is how they were before they met Christ. Once spiritually alive all thoughts turn to share Him with those who are not yet “in the fold.” Yet, time and again we are met with indifference and often misunderstandings. We want them to live and fellowship with us but something is hindering them. What is the problem and is there a solution?

How many times have you read Paul’s words: whenever the words of Moses are read there is a veil over their minds and wondered what he meant? It wasn’t until one day when a neighbor, on her own and out of the blue asked me “Who is God?”  In my mind, I saw an open door but Satan saw his opportunity to shut it, lock it and hide the key. Excitement built only to be shattered that very day. As we sat and I explained to her the answer it was like a “veil” came down and separated us. To this day I can see that glaze in her eyes literally falling down; it was the strangest thing but now I know from Paul that it was that veil. Several attempts later were all for naught yet I prayed and continue to pray for another opening.

The words of Hughes: “A veil of intellectual darkness hides the glory which has been deliberately rejected.” Did you notice what Hughes says? The glory has been deliberately rejected but why? The answer is this: Satan “has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God.” [2Cor 4] Satan has had his hand in this veil.

Beloved, keep praying for openings. Don’t give up hope. Pray specifically that Satan would be bound and that God’s love pours through you to that unbeliever. And yes one more thing, pray for my neighbor that God would remove that veil.

Do you have that someone who needs prayer too? Share with me so we can covenant together for their salvation.

Peace & Perspective

Romans 12 peace

Romans 12:18 It’s All About Perspective

Paul reminds the Romans reading his letter: If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. What if you are finding the situation in which you are nearly impossible? What do you do then? First, you return to his words at the beginning of this chapter: I exhort you or I urge you or I beseech you. Paul is not arguing for them to obey because of him but because of God. It has to start there realizing the price paid and the sorrow of our Lord’s heart to forgive us when we were unworthy of such love and peace. We have to return to the words of our Lord:  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God,” [Matt 5] This is the “when the rubber hits the road” section.

Putting life into that perspective we can move from the outward and inward expressions of no peace to peace. We can look at the problem through God’s eyes and see His love pouring through us to the person or circumstance. It’s all about perspective. I hear you saying but you don’t know my situation or the persons involved. But, even though, reader, I don’t know, God does. He wants you to stop and employ prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. He wants to use you as His conduit to bring peace.

It is just that simple.

 

 

Quiet Times with God

Daniel 10 12 quiet times2a

Waking up and seeing the time on the clock reminds me that God is waiting. He is waiting to be with me…just me! I am humbled by that fact and I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Daniel living so long ago. He didn’t have a Keurig to make instant coffee or a computer to log on and jot notes. Yet, he and God had a sweet relationship and I yearn for that each day. Without that quiet time with God, I am without His strength. That is my prayer for you this day as well.

Where does God meet you? It is interesting that God met both Daniel and Paul away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Both men had a group of friends with them but only Daniel and Paul saw the vision. Both felt their strength fade away because of the power of the vision. Both listened to the voice and both were given wisdom to understand.

Paul was given a vision because he needed to know Jesus whom he had been persecuting. From that encounter, he would travel the world telling all who would hear about His Jesus. Daniel, on the other hand, had a sweet relationship with God, but many questions. God came because Daniel did as James said: if you lack wisdom, ask of God who gives to all men generously and without reproach.

At the end of this encounter, Daniel was told the answer but then to seal it up for the time had not yet come for it to be revealed. Yet, God had one more promise to him; he would leave this earth and go to his rest just as the Hebrews author said.

God is waiting to spend time with you. Do you have a place of quiet where you can pray: give me eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand?

Why Me Lord?

Ezekiel 1 – 3 Ezekiel found himself celebrating his 30th birthday in Babylon having been recruited by Nebuchadnezzar’s squad of thugs. So goes the birthday! No more being a priest because there is no more temple, no more Jerusalem. Just when life couldn’t get any lower, God steps in and says I am calling you to be my prophet/watchman to your people. God revealed His glory and Ezekiel fell on his face in adoration. Yet when God laid out his plan, filled him with His Spirit, fed him the Word, like Moses, Ezekiel says “why me?”

ezekiel 1 to 3 why me

We fall into the same pattern. God reveals His glory and we are in awe. But then reality steps in and God says I want you to “go and make disciples”–beginning at home.  You know the people, you know the language. After traveling over 900 miles with this crew, Ezekiel knew their behavior, attitude, and grumbling. No wonder Ezekiel said, “why me?” No wonder Moses said, “why me?” No wonder we say the exact same words because familiarity breeds contempt. We know their shortcomings. We know their attitudes. We know that they didn’t listen before so why would they listen now?

Do you say “why me?” when God calls you to a ministry? If God fills you with His Spirit, feeds you with His Word, you are ready. Welcome to the Watchman on the Wall Club.

Picture:  © Marek Uliasz – Dreamstime.com

 

When was the last time you wept for others?

Lamentations 1 to 5 “Do You Weep for Your People?”

lamentations 1 to 5 tears.2ajpg

In Israel long ago God raised a prophet to tell God’s saving message but the people turned away.  For 45 yrs. Jeremiah faithfully reminded the people of their sin and consequences with no repentance.  And so, just as Jeremiah prophesied, the nation was destroyed both physically and spiritually. God’s discipline was harsh and long and Jeremiah’s heart was broken.

As Jeremiah wept we should also. We should weep for our countrymen who hear the gospel and reject it. We should weep for ourselves if we have failed to share the truth. But even as he wept he knew this truth which never changes:

The Lord’s loyal kindness never ceases; his compassions never end. They are fresh every morning; your faithfulness is abundant!

Jeremiah poured out his pain in his writing and as we read these words, tears run down our faces for those who have heard and reject and for those who have yet to hear.

Are we weeping along with Jeremiah?

Heroes and Villains

Jeremiah 37 -39 The Hero is the Man of the Hour

Novels and mysteries have cliff hanger episodes to keep us riveted to the plot. Jeremiah’s book is no different and chapter by chapter we are privy to the plans of the villains and the heroes. First is the cowardly vacillating king, Zedekiah. The villains seek to keep the king from making a decision to surrender to the Babylonians. The hero is the man behind the scene yet to be discovered.

King Zedekiah vacillates between keeping the prophet Jeremiah safe but in the next moment lets the villains plot his demise.  Jeremiah makes a fateful mistake-or so we would surmise-to leave Jerusalem. The villains catch him and throw him into a muddy cistern and place a cover over it. End of Jeremiah, right? 

1500 yr old cistern

While the villains are busy slapping each other on the back for getting rid of Jeremiah, our man of the hour, our hero, Ebed Melech, a court servant, is busy convincing Zedekiah to get Jeremiah out of the cistern. Some time later he and thirty men use with ropes, rags, and towels to raise Jeremiah out of the cistern. Ebed Melech is the man of the hour.

Jeremiah probably thought he made a fateful mistake by trying to leave Jerusalem, but God was looking to demonstrate a lesson of what a faithful servant looks like behind the scenes. Ebed Melech just cared about Jeremiah, he wasn’t looking for any credit but God cared about Ebed Melech. As a reward, God told Jeremiah to tell him that he could be rescued and saved when the Babylonians take Jerusalem.

You never know when God will use you to be the man or woman (think Esther)  of the hour but God’s eyes see and He rewards faithfulness.

[picture of a cistern, 1500 yr old, found in Jerusalem courtesy of Pinterest ]