Friday, February 25, 2011

God Answers Me

God Answers Prayer, image courtesy of christiangiftplace.com

All month long, I’ve focused on two things:
  1. Me hearing God
  2. God hearing me
It’s been a wonderful opportunity to incorporate this study into my daily devotional. Scriptures which captured my attention included:
  1. I love God because he listened to me, listened as I begged for mercy. He listened so intently as I laid out my case before him.1
  2. When You said,Seek My face,my heart said to You,Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.2
  3. Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me.3
Thursday morning, this was the scripture which filled me with joy:

Hear my prayer, LORD; listen to my cry for mercy. When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.4

I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me.5

God answers me!

What can be more reassuring than knowing that God is for me, and that He answers me?

So often, our lives face circumstances which appear ready to crush the very hope within us. I was reading a fellow blogger's recent post about his wife, and as often is the case, I was reminded how trivial my struggles are. It’s funny in a way, but when fear grips you; your life can seem so fragile and perilous. I felt that way last night, as doubt and fear crept upon me, telling me,

You’re all alone. No one will help you. You’ve got nowhere to go, and you have no options left.

As I pondered these thoughts (my mistake was to listen in the first place), I wondered what would I do with my back against the wall and what looks like total and imminent defeat before me.

I thought about Job and how he must have felt as the news reports came in; each subsequent one more damming and destructive than the previous one. Finally the moment arrived when Job’s wife offered a piece of advice,

His wife said to him,Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.’”6

I wondered, Does everyone faced with what appears to be dire circumstances, also face the option to give up? Does death appear a viable solution for some?

As I pondered these questions, I remembered that God lives. I reminded myself of how often over the past year, God has intervened on my behalf. I asked myself if God gets as excited about my cries for His help as I do over His answering my cries for help.
God will make a way, image courtesy of conniemissipi.wordpress.com
The marvelous thing is that, God isn’t obligated to answer me, but from the depths of His love and grace, God answers me. I was laid off from my job, and I must admit my career defined my life; it was my life. Everything I ever wanted to be was wrapped up in that neat package called my professional career. Pride and arrogance consumed me, and then I became a man with no tangible evidence to define my life. Something else I read yesterday really spoke to my spirit with deep resonation:

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?7

Perhaps it’s the mistaken notion that one’s life has no value that causes some to end theirs. But as I lay on my bed praying, I cried out to Jesus, who reminded me that:
  1. I was once a prisoner, kidnapped by sin.
  2. Christ paid my life’s ransom by dying for me.
  3. Christ rose from the grave so that I too will rise.
  4. Christ promised to never leave or forsake me.
I’m thankful that God reminds me that I’m never alone. I’m also thankful that God answers me. I cannot explain it, and I won’t try to put into words, what to me is so awesomely unexplainable:

Who is like you, LORD God Almighty? You, LORD, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.8

Almighty God and Father,

Who is like You Lord? None as faithful, holy, loving and gracious as You. You anwser me without fail. Never are you silent to my words. I lift up the names of family members, friends, and silent ones who struggle with doubt and fear; those who feel so all alone. Those who've lost their job. Those who've lost their marriage. Those who've lost the security of their home. Those who face health issues. Everyone of these precious and valuable lives needs an answer from You oh God. Maybe they feel like giving up, but remind them Lord, that You're that same God who they called on before in times past. Fill them with joy as the memory of You answering a prayer is re-kindled. Touch their lives that they may be established and assured that, I'm not alone. Thank You Lord, for Your lovingkindness and grace, in Jesus name. Amen.


Spiritual SundaysNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).
Footnotes:
  1. Psalm 116:1-2, The Message Bible
  2. Psalm 27:8, NASB
  3. Psalm 56:9, NIV
  4. Psalm 86:6-7, NIV
  5. Psalm 86:7, NASB
  6. Job 2:9, NLTB
  7. Matthew 16:26, NLTB
  8. Psalm 89:8, NIV
References:
  1. The Ryrie Study Bible, New American Standard Version, Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  2. The Message Bible, by Eugene H. Peterson, NavPress Publishing Group, Colorado Springs, CO, ISBN-13: 978-1600060250
  3. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  4. The New Living Translation Bible, by Tyndale Charitable Trust, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, ISBN-13: 978-0842384896

Friday, February 18, 2011

God Hears My Cry

My eyes cry a rain, image courtesy of my.opera.com

Most of us who are familiar with the life of David know he was a warrior and a king. We remember David as the shepherd boy who killed the giant Goliath. We remember the bond of brotherly love between David and Saul’s son Jonathan. We remember David as having a heart after God causing him to repent from the murder of Uriah the Hittite; we don’t think of David being fearful.

But there were times when even David was afraid.

David understood that there’s no shame in acknowledging my fears.

What makes you afraid?

The unknown causes fear. The things I’m unfamiliar with can cause fear to rise up in me.

I remember as a child, we lived in an apartment and the one window in this bedroom I shared with my brothers faced an interior brick wall of another apartment building. There was a space of about four square feet that ascended from the base of the buildings to the roof.
God hears my cry, image courtesy of markmallett.com
God Hears My Cry
Next to this window was a closet which my mother used to store her clothes. She did this because her bedroom had no closet. The closet door was never shut. I suppose it was due to the small size of the closet, and the amount of clothes hanging on the rack and the door hook, that made it difficult to shut.

It was during the night that I began to notice a stationary figure standing in front of that open closet door. This motionless figure stood there, tormenting me with fear. I would call for my mother asking if I could sleep with the light on but my pleas would fall on deaf ears. Both she and my grandmother would try to assure me that no one was in the room but as soon as they left, my tormentor returned. I became so afraid that sleep was impossible unless I used the covers as a cocoon. I began to imagine that each night, my tormentor would climb up the walls and through the window, standing there by the closet door, in the dark and silence; waiting for the right moment to do something terrible to me.

In the morning, my tormentor would be gone; his opportunity lost because I’d hidden myself under the covers. Each morning, I’d cautiously open the window, peering down to the ground below hoping my tormentor was somehow trapped; unable to escape. I was never able to see my tormentor during the day. As a child, I had not reached the point where my logic would override my imagination. It never occurred to me that during a full moon, this corridor of brick walls would illuminate with light, creating shadows that seemed to move as I peered from beneath the covers.

I was afraid because I saw someone who wasn’t supposed to be there; so I hid under the covers.

I didn’t know what to do, or whom to call for help.

One night, I needed to go to the bathroom, but there was my tormentor, standing there waiting for me to get up. I waited and waited, but my tormentor stood motionless in front of the door, silently watching me. Finally, I picked up a shoe, sat up in the bed and threw it as hard as I could. To my surprise, the shoe knocked my tormentor to the floor. I got up and walked cautiously over to the closet door to get a close glimpse of my tormentor. Standing there with a shoe in my hand, ready to beat my tormentor senselessly, I looked down on the floor and lying underneath my shoe was my mother’s black and white polka-dot silk blouse. This made no sense to me.

Where was my tormentor?

I picked up the blouse and hung it back on the door. It was then that I noticed something from the moonlight shining through the window. The blouse seemed to morph into something I'd seen many times before. Was this the hideous, frightening monstrous figure that tormented me for so many nights? I walked over to the bed, sat down and peered in the direction of the closet door. There was my tormentor again! I hurled my shoe, again knocking it to the floor. I ran over to catch a glimpse and lying there was my mother’s silk blouse.

My mother never asked me about the shoeprints on her blouse, and I never saw my tormentor again.

The things I’m unfamiliar with can cause fear to rise up in me.

Unfamiliarity with God may even cause me to fear Him.

David understood that even during his darkest fears, God hears his cry; David knew that God is on his side:

My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help. This I know: God is on my side!1

Then shall my enemies turn back in the day that I cry out; this I know, for God is for me.2

Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me.3

When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.4

I think about how powerful, and alive those words are as they speak, resonating in my spirit:

"...God is for me."

Fear is a type of enemy. The bible says:

Hear My Prayer O God, image courtesy of faithquestfreefall.blogspot.com
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.5

God give me three spiritual weapons to overcome my fears:
  1. The spirit of power, to face my fears.
  2. The spirit of love, to faithfully trust Him with my fears.
  3. The spirit of a well-balanced mind, to know He is greater than my fears.
My fears retreat because God is for me!

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen?6

Knowing who God is, and that He hears me means that my fears cannot harm me. God hears me when I cry to Him. As a child, lying in my bed, afraid of the dark, wishing for some light, my fear grew to be a monster-sized terror. I was alone. I didn’t know what was there, or who to call for help.

I’m not alone anymore. God is for me. Jesus is called, Immanuel, which means, God with us. He won’t ignore my cry; He hears my cry. Whatever fears lurk in the shadows of my life, I will call out to the Lord because I know He hears my cry.

Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).Spiritual Sundays
Footnotes:
  1. Psalm 56:9, NLTB
  2. Psalm 56:9, Amplified Bible
  3. Psalm 56:9, NIV
  4. Psalm 56:9, KJV
  5. 2 Timothy 1:7, Amplified Bible
  6. Romans 8:31, The Message Bible
References:
  1. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  2. The Amplified Bible, by The Lockman Foundation, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, ISBN-13: 978-0310951414
  3. King James Version, The Crusade Analytical Study Edition, Crusade Bible Publishers, Inc., PO Box 90011, Nashville, Tennessee 37209
  4. The Message Bible, by Eugene H. Peterson, NavPress Publishing Group, Colorado Springs, CO, ISBN-13: 978-1600060250
  5. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  6. The New Living Translation Bible, by Tyndale Charitable Trust, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, ISBN-13: 978-0842384896
  7. Matthew Henry's Commentary, McDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101, ISBN 0-917006-21-6

Friday, February 11, 2011

Did You Hear That?

To go in search of, image courtesy of lenzlife.wordpress.com

Uphold me with Thy Sweet Spirit;
Whatever You do,
Lord, don't take Your joy from me.
Uphold me with Thy Sweet Spirit;
Whatever You do,
Lord, don't take Your joy from me.

Uphold me, mold me,
Shape me, make me;
Whatever You do,
Lord, don't take Your joy from me.

Appoint me, anoint me,
Choose me, use me;
Whatever You do,
Lord, don't take Your joy from me.

Rebuke me, reprove me,
Chastise me, Lord, revive me;
Whatever You do,
Lord, don't take Your joy from me
1

When You said,Seek My face,my heart said to You,Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.’"2

God said…

I said…

A marriage of words forged together by love, grace and forgiveness. But these are not mere words that will one day be regretted like those of a couple who no longer love one another. God's love is unfailing! Seeking Him is a thirst that cannot be quenched.

How could my heart speak in earnest to God, had I not listened?

How could I listen, had not God spoke from the depths of His lovingkindness?

I am overwhelmed by the mere fact that God speaks to me. In a world where so many people of influence and importance are aloof to me, God speaks!

Who greater than God, would give audience to my words?

Listening intently to my words; God is not bored by what I say. I’ve sat in meetings that put me to sleep. I’ve seen the glazed eyes of those attempting to listen to what I have to say. I have the ability to speak, but my words don’t always find fulfillment in the ears of my audience.

Not so with God!

He sought me out, when others would have fled from me. He called out when others remained silent.

God said…”Seek My face

What does it mean to Seek? To go in search of: look for. Try to discover.

God said, Go in search of My faceTry to discover My face.

In saying, “Seek My face”, God calls me to come into His presence; to stand in the presence of Almighty God. I must not presume to stand in the presence of someone who is greater than me. I can’t knock on the door of the White House and expect an audience with the President. I can’t go to the local school in my community and expect an audience with the principal; someone representing them will tell me if it is even possible, based on their schedule and my reason for appearing.

God is different. God looked for me. He sought me out and said, “Seek My face”. I am reminded of what Paul wrote in Philippians:

…I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.3

There are things which hinder me in my search of God’s face; things which prevent me from coming into His presence. But the word of God reminds me that I must Press On, I must not stop, quit, or give up who I’m looking for.

Moses saw a burning bush and said:

I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.4

The presence of God ought to stir up my interest in such a way that I would draw nearer to Him. Our God is a consuming fire! Consume me Lord! May my passion for You never be quenched.

How am I to seek You Lord?

But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.5

Many times I have gone seeking after something only to experience frustration and discouragement. But I find joy and strength in seeking the Lord.

…Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad.6

God said, “Seek My face

My heart cries out to Him, I will seek Your presence at all times Lord, that I would find grace in my time of need.

I can’t seek Him using Bing or Google. My fingers may do the walking in the Yellow Pages, but I can’t seek Him that way either.

How do I seek the face of God?

Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.7

Uphold me with Thy Sweet Spirit;
Whatever You do,
Lord, don't take Your joy from me.
Uphold me with Thy Sweet Spirit;
Whatever You do,
Lord, don't take Your joy from me.

Spiritual SundaysNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).
Footnotes:
  1. Uphold Me, from the album Tomorrow, song written by Fred Manns, Marvin Winans, and Ronald Winans
  2. Psalm 27:8, NASB
  3. Philippians 3:12, NASB
  4. Exodus 3:3, NIV
  5. Deuteronomy 4:29, NASB
  6. 1 Chronicles 16:10, NASB
  7. James 4:10, NASB
References:
  1. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  2. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA

Friday, February 4, 2011

God Hears Me

This has been a busy week for me, traveling and working at customer sites. I have found moments of quiet time to pray for family, friends, and those of you, I've been blessed to meet via this forum. This morning I decided to take a day off, and yet, I still found myself working from home (thank You Jesus for this Type-A personality). As I said, before firing my thrusters, I prayed and afterwards I found myself thinking of Psalm 116:1-2, which says:

I love the LORD, because He hears My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.1

From the depths of where I am, God inclines His ear to hear my voice!

I love God because he listened to me, listened as I begged for mercy. He listened so intently as I laid out my case before him.2

Because He hears…

Because He listened…

God does something that is so incredibly appreciated; He hears me.

I need to remind myself that God is not:
  1. Someone who uses a caller ID-like feature to ignore me whenever I dial-up a prayer to Him.
  2. Someone who directs my prayers to voice mail.
  3. Someone who has His secretary screen my incoming prayers with a query, “What is the nature of this prayer?
  4. Someone who can’t fit me into His schedule.
I love the Lord, because He hears My voice…

Dear Jesus I Love you
You're a friend of mine
You supply my every need
My hungry soul you feed
I'm aware you are my source
From which all blessings flow
And with this thought in mind
I know just where, where to go
3

There is absolutely nothing that impedes God from hearing my prayer.

God hears me…it’s just that simple.

Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).Spiritual Sundays

Footnotes:
  1. Psalm 116:1-2, NASB
  2. Psalm 116:1-2, The Message Bible
  3. Dear Jesus I Love You, song written by Walter Hawkins, album Love Alive 1
References:
  1. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  2. The Message Bible, by Eugene H. Peterson, NavPress Publishing Group, Colorado Springs, CO, ISBN-13: 978-1600060250