Friday, November 22, 2013

He Hears You


He hears you

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14, NIV)

Have you ever engaged in a conversation with someone whose attention was somewhere else? How did you respond when you realized they weren’t even listening?

You haven’t heard a single word I said!

Are you even listening to me?

It’s frustrating to realize that what you say is not valued enough to be heard. You recognize that you’re just not important enough to be heard. Have you’ve been guilty of tuning out the conversation of a spouse, child, or friend? It’s altogether different when you are the one being ignored.

Has the thought ever occurred to you that God isn’t listening?

How do you respond to that thought? Does that thought frustrate you? Have you asked that pointed question of God?

Are you even listening to me Lord?

I personally have experienced times in my life when it just seems like I’m all alone, but the Bible says:

The Lord will accomplish what concerns me...” (Psalm 138:8, NASB)

What this tells me is that behind the scenes, in areas of my life I’m not even aware of, God is at work so that all things work together for good. I remember reading in Daniel:

So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting…” (Daniel 9:3, NIV)

In this same chapter of Daniel, the angel Gabriel appears and reveals:

As soon as you began to pray, a word went out…” (Daniel 9:23, NIV)

God hears our prayers!

I love the lyrics in the song, He’ll Do It Again, sung by Shirley Caesar:

And He'll do it again

He'll do it again

If you'll just take a look

At where you are now

And where you've been

Well hasn't He always come through for you

He's the same now as then

You may not know how

You may not know when

But He'll do it again

God simply doesn’t fail! That means that nothing can disable His ability to hear you. God hears you and He is actively concerned about you. God loves and cares for you. That’s why He sent His son Jesus into the world; to save us from sin, death and damnation.

Why would God do all that and then not listen to you? He wouldn’t!

So when you’re praying and the thought occurs in your mind that you’re just talking to yourself, just remember:
He hears you!

MTJ

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Spiritual SundaysNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Power of Prayer

The power of prayer

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed,My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39, NIV)

So often when a person prays, they have uncertainties regarding the question:

Does God hear me? Or, will God answer my prayer? This kind of prayer is laced with uncertainty.

How does one pray with a measure of faith that believes?

I use to fall into the trap of quoting scriptures to reinforce my belief that God would somehow be bound to the words I spoke when I appended them with scriptures. I’ve since come to accept the truth that God is sovereign and that His will, not mine is all that matters.

In this passage of Matthew, Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane and as He falls to the ground and begins to pray, He asks His Father that if there is any possibility to save mankind without having to die on the cross, let His life be spared. But He immediately says, “…not as I will, but as you will.” Christ understood the importance of obeying the divine promise to save all humanity; even at the cost of His life.

There is no restriction to asking God to hear and answer our prayers, but we are not empowered to dictate to the Lord to do as we ask. This is the mistake which believers can make; assuming that God is bound to do as you ask. I have not found this philosophy to be true in scripture or in my life.

God is sovereign, that is the truth whether I choose to believe it or not. God answers prayer, but how God answers prayer is within His will; not mine. In fact, scripture teaches that there are times when a prayer is simply not answered. Prayer is our method of communication with God, but in reality, most prayers consist of a request we make known to God. No matter whether we are praying on behalf of someone else or our self, prayer contains an expression of a perceived need from me to God. We want God to do something which we ourselves cannot do. Years ago, this would be referred to as a miracle, today we simply say, God answered my prayer.

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives...” (James 4:3, NIV)

What about unanswered prayers with the right motives? Why do these prayers go unanswered?

I have known people filled with guilt because they were told that they lacked sufficient faith to be healed. As a result of this lack of faith, God never heard their prayer for healing. This to me is ignorance of the sovereignty of God. Many Christians have been burdened with the guilt of insufficient faith. But we must consider a fundamental question for Christians when it comes to answered prayer:

Who moves mountains on my behalf? Is it me or God? If it is simply a matter of belief, why then doesn’t the power of positive thinking change the world we live in?

I have seen individuals on television, heard the promotions on the radio, and received promises in email and postal mail that there is a privileged key to unlocking the flood gates to my prayers. Each of these salesmen (and women) would have you believe that you can have what you want. I do not believe that God holds some individuals in higher regard than others; that they alone can get an audience before the throne of God and achieve results which others cannot. This philosophy negates the sovereignty of God.

The prophet Elijah once asked the question:
…How long are you going to waver between two opinions?” he asked the people. “If the Lord is God, follow him!” (I Kings 18:21, TLB)

A believer may find themselves stuck between what I would refer to as true faith and ignorant thinking. True faith trusts in the sovereignty of God regarding the outcome of my prayers. True faith says, “not my will Father, let Your will be done.” Ignorant thinking says, "I can have whatever I want."

I remember reading in Daniel about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being faced with a crisis of their faith. They were given the choice of forsaking the one true God by submitting to idolatry, or remain faithful and die by being burned alive. I don’t personally know anyone who had to choose either death (for their faith) or life (by giving up their faith in Christ), but the bible chronicles that this happened to these three men. When given this ultimatum, here is how they responded:

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18, NIV)

They believed the God of heaven and earth was able to preserve their life, but they also were reconciled in the belief that if He chose not to save them, they would choose to die believing in His sovereignty.

This helped me to understand that my prayers are not left to a random occurrence of events, there is no secret key which unlocks God’s willingness to answer my prayers, no oil, cloth, or holy water can do what only God chooses to do on my behalf. I don't dispute that prayers have been answered using a point of contact (the laying on of hands, anointing with oil, touching a piece of fabric, or the use of water). I believe that God will do what He chooses to do and how He chooses to do it when it comes to answering prayer. But I must also believe that what He chooses to do and how he chooses to do it is the best possible outcome for me.

That to me is the power of prayer!

Trusting God to do what I cannot and accepting how He chooses to do it.

Think about the fact that God already knows the need in my life or in the life of someone I’m praying for. If He didn’t know, it wouldn’t make much sense to ask Him. Since God is already aware of what I’ve yet to ask, why do I pray?

As I said, most prayers consist of some form of a request being made known to God. But since our Heavenly Father already knows what we have a need of, prayer is my acknowledgement that I depend upon God and not myself. Prayer is the method of spiritual communication between God and me. More than that, it is the only means of communication between you and God.

There is no form of communication which is one way. Every form of communication requires some type of two-way conversation. God is not a spectator in your life! He is both intimately acquainted and involved with all aspects of your life. He doesn’t just seek to hear your prayer, He also seeks to be heard by you. That is when your prayers become a weapon of spiritual power; when there is true communication between you and God. As you move from the position of always asking God for something and never hearing God, to the position of spiritually communicating with God, you initiate the power of prayer.

At that point, you know God is able, but even if He chooses not to do as you ask, you know He is still God and you are content to trust His will with the outcome and not your own.

That’s the power of prayer. Try it!

MTJ


A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

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

Friday, November 8, 2013

Just Ask

Just Ask

Then David prayed to God: “Shall I go up and fight the Philistines? Will you help me beat them?” “Go up,” God replied. “Count on me. I’ll help you beat them.” (2 Samuel 5:19-21, The Message Bible)

Have you ever faced a circumstance in your life not knowing what to do? One wrong decision can have devastating consequences. In the movie, The Matrix, Neo is told, “It’s the question that drives us”, but is that really true?

Are we driven by our questions or haunted by our decisions? How do I find peace and comfort from both of these?

When I look at this passage in 2 Samuel 5, I see that David was faced with a decision to make regarding the question of fighting the Philistines.

What to do?

Not a day passes by when you and I are faced with making some kind of decision. It may be a simple decision such as whether you want cream in your coffee at your favorite coffee bar or it may be speeding through an intersection because you’re running late for work. We may face a decision to move, take a new job, buy a house or car, get married, get divorced, make an investment, or choose which college to attend. Sometimes, our circumstances drive the decisions we make, an abusive spouse, substance abuse, loss of income, or news of a medical condition.

We may make impulsive decisions, calculated or reckless decisions. We may discuss the perceived options available in our mind, with a loved one, a trusted friend, or someone trained to guide our decision making.

I just don’t know what to do, is an expression I have heard people say. It’s an acknowledgement that you are faced with a dilemma of making a decision you very well might regret. Personally, I have learned that at times, it’s good to listen to the perspective of others. They may offer clarity to an area I’d yet to consider; something which was obscured from my view. Sometimes, the opinion of others only clouds one’s ability to make the proper decision. When that happens, the tendency is to blame someone else for the wrong choice. It is imperative then, that the decision you make, does not become something you later regret.

What to do?

David gives us the framework for making decisions you’ll never regret.

Just ask God!

I know that sounds almost too simple doesn’t it? Just ask God!

What do I ask?

David asked God two questions:
  1. Shall I go up and fight the Philistines?
  2. Will you help me beat them?
Not only did David need to know whether he should go into battle but he also wanted to know if God would assist him.

Should I do this? Will you help me do it?

Just as it is imperative that I make the right decision; one I’ll never regret. It is also imperative that I understand my need for God to aide me in accomplishing it; I can’t do it alone. I don’t want to live regretting decisions I’ve made, so I just ask. I ask God if this is what I should do regarding my choices, and I ask Him to help me accomplish it. In my life, I’ve made both wise and foolish decisions. Without a doubt, the wise decisions were always the result of seeking the guidance of the Lord along with seeking His aide to accomplish it. On the other hand, my foolish decisions were always the result of my own decision making. In every instance, I found myself seeking forgiveness for making the wrong decision. Although from time to time, I still make a foolish decision, the frequency has drastically reduced because I realize my dependence is on the Lord.

I depend on the Lord, for grace, peace, joy, health, hope, love and so much more. Are you faced with a decision which you don’t want to regret?

Just ask!

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Spiritual SundaysNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).

Friday, November 1, 2013

Understanding Purpose (Part 3)

Understanding Purpose
Understanding Purpose

Obedience is far better than sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 15:22, TLB)

As believers in Christ, many have gone to extraordinary measures to heighten their view of the relationship they maintain with the Lord. Some endlessly fast, others pray for hours on bended knee, some give up all material possessions; but without obedience, it is all for naught. This is an effort on the part of those who lack the understanding that all we do should be on the basis of our love of God, not our positional standing.

Obedience requires love of God, the passion from my heart; soul, mind and spirit that unquestionably seeks to please Him, not myself. Obedience is the realization that what God desires of me is first and foremost in my desire. What God desires of me regarding others is inclusive in my obedience to Him.

Is it easy to obey God?

I have heard many people affirm that it is, but I think it is quite difficult. The path of obedience is lined with obstacles and temptations that undermine my intentions.

I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to—what I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. But I can’t help myself because I’m no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things.” (Romans 15-17, TLB)

Even my own determination isn’t enough to withstand the strongest temptations I face in life. I need something more determined than myself, stronger than I could ever be. It is not simply the obstacles and temptations along my path, it is the sin in me waging war with me; fighting for supremacy. Paul continues this discussion in Romans 7 with this realization:

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” (Romans 7:24-25, The Message)

Isn’t that the real question?

I am powerless to help myself, but Christ has set me free by setting things right in this life. It is God Himself who lives in me through the power of the Holy Spirit; enabling me to obey in my flesh.

If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who leads into all truth.” (John 14:15-17, TLB)

Obedience is rooted in the basis of my love of God in Christ. When you love someone, you inexplicably want to please them. A husband brings his wife flowers on Valentine’s Day. Parents prepare the celebration of their child's birthday. Children remember Mother's Day and Father's Day. We give presents on Christmas. Some do out of obligation, but others do it on the basis of love.

Recently, I was visiting my daughter and her children. My little granddaughter handed me a sheet of paper. On it, she’d written in large block letters, “I LOVE YOU”. There was the face of a girl smiling the biggest smile and oversized heart. At the bottom (just so there was no confusion on my part), was her name. It was her gift to me. I didn’t ask her for it, no one forced it out of her; she chose to do it. Obedience is rooted in the basis of our love of God and others; but it is a free choice I must make.

If I am to obey God, it stands to reason that I ought to love Him. But my love cannot simply be directed to God alone; I must love others as well.

...whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20, NIV)

The results (fruit) of my love are demonstrated in my obedience to God. This then is the fulfillment of my purpose; obedience. Obedience is built on the foundation of love, instilled in me by The Holy Spirit, and always seeks to please God. Christ came to set me free from the bondage of sin and death so that I would freely choose to love and obey God; in order to fulfill my purpose in this life. If I am to fulfill my purpose, I must choose to obey God because I love Him.

Obedience is a choice made from love. Purpose is my destiny resulting from that choice.

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

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