Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘prayer’

Heart’s Longing

Oh to…
Rest in your arms
Relax in Your will
Revel in Your goodness
Rejoice in Your beauty
Renounce my selfish ways
Repent of my pride
Remember and obey Your instructions
Recount Your past faithfulness
Realize Your wonderful purposes for me
Reflect Your glory for the world to see!

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Helping to Change the World

Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.  John 16:24

It’s true!  Just the other day two of the things I’ve been praying for have been answered!  Saeed Abedini was released from imprisonment in Iran, and my friend’s sick grandchildren are well!  Besides that, some other friends’ house was rented out and yet another friend’s grandchild is on the way to recovery from a serious skin condition we’d prayed about for a long time.  Because I helped to pray for these things, I share in the joy as God answers, and I delight in being part of God’s team.

What a responsibility and privilege it is to participate in God’s plan and in people’s lives by praying for them.  God loves to hear us pray, and He does answer!  All the more reason to keep praying.

Three no-no’s

What are the worst sins that Paul mentioned in his letter to the Christian believers at Philippi?  This letter of his is amazingly positive, especially given the fact that he writes it as he languishes in a dark, dank, dismal Roman dungeon for the crime of sharing his faith.  And the prohibitions contained in it are remarkable in their seeming triviality—at least, compared with the “heavy” sins mentioned in his letters to other churches.  Or are they?

The three things that Paul forbids these people to do are these:

–acting out of selfish or prideful motives (2:3,4)

–grumbling and arguing  (2:14)

–worrying (4:6)

All of us would have to confess that we’ve done these quite regularly.  Why would they be a big deal to God, anyway?  In each of these, our eyes are turned on ourselves and our own situation, rather than on God and on others. 

The antidotes follow:  Look at God and others instead of at ourselves.

Pride & selfish motives are countered by an attitude of service.  Paul reminds us repeatedly to be concerned about one another’s welfare above our own (2:3-4, 20-21).  In this, Jesus is our supreme example, who set aside his glory to lower Himself to the weakness of human existence and then still further to an ignominious death on a cross—all for our benefit. (2:5-11)

Grumbling is countered by serenity.  Paul shares how he (in prison!) has learned to be content in any and every situation, in good times and in unspeakably difficult circumstances.  He can manage this attitude through God’s strength.(4:11-13)

Worry is countered by awareness of God’s sufficiency.  Prayer about our every concern, along with thanks to God, will bring God’s peace to guard our minds from anxiety.  (4:6-7)

Living in an Insane World

If you want to get depressed, just read the headlines.  Horrible diseases, old and new enemies invading and terrorizing, environmental catastrophes, incredible violence inflicted by individuals on one another—and more! 

How can we who know the Lord live sanely in this insane world?  I found a four-fold plan in 1 Peter 4:7-10 that can keep our hearts at peace and our lives profitably occupied:

“The end of everything is near.  Therefore…”

1.  Practice self-control. (v. 7)

A healthy balance in all things; wise use of time and resources; curbing sinful & selfish impulses; being controlled by the Holy Spirit

2.  Keep my mind clear so I can pray. (v. 7)

Prayer is priority.  Shut out distracting “noise.”  Ask God to help me think about what is true, pure, and worthy.  Remember that prayer taps God’s power to accomplish His amazing purposes.

3.  Love other believers warmly. (v. 8-9)

Delight in serving them unselfishly.  Remember they are my brothers and sisters, much loved by our mutual Father. 

4.  Use the abilities God has given me to serve others and glorify God. (v. 10)

What are my gifts?  Speaking?  Showing kindness?  Helping?  Mentoring? Writing?  Music?  What about yours?

Focusing on these priorities will keep me too busy to worry and wring my hands.  For us who belong to the Lord, this life is a journey to heaven.  The destination brings hope and meaning to the trials along the way.

Here’s a beautiful song that I have come to love recently:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEy018wXZI4

“Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer”

Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labour through the storm.
You have called me to this passage,
and I’ll follow, though I’m worn.

May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart’s testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.

Jesus guide me through the tempest;
Keep my spirit staid and sure.
When the midnight meets the morning,
Let me love You even more.

Let the treasures of the trial                                 
Form within me as I go –
And at the end of this long passage,
Let me leave them at Your throne.

Music by Keith Getty; Words by Margaret Becker
Copyright © 2002 Thankyou Music

Unconventional weapons

Who ever heard of defeating a whole army with a stone shot from a sling?  Well, if you’ve heard Bible stories, you’ve probably heard of that one, hurled by young David at the giant Goliath, resulting in a rout of the whole Philistine army.

Here are some other unconventional weapons God used in the hands of his people in the Old Testament:

–An oxgoad in the hands of Shamgar that killed 600 Philistines who had been oppressing Israel.  (Judges 3:31)

–A tent peg driven by Jael, a woman, into the temple of an enemy general as he slept.  (Judges 4:21)

Ram’s horns, clay jars and torches in the hands of Gideon and his 300 men.  The cacophany in the middle of the night threw the huge Midianite army into panic so that many killed one another and the others fled.  (Judges 7:16ff)

–A donkey’s jawbone in the hands of Samson that killed 1000 Philistines. (Judges 15:15)

Songs of praise to God from the mouths of the choir marching in front of Jehoshaphat’s army.  When they reached the enemy, they found that God had already responded to their song by causing them to slaughter one another.             (2 Chronicles 20:21)

God doesn’t require the latest modern weapons to win the victory.  In each of these cases, it was not the strength of the weapons themselves but the faith of God’s people in His infinite power.  Yes, that power is still available today.  It’s a wonderful thing to wield the weapon of prayer and watch God do amazing things in response.

Divine Tryst

Moses had two places where he would go regularly to meet with God:

1.  Up on Mount Sinai. God’s appearance on the mountain was announced by fire and billowing smoke, thunder and lightning, earthquake and a crescendo of trumpet blast.  The people were scared out of their wits, but Moses didn’t hesitate to go up whenever God called him to receive instructions on behalf of the people.  He had courage in the presence of the One who loved him and had chosen him for service.

2.  In a temporary “tent of meeting” that Moses set up outside the camp before the Tabernacle was built.  Moses spent a lot of time in there.  God met him and spoke to him personally, “as a man speaks with his friend.”  (Exodus 33:11)  How amazing is that–to be considered God’s friend!!!

But fast-forward.  I do have a “tent of meeting”!  It’s a rocking chair in the corner of my living room.  Or the kitchen where I sing as I prepare food.  Or deep in my heart as I give thanks and express my love to this Heavenly Friend.  When I curl up in my chair in the morning with my Bible and a cup of coffee, how I wish he’d have a cup, too (would He take sugar and cream?)—and that I could hear his voice and see his face.  But I know He’s there with me, and one day I will see His face. (Revelation 22:4)  Imagine his smile of delight as He welcomes me home! Smile

There is a quiet place
Far from the rapid pace
Where God can soothe my troubled mind

Sheltered by tree and flow’r
There in my quiet hour
With Him my cares are left behind

Whether a garden small
Or on a mountain tall

New strength and courage there I find
Then from this quiet place
I go prepared to face
A new day with love for all mankind  (by Ralph Carmichael)

You can listen to the song at this website:  http://offthesanctuarywall.blogspot.com/2010/11/lyrics-there-is-quiet-place.html

From Groans to Glory*

Why do we groan?  Often it’s an expression of physical or mental anguish.  Like when hearing a bad pun (wish I’d thought of that myself!), being hit with bad news, or coping with a migraine….

Groaning appears three times within just five verses in Romans 8—groans coming from three different sources.  But these are not all bad news; there is hope in each scenario!

1)  All creation groans (verse 22) as it endures its imperfect state, the ravages of sin which holds it captive.  But the day will come when it will all be restored to the paradise it was meant to be (verse 21).

2)  We who are God’s children through faith in Christ groan (verse 23).  We are also enduring the devastation of sin—pain and problems, illness and death.  But “we eagerly wait with patience” (I’m afraid I’m more eager than patient!) for the time when our bodies will be fully redeemed and we will enjoy the full benefits that belong to us as citizens of heaven.

3)  The Holy Spirit groans as He expresses our cares and needs to the Father (verse 26).  We are not alone as we struggle to pray. And the result of the Spirit’s groaning is that God’s will is done in wonderful ways.  The outcome is glorious—God working out all things according to His purpose and for our good, glorifying Himself and bringing us to glory as well.  This is the triumphant peak of the book of Romans, culminating in a thrilling hymn about God’s powerful, incomparable, enduring love.  (Romans 8:28-39)

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these?
If God is for us, who can ever be against us? … 
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?
Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity,
or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? …
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ,
                   who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.
      Neither death nor life,
          neither angels nor demons,
               neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—
                    not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
                         No power in the sky above or in the earth below—
indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

*Section title of Romans 8:18-30 in HCSB version

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