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Prayer’s Conditions

July 31st, 2015

“If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” 1 John 5:14 NIV.

Prayer is a holy discourse, not a monologue.

My thoughts and comments today are about “prayer’s conditions.”

All of us possess a capacity to complicate simple things – things like love, joy, contentment, marriage, loyalty, family, worship, integrity, and such like. Prayer is one of those simple things – nothing more complex than honest, heartfelt communication between yourself and God. Prayer is a sacred privilege but often the last thing we choose to do. Anyone can pray, young and old, saints and sinners alike. Prayer is first communion then communication – sacred communion of your heart with God’s heart, then prayer affords honest communication of your love, thankfulness, and finally your needs. Start with the first, not the last.

Prayer is not without Biblical conditions. There are reasonable factors to answered prayer. “Whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Matthew 21:22. Inadequate marriage and family relationships diminish prayer, “. . so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” Read 1 Peter 3:1-8 NIV. An angry and doubting spirit impacts prayer, “Men (should) pray everywhere, without wrath and doubting.” 1 Timothy 2:8. Ungodly behavior interferes with prayer, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to the prayer (of the righteous), but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:12 NIV.

Prayer’s conditions are not whimsical; they are clear and fair. John shared the first and most obvious condition. ”If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us . . [and] we know that we have what we asked of Him.” Read 1 John 5:14-15 NIV. God will always answer in concert with His Word and will.

The eternal will of God is faithfully revealed in His Word. Be a student of God’s Word; be a servant to His will. And the Holy Spirit will prompt your heart, spirit, and understanding with the personal application of truth for your immediate circumstance. Prayer is a holy discourse, not a monologue. As you are devoted to the study of God’s Word and diligent in prayer, it is as important that you attentively listen for God in your heart as it is that God actively listens to you.

Prayer is an impassioned invitation for God’s involvement – His grace, peace, presence, provision, favor, wisdom, and direction in your everyday life. That is much more than mere information of your needs and wants, of which He is already aware. Read Matthew 6:8 NLT. When you don’t get the desired response, you might assume God has not heard you, though He has. God would not ignore you, but maybe He is waiting for you to trust His will and way, and pray accordingly. If God seems silent, don’t lose heart. The problem is never that He hasn’t heard your prayers. Pray a prayer God will answer.

Today, in prayer for you, “that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.“ Colossians 4:12 NIV.

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Abiding and Abounding

January 6th, 2014

“God is able to make all grace abound toward you.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJV.

Providence is the expression of His nature resulting in the supply of your need.

My thoughts and comments today are about “abiding and abounding.”

In recent days, my heart’s desire for our family, and for you and yours, has been for, “a life blessed with God’s abiding presence and overflowing with His abounding providence.” However you would express your desire for God to be gracious, I think our yearnings would be similar. I welcome God to be near not far, active not passive; I embrace God’s gracious care and generous provision.

Imagine your life, “blessed with God’s abiding presence.”God does not come and go at whim; He abides. The Psalmist quoted Moses, “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.” See Psalm 90:1-2 NKJV. He has always been; He will always be. Theologians correctly speak of God as pre-existent (Genesis 1:1/John 1:1 NKJV) and omnipresent (Acts 17:27-28a NIV). Moses had an interesting exchange when God promised, “’My Presence will go with you’ . . then Moses said to Him, ‘If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.’” Exodus 33:14-17 NKJV. There is never a reason to continue your journey without God’s company. No one need do so.

The Incarnation of Jesus is the supreme assurance our God is ever present, “Immanuel, which is ‘God with us.’” Matthew 1:23 NKJV. See John 1:14 NKJV. God’s presence is constant and unchanging, yet you consciously enter into His presence.God does not hide from you; He waits for you. “Come before His presence with singing . . Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.” Psalm 100:2/4 NKJV. See Psalm 16:11 NKJV. Though God is ever surrounding, you must enter His presence intentionally. God is known through the study of His Word and the devotional practice of thanksgiving and worship.

Imagine your life “overflowing with God’s abounding providence.” Providence is rich in meaning, describing both God Himself, as well as His meticulous care and provision. Providence is defined as, “God, especially when directing the affairs of man with wise benevolence,” or “the foresight, care, and guidance of God for His creation.” Providence is both who God is and what He does.

Paul describes the abundance of God’s ability and attentive purpose to provide. “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you having all sufficiency in all things may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8-11 NKJV. Personalize those words, then read them until conviction of their truth grips your heart, reflecting on the extraordinary description of your Father’s overflowing providence.There is neither hesitancy in His intent nor inadequacy of His supply.

Providence is the expression of His nature resulting in the supply of your need. Listen to Paul’s testimony, “I have all and abound, I am full . . And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:18-19 NKJV. God’s abounding providence is out of His incomparable, immeasurable “riches in glory.” How can you be sure that God’s generosity extends to you? Paul’s reasoning is brilliant and inarguable, “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up [freely] for us all, how will He not also, along with [His Son], graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32 NIV. Having freely given Jesus to be your Savior, what would God withhold?

My prayer for you today is that you will be persuaded of the grace and generosity of God.

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Economic Uncertainty

November 26th, 2012

Economic Uncertainty

Government is not the solution to economic uncertainty; God is.

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances.” Philippians 4:11 NAS

Economic uncertainty seems the rule and not the exception presently. Each day’s news is filled with more bad news than good as it pertains to finances, whether on the global, national, local, or personal levels. Everyone suggests a different solution; no one solution seems effective. While political parties exonerate themselves while caustically blaming one another, the economic problems stubbornly grow more ugly and personal, and individual families suffer the consequence. Unemployment is not a percentage; it’s people. Our nation, like many other nations, faces economic challenges bigger than borrowing and spending can solve. See Proverbs 22:7 NIV. Nationally, this is not the first time, maybe not even the worst. Ask your grandparents or great grandparents.

Individually is a good place to begin, rather than nationally or internationally. I would first suggest that government is not the problem; you and I are – our incessant wants, insatiable appetites for more, sense of entitlement, and unrealistic expectation all that will be at another’s expense. The origin of the current economic uncertainty is first moral and spiritual, only then financial. As citizens, we have allowed the government to tax unfairly, spend unwisely, borrow indiscriminately, and grant government favors at public expense. But we are the government, by means of duly elected and appointed leaders. In the closing words of his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln vowed, “. . that Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” 1863. Of, by, and for the people remains the guiding principle upon which any government governs.

Likewise, the government is not the solution; God is. The problem of resolving personal economic uncertainty begins with each individual. The Bible’s counsel is this: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9 NASV.

No one in today’s increasingly secular, materialistic society can avoid financial anxiety or be naturally content. Incessant advertising and irresistible marketing subtly erodes contentment. There is good news. Like Paul, you can say, “. . I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Philippians 4:11-12 NASV.

My Dad taught me simple, practical principles of money management, “Work hard. Remember, God is your Source. Tithe first. Never spend all you earn. Save some. Spend wisely.” That’s Biblical economics, wise stewardship, and sound money management. Hebrews 13:5 NIV/2 Corinthians 9:6-11 NKJV. And tithing, giving, and generosity are what God honors and rewards. See Malachi 3:10-12 NIV/Luke 6:38/Acts 20:33-35 NIV. Be certain of this truth, “My God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you know the provision and blessing of God on all.

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The Right Tools for the Right Job

May 6th, 2010

“Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might.” Ephesians 6:10 NIV

“Recognizing your lack is the door to God’s supply; asking for help is the key to God’s power.”

My thoughts today are about “the right tools for the right job.”

I am really not a very handy man around the house. Every time I tackle a fix-it job for my wife – after putting it off as long as tolerable – I find myself trying to do a good job too often with the wrong tools and inadequate know-how. That means it takes longer, is more frustrating, is done less well, and is no joy to do. (Just between you and me, on some occasions  – okay, maybe on most occasions – it has been less the fault of my tools, than the inexperience and inexpertise of the guy using them.) Know what I mean?

It seems logical to me that being successful at a task is more about knowing how something is supposed to work in order to restore it to working order, rather than trusting in sheer effort and determination. Here’s what I have learned: you can’t do a job well without the right tools and the knowledge of how to best use them.

That being true, why would you attempt a far more serious and eternally significant task without having the right tools? I speak of winning spiritual battles – such as resisting temptations, breaking habits, refusing disobedience – and trying to do so successfully in your own limited wisdom, strength, and resource? How many times do you try to work through a problem all by yourself? Without God’s help, why would you?

Recognizing your lack is the door to God’s ample supply; humbly asking for help is the key to God’s power. You don’t have to know it all, do it all, or be it all. You have a choice. The weakest as well as the strongest can be “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” to which Paul responded, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV.

Here is how you have the right tools for the job, whether everyday life or spiritual conflict. “As God’s chosen people . . clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience . . and the most important clothing you must wear is love.” Colossians 3:12-14 NLT. “Our struggle is . . against spiritual forces of evil. Therefore put on the full armor of God . . stand your ground . . stand firm . . take the word of God and pray in the Spirit on all occasions.” Read Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV.

My prayer for you today is: know what you face and don’t face it without God’s help.

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Problems Offer New Possibilities

December 4th, 2009

How much bread do you have? Go and see.” Mark 6:38 TEV 

When what you see looks like a problem, start looking for the possibility.”

My thoughts today are that any problem offers a new possibility.”

There will be problems; get used to it. A difficulty presents itself and for a bit of time that can be all that you see. You may even enlarge your view of the problem by projecting the possibility of further complications that challenge might bring.

Jesus often recognized people’s problems and then challenged them to think “outside the box,” to ignore the immediate and consider the ultimate, to look past the problem and entertain a possibility. To a man paralyzed most of his life but waiting for a hoped-for miracle, Jesus challenged him to “take up his bed and walk,” daring him to consider his impossibility somehow as possible. (Read John 5:1-8 NKJV). The stories are endless, in the Bible and in everyday lives today.

I think the miraculous feeding of the multitude must be one of my favorite stories; probably it’s a lot of people’s favorite because everyone is identified somewhere in the story. (Read John 6:1-13 NIV). When an overwhelming crowd followed Jesus, the disciples saw problems, not just one but many. The people were too hungry. There were too many. They were too far from home. It was too late in the day. Their answer to the problem was, “Send them away” to provide for themselves. Jesus challenged their problem even further when He said, “Give them to eat.”

Now the people’s problem was the disciples’ problem – a responsibility they had no adequate means to accomplish and saw no way to solve. They saw only what they lacked and the problem they faced, until Jesus gave them wise advice, “Go and see what you have.” That’s always a good place to start; start with what you have, not what you lack. With God that will be enough. That’s how God works. What you trust to God’s hands will always turn out to be enough.

Are you a person in the crowd, facing a need and no way to provide for yourself? Are you a disciple with a solution that doesn’t really address the problem, or an assignment you have no idea how to achieve? Maybe you are simply a disciple trusting Jesus with the problem and happily receiving and sharing with others what He miraculously provides. See Philippians 4:19 NIV.

When what you see looks like a problem, immediately look for the possibility. It’s there. In life, there will always be problems; with God there will always be possibilities for blessing and success. Look for possibilities that come from a God who knows no impossibility. “Who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that you can ask or even think.” Ephesians 3:20 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is: discover what God can do and you will find the possibility.

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