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Posts Tagged ‘will of God’

The Practice of Prayer

December 1st, 2016

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has wonderful results.” James 5:16 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “the practice of prayer.”

Prayer is asking God for only what is His will to provide.

Friendships do not grow without some sincere measure of communication. Why would that be any different between you and God? In the exchange of thought and heart you know God and become known by Him. Think about this: if God does not speak to you any more than you speak with Him, will you ever know Him as well as you could? And if that be true of you, for all intents and purposes you will be living your life without Heaven’s help. That seems to me a needless risk and a frightening possibility.

Prayer is neither mystery nor magic, though it is sometimes treated as both. The Bible clearly teaches the importance of prayer and assures the power of prayer, yet prayer seems not to be the most consistent practice for many. Some are content to keep prayer as a practice to be used only in case of an emergency. If you neglect the practice of prayer at regular times I am not sure how confident or convincingly you will pray in an emergency.

Prayer is a divine conversation, the most important conversation of your day, the communication of your own heart to God and the corresponding knowledge of God’s heart to you. Prayer involves making time for both speaking and listening. And listening may be the more useful and beneficent part of true prayer. When I was a young boy, my father suggested that I consider the fact that God may have given me one mouth but two ears so that I would listen twice as much as I speak, and learn much more in the process. I think that is good advice in life, and especially in the matter of prayer.

Let’s be practical about this incomparable spiritual discipline. Prayer is not primarily for getting your needs met; prayer is not an occasional list of things you need from God. Prayer is about your needs, but that is not its first or more important value. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV. Prayer is your opportunity for personal discourse with your Heavenly Father that enhances your communication and relationship with Him.

Prayer is asking God for only what is His will to provide. “This is the confidence that we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15 NIV. Effective prayer is neither mystery nor magic. Your prayers are answered when you pray as Jesus taught us to pray, “Not my will but Yours be done.” Such prayer discovers and releases God’s will. The single thing that makes your prayer most effective is your asking God in alignment with His will.

You can know what the will of God is in any situation. But how? On your own, you cannot fully comprehend the scope and magnitude of God’s will, but you can develop a better understanding of His will by a growing knowledge of God’s Word, the regular exercise of knowing God’s heart through prayer, and by inviting the Holy Spirit to guide your prayer. “And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” See Romans 8:26-28 NLT.

A confident relationship clarifies your requests and emboldens your assurance. “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.” James 5:16 NLT. Intimidated by the requirement of righteousness? Only Jesus can deem you righteous. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5 NKJV. What a wondrous God we serve.

Today, I pray for you to make prayer your joyful practice in all things large or small.

Christian Communications 2016

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Clocks and Calendars

August 24th, 2016

Worry and hurry suggest the urgency of a wrong agenda.

“The Lord will work out His plans for my life.” Psalm 138:8 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about “clocks and calendars.”

So much of our daily lives and activities seem to be governed by clocks and calendars. God operates within His plans that are timeless and eternal. Timing is everything. The right thing at the wrong time is no better than the wrong thing at the right time. Sometimes, I am off schedule, earlier than was necessary or later than is useful. However, God is always exactly on time – His time. Maybe you are in a circumstance where you think that God is late, that He should have done what you asked much sooner. Be assured; “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8-9 NIV.

Lazarus, a dear friend of Jesus, was seriously ill. Martha, his sister, asked Jesus to come, but for reasons known only to Jesus, He delayed several days before coming to Bethany. Read John 11:1-45 NIV. Understandably, Martha was distraught. In her view, Jesus had done the wrong thing. While Jesus delayed, Lazarus died. Martha was heartbroken. The situation seemed irreparable. By her view of events, Jesus was too late. Is God ever too late?

You have probably had similar emotions when God hasn’t worked when you expected or in the way you anticipated. Disappointed, hopeless, and upset, Martha saw an opportunity missed. Jesus saw an opportunity whose time had finally come. “Lazarus’ sickness . . is for the glory of God.” John 11:4 NKJV. The glory of God is rarely achieved in the manner you anticipate or on the schedule you had hoped.

There is never a wrong time for God to do what is His will to do. God’s timing is flawless. Jesus’ schedule is completely aligned with His Father, always and completely. “The Son can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son does also.” Read John 5:19-21 NIV. That should be your goal as well. At God’s time, in God’s way, and for God’s purpose, God’s will is best accomplished.

Your dilemma is not a project for God to complete but rather a process for your faith, trust, and obedience to develop and strengthen. “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36 NIV. You may not prefer His process, but His process is best. God is more concerned with doing right what He plans for your life, than He is about getting it done how and when you think it ought to be. His vision and purpose will be fulfilled.

 Worry and hurry usually suggest the urgency of a wrong agenda – your agenda instead of His. Persuading God to accept your clock or calendar will be futile and frustrating. Be assured as was David, “The Lord will work out His plans for my life.” Psalm 138:8 NLT. Beware of your insistence and impatience. Grow your confidence and expectation as you welcome God’s timing on every occasion. “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to trust God for the calendar and moments of your life.

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Christian Communications 2016

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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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Achieving Your Potential

November 4th, 2014

“Stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” Colossians 4:12 NIV.

Spiritual disciplines determine spiritual potential.

My thoughts and comments today are about “achieving your potential.”

Your innate desire to be more than you have been is from God. You have a God-given potential to become more than you have imagined. Boundaries are limits imposed by yourself or others. You were created “in the image and likeness of God.” Imagine the potential, presently and eternally, that God has invested in you. The only uncertainty is whether you will recognize and realize the divine potential within you. When you think of “achieving your potential,” what do you envision? Your capabilities will likely be more than your accomplishments.

Recognition of potential is the prerequisite for achieving potential. Paul described Godly potential this way: “That you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” Colossians 4:12 NIV. Do those words – “standing firm . . mature . . fully assured” – describe you? They can. Achieving your potential does not just happen; the process requires purpose and priority, as well as sacrifice. And add patience, perseverance, and obedience to that list. Your full potential, being “mature and fully assured,” rests upon your priority and practice of living fully within the will of God.

Spiritual maturity is the pathway to your potential. “. . that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:12 NIV. Maturity is not measured by comparison with others. Paul warned of those who, “. . measure themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12. Jesus is the only adequate and accurate standard for comparison. Not only is Jesus the standard by which you will be measured, He is the willing accomplice for all of your spiritual accomplishment.

Spiritual maturity is the goal; becoming like Jesus is the process. Be patient; your spiritual potential is achieved progressively in a process that is lifelong. “As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him and reflect His glory even more.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT. In the simplest of terms, spiritual maturity can be described as Christ-likeness. See Romans 8:28. There is very good news about this process. John wrote, “We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” Read 1 John 3:1-3 NIV. Usually, we seem unclear as to the practical implications of Christ-likeness. Here is a useful, practical definition that has helped me. “Spiritual maturity is rightly responding to life’s situations according to Biblical patterns of behavior.” In every circumstance, a good question to ask is, “What would Jesus do?”  Your natural tendencies do not lend themselves to spiritual achievement.

Spiritual disciplines govern spiritual potential. (1) God’s Word is essential to spiritual life. “Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise . .” Colossians 3:16-17 NLT. Spiritual maturity is achieved through a growing knowledge of the Word of God and a deepening obedience to the ways of God. (2) Welcome the Holy Spirit to rule your heart. “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do . . let the Holy Spirit fill and control you . . making music to the Lord in your hearts. And you will always give thanks for everything to God.” Ephesians 5:17-20 NLT. See Galatians 5:8-10/22-23. (3) Make prayer a daily priority. “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2 NIV. See Philippians 4:6-7 NIV. (4) Let love be your lifestyle. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John  13:34.

Today, my prayer for you is to refuse limits that prevent your being all that God intends.

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Prayer and God’s Kingdom

March 3rd, 2014

“May Your kingdom come soon; may Your will be done here on earth.” Matthew 6:10 NKJV.

Effort and energy is wasted when making life comfortable rather than valuable.

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

In your heart is a desire to make a difference, to make yours and others’ lives better. As you are made in the image and likeness of God, kingdom building is a natural instinct; God put it there. The problem is that so many misinterpret and misapply that inner push within their heart, wasting precious effort and energy to make life comfortable rather than valuable.

Jesus’ disciples seemed to understand that prayer played a significant role but were unsure how. Hence, their simple request, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus responded, “When you pray, say, Our Father in Heaven . . May Your Kingdom come soon. May Your will be done here on earth, just as it is in Heaven.” Matthew 6:10 NLT. Prayer accelerates the implementation of the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God is the central message of all Jesus came to do and teach. Following Jesus baptism and wilderness temptation, “From that time on, Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near,’” (Matthew 4:17 NIV), and during His earthly ministry, “preaching the good news of the Kingdom,” (Matthew 4:23-25 NIV), and even after His Resurrection, “. . over a period of forty days [speaking] about the Kingdom of God,” (Acts 1:1-3 NIV), everything Jesus did and taught was to reveal the absolute authority and power of the Kingdom of God in ordinary lives.

Of first importance in your prayers, have you welcomed His Kingdom into your heart and life? Unless His Kingdom is released in you, prayers are mere words, powerless and ineffective. In any heart tuned to His, there is a yearning for the full and all powerful expression of the Kingdom to come sooner rather than later. His kingdom has come; that is certain. Beyond that, prayer asserts, not the Kingdom’s arrival, but its intended fullness and influence in the lives and affairs of men. Read 1 Corinthians 4:20/15:22-26 NIV.

Being questioned by the Roman Governor, Jesus clarified, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36 NIV. Make no mistake; Jesus was clear. His kingdom is not OF this world by either origin or authority, but is IN this world by Heaven’s decree and your participation. The Kingdom of God is wherever the righteous rulership of Jesus Christ is on earth. To that end we work and pray.

Prayer aligns the accomplishment of the will of God on earth with the purposes and power of God, “. . just as it is in Heaven.” Imagine His will done on earth in your life, home and family, community, country, and our world, “. . just as it is in Heaven.” Read Romans 12:1-2 NLT. Prayer – effective and fervent – can accomplish that to the glory of God. See James 5:16-18 NKJV. Little prayers for only personal needs are inconsequential when contrasted with exercising prayer that establishes and extends the Kingdom of God more broadly. Prayer does encompass your personal needs, yet reaches well beyond and into the eternal and expansive purposes of God.

My prayer for you today is that you will exercise the power and authority of prayer wisely.

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