Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 28, 2015

When Faith Answers

When Faith Answers

 

One definition of faith by Merriam-Webster is “a firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” Rather than define faith, the Bible describes what faith does. “Now faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) or as the NIV translates: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” True faith is marked by confidence and assurance – not so much because of what we believe but because of the One in whom we believe.

 

This week many of us were surprised by God. We have been praying for a young man who is in the process of battling leukemia. He has been in the hospital for around two months undergoing rigorous chemotherapy which hopefully will result in a 0% production of leukemia cell blast and thereby make him a candidate for a bone marrow transplant. Earlier this week, biopsy results indicated that he was, in fact, at 0% production. Unfortunately, however, instead of being able to rejoice over the biopsy results, he was in ICU facing another battle as infection in his body resulted in septic shock.

 

To say his situation seemed dire is practically an understatement. He was placed on life support and listed in critical condition. Yet, as all who knew this young man or who had heard about his battle, prayed, prayed, and prayed some more – a miracle began to unfold. Even the doctors were baffled that although there was 0% white blood cell production, his body was beginning to heal. The color was slowly returning to his face and his body seemed to be responding to the antibiotics. This young man’s battle is surely not over; he has a long way to go. But for those of us praying, the hopelessness we felt as he was taken into ICU has now been replaced with expectation and renewed hope.

 

I wonder. Why were we surprised? As I thought about this I was reminded of the story of Peter when King Herod began to harass the church. He had already killed James, the brother of John, and then he seized Peter and put him into prison (see Acts 12). But while Peter was in prison, God sent an angel to deliver him and bring him out of the prison. Peter went straight to the house of Mary where many were gathered to pray for him. However, when Rhoda went to answer the door, she heard Peter’s voice and, without opening the door, ran to tell the others that Peter was there. But they didn’t believe her. Finally, as Peter continued to knock, they opened the door to see him. And “they were astonished.”

 

I’ll be honest. I cannot help but be both surprised and astonished when God answers prayers in such spectacular ways. Why is that? When I have fully surrendered my life to Him, when I believe with all my heart that my God can do anything, when I fully trust Him in every area of my life – why should I be surprised or astonished? And then it occurred to me. I’m not surprised because I doubt that God could or would act. I sincerely believe that my life, my world is in God’s hands and I trust Him totally and completely. Could it be that the answer of faith cannot help but be overcome with wonder and amazement when what we know in our hearts is suddenly, unexpectedly seen with our eyes?

 

As Hebrews 11:1 teaches, we learn that faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” When what we believe through faith, not by sight, suddenly becomes a visible reality, we cannot help but be astonished! When God makes visible what the Spirit has confirmed to us in our hearts, faith answers with giddy excitement and wonder. Look and see! God did that!

 

But, sometimes, as we all know, we do not see the miraculous answers. We believe. We pray. But loved ones die, innocent victims suffer, and evil triumphs over good. The writer of Hebrews acknowledged this as well. “Others were tortured …. Others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:35b-38a).  But faith answered. Through faith they endured affliction. And in faith, they died with confidence and assurance – “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

 

The answer of faith places our hope, confidence, and assurance in God alone – not in what we may be able to see or understand. But every so often, God chooses to surprise us with the miraculous and we stand astonished and amazed! I thank God for these special surprises that encourage us, that renew our expectation and hope, and that remind us of the confidence and assurance we have in Him. And I thank Him that when we don’t see the miraculous, when the surprises don’t come, we can still stand astonished and amazed because we have Him. He is our hope, our confidence, and our assurance – forever – when faith answers!

 

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

(2 Corinthians 5:6-7)

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 20, 2015

Thank You, God, for Spring!

Thank You, God, for Spring!

 

After a rainy, wet, and even cold day yesterday, I stepped out on the porch this morning to see the sun’s golden rays breaking through the scattering dark clouds. Almost immediately, the phrase from an old anonymous hymn sprang to my mind.

 

“When morning gilds the skies,
My heart awaking cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!”

 

It seemed that everything – the dazzling sky and the dripping leaves and wet grass; the melodious chirping of robins, bluebirds, and sparrows; even the raucous cries of the crows and the funny antics of the scampering squirrels – seemed to cry out in praise to God. And I, too, couldn’t help but say: “Thank You, God, for Spring!”

 

Oh, how I need Spring!

 

I need to see the daffodils and yellow violets, the azaleas and rhododendrons.

 

I need to hear the wavering chirp of the bluebirds; the sweet whistle of the stunning red cardinals; the cheery song of the robins; and the soft, cooing laments of the dove.

 

I need to hear the calls and laughter of children playing outside in the early evening.

 

I need to feel the warm sun and soft, warm breezes on my skin.

 

I need to smell the pungent scent of wild onions and the sweet, fragrant blossoms of the early honeysuckle.

 

I need to see baby chicks and baby ducks and watch young squirrels at play.

 

I need Spring!

 

King Solomon voiced his appreciation of Spring as well. “For lo, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove Is heard in our land” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12). I think we all need Spring and if not for the joys of the season itself, we need Spring for the heart.

 

Spring reminds us of newness and life and points us to our Creator God who spoke everything into existence and set it all in motion. Yet, as we can look around us and see,  God’s perfect creation was corrupted by sin. God, the Creator, however, also became God our Savior. Through His sacrifice, He made it possible for us to be forgiven and even in this broken, sinful world, to know newness of life – through and in Him. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). God works in us to strengthen us and to make us new, to transform us to better bear and reflect His image.

 

The newness and revival of Spring reminds us that God is in the business of making everything new. Just as He works to make us new, His Word assures us that one day this world will be made new, too. God spoke through Isaiah, His prophet, saying: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth….the voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying” (Isaiah 65:17a, 19b). Just as Spring brings fresh joy, wonder, and anticipation to our suffering world today, it also reminds us of God’s precious promise to one day make all things new. On that day, there will be no more sickness, pain, suffering, separation or death. There will be no more weeping or crying. It will be life as God intended.

 

Do you ever wonder what that day will really be like? “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him’” (1 Corinthians 2:9). While we cannot really fathom all that day has in store for us, I look forward to it with all my heart. For me, personally, I like to think of that day as eternal Spring – where indescribable joy, wonder, and life reign – and where I can forever praise God and say: “Thank You, God, for Spring!”

 

“In heav’n’s eternal bliss
The loveliest strain is this,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let earth, and sea, and sky
From depth to height reply,
May Jesus Christ be praised!”

(Hymn: When Morning Gilds the Sky)

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 9, 2015

Cancer Did Not Win – Again

Cancer Did Not Win – Again

 

A few years ago I stumbled across an anonymous poem that is widely circulated among networks and organizations that seek to provide encouragement to individuals and families that struggle with cancer. This poem – What Cancer Cannot Do – reminds us that in spite of the horrible nature of this disease that robs individuals and families of so much, there are just some things that it cannot do.  I blogged about this poem in 2010, but, the words I wrote then are just as true today. I have included some excerpts from my earlier blog below in honor of my dear sister-in-law, Wanda Hart, who lost her battle with cancer this past weekend. But as I think about all the things Wanda left us, I am reminded that there are some things that cancer just cannot do.

 

What Cancer Cannot Do

Cancer is so limited

It cannot cripple love

It cannot shatter hope

It cannot corrode faith

It cannot destroy peace

It cannot kill friendship

It cannot suppress memories

It cannot silence courage

It cannot invade the soul

It cannot steal eternal life

It cannot conquer the spirit.

–Anonymous

 

 

As horrible as cancer is – “It cannot invade the soul…It cannot steal eternal life.” While few things in this life are secure, believers can rest in a quiet confidence that no matter what battles we must go through on this earth, our eternal lives are secure in Christ. Apostle Paul reminds us of this in 2 Corinthians 5:1, 6-8: “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

 

While we may weep over our loss on earth, we can rejoice that our dear family member and friend is now safely home where there is no more suffering, no more death or dying. She is experiencing the victory that those of us here on earth can still only see by faith. She has already won the battle!

 

Wanda actually won the battle when she accepted what Jesus had already done for her years ago on Calvary when He “gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6). Jesus won and secured the victory for all of us when He died on the cross for us and rose from the dead. “But thanks be to God, who give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

 

I feel very blessed and privileged to have known Wanda. She was a devoted wife; loving mother, grandmother, and family member; and caring friend.  To us, today, it may seem like cancer has won. Yet believers in Christ know that today, our sweet family member and friend is more alive than she has ever been. This past Saturday, she exchanged corruption for incorruption and mortality for immortality. “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written; ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’”(1 Corinthians 15:54). Cancer may have ravaged Wanda’s physical body, but it was incapable of invading her soul or stealing her eternal life. The battle she fought is now over, but it did not end in defeat. It was swallowed up in victory –  victory through her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Cancer did not win – again!

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 5, 2015

Loss, Peace, and Promise

Loss, Peace, and Promise

 

 

Wednesday, March 4, was the 37th anniversary of our first daughter’s birth – and death. In some ways, it seems so surreal that it has been 37 years. Some of those events seem as fresh as yesterday. In other ways, however, time has helped soften the blow and the gaping hole that consumed me during those early years. But I’ll be honest, the closer I get to heaven, the more I can’t wait to finally meet her. I feel that I have so much to say to her that I really won’t know where to begin. But I surely want to tell her how she changed my life.

 

Because of her I really came to know Jesus. Oh, I knew Him before, but not with the depth, passion, and love with which I know Him today. Her loss was the most painful thing my young life had experienced. And while I didn’t understand, while I didn’t have all the answers, I could feel God’s Presence with me and His assurance that He loved me.

 

Thirty-seven years later, I still don’t understand or have all the answers. Oh, I’ve studied the Scriptures, read commentaries, books, and Bible studies that have debated and tried to answer all the “why” questions. I still don’t have a “perfect” knowledge or understanding, but I have peace. I have peace that the God who formed my daughter also numbered her days. (Job 14:5, Psalm 139:16). I have peace that the God who can do anything chose not to intervene in the events that contributed to her loss. (Jeremiah 32:27, Luke 1:37) I have peace that the ways of this all-knowing (1John 3:20), all-powerful (Jeremiah 32:17,27), just and righteous (Psalm 89:14) God are totally unsearchable (Romans 11:33). And I found that this peace did not come from understanding. Instead, it pretty much found me when I finally came to the place where I just relinquished it all to God, in total surrender, and just said: “God, I trust You. This belongs to You!”

 

One day I hope to tell my daughter that because of her, I sought God with all my heart. I went seeking answers, but instead of answers I found Him. Because of her, I’ve had the privilege and joy of walking my whole life – not with a Sunday morning God – but with a day-by-day, I’ll meet you in the trenches, God. I’ve been the recipient of His love and faithfulness, His mercy and His grace. He’s taught me and convicted me. He’s led me and guided me. And over the years, little by little, He has placed within my own heart a living hope, a deep desire for His kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven – when the world will finally be what God created it to be from the very beginning.

 

But as much as I look forward to one day meeting my daughter, I do have one regret. We didn’t give her a name. She is simply known as “our infant daughter.” At the time of her birth, we were told by the funeral directors that normally a stillborn infant was not given a name. Much has changed since that time, but this has bothered me much over the years until God reminded me of a special promise found in Revelation 2:17. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” My daughter will have a name given to her by Jesus, Himself – a name that will reflect her perfectly!

 

Jesus will also give new names to you and me, names that will reflect our unique identities in Christ. I wonder what my new name will be. I think of all the ways my identity is wrapped up in my Savior – I’m forgiven, I’m covered in His blood and righteousness, I’m surrounded with His Presence, I’m hidden in Him! I can’t imagine what it will be like to finally meet my Savior, the One who loved me enough to die for me, the One who has walked with me through the toughest, hardest times of my life, the One who surrounds me with hope and precious promises, the One who is my strength, my song, my salvation (Isaiah 12:2). What joy it will be to receive my new name and to join my precious daughter in singing praises unto Him through all eternity.

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 28, 2015

Made Worthy

Made Worthy

 

 

I’ve always loved the story of Zacchaeus, the “wee little man” who climbed the sycamore tree to see Jesus. As a child, however, I was more enamored with Zacchaeus trying to see Jesus than with Jesus actually seeing Zacchaeus and inviting Himself to come to  Zacchaeus’ home. Zacchaeus was rich, a chief tax collector, and apparently not someone the crowd viewed as worthy of Jesus’ time and fellowship. As Luke recounts:

 

“And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they (the crowd) saw it, they all complained, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner’” (Luke 19:5-7).

 

The crowd complained about Jesus’ choice. They viewed Zacchaeus as a sinner. Were the tax collectors not often guilty of taking for themselves a high percentage of what they demanded from the people? Why would Jesus choose to fellowship with Zacchaeus? Why, indeed?

 

I think Jesus chose Zacchaeus for the same reason that He chose me – and for the same reason He chose you. I think Jesus chose Zacchaeus for the same reason that He chooses both the best of us and the worst of us.

 

Jesus doesn’t come to us because we’re worthy. He comes to make us worthy. He doesn’t come to us because we’re without sin, but because we’re covered up in it. He doesn’t come to us because we deserve Him, but because we need Him – desperately.

 

It seems that Jesus sees something in each of us that we can’t see in ourselves. Could it be the image of God in which we were created? While nothing in us may be worthy of Him, every single human life has infinite value and worth to Him. In fact, after Zacchaeus joyfully declared that he would give half of his goods to the poor and that he would restore fourfold anything he had taken from anyone falsely, Jesus replied: “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9-10).

 

Jesus sees us in all our unworthiness, but that’s exactly why He came – not to chastise, condemn, or tear down. He came to seek and save us – to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. He came to make us worthy. Zacchaeus responded to Jesus in haste. He came down from the tree and received Jesus joyfully. The prophet Isaiah exclaimed: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).

 

I never cease to be amazed that I have been made worthy. I am clothed and covered with Jesus’ blood and righteousness. He came to me just as He did to Zacchaeus and invited Himself to come in. But what if I had refused? What if instead of receiving Him joyfully, I had bemoaned the fact that I was a sinner, that I didn’t deserve what He had to offer, that I just wasn’t good enough to allow Him entrance? The fact is – I was a sinner. I didn’t deserve the goodness of Christ. And I surely wasn’t good enough. But that’s exactly why, like Zacchaeus, I needed Christ! He clothed me and covered me – He made me worthy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 21, 2015

Our Ever-Present God

Our Ever-Present God

 

 

Recently, my doctor requested that I have an ultrasound performed on my carotid artery because of some “swooshing” she heard during my regular exam. While she didn’t really suspect anything to be wrong since I was having no symptoms characteristic of problems with the carotid, she thought it was best to be proactive. Thankfully, all turned out well, but once again I was reminded of a God who is very present with us.

 

I kept thinking “I’m not having any symptoms” – no TIAs (transient ischemic attacks) with weakness or tingling, or vision or speech problems – no problems with high cholesterol that could contribute to the narrowing of the artery. At the same time, however, my family did have a history of heart and vascular issues. So, I consulted Web MD — and I prayed.

 

I thanked God for the testing that could reveal if there were any problems. I thanked Him for His presence that I knew would be right there with me whatever was discovered. And I pretty much prayed Isaiah 41:10 which I often pray for others when I don’t really know how to pray or what to ask.

 

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

 

God, Himself, is speaking to Israel reminding them of Who He is and assuring them of His Presence and help. In Isaiah 41:8-9, He declared: “But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend. You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away.” And because of Jesus Christ, we can claim this same promise!

 

As believers, we can know that whatever trial or difficulty we face, we are instructed not to fear or be dismayed. Why?

 

  • God is our God.
  • He will strengthen us.
  • He will help us.
  • He will uphold us.

 

It really is kind of hard to be fearful or discouraged when we know that the Almighty God, Yahweh, Himself is with us. I know that my courage and strength can be small, but God is my God! He will be with me. He will give me strength and help me. And, when I am at my lowest or when I need Him most, He will hold me up Himself just as He helped Moses bring the Israelites out of Egypt (see Exodus 15:6).

 

The test I had to have was a simple ultrasound, pretty much stress free, except for wondering about the results. But, something that was such a small thing for God did not keep Him from showing up. He was there with me. As I lay there and listened to the sounds in my artery and the steady beating of my heart, I was overcome with how God had seen fit to keep all those sounds going steady for over 62 years. Rarely, had I ever even thought about them. Yet God had kept my heart beating and blessed my life in so many ways. Somehow I knew that whatever the test revealed, I would be okay – not because of me and my tendency to worry and fret – but because of God and His unfailing promise to always be with me.

 

As believers, we are not immune to, or sheltered from the illnesses, hardships, and struggles that we all face in this fallen, sinful world. But it humbles me to know that no matter how small or how great our needs may be, we do not need to fear or be dismayed for our God is ever-present. He, Himself, tells us: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 14, 2015

A Perfect Love

A Perfect Love

 

 

Through the years I’ve been blessed to know many different kinds of love.

 

I’ve seen …

 

  • love watch for me as my Mom waited each afternoon to see my sister and I trudge home from school.
  • love think about me as my Dad, after sometimes working a double shift at the local plant, would head off to the swimming hole with his two daughters who begged him to take them swimming.
  • love help me as my older sister helped me with everything from riding my bike and damming up the creek to navigating high school and working at my first summer job.
  • love spend time with me as grandparents took time to smile, hug, and listen to a child’s idle chatter.
  • love forgive me as I played – and argued – with cousins and friends.
  • love seek me as the handsome young man who would one day be my husband sought to spend time with me.
  • love reach for my hand as each of my children and then my grandchild learned to walk.
  • love dwell in my heart because of all those who chose to share some measure of their love with me.

 

As I thought about the many different ways that people in my life have loved and cared for me, it occurred to me that each one, in some way, had demonstrated some aspect of God’s perfect love.

 

God’s love …

 

  • watches over me

“The Lord watches over you—    the Lord is your shade at your right hand” (Psalm 121:5).

 

  • thinks about me

“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:17)

 

  • helps me

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

 

  • spends time with me

“The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

 

  • forgives me

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

 

  • seeks me

 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

 

  • reaches for me

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” (Isaiah 41:13).

 

  • dwells with me

“No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12, KJV).

 

God’s love is a perfect love. While we, the imperfect humans we are, can never love perfectly, as we receive God’s love and welcome Him into our hearts and lives, His Spirit comes to dwell within us. As we allow His love to flow through us to others, His love is perfected in us. It is then that simple everyday expressions of human love become so much more –

 

Watching over those we love becomes a persistent wakefulness and attentiveness.

Thinking of others becomes tangible expressions of love and kindness.

Helping others becomes a desire and a joy.

Spending time with others becomes a privilege and delight.

Forgiving others becomes a response of mercy and grace.

Seeking others becomes a pursuit for the hurting, lonely, and lost.

Reaching for others becomes a longing to share another’s load.

 

And, little by little, as God dwells within us, as He settles down and makes Himself at home with us, His perfect love is seen more clearly in all we say and do!  What a privilege to be a conduit of His love!

 

 “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

(Ephesians 3:16-19)

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 6, 2015

Does Prayer Really Work?

Does Prayer Really Work?

 

Does prayer really work? This week I’ve promised to pray for quite a few people, some who are facing serious challenges. In addition, the mayhem we witness in the world around us from plane crashes, train wrecks, and natural disasters to unbelievable acts of terrorism, all scream out for prayer. But does it really work? And if it does, then how do we explain the countless prayers that seem to go unanswered? Could it be that we’ve got this prayer thing all wrong?

 

I think I can safely say that most believers have struggled with the issue of prayer. And while I can’t speak for other believers, I can say that for me, personally, it is those very struggles that have helped me to know that yes, prayer does indeed work. At the same time, however, those same struggles have also confirmed to me that I’ve often had this prayer thing all wrong. And between these two extremes, I’m come to know both the wonder and privilege of prayer.

 

Luke tells us that one day after Jesus had prayed, one of the disciples asked Him: “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1b).

 

“So He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
 And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.’”

(Luke 11:2-4)

 

 

It seems like such a simple prayer, but, oh, it says so much. Look with me at just a few of the things that this simple prayer points out to us when we pray.

 

  • Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

When we hallow our Father’s name, we honor Him as holy. We revere and respect all that His name represents.

 

  • Your kingdom come.
    Surely, we are praying for God’s kingdom to finally be realized and for Christ to reign. But when we say these words, we need to ask ourselves what we are doing to advance His kingdom. Am I praying, witnessing, and living my life in a way that can help God’s kingdom?

 

  • Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
    Praying for God’s will indicates that we should be renouncing anything that is counter to His Word and teaching. We should be living in obedience to God.

 

  • Give us day by day our daily bread.

When I bring my daily needs before my Heavenly Father, I recognize Him as the ultimate giver and provider of my physical needs. But I also realize that he gives me work and provides opportunities for me to meet those needs.

 

  • And forgive us our sins

Daily, we have battles that we win and lose. We mess up and make wrong choices. Although Jesus is constantly interceding for the believer in Heaven (see Romans 8:34), we need to recognize that unconfessed sin separates us from God. We must consistently confess our sin and seek cleansing.

 

  • For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

As we seek God’s unending forgiveness, we are reminded of our need to extend the same mercy and forgiveness to others.

 

  • And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

We pray daily for God’s protection and deliverance, recognizing that we are no match for Satan and the temptations he hurls our way. We bring every temptation and trial straight to God.

 

Praying the way Jesus taught demands that we come to God in faith, believing that He is a God we can trust with every aspect of our lives. He provides our daily bread, forgives us of our sin, and enables and delivers us during our times of testing and trial.

 

But praying the way Jesus taught also requires that we take an honest look at ourselves in relation to our Holy Father. Does my life help others see my Father more clearly? Do I hallow His name with my life? Do I seek to promote God’s kingdom on earth in my attitudes and actions? Do I do what God asks of me to meet the needs of others? In other words, could I be God’s answer or means of providing for another one of his children? Am I honest about my sin with God? Do I agree with Him about my sin and sincerely seek to be forgiven and cleansed? Do I honestly relinquish past hurts and forgive those who have sinned against me, or do I withhold my forgiveness until I feel they deserve it? And finally, do I daily dress up in the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) recognizing that I am no match for Satan and his schemes?

 

Yes, I’ve learned that prayer indeed works, but perhaps not always the way I thought or expected it to work. Sometimes answers have come in miraculous ways. At other times answers have come as God tenderly walked with me through my struggle, strengthening and enabling me. At these times, I’m learning that I need to be praying for the miracles that He may be working in other realms that I cannot see or understand – as He works even the bad things out for good (see Romans 8:28). And at still other times, answers may come as God works in me to be the answer to someone needing to see the hand and heart of Christ.

 

I can remember, as a child, my first bumbling attempts at prayer. I didn’t know how to pray, but now I know that even then God was listening and drawing me to Himself. There are so many things that I have talked over with God through the years. As I look back over my life today I can see how He faithfully answered many of those prayers in ways that I can see. There are some things that I still don’t really understand, but through the tears and struggle, He has given me peace. There’s much in the spiritual realm that I know I’ll never be able to fully comprehend and understand, but I do know that prayer works, my friend. It works in advancing God’s kingdom. It works in the lives of those for whom we pray, and it works in us. And prayer surely works in all those invisible realms that we will one day see. What a privilege to pray!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | January 30, 2015

The God Who is After Your Heart

The God Who is After Your Heart

One of my favorite psalms is Psalm 139, a psalm of praise that is attributed to David, the one of whom the prophet Samuel said to King Saul: “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you” (1 Samuel 13:14).

In this psalm, the one whom God Himself saw as a man after His own heart, talks to God, expressing praise and wonder over God’s perfect knowledge of man – but not just man in general. David was overwhelmed by God’s knowledge of him, personally. I, too, cannot read this psalm without thinking of the absolute wonder that God knows me – completely.

  • O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
      You know my sitting down and my rising up” (1-2a).

God knows where I’ve been, where I am, and what I’m doing.

  • You understand my thought afar off” (2b).

God knows what I’m thinking – and even more, He understands my thoughts.

  • “You comprehend my path and my lying down” (3a).

 

God has full knowledge and understanding of what I’m going through – the difficulties and struggles, the special moments and joys.

  • “And are acquainted with all my ways” (3b).

God knows my ways – my actions and reactions, my strengths and my weaknesses.

God knows me completely. There are those times when I’ve wished that God really didn’t know me quite so well – when He saw my angry thoughts or perhaps my self-serving intentions. At the same time, however, what relief to know that even when He sees my ugliness, He understands because of His perfect knowledge of me.

It is this understanding that resonates so much with my soul. It is one thing to know something, but quite another to truly understand what we know. When my children were young, I knew when they misbehaved, but I didn’t always understand why. My knowledge was limited. In much the same way, even as an adult I may know when someone acts harshly toward me or treats me indifferently, but I may not understand why. Again, my knowledge is limited. But God sees, knows, and understands. He understands those things about me that I may not even comprehend myself. It is this understanding that keeps me from growing discouraged from day-to-day.

David continues in Psalm 139 to talk about God’s protection and guidance (v.5), His Presence and help (vs. 7-10), and God’s concern for him (vs.11-12).  Not only did God know David, but David knew God. He had experienced a God who not only knew and understood him, but a God who was also there for Him. David had experienced God’s protection and help, His mercy and forgiveness, and His faithfulness time and again. David had experienced enough with God to know that He was a God who could be trusted.

 

Just as God’s understanding heartens and encourages me, His Presence and willingness to walk along side of me whatever I’m going through gives me comfort and a peace I cannot describe. The God who made me knows me, understands me, and walks with me. There is no place where I can escape from His Presence. And as the following verses declare: “Even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”

“If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.”

(Psalm 139:8-12)

What a privilege, throughout history, for David to be known as a man after God’s own heart. I hope that one day that could be said about me as well. But for today, I rejoice that God knows me, understands me, and is willing to go the distance with me whatever comes. I rejoice that I know this amazing God who is relentless in His pursuit to make all of our hearts totally, completely His!

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | January 22, 2015

Spiritual Lessons from a One-year-old

Spiritual Lessons from a One-year-old

 

This week I’ve had the blessing and privilege of helping care for my grandson, Benji. To say that I’ve been much more tired this week is quite an understatement. Let’s just say that for someone who generally hits the pillow around midnight, this week I’ve been ready to head that direction by 9:00. Somehow time had helped me forget the immense energy and unbridled joy of a one-year-old child.

 

I had also forgotten something else – their absolute trust. I held my grandson after his bath one evening and watched as he willingly held out his hands and pointed each tiny finger for his mom to trim his nails. There was no worry or anticipation – just simple trust. I also saw how he just adapted to whatever was going on around him. Whether he was placed on the floor to play, or carted off on a walk to feed the ducks, or buckled in the car seat to go somewhere, he pretty much just went along with the flow of things. He didn’t seem to worry about what he had done an hour ago or what we were going to do tonight. He was living in the moment, fully experiencing every sight, sound, and smell.

 

The lesson couldn’t escape me. When a child can look to us, his fallible caretakers this way, why can’t I always show such absolute trust in my loving Heavenly Father? Why do I so often allow fear or worry to eclipse the joy and wonder of today? Why do I miss so many blessings right now because I’m dwelling on yesterday or anticipating tomorrow?

 

The answers to these questions probably lie in something else I observed in my grandson. He would get tired and cranky sometimes. He would act up or collapse in tears when he sometimes couldn’t have or do what he wanted. But I also saw who he turned to when he was tired and cranky, when he was overwhelmed or discouraged. He looked for the two most important people in his world – his mom and dad. To be sure, they may not always let him have his way or give him what he wants. They may even take him places where he doesn’t want to go or encourage him to do things that he thinks are too hard or difficult for him. Yet, even in the midst of even these hard moments, he turns to them, the ones he knows he can trust.

 

I love the statement of trust that David makes in Psalm 31:14-15a: “But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand.” In Psalm 31, the psalmist David cries out to God over his troubles and adversities, the reproaches and slander of his enemies, his griefs and sadness, and his brokenness over his own sin. David doesn’t turn away from God, however. Neither his troubles or his sin keeps him from looking to God, the One he knows he can trust to deliver him, encourage, and strengthen him.

 

I love My Lord Jesus! He has been there for me more times than I could ever recount. Sometimes He has rescued me from my trouble or adversity. At other times He has encouraged or strengthened me for whatever struggle I must endure. And at still other times, He has shined His face upon me (Psalm 31:16) and lifted up my head (Psalm 3:3) as He ever so mercifully and gently reminded me that I can trust Him.

 

I’m so thankful for my time with Benji this week and I’m especially grateful for the spiritual reminder from my Heavenly Father. I can trust Him with all my yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows. He made me, He knows me, and He loves me. So just as my young grandson turns to the ones he knows he can trust, may I turn to my Heavenly Father and declare like David: “’But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand’” (Psalm 31:14-15a).

 

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