Archive for April, 2012
“One of His disciples said to HIm, ‘Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1).
The old saying is “prayer changes things.” More than anything, however, prayer changes the pray-er. The disciples recognized that the prayer life of Jesus was the key to his life and ministry. Of all the things for which they might have asked–how to interpret the scripture, preach, perform miracles–they requested, instead, “teach us to pray.” It is foundational to attuning one’s heart to the Father.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
Listen closely to the conversations of professing believers in America when they speak of God’s blessings. More often than not it is always associated with some financial gain. For those who have longed for more than the temporal veneer of success offered by this world, the greater blessing is recognized in the salvation that is ours; the transforming presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives; the eternal reward that is to come, and the peace that passes all understanding here and now.
“Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Unceasing prayer should not be thought of in terms of a continual folding of the hands, closing of the eyes, or a posture to be maintained. Rather, unceasing prayer is the attitude and spirit of prayer we are challenged to maintain in every waking moment of the day. It is only as we see ourselves in constant communion with the Father that we have the eyes to see both the blessings and the needs of the world around us.
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).
Pride is the only disease that makes everyone sick except the one who has it. The need to inform others of one’s importance is a telling sign of insecurity and the inability to be comfortable in one’s own skin. The great paradox of scripture, however, is that we become great by becoming little; that we increase by decreasing.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven…And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS'” (Matthew 7:21,23).
Sometimes the words of our Lord speak so pointedly that it makes us uncomfortable. Just as a coach can come across as short, loud, and demanding, resulting from his understanding of the level of commitment necessary to be victorious, our Lord understands the greater urgency when it comes to matters of eternal consequence. Lip service is never sufficient. True belief is evident in obedience.
“Watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Deuteronomy 6:12).
If we are not careful, we can easily lose sight of God’s reality and start to think that all we have is the result of our own doing. To not forget–remembering–is an intentional and deliberate action of the will. If we don’t watch ourselves we begin thinking only of ourselves.
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).
Consider the significance of these words; that the same power of God that raised Christ from the dead now dwells in us. It means the possibilities of Kingdom life being manifested in and through us are limitless–limited only by our willingness to avail ourselves to Him. As Jesus gave himself fully over to the Father, what if we were to do the same? The world has yet to see it.
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
Christianity has many important doctrines that offer theological moorings to our faith. While there is much debate as to the significance and priority of each, none is more important than the work of Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection. It was preeminent in the preaching of Paul. For his audience then, and for you and me, it is the difference between life and death.