Archive for September, 2012
“Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).
It seems that most prayers are offered with the hope that God will miraculously change the present circumstances. We have all heard the expression, “Prayer changes things.” What is more true, however, is that prayer changes the “pray-er.” Paul prayed repeatedly for his “thorn in the flesh” to be removed. Instead, God changed Paul. By God’s grace he better responded to his hardship and viewed it from a more redeeming perspective. If given the opportunity, prayer will change you.
“Do not say, ‘Why is it that the former days were better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this” (Ecclesiastes 7:10).
Longing for the “good old days” is a faithless proposition. That our God is a God who is making all things new means that no matter what era of time we might deem as being the best of times, it pales in comparison to what God is doing in the progression of His future. If our favorite time was truly the best of times there would be no reason for God to make all things new. Faith lives in the anticipation of what lies ahead and doesn’t lament for what once was.
“I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:4).
Have you, like Job, ever experienced frustration because God hasn’t answered in the way you thought he should, or within the time-frame you thought he should? Have you ever jumped to conclusions? Have you ever offered judgments only to find later that you didn’t have all the facts. There is always more to be unveiled; more to be understood, more to see; more to be experienced; more to be realized. Just wait!
“O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; for You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness” (Isaiah 25:1).
Isaiah knows a good song when he hears one. When he considers the favor of God, faithfully displayed from the foundations of the world, the only appropriate response is one of praise. When you contemplate the bounty of God’s work it put’s the challenges of our day in proper perspective.
“Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10).
It is the prayer of a mature believer. Familiarity, intimacy, and the faithfulness of God has produced a heart that trusts more in the unimaginable possibilities of what He can do, than the limiting requests of what I would like Him to do. Are you there, yet? Or are you still seeking to prescribe how He must answer your prayer? Would you dare to take your burden, challenge, hardship and pray this prayer of absolute trust–”Thy will be done.”
“You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).
It’s no accident that this is the first and pre-eminent commandment. It is foundational to all that follow. That our loyalties will be given to some god or gods is a given. Thus, the central thrust of the first commandment can be summed up in one word–LOYALTY. The number one command is that He be the number one and the One and Only.
“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 4:9).
The deep and abiding peace we long for goes beyond the absence of troubles, worries, and conflict. True peace is that which emerges from the intimacy of one’s relationship with the Living God. It is accomplished when we embrace and practice the faith we have heard, learned, and profess. This balanced combination of knowing and doing bring us to the place of peace.
“No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4).
Do you ever feel lassoed and tied up by all the causes, demands, requests, and responsibilities that vie for your attention? This often stems from codependent desires to please and not disappoint others. The solution may be a return to the boot camp of our faith and the reminder that we soldier for an audience of One. It is by this perspective toward the life of service that his Spirit gives meaning and purpose to our daily lives and routines.
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).
In athletics the most mentally challenging block of time is from the end of the last game to the first game of the next season. These months of “off-season” are filled with daily workouts; each one stretching the limits of physical and mental capabilities. It’s known as “the grind.” What athletes soon discover, however, after their days of competition have ended, is that all of life is a grind. As followers of Christ, we must recognize that the grind; that which is so easily dismissed as a monotonous, daily routine, is the very platform God has given us to serve and honor him.
“Behold you have admonished many, and you have strengthened weak hands. Your words have helped the tottering to stand, and you have strengthened feeble knees” (Job 4:3-4).
Perhaps no greater compliment has been paid to one man as this statement of tribute to Job. While facing insurmountable odds, adversity, grief and physical pain, he became an inspiration to others. His reaction to the brutal realities of life had an eternal impact on the lives of those who knew him then, and we who read of him today. It’s a reminder that how we “bear up” to the hardships of life offers a living testimony of our trust in the One who causes all things to work together for good.