Archive for category Uncategorized
“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).
Instead of praying with a preoccupation of everyone else (v.5), Jesus’ instruction is to pray in a way where it’s just you, God, and no one else. Allow not the ears, opinions, or approval of others to taint the sacredness and sanctity of the place that belongs to you and God alone. It is only in the inner sanctuary of your heart that prayerful communication is accomplished. Even group prayer finds its meaningfulness only when private prayer is abounding in the hearts of the participants.
“All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 28:2).
An awareness of God’s blessings creates a corresponding burden of responsibility; to share and participate in the relief of human suffering and injustice; to be advocates for the voiceless and the powerless. For those who live in American affluence with no such sense of awareness, it’s as if they were born into this world standing on third base and think the resulting triple was the result of their own giftedness, hard work, and perseverance. Such arrogance reveals a self-crowned, deified existence; that they are a god of their own making and the creator of their own destiny.
“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14).
While never surprised that individuals will sometimes experience a crisis of faith, I am shocked when prayer is the issue; not receiving the remedy prayed for, or it did not occur in the desired time frame. It’s as illogical as me claiming a crisis of childhood; that I couldn’t believe in my parents because they failed to give me everything I wanted when I wanted it. Staying the course in growth and maturity, I came to realize that my parents, in their mix of granting, denying, delaying, and withholding, were working not for my detriment, but my greater good. If imperfect parents are able to accomplish as much, should not a perfect heavenly Father be trusted all the more. If the litmus test of God’s faithfulness is you receiving from him everything you ask, then your destiny is one of continuing spiritual adolescence and frustration. In both life and faith, just because you don’t like the answer doesn’t mean it’s the wrong answer.
“…so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:4).
Low-key is what captures the attention of God. When it comes to the work of the Kingdom of God, flashy is fishy; the sensational is suspect. God doesn’t celebrate what man celebrates; He doesn’t applaud what man applauds. Each person must make the decision to value either what this world has to offer, and the accolades given to those who acquire the most of it, or what God has stored up in eternity for those who serve faithfully. Now? Or later? Which will be your life pursuit? It’s one or the other, but never both.
“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.” After their days of competitive athletics have ended, what every athlete discovers 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.
“But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matthew 6:3).
In the matter of giving, Jesus urges his followers to do so without calculation; that our approach is not like our secular counterparts who give only after “running the numbers” to see what might be the return on investment. Giving with strings attached isn’t really charitable; it’s an anticipated quid pro quo manipulated to serve the lender’s purposes. In contrast, a right hand that gives without regarding the left hand is a reflexive giving that emerges from the DNA of a transformed heart.