Adoration and Thanksgiving

Today’s reading is Psalm 30.

Sometime in the last few years I was reminded of the acronym A.C.T.S. when it comes to prayer.

A –  Adoration

C –   Confession

T –   Thanksgiving

S –   Supplication

While I’ll admit my prayers should probably be more conversational with God, I do think this has really helped my prayer life by reminding me the things I should be talking with God about. All of us probably have a tendency to focus on 1 or 2 of these areas in prayer more than the others, and if I had to guess I would say it would probably be confession and supplication. Those are both really good things to talk with God about. We must recognize and confess that we are a sinner asking for forgiveness, and God tells us to ask for what we want in the Bible (Matthew 7:7-11). I think often times we are good about asking God about what we want for others but feel guilty asking God for what we want ourselves. However, God wants us to do so when we ask with the right intention. He wants our whole heart, and He knows He has it when we ask Him for what we want so there should be no guilt in that. With thanksgiving coming after confession in this format, it also reminds me to thank Him daily for His grace on the cross as I thank Him for other blessings.

Adoration is not a part of my prayers and conversation with God that comes as natural to me. However, this helps remind me daily that He is Alpha, Omega, Almighty, and Creator. What do all these names indicate? They indicate that He is in control….in a world that seems out of control. This has been extremely helpful..especially in the last year. I can imagine that during times like the Civil War, The Great Depression, World War I and World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Vietnam War with protests people probably thought things couldn’t get any crazier and worse right?  Many likely even thought this was the end of our world and Jesus was coming….or maybe the end of the US as we know it at least. One could argue it’s worse now than then and that our country’s division and direction is also worse than it’s ever been. Is it? Maybe. But one thing is for certain, due to the internet and social media and a phone with both in our hands most all of time, we are constantly bombarded with negative information making it seem like the world can’t get any worse. Expectancy Theory says that which we focus on expands. It consumes our thoughts. As a result, the negative news we are exposed to 24/7 will cause us to focus and think even more about those negative things and even other bad things. Never has it been more important remind ourselves consistently that God is in control…He’s Alpha, Omega, Almighty, Creator, and whatever other of the many names God has that remind us of this. I believe that starting our prayers with this changes our conversation with God and our recognition of His provision and role in our lives and in the other parts of our prayer life.

As I read Psalm 30, what really jumped out to me was David’s adoration and thanksgiving to God. Remember Expectancy Theory…if we focus on adoration and thanksgiving to God in our prayer life…our positive thoughts that He is in control and gratitude for all He does will consume our mind and this peace will permeate through our lives changing the way we live drawing others to Jesus as well.

You have turned for me my 

mourning into dancing;

you have loosed my sackcloth

and clothed me with gladness,

that my glory may sing your

praise and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give

thanks to you forever!

Psalm 30:11-12

Pivotal Prayer

In the last few months, we have heard the word pivot in many arenas. This past week I was able to have a Zoom meeting with a small group of professionals around our prayer life.  Yes, this is definitely something that I know I always need to focus on.  The speaker was Tim Elmore who wrote the book Pivotal Praying: Connecting with God in Times of Great Need.  I look forward to reading this book.  As I reflect on this Zoom meeting and my current prayer life I was captured by our conversation about the types of prayers people often pray.

The three types described were:

  • Logistic prayers-  The everyday prayers around what is going on in the moment.  Routine prayers like the ones I can often have at mealtime, bedtime, or mundane prayers I have currently for the technology to work properly for myself, teachers, and students daily.
  • Tactical prayers – Prayers I have that ask for His presence in the moments of fear, worry, or need.  Receiving strength to get through a difficult time.
  • Strategic prayers- Prayers that come in the midst of even a pandemic where I’m focusing on building His Kingdom. Praying for all of these worldly events to draw me and others closer to God.

Tim mentioned to me that sometimes close to 80% of our prayer life can be on the logistics of day to day routines.  At that moment I felt maybe he was hearing some of my prayers somehow? This conversation helped me to reflect.  Where would you describe your prayer life?  As we walked through a few hidden passages tucked away in 2 Kings 3.  As the focus of the people was on their momentary need of water God reminds them that His focus is much bigger.

17 For this is what the Lord says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. 18 This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord; he will also deliver Moab into your hands.

In what ways can I transform more of my prayers from the logistics level to a strategic level?  As challenges come do I question God or His plan for me? To be honest, I can be guilty.  I pray to remember the Kings of Elisha and their lack of trust in the Lord. Knowing that God is in the business of meeting my goals and dreams far beyond any of my expectations.  In moments of uncertainty, I need to step back and pray for trust in His ultimate plan and not my immediate needs.   I need to pray for the war, not just the water.  Paul reminds us of the magnitude of God’s love and plans for us in Ephesians.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Dear Heavenly Father,

In the midst of a pandemic, I can pray through many logistics.  I know you hear every single one.  But Lord, help me to be more strategic, to know and trust your plan for this day, and that it is not just about simply bread and water to live but plans to build an eternal Kingdom for us all.  So as we have all had to pivot, help me to pivot closer to you Lord in my prayers being faithful in whatever Your will has planned for me as I tell of Your Greatness to others.

Amen

Lord

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:11

Today’s word to describe Jesus is Lord which is defined as ruler or master. Would you say Jesus is your ruler or master? If you asked me this question, I would be quick to answer yes. However, when I really sit back and reflect, unfortunately, He is the Lord of my life some of the time and in some things, but I have to admit He is not all of the time and in all things. He’s the Lord of my Sunday mornings when there is church, and He is the Lord of my Thursday nights when we have our scheduled weekly small group. But, everything in between…again..some of the time when I think to consult Him and to make Him a part of some aspects of my life.

It is often easier to go to Him as your Lord when you have nowhere else to turn or you know you have no control anyway. Last year, we were faced with some major decisions in how to treat spinal stenosis in my neck which had already caused me to lose strength and functionality in my right hand and threatened my ability to walk long-term without surgery. I learned one big thing, when it comes to certain things like your health, we are often times forced to make Him Lord and give Him control because there is literally nothing we can personally do to fix it. Looking back, this probably should have been much more stressful with questions like do I have surgery or try another route first, which type of surgery when there are multiple options, which doctor do I trust, will my symptoms get worse and will I lose my ability to use my hand or even walk, and will I need more surgeries in the future? However, we leaned on Him and prayed not only for healing, but for wisdom, guidance, and clarity to make the best decisions. He gave us peace through it all, and not only did He provide an unexpected surgery option different than what Mayo and other doctors were performing for my conditions, but He made it clear this was the route to go. At the same time, we were faced with a major decision on whether to change my role within my career at Northwestern Mutual. Again, we made Him Lord and prayed through these decisions and the direction was clear without much stress or anxiety. Out of necessity, I learned how He can make major things not seem as big and stressful when we make Him Lord.

Then, why do I get stressed about a little thing at 2:00 on a Tuesday or wondering if my to-do list will get done or when our kids are acting up? Simple…I am not making him Lord of the small, everyday things..only the big things. My opportunity for growth in my relationship with Him is to make Him Lord of these little things. Not making Him Lord of these things robs me from gratitude for all He’s given me and the joy of everyday life with my family, friends, and in my career.

Why do we do this? Some may wonder if He even cares about the little things. Why would the God who created the sun, moon, stars, and the universe really care about my little problems? Simple..He created us. For us who are parents, think how much we care about our kids’ problems. We would do anything to help..to a fault sometimes. Think about our kids when they create a Lego or block tower. They are so proud of their creation. And in turn, they are very protective of it and get really upset when their younger sibling wrecks it. Why? Because they created it. The creator cares immensely about their creation. Each one of us are His special creation as Psalm 139:13-14 tells us.

Why else don’t we make Him Lord of the little things in our life? We don’t think we need it, and we think we can handle it on our own. But…it’s obvious we can’t or we would not get so stressed and upset about the small stuff. Many suffer from anxiety about things that are relatively minor in the big picture of life on this Earth and especially in the big picture of eternity.

How can we improve at making Him Lord of our life, and especially the little things where many of us need the most improvement? There are many ways such as reading His Word daily, attending church regularly, and joining a small group. However, I believe what all of these things really do is help us develop an awareness of His presence in our life which leads to a relationship with Him through the conduit of prayer. As a decoration in my parents’ house reads, “Prayer is the ultimate wireless connection.” This is how in the big moments and the small ones in life we offload our problems to Him and ask for His help. We realize we may not have this, but He’s got this and He’s got us. As a recent article in The Wall Street Journal my brother sent our family on the power of prayer stated, connecting with Him in prayer is like heading up a huge mountain with a heavy backpack and then handing it off to Him. Believe it or not, He wants us to. He asks us to. We are his creation, and He as our creator wants our hearts and for us to acknowledge that He is Lord and give everything to Him.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Please pray with me…

God…please help me make you the Lord and ruler of my life. Help me to know that you, as my Creator, truly care about and are in control of not only the big things, but also the little things that will come up in my day today and every day. I thank you for this and for showing me your ultimate love by sacrificing your only Son on the cross for me. I love you. Amen.

Kind, Kind Father

Luke 6:27-36

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

He is Kind to the ungrateful.

Am I kind to the ungrateful? Or do I mostly love those that love me back? Do I extend mercy to others, the same mercy that God extends to me? When I think of the mercy he has shown me, wow. He is a kind, kind Father. 

This week’s passage challenged me, and I spent time taking inventory of my relationships (especially the tough ones), and what they would look like if my kindness matched our Father’s.

The world says “fake it till you make it”…I have a friend that says Faith It Till You Feel It. What a great approach to showing kindness to those that can’t repay it, blessing those that say bad things about us, or praying for those that mistreat us. We can take that step in faith to show love and kindness, and ask God to change our hearts, the situation, all of it. C.S. Lewis says it this way in his book, Mere Christianity: Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

A lot of relationships are complex and need help, healing, and boundaries. A small act of kindness can be a place to start. It won’t fix everything, but it just might align our hearts to be more like the Lord’s.

Hannah

Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 1:1-2:21 with a focus on Hannah and what we can learn from her.

Hannah was the wife of Elkanah. Hannah could not have children, and this deeply saddened her. However, in her distress, she prayed for God to give her a son and vowed to give him to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:10-11). The Lord answered her prayer by giving her Samuel who she presented back to Lord, leaving him in the temple to learn under Israel’s ruler and priest Eli. Later, God also gave her three more sons and two daughters. Even though Samuel was not in the bloodline of Eli, he became Eli’s unlikely successor and leader of Israel because Eli’s sons were “worthless men” (1 Samuel 2:12). She gave her problems and pain to God, and He did even more than she could ask or imagine.

The first part of 1 Samuel makes it very clear that Hannah was a sad woman for years because of her inability to have a child. This brought the question to my mind…is it a sin to be distressed or sad because of something you want but are not receiving? I believe that initially it is not a sin to be sad or distressed because of something you want because the Bible is clear that Jesus was without sin and yet in Luke 22:43-45, Jesus, knowing of the pain he would suffer on the cross, was in “agony.” In fact, He was so distressed that he perspired drops of blood as he asked God to “remove this cup” from him in Luke 22:42. God gave us the ability to feel sadness so I don’t think it in and of itself is a sin. The question is…where do your thoughts go from there, and to whom do you go? What do you do when you feel sadness or stress or anxious? Maybe God allows us to feel sadness at times so we go to Him.

Jesus went to His Heavenly Father in prayer, and “prayed more earnestly” (Luke 22:44). At the same time, He also said, “not my will, but yours, be done (Luke 22:42).” Hannah, not having yet the example we now have from Jesus, did the same…she went to the Lord in prayer.

“She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.” 1 Samuel 1:10

She tells Eli….

“I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:15

It is then that Eli tells her the Lord will grant her a child.

Although it says Hannah had “great anxiety and vexation” in 1 Samuel 1:16, I think we gain more insight in how she may have prayed that prayer asking for a child when we see how she prayed another prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 where she gave great praise and adoration to God. It is clear that she knows there is no one like Him. He is in control, and He is the one who she worships. Christian musical artist Toby Mac recently posted on his Facebook account, “Worry is worshipping the problem.” That is powerful. It is clear that Hannah still worshipped God and knew He was in control during her sadness. Feeling sad and having anxiety in and of themselves must not be sins since Jesus had these feelings, but worrying that consumes you constantly and thus worshipping those problems, and not going to God, is. Ask yourself, as I am definitely asking myself today, am I worshipping my problem in my worrying? Or, am I giving my problems to Him, worshipping Him in adoration of His greatness and sovereignity, like Hannah did in 1 Samuel 2:1-10?

We must also ask ourselves, is what I want for His glory or mine? Also, am I willing to give that blessing to Him when I receive it? And, do I FULLY believe that he can and will answer this prayer? Finally, can I find peace in whatever His will is and trust His will is what is truly best? I could do multiple other journal entries to each one of these questions, but I’ll sum it up briefly. I believe God answers Hannah’s prayer because as we can see through her prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-1-, she knew she served a mighty God, full of wisdom, who could do anything.  And despite her sadness, she says she will give her son that God gives her back to God for His glory in 1 Samuel 1:11! Can you imagine wanting something that bad for that long and then just giving it right back to God when you receive it? Then, she follows through. And God blessed her and Samuel for that by making Samuel an unlikely leader of Israel and by giving her five more children.

Let us follow the example Hannah set here and the words of Paul…

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:4-

Fatherly Advice

Today’s Reading: Proverbs 4

I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to see my children daily and see them grow.  This privilege is one that I do not take likely or for granted, because I know many fathers that desire and long to have their children with them daily. This past weekend, I had the joy of serving with my children at a local fundraiser on Saturday and Sunday.  All three of the kids (Oliver, Ruby, and Nadya) help me setup for the annual event on Saturday afternoon and then Ollie asked if he could serve with me on Sunday.  I was pleased and excited that he would want to serve with me.  I did caution him that it would be an early morning, but he assured me that this was his desire.   Oliver had the most pleasant and excited demeanor the entire morning and was willing to learn and help as needed.  His joy and excitement is the best ROI (return on investment) that I could ever ask. He loves serving and bringing joy to others.  

As I reflect on my childhood and experiences with my father and the relationship that I have with my kids, I can better relate to some of the stories in the Bible, especially father and children stories. My relationship with my father is complex and rich.  For the majority of my life, I have had a relationship with my father, but I missed the early daily adventures with him due to the divorce of my parents.  As a young child and through today he is one of my closest confidants and mentors.  I speak with him weekly and we have a great relationship.  My relationship with my children is one that visceral and emotional.  We have many adventures and joyous times.  We also have times of instruction and learning.  Every moment that I have with them I cherish beyond measures.  My children give me peace and humility to become a better person.  

In Proverbs Chapter 4, Solomon is giving instruction to his children as his father gave him instructions.  

Proverbs 4: 3-7

When I was a son with my father,
    tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
    keep my commandments, and live.
Get wisdom; get insight;
    do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
    love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
    and whatever you get, get insight.

Solomon is imparting to his children the importance of passing on the virtue of wisdom and understanding.  This is the father’s purpose: to instruct and guide.   It is the father’s purpose to prepare the children in a manner that will be beneficial and prosperous to the next generations. This charge is given to all parents to be stewards of our children and give them instruction and direction for their life. 

Throughout the bible many times the author challenges the audience to decide: whether you are the audience for approval or the audience for correction.  In Proverbs, we ask ourselves if we are the ones that the instruction is intended to prevent or correct our actions.  We must examine ourselves daily to see if we are seeking wisdom or have we turned away. 

Proverbs 4: 1-2; 10-11; 20-21

Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
    and be attentive, that you may gain[a] insight,
for I give you good precepts;
    do not forsake my teaching.

Hear, my son, and accept my words,
    that the years of your life may be many.
11 I have taught you the way of wisdom;
    I have led you in the paths of uprightness.

My son, be attentive to my words;
    incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Let them not escape from your sight;
    keep them within your heart.

The wisdom that we have gained, we must give to the next generations.  We must daily review our purpose and use of wisdom and adjust according.   May we pray daily for our children as David did for Solomon, which Solomon did for his children as evident in the passage. 

1Chronicles 29: 18-19 

18 O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. 19 Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision.”

Be blessed. L 

Recognize, Realize and Get Ready

Waiting For The Word/creativecommons.org

Today’s Reading: Luke Chapter 5

Good morning Bible Journal readers! Today we are studying Luke 5 in our journey through the words of Jesus. I’m loving this scripture today because I feel like we can all find ourselves in these three miracle moments. The first miracle is one that’s familiar. Jesus takes Simon’s boat out into the water while preaching and then casually tells Simon to throw the nets out. Simon sort of rolls his eyes and says “I suppose, because you said so but it probably won’t work because we’ve been throwin’ nets all night and ain’t no fish comin’ up!” Simon shows his obedience to Jesus but it’s clear that he doesn’t believe the outcome will change. Can you see yourself in this moment? Do you sort of use faith as a last resort rather than a first strategy? I feel like I fall into this habit almost daily. We know how this story ends, the nets come up with so many fish that boats nearly sink under the weight of them. Simon is awestruck at this miracle and immediately feels shame:

“Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Luke 5: 8

Have you ever been blessed by God and felt unworthy? Do you hide from Him because you recognize your sin and don’t want to face judgement? I feel such a connection to Simon Peter in this moment. I remember a time in our life when our son was very sick and his hospital bills were so far beyond our meager capacity. We tried to work extra hours, we tried to negotiate with the hospital to lower the bill, we argued, we cried, but what we didn’t do was pray. Of course, we prayed for our son to get better but we never prayed to God to help us with the financial part of the problem. We were encouraged by some friends and mentors to pray for that specific need and our nets were filled! In fact, they were overflowing. We never even considered that Jesus could or would address that need in our life. If you’ve been a Bible Journal reader or writer for a long time, you know that we experienced that miracle through you.Our Bible Journal family made that happen through the love of Jesus Christ.

God has three requirements for coming to Him:

  • Recognize our own sinfulness
  • Realize we can’t save ourselves
  • Be Ready to leave everything behind and follow Him

In verse 31 Jesus tells the sinners at Matthew’s house:

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31

Jesus is talking about recognizing our own sin. Until we examine our hearts and place ourselves in a posture of humility we can’t begin to accept His mercy. Next, we need to realize that we truly can’t save ourselves. Often, despite our best intentions we make errors in judgement or our pride gets in the way of asking for help. Finally, we need to be ready to leave everything else behind including the false God’s we rely upon for protection and follow Him. Levi the tax collector first encounters Jesus while sitting in his tax collecting booth. Jesus implores him to “follow me” and Levi is moved in that moment. He leaves the promise of money, status and power to follow Jesus by faith. I’m not sure that I’d have the strength to do that. If Jesus came to my work place tomorrow and said “follow me” I hope I’d be ready. Today’s scripture has so many examples of Jesus ministering to people in their day to day struggles. I hope that encourages you to pray this week for the little things. Pray for Him to intercede and truly move in your life.

Holy Ground

Today’s reading is Luke 18:2-8 and Psalm 127.

Psalm 127:1-2 reads..

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil, for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

How often do we try to “build our house” without the Lord? In reflecting back on the prayers throughout most of my life, my prayers have typically involved asking for forgiveness for my sins, thanking God for dying on the cross for me, and praying for others’ needs of which I’m aware. While asking for forgiveness for my sins and believing in His death on the cross is sufficient to go to Heaven and praying for the needs of others is noble and something God wants…I don’t think that’s all He wants.

John 15:5 reads..

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Meriam-Webster defines Lord as “one having power and authority over others.” God wants to be Lord of your life, not just some of your life, but all of it. God doesn’t just want some of your heart, he wants all of it. It says clearly in John 15:5, “apart from me you can do nothing.” God wants our marriage, our kids, our careers, our finances, our health…he wants EVERYTHING. He wants to be Lord of all those things. He wants us to surrender all of those things to Him and His lordship (authority)..not just our sins.

Why do we hold back our personal needs and desires from Him and not ask Him for help, guidance, and wisdom in all these areas of our life? Why do we not acknowledge he’s already in control of these things anyway and ask Him for help?

Here are a few potential reasons…

  • We don’t think he really cares about our needs..big and small. Why would he be concerned about little old me? However, Psalm 139:13-14 tells us He knit us together in our mother’s womb, and we are fearfully and wonderfully made by Him. Matthew 10:29-30 tells us that not even a sparrow falls without God knowing and even the hairs on our head are numbered.
  • We fear He won’t answer our prayers the way we want which may in turn cause us to question whether He really cares or even question His sovereignty. My Mom always told me as a child God answers all prayers. However, he just may not answer them in the exact way we ask them. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” We must trust and believe this.
  • We may wonder why even bother because of past prayers that we feel were unanswered and may even hold animosity towards Him due to this. But, Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We never know the good that may come out of things we feel are really bad in our eyes, and I’m sure all of us can think of some prayers we thought were unanswered but later realized it was actually a good thing.
  • Either our desires are truly selfish or we feel because they benefit us in some earthly way they must be. Just because something benefits us doesn’t mean it’s selfish necessarily. We can use earthly gifts and blessings for His glory when we consciously think about it, give Him the due praise and glory, and then use those gifts for His glory.

Truly surrendering all to Him means we are doing all for His glory and not ours. We give all areas of our life to Him and His lordship. It’s not about us, and it’s never been about us. It’s about Him.

Once we surrender it all to Him, He will truly bless us. Abraham and Sarah waited until age 100 for Isaac. Can you imagine how precious and coveted this child was to Abraham? God then asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the son he had waited all this time for. Not until the very last second when Abraham had the knife raised did God stop Abraham. Not until he knew Abraham was truly going to give his most prized possession to Him did God stop him. Then, God tells Abraham because he obeyed him and did not spare his beloved son he will surely bless him and give him more offspring than the sand on the seashores. He surrendered it all, and God blessed. Check this out in Genesis 22.

Maybe God is holding back things from you because you are holding things back from Him. You are not asking Him for help and giving it to Him. He’s waiting until you give them all to Him and will use them for His glory. He loves you enough to not give them to you until you do because He knows that’s when you will be truly satisfied and fulfilled..when you give it all to Him. He’s waiting for you to go “all in” with Him.

We read in Luke 18:2-8 where an unrighteous judge gave a persistent widow justice against her adversary because she kept asking him to do so. The question is posed that if an unrighteous judge will give help because you keep asking, won’t God if you truly cry out to Him for help?

Romans 8:32 reads…

“He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

What more does God really need to do than give us His only Son to show us His love and tell us we can bring him all our troubles surrendering all to Him? If today someone else sacrificed themselves or their son for my life, would that not tell me all I needed to know about their care and love for me?

Surrender your entire life to Him…not just some areas…all of them. Ask Him for help. Do not build your house in vain. Make every area of your life “Holy Gound.” It’s what He’s been waiting for. It’s what you’ve been waiting for that will give you peace and comfort that surpass understanding.

Let us pray the words of the song Holy Ground below by Passion/Melodie Malone..

“…Come and have your way Jesus.

Chains fall.

Fear bow.

Hear now.

Jesus, you change everything.

Lives healed.

Hope found.

Here now.

Jesus, you change everything….”

Heartfelt or Hypocrite

I have a desk in our unfinished basement tucked away in the corner just out of the way of most flying balls or pucks. This is a usual spot for reflection and prayer. At my desk, dinner table, bed, car, school or church how are my prayers? In the longest recorded sermon given by Jesus, He describes the traits He was looking for His followers.  Jesus requires consistent heartfelt prayer.  He is not looking for a series of words but a true confession of the heart.  This confession can be anything, because He already knows.

Matthew 6:8 says, “Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!”

As I reflect on my various daily prayers there are times when I read this verse I pause to think am I always honest and sincere? At times do I babble? Do I take for granite the fact that God is right there listening to every prayer.  Even the dinner prayers were I’m attempting to keep the boys from calling each other out for having their eyes open.   I believe as our relationship with God grows closer so does our prayer life .  We are reminded that our Father who is mentioned 17 times in the Sermon on the Mount knows what is truly on our hearts.  My flesh side of my self can be at times fearful, while at opposite times it can be full of pride.  This lacks the closeness and the honest heartfelt prayers our Father desires.

Pastor Mike Baker a couple weeks ago shared four prayer killers that can take away from a sincere closeness to my Heavenly Father.

  1. Not abiding in God or His word ( John 15:7 )
  2. Not asking ( James 4:2)
  3. Not believing what you’re asking for ( James 1:6 )
  4. Not asking with the right motives ( James 4:3)

Which one of these can get in my way of the genuine one on one intimacy God desires no matter my location or circumstance?

Today’s Reading Matthew 6:8, Psalm 71

Dear Father, You know our hearts, minds, and soul.  I ask that you help us to not let any of these prayer distractions get in the way of a closeness with you.  God we don’t deserve this amazing promise and grace but it’s not about us, its about you.  You hear all our prayers, you answer them all according to your perfect timing.  Thank you for your love that only our eternal Father can give.  I pray to always be open and honest with you admitting that I need you always.  Jesus, we come to you with our hearts wide open.  Help us to share the truth you already know, asking to come into our hearts and trust a promise you already gave us through your son Jesus.  We love you. Amen

Psalm 71:5 For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.

Psalm 71: 18 Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all that are to come.

Legacy

Legacy. What do you think of when you hear the word legacy? Do you care about yours or not? Well, I believe you should because we all leave a legacy and your leadership example determines your legacy. We are all leaders, definitely as parents and spouses and often professionally, but even those that aren’t married, don’t have kids, or don’t have a defined professional leadership role are still leaders. Other friends and co-workers are always watching and following you whether you intend them to do so or not so that makes you a leader. John Maxwell says leadership is influence. Your leadership example determines the impact you have on others which ultimately determines your legacy.

Our small group is currently reading The Resolution for Men and The Resolution for Women. This is my 3rd time through the men’s version, and I would highly recommend every man read it. It is like an instruction manual for being man, husband, and father by translating and breaking down what God instructs us to do in the Bible. It tells men how He created and empowers us to fulfil His leadership vision. Having children, when I think of legacy, I think of the legacy I want to leave for them first and foremost.

The book challenges us to think about how we define success for our children. It is human nature for us to define the success of our children by whether they achieve big things academically, athletically, and even socially with friends or being on homecoming court or in school leadership roles for example. However, this book challenges us that success for our children is only defined by them loving God and knowing Him as their Lord and Savior. Period. End of story. Thus, the legacy we leave in this way through our leadership by example is all that matters.

David tells us in his last words in 2 Samuel 23:3-5..

“The God of Israel has spoken,

the Rock of Israel has said to me:

When one rules justly over men,

ruling in the fear of God,

he dawns on them like the

morning light,

like sun shining forth on a

cloudless morning,

like rain that makes grass to

sprout from the earth.”

How do we lead our children in this way by our example so they know and love Jesus as their Lord and Savior?

  1. First, we must be in the Word daily. This keeps us centered and focused on God so we can know and understand Him and His will better making better decisions daily. This must be visible to them so they know you are in the Word. We should also look to be in the Word together as a family. Try a weekly family devotional on a certain day each week.
  2. They must see you in prayer. They must know you go to God throughout your day in prayer to draw closer to Him as a source of wisdom. Talk about how you go to Him for your challenges and to praise him, and pray together as a family.
  3. They must see you praising and worshipping God in adoration. This can most commonly be done in song as we read about in many Psalms, throughout the Bible, and just yesterday with David in 2 Samuel 22. If your kids go to their own church service, consider bringing them into church with you occasionally so they can see you praising and worshipping Him. Recently, we had a night of worship music only at our church where we brought our kids, and it was awesome singing along with them praising God. It doesn’t have to be planned though. Singing along to Christian music in the car or while cooking out or eating dinner at home spontaneously can be just as impactful for them to see God is more than worthy of your praise all the time..any time.
  4. Speaking about God and his creations of beauty all around us in the world and about how God worked in your life today and asking them how God worked in theirs today is tremendously impactful. Simply put..talk about God. Daily. Not just on Sundays on the drive home from church.

Lastly, if you want to lead someone, most notably your kids as we are speaking of, you must have their heart. If you have their heart and they know you care about and love them, they will follow you. The Resolution for Men discusses if you don’t have your child’s heart, you must do WHATEVER it takes to get it back..even if it takes the rest of your life. 2 Samuel 23 tells about David’s mighty men and all the things they did in battle. While it might be neat to be known for personal or professional successes in life, we should strive for our kids to say when we are no longer on this Earth our legacy was this…”My Mom/Dad loved Jesus with all their heart, and I’m forever grateful they helped me do the same.” Our children must make their own decision to follow Jesus, but nothing is more important than the eternal legacy we strive to instill in and leave them.

Carpe Momentum.