UNLIKE ANY OTHER BOOK EVER WRITTEN

For a Christian believer the study of God’s Word is as important as breathing itself. It is the very oxygen we need for our soul to survive. As stated previously  God’s Word along with Christ’s dominion are the two things which will never pass away.

My  ethnic background comes out of a ‘stundist’ movement which is German for spending at least one hour (stund) a day in prayer and devotion. As  life goes on I find that time and more as refreshing to my soul and spirit as a cool drink of water is to my body on a hot day.

Scripture tells us to pray continually (1 Timothy 5:5). To me each thought, word and deed of which God is always aware is a prayer. At the very least we should follow David’s example in Psalm 55:17 and pray in the mornings, noon and evening.

The study of God’s Word is also to be daily. For the people of Israel this was their instruction recorded in Deuteronomy 17:19 regarding the Torah (First 5 books of the Old Testament) and Christ emphasized in Luke 21:33 all of Scripture should be studied by us daily. The people of Thessalonica understood this (Acts 17:11).  In Romans 15:4 we read that the Scriptures we receive are necessary learning which alone can give us comfort and hope UNLIKE ANY OTHER BOOK EVER WRITTEN.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Personal devotions pour out the power of the Holy Spirit into our every pore.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR : Romans 15:4 “what Scripture alone can give”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:  Lord thank you for Your Word.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Is praying at breakfast, dinner (lunch) and supper (dinner) meet the the minimum 3 prayer a day suggestion?
  2. How is your prayer life?
  3. How does Luke 21:33 include all of Scripture?
  4. What does the Bible provide that no other book can?

THERE IS A NATURAL EXPLANATION FOR EVERYTHING!

I am a person who appreciates what is real or innate more so than what is man made or artificial. This, I believe, is the way God intended life to be and to which one day life will be restored (Romans 8:21-23). A foretaste of that time was when Christ journeyed on this earth and the rest we await as it will be revealed to us one day in Heaven.

During this time there is one thing we need to be aware of and that is that the natural way can only be overcome by a supernatural God. An example of this is Sarah’s giving birth at a late age in life.

The question then might be what is natural? If one is blessed with a special gift we say “they have a natural talent”. The shame being when that talent is not used for God’s purpose or developed into its full potential.

All have a natural talent for prayer the four steps of which are shown in Luke 11:1-13. Prayer simply is communicating with God not totally unlike you would when visiting with an acquaintance.

In all things there is a natural explanation. It is time we turn our thoughts back to God’s natural plan whether in how we care for ourselves or all which is around us. This can only come through understanding what is revealed in Scripture. Indeed THERE IS A NATURAL EXPLANATION FOR EVERYTHING.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Nearness to God comes from understanding the beauty of what is natural.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 15:44-46 “God’s plan for us”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I seek Your natural plan for my life.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How is society returning back to its natural ways?
  2. Is the process of returning to our natural ways allow room for God?
  3. What is the essence of the meaning behind 1 Corinthians 15:46?
  4. How does God reveal Himself supernaturally?

KNEEL DOWN!!

One of my favorite paintings is the one of Christ kneeling in prayer by a rock in the Garden of Gethsemane. That memory is recorded in Luke 22:41. It is important for us to understand the need to kneel as I believe it goes hand in hand with God’s blessing. In fact the Hebrew word for blessing comes from the word which means ‘to kneel’.

Christianity adopted the practice of kneeling in prayer from Judaism. Today not only do few people pray as we once did but kneeling is rarely seen unless at the communion rail in church.

Judaism speaks the words “we bend the knee” in the words of what they call their Aleinu or synagogue prayer spoken at Rosh Hoshanah and Yom-Kippur. Otherwise kneeling is felt to be a Christian tradition. Truth is that it comes out of the historic Judaic culture such as shared in Psalm 95:6 and other passages as well.

To kneel is to worship and careful we must be before we kneel as it must be before the one and only true God and Lord of us all. I have often wondered if modern day terrorists don’t have this in mind forcing captives to kneel before ending the captives lives. Emblematic of their kneeling before the false god to which the terrorists pledge their allegiance.

Kneeling in prayer is certainly important. Paul before leaving Ephesus ended his worship experience with his fellow believers on his knees (Acts 20:36). Knowing all this I believe it is now time we all KNEEL DOWN!!

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Our King Jehovah needs to see our knee bowed in prayer.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Luke 22:41 “Christ our example”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I kneel before You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Have you ever knelt in prayer and why or why not?
  2. Would you kneel before a terrorist voluntarily knowing its symbolism?
  3. Is kneeling important to true worship and why or why not?
  4. Will you kneel today in prayer?

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF A BLESSING

Long standing tradition has it that when a young man seeks to marry someone’s daughter that they ask for the girl’s father’s blessing. I experienced that as I am sure many of you did. A blessing which in Biblical terminology is a benediction has long standing tradition. In fact it was instituted by God moments after He created man and woman (Genesis 1:27-28). This act of blessing is divinely approved (Deuteronomy 10:8) and from its Jewish tradition continues to this day.

There are numerous benediction forms but the one we know best is the Aaronic blessing. It is first recorded in Numbers 6:24-26 where the Lord spoke it to Moses to share with Aaron and the people of Israel. It is the words many, if not most, Christians close their worship service with and is meant to relay God’s blessing on His people. In fact the words were Jesus’s last words as He raised His hands in blessing before His ascension (Luke 24:50-51).

Today this benediction is still important in Jewish tradition. Fathers speak the words over their daughters before Friday evening meals. In the Synagogues it is a part of worship but preceded with the word ‘shalom’ meaning peace. A tradition that ties the Jewish and Christian faith together since the time of Christ.

Also today we carry this act of benediction into our home as we say a blessing before our meals. This blessing dates back long before Christ whenever bread was on the table and now continues even when the bread is absent. A short prayer of blessing was said before the meal and a long blessing after always thanking God for His wonderful favor. This is THE IMPORTANCE OF A BLESSING.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Benedictions or blessings have a beloved history since the beginning of time.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Numbers 6:24-26 “the characteristics of a blessing”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for all Your many blessings.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is the Aaronic benediction found in Numbers 6:24-26?
  2. Upon who all in Scripture was a benediction pronounced?
  3. What historic significance is there in ‘breaking bread’ and having it on the table to eat?
  4. Do you say a blessing before you eat?

GETTING IN TOUCH WITH GOD

Today there are almost as many ways to get in touch with God as there are fish in the lake or so people think. Human nature leads us to believe drugs, yoga, and numerous other New Age teachings will help us find that right relationship that will bring us a little of ‘heavenly bliss’. These folks stake their eternity on those man made notions while I choose the inspired Word of God. Here I turn to Christ’s own words in John 14:6 saying: “I am the way…No one comes to the Father except through Me”. A statement each of us can take or leave but for me the evidence points to Christ and His Triune nature alone. This access is there for each of us through the blood Christ shed on the cross (Ephesians 2:13).

The Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:18) lifts us up by our faith in God (Romans 5:2) and God receives and forgives by His manifold grace. When we have need or simply take some time we can converse with Him through prayer (Matthew 6:6). Those conversations are always special. It should also be noted that we are to come boldly before Him (Hebrews 4:16) not with pride but yet not afraid of our Father.

For those who feel their life of sin is too grievous to forgive they need to reflect on the prophet Isaiah’s words (56:7) knowing God is abundant in His forgiveness.

What I know for certain is that as King David proclaims in Psalm 27:4 we who are God’s people eagerly seek to dwell in God’s House. What a blessing that will be as we continue in this life GETTING IN TOUCH WITH GOD.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: With access to God we receive acceptance and realize His great abundance through repentance and forgiveness.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: John 14:6 “one way”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for Your many blessings.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How are you finding access to God?
  2. Why do so many choose a way they think God can be found other than through Christ?
  3. What other ways do people use to seek God?
  4. What is the Holy Spirit’s role in this?

AN ANSWER TO PRAYER!

If you have ever felt frustrated over a  situation you found yourself in after asking the Lord for deliverance from it you are in great company. King David, one upon whom God showed great favor, felt the same way (Psalm 44:24). So also did the prophet Jeremiah who expressed his frustration by complaining to God as recorded in Jeremiah 12:1-4.

Perhaps the greatest frustration felt and expressed was our Savior Himself in the final moments before His death on the cross. In Matthew 27:46 we hear Him say: “My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken Me”. The pain we feel when uttering our prayers are not so great as He Who died for all mankind’s sins.

So why does it seem God refuses to answer our prayers. God wants all of us to be saved. That requires we be driven to a point of confession and out of it understanding. As Psalm 66:18 tells us: “The Lord will not hear” if we have iniquity (sin) in our heart. We need to pray daily confessing our sin.

God also refuses selfish prayer (James 4:3). Prayers desiring personal gain rather than that which will carry out His will and further His kingdom is misplaced prayer. We should not doubt that God can and will answer our prayers (James 1:5-7) but they need to have proper intent and purpose.

God expects obedience and that requires we spend time reading and hearing His Word (Proverbs 28:9). Not only should we become familiar with the Word but God expects us to help those in greatest need (Proverbs 21:13) if we desire to be heard.

Today humble yourself unlike the pharisee of Luke 18:12-13. Come to our Lord in the right frame of mind and know you will receive AN ANSWER TO PRAYER.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Prayers prayed in proper fashion are promised to be heard.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 44:24 “plea to be heard”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I humbly beseech You hear my prayers.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Do you examine your heart before praying?
  2. Have you ever expressed frustration  with God?
  3. Do you express your sin frequently to God?
  4. What is your plan to help those in need?

RELATED BLOGS: A nation close to God and Requirements of Prayer.

EVER FAITHFUL!

Those of us married in a church may remember words from our wedding vow that went “till death do us part”. The statement reflects the idea of being ever faithful unless one party adulterates the relationship unwilling to change.

Our Lord God has made such a vow to each of us sealed on the cross to be ever faithful to us not just for this life but for all eternity. That bond can only be broken if we through the free will He allows us decide to deny Him and His Word.

Pastor E. M. Bounds once said that such an ever faithful God needs to be engaged and absorbed because of how He enriches and empowers our life. One manner of doing this is through the Pauline prayer method which stated in Colossions 1:3 is simply to “pray always”. This is also pointed out in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

As we grow in righteousness through the process of sanctification ever more desiring to grow in His image we will want to be in prayer more often. Not just the prayers we say out of habit at mealtime, church or bedtime. We need to be about really communicating with God letting all that is in our heart speak and not just our mind.

There are many general requirements Scripture puts before us for our prayer life as I spoke about earlier in a related blog but suffice it to say that one of the primary keys to unlock the door that allows for an unbelievable relationship is to be EVER FAITHFUL.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Praying produces precious promises God desires for each of us.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Colossions 1:3 “pray always”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I desire to talk with you more often.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How often are you in communication with God?
  2. Explain the importance of faithfulness?
  3. What does it mean to ‘adulterate’ a relationship?
  4. How does prayer enrich and empower?

RELATED BLOG: Requirements of prayer

GETTING PRAYER ANSWERED!

Communication that is open and honest is what our society needs perhaps as much as anything. Certainly this should apply outside the family but within the family it is an even greater necessity. Yet even that is not the number one need. That remains for the communication on prayer between God and the righteous (a character approved by God) man and woman.

When each of us take on the mantel of living a righteous life and we pray fervently God will hear us as James 5:16 tells us. To understand this and open the lines of communication like a newly opened blood vessel to the heart we need to understand what is necessary to correct and verse 16 begins with the fact that we must confess our sins. I suspect this is the verse for our Roman Catholic friends that is used for justifying their Sacrament of Confession to a priest. Whether it is or not one thing is certain. That is that society and many of its psychologists have redefined sin as ‘neurosis’ or ‘problems’ often obscuring personal responsibility for the sinful act. That certainly isn’t helping our desire for effective prayer.

Isaiah 59:1-2 lets us know we need to confess our sins directly to God while also being genuinely sorry. If our confession and sorrow are sincere we will not only intend to stop sinning but actually stop. Doing so James and others in Scripture tell us we must then ask in prayer for the right reasons never doubting that He will answer. This  is the way to GETTING PRAYER ANSWERED!

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Prayer packs potency when presented properly.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: James 5:16 “getting prayers answered”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I confess my sin before You and pray for Your open heart.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How does your prayer life look?
  2. What has society done to sin?
  3. What are you doing to grow in righteousness?
  4. When you confess your sins what happens next?

RELATED BLOG: A nation close to God! and A new beginning!

OVERWHELMED-MY EYES ARE ON YOU!

In reflecting on my life and the world around, I am often overwhelmed. Human nature calls me to be in control. Life should not be overwhelming. Yet often it is as I see sin popping up it’s ugly head in numerous ways. This may occur at a personal level or the many ways that the outside world impacts us.

King Jehoshaphat experienced this in 2 Chronicles 20. In that instance it was a war others would bring to his people. The number of the enemy was overwhelming. His solution was to gather his people together in prayer to God. In verse 12 we have the words I often recall that are key in ALL situations where we may feel overwhelmed. Those words from the King were “our eyes are upon you”.

The answer to the problem time and again is found in vs. 15 of 2 Chronicles 20. It is there we read: “for the battle is not yours but God’s”. Certainly we need to act on our faith as we cover ourselves with God’s Armour and live by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but God is still our General.

In life we can focus on personal matters, how our churches, communities and even nation seem to be in disarray but that solves nothing. The answer is to focus on the solution not the problem. The answer is that when we are OVERWHELMED WE NEED TO PUT OUR EYES ON GOD.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Spiritual eyesight provides evidence of the power of God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Chronicles 20:12 “point of reference”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord my eyes are on You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is overwhelming you most today?
  2. What overwhelming issues should bring us together in prayer?
  3. Are you able to let God do battle for you?
  4. How does effective prayer work?

 

EXAMINATION TIME!

School is back in session and soon teachers will hand out exams to see how well students are doing. Political season which seems ever present leads us to examine policy positions of those seeking leadership. Additionally (especially with increasing age) we have doctors examining us. All necessary but all are cases where others are examining us for our needs or something which is outside the realm of self-examination.

I am someone who has always been reluctant to be examined by others be they teachers, doctors, etc. As a person who is strongly self-driven it seemed for the most part unnecessary. Examination of self by ourselves is indeed Scriptural and necessary (1 Corinthians 11:28).

In 1 Corinthians 11:27-31 we find that it is necessary to do so before we take the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion). As someone once said we should come before the Lord and His table with a soul that is like a crystal vile filled with clear water and not the slightest uncleanness visible. Self-examination before taking communion once was and should again be a serious commitment by each of us.

This self-examination is done through our praying. Opening our life to God. In fact the root word for prayer means ‘to judge’. In our praying we judge and examine ourselves and in our failure to do so we open ourselves to demonic attack which can lead to illness or even death as Corinthians tells us.

King David understood this when in Psalm 26:2 he called in prayer to God to have his heart and mind opened. Doing this (self-examination through prayer) is necessary for real faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Examination by others certainly is important to our well being but self-examination is critical. May we all understand that it is EXAMINATION TIME.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Examination of self is necessary so evil does not establish itself in us.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 11:28 “Examination of self must precede the Lord’s Supper”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I wish to be cleansed of all my sin.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do you approach preparation for Holy Communion?
  2. Do you examine yourself daily in your prayer life?
  3. What other tools of self-examination do you use?
  4. Why is it important to come clean at the Lord’s table?