Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Heart Committed to Prayer-Post 2

Continuing with the blessings of prayer....

4) Improved Relationships
  • You cannot think about yourself & others at the same time.
  • You cannot hate the person you are praying for.
  • You cannot neglect the person you are praying for.

"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." Matthew 5:44

5) Contentment

"Let your conduct be without covetousness, be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said 'I will not leave you nor forsake you'." Hebrews 13:5

The world would have us believe that more is better, things will make us happy, and money is the answer to all. But God tells us differently....the voice of truth says that we are to be content with what we have, not ask for more. This does not mean that being poor is good or being wealthy is bad...we are to be satisfied with what we have, be it little or much. Elizabeth George says "If he doesn't meet it, you didn't need it!".

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory, no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly." Psalm 84:11.

6) "God"-Confidence

The world teaches us that self-confidence is what we should strive for. Be independent, self-reliant, need no one else. But God teaches us we should need Him, depend on Him, rely on Him. Through prayer we can become "God"-confident. As we make choices that honor God, His spirit fills us and we are able to confidently share our joy.

"Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing." Psalm 100:2

God-confidence gives us the ability to do His will with delight, anticipation and courage.

"I delight to do Your will, O my God; and you law is in my heart." Psalm 40:8

7) The Ministry of Prayer

Most of us know the power of prayer, how it can change lives. It is a ministry in itself. As a wife and mother who works outside the home, I often feel I don't have the time I would like to devote to ministry (a fact that I am trying to change). But, I can always pray. My ministry is through my prayers.

Father, help me to pray for my enemies. Let me lift them up to you, bless them and their families. Lord, let me be content with what You have provided for me. Keep the desire for more out of my heart and away from my soul. Remind me that the things of this earth are fleeting, and my treasure is in Heaven with You. Help me to be "God"-confident, not self-confident, for I know that I am weak and my only value is in You. Lord, let my prayers be a ministry, remind me to pray for those seeking You and those who need healing, physical and spiritual. Let my prayers change lives through You.


Friday, April 23, 2010

A Heart Committed to Prayer-Post 1

I am continuing my journey to becoming "A Woman After God's Own Heart". This week I have been reading on prayer. According to Elizabeth George...there are 7 blessings to prayer (I am sure there are more, but these are the 7 discussed in the book!). I am going to break this down into 2 posts for ease of reading.

1) A Deeper Relationship with God

Prayer increases faith and provides a place to unload your burdens. No matter what this world can do, God has already overcome it!

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33.

Prayer connects you to God in a personal and intimate way. I have a place to go and lay all my burdens down on God and He cares personally for each and every one.

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7.

Prayer teaches us that God is always near. It is vitally important to take time every day to spend alone with God. I find the more I do that, the more I find my self seeking Him in times of joy as well as trouble.

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

"The purpose of prayer is to reveal the presence of God equally present all the time in every condition." Oswald Chambers (Scottish minister & teacher 1874-1917)

Prayer trains us not to panic. Often we go to God in a panic already, over a situation that has arisen in our lives. But He already knows, and does not desire His children to panic. If we are constantly seeking Him in prayer, we have no need to lose heart and panic.

"Then he spoke a parable to them, that men ought always to pray and not lose heart." Luke 18:1

2) Greater Purity

Confessing sin is imperative to the process of spiritual growth. We cannot continue to mature if we are holding on to our old and sinful ways.

"Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things." 1 Timothy 3:11

Confess sins not only at prayer time, but each time you do them. Pray for God to remove it from your life. I often find myself frustrated with people on the road...especially when I am in a hurry; I also find myself frequently confessing my sin of anger (otherwise known as 'road rage') to God as I am driving!

"If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell." Matthew 5:29

3) Confidence in Making Decisions

Make no decision without prayer. Great idea...but harder than you think. I make dozens of decisions on a daily basis, some big, some small, but I know I should stop and pray before each and every one. Prayer before making decisions results in peace about what you decide and a confidence in that decision and its outcome. Prayer can also prevent us from making decisions to please others or ourselves rather than what pleases God.

"For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." Galatians 1:10

Lord, guide me in my prayer life. Help me to build a stronger relationship with You. Remind me to confess my sins to You, for otherwise, I cannot mature. Let me bring every decision to You. Guide my heart and help me to please You, not me, not anyone else.


Monday, April 19, 2010

A Heart Abiding In God's Word

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters which spreads out its roots by the river. And will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of the drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8

God instructs us to nourish our spiritual root system in order to grow. We gain nourishment from reading and studying His word.

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it abundantly." John 10:10

God promises an abundant life to those who develop a root system firmly anchored in Him.

Characteristics of Roots:
  1. Roots are unseen. The most important and largest part of the plant is underground, not in plain view of society.

  2. Roots are for taking in. "When we spend time with Christ, He supplies us with strength and encourages us in the pursuit of his ways." (Elizabeth George)

  3. Roots are for storage. We can draw on our reservoir stored from God's word in times of trial.

  4. Roots are for support. "The support of a healthy root system is vital for standing strong in the Lord." (Elizabeth George).

The root system of a plant acts as a place to exchange waste for nourishment...Christ can act as our nourishment and will take our "waste" in exchange for His blessings. Weariness for strength, weakness for power, problems for solutions, turmoil for calm, hopes for promises, doubt for assurance. Whatever troubles we bring to Him, nourishment for our lives can be found in His word.

Lord, help me to develop a healthy root system by being in Your word every day. Take my "waste" and exchange it for Your blessings in my life. Help me to build up my reservoirs to draw on in times of trouble and drought. Let live abundantly and produce fruit for Your kingdom.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Instruction About Forgiveness-Matt. 18:21-35

"Then Peter came to Him and said,
'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?
Up to seven times?'
Jesus said to him 'I do not say to you up to seven times,
but up to seventy times seven."
Matthew 18:21-22

Jesus goes on to tell the story of a king who showed mercy on his servant and forgave his debt of 10,000 talents, but the servant turned around and had his friend thrown in jail for a debt of 100 talents.

"And his master was angry,
and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
So my heavenly Father also will do to you
if each of you, from his heart,
does not forgive his brother his trespasses."
Matthew 18:34-35

Whose debts have you forgiven? Are you holding a grudge? Do you pray for your enemies? Jesus showed me in this passage that I should not be angry with my friends or neighbors, I need to forgive their offenses, perceived or real, and show them a small fraction of the love that God showed me by sacrificing His son for my offenses. It is easy to hold on to anger and resentment, especially when we have been hurt and feel that these feelings are justified. But not only does this anger and resentment poison our lives here on earth, it can jeopardize our relationship with God and that is not a price I am willing to pay!

Lord, help me to forgive those who have trespassed against me as you forgive my trespasses. Help me to love my neighbors and pray for my enemies. Help me to be an example of your forgiveness by letting go of my anger and resentment, no matter how justified I think it may be.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Heart Devoted to God

I have started to study a new book, well new to me...Elizabeth George's "A Woman After God's Own Heart". The first chapter is entitled "A Heart Devoted to God"....these are my thoughts on the chapter.

"For we walk by faith, not by sight" 2 Corinthians 5:7

These words are on the wall in my living room, a constant reminder of who is in control. So I ask myself...what motivates my "walk" through life? Am I motivated by worldly thoughts rather than thoughts of faith? Everyone goes through "down" times, I am currently in the middle of one that seems to stretch on and on. But what I realized just yesterday, is that it is when I turn my thoughts to the world that I end up in a world of trouble! Something as simple as not listening to Christian music or reading steamy romance novels can be enough to knock me off God's path for me. I am by no means saying that these things are wrong for everyone, but for me, they tend to open the door to living worldly, rather than godly. I notice changes in my language, changes in my attitude, changes in the way I treat my family and friends. Then I stop reading my Bible and studying His word....and that really leaves me in the middle of the ocean with no compass and no guide.

But God has given me grace! He has opened His arms and welcomed me like the prodigal son. All He asks is that I repent and change my ways....and I love Him for that! Every day we are faced with choices, and one wrong choice can lead to many more. The story of Mary & Martha preparing for a visit from Jesus reminds me to always choose the most important thing. Luke 10:42 says "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her." Martha chastised Mary for ceasing her preparations and housework to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to him teach. But Jesus showed Martha that Mary made the best choice, choosing to immerse herself in God's word and the teaching of His Son.

So how do I do this in my life? How do I change my heart to be a "heart devoted to God"?

Choose God's ways at every opportunity.
"In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths". Proverbs 3:6

God makes a promise here that if we stop and acknowledge Him at every turn in life, in every decision, before every conversation, He will direct our path and lead us in the right direction. How wonderful to know that my words, decisions, thoughts, and choices will be in the right direction as long as I look to God for guidance!

"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." Proverbs 31:30

Reverence for God is valued above beauty and charm. The world will tell us to seek these things, beauty, money, fame....but God admonishes us to seek Him and fear Him and we will be valued above rubies!

Commit yourself to God Daily.
True commitment to God is not a single act...it is a daily renewal of our love for Him. It is easy to stray one day at a time, as it happens, it doesn't seem like a big deal...but over time we find ourselves lost at sea. But God can guide us back to His chosen path for us. Nineteenth-century devotional writer, Andrew Murray, said "God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him." In a society that wants to constantly pass responsibility on to someone else, a society full of waivers, disclaimers, pre-nuptial agreements, etc....God will take responsibility for your life, if you only yield it to Him!

So to daily commit to God, start each day with a prayer, committing your day to His service. Betty Stam was a missionary in China who prayed daily:
"Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my time, my all, utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit. Use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt, work out Thy whole will at any cost , now and forever."
She prayed this prayer every day including the last day of her life when she and her husband were abducted and executed leaving behind their 3-month old baby in a mud hut on China Island.

Cultivate a hot heart.
"I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth". Revelation 3:15-16
God does not want us to be cold-hearted: unemotional, unaware, unconscious. Nor does He desire us to be lukewarm: indifferent, apathetic. He wants us to be on fire for Him; passionate, excited, full of emotion. Let your fire be seen daily, not just at church or with friends. Let the world know that you have a fiery passion for God!

Lord, I pray that I will be committed to You. That I will devote my life and myself wholly to Your service. That I will renew my devotion daily. I pray that I will seek Your guidance in all decisions in my life. Lord, I desire a heart on fire for You, a heart devoted to You in all ways. -Amen-