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Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

Personally, I would much rather go around them. Wouldn’t we all? But then there is this thing called ‘life’. Every where I turn lately, there seems to be . . . ‘life’. There is good, but bad just seems to not be willing to let go – to not get out of the way.

Paul’s comment to the believers in Antioch struck me. Not just that we must go ‘through’ hardships, but that we must go through them ‘to enter the kingdom of God’. I like the part of God’s kingdom that is free of hardships. They are like front door blessings – blessings that everybody sees and associates as ‘God’s blessings’. But Paul is talking about another kind of blessing – another part of the kingdom of God that is not seen. They are more like ‘back door’ blessings.

These blessings and part of the kingdom of God are found when we, with the help of God, go through our hardships. It is like a trailer I was pulling one time. One of the 4 wheels was a little too low on grease and burned up. The wheel was still there – it endured the haul – but the hub was burned out. The other 3, with the right amount of grease, didn’t even get warm.

It is possible in our hardships to enter the kingdom of God and relatively speaking, not even get warm. (Well maybe a little) But that is what Paul is referring to; and in chapter 16 he demonstrates it. Amidst all the good that happened in the chapter, he also experiences the bad of being thrown in prison. He was put in the inner cell and his feet were fastened with stocks. (Hardships are like that; they can lock you up.)

But through prayer, Paul entered the kingdom of God. Before his hub got hot he added the grease of prayer. He wrestled with God until he gained God’s perspective. Once he did, he was able to sing. Afterwards, the doors and chains that locked him up opened and fell off.

The Lord may not always cause the doors and chains of our lives to open and fall off as He did with Paul; but, at a minimum, He can keep our hub from burning up. As I am learning about most things lately, it is not just all or none; we can enter a little, or a little more, or a lot. We can keep from burning up. We can keep from getting warm. In some cases . . . we can enter enough to sing.

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Murderous Threats

Acts 9 begins with this verse; “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples”. As soon as I read it, I thought of my own situation. My enemy was breathing out murderous threats against me. I could readily relate to the thought. What happened over the next few days is a good example of how the Lord speaks and guides through the reading of His word.

When I first read it, it shed light on the source of my thoughts. I read and could see that God did not particularly like the fact that Saul was disturbing His church; and from it, I figured He didn’t like it that Satan was disturbing me.

And so I prayed; ‘Lord is there something You can help me see – some kind of evidence that confirms You are still in control of my situation?’ Just as Saul’s threats were taking its toll on the church, Satan’s threats were taking their toll on me.

The more I thought about what I was reading, the more it became clear that Satan was the source of my trouble. The Lord was confirming it. He was shining His light on my path. As I understood that He was concerned enough for His church that He took care of its enemy, it helped me to see that He was concerned enough for me that He was taking care of mine.

Acts 9:31 tells the rest of the story; “Then the church enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord”. John says that Jesus “was the light of men”, and that “The light shines in darkness”. His light truly did shine in my darkness. He was my light. He gave me peace and strengthened me. He encouraged me through the Holy Spirit. In the fear of the Lord is a great place to live.

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The economy has changed our way of living. We do less and have less than we did when times were good, but somehow we lack nothing and are richer than we ever have been. Life on the edge can be exciting in more ways than one. It is a great place from which to see God do some pretty cool stuff, but occasionally I still wish we were a little further away from the edge.

A week or so ago as I approached my praying time, a part of me wanted to pray for the Lord to provide our needs. The more I thought about it, they were really our wants; as legitimate as they were, they were still wants. I had prayed for them before (hoping to get a little further away from the edge) but God has always chosen instead to ‘dole’ out His provision. So instead, I asked the Lord for whatever He would gladly give.

I recently started a jail ministry with a friend of mine who has been doing it for years. The last couple of weeks the Lord has blessed me with an ability to express verbally, what I have only before been able to express in writing. I have sensed His help as never before. Last night, as the evening seemed to be going very well, at the end, 3 guys decided they wanted to be a Christian. I believe the Lord gladly gave us last night.

Lately as I have prayed, overall, instead of praying for our need/wants, I have had the sense that nothing is too hard for Him. If He wanted to lift us away from the edge He could. The day that I was tempted to pray for it and didn’t, I later had this thought about it. I had wanted to pray for things that I might be secure. Later that day I remembered, ‘I have Him who owns all things’.

It is one thing for us guys to live on the edge. We can handle it. But for the sake of a wife and family, we desire for them the security they long for. There is that ying and yang—trusting and hoping that we can’t completely shake. We are all learning. We are all so much further along in trusting than we ever were. My wife amazes me sometimes. Sometimes she is the strong one.

We received a card a couple of days ago that will likely settle next to one we have had on display now for about 3 years. The cover of the 3 year old card reads: ‘When God closes one door, He opens another’. Inside is the tagline, ‘But it’s hell in the hallway’.

The one we just got is as if God Himself wrote just for us. On the cover . . .
The source of your strength is His strength.
The focus of your faith is His faithfulness.
The source of your security is His everlasting love.
Inside . . .
Gen. 18:4 Is anything too hard for the Lord?
and . . .
The provision for the need you face will be met through His incredible resources.

His resources are truly endless. I believe He delights to give to those who trust Him.

Thanks Deb for the card.

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A Mother Cries

A mother cries, ‘Oh Lord my son’;
there is no hope but Thee.
I beg of You, please spare him Lord,
in this my painful plea.

O church rise up and fight the fight,
join in a mother’s cry.
Lay hold the hem and don’t let go;
don’t quit before you try.

A mother cries, lone voice is heard;
she’s weak against the foe.
Whose heart is moved to lend a hand?
Who’ll stand to make him go?

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A few days ago, a severe storm blew through our area.  With winds exceeding 100 mph, it caused a fair amount of damage.  I was on a farm when it hit.  After the storm passed, the owner and I checked for damage.  The roof of one barn was gone.  We could see another one in the distance was completely gone and would later find that he lost a third one.

 

We drove as far as we could to check the one we could see.  A lot of downed trees blocked the way.  When we got to the site, we found some of his cows standing by the fence eating hay as if nothing had happened.  Some had gone into the barn to get out of the storm and were standing in two clear spots also eating hay.  The barn had somehow collapsed around them. 

 

Two were not so lucky.  Three wall sections were on top of them.  They were still alive but the weight had pushed them down into the mire.  We went for equipment to lift the wall the sections.  Once lifted, both struggled to free themselves and eventually made it, but the one which took most of the weight and was the farthest back naturally had a lot more trouble.  It felt good to see them both finally up. 

 

On the way home, which was another ordeal cutting and pulling trees off the roadway, I kept thinking about the cows.  I thought of the ones out by the fence and then the ones that were standing in the openings of the downed barn.  The latter were not more than 10 feet away from the ones that were trapped, but all just stood there eating hay.  None of them cared about the two. 

 

The Lord reminded me of a poem I had just read.  The first stanza goes as follows:

Oh altar, tell me of the day
When saints would tarry, weep and pray
When you were drenched with holy tears
As all the saints of God drew near

Are we guilty of standing by the fence enjoying our hay, not caring that so many are hemmed in by sin or worse yet, stuck deep in its mire?  Are we among those who are hemmed in yet content as long as we have our hay?  Are we among those who are stuck deep in the mire, hoping that someone would come along to help? 

We have lost the urgency to pray.  We need to get it back.

Oh altar, you have long been dry
Have we now no tears to cry?

For the entire poem, visit heismydelight.wordpress.com and look for ‘Oh alter’

 

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