Faithful in That Which is Least

Are you faithful in the little things?

Little things:

  • Did you get your daily chores finished before you went to bed, or did you leave some undone so that you could do stuff that may not have been on God’s list?
  • Were you faithful in showing love to your spouse and children?
  • Did you return that little item? You don’t know exactly how it ended up with you, but you know where it goes.
  • Did you spend quality time with God?
  • Did you rejoice in the day the Lord has made, or did you grouse?
  • Did you remember to thank God for all things?
  • Were you respectful to others, counting them as more important than yourself?
  • Did you walk and speak with integrity all the day long?
  • Were you wise with your resources: time, money, gifts/talents?

If we are not faithful in the little things, that is an indicator that our faith is small.

God trains our faith. Notice the disciples. In Luke 17, Jesus is in the midst of teaching them about temptations, trespasses, and forgiveness. As happens so many times with the apostles and with us, they were cloudy as to the meaning of Jesus’ Words. Verse 5: And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

One of the first and most important lessons in faith-training is to read God’s Word. He tells us to pray that He will increase our faith.

Pray God to increase your faith.

Also in God’s Word are hundreds of examples for us to follow or learn from:

Noah, by faith, built the ark that saved humanity. He probably did not jump into faith the moment God called him to start collecting gopher wood. Like all of us, he started by being faithful in the little things.

I’m guessing Abram, when he was little, had many little lessons in faith. In adulthood, he was able to, in faith, fully obey his God. How? Abraham had learned that God is always faithful, that God always loved him, and that God would always protect him.

Joseph’s faith was tested in his teens when his brothers sold him into slavery. He was faithful in Potiphar’s house, he was faithful in prison (remember that part about thanking God for all things?), and he was faithful as a high ruler in Egypt. Here, too, Joseph probably had much faith-training as he grew up, and was rewarded time and again for that growing faith.

David was called the Friend of God. He learned as a boy how faithful God is, and he carried that with him all his life.

Study the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. All these people were able to look back on their own lives. What did they see first? The faith of God. And they could see what God had worked through them.

Faith does not come easily. God has designed us so that we learn through trials, tribulations, and struggles. It has to be that way because our flesh is so strong, and we must learn to put away the flesh.

James 1.2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

AND – look what God can do through those who are faithful!

In the Bible, we get to see the results of the faithful work of others. Every once in a while, God gives us a peek at the results of our own faithfulness (I love it when He does that!). We know not what God intends when we carry out His tasks, when we are faithful stewards with the resources He gives us. Sometimes we get a peek at the results when we are not faithful.   Arrrghh!  Those are faith-lessons, too.

Are you faithful in the little things? Is your faith increasing? What is God showing you about faith?

Hebrews 11.6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

I’m Better than You Because _____

Our Sunday School class has been going through some of 1 Corinthians. The theme recently has been division. Everything we read about and discussed from the Book was relevant to today.

The culture of the city of Corinth was that of a divided economic status. [I think of what I’ve heard of India and the caste system: whatever order you are born into is the order you stay in for life.] The wealthy of Corinth could pretty much do as they pleased (and they did) without concern for losing status. The poor of the same city could do whatever they were able, and never leave their poverty or circumstances. Into whichever level you were born, you expected to stay there always. It was accepted and understood, and no one considered mingling with others of a variant status.

Into this culture walked the apostle Paul, “in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling” (1 Corinthians 2.3). Happily, God had prepared for him some true friends in Aquila and Priscilla, and then also Apollos.

This small group, armed with the Holy Spirit and God’s Word and His direction, set out to change the culture of Corinth and set them free.

Corinth was an important city along a major trade route, with large numbers of sailors and merchants. It was also one of the wickedest cities of ancient times: immorality, scores of pagan practices and heathen religions

It must have been a shocking thing for Corinthians to hear that God created all men equal, that God loves everyone equally. Of course, hatred of God’s Word and violence against Paul’s messages were not new to Paul. It happened in Corinth, too. But in Acts 18.9, 10 God encourages and consoles Paul: “Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.” Was Paul surprised to hear that there were many people to be saved in such a city? I think not, as Paul had before seen the miracles of God’s salvation.

Paul shook his raiment when the Jews in the synagogues opposed the Christian group and blasphemed; Paul declared that he would go to the Gentiles.

Not having lived in Corinth at that time, I don’t know if the Jews living there were any more moral or kind or loving than the Gentiles. But God had given Paul a mission, and Paul knew he had the power of God to fulfill it.

I’m visualizing Paul making his tents, talking with people who pass by or want to purchase his wares. I picture him walking around to meet other people, speaking as often as the opportunity presents itself to declare Jesus Christ. He would invite them to hear more.

Christians of course did not have churches then; they met in people’s houses. Perhaps there was a group that met in and around the merchant stall where Paul and his friends had set up their tent-making trade. Can you imagine rich and poor and in-between, sitting together for the first time – no seats reserved for the mighty or the lowly, everyone taking a seat where there was one.

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians often touched on the topic of division. He must have witnessed it. Even after he left, he still received ill reports of their behavior.

This is a hard thing to embrace! God thinks I’m just as valuable and loveable as that guy over there?

The rich may think: Impossible! I’m better than anyone else in here.

The poor may think: Impossible! I could never be as important as the rich and mighty.

How about us? Do any of these thoughts barge in, unannounced?

“I’m better than you because I’m married.”

“I’m better than you because I have children / grandchildren.”

“I’m better than you because I’m not poor.”

“I’m better than you because my fingernails aren’t dirty after I scratch my head.”

“I’m better than you because I have healthy foods in my cart.”

“I’m better than you because you’re fatter than I am.”

“I’m better than you because I still have my job / I have a better job / I like my job / I get promoted in my job.”

“I’m better than you because your house is a mess.”

“I’m better than you because my house is bigger / I live in a nicer neighborhood.”

“I’m better than you because I take more medications.”

How many more can you think of?

Philippians 2.3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

What a hard lesson this is! Most of human flesh depends on assuring ourselves that we are good, and the way we look good is by looking better than others around us. We fall into this trap so easily because it’s our weak point. Look at how easily Hitler gathered Aryan followers. Look at how easily advertisers sell their products.

Look at how easily our nation has divided. “I’m better than you because I’m right.”

In a book I’m reading, the author posed the question, Do any of us really understand how much God loves us? I thought, No, only Jesus did.

That’s how Jesus could look on every single person with love. Jesus knew how much God loved Him, because He loved Him equally right back. God’s love is perfect, infinite, true. It is impossible for God to love anyone with anything less than perfect love.

If we are looking upon others with the eyes God gave us, instead of our own, then we will understand that we are, indeed, no better than anyone else on any level.

This is why we are able, in Jesus’s strength and wisdom, to serve others. When we access the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2.16), when we work from the love that God puts within us, we receive special wisdom through the Holy Spirit to look upon others with tender hearts and with understanding. We can see that all other people are on the same level we are: in need of the grace of God.

Will God use you to serve that grace to others?

1 Corinthians 1.10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Romans 15.5 – 7 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

Random Thoughts about Heaven and the Garden

My Bible reading at the end of last year took me into Revelations, where John falls down as though dead when he sees Jesus (Revelations 1.17). On Earth, this was Jesus, his buddy: they walked together for three years, ate together, exchanged words and questions and deep thoughts. But when John saw Jesus in Heaven, he fell as though dead.

Now I’m reading in Genesis. There are Adam and Eve in the Garden, walking with God in the cool of the day, and talking with Him. Do they see God face to face? No (1 John 4.12). But they walk with Him and talk with Him and do not fall down as though dead. I think that’s because Adam and Eve were perfect at that time. They knew no sin. They knew God only as their Loving Creator, and had no terror of Him.

I think that might be a glimpse of Heaven. In our fleshly sinful bodies, our minds cannot contain what absolute holiness is. But in Heaven, we will see God face to face (1 Corinthians 13.12). We will finally know how to worship Him perfectly.

One other thing has me curious about Heaven. Genesis Chapter 3 says Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field that the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’ ”

Then Eve speaks in verse 2: The woman answered the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden…”

My thought: Why did Eve not whirl around to Adam and say, “Look, this snake can talk!”

Did Adam and Eve and God routinely speak with the animals in the Garden? And might this be a peek into Heaven?

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

My readings this month have taken me into Revelations. Yeah, wow. The Dragon. The Beast. The plagues. The whore. The golden vials full of the wrath of God.

The wrath of God! Hebrews 10.31 says, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The wrath of God can be no less than bone-knocking, paralyzing, gut-wrenching terror. Look at the folks in the Bible who saw Heavenly beings – they fell down in fear. Anything that holy instantly reveals the depths and awfulness of our sinfulness.

Psalms 4.8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.

How many times does God tell us to “fear not?” Isaiah 41.10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

How do I reconcile the awful terror of standing before Almighty God in my sin, with “fear not?”

By simple obedience. God says to fear not, so I will not fear. Hebrews 13.6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Hebrews 4.16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Jesus Christ is my Savior. My name is written in the Book of Life. I may boldly approach the throne of Almighty God through the blood of Jesus Christ. Since the Lord is my helper, I will also not be afraid of what God shall do unto me. God loves me. Because He first loved me, I love Him. I am precious in His sight, a part of the body of His bride.

I welcome with open arms what God will do unto me.

And I praise Him fully:

Revelations 15.3, 4

“Great and wonderful are Your works,

O Lord God Almighty!

Just and true are Your ways,

O King of the nations!

4 Who will not fear You, O Lord,

and glorify Your name?

For You alone are holy.

All nations will come and worship before You,

for Your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Anguish in the Palm of His Hand

As we live in the palm of God’s Hand, we often suffer pain from death, physical hurt, mental anguish, broken relationships, separation, inability to fix things, hurtful words, and broken expectations.

Sometimes we bring pain upon ourselves; but often there are circumstances we cannot avoid. God always has reasons for tribulation in our lives. The most basic reason is to bring us closer to Him. Whatever is going on, God knows all about it: He is close to you, He loves you, and He wants to be your Number One Comfort.

When you are experiencing trying times, resist the temptation to fear. Remember that you live in the palm of His Hand. Give your situation, your feelings, your confusion to God, talk to Him about it, explain why it hurts so much. He wants to be your Confidante. He is your closest and best Friend.

God feels this pain with us, and He gives us Words to express our feelings.

As you speak with God, explore how you’re really doing. Think of David’s example in Psalms 25:

16 Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted. 17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses. 18 Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.

 David acknowledged his need to confess his sins and be forgiven in order to fully receive the peace and joy that God offers. Make sure you have no sin standing in the way of complete freedom before God.

In Psalms 103, we are reminded of all the blessings God showers upon us. He IS good! He DOES love us! Remember how good He is. Read the words, remember what God has worked in your own life, and praise Him:

1 {A Psalm of David.} Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; 4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; 5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. 7 He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. 10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. 17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; 18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. 19 The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. 20 Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. 21 Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. 22 Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.

A few more verses to comfort:

Romans 8.15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

1 John 4.18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Psalms 56.3, 4 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. 4 In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

And a reminder in a precious hymn:

Tell It to Jesus

From http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/t/e/l/l/tellitto.htm

Words: Ed­mund S. Lo­renz, in Frö­liche Bot­schaft­er, 1876. Trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Jer­e­mi­ah E. Ran­kin in Gates of Praise, 1880.

Music: Ed­mund S. Lo­renz

Are you weary, are you heavy hearted?
Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.
Are you grieving over joys departed?
Tell it to Jesus alone.

Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus,
He is a Friend that’s well known.
You’ve no other such a friend or brother,
Tell it to Jesus alone.

Do the tears flow down your cheeks unbidden?
Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.
Have you sins that to men’s eyes are hidden?
Tell it to Jesus alone.

Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus,
He is a Friend that’s well known.
You’ve no other such a friend or brother,
Tell it to Jesus alone.

Do you fear the gathering clouds of sorrow?
Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.
Are you anxious what shall be tomorrow?
Tell it to Jesus alone.

Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus,
He is a Friend that’s well known.
You’ve no other such a friend or brother,
Tell it to Jesus alone.

Are you troubled at the thought of dying?
Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.
For Christ’s coming kingdom are you sighing?
Tell it to Jesus alone.

Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus,
He is a Friend that’s well known.
You’ve no other such a friend or brother,
Tell it to Jesus alone.

Trust and Obey

Trust and Obey

Words: John H. Sam­mis, in Hymns Old and New (Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois: Flem­ing H. Re­vell, 1887).

Music: Dan­i­el B. Tow­ner

[In 1886] Mr. [Dwight] Moo­dy was con­duct­ing a ser­ies of meet­ings in Brock­ton, Mas­sa­chu­setts, and I had the plea­sure of sing­ing for him there.

One night a young man rose in a tes­ti­mo­ny and said, I am not quite sure…but I am go­ing to trust, and I am going to obey. I just jot­ted that sen­tence down, and sent it with the lit­tle story to the Rev. J. H. Sam­mis, a Pres­by­ter­ian min­is­ter. He wrote the hymn, and the tune was born.

            – Daniel Towner

When we walk with the Lord In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
 
Refrain
Trust and obey, For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey.
 
Not a shadow can rise, Not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, Not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
 
Not a burden we bear, Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, Not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.
 
But we never can prove The delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, For the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
 
Then in fellowship sweet We will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, Where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

From http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/t/r/u/s/trustobey.htm

This beloved hymn has been running through my head for weeks now. We sing it often at our Ladies Book Study, and we “happened” to sing it in this past Sunday’s church service.

If you don’t know the tune, you can listen to it at this site: https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/582

Read through the words of this hymn again. They offer much of the peace of God’s Truth. “To be happy in Jesus,” translates, to me, the peace that He offers when we give it all to Him and rest in Him. Truth trumps feelings, in my book. But sometimes God gives us both: when we abide in His Truth, He blesses us with the feelings, the satisfaction, of His peace.

In the last verse a picture is painted of sweet fellowship in Heaven. This is common among hymns of great faith: the last verses capture the certain hope we have of walking with Jesus in Heaven.

But I think that Jesus wants us to have Heaven on Earth with Him.

Luke 17.20, 21 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” See also Matthew 12.28, Colossians 4.11, and Romans 14.17, among many others.

“What He says we will do, Where He sends we will go; Never fear, only trust and obey.”

This is something we can have right here on Earth, and it’s what Jesus always wanted for us. When we set our minds on things above (Colossians 3.2); when we take on the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2.16); when we put on the garment of praise (Isaiah 61.3); when we abide in Him (1 John 4.13, 1 John 2.27); when we lay it all on His altar (verse 4 of our hymn); then we can walk through any facet of our life here with the complete joy and peace of Jesus Himself.

I want the peace of Jesus. I imagine Jesus when He was walking here, day by day, in perfect peace with His Father. He offers us this peace: John 14.27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

So, whether we have sunshine and lemonade and roses, or whether we have cancer and fires and deteriorating relationships: “What He says we will do, Where He sends we will go; Never fear, only trust and obey.”  We can walk in the light of His Word, and He will shed glory on our way.

 

Answered Prayer

In conversation about prayers, we sometimes hear, “God answered my prayer…” or, “God didn’t answer my prayer…” depending on what the outcome was.

God delights in prayer, God answers prayer – always. He answers in the blessing of communing with your heart. He answers in the blessing of drawing you closer to Him (James 4.8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…). He answers with the blessing of peace in your soul, comfort from knowing it all rests in His loving, intelligent, merciful design.

And when you pray…

Jesus gave us the gift of His pattern of prayer in Matthew 6:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen

In Jesus’ prayer, He does not mention asking for a list of what we’d like to see happen. Jesus’ prayer is about giving God glory, acknowledging Him as our holy King, asking for our needs (as He sees them) to be met, and asking forgiveness and protection. He ends with, again, acknowledging God’s sovereignty, power and glory.

As you pray, set your mind on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3.2).

Are we allowed to ask for stuff? Absolutely! If a friend is sick, we can ask for God to heal, and give the friend and doctors wisdom. But the bottom-line prayer is, “Thy will be done.” We can also pray that the friend receive God’s comfort and peace, and that the friend rests in the joy of knowing s/he is in the loving palm of God’s Hand.

We can always pray for salvation.

If someone is in danger of losing a job, we can pray God to intervene in the situation to either keep the job or that God will lead to another solution that none of us can think to imagine.

Maybe we are part of the solution.

I often pray, in supplication for others, for God to send good friends for support and comfort. Often God calls me to be that friend. Sometimes it’s not me.

As we pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5.17), we talk to God throughout our day. I may be looking for an item, and ask God to show me where it is. Yes, we can pray for big things and small. Life and death; keys and schedules.

What do we think prayer is?

Do not fall into the sin of believing that “God answered my prayer” is the same as “I got what I wanted.”

In speaking of our answered prayers, we can say things like:

“God answered my prayer. My cancer returned.”

“God answered my prayer. My friend died.”

“God answered my prayer. He said No to a new car for now.”

“God answered my prayer. A blizzard came in, and we couldn’t visit our family.”

All of these are answers to prayer. God gives us exactly what we need, when we need it. Thank Him.

James 4.3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

We are not called on, anywhere in God’s Word, to pray for our selfish wants. Yes, someone may want a new house or to win the lottery or to get a promotion. I think God wants to settle matters of the heart / soul / spirit first. He may answer with a No if your wish does not give Him glory, or if it would ultimately be to your detriment. When we pray and wish for things, we can only see a short-range, fuzzy picture of how things might turn out if it comes true (some of us have very active imaginations!). God sees the bigger, more perfect picture: He knows the future, He knows our hearts, He knows what is best for each of us, He knows what will bring us blessing, and He knows what will bring Him glory.

Consider prayer in James 5.14 – 16: Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

The Greek word used for “save” in verse 15 has the meaning “to save, i.e. Deliver or protect.” This does not necessarily mean the sick person is given bodily health. I believe God is interested in the spirit and soul more than the body. The prayer of faith shall save the sick. We pray in faith for salvation, salvation of our eternal souls. That soul shall God raise up, either to continue blessing those of this world (in sickness or in health); or raise up to eternity to be with Him. And, if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him!!! Oh, glorious Lord!

God’s Word contains perfect prayers. Here are a few that we can pray for ourselves and others:

Hebrews 12.20, 21 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 1.16 – 19  Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.

Ephesians 3.16 – 19 I ask that out of the riches of His glory He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Then you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 will have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth 19 of the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

And this great prayer from Revelation 7.12 Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever! Amen.

May God bless you richly in your prayers.

Give Thanks, Get Peace

Philippians 4.4-7 4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Note the progression of events:

  1. Rejoice in the Lord always.
  2. Rejoice!
  3. Let your moderation (gentleness, mildness, fairness – all of which come through Jesus) be evident to all. The Lord is with you.
  4. Be careful for nothing (like Matthew 6.25 Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.).
  5. Talk to God about your requests via prayer and supplication
    1. WITH THANKSGIVING
  6. And then what?
    • PEACE!
    • Peace which passes all understanding!
    • This peace shall keep your hearts and minds
    • How?
      1. Through Jesus Christ

~ sigh ~ Don’t we all want peace in our hearts and minds? Family, friends, the world may rage around us, but we can have peace in our hearts and minds. We can display that peace to all around us.

Have you noticed that peace calls to peace? Peace – as in “Jesus is our Peace” – is tangible and evident in our lives. When we encounter someone else who has that same Peace, we notice; it draws us. Others are drawn to us who have that Peace. We have kindred Spirits.

We can all achieve that peace in our hearts and minds through thanksgiving.

Talk to God. Bring Him your thoughts, your supplications, your fears and worries and dreams. And in all of it, give Him thanks. Give bountifully. We can thank God in all things and for all things because we know that He loves us infinitely and unconditionally. We know that He really is taking good care of us. Our perspective isn’t the same as His, so we don’t see it all. But He does. And He is wrapping His loving arms around us with everlasting tenderness.

Remember:

  1. Rejoice in the Lord
  2. Give it all to God
  3. Talk to Him
  4. Thank God for everything
  5. Receive His Peace.

The Comfort of Paul is also Ours

God has comforted me in His Word this week as I read through some of Paul’s epistles. As I meditated on The Word, I imagined Paul there, in prison, receiving comfort. From whence did his comfort come?

I know he received many visitors, as he notes in his letters.

Psalms 42.11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God

But I imagined him receiving much comfort from the Psalms and other of God’s Word. I think Paul must have memorized and meditated on much of the Old Testament, brilliant as he was. God put into Paul’s heart exactly what he would need for his days ahead.

God does the same for us. We often don’t realize it at the moment, but God orchestrates our hours and days and meetings with others all the time. He is comforting us, preparing us, and equipping us; giving us exactly what we will need now and for the days ahead.

Look at Psalms 119.17 – 24, and imagine the comfort Paul must have received. Imagine receiving that comfort, yourself:

Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.

My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.

Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.

Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.

Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.

Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellers.

Some days may not feel joyful. But we still have joy: God filled us with His Holy Spirit when He called us by name. David knew the joy of the Lord, the joy of KNOWING His salvation. On those tough days, when David was feeling far from his Lord because of evil in his own life and evil around him, he called out to his God:

Psalms 51.12 – 17:

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

What comfort does God bring you from His Word?

Psalms 39.7 And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.

Psalms 121:

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Prayer

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving. Colossians 4.2

In God’s Word, He instructs / adjures / commands / encourages us to pray. The good news is, This is for EVERYONE! Everyone can pray, regardless of limitations, circumstances, or economic status.

How to pray? Pray for what?

First, prayer is simply talking with God. In prayer, we can praise and worship Him, speak words of adoration, and talk with Him about how grateful we are for Him, His presence, His gifts, and His ways. The Psalms are great for finding words of expression. God’s Word always carries power, and praying God’s Word back to Him carries power.

  • Psalms 18.1-3 I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
  • Psalms 19.1-3 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
  • All of Psalms 23
  • Psalms 117 O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.
  • Psalms 118.28, 29 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Be sure to make time for confession and repentance as you pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to search you

  • Psalms 139.23, 24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
  • Psalms 41.4 I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee.
  • Luke 18.13, 14 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Prayer includes supplication, which is bringing needs to our Father’s throne. The needs can be for ourselves or loved ones, friends, family, neighbors, community, state, country, and world.

1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.

Tools for prayer / supplication:

  • Pen and paper (or your smartphone, if you’re good with that): When you hear prayer requests, write them down. This is important, as it is so easy to forget a request. Also very important: remember to LOOK AT your prayer list when you pray and/or throughout the day.
  • Quiet time is a luxury for some. If you can squeeze it in, do so. If your schedule doesn’t allow for dedicated prayer time, then pray on the go: driving, waiting room, grocery line, TV commercials, doing dishes, in the bathroom.
  • Prayer trigger:
    • Think of something (an event, an item) that reminds you to pray for something particular. When you see a pharmaceutical ad, pray for your ill friend. On your drive to work, and you pass a bus stop, pray for someone in a traffic accident. When it’s time for laundry, pray God to quicken and cleanse the spirit of a loved one. When you see a hospital, pray for the patients, families, and workers inside. When you see a fire / police station or vehicle, pray for law enforcement and rescue personnel. Pray for our military when you see a uniform or news spot.
    • Set an alarm at a certain time to pray about abortion or persecuted Christians or your country.

Pray for:

  • Fellow Christians (Ephesians 6.18: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. 2 Peter 3.18: But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.).
    • Pray for your church and your pastor (Luke 22.32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.).
  • The lost, and God’s people to do His work (Luke 10.2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.)
  • The sick (James 5.16 Pray one for another, that ye may be healed.).
  • Our enemies (Luke 6.28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.).
  • Our authorities (1 Timothy 2.1, 2 First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for everyone— for kings and all those in authority—so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity.)
  • A heart to pray as God wills (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18 Rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.)
  • Friends, family, loved ones (1 Thessalonians 2.8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.)
  • Jerusalem (Psalm 122.6-9 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good.
  • God’s will be done (Matthew 6.9, 10: After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Matthew 26.42: He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.)

Remember, too, that prayer is talking WITH God. Be sure to watch and listen carefully, because He answers. He speaks to us in so many ways.