Prayer

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June 21

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

This past Sunday, as part of the Father’s Cay special the church had, one of the men used the father with the demon-possessed son. You can find his story in Mt. 17 and also in Mk. 9. It is the Mark 9 passage which is actually fuller with information and I’d like to use that one.

As Jesus, Peter, James and John made their way down from the Mount of Transfiguration, they were met by a swarm of people. Front and center was a father whose son was demon-possessed. He had begged and pleaded with the disciples to heal his son-to cast out the demon-but they were unable to. So the father tells Jesus what has been happening. Putting aside Jesus’ words about the faithlessness of the others, the father brings his son to Jesus and about that time the demon throws him on the ground and into convulsions. The conversation next is my point:

Jesus: “How long has this been happening?”

Father: “From childhood.”

Father: “But if you can do anything…” (emphasis mine)

Jesus: “IF? All things are possible to those who believe.”

Father: “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

Jesus heals his son.

Notice the exchange? “If?”  “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

That father is me sometimes. There are occasions when I bring very little faith to the table. I’m barely holding on. But He is willing to take what little faith I have and make it greater. I have often said, “He takes my #2 faith and make is a #8 or a #10 faith.”

Jesus builds faith; He doesn’t tear it down. If there is any tearing down, it is to tear down our self-sufficient “faith” and build a kingdom faith.

May your (and my) faith increase.

 

March 10

Thursday, March 10th, 2022

I read this morning that at the conclusion of 2019 the Bible app, YouVersion, revealed that the most-shared, highlighted, and bookmarked verse of the year was Philippians 4:6-“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  Think about that date…2019. The pandemic was just starting. I suspect that verse stayed in the Top 3 over the next two years as well. 

We are a worrying and fearful people. We are an anxious people. We have gadgets which are supposed to make our lives easier but I’m of the opinion they have done the opposite. Instead of sitting and enjoying one another’s company, we are on our phones. Even when you haven’t seen someone in awhile and the time should be spent laughing and visiting, our faces are planted on our phone and our fingers are either scrolling or typing at breakneck speed.

Sorry for the tangent. Off the soapbox. We are a worrying people. Some concern, of course, is natural and good. Love is like that. But our “worry-rate” is off the charts. Even followers of Jesus live in fear.

I have to believe God wonders about it all. We call ourselves followers of Jesus but then fret. The old cartoon of someone biting their fingernails off like a typewriter (remember those?) comes to mind. But, you see, I gave you Phil. 4:6. What I didn’t give you was verse 7: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

The psalmist had a serious question in Psalm 13, one I suspect runs rather rampant these days: “How long, Lord, how long?” Stay tuned for my next devotion as I take a look at Psalm 13 and see what David found out in answer to his question.

Meanwhile...”May the Lord bless you and keep you, May the Lord cause His face to shine on you and be gracious to you; The Lord lift you up and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

All Scripture is from the NASB2020.

February 2

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022

In my daily Encounter Time, I read several portions of Scripture. I read and underline through the Psalms on an almost daily basis. I’m almost always in the Psalms. Every other month I read a chapter a day of Proverbs. 31 chapters=31 days. I’m currently reading through the NT for the 2nd consecutive time since 2021. My first trip was through while using the New Living Translation. I am now slowly making my way using the NASB2020. I take it slow-one chapter at a time. I’m currently in Colossians.

To keep me more aware of what I’m reading (yes, my mind wanders) not only do I highlight a verse or two, I’d like to use this time to blog about a passage that stuck out to me. I do not know if this will be a 4 post effort-given there are 4 chapters in Colossians-or if I may stretch it out some. I’ll let the Lord lead me on that.

The church at Colossae was a mess. False teaching had gripped many-Gnosticism, angel worship, heresy about who Jesus was, emphasis on “holy” days, and many others. I’ll hit some of them.

But first let me just highlight a passage in chapter 1. In verses 9-12 we have a prayer by Paul that gets to the heart of how serious the problem was in Colossae. Please take a moment to read those verses- 1:9-12. Now take note of what Paul prays for. It is not a superficial “Lord be with them today” kind of prayer. Let’s take a look:

  • Be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…so that we can…
  • …Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord
  • …Please Him in all respects
  • …Bear fruit in every good work
  • …Increase in the knowledge of God
  • …Be strengthened with all power
  • …Give thanks

In truth, each one of those could be broken down and discussed. But that is beyond my purpose this morning.  But they do serve as a true example of what to pray for when you are thinking of yourself and others.

Begin praying that God will bring that to fruit in your life. Also a question: which one of those would you like to see come alive in you?

“Father, may my prayers take on an air of alertness and earnestness for myself and for others.”

January 12

Wednesday, January 12th, 2022

My mind is not here right now. Oh…it is in my Encounter Time and it has been a good “learning” morning. But as I read my mind was also on what I need to do later today and I was seeking advice and solace. Strength. Wisdom. Guidance.

I have a funeral today. No, not mine that I know of. 🙂 A good man named Kirby went to be with Jesus last week. We are laying to rest a man who fought long and hard. There is so much to say. He was the epitome of a family man and a man of grace-one who made everyone feel important.  He wasn’t into tooting his own horn. Diagnosed with MS in 2005, I never knew until years later when I saw him walking unsteadily one Sunday afternoon at a restaurant. I asked one of his children about it and he said, “Oh, that was his MS.” “MS? I didn’t even know.” I’m not sure they will ever be able to figure out what he died of. He had been in the hospital for close to two months (mostly ICU). He did get COVID but that is not what took his life (no matter what they may say). Complications set in each time he looked forward to getting to rehab. I think his body finally said, “Enough.”

It was a shock. Still is. I simply cannot imagine the pain his bride of close to 30 is going through. They have been together since Jr. High.  I can’t imagine the emptiness she feels, nor what the two young 20s son and daughter are feeling.

I’m praying for grace. Strength. Wisdom. He was a Christ-follower so that makes it somewhat easier, but the heart know what the heart wants (in this case).

Would you mind praying for his family today? Ronda. McKenzie. Hunter. And multiple other family and friends. I suspect it will be a packed house today. And please say a prayer for me and the other pastor (their former pastor who retired). Words are often forgotten but some stick with you. I’m praying I eulogize him but lift up the name of Jesus.

Thanks.

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE

November 2

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

One of the more…ummmm…I’m not sure what word to use passages-laughable, comical, intriguing, convicting, descriptive stories in the Bible is found in Acts 12. Each time I read it i chuckle. Marvel. And understand.

Peter had been put in prison by Herod. Herod had had James, the brother of John, executed by sword, and since it was such a hit and so well-received by the people, he had Peter tossed in prison also. The night before Peter’s execution, an angel wakes Peter up and takes him out of the jail and into the city, but then disappears. Peter realizes what had just happened so he heads to the house of Mary, Mark’s mother. And here is where it gets sort of comical, but convicting.

Peter knocks on the door and Rhoda, the servant, recognizes him. She leaves him standing outside 🙂 and runs to tell the people gathered…wait for it…praying for his release. When Rhoda tells them Peter is at the door, they think she’s nuts. (Exact words: “You are out of your mind”) But with a little insistence, Rhoda convinces them she isn’t nuts and Peter is standing at the door. (I wonder…did it dawn on her she left him standing outside?). Verse 16 says, “and when they opened the door, they saw him and were amazed.”

Two things hit me as I read that this morning:

  • They were amazed. Why? Because their prayer was answered!

OR

  • They were amazed because their prayer was answered.  Think about this before you answer. How many times have you been amazed by God’s answers to your prayer. He was listening to your prayer.  He was paying attention to you! And He knew the right time to answer.

I like surprises, especially good ones. To me, this is a good surprise. I am amazed and surprised how God answers my prayers.  I chuckle at their reaction to Rhoda’s message. But sadly, I can relate.

“Father, may I constantly be surprised by the way You answer my prayers. Help me to never lose the wonder of You.”

October 14

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

I’ve contemplated what to write this morning based on events of the past day.  First, from my Bible reading this morning are three passages:

Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; Make His deeds known among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Tell of all His wonders. Boast in His holy name; May the heart of those who seek the Lord be joyful.” (103:1-3)

“Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For his mercy is everlasting.”(106:1)

“In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence , And His children will have refuge.” (Pr. 14:26)

I needed those verses this morning. Yesterday about 10:00 I got a text from Tami, our daughter, that she needed me to take her to the ER. An episode at school had the school nurse tell the principal, “She needs to get to the ER.” Jo and I found ourselves sitting in the ER with her until 7:00, except for a short reprieve of coming home to grab a bite to eat and to get some of Tami’s stuff. Late last night, about 10:00, Tami texted me saying they said she was having signs of a heart attack and they were doing a heart cath this morning. She has been dealing with parosmia (distorted taste and smell) since March 1, a side effect of COVID. Food smells horrible. All meats smell rotten or like a dead animal and tastes the same. Being around certain smells has her wanting to head to the bathroom (and she teaches Kindergarten kids). We thought, at first, all the symptoms she had might be from that. We will find out some answers today, I hope. Meanwhile, I’m clinging to those 3 verses.

Another request: my good friend, Ryan S (techgeek), who comments on this blog and is my admin, emailed me yesterday that his wife’s sister’s house burnt down yesterday and it appears to be a total loss. I don’t know her name (but God does).

Would you please stop and pray for these two requests? And would you please pray for Ryan and Amanda and for me and Jo? I’m trusting those verses to be true.  Thanks.

May 26

Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

In a chapter filled with gems, one stood out to me this morning. My reading of the NT finds me in Philippians 1 this morning. {Please take a moment to read that right now}

Paul prays their love would overflow more and more, and that they will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. (v.9)

He prays they will see the fruit of their salvation-the righteous character produced by Jesus in their life. (v.11)

But these simple words stood out to me this morning: “For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” (20-21) Emphasis mine.

Standing for Christ is only easy when surrounded by like-minded people. It is easy to be strong when there is no opposition. But Paul is praying for boldness when tested.

But what struck me is his phrase: “And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ.” Those simple words say it all. That should be my prayer on a daily basis.

It should be yours also.

There is virtue in dying with Jesus on your lips. There is an ever greater virtue living with the words and name of Jesus on our lips. I pray my life will bring honor to Him.

“Father, that should be my daily prayer. Make it so. I reiterate it this morning: May my life bring honor to You.”

All Scripture is the New Living Translation.

May 18

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021

In my journey though the NT, I cracked open Ephesians this morning. I know Ephesians is filled with good stuff since I have read through it countless times. But the prayer Paul prays in chapter 1 has always “hit” me- even more this morning. I think it might be because the elders of the church here made a commitment to pray for the people of OVCF.  So each morning (except for weekends) I pray for a certain group of people for a month. We are on our second way through the directory as I write.

Anyway, Paul prays for the Ephesians (verses 15-23). Broken down here is what he prays for:

  1. He thanks God continually for them.
  2. He prays for them to be given spiritual wisdom and insight so they might grow.
  3. He prays for their hearts to be flooded with light (enlightened) so they can understand the hope they have been given.
  4. He prays they will understand the greatness of God’s power. Jesus was raised from the dead and is seated at God’s right hand.
  5. (My summation): He prays they will understand God’s authority in all creation, especially His church.

Paul’s concern is more than “God bless them today” or “God be with them.” To run the race and finish well we have to go deeper.  And Paul challenges me to pray that way for others.

Why not join me in praying “deeper” for people.

“Father, may I see Paul’s guidance in prayer. May I pray more ‘meaty’ prayers for the people I pray for. May their faith-and mine- grow as they are prayed for.”

April 12

Monday, April 12th, 2021

I grew up in church. I think I was there from the earliest time mom could bring me. Back then doctors said, “Take your child to church, the grocery store, shopping. It’s not going to hurt them. In fact, it will be good for them.” Exposure to the outside was seen as a good thing since they felt it helped with immunity. I can only remember one shot (although I’m sure there were more)- the polio vaccine.

We had both our girls in church and the nursery the first chance we had. Today’s parents keep their child in and away from church for the first year then won’t let them alone in the nursery. Okay so that is a slight exaggeration (6 months maybe but not a year). 🙂

But I digress.

I learned a lot growing up in the church. Like how to pray. “We thank Thee, O most Mighty and Holy One. We thank Thee…” You get the point. The more flowery the better.  In one man’s case, the longer the better…even if he repeated himself several times.

I learned as I got older that God’s not interested in long flowery prayers punctuated by a lot of King James English. He is delighted in humble hearts that give simple prayers. Matt Redman wrote a song with the lyrics: “May my words be few.” I’m guessing that pleases God. A humble heart with simple words. Not a rehearsed speech. Not a copycat of someone else. Just me and Him. Just you and Him.

“Father, may I realize what you really want is a humble heart seeking You. No pretense. No hypocrisy. Just a heart wanting to speak to You.”

March 12

Friday, March 12th, 2021

I want to continue with my thoughts on gratitude.

I Cor.13 tells us “These three remain-faith, hope, and love-but the greatest of these is love.” (13:13). I’d like to think about those three words when it comes to gratitude.

FAITH. We often hear Hebrews 11:1 quoted: “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (NLT)  The kind of gratitude which should flow from us is the kind which comes from trusting in the absolute and total lordship of Jesus, that He is sovereign over all things and that includes what happens in our lives. All events. All circumstances. IN. HIS. HANDS. God wastes nothing.

HOPE. The one quality which holds us together. It is fine believing and trusting. But hope tells us there is both a purpose and an end.  Faith tells us nothing was wasted, hope tells us nothing will be wasted. If we know there is an end-even though we cannot see it-we can hold on.

LOVE. The very culmination of it all. God’s love overrides evil, oversees every event, and overwhelms us with the glory of His Presence. It is this love which took Him to the cross and it is this same love that will bring us home.

“Father, may faith, hope and love be evident in my gratitude. My head says, ‘You know all that is going on.’ Please convince my heart with your overwhelming love.”