Category Archives: prayer

Befriending Job

Today is All Saint’s Sunday on the Church calendar. We talked in our Ministry Moment during worship about the saints in our congregation who have already gone to their reward, but had poured the love of God and the example of their lives into us before their deaths.  Following that, this was the basics of my sermon… focusing on Job, his wife and his friends.

{Job 1:1-12, New Living Translation}

There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area.

Job’s sons would take turns preparing feasts in their homes, and they would also invite their three sisters to celebrate with them. When these celebrations ended—sometimes after several days—Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice.

One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them.“Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan.

Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”

Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”

Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God.10 You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! 11 But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”

12 “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.

In the rest of the chapter, and then in chapter two as well, we read about Job’s children being killed, his flocks, and herds, and servants being decimated, and, ultimately, even his body is affected by the demonic attack unleashed by Satan who is merely using Job to try to prove God wrong.

Job is the story of a follower of God who endures a lot of stuff.

But isn’t it interesting, that the book of Job starts with a description of Job, but the first action in the book is God and Satan. In fact, God is BRAGGING to Satan… about Job.

Essentially, God is picking a fight with the devil… who’s known here as the Accuser.

God picks a fight!

Job has done nothing wrong. Nothing to justify what happens to him after that encounter between God & Satan.

Satan hears God boast about Job and he takes the bait. He asks for permission to test Job… to prove that the only reason Job is a good follower of God because God has blessed him with so many blessings… God is SO confidant in Job’s devotion and service that He gives Satan permission to remove any blessing Job has received: children, money, wealth, possessions, and, later, in chapter two, even his health. Satan does his very best to try to make Job so miserable that he’ll give in and fall away from God.

God doesn’t cause it… but he allows it. Why? Well, to be honest, Scripture doesn’t tell us God’s reasons… in fact, at the end of the book God makes it pretty clear that “WHY?” isn’t a question He feels compelled to answer.

However, there are at least two possibles I think I see in here:

(1) God knows that Job, if he relies on his Lord, is able to handle whatever Satan tries… Now the question is WILL he choose to handle it?

(2) God knows that Job will come through this time of trouble and trial and be an even better and stronger man of God when it’s over.

Now, on this All Saints’ Sunday, I want to turn our attention and focus, not on Job, but on the people around Job. If you’re going through trouble, you know that you can look to Job as an example and draw strength from his success in enduring trouble without cursing God. If he can do it, so can you and I.

But today we want to look at Job’s wife and friends… because that’s where most of us will find ourselves… Being the family or friend of someone who is enduring great hardship.

The first one, the closest one, to Job is his wife. She cracks under the pressure and finally, in an almost suicidal kind of statement, tells Job in verses 9 & 10 of chapter 2, to “curse God and die.” She gives up and just wants the pain to stop… and is willing to give in to whatever she needs to give in to in order to make it stop.

And there’s a here-and-now warning for us as well. The psychologists and statisticians tell us that when a family endures the death of a child or some other catastrophic trauma, the marriage is likely to be the next victim. Divorce is on the horizon in most cases. You and I, under the same circumstances Job faced, would find divorce as one of the options that begins to look attractive.

If you are married to someone that is going through a tough time, you are the one and only person that can really help, or hurt, the most. Your encouragement, or your discouragement, will be one of the strongest forces in your spouse’s ultimate healing or eventual failure. And in due course, it may be the death, or rebirth, of your marriage relationship based on your choices as the supporter or detractor in the midst of trouble.

That’s why, still today, the marriage vows include the promise of staying together through “better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and health…”

You know, we never read anything else about Job’s wife, so we don’t know what she did in the end, but we know that Job refused to give up.

But now, let’s look at the three that make up most of the rest of the book.

Job has some friends. Chapter 2 verses 11-13 says

  1. Eliphaz,
  2. Bildad, and
  3. Zophar

…came to Job when they got the news of all the troubles that had befallen him. Scripture says that they came “to mourn with him and to comfort him.”

In the next few verses we read that they Cried with him, They were present with him, and they were silent.

Those were the good things they did as friends. Chapter 3, finally, Job tells them how he feels and then, and only then, do Job’s three friends start to share and talk and express their feelings.

Unfortunately, they’ve heard the lies that Satan likes to tell that say “if you’re good, then good things happen to you and if you’re bad, then bad things happen to you.” Sometimes, even today, that lie is stated like this: “Everything happens for a reason.” Those are lies that try to make everything either YOUR fault that bad stuff is happening to you or that it is GOD’S fault that bad stuff is happening to you. No grace. No mercy. No blessings. Just a mean old God that sits around cooking up bad stuff because “it happens for a reason” and that reason just might be that you, the one suffering, ticked God off somehow.

So out of their own concern and belief, they start trying to FIX Job and SOLVE Job’s problems. The problem, of course, is that God is working in the background and this attack on Job is an attack from Satan, not God… so they CAN’T solve it!

In the past few years, our country seems to have been having more and more problems… The news has been full of examples of death and destruction… whether it’s a marine base being bombed, a naval ship attacked, an embassy under siege, hostages taken, or the attacks inside our own nation like September 11th and just last week, someone deliberately driving into a crowd in order to kill and cause panic. At the same time, we’ve had drought and flooding, unquenchable fire and unquenchable thirst, disease, earthquake, plane crashes, people shooting other people, and war after war after war. The chances are becoming greater every day that you and I will be impacted by these national and worldwide events.

On top of all that, there are personal stories of tragedy: the stock market plunges and someone loses all they own, a cancer hits home and no cure is found, a job is lost as a company downsizes, or a loved one dies.

In the Church, we are full of stories and examples of how there are people all around us everyday who are essentially Job incarnate. We’ve tried to understand WHY this one gets sick or WHY that one dies and even why does another one get healed and get back on her feet???

And as the friends… we don’t know what to do or what to say… some can’t even stand it to visit at the hospital… because we’re so terrified of saying the wrong thing and making our friend or loved one feel even worse.

I believe we can learn something from Job’s friends about what NOT to do and what we really SHOULD do when we are the spouse or friend of a Job.

Throughout much of the rest of the book of Job, the friends do everything wrong… They try to figure out who or what is to blame for Job’s problems. They try to figure out ways to fix Job’s problems. They try to explain WHY it all happened.

If you’ve ever been in a time of struggle or grief, you know these are the LAST things you want to hear.  In fact, since the first time I preached this message a few years ago, I myself have ended up in the hospital having surgery in order to try to deal with cancer. And I was amazed at some of the things people said to me, trying to comfort ME… Sometimes it was even pastors… and I could tell they were trying to offer comfort, but were struggling to understand and trying to figure out something to say that would make sense.

I’m especially glad that the Bible doesn’t just tell us what was wrong… but also what was right. Look with me at verses 11, 12, and 13 of chapter 2, if you would.

11 When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. Their names were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. 12 When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.

First of all, they CAME. When they heard their friend was in crisis, they came. He was in SO MUCH distress that they didn’t even recognize him at first. I know of some who are afraid of this part of being a friend to someone like Job because they can’t stand the sight of all the tubes or machines they might see at the hospital… or the grimace of pain on their friend’s face… and they simply want to be able to remember them the way they were…

But just being present is a ministry. It’s one of the promises that consoles us so much in the 23rd psalm… “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for THOU ART WITH ME…” We’re never promised that we won’t face the valleys of life or even get to avoid the pain of death… for us or our loved ones… but we ARE promised that even there, GOD IS WITH US!!! In fact, less than two months from now we’ll be celebrating Christmas, when we hear the Scriptures declare that Jesus is also known as IMMANUEL… which literally means God is with us. If we are friends to a Job, we can minister to them, just by being present like Job’s friends were.

Second of all, Job’s friends MOURNED… The Bible says they experienced the grief and the emotion and the pain that Job was going through. That’s something we can do when we have a Job in our lives… we can be real. That’s supposed to be the Christian thing to do anyways… We read in Romans 12:15 that we “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.”

When our friends are facing adversity, they don’t necessarily need our words, they need our empathy… If we are friends to a Job, we can minister to them, just by being real with our own emotions… But that doesn’t mean that we deal with our emotions by telling the one facing tragedy, disease, or suffering about all of our experiences… or Uncle Joe’s wife’s cousin’s second wife’s tragedy that made you so sad because it was “just like this!” When you start using the word “I” you’re no longer comforting… you’re essentially trying to ease your own discomfort by passing it off to the one you’re there to comfort. NOT very helpful. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of helpful. Deal with your own emotions BEFORE you arrive.

Third, Job’s three friends LISTENED. In fact, Scripture says they sat with Job in silence for seven days. And when they started having conversation, it was only because Job himself broke the silence.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have been hailed as a great counselor when all I really did was SHUT UP and listen! Of course, I was involved and talked and asked questions, but the greatest thing I did was be quiet and reflectively listen to the other person. And those are the times that have been healing and hopeful to one in need.

If we are friends to a Job, we can minister to them just by being silent and listening.

Ultimately, at the end of the book of Job, God restores Job to health and restores his status and finances… but Job comes through this period with a better understanding of God and who God is and what God is like… and Job comes out of this time “walking humbly before his God.”

And it’s not that God just gave everything back and took away all of Job’s griefs. His ten children are still DEAD. His original servants are still DEAD. His favorite horse or mule or camel is still DEAD. Yes, God brought a restoration, but not everything is the same.

When we, or those around us, come through a tough time, we too can look forward to a restoration… but it’ll never be the same as it was before. There’s a new reality in place. A new “normal.” And that is another of the griefs and pains Job has to adjust and adapt to.

You know, we, as friends, get to walk with our Job, and we can help minister and help grieve…

SO…

Here’s the question of the day…

WHO IS JOB IN YOUR LIFE & CAN YOU BEFRIEND THEM?

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Teach Us To Pray

These are my speaking notes from this morning’s worship services. And during the  prayer time I DELIBERATELY left out the Lord’s Prayer. After a hymn, I started my sermon…

Anyone notice anything different about our service today?

We didn’t use the Lord’s Prayer to end our prayer time!

It’s not that I forgot it…

I wanted to see if anyone would notice.

You see, too often we end up doing religious things and say religious words during our worship services that just don’t mean anything to anyone anymore.

And the Lord’s Prayer is far too important for that.

Let’s turn to one of the two places in Scripture where we find the Lord’s Prayer, and Jesus’ teaching about it, recorded for us…

[READ: LUKE 11:1-13]

11 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

He said to them, “When you pray, say:

“‘Father, hallowed be your name,
your  kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

“Lord, teach us to pray…”

How did you first learn to pray?

Maybe you’re like me and the kids in children’s time… “Now I lay me down to sleep…”

We talked with the kids and said it was like talking to your Dad…

And that’s exactly how Jesus started to teach his disciples…

1st part… FATHER…

Jesus isn’t just starting this prayer with a religious term. In fact, the very first word of this prayer was enough to catch the Jewish people of his day off guard.

To talk to God, one used a title like “Almighty and most holy, awesome Creator…” or “Eternal and Magnificent Lord…” And Jesus doesn’t do that. He teaches his disciples to look at God as their father.

God is someone with whom they can be in close, intimate, approachable relationship.

NOT ONLY THAT, but when you spoke of someone, you then also spoke of their reputation…

We do that nowadays, don’t we?

‘O, that’s Alice, you know, she’s the one who left her husband…’

‘Hi Patrick, pretty good game you pitched there the other day!’

 ‘Dear Brittany, you are such an AWESOME singer… I just love you!’

And that’s how we start praying to our Father, God… We speak of our love and admiration, our respect and HIS reputation… how we really see him.

It’s NEVER: “Dear God, gimme…”

Rather, “Father, You’re awesome… I love you… You are the One…”

2nd part…Your kingdom come…

As we step into the next part, Jesus teaches us to remind ourselves and remind God of exactly who has the authority of ruling our lives… In the Lord’s Prayer we learn to proclaim that GOD’S the king of our lives… and we pray for Him as king to have HIS way in HIS kingdom… And that always begins with the one who’s praying the prayer…

If you’re going to pray the Lord’s Prayer… you’d better make sure you’re allowing him to be your king… your ruler… and you are doing things HIS way… REGARDLESS of what everyone else is doing… REGARDLESS of how popular or unpopular it makes you!

“God, You are the holy one and I hope and pray that things will happen down here just exactly the way you want them to be… because you are our king and lord.”

3rd part…Give us our daily bread…

In the first 2 parts Jesus has us talking to God and about God… The pronouns are all second person, singular… “your name… Your kingdom… your will…”

Now we move to a different focus… NOW we get to us… All the pronouns are first person now…

But notice that they’re first person PLURAL… not singular…

Now preacher, I haven’t had English class in a long time… what are you talking about with pronouns and singular and plural and persons?

OK… I mean this…

In the first part of the Lord’s Prayer, GOD is the focus and we talk ABOUT Him.

In the second part of the Lord’s Prayer WE are the focus and we talk about OUR needs… NOT Me, not You… US.

There’s no “I” or “ME” or “MINE” in this prayer.

I’m reminded of the poem:

You cannot pray the Lord’s Prayer and even once say ‘I’;

You cannot pray the Lord’s Prayer and even once say ‘My’;

Nor can you pray the Lord’s Prayer and not pray for another,

For when you pray for daily bread, you must include your sister and your brother;

For others are included in each and every plea;

From the beginning to the end of it,

It does not once say ‘Me!’

(From an email from “Peter Wales” Sat, 24 Jul 2004 22:07:01 +0930)

ANYWAY… Jesus teaches us to look at God as our provider… of all our NEEDS… He doesn’t include our wants… he doesn’t include the needs for thirty years away… but rather that we look to God for what we need today.

Throughout Scripture, we hear that same message…

  • “be content with what God provides.”
  • “Contentment with godliness is great gain.”
  • “Having food and clothing, let us be content.”

Sometimes our unhappiness is because we’re so focused on what we DON’T have, that We can’t possibly be happy with what God provides…. Jesus teaches us to ask for what we need today… and to trust God as our provider.

4th part…Forgive us like we forgive others…

The version we use in our worship services here is actually out of one of the very first English Bibles…

Our Methodist background is British… and when James, the new king of England (that is, new in 1603) had a government authorized translation of the Bible made which he approved of, a lot of the British Christians loved it and a lot of them did not… King James wasn’t known for his holiness or purity, and our spiritual ancestors REFUSED to pray the Lord’s Prayer out of the government’s Bible…

It would be like having the president you dislike the most (but don’t say that name out loud right now). If that president had folks create a new version of the Bible and then made a law that said that you HAD TO USE THAT version of the Bible and no other. Would you want to?

A lot of the folks in the early 17th Century felt the same way about the government’s authorized version of the Bible… the one we call the King James Bible, and so when they came to the Lord’s prayer, they used the wording from the older English Bible, rather than use the King James Version wording about debts and debtors.

That’s why we spit out words like ‘trespasses’ and that crazy phrase ‘those who trespass against us’… and we lose the meaning sometimes.

You know, the truth is, this has got to be the SCARIEST part of this prayer. You had better be aware of what you are asking God to do here…

We are essentially asking: ‘Dear God, I know that you want to forgive me… but please Lord, only give me as much forgiveness as I’ve given to the people around me who’ve messed up my life.’

No wonder Jesus makes such a big deal in Matthew 18  (verses 15-17) and other places about being reconciled with the people around us. You and I have to make a choice between hanging on to a grudge and unforgiveness or being forgiven by God… we can only hang on to one at a time… We ask God to only forgive us in the same way we forgive others…

Even in the prayer He taught us, Jesus reminds us that we need to be known as forgiving and gracious people…

5th part…Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil…

You know, in the book of James, we read how God will allow tests to prove us and see if we’re ready for the next chapter of our lives… Some of the translations call them tests, some translations call them temptations. Here, in the Lord’s Prayer, it’s using that Greek word we translate as “tests” but in the older Bibles it said “temptation” as a way of speaking about God allowing us to be tested… And that’s a good thing!

Sort of like a 16 year old WANTS to be tested in order to be able to move into the driving portion of their lives… No test means no license, which of course means no driving…

James goes on to say that the tempting part of the various tests is when we still have some evil desire in our hearts… that turns a test into a temptation for evil…

For instance, You could walk up to me and offer me a cigarette… and I have no desire in my heart or mind (or lungs) to smoke that cigarette, so I’m not going to even fall into that trap… I won’t take it. It’s not appealing for me… I don’t have that desire in my heart, so you can’t tempt me.

Now, when I was younger, and thought it was COOL to smoke, I was tempted big time and actually stole cigarettes from my mom… It was a temptation for me because I had an evil desire in my heart.

(Of course, it only took about two puffs for me to get sick and realize how addicted I am to oxygen… and cigarettes have never been a temptation since then.)

That’s what we’re asking here…

‘Oh God, don’t let me be tested in the areas I haven’t already surrendered to You… Help me to surrender those areas to You so I’m not even tempted at all by those things.’

And thus, even in the prayer he teaches, Jesus reminds us of our need to let God keep cleansing us and teaching us His ways so that we have pure hearts that are free from all of that evil that comes so naturally.

So those are the basics…

Luke records the essence of what Jesus taught… In Matthew’s gospel, we have the version of Jesus’ prayer that started being used in worship services… and over the centuries we even have tacked on a liturgical phrase that ends back where we began… giving the honor and glory back to God…

Some church traditions have taken Matthew’s intro where Jesus says, “Pray like this…” and have decided that the Lord’s Prayer is just an example… not something you ought to actually quote while you’re praying.

In part, they’re right… we don’t always have to use these exact words… we can use the example of this prayer to guide us in how we ought to pray in our own lives… outside of church… any time we want to talk to God…

But there’s also this passage in Luke where Jesus says specifically “When you pray, say this…” so I believe the Lord’s Prayer DOES have a part in our regular worship… as long as it never becomes just a memorized, meaningless bunch of words…

With that qualification… If you can pray this prayer honestly… from the heart… if you even dare…

Then I invite you to join me this morning, in praying the Lord’s Prayer together…

OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN,

        HALLOWED BE THY NAME.

THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE,

        ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.

GIVE US THIS DAY, OUR DAILY BREAD,

        AND FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES,

                 AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US.

AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION,

       BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL,

FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER

       AND THE GLORY, FOREVER.

AMEN.

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Can I help you?

As a pastor for the past 21 years, I would LOVE to be able to see exactly what my listeners in the congregation are thinking… and where they are in their faith journey to help steer my praying (my private praying mostly, but also the public prayers) and to guide my sermons to help where people really are. HOWEVER, we can’t see these thought bubbles in real life! We only have two resources in this: people sharing directly with the pastor about concerns, questions, and struggles, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 
Because of the Holy Spirit, we do “get it right” quite often as we follow the Spirit’s leading and “nudging.” But what JOY when people talk directly with us and we can work directly with the Spirit to meet needs, offer clarification, provide comfort, extend a listening and caring ear, and pray personally with someone. 

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Call To Me…

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” –Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)

Last month I had the chance to sit in on one of the adult Sunday School classes here in my new church setting. The discussion was already underway, so I just listened and discovered they were talking about Romans and someone had drawn a comparison to something in Ezekiel. The idea raised was pretty interesting so I decided to look it up later on. But when I actually made it to some alone time that evening, I accidentally opened up to Jeremiah, chapter 33 to be specific. And verse three (quoted above) just captured my heart and mind!

And that quick, I “heard” God offering me that same opportunity he had given to the prophet some six centuries  before Jesus’ birth.

Jeremiah had been arrested and confined in Jerusalem during the time that the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzur had besieged the city. Jeremiah heard God’s calls for the nation to repent, and he faithfully shared those divine messages, but they fell on deaf ears. Furthermore, the leadership of his nation, King Zedekiah, wasn’t listening to sound counsel, nor was he turning to God to repent and do things God’s way. Jeremiah had to have  moments of doubt and wondering and grief and sorrow over what he could see was coming for his beloved land.

Now-a-days we are half-way around the world and over two and a half millenia have passed since Jeremiah’s day. I have days when I wonder what’s going to become of this land I love so much. Nobody seems to want to hear the call to repentance that God still extends to all. The leadership in our political parties and in official government positions seem intent at times to not only reject God’s ways, as laid out in the Bible, to actively promote the violating of any “rule” God might have laid down. Some of us have been wondering where this is all going to end… especially in light of what seems like hopeless choices for the election of various officials throughout our governmental system… or even our church organizations, allegedly “the people of God” and yet seemingly intent on turning our back on anything God has asked of us… at least if it involves repentance from sin.

This verse, as it JUMPED OUT at me that night, reminded me that my first responsibility in those moments of wondering about the future, or my country, or even my church, is not to cry out in frustration or to vow to vote for this one or that one or to try to come up with my own plans to “keep the peace.” Rather, Jeremiah 33:3, reminds me that my PRIMARY responsibility as I look around at all that’s happening is to…

… simply call out to God.

“Call to me and I will answer…”

And that quickly, the anxiety begins to lift a little and Jesus’ inviting words flood back into my memory:

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”   —Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

Jeremiah, even though he was facing overwhelming odds and great certainty that everything was falling apart, could call out to God and lay down his burdens before his lord. As I look at the uncertainty of my life, my nation, my health, my church denomination, my wife and children’s futures, my finances, even my own mental health… I can call out to my God and lay out all my burdens before Him… and give those burdens to him! He’ll take on those burdens and give me rest… and hope… and peace… even in a world that seems like its going to pot.

Oh yes, Lord! Remind me again and again that there is NO reason for me to carry all my cares, concerns, and burdens alone. Remind me to CALL to you and then lay these other things down to you as I simply draw closer to You, to learn from you and hear You. And I can then trust You to answer me and show me Your ways… even though I cannot see them from here. AMEN!

 

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Ask In My Name

Chambers COMPLETE WORKSYesterday I came across The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers, a book I picked up back in 2002. One section is the book of prayers published after Chambers’ death under the title Knocking at God’s Door. Chambers’ wife created this book by pulling some of her husband’s personal, spiritual prayers he had written out at the beginning of each day into his diaries.

The prayer she assigned to today picks up its theme from John 14:14 (Revised Version 1885):

“If ye shall ask Me anything in My Name, that will I do” (RV). It is all so mysterious, O Lord, and all so simple — I pray, and believe that Thou dost create something in answer to and by the very means of my prayer, that was not in existence before.”

I’ve known this verse for years… but never thought about it quite like this. My prayer is the impetus for God to create an answer for whatever it is I prayed about! My prayer is the spark that gets the answer started! NO WONDER the book of James (4:2) says that the reason we don’t get what we most desire or need is because we don’t ask for it! The engine doesn’t do much until it is started!

I also am aware that there is that disclaimer in there that says we don’t get just anything we ask for… but rather, when we ask in Jesus’ name, the Father will do whatever we ask. I take it that means that if I know something is clearly NOT in God’s will, then I can expect no result from praying for that thing. Asking in His name implies I come alongside Jesus and ask for the very things he’s offered… the very things that carry out his will on earth… and I get to be a part of what He’s doing!

–Chambers, Oswald. The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers. Discovery House Publishers, associated with RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, Michigan. copyright 2000. (Complete Works

–Chambers, Oswald. Knocking at God’s Door: A Little Book of Prayers. 1957. in Complete Works pages 635-652. August 19th entry found on page 646.

 

 

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Patiently Perservere and Endure

James 1:2-4, in the New Living Translation, says: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

Here where the NLT uses the word “endurance,” the KJV says “patience” and the NIV “perseverance.” Whatever word you use the idea is that (1) if you are a believer, then temptations & trials WILL come, and (2) when they DO come, God has made sure that you ARE able to patiently persevere and endure whatever comes your way. Add to that the promise found in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

Oh God, help me to remember these promises and to patiently persevere and endure through whatever trials and temptations come my way. Help me to quickly identify those temptations when I’m facing one. Help me to then see where the “way out” is in the very midst of that temptation. I want to be able to find, and use, the ‘escape hatch!’

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God Give Me … A Daily Prayer

At some point when I was in school, Rev. John Clark, pastor of the Shinglehouse UMC, ran a prayer in the Sunday bulletin that caught my attention. I remember buying transparent contact paper in order to laminate it and then carried it in my wallet for over a decade. I used to pray it every day.

It still is a touchstone for me.

I have no idea who wrote it or what it’s title is. If you do, please let me know! Thanks!

Here it is…

God, give me eyes that I might see The work that can be done by me.

God, give me ears that I may hear The cries of those who need me near.

God, give me lips that I may speak Comfort and peace to all who seek.

God, give me a mind that I may know How to help those who need me so.

God, give me hands that I may do Some large or simple task for you.

God, give me prayer that I may pray Thy help and guidance every day.

And this one thing all else above God, give to me a heart to love.

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