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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

WHEN YOUR SOUL IS TROUBLED


John chapter 12 gives powerful insight in to the prayer focus of Jesus. After His triumphal entry into Jerusalem the final week before the cross some Greeks approached Phillip asking to see Jesus. Phillip and Andrew came to tell Jesus. The Master immediately saw this as a sign of what was about to take place. He compared His coming crucifixion to a seed dying and being buried in the ground so it could bear much fruit.

In verse 27 Jesus said,

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. [1]

For what purpose? Grammatically Jesus has to be speaking of the troubling of His soul. What do you do when your soul is troubled? Well of course you pray. But should you ask to be delivered from the troubling hour. Could God have raised you up for this very reason, for this very hour, for this very troubling? Jesus replaced such prayers with a simple request.

“Father, glorify your name.”



[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Jn 12:27). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

LIVING IN GRACE


Prayer is not simply mouthing a few words spoken in the morning or at the dinner table. Those are of course an important part  prayer. But prayer is the opportunity to live our whole lives in God’s grace. Early this morning I read the story of the raising of Lazarus in John chapter 11. This passage gives us a vivid picture of living in God’s grace. While Jesus and His disciples were in Galilee they received word from Martha and Mary that their brother Lazarus was seriously ill. The message simply read, “He whom you love is ill.” Let me point out two simple yet difficult perspectives of living in God’s grace.

  1. Waiting in His love

John 11:5-6 reads,

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”[1]

You can be sure that God loves you no matter what you are going through. To us these verses seem to be a terrible paradox. Jesus loved them, so He waited. We who have read the story know that something far greater came from the Lord’s delay. But we have also felt like it was too late for God to answer our prayers. It is difficult for us to get the principle into our hearts that the world’s deadlines are not necessarily God’s timing. Keep praying even when it seems to be too late. You may well see the glory of God through it.

  1. Walking in His light

In this passage the disciples of Jesus faced an entirely different dilemma. They were terrified when Jesus announced that He was going back to Judea where the people had tried to stone Him. Jesus answered their concerns with a sort of parable.

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”[2]

If you want to understand what God is up to, walk in the light He has already given. Stepping out in faith is a powerful principle of answered prayer. What God calls us to do is often impossible. I remember Moses before the Red Sea. The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.[3]

I love the response of Thomas in this situation.

“Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

 

 

 

 



[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Jn 11:5–6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Jn 11:9–10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Ex 14:15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

THE POWER OF LOVE


Prayer is a powerful expression of divine love in our lives. Most of us misunderstand this because our society has redefined love as romance. But love is not simply romantic feelings but expressing selflessness. When scripture tells a man to love his wife it is not necessarily telling him to be romantic. It may be when that is what his wife wants and needs. But romance usually focuses on how we feel about a person or how someone makes us feel. That is anti-love.

We pray because we love people and focus on their needs. We even pray because we want to love people that we don’t or can’t feel good about. Prayer is fundamental to stretching our love. I put the name of a person on a prayer list because he has wronged me or I know he will harm me or because he rubs me the wrong way. I am making a commitment to pray for that person however I feel. I have been angry and frustrated with someone and set aside a full hour to pray for her. Nothing develops such an attitude of love for a person like prayer.

In prayer we connect with the love of God, with His great love for us and with the power of His love through us.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

HELP


There is an underlying message in what the Bible, especially Jesus, says about prayer. We need God’s hand in everything we do. You cannot pray, you cannot think, you cannot live as a believer without God's help. In John 5:30a Jesus said, “By myself I can do nothing.” If Jesus was totally dependent upon His Father, should we be any less? Earlier in the same dialogue Jesus said. “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself.” Are you a child of God? You too are dependent on Him.

In fact all strength, all ability, every talent or gift to man comes from God. When we become followers of Jesus we surrender those gifts and ourselves back to Him. Then they are truly activated for their true purposes. We can no more operate properly without prayer than a drone could carry out its purpose without radio control.

It is not simply that we need what He will give us when we pray. We depend on His gifts. But we need more. We need Him. He is our food and drink. He is our life blood. We need to live in union and constant communion with Jesus. The Psalmist speaks of God as "an ever-present help.” (Ps.46:1)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

US


Have you ever thought about the fact that The Lord's Prayer is plural? It begins "Our Father." It continues with "Give us. . .", "Lead us. . .", "Deliver us. . ." I believe there is a sense in which our most public prayers should be prayed as if we were closeted with God. And yet there is a sense in which our most private prayers are prayed as a church. We are to pray in union with one another. I once had a covenant with a Christian brother that when either of us was tempted sexually he would immediately pray for the other. We need to pray as children of the same Father facing a common enemy. We are to see one another's hurts and hopes and needs as our own. We are to come to our Father as a family.

This is not to say we should never pray, "Forgive me. . .", "Lead me. . .", "Help me. . ." But we also need to stretch our prayer to embrace our spiritual family. This has been crucial for the church down through the ages. Believers survived terrible opposition because they faced it together. I believe it is just as important in these last days that seem to be coming upon us.