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Thursday, August 28, 2014

PRAYING IN REVERENT FEAR


Many people are uncomfortable with the word fear in relation to the Christian life. That may be because we confuse the fear of the Lord with the petty fears of this world. Some Bible translations use the word reverence where the word fear is indicated. I don’t think that is completely wrong. But the word reverence is not strong enough. It does not bring to our minds enough force of emotion. We are to tremble in fear before God. In Leviticus 9 we read about the first offering offered in the tabernacle in the wilderness.

Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.

We come into the presence of our Lord before whom John fell down as a dead man.[1] If you begin by thinking about the majesty and holiness and grace of God you can call upon him trembling in such reverent and joyful fear.

In 1 Peter 1:17-19 Peter writes,

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

 




[1] Rev. 1:17

Thursday, August 21, 2014

PRAYING GOD'S HEART


Whose heart are you praying? It is often a step of growth for a person to move from praying casual prayers to crying out to God with your heart. But it is greater spiritual growth to move to praying God’s heart. But even a new Christian can desire to please God. And you don't have to be a spiritual giant to know the best things that ever happen are the will of God. As we grow in those prayers, We begin to long for those things that God desires.

YOU CAN PRAY FOR THE PURPOSES OF GOD.

Read your Bible daily asking God to show you His purpose and purposes. You can ask God to show you His purposes all around you. You know that God is not willing for anyone to parish. Are you praying for lost people He has brought into your life? You know He desires holiness. It is easy to complain about the wickedness that we see in politics, the media and modern society. But it is more important to pray for God to bring about His holiness.

MISSIONS ARE ON GOD’S HEART.

Are you praying for missions and missionaries around the world? Start with someone you know or know about. Keep in touch with that person. Pray earnestly for God’s mighty hand on them. From there ask God to show you more who take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Ask God to expand your passion for the world that Jesus came to save.

YOU CAN PRAY FOR COMPASSION.

Are you asking God to stir your heart with His love? Ask Him to give you His love for people all around you.

PRAY FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH.

Spiritual growth can be painful. We often waste our prayer tmes asking God to make us comfortable. You can pray for God to do what is necessary in your life to make you strong. I sometimes find myself in the midst of pain or difficulty praying for God to keep me from missing the blessing or benefit He intends for me out of the situation. “Father, it would be terrible for me to go through this suffering and still miss what you intend to do in my life.” I find this much more satisfying that simply praying that God will get me out of the painful situation.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

STRETCHING YOUR PRAYER LIFE


I am aware that many of you have an aversion to writing out prayer lists. And I understand that this may not be your best way of praying on a regular basis. But I want to suggest using prayer lists to stretch your prayer life. You may want to do this as a temporary experiment. Choose a certain period of time, say a day, a week or a month. Then ask God to lead you to people you should pray for each day for the time allotted.
1. Stretch the selflessness of your prayers.

When I make formal prayer requests I include people that are hard for me to pray for. I put people on my list who I believe are wrong, or some who sin in ways that offend me most. I put people on my prayer list that I am having trouble forgiving or loving. I pray daily for these hard-to-love people stretching the compassion and faithfulness of my prayer life.
2. Stretch the time of your praying.

When I start listing people I need to pray for, my list grows quickly. It takes time to pray for all these people and needs. And spending more time in direct communion with God is good for me. This may be the most difficult part of such an exercise. To have more time for prayer you may have to rise earlier in the morning. You may need to spend your lunch hour in prayer. You will have to skip TV shows and other time consuming activities.
3. Stretch the purpose of your prayers.

By making prayer lists you will stretch your prayers beyond your own personal needs, interests and concerns. This kind of prayer presses you to pray for greater things in the purpose and plans of God.
4. Stretch the faith of your prayers.

I find that praying beyond my comfort zone stretches my faith in what God is able and willing to do when I pray.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

PRAY FOR INSIGHT

What do you do when you read something you do not understand in the Bible? Some things may even offend you. How do you respond?

The faith of many has been sabotaged as they came to something in scripture that went counter to their understanding or confused their theology.

There are several ways people approach this fairly common dilemma. Some study harder, read commentaries, search for explanations by others. This is often the right thing to do. We need to allow difficulties to motivate us to study. However, this can be a dangerous first step. Understanding scripture requires more than diligent study and natural intelligence. It calls for wisdom and spiritual insight. James says anyone who lacks wisdom should ask God. (James 1:5)

Sometimes people try to twist the scripture to say what they already think. I do not need to tell you this is wrong, but we certainly see it a lot.

I also see people getting louder in their affirmation of what a scripture seems to contradict. How many angry retorts have you heard against Paul’s statements about predestination (Eph.1:5) or some other doctrine that Scripture affirms or seems to put forth? Right or wrong this is unspiritual behavior.

Romans 12:14 tells us spiritual things are discerned by the Holy Spirit. He begins by bringing us to the point of meekness. We must submit to God’s truth no matter what. Then ask the Spirit to work patience in your heart to wait on His illumination. I recommend memorizing the verse or difficult passage. Then in patience and meekness meditate on it, praying for God to speak to your heart.

With this Spiritual foundation in place you can go to commentaries and study what others have written about a passage. It is interesting that commentaries seldom delve into passages that trouble us. But that will not keep God’s Spirit from giving you special insight into His truth.