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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Praying In The Grace of The Gospel

For several reasons I have decided to suspend my blog during the month of August,2015. I am praying about some special future blog entries. So I will see you in September.
Last week I wrote about praying in or from the gospel. We could never plumb the depths or mount the heights of this subject. And I wish to pen just a few more lines specifically on the grace unleashed by the good news of Jesus Christ.
First note that we come to prayer In the Confession of The Gospel. There is a power here to kill the selfishness, self-centeredness and independence that separate us from God and others. The Son of God had to die in my place to redeem me. I did not just need a little correction or improvement. I was totally lost.
Next we come to pray In the Communion of The Gospel. The gospel brings far more to us than forgiveness. Forgiveness says, "You are pardoned. You may go. The grace of the gospel says, "You are forgiven. Come in to my presence."
And imagine the Confidence of Prayer from The Gospel. We now come to God in the love and approval of the Son of God! He became our sin so we might become His righteousness. We pray in the applause of our Heavenly Father!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

THE GOSPEL OF ACCESS

It is hard to overestimate the gospel. It is the wondrous news of forgiveness and redemption. It is the only hope of eternal life
And it is the passport to prayer.
The first chapter of Romans points out the condition of our hearts and our separation from God. From there we are led to the gospel. Jesus died for our sins that our fellowship with God might be restored. Chapter 5 declares that we now have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through the gospel we have access to this grace.
The gospel is the central message of the entire Bible. It is the heart of the purpose of God on earth. And through the gospel we can enter God's embrace in prayer.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

SAYING AMEN

How do you end your prayers? You say "Amen," of course. We all do. Why do we do that? That is not how prayers end in the Bible. And while many of us know the verily, so be it, meaning of the word, I don't believe that is the real reason we end our prayers with"amen."
I believe we have a need to conclude our prayers, or rather to solemnize a conclusion to a prayer. Especially with petition, we are saying "This is what I need."
I think it is worth considering the amen of all your prayers. What would be the amen of your life? What is your ultimate need and longing? We may say, "I need this job because . . . " or "I need to be healed so that . . ." What needs do you have that are ends in themselves?
Suppose you tasted the most wonderful food you have ever eaten? And because it was so wonderful you told a friend about it. But the friend asked, "What will eating that get you?" The friend doesn't get it, does he? Psalm 34:8 calls us to "Taste and see that the Lord is good."
Let me push this picture a little further. Can you imagine falling in love? The two of you decide to get married. But someone at work asks, "Why do you want to marry him? What will that get you?" What would you answer?
And suppose before you were married he was shipped off to Afghanistan? From a letter you learn that he will skype you tomorrow morning at 5:00 A.M. You are thrilled about it and can hardly wait to go to bed tonight so you can get up and talk to him in the morning. But your friend at work asks why you would want to miss sleep just to talk. This is a harder picture for some of you because when you fall in love you fall for a sinner who will disappoint you as you will him. But we are waiting to be wed to the ultimate bridegroom. There will be no disappointment with Him.
What is your ultimate reason, your final "so that?" That is what I would call your ultimate amen. final amen of our lives is intricately connected to the embrace of God that we enjoy in prayer, more even than what you may ask in desperate prayer.  Revelation 3:14 speaks to this. Jesus said, "These are the words of the amen." This statement may be synonymous with His declaration, "I am the alpha and omega." Part of what Jesus was saying is that all things begin and end with Him. To say He is your Amen is to say He is your everything and He alone fulfills your deepest longing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

PRAYING GOD'S GLORY

In 2 Cor. 4:17 Paul says our earthly suffering is working for us an eternal weight of glory. This statement gives us an interesting insight into the word, "glory.” The Bible's use of words for the glory of God actually change the meaning of the words in at least four languages. The Greek word translated in 2 Corinthians 4 is "doxa." We take the word doxology from doxa. But before the Bible was put into Greek the word only meant importance in the opinion of people as trite as popularity. Our English word glory comes to us from the Latin word gloria. It too originally held the shallow meaning of the Greek word. The Hebrew word for glory was much more substantial. It reflected the reality of God. Its root meant weighty or significant. Anywhere we find the glory of the Lord people and even the earth is shaken by the weight of His significance.
The use of doxa for this Hebrew word in the Greek Old Testament, increased the power of the word infinitely. The word went from a trend to an earthquake or a thunderstorm. Or it might be better to call it a divine lightning storm. Even though the word began as weighty, it describes the shikina glory that settled on the mercy seat in the tabernacle. It was the glory that shown on Moses' face when he left the presence of God. And the glory of the Lamb is what will light the holy city described in Revelation 21. Our words in English Latin Greek and even Hebrew have come to mean unapproachable splendor. So we can sing "shining in the light of his glory."
If you truly come into the presence of God in prayer you will be overwhelmed by the recognition that God's glory is brighter than your darkness. His weight is greater than your needs or wants. If you have experienced the lightening storm of God's presence, nothing else can be as significant in your life. In His presence our prayers will be shaken by His Glory.
Let me point out three facets praying the glory of God.
The first thing that may come to your mind is praise. Praising His Glory
Isaiah 42:12 equates glorifying God with declaring his praises. We glorify God in praise. This can be in private as well as public worship. It can also be in witness of his glory to people we come in contact with each day.
Praying God's glory includes Praying for His Glory.
One of the most stunning examples of this is found in John 12:27-28. Jesus begins this passage by grieving over His coming sorrow. "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." Instead, Jesus simply prays, "Father, glorify your name." At that a voice came from heaven saying, "I have glorified it and will glorify it again." Some of the crowd said it thundered. Others thought an angel had spoken to Jesus. He said that the voice had come for them not Him. God answered by glorifying His name as Jesus asked.
Finally, you pray His glory by Praying for His Glory Through You.
God is working His glory in us. When you begin to catch a glimpse of the glory of God, you realize how preposterous that is. How could Almighty God gain any glory from me? Well, if we return to 2 Corinthians 4:17 we see again that through the light and temporary troubles that we face God is working an eternal weight of glory."
O God, may it be so! By Your power bring it about.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

INTERCEDING FOR OUR CHILDREN

I slipped into her room knowing where I was going but not absolutely sure I would not step on a noisy toy in the dark. I knelt by her bed and with my eyes adjusting to the darkness I could see her peaceful face asleep against the White linen pillow slip. Waves of wonder, thankfulness and incredible hope washed over me. But I was not there to revel in sentiment. I was there to pray. What was I to pray for my precious daughter?
As I pen these words she is no longer seven or eight. Those years have long since fled. She now has a seven year old of her own that she, and I too, pray for every day. In later years my daughter admitted that she sometimes was not quite asleep when I came in to pray. But she pretended so she could hear me pray for her.
I don't remember all that I asked of God for my children. But I do know this. The trials they faced, the temptations they had to overcome were much worse than I ever dreamed. And that should inform what I pray for my granddaughter, what we pray for our children. Does anyone one believe the uncertainty of our future has decreased in these days?
I think the most important thing I can do is simply pray, not knowing what to pray for. We are thrown in desperation onto God's intercession for our children. There are a number children, mostly family members, for whom I am making a concerted effort to lift in prayer every day of their lives. I am convinced that I need God to intercede for them. I can't know what they will face. But I am also confident that He will be sufficient whatever the enemy throws their way.
When I began this post I had several things in mind to suggest we pray for our children. I pray for them to have a hold on truth in a world that has replaced certainty for desire and inclinations. I pray they will be delivered from temptation that will come crashing down upon them. And I will ask that they be used in ways that I cannot imagine. But I will have to trust specifics to God. I cry out for our Lord to intercede in their lives.