Conversations with God

Do you sometimes wonder what to pray for specifically? I pray for a lot of things and a lot of people, but the other morning I was sitting in my quiet time and decided to ask God what He wanted me to pray for instead of my usual list.  God wants us to have conversations with Him and we can ask questions and then listen and pay attention for the answers.

During my journaling and Bible reading that followed, I did what I sometimes do when I am not sure where to read; I held up my Bible and asked God to open it at a place He wanted me to read. On this occasion, it opened near the back of my Bible past all the books of Scripture. At first, I was not sure what to read, but it did not take long to notice one of the headings that read, “God Gets the Glory; We Get the Joy” under the section called “Reading the Bible” in the back of my study Bible. As I began to read the first paragraph, there it was, in the first sentence: “The Bible shows that prayer is near the heart of why God created the world” (English Standard Version). I am still amazed when God does these things. This is one of the many reasons I am in awe of Him every single day. It went on to say that when we pray, God gets the glory, and we get the joy.

In summary, this led me to three specific prayers that we should pray for as we make our longing for God’s name to be hallowed in the world, as central to our prayers. #1: For God’s church (all over the world) to be filled with the fruit of righteousness, to the glory and praise of God (Col. 4:3-4). #2: For the Gospel to spread and awaken faith in Jesus, among all nations (Romans 10:1).  #3: That the many who do not believe would be saved (Romans 10:1).

The aim of God’s word and the aim of prayer are the same: For the Glory of God and salvation of the nations through Jesus Christ. As an example, Jesus told his disciples how to pray as we see in Matthew 6:9-13. To hallow God’s name is to make it holy, greatly revered, and honored. We also see another prayer by Paul for spiritual strength in Ephesians 3:14-21. I am grateful for the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts.

The prayer for awakened faith reminds me of a song we sing at church that has stuck with me this week and was prominent on my mind at every waking moment during the night. It is called, God of Revival by Bethel Music. This is also a beautiful prayer for our city and people. I know in my own journey after becoming a Christ follower, it felt like I had just woken up from a self-induced stupor and that I had slept walked for most of my life. I hope you will join me in praying for a great awakening and revival and if you get a chance listen to this song.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

Beware of Traps

One particularly chilly morning after a rainy day, I stepped out on the pavement before taking off to run to check for ice. It seemed wet but not icy, so I ventured out. I saw a bridge covered in water ahead but forged on to cross it in an area of low water thinking I could squeeze by without getting my feet wet. As soon as I hit the bridge my foot slipped, and I immediately come to a screeching halt. I tiptoed over to the sidewalk and got past the danger zone before I continued.

This is so like the enemy. Just when we think it is all smooth roads ahead and we are happy, the enemy will try to trip us up. He lays in wait to attack us at any moment with traps of all kinds that appear to be good but are not at all. He makes bad things look good and tries to convince us to do that thing you have been thinking about. Truth is he is the one who put the temptation on your mind and makes it look good to us.

The best way to defeat the enemy and stay continually cautious of his tactics are to study the Word of God. The more we know God’s truth the easier it will be to recognize the enemies’ lies. Matthew 16:10 says, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees’. Have you ever wondered what that means? I was directed to this in my Bible reading while working on this message; so, I looked up the definitions. A Pharisee is a self-righteous person, a hypocrite. A Sadducee is someone who denied the afterlife and lived only by the law. In other words, these are false teachings from people who try to trip you up. Yeast is a symbol of sin and evil- deceptive teaching falls into that category.

My dad used to tell a story from the pulpit about a young banker who wanted to make sure he did not accept any counterfeit bills, so he began to study them. An older banker asked what he was doing and when he told him he was studying the fake money so he would recognize it, the older wiser banker told him that was unnecessary, if he studied the real thing, he would easily recognize the fake. (the day after I wrote this message, I read almost the exact story in my “100 Ways to Brave” devo by Annie F. Downs-A powerful little book by the way!) What a great message. Study God’s truth for yourself and you will recognize the counterfeit (or false teaching) others try to pass on to you.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil., He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. I Peter 5:8

Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. Ephesians 6:14

Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees- religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. Luke 20:27 (verse that led me to Matt. 16:10)

In the Garden

She carefully planned each step, stretching her little legs as far as she could to reach the imprint her father made in the fresh tilled soil. She placed her tiny foot inside each of his impressions two or three times before moving on to the next.

Heeding to his instructions she dropped one or two seeds into the holes he prepared. He did not need her help to accomplish his goal but delighted in teaching her the way as his father had shown him.

The tiny building beside the garden where livestock once found shelter from the storms now only housed the dry dung from days gone by. Using the dirty silver bowl, she found inside, she joyfully scooped one serving at a time and carried it to the garden as a fertilizer to ensure ultimate growth.

The dry parched land lapped up each drop she gave the seeds to drink from the jug, as she gripped the handle tight. Helping her father in the garden was hot work but would be most rewarding when new life sprang forth.

Many years have come and gone, and her earthly father has passed. But, once again, with childlike wonder, the little girl carefully follows in her Father’s footsteps to help Him in the garden; trying her best to follow her Father’s every instruction. With each drop from her bucket a thirst is quenched.

She spreads the seeds of His love in the cultivated hearts, fertilized with the dung from her past. She knows she may not see the final stage of new life that springs forth, but she is content to be able to share even a small part of their unique journey.

The living water that flows from the Father above into her life below and into the lives of others is enough. She joyfully sings a new song He places on her heart and praises His name for the freedom it brings.

Free as a bird to soar overhead and carry His messages and spread His love.  All of this He could do on His own- but He chose her for His purpose to give meaning to her life and help her grow in full richness of His glory.

We are part of His grand design to follow His path and help each other using our gifts for His glory. The few who find it and follow in His steps will be blessed beyond measure. The more we lift to Him the more that will be poured back down, it will return to us even better than how we released it.

In the garden of life, He has set forth a path for each of us to follow. He goes before us to guide us each step of the way. In childlike wonder we look up to the Father. He will lift us up on His shoulders for a new perspective that we are to share with others. The path leads to His kingdom and a glory not yet known. But its beauty will amaze you – don’t you want to come along?