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Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

Who Has Whose Hand?

When we see an adult, with child of 5 or 6 years old, holding hands as they cross the street – we know who is holding whose hand. But add 50-55 years to that scene – and now, who has whose hand?

I remember clearly a pastor once mentioning during a sermon something about God being at Jesus’ right hand. Now, we all know that Jesus is at God’s right hand, and I know he saw my puzzled look because as we made eye contact, I saw a slight smile come across his face as he continued talking about God at Jesus’ right hand… Until… he got past the crucifixion, past the resurrection, and to Hebrews 12:2  where he read, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” And then I understood.

God was on Jesus’ right hand in mission, and Jesus is on God’s right hand in Glory!

That’s been nearly 20 years ago, and I still think of it, especially when I study the Psalms. It’s amazing to me the number of times David has said, “You (God) take my right hand…” (Psalms 16:8; 73:23; 109:31 for example) and then the times he has said, “Let me (David) take Your (God’s) right hand…” (Psalms 17:7; 18:35 for example). Actually there are more than 35 Psalms that mention God’s right hand. And so we ask, “Who has whose hand?”

Sometimes David has God’s right hand, and sometimes God has David’s right hand… what’s the difference? It’s certainly not that when God has David’s right hand (the hand of strength) that David is “taking care” of God.

It’s the fact that sometimes God is the strength at our right hand (putting us to work) and sometimes He comforts and protects us by keeping us at His right hand (when we’re too weak to work.) It’s always God’s strength and salvation, it’s just that sometimes He holds our hand, and sometimes, He allows us to hold His…

 

Prayer:

God, my Father, my Strength, and my Deliverer, take my right hand and lead me into battle… and then, when the battle looms large ahead of me… may I take Your right hand in comfort and protection. Oh God, this is almost too much for me to understand. I can’t quite wrap my mind around it. Oh the depths of Your Word – and the heights to which it takes me – it’s dizzying, and at times, gives me cold chills and almost takes my breath.

As I meditate on Your Word, sometimes a warm wash of clarity comes over me, so much so that I scarcely breathe and don’t want to move, afraid that I may lose that understanding that is barely touching my fingertips…

Oh the wondrous joy of Your precious Word! Thank You for the treasure I hold in my hands! Amen.

 

 

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Heavenly Father, as I look at my Bible in front of me this morning, I marvel at a great mystery; not what it took to write it; not at the wonder of Divine Inspiration; not at the thought of the masses who’ve given their very lives for its preservation; and not even (for now) at the marvelous truths which You’ve given us…No, the great mystery I ponder, and indeed the matter that weights my heart is the question of, why do those, even those who call themselves Your children and followers, why don’t they read it? Why is there no desire to read Your Word – no yearning to know Your message?

Oh, some do their “devotions.” They read a passage, or a verse and a little “devotional” about that passage, but so few actually read… the… Bible… itself. Why is that, Lord? Do we just not know where to start? Is it just too overwhelming to think about? So many people say they love You, and yet know nothing about You (other than what someone told them.)

When I fell in love with my (future) husband, I wanted to know all about him – his likes, his dislikes, where he was born, all about his family… How Lord, can we say we love You when we know nothing about You – and have no desire to learn…? We don’t know Your history, we don’t know Your people, we don’t know anything about the very place in the entire universe where You have carved Your name… (literally).

Father, I think the greatest gift You’ve given me (aside from my salvation) is the passion and desire to know You more fully. You’ve given me an insatiable appetite to read Your Word, and to share it with others. Oh that I might be able to do that in such a way as to spark an interest. Once an interest is “sparked” then the flame” can be fanned. And once the “flame” is fanned, more “fuel” can be added, and as the “fuel” is added, a “blaze” appears. And when the “blaze” appears, it sucks in oxygen. And as oxygen is sucked in, the fire grows. And as the fire grows the “sparks shoot upward” and shower onto neighboring “hearts” and once again, interests are sparked, and flames can be fanned, and the process is begun again.

Oh Dear Father – that those who love You would seek Your Face… That is my prayer today..

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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I wrote this prayer at least 20 years ago, but it is still relevant – maybe even more so…

 

1 Timothy 2:1-4 First of all, then, I exhort that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all mankind for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who will have all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

Our Heavenly Father, this morning I pray for this nation. I pray for the leaders of our nation. Today and every day, fill them with Your spirit and Your guidance.

Father, as we are in the midst of a time of elections, as the debates and the positioning continue, as we exercise our freedom and recognize our responsibility to vote this Tuesday… open our eyes as we seek for whom we should vote. Before we enter the voting booth, let us first enter our prayer closets. Lead us in our choice of leaders, and decision makers – both locally and nationally…

But O Lord, even as we pray this prayer, as we cry out, we are afraid that You will give us what we “deserve.”  That in giving us what we need You will allow us to be carried into “captivity” as You did those who bore Your very Name.

But in many ways, we are already in captivity – the captivity of our souls and our hearts. We are enslaved by our possessions and in bondage to our own selfish desires.

Father we realize that it isn’t the money, or the earning of money that is evil – it is what we do with it! We are entrusted with such a huge amount of the world’s resources, and yet… still… the world is hungry… And we must ask ourselves, is my neighbor hungry?

Please Father, don’t give us what we deserve. Have mercy on us, and forgive us. And lead us to elect a leader who will bring us to the place of righteousness… I pray that we have not gone too far…

God I pray for revival in this land, in our churches and in our own hearts. I pray that we Your people, who are called by Your name, will humble ourselves and pray; that we will seek Your face and turn from our wicked ways, and that indeed, You will heal our land and our souls…

We lift our prayer to You this morning, calling upon the Name above all names – Amen.

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July 4th Weekend Sermon

“How to Heal the Land”

 

The impetus for the message I want to share with you this morning actually came to me several weeks ago – but – having no set time to share it – I kept procrastinating, thinking, “Oh well… I’ll write it later and put on my blog or something”. Then, last week when Pastor Pat asked me if I wanted to preach today – I knew this was the message God wanted me to share. Not only do I think it’s an important message, but the timing is perfect – for it fits with our 4th of July atmosphere.

Our scripture this morning comes from selected verses from 2 Chronicles chapters 6 and 7. If you’re not familiar with this book, it is found in the Old Testament, about half way between Judges and the Psalms.

Why bring a message for 2015 from an event that took place some 3,000 years ago” Because, as you’ve often heard Pastor Pat say, God’s promises are real!

The setting or context for our scripture is arguably the highest point of Israel’s National history to that date, or maybe even in all of their history; an event even more momentous than Israel’s reemergence as a nation in 1948 – we’re talking about the dedication of Solomon’s Temple.

King David had wanted to build a temple for God, but God told him no, that he was a man of war, and it would be a man of peace who would build it – but God gave the plans for the temple to David. So David was allowed to participate in the design of the Temple. As we come to Second Chronicles, King David has died and Solomon is established as King. Chapters 1-5 detail the building of the Temple and then God filling the temple with His Glory. In chapter 6 the dedication service begins

Chapter 6:13 Now Solomon had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court; and he stood on it, knelt on his knees in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven.

Solomon – the king of the mighty Davidic Empire – knelt down – on his knees – in front of all the people, lifted his arms to heaven, and began to pray…

How would we feel today, if our president and the leaders of our nation, went to their knees and lifted their arms to heaven?

First Solomon praised God for His great blessing, and then in verse 19 he asked God to hear his petitions. In verses 20-21 he asked God to protect this Temple; to hear his prayer and the prayers of the people. Then in verses 22-31 he prays a series of specific petitions characterized by a “cause and effect” scenario…

2 Chronicles 6:22-23 If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath (which he was not supposed to do) and [when] he comes and takes an oath [or repents] before Your altar in this house, then hear from heaven and act and judge Your servants…

2Ch 6:24-25 If Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and [when] they return to You and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication before You in this house, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You have given to them and to their fathers.

2Ch 6:26-27 When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, and [if] they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin when You afflict them; then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants and Your people Israel, indeed, teach them the good way in which they should walk. And send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people for an inheritance.

2Ch 6:28-31 If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence, if there is blight or mildew, if there is locust or grasshopper, if their enemies besiege them in the land of their cities, whatever plague or whatever sickness there is, whatever prayer or supplication is made by any man or by all Your people… each knowing his own affliction and his own pain, and spreading his hands toward this house,

then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart You know for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men, that they may fear You, to walk in Your ways as long as they live in the land which You have given to our fathers.

Then in verses 32-33 Solomon addresses the prayers of the foreigner – the immigrant, as we might call him, and guess what? They are the very same.

“Also concerning the foreigner who is not from Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your great name’s sake and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm, when they come and pray toward this house,

then hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, and fear You as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.”

Verses 34-39

When Your people go out to battle against their enemies, by whatever way You shall send them, and [when] they pray to You toward this city which You have chosen and the house which I have built for Your name, then hear from heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.

When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to a land far off or near, if they take thought in the land where they are taken captive, and repent and make supplication to You in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned, we have committed iniquity and have acted wickedly’;

if they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they have been taken captive, and pray toward their land which You have given to their fathers and the city which You have chosen, and toward the house which I have built for Your name, then hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, their prayer and supplications, and maintain their cause and forgive Your people who have sinned against You.”

“If/when/then”. “If/when/then.” Over and over Solomon lifted his petitions to heaven because he knew as Paul would later state it in Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” But he also knew that as we read in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins…”

And then in verses 40-42 Solomon ends the payer. And this was the dedication prayer at the Temple.

OK – Fast-forward to April 30, 1789. George Washington is being inaugurated as the first president of the United States. At that time, New York City was the capital of the country. When George Washington gave the very first inaugural address, he did just like Solomon at the dedication of the Temple; he acknowledged God’s hand of providence upon the creation of this nation. He said:

“It would be [greatly] improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to the Almighty Who rules over the universe, Who presides in the councils of nations, and Whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes.”

And Washington, too, gave a warning as did Solomon when he said:

“The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself hath ordained”.

In other words – God cannot be expected to bless a nation that disregards His rules of order!

After his speech was over, George Washington led the Senate and the House of Representatives on foot in a procession through the streets of the capital from Federal Hall, the site of the inauguration, to a place that had been appointed for prayer – a little stone church located nearby. In what would later be recorded as the first ever joint session of Congress, the President, the Senate and the Representatives gathered in a Church, so that the first collective act of the newly formed American Government – was to gather for prayer to give thanks, and specifically to commit the future into the holy protection and blessing of the Most High God.

And where was this church? You may actually remember seeing pictures of this church. It’s the little Episcopal Church that sits at the edge of Ground Zero, which at the time of the inauguration, was just a field which belonged to the church.

The very place where Washing prayed to commit the fate of this new nation into the holy protection and blessing of the Most High, was the very place where America was attacked.

But if you remember your Bible history, Solomon’s temple was also destroyed some 300 years later due to the people of God rejecting God’s sovereignty.

But there is still hope. There is still a way to heal our land.

Twenty-three days after Solomon’s prayer and the dedication of the temple – God spoke to Solomon and answered his prayer. And this is what He said:

2 Chronicles 7:12 “Then the LORD appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, ‘I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.’” (And it wasn’t just for Israel – in Mark 11:17 Jesus called the Temple “A place of prayer for all the nations”)

Verse 13 – Then God continues with 3 scenarios of judgment “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people…”

These are not necessarily three specific judgments, they are three different types of judgment

In other words

  • if there are “so called” natural disasters – and this covers all of them – drought, famine, floods, fires, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, climate change…
  • if the enemy destroys – the word “locust” is often used when talking about a physical enemy (See the book of Joel).
  • or if there is disease – outbreaks and illness

God said, if/when these things happen as judgment – there is a solution

Verse 14

“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah… we’ve heard that before. Yes, we’ve “heard” it before – but have we really heard what it is saying. This is a promise from God. You’ve heard it from this pulpit likely more than any other place – God keeps His promises. You’ve heard Pastor Pat say it – “Nothing is impossible for God” “For in Christ all of God’s promises are ‘Yes’”. And this word from God is just as much a promise as when He said “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

This is the key to everything I’ve shared this morning. So, briefly, let’s break it down.

  • If My people

Who are God’s people? The word literally means “a tribe” or “a flock”. In the context of the Scripture – obviously it is Israel, but in Romans 11, we find that we as Gentiles were grafted in – we’ve been adopted – so we are God’s people.

  • If My people who are called by My name

For something to be called by someone’s name means it is owned by them. Do you refer to yourself as a Christian? Are you called by God’s name? Are you – am I – owned – lock, stock and barrel – by God? Paul said that he was a “Bondservant” to God – that he was totally owned by God.

  • If My people who are called by My name humble themselves

What does it mean to “humble yourself”? The word means “to bend the knee”. When was the last time you “bent your knee” to God? Yes, the Bible lists all kinds of positions for prayer – but there is only one position for humility and it is bowing low or being prostrate before God. Solomon, the king of Israel, knelt down to pray. Are you willing to physically, bow down before Almighty God?

  • If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray

What are our prayers like? Keep me safe, heal my hurts, fix my problems, Yes, God cares for His children – but I’m afraid that many times our prayers are in a rut and are all about me and mine…

  • If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face

Ah – we must seek God’s face. What does this mean – it means we must seek God’s will. What is it that God wants? What is it that brings God Glory? We must seek God’s face. We must look where He looks. But here’s the key to everything…

  • If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways

It’s not enough to be called Christian; it’s not enough to kneel down and pray some memorized or rote prayer. It’s not even enough to ask God what is His will… if we’re not going to do it.

“Turn from our wicked ways? What wicked ways?” We have this tendency to think of something “wicked” as things other people do. Our sins are often times so ingrained within us that we don’t even know that what we’re doing is wrong. We’ve talked this way all our lives; we’ve done these things; we’ve watched these programs or surfed these sites. WE don’t see anything wrong with them – but that’s our opinion. What does God have to say about them?

So here’s what we need to do – we need to ask God what is wicked within me. In Psalm 139:23-24 David said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way within me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Are you willing to lay yourself out before God and ask Him to show you what He wants to change about you? Ask Him if there is any “wicked way within you”? If you’re bold enough to ask Him, I guarantee you, He will show you. The answer might not come this afternoon, but it will come – slowly you will begin to be troubled by things you are saying or things you are doing that are not in accordance to God’s will. If you trust God enough to save you from your sins, shouldn’t you trust Him enough to remove them from you, too?

If God’s people, who are called by His Name will humble themselves, and pray and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways

Then (He said) “I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land…”

Everyone wants their land healed – whether we’re talking about the national land or our own personal land. And this is how we heal our land.

This morning we’re going to open the altar up for one single prayer – “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

The altar is open, if you’re willing to ask God what He wants to change about you. That’s a tough question, and it’s not easy to ask. But God will bless you if you ask it.

Victor is going to sing and then I’ll lift the prayer requests from this morning, and then we’ll have our closing song – but come and pray as long as you want to pray.

 

——–Now – if you’ve taken the time to read the whole sermon, and are willing to take the challenge of asking God to show you any wicked way within you – let me know. Either comment or e-mail me directly (my e-mail is on the “contact” page). I’d love to know how God answers your prayer, and I’d love to pray for you on your journey.

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Someone asked the question, “When and how do you pray?” And it reminded me of this devotional…

 

There is another prayer

I used to say that I had to be in the “mood” to write… maybe that meant that I had to be “inspired” to write.

 

Maybe, I needed to be in God’s presence to write (although I didn’t know it at the time…) Perhaps now, I need to be in God’s presence to really pray.

 

“God is Omnipresent,” you say. “He’s everywhere. We’re always in His presence.” And maybe we are – but is He in ours?

 

Every time my mind is “still” (if even for the briefest of moments) my thoughts turn to prayer. I say “Thank You” or “Praise You” or I lift up a name that’s on my heart.

 

But, is that really prayer?

 

“Yes it is,” I argue. And I am right; it is a type of prayer. It is, what I call, “a prayer of aware-ance.” I am continually “aware” of the presence of God. But, in this prayer, “I” set the tone and “I” set the time. And I tell God, “Here I am! Let’s talk now.” And then I tell God when I’m finished, and I close the door and get on with “life.”

 

But… there is another prayer.

 

And that is the prayer of immersion – where (most times unexpectedly) I feel myself engulfed, surrounded, enshrouded by His Presence. Where God doesn’t just poke His Head into my world, but instead, I am “allowed” entrance into His Court.

 

It’s like a fog slowly rolling in. At first, you barely “see” it. And then before your mind fully comprehends what is happening, you are embraced with such wonder that first catches your breath, and then makes you want to breathe deeply, and be filled as completely within by His Aura, as you are enveloped without, by His Arms.

 

At times like these you want to cry out, “Oh God! What an awesome gift of Your Love. Thank You for tearing that curtain down!”

 

Do we really realize what a privilege we have been given? No, I don’t think we do. At least, not very often…

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In checking the search terms that brings people to my blog, those having to do with “despair” always touch my heart. Today one simply said, “Save me from despair”.

Oh God! What must they be feeling to type these words into an internet search engine? Are they searching for You? Have they given up on You? Do they even know You?

 

What is despair? Have you ever felt what you would call “despair”?

When we are children, despair is getting our ball stuck on the roof, or our ice cream falling off our cone. A little later it’s not having a date for the dance or not making the team.

Then despair is not getting the job or wrecking our car – our only mode of transportation. Things change as we age and it’s the phone call in the middle of the night – or no phone call at all. It becomes the doctor’s report or the sound of sirens, coming closer. It’s the look in a loved one’s eyes, and the news that follows. It’s another bill that’s due, or two, when there is no work and no money.

For others around the world, it’s the sound of gunfire and airplanes or a knock on the door.

Despair changes as we age and our circumstances change, but the knot in the pit of your stomach remains the same. If you are in that spot today – I am praying for you.

Will you pray for me?

 

 

 

My two favorite pieces on despair (and the two that I return to time and time again) are:

http://wp.me/pSGJ-4f “Prayer in the Time of Despair”

http://wp.me/pSGJ-6x “How to Make it Through the Night”

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As I continue sorting and compiling many of my prayers and devotions for a project, I keep running across pieces that “Oh! I’d forgotten about this one” or “Wow! Did I really write this???” or even “Oh man, that’s hokey!” lol

This one from 2005, however, still rings true..

Unstillness in Prayer

 

I come this morning, Father, as one who doesn’t know how to pray as she should. I come full of an… “uneasiness”; a… trepidation; a… fear…

 

No wonder people seek to stay busy, because if we become still, we become aware that “we” don’t know what we’re doing.

 

We say we’re so busy, and we are; we truly are! Or at least we’ve allowed ourselves to get that way. We have our work, our homes, our responsibilities, and we are so overwhelmed with all the stuff of life…

 

We are connected on every hand, and feel that we must be able to be reached at all hours of the day and night. And for many of us, it’s not just an “imagined” need; we have children, or parents who truly need to be able to reach us. They depend on us…

 

But then again, many times… far too many times, we use this connectability as a crutch, or perhaps an umbilical cord, connecting us to the world, not only physically, but emotionally as well.

 

And so, our minds are so filled with all the things that we’ve allowed (even unconsciously) to fill them. But if we really probe deeply enough Father, I think we’ll find that this is really the way that we want it to be…

 

Oh, we say we’d like to have more time; we’d like to shed some of our responsibilities. We say we’d like to spend more quiet time; more meditative time in solitude… but when those still moments come upon us, even so briefly… we become antsy, nervous, and uneasy in being alone with You.

 

When those of “the world” have these still moments, they immediately seek to fill them. Are we any different? Most of the time we do the same thing. But, as we grow in our walk, and we seek to draw closer to You, and we set aside time to pray… it is then that we realize how uncomfortable silence and stillness really is…

 

And we realize that we come, as one who doesn’t know how to pray as he or she should…

 

So, what do we do? Well, if we’re Scripturally sound we hold to the scripture that says that we don’t know how to pray as we should, so the Holy Spirit intercedes for us “with groans and utterances too deep for words…”

 

But quite frankly God, I think that’s a cop-out… Sure, there are times when the feelings are too deep for words, but most of the time, we just simply don’t want to take the time to learn how to pray, or we don’t want to take the time to listen for Your voice…

 

The world speaks of “evolution”, but in actuality, we are devolving… One has only to read the Church fathers’ writings on prayer; or read classics from only a century ago on theology or prayer; or even read prayers from just a generation ago to realize, we don’t have a clue as to what they’re saying.

 

“Well, ‘language’ is different today,” we say. And it certainly is. We have devolved into a society of acronyms and invented words; we coin phrases to reflect our surrounding culture which takes us farther and farther away from being able to read and understand Your Holy Word.

 

Father, forgive us, and in this fast-paced world (perhaps “spinning out of control world” would be more like it!) help us to come to You as the disciples came to Jesus and say, “Lord, teach us how (and teach us now) to pray…

 

In Jesus’ Name – Amen.

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Father, as I look my Bible in front of me this morning, I marvel at a great mystery; not what it took to write it; not at the wonder of Divine Inspiration; not at the thought of the masses who’ve given their very lives for its preservation; and not even (for now) at the marvelous truths which You’ve given us…

No, the great mystery I ponder, and indeed the matter that weights my heart is the question of, why do those, even those who call themselves Your children and followers, why don’t they read it? Why is there no desire to read Your Word – no yearning to know Your message?

Oh, some do their “devotions.” They read a passage, or a verse and a little “devotional” about that passage, but so few actually read… the… Bible… itself. Why is that, Lord?

Do we just not know where to start? Is it just too overwhelming to think about? So many people say they love You, and yet know nothing about You (other than what someone told them.)

When I fell in love with my (future) husband, I wanted to know all about him – his likes, his dislikes, where he was born, all about his family… How Lord, can we say we love You when we know nothing about You – and have no desire to learn…? We don’t know Your history, we don’t know Your people, we don’t know anything about the very place in the entire universe where You have carved Your name… (literally.)

Father, I think the greatest gift You’ve given me (aside from my salvation) is the passion and desire to know You more fully. You’ve given me an insatiable appetite to read Your Word, and to share it with others.

Oh Lord, that I might be able to do that in such a way as to spark an interest. Once an interest is “sparked” then the “flame” can be fanned. And once the “flame” is fanned, more “fuel” can be added, and as the “fuel” is added, a “blaze” appears. And when the “blaze” appears, it sucks in oxygen. And as oxygen is sucked in, the fire grows. And as the fire grows the “sparks shoot upward” and shower onto neighboring “hearts” and once again, interests are sparked, and flames can be fanned, and the process is begun again.

Oh Father – that those who love You would seek Your Face… That is my prayer.

 

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 is, of course, prayed in response (in my opinion) to seeing her baby, little Samuel at probably age 3 or so, fold his chubby little hands together and worship the Lord.

Verse 27-28 of 1 Samuel 1 says: “For this boy I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of Him.

So I have also dedicated him to the LORD; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.  (emphasis added) 

There is debate about who that last “he” in verse 28 is – whether it is Elkanah, or Eli, or Samuel. And I believe it was Samuel. How else could Hannah so “easily” give up this child for whom  she had prayed so desperately? After all, Eli hadn’t done such a great job with his own boys, and now she is going to leave a baby with him – a child who must be taught the things of God…?

We don’t have Hannah’s prayer after she is told God will answer her prayer. We don’t have it when she conceives, or even when the child is born, but when Hannah sees her baby boy clasp his little hands together and worship the Lord, she knows in her mother’s heart, that she has done what God would have her to do, and that God Himself will raise this child.

However, when we look at this prayer outside of that context, it is still a great prayer of victory and comfort. The following is a paraphrased prayer of 1 Samuel 2:1-10 to be used at anytime in any situation…

 

My heart rejoices in the Lord God.

In the Lord, and in Him alone – my strength is lifted up.

I can now claim victory over my enemies, regardless of internal or external enemies; they have no power over me anymore. God, my Saviour has delivered me!

There is no one Holy like our God.

My God, there is no one to compare to You; there is no Rock – nothing to hold to, like the resting place, the secure place, that You give.

You command the proud to shut up! You silence those who are arrogant! For You GOD, are the God who is omniscient, and by You, everything else in the world is examined.

Those who are strong in their own eyes, You will make weak, and yet, those who rely on You will have all the strength they need, in Your omnipotence!

Those who thought they had everything will find that they have nothing. And those who were empty will be hungry no more… Yes, those who were empty, will be filled with abundance, and for those with much, You have said, even what they had will be taken away.

 You are the LORD GOD, and You control life and death, feast and famine, defeat and victory. You send empty wells and running water, You drag down, and You lift up.

The poor and weak who cry out to You, You elevate from the very pit, and seat them with the exalted ones.

The world and all of creation is Yours, and You are in control of everything. You will lead and protect those who are Yours, but those who deny You will be silenced with darkness and disgrace.

We can do nothing by our own strength, and anyone who opposes (or ignores) You will be devastated in the end. Ultimately You will judge the earth and all its inhabitants, and Your judgment will rain down with a vengeance.

But to Christ Your anointed, You will give that privilege of judgment, for Christ alone is sinless having lived as God, having lived as man. And His name will be glorified forever! Amen!

 

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(This devotional was written several years ago – but is just a relevant as ever.)

The headline on the grocery store tabloid newspaper said: “Ted Kennedy Offering $25 Million for Cancer Cure…” as the disease continues to ravage his body.

I thought of that when I was looking at my prayer list this morning. “Perspective…” it’s all a matter of perspective.

I saw the list of folks who are struggling financially – those who’ve been “laid off” and those who’ve completely lost their jobs – and they’re all ages – with all kinds of responsibilities.

But who of them, when looking at the struggles of others, would not gladly keep their own?

When one faces a “life and death” situation, then perspective becomes very important.

Jesus said to the crowd (Mark 8:37) “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Nothing is more important than life… except eternal life.

Jesus goes on to say, (verse 38) “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

The same God Who was sovereign before these difficulties, is still sovereign today.

The question to ask is, “Where will you be found when Jesus returns?”

As the moon reflects the sun during the dark hours of the night, so the Christian must reflect the presence of God during the dark hours of the soul.

Precious and Loving Father, our troubles loom so largely when viewed from the perspective of the pit beneath them. I pray that you will show us Your vantage point, give us peace, and the courage to stand in difficult times.

In Jesus’ Name – Amen.

 

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