Tag Archives: prayer

Immediate (Mark 8)

I find it interesting, and personal, that it took Jesus two tries to heal the blind man in Mark 8. Or did it?

Some people had brought the man to Jesus for healing, and Jesus took him by the hand and led him to a private spot. This was not going to be a public display of God’s power. This was personal.

Jesus spit on the man’s eyes and laid hands on him. But the man was only partially healed. He confessed he saw, but not clearly. Jesus touched him again, and he was healed.

Now I know Jesus could have absolutely healed him immediately – with a word. (He’d healed people immediately many times before.) So why was this healing a two-parter?

I think it’s something to consider in our day of instant gratification, impatience, entitlement, and self-absorption. We pray and, knowing Jesus is able to answer, we expect immediate results. We don’t want to wait, and we certainly don’t want our request answered in stages.

Then, what if the end result isn’t exactly what we’d prayed? What happens to our faith? What if, when the man in Mark 8 realized his sight wasn’t fully restored the first time, he left in a huff, if his faith was only as good as the immediate? He would have missed the complete healing.

I think of a fellow-blogger who was diagnosed with ALS 24 years ago, is confined to a wheel chair with a mind that is sharp, and a body that will not move. I didn’t know him back then. But I imagine he and those around him prayed for healing. I imagine those prayers are still being brought to God. Those prayers were met in other ways, besides a physical healing. If you want to know more about his journey, check out Unshakable Hope.

Our Good News club is looking at the life of Joni Eareckson Tada. She’s another example of a believer whose physical body was not healed, although there were a lot of prayers to that end. The answers to those prayers came in stages, and the end result looked much different than those praying imagined. But both of these people have ministries today they would not have had if they had been healed of their physical challenges.

As I think about these people, the man in Mark 8, others I’ve prayed for without seeing the results I wanted, I have to ask myself if I really trust God even when my requests aren’t fulfilled in my timing or in the exact way I’ve prayed?

I find it’s not about the outcome of my prayers, but the faith I have along the way. of course I believe God can do anything. He could remove Covid from the world right this minute. That’s not what God wants me to see today, though. God wants me to see Him, to trust Him, to have a faith that is not shattered if answers to my prayers aren’t immediate.

If God answers my prayers in stages, I pray that I will have the patience to see Him working in my life and in the lives of others in the situation with me while we wait. I pray that if the outcome isn’t what I demanded, I will trust Him enough to know and do what’s best for eternity.

I think God is reminding me today to pray, to trust, to have faith that He does all things well, and to rejoice in every step of the way.

4,000,000 answers to prayer

I just want to say something about COVID 19. The virus is credited with taking about 152,000 lives here in the States. Most of those deaths were from underlying medical conditions complicated by the virus. But whether it’s one or 152,000, it is tragic when someone dies.

Many of us are praying that God will stop the spread of what we have come to regard as a deadly plague. We cry out that God would have mercy and heal us. Some question why God hasn’t put a stop to it already.

But yesterday as I was praying I felt God remind me that there are 4 MILLION people who have been healed of this virus. 4 MILLION answers to prayer. Where is our praise for that?

I’m not suggesting we stop praying about this disease. I pray not one more death will come as a result of the virus’ complications, and I am certainly not minimizing the loss of lives connected to COVID 19. But even as we pray for healing, let’s not neglect to praise our merciful God who has spared the lives of millions during the past few months.

When the “powers that be” try to throw fear into us, let’s rest in the merciful God we serve. Let’s praise God for 4,000,000 answers to prayer.

Key To Victory (2 Chronicles 32-33)

The King of Assyria was coming with a vast army to take Jerusalem by force. King Hezekiah built a dam, repaired the wall around Jerusalem, and replenished the army’s weapons. He assembled his troops, then said something to them I think we might need to hear ourselves:

Be strong and courageous! Our enemy has only the arm of flesh, “but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” (32:8)

Scripture tells us the Assyrian army was defeated in a miraculous way.

Man can assemble their strongest, bravest, and wisest. Communism, riots, looting, murders in the streets, corruption in government, an entertainment and news media industry backed by evil, can join forces. But the arm of flesh can’t win over the arm of God. Not even a virus can defeat our God.

But let’s not forget before Hezekiah said these words here in chapter 32, before God defeated the Assyrian army, Hezekiah had humbled himself, repented of sin, and Israel was once again worshiping God.

Oh, God can heal our land. I am 100% sure of that fact. But the key to victory lies right in your lap and mine. Are we willing to do what we need to do before God even hears our cries for help? Are you and I ready to confess our sin and repent, to take a stand for the God of Truth? Are we humbled before, and committed to God alone?

Our society, our freedoms, our lives are facing a powerful arm of flesh. Will you join me in serving in God’s army of obedient soldiers in our battle for Truth? The key to victory is God, and we can join Him in this battle when we stand with Him through His Son, Jesus.

 

 

 

 

…so that He will not hear. (Isaiah 59-63)

Once again I read God’s Words and see life in 2020 America. Read chapter 59 and see if you don’t agree. Hands are stained with blood, no one pleads his case with integrity, acts of violence are in our hands, they rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood, truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.

Isaiah could be a reporter for a cable news network today and say the same thing.

But like always, God has a way of making His Word personal. And He never lets me off the hook. I first read these chapters with our society in mind. But I got finished and realized God rarely talks to me about “them.” So I asked Him to speak to me about my walk with Him today, and started to read the chapters again.

God slapped me with 59:2. It’s MY iniquity that has separated me from God, MY sins that hide His face from me so that He will not hear my cries for help. Where do I get off thinking I can live my life to suit myself, AND expect God to jump when I call? How much nerve does it take to ignore God until I need Him, then blame Him when things go south?

Maybe you should ask yourself the same thing.

I know you can’t expect a non-Christian to act like a Christian. But I think it’s time we Christians started acting like true Jesus-followers. It starts with confessing our own sin every time God brings a sin to our attention. It involves loving our neighbors, doing good to those who harm us.

But it also means putting on the armor of God and standing on the Truth of Scripture. No compromise. No picking a verse here and there to support our own agenda. No “living and let live.” Being a true Jesus-follower means going to war. It means holding each other accountable, telling people about their sin problem, and introducing them to their Savior.

God doesn’t hear us while we hold on to sin. God doesn’t hear the Church, and God doesn’t hear me unless and until I deal with my sin problem by repenting and asking Him to forgive me.

Do I want God to heal our land, erase the virus, stop the riots in the streets and the insanity in our government? Do I want Him to hear me?

Then I had better deal with my own iniquity, my own sin. I can pray all day and all night long, but if I am living with sin He will not hear.

Pray For CEF (2 Kings 11)

Joash was seven years old when he became king. That’s like a second grader. Granted he had adults like Jehoiada the priest calling the shots. But Joash was king.

I am reminded that God can and does use children in His kingdom. And God needs committed adults to guide them.

I have been a Good News Club volunteer for a few years, and I am convinced that children can understand God’s Word and make conscious decisions to ask Jesus to forgive their sins. Every week I see God move in young hearts and change young lives. It is an amazing ministry right there in our public schools.

My heart is burdened for Good News Clubs and CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship, of which GNC is a ministry). There is something going on in leadership that has led to some people leaving the organization. Some have gone voluntarily, some have been relieved of their duties.

The thing is, it’s not a theological difference that is causing this discord. All the people involved are committed to the Gospel of Jesus. All of them want to see children have the opportunity to hear God’s Word and enjoy a relationship with the Savior.

I don’t know the details but I know they need our prayers. Satan would love nothing more than to stop us from going into our schools to tell children the truth about Jesus. This program is claiming eternal souls for God, and our enemy wants it stopped. And I believe he is working from within to accomplish his evil goal.

Is it the sin of pride? Is it the need for control, or a divisive spirit? Is it unwillingness to  listen? I don’t know. I can’t imagine one side of the issue is totally right and the other totally wrong. I just see it causing a serious division. And it breaks my heart.

Will you pray with me? I’m praying God will deal with sin in the hearts of all of us involved in this important ministry. I pray that God will break hearts, will prompt both sides to reach out to each other in love. I pray that there will be healing and that the cause of Christ will go on.

I don’t know how long Good News Clubs will be legally allowed to meet in our public schools. But I will be really mad if we implode because someone has drawn a line in the sand. I can’t believe this brings joy to my Lord.

Please pray for CEF.

The Wrong Questions (2 Kings 8)

Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, was sick. Was he dying? He wanted to know, so he sent a message to Elisha asking, “Will I recover from this illness?” Elisha answered the king, “Yes, you will recover from the illness.” But God had shown Elisha that the king would die anyway. He would actually be murdered in his sleep.

Do you remember Wile E. Coyote? The cartoon character would manage to navigate through a trap set by the roadrunner, only to have an anvil fall on his head. He would successfully get through a roadblock, only to be hit by a speeding truck.

I think that describes many of us. We pray that God will protect us from a virus, but we have not addressed sin in our lives. We ask God to bless our children, but we don’t talk to our children about Jesus. We pray for a better job, or a happy-ever-after-marriage, while our eternity is in question. We get so caught up in the present we forget there is something much more pressing, and that is our heart’s condition before a Holy God.

We may survive this virus only to be thrown into the lake of fire if we try to face God without Jesus.

I don’t think it’s wrong to pray about our health or our circumstances. In fact, the Bible tells us to pray about everything all the time. But let’s be careful to ask God the right questions.

Remember Jesus asked what good it does someone if they gain the whole word, yet lose their soul. (Mark 8) The answer to that is – none!

As we pray about this virus, our families, our nation, let’s first of all ask God to cleanse our hearts, forgive our sins. Let’s call on Him to do a work in our lives that will translate into action for His sake.

Because if the only thing we are asking God is for protection from COVID 19, we’re asking the wrong question.

 

The Desires of Your Heart (2 Samuel 13-15)

Some people are never satisfied. They are always looking for more, dreaming bigger, lusting for that person or job or possession they believe would guarantee happiness. Sometimes that “want” becomes an obsession, and they begin to compromise, deceive, use people and manipulate circumstances in order to get that which is the focus of their desire.

But often, once their dream becomes a reality, they are left empty, unfulfilled, and may even end up despising that very thing they had sold their soul to have.

That’s what happened when Amnon finally had sex with Tamar, after his obsession with her ended up with rape. He certainly didn’t find the happiness he thought he’d enjoy once Tamar was his. In fact, all he felt was hate.

God is asking me to consider the desires of my heart. Where are my thoughts, my dreams directed? For what am I working; what is it that I believe would make me happy or successful or fulfilled?

If my focus and desires are centered on what God wants for me, I won’t have to make myself sick over an obsession, or some person I am sure would make me happy, or a job I think I need in order for me to feel good about myself. In fact, if my “obsession” is to be as close to God as is humanly possible, everything else will fall into place without my compromises or manipulations.

Psalm 37:4 says this:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. (emphasis mine)

Give you.

Now, what this isn’t is a magic formula to have Junior fall in love with you, or for you to get that raise you know you deserve. But here is what is so cool about God: If we delight in Him, if we walk with Him, communicate with Him, enjoy our position as His beloved child through the blood of Jesus, God will give us exactly what we delight in.

Himself!

And with that comes everything He wants us to have and be and enjoy in this lifetime. We will realize that what He wants for us is so much better than we can ask or even think. He will give you the desires of His heart.

Wow.

 

 

I’m Not Feeling It (Psalm 88)

I was bothered by this psalm this morning. Heman the Ezrathite was in a bad way. I understand some scholars believe he was foretelling what Jesus experienced in the events surrounding the cross, and I can see some similarities for sure. But I read this psalm as from a man who was in despair himself at that moment. He is at the lowest point in his life, drowning, suffering, overwhelmed, and friendless. In fact, the psalm ends with him saying that darkness is his closest friend.

Then to top it off, he feels abandoned by God. The psalm left me feeling uneasy. But I continued with my reading plan, reading other psalms that were uplifting and hopeful. I just could’t shake the feeling I’d gotten from Psalm 88.

So I went back to look at it again. “What is it You want me to see, Lord?” I prayed. I didn’t have to look very hard.

O, Lord, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. (verses 1-2)

Heman didn’t feel all warm and fuzzy toward God. It wasn’t one of those times when the Presence of the Lord made him joyful, calm, and confident. It was one of those times when he couldn’t even feel the Presence of God at all.

But Heman KNEW God was his Savior. He KNEW God was present, even if it didn’t feel like it. And Heman was determined to continue to pray to the God he trusted.

God is asking me if I only want a relationship with Him when the circumstances of life are going in my favor, or do I trust Him in those times when I feel like I’m drowning, suffering, overwhelmed, and alone? Do I pray expecting God to snap to it like a bellboy at a five star hotel, and grant me my wish as demanded? Do I give Him the silent treatment when I don’t think He’s paying attention?

Heman prayed to “the God who saves me.” Not to the God who makes me feel good. Not even to the God who loves me. And Heman didn’t pray to the God who CAN save me. I love Heman’s confidence in God in the midst of his trouble. The God who saves me! Period.

So when my life seems out of control, I like Heman, can know that as His child, God is the God who saves ME. He doesn’t depend on my feelings. But I can depend on His faithfulness. Even when things are hard. Even when I’m lost and alone.

Even when I’m not feeling it. God is the God who saves me!

December 14; Wrestling

Colossians

Sometimes I run across a person mentioned in Scripture and wish I knew more about him or her. Like Epaphras. Paul describes him as a fellow-worker, someone in ministry with Paul. But Paul also said this about Epaphras:

He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. (4:12)

Earlier Paul challenged us to be devoted in prayer, and combined with what he said about Epaphras, I am convicted this morning.

What does it mean to be devoted to prayer, or to wrestle in prayer? And what would happen if we Christians really prayed like that?

I’ve shared that I don’t often stop to pray. I rarely spend more than ten minutes praying at a time. And I don’t even do that every day.

But I don’t think I’m the only Christian who doesn’t pray like we should. I don’t think our world would be in the state it is in if we were all devoted to prayer, if we wrestled in prayer for each other, and on behalf of unsaved people.

I pray we will learn to pray, that we would be devoted to prayer, and not too lazy or too uncaring to stop and wrestle in prayer, crying out to God, pleading, laying bare all our longings and all our cares. God wants to answer our prayers.

But we have to pray.