Here is something we can all try. In E.M. Bounds book The Complete Book of Prayer, he quotes a gentleman that has a great “tactic” of prayer. I think it would do our community and world good if we employed something similar.
Sir Thomas Browne wrote, “I purpose to take occasion of praying upon the sight of any church which I may pass, that God may be worshipped there in spirit, and that souls may be saved there; to pray daily for my sick patients and the patients of other physicians; at my entrance into any home to say, “May the peace of God dwell here;” after hearing a sermon, to pray for a blessing on God’s truth…upon the sight of a deformed person, to pray God to give them wholeness of soul, and by an by to give them the beauty of the resurrection.”
We should put these things into practice. It reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said, “Pray without ceasing”.
Some may be thinking about their boss on the job, their spouse at home, or even, in some families, it might be the kids. The question, however, is directed to the spiritual aspects of your life. Are you in control or is God in control?
As human beings, we like to be in charge…in control of our own lives. We don’t like to live our life for someone else. We may think, “It is my life I can do as I please.” That statement is true. You can do whatever you please, but we should be doing what pleases God not us.
The fall of man came because man did what was pleasing to himself. In fact, Satan fell from Heaven because he wanted to live his own life. We were born into sin because of what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. We now have to endure the tempting of the pride of life. We have to suppress our desire to live a life of our own will.
John the Baptist said, “That I may decrease so He can increase.”
What a powerful statement! This sums up the whole definition of surrender. As a child of God, we know longer seek to live for our own wills but God’s will. We should seek to die to ourselves, our plans, our own agendas, our pleasures and take up God’s life and plans.
Man’s problems today can all be traced to the fact that people do not want to give up any part of themselves to God. Christians have a hard time laying down their pride, to submit to the leadership of God. We can say that we love God. We can work for His kingdom. We can pray and read our Bible and still not be submitted to Him.
How can you tell when someone has surrendered to God? Humility and servant hood. They humble themselves and care nothing about who gets credit for their service. They lay down the pleasures of this life so that they can walk in God’s life. Evidence of a surrendered Christian is seen in the reflection of Christ in the believer. They don’t tout spirituality they just walk in Christ’s love.
Surrender your life to Christ. Give up everything to Him. Quit worrying about what God can do for you and think of what you can do for Him. Lay down your pleasures, your will and all that is in you and walk in humility. God blesses those who are surrendered to Him.
When I have a little free time in the office, I generally take a look back at some things that have impacted my life. Years ago, my grandfather was in ministry and carried a loose-leaf Bible with sermon notes inside of it. I enjoy reading through these notes to see if I can glean anything from his words of wisdom.
In his sermon on a passage in Ezekiel, he made an insightful statement that cut me to the heart. “Remember, if you are hungry, you are healthy. Hunger is a sign of health and if you have no hunger for God, you are sick. May God create in us an appetite which only Jesus can satisfy. Down, Christian, down on your knees, if you want the blessing that God will give to you.”
Are you hungry for God? If you are not hungry your spiritual life is sick. The only remedy for hunger is to take the path to blessing. On our knees is the place to find hunger. On our knees is the place to have our hunger satisfied.
In this life we have so many things competing for our affections. It is hard to keep our hearts hungry for more of God. If you find yourself in a place where you are not hungry for Him, you need healing from your spiritual sickness. God will place in you a hunger if you will only ask Him. May we hunger for the Bread of Life!
DISCLAIMER: This is a lengthy article. Since, we are not having church because of the weather, I thought I would share what was on my heart for our message tonight.
Monday, we drove out to the Buffalo River area and gazed at the beauty of God’s creation. The rising bluffs that create a marvelous backdrop for the Buffalo River. The water was flowing freely, and the rapids were rushing, not turbulently, but at least steadily. I love this area of Arkansas. Truly, it is a gift from our Creator.
Sonya and I have frequented this area many times. In all four seasons, yet it is in winter that you notice the lack of life. The trees look dead. The leaves have fallen, the grass is brown, and apart from a smattering of evergreens, there is little color in the wintertime.
One thing we must remember, however, is that even though it looks lifeless, it doesn’t mean it’s dead. The trees are very much alive even though there are no leaves on their limbs. Winter, in itself, holds its own beauty. But one oft overlooked blessing in the cold season is that you can see things you never saw when the trees were teeming with life. With the tress full of leaves, you cannot see at a distance. The view is blocked. Therefore, the winter season produces a greater vision than the summertime.
In Psalm 42, the Psalmist is walking through a winter season of his life. He is missing the house of worship, being around God’s people, and we even catch a glimpse of his thought that perhaps God is absent during these moments. Things had changed drastically in his life. So much so that he reveals his heart is breaking because he misses the times of singing for joy and relishing the celebration.
The Psalmist then begins to question, “Why am I so discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?” Have you been there before? Walked through a winter season of depression?
Our tendency in those seasons is to focus on the gloom of the winter. No sign of life. Things look and feel dead or at least, as if the presence of God has escaped us. This is when the Psalmist changes his perspective. Why am I discouraged and feel so sad? Yet, I will hope in God! I will praise Him again! He is no longer looking at the lifeless winter, but the God who is full of life. When our season feels like a long winter, we have to change the way we see things. We have to look up, rather than around.
In verse 8, the writer gives us the greatest shot of hope while also giving us instruction.
“But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.” -Psalm 42:8 NLT-
The Psalmist shows us that God is always pouring His unfailing love on us. This gives us a reason for living. But here comes our response to that unfailing love. It should cause us to have a song in our heart. “Through each night I sing His songs.” When we are embraced by the unfailing love of God, we should have a song. It gives us a reason to sing.
Our next instruction tells us that if we are in winter and lack life, we need to pray to God. “Praying to God who gives me life.” Life comes when we are connected to Him in prayer. In Psalm 43:4 it tells us that we should build our altar to God, who is our source of joy. These verses remind us of the power of prayer to get us through the gloomy season.
As I was thinking on these verses, it sparked a way that we need to pray when we need life. I’m not talking about our next breath, but rather life in our soul, spiritual life. If that is what you need, try patterning your prayer this way:
LISTEN TO GOD
Psalm 46:10 tells us to “be still and know that He is God…” We must slow down our lives long enough to listen to His voice. Listening for Him to calm us, lead us, and draw us to Him.
In his book, Getting Your Life Back, John Eldredge writes about the One Minute Pause. Taking just 60 seconds to stop, breathe, and listen to Him. During the One Minute Pause, Eldredge says it is a time to release to God whatever is weighing us down. He gives a couple of questions to ask that will help us focus during these 60 seconds. Simply, ask and listen.
1. What do I need to let go of? (What is weighing me down?)
Pause and give it to God. Let it go.
2. What do I need from God today?
Pause and ask Him for it.
Eldredge encourages everyone to do this multiple times throughout the day. I challenge you to make this a part of your daily life.
INTERCEDE FOR OTHERS
Nothing helps us take the focus off of our own situations like praying for others who are in need. The Bible is emphatic about our need to “stand in the gap” for others. (Ezekiel 22:30, I Timothy 2:1-2, Matthew 5:44, Ephesians 6:18)
If you have trouble finding things to pray about, just take this summary from the verses mentioned above.
The nation and our leaders
Family and Friends
People who are going through hardship
There are needs all around us, and the way to breathe life into your winter season is to focus on the needs of others. If you focus on their needs, it will help you to not be glued to all the troubles you are walking through.
The Bible does tell us that we are to pray for ourselves. It is not unselfish. We are instructed to pray for our own needs.
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (I Peter 5:7 NLT)
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6 NLT)
“Commit your future to the Lord.” (Psalm 37:5 NET)
The word commit in Psalm 37:5 carries the idea of rolling your burden onto the Lord. It pictures a camel loaded down with cargo, kneeling down, and rolling to its side to unload its weight. This means that we are literally to roll our burdens off on to God. We do this by praying for our own needs.
EXALT THE LORD
Remember, the Psalmist in Psalm 42:8 said that he sang songs throughout the night. We are also told in other places that we are to exalt the Lord. It is during our time of prayer that we should take time to worship the Lord for who He is and give thanks for what He has done. The Apostle Paul connected letting our requests being made known to God and giving thanks. When we are thankful for what He has done, it helps us have faith for things He hasn’t down yet.
Friends, I encourage you to build an altar and pray to the God who gives us life.
Listen to God Intercede for others For Yourself Exalt the Lord.
When you do these things, you will find clarity and spiritual life even in your winter seasons.
I am pretty sure that most of you who are reading this, have looked in a mirror today. Perhaps to fix your hair, shave, or make sure you look presentable before leaving the house. After all, one of the habits the majority of people have, is looking into the mirror daily.
Just think of where we would be, if we never looked in the mirror. Disheveled hair, overgrown or unmaintained facial hair, a lack of make up for the ladies, or even makeup that doesn’t look right, because who can put on makeup without a mirror? A mirror is important to our lives as it has been for centuries.
A mirror in our bathroom is a habit, but it shouldn’t be our only mirror. In fact, the most important mirror for our lives which should be a daily habit for us, is the Word of God. The Bible is a mirror that we gaze into in order to see how we need to clean up, fix up, or change our heart and lives.
Paul told Timothy that the Word of God corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right (2 Timothy 3:16). In essence, Paul is saying that the Scriptures are a mirror to show us how to live. This is a thought that I have been mulling over for quite some time. I have a daily habit of reading the Bible. It is one of the first things I do in the morning, but if I only read it and never look into it as a mirror, it will not have an effect on my life.
Over the last couple of months, I have been seeking to change my approach to the Word of God from just reading to actually seeking, even more, to allow it to change me in areas I need some work on. I read a chapter of Proverbs every day meaning I read through the book 12 times a year. Believe me, the more I read it, the more I see the things I need to change. One day, I will learn to get my tongue, among other things, under control. 🙂
There are two passages of Scripture that are my starting point. These places in the Bible are the mirror I gaze into that helps me see the many things I need to work on. The first one is a mirror to see how I am loving. Beginning with my wife, then my children, then to everyone else. Looking in this mirror daily helps me keep a constant check on my heart.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (I Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT)
Go through each of these traits of love every day and it will give you something to work on.
I also look at the Beatitudes to help me check my attitude. I like the way the AMPLIFIED BIBLE words this passage in Matthew 5. It gives a little more clarity to the things that Jesus challenges us to make a part of our lives. Again, these things are a mirror for us to see how we are doing spiritually.
3 “Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].4 “Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted]. 5 “Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the gentle [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they will inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied. 7 “Blessed [content, sheltered by God’s promises] are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8 “Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God. 9 “Blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor] are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they will [express His character and] be called the sons of God.10 “Blessed [comforted by inner peace and God’s love] are those who are persecuted for doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].
If you are like me, there are some of these things that we need to work on. Check this list daily.
I believe every Christian needs to keep a regular tab on their hearts. The only way we can make sure we are living the way Christ intended is by using the Bible as our mirror. Solomon said that we need to guard our hearts, for it is the well spring of life (Proverbs 4). The Psalmist showed us the way that we can guard our hearts; searching it. Search your hearts and see if their is any unpleasing way in there (Psalm 139:23-24). You can start searching by looking in the mirror.
“He reigned in Jerusalem eight years, and to no one’s sorrow, departed.” II Chronicles 21:20
Will you be missed when you are gone? Are you leaving a legacy or will anyone be sad when you pass away?
I know this sounds like a cruel question, but I only intend to provoke thought. What am I doing with my life that is affecting others for the good, so that I will be missed when I am gone? Imagine being a king for 8 years and no one being sad when you died. Jehoram had eight years to make a difference in the kingdom but lived contrary to God’s ways. The result in the end was a painful death and no one caring that he died.
Our lives are short and we must leave a mark on the world in which we live. If we are not doing something to impact those around us, we will slip into eternity unnoticed. The endeavor of our lives should be to touch as many lives as we can and leave a legacy behind us. Beginning with our family, our church, our neighborhood and our world.
I challenge you, decide today, to begin living different! Live passionately for others! Give your life away and see what God can do through you. In the end, you will be missed!
Together, let’s make a difference in the world we live. Let’s join together and touch the lives of those around us.
Often when you look at something from the outside you can determine what is on the inside. If you look at a Mercedes Benz from the outside, you know the interior is going to look good on the inside.
I remember going to a nice two story mansion years ago; it was in the nicest part of Pasadena, Texas in the River Oaks Addition. It must have cost, a million dollars. From the outside it was gorgeous. Pillars lined the front with large windows all around the house. It was a dream house. When we went inside, we had the shock of our lives, there was barely any furniture and nothing hung on the walls. They had bought too much house and could not afford to furnish the inside.
This is often how we do with our lives. We fix up our bodies; keeping in shape, dressing nice, making ourselves look the best outwardly, but what about inside? How come we do not take as much care of our inside?
The Psalmist prayed, “Cleanse me from secret faults.” (Psalm 19:12)
We sometimes have faults that no one but God can see. We are notorious for sweeping our sins under the rug while keeping the rug vacuumed. Maybe we should clean out from under the rug first and then take care of the rug itself.
Child of God, we must take extreme care that we do not harbor secret faults. The eyes of the Lord are every where. He sees even the deep crevices of the heart. Ask the Lord to search your heart and when he reveals the secret faults, ask for forgiveness and clean them up.