Tag Archives: God

The Lord’s Prayer

Matthew 6:9-13

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

(This post is actually an excerpt from my upcoming book “The A.S.K Principle”. This book is at the publishers now! Would love your feedback!)

Familiar – very familiar. I would venture to say every one reading this can recite this prayer by heart. In many of our churches, it is spoken by the congregation every Sunday. After all, Jesus did say this prayer is for us, right?

Yes, He did. It is not that He commanded us to recite this prayer exactly as it is written in this Matthew account. Luke’s account of the same prayer (Luke 11:2-4) leaves out the last line of praise. When Jesus is quoted in Matthew, He says, “after this manner therefore pray.” In Luke’s rendition, which was most likely said at a different time than Matthew’s, Jesus is talking only to the disciples. Luke uses the words, “When ye pray, say…”

The difference in the language is interesting to me. In Luke, Jesus says to use these specific words and we do. We pray this prayer exactly as Jesus gave it. Matthew’s rendition was given during the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus is instructing the crowd in the ways of the Kingdom of God. At this occasion He tells them to pray in this manner, which to me does not necessarily signify the exact words.

What I am trying to get at is that the Lord’s Prayer is not only a prayer we should pray because we follow Him. It also gives us a pattern of prayer that would be good to incorporate with every prayer we utter. Praying in this manner can mean with the same words, or it can mean by this method. This indicates the pattern of prayer Jesus used is a good outline to follow.

In this section we will take a look at that pattern. I believe following this pattern can enrich your prayer life because, after all, this is the pattern Jesus gave us! Each statement Jesus makes in this prayer is a different part of why we come before God. He brings us to every point in a short concise way. Prayers don’t need to be lengthy to be effective.

Our Father – Relationship is the first part of prayer. God is our heavenly Father; Jesus is our Lord and Savior (and so much more). We begin our prayer by acknowledging our relationship and calling out to the one whom we are addressing with our prayer. There is nothing more important in our walk with God than developing a close, very personal relationship with Him. Coming to Him with every need, confiding in Him when we are hurting or discouraged, knowing His Word and what He wants us to do. These are all a part of that relationship.

Which art in heaven – signifies direction. We want our prayers aimed in the proper direction, acknowledging Him as supreme in all things. He is the one who sits on the throne, high and lifted up. He inhabits heaven and yet dwells in our hearts. Revelation 8:4 says the prayers of the saints rise with a sweet-smelling incense before Him in heaven. This is the destination of our prayers and this where the answers come from.

Hallowed by the name – Praise. Praise should always be a part of our prayer. Praise for who He is, not what He’s done. I love the Psalms because David always either begins or ends with praise – every time. Our prayers should be the same – enter with praise. I will enter His gates with thanksgiving and praise!

Thy Kingdom come – Anticipation of His response, His answer, His reply. It is anticipation of a future heaven, a future walking in His ways, and a future filled with hope and love. When the Kingdom comes, we will know His presence in a greater way than ever before. We thank Him for the answer before it comes because of this anticipation.

Thy Will be done – Not my will but thine be done. This should always be a standard statement in our prayers, whether for us or someone else. I hear people praying so often for healing, financial help, deliverance, and various other things, and I do not hear them say God’s will be done. If even Jesus had to pray “Thy will be done,” how much more should we? Granted, all those things are promises that God will provide, but do I know if He wants to provide them at this time? Or is this trial meant to build me and grow my faith, so I need to go all the way through? It is far better to pray that God will strengthen someone until God decides to deliver them from it. Thy will be done!

on earth as it is in heaven – Desire. Imagine if things were on earth as they are in heaven! No more sickness, no more pain, no tears, no death, and no sorrow. We desire for all these things to pass by us, and God will bring that in His time and in His way. All things are done in heaven by His grand design. Let the same be true in you and in your prayer life. As you pray, allow your words to take on heavenly meaning and purpose.

Give us this day our daily bread – Supplication. asking God for His provision and His grace. He knows what you need each day, and He is never in short supply. The biggest need we have is food for our bodies. The biggest need we have for our souls is grace. God gives us grace for each day – only enough for that day. That is why we should never worry about tomorrow! Give us THIS DAY!

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors – Mercy. The whole thing applies! God forgives us as we forgive others! We need His forgiveness every time we mess up somewhere. This is often a daily occurrence with me. But the prayer is very specific. Forgive us as we forgive our debtors. This should be part of every prayer, asking God for forgiveness and mercy and forgiving others in the process. We cannot grab onto the first part of this portion and forget the second part!

Lead us not into temptation – Guidance. I need guidance every day. Guidance to do my writing, guidance to set my schedule, and guidance to get done all that needs to be done. Daily I should ask God to direct my steps and keep me away from temptation. If temptation comes, this prayer asks that we not be lead into it. Stay outside of it, not in it!

But deliver us from evil – Deliverance. If I should get caught up in something I should not be, He promises deliverance and salvation. Like anything else, we need to ask. Asking before we get there is the best, so making this a part of our prayer is so helpful. If I should wander off the path, Lord, bring me back onto it and deliver me from my wanderings before they happen!

For thine is the Kingdom – Faith. Faith has many aspects: faith that He is in control, faith that He is Master of all and can touch any situation, faith that this is His Kingdom and He knows all that goes on within it, faith that He can supply all my needs because He is the King who sits on the throne. Pray in Faith, nothing wavering. The entire Kingdom is His, and every element in it is at His command. That should give us great comfort.

And the power – Humility. He has the power, not me. I am but nothing before Him. I need to humbly bow before Him, allowing His power to fix the situation, not my measly human power. I can do nothing to defeat the spiritual enemies at work against me. I come to Him, broken, and needy because He has the power.

And the Glory – reverence and awe. Nothing of me, Lord. Let all the glory come to you, not me. When you deliver me, I will give you the glory. I will tell others my God delivered me. I will tell others my God healed me. I will tell others my God took away my problem. He gets all the glory!

Forever – Eternally – for all time’ We end with praise forever. Our prayers should always end acknowledging His power, His authority, His glory and His answers to our faith. Every time we talk about our prayers being answered, we acknowledge Him forever, not just one time or two or twelve, but forever.

Relationship, direction, praise, anticipation, God’s will, desire, supplication, mercy, guidance, deliverance, faith, humility and reverence for all time. This is the pattern of prayer we should learn to practice. Not a demanding prayer of do this for me, or do that for them. A prayer that lifts His name, gives Him the glory, and puts our requests before Him.

There are many ways to prayer. I pray this chapter will help each of you get into a deeper prayer life than you already have, and that you learn to incorporate all that Jesus incorporated in the prayer we all know so well.

 

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Blessed Are They Who Mourn

Matthew 5:4

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Mourning is a natural occurrence in our lives.  It is a time of deep sorry that usually is associated with a death.  The Greek word used here is pentheo.  Properly, it means to grieve over a death.  Figuratively, according to the Bible lexicon, it can mean to grieve over a personal hope or relationship that dies.  This verse takes on deeper meaning than we see at face value, as it is with most things Jesus says.  there is always a deeper meaning behind His words, and we can always learn more about ourselves when we dig deeply.

What are we mourning over here?  What should we mourn over?  The first thing we should mourn over is our own sin.  Remember what the first beatitude says?  Blessed are the poor in spirit.  The poor in spirit are the humble, the ones who have put their pride aside and have submitted to the Lord with all their heart.  When we are humble, we will feel a deep grief whenever we disobey the Lord.  We will be grieved by any sin that might enter our lives, even if it is unintentional.  We should mourn over any sin that may come.  We should mourn over pride when it rises up in our hearts again.  The big question is do we recognize the pride within us?

I went years wallowing in pride I did not see.  My wife told me over and over again that I was full of pride, but I did not listen.  This pride allowed me to think  I was above the law.  Not the law of this land, but the law of God.  I allowed sin in my life and refused to think that God would judge me for it.  After all, I loved Him.  I was worship leader and the Holy Spirit was evident as I led worship.  I occasionally filled in preaching, taught Sunday school, was an elder in my church.  All the while I was walking in deep sin.  Deceiving everyone around me.  Eventually it cost me my job and almost my marriage.  I was in deep trouble.  I went to Pure Life Ministries because of my wonderful Pastor whom I had betrayed and hurt.  That is where I came face to face with that pride for the first time and it tore me apart.

It was not until I mourned over that sin that I was comforted.  It was then that the Good Shepherd came to me and brought me out of that pride.  He led me ever so gently to a place where He was first again, and the thought of turning back to that sin was far from my mind.  I only wanted to please my Lord once again.  I only wanted to do what he asked me to do.  Never again did I want that pride to rise up. 

I gave my wife permission to let me know if she saw pride in me, and I promised I would listen, a promise I have kept for the last 10 years.  When I left PLM, I was told not to get back into any type of ministry or leadership role for at least 2 years.  I sat on the bench.  I worked some odd jobs, even landing at McDonald’s for 6 months (which I absolutely loved).  My new Pastor wanted me to get back involved and so did others, but I would not.  Not until my wife said it was OK. She would have the final say.

About  20 months after returning home, we were at a tent meeting that we regularly attended.  We loved to help out in the kitchen.  One morning, one of the ministers there came in and asked the leader of the meeting if he could start having a morning Bible study.  The leader said yes.  I went over to my wife and asked her if maybe we could help this man whom we loved by leading worship for him. She said OK, and the minister agreed.  We had several nice morning services and enjoyed  a time of worship.

Later that week during the meeting, I was under the tent when that same minister was giving an exhortation.  He had come to the point in the service when often a word of prophecy would come forth.  He walked back to me and said that God was going to do a new work in my life, one that I would never have suspected.  This work would come suddenly and would be pleasing to God and to many others.  He said it would be like nothing I had ever done before, and it would bring glory to God.

I wept as his words came forth.  I had no idea what this work would be, but the comfort that the word of prophecy gave me was incredible.  My time of mourning over my pride had finally come to an end.  We went back to our church and my wife told the Pastor I was ready to help with worship again if he so desired.  I had never led worship under this pastor, but had discussed my calling and my fallout with him so he knew.  He allowed us back right away.  He’s a wonderful man of God.

Then it happened.  I was driving on my job and all of a sudden I got words in my head and a melody along with them.  I had previously had many tunes go through my head, but never words.  I was flabbergasted, not knowing what to do.  I pulled over to the side of the road, wrote down the words and recorded them into my cell phone.  A few days later I visited my pastor and sang him the song, explaining the circumstances.  He loved it.  I asked him what I should do and he just said keep listening.  I did.

Since that day, God has poured more than 300 worship songs and choruses through me, and over 2,000 poems.  They just keep coming.  There is no explaining it except to say that the spirit of God just takes over for 15 to 20 minutes and there it is, the finished work.  I post whenever I get a new poem, or song, or psalm on my Psalmist blog, which many of you follow as well..  The new work that was prophesied under that tent is still flourishing, almost more now than it did at first.  I am in awe of God.

Have you gotten to the place where you mourn over your sin?  Do you have pride in your life that you are allowing to control you?  I am convinced that everyone should have someone else who can be their pride monitor.  Pride masks itself so the individual cannot see it, and it will lead you to places you should not go.  Until you mourn over your pride, you will never find comfort from it.

In Psalm 139, David begins by saying that God knows every thought he has and knows exactly where he is at all times.  But at the end of the Psalm, David gives God permission to do something that we also should daily ask God to do.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

If God knew all Davids thought, why would this prayer be necessary?  Because only God can reveal to us our pride.  No one can ever tell us we are full of pride because we will not listen.  When God starts to deal with your pride, you will know it.  But God will not deal with it unless we ask Him to.  he does not intrude on our livers without being asked.  God is a gentleman, always acting in mercy and grace.  If we allow Him to search our hearts and reveal our wicked ways, He will.  When we see them and mourn over them we will be comforted.

 

 

A Little Pick-My Up

I was sitting today, trying to get over a cold which has plagued me for 5 days now. On top of that, I had my maintenance chemo treatments Wednesday and Thursday, so my body is weak. I just needed rest, which is a hard thing for me to do. I like to be on the go. Sitting around is not my cup of tea. I needed a lift out of this place of being a bit down.

As I sat here, I thought about how much God cares for me, and I thought maybe you could use a little picker-upper as well. You see, when we are in a place of hurt or weakness, it’s easy to get a little down. It’s easy to feel like we are alone. We can get into a place of pity for ourselves because of the place we are in. I do not like those kind of thoughts.

Then God spoke to me and reminded me of a scripture that we should all strive to keep in our hearts for just such an occasion as this. Psalm 139:17-18 tells us this:

How precious to me are your thoughts, oh God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

It took me a long time to get my head wrapped around these verses. God has precious thoughts toward me? So many of them that they outnumber the sand of the sea? How can that be? I do so many things wrong! There are so many times I fall short of what He asks me to do! There are so many times I do things I know God would not like so much. I say things that are hurtful to others. How can He have precious thoughts of me?

Yet He does – more than I can imagine. Those thoughts are always there. When I think about that, how can I be down? How can I be discouraged? For me, it is impossible. These words lift my spirits every time, and I will endeavor to keep them in my heart and mind for such a time as this! I hope you will too.

A.S.K. – The Key to Prayer Chapter 3D – We Must Listen for a Response

If we expect to get a response from God then it’s of critical importance that we listen for that response. Listening is the next step in communicating with God. I must admit that I’m not very good at listening. Often, when I get into a conversation with somebody, I am thinking about the next thing I want to say and I don’t always completely hear what the person that I’m talking with has to say. I also have other things that are going on around me that cause distractions. It is critical that we learn to listen to God. Listening closely will vastly improve our day-to-day life and our prayer life.

The way that we hear from God the most is through His word. If you are not reading the word of God on a regular basis – I recommend daily – you are not training yourself to hear His voice. Yes, we can train our ear to His voice. The truth is that God speaks to us every time we read His word! We need to make sure our hearts are prepared to hear. We have talked about this in previous lessons.

Romans 10: 17 tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Not only will He reveal His will to us through His word, but it will also increase our faith. How many times have you been reading a familiar portion of scripture and you became aware of something new in that portion of scripture that you hadn’t seen before. It’s always been there you just hadn’t noticed it or hadn’t thought about it in the way you are right now. That is God talking to you through the Holy Spirit. Start to recognize this as His voice and you will realize that you’re hearing from God a lot more than you think you are.

When we want to hear from God, what are we listening for? Are we listening for an audible voice or a stirring in our heart or just a faint small voice speaking to us? 1st Kings 19:11-12 tell us about Elijah:

11 And he (God) said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORDwas not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORDwas not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
Elijah just came from a glorious victory over 400 prophets of Baal. Now he was afraid of Jezebel the Queen and was on the run. God told Him to get to the mountains, and when he got there, God asked Elijah “What are you doing here?” Elijah answered that he was all alone serving God in the nation, and now they were out to get him. God told him to go stand on the mountain before the Lord and we see the events listed above. A strong wind, an earthquake and a fire passed by Elijah, but God was not in any one of them.
We often look for God in the hustle and bustle of this world, or when our worship services are really going well and the praises are being lifted high in the church.

Being from a Pentecostal church, I love it when we shout and sing praises to the Lord. I love the high praise, which is what I call it – when the drums and the guitars and the keyboard and the singers are turned up on high volume and the church and all the grounds are filled with the praises of the Lord. But as much as I love that, it is rare to hear God speak during those times. It is when things quiet down that God speaks with a word of prophecy or tongues with an interpretation is brought forth.

I will never forget the prophecy that came forth upon me in August of 2010. We were in one of those tent revivals and had just finished a rousing worship service and heart thumping hour of preaching. The room was quiet and the man of God came up to me and said “Because you have been waiting patiently and crying out to God to use you once again, God is going to do a new thing in you. Something you haven’t done before and do not expect. And that new thing will be for God’s glory, and it will produce praise and glory to His name. It is not something you will do, but something He will do. It will spring out of your heart so that all will see that it is God that is doing this thing, and not you.” I was in tears when this was spoken. I had been out of ministry for over 3 years because of sin in my life, and I as so hungry for God to move. Two months after this, God started to give me worship choruses, songs and poems, and that has not stopped. Over 2,000 poems, songs and worship choruses have flowed through the Holy Spirit into my heart and onto paper. They are still coming today. When God speaks to us it will come to pass!

Psalm 29:3-9 King James Version (KJV)
3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters.
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
5 The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.
7 The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire.
8 The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.

Psalm 29:3-9 is one of the best portions of scripture to see a description of the voice of the Lord, Look at the attributes David gives to the voice of the Lord: It thunders upon the waters, it is powerful and full of majesty, it breaks the cedars (these are the strongest of trees), it fills with joy like a young calf, it divides fire, it shakes the wilderness, makes the animals bear their young, and it discovers the forest.

With these attributes, why does He remain so quiet with us? It is because He wants to be close to us and have that personal one-on-one with us. If He spoke to each of us in full volume, it would be heard for dozens of miles away, like thunder is, and it would be seen from hundreds of miles away, like the lightening is. It would break our houses and shake the land. His voice is so powerful that the Israelites decided they wanted God to speak to Moses and then Moses would speak to the people, because they heard the thundering of His voice and were afraid (Ex 20:18-21)

John 10:1-5 King James Version (KJV)
1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are His sheep and you will know His voice. Do you know the voice of the Lord when it comes to you? Can you recognize it from the voice of the enemy? They are both speaking to us, but only one speaks with things that line up with the Word of God. This is another reason you have to know the scriptures and rely on the Holy Spirit to bring them to your remembrance when you need them.

Do you remember the portion of scripture in Matthew 4 when Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days? Satan tempted Jesus and he even used a portion of scripture to do it! He said “He (meaning God) will give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee.” These verses can be found in Psalm 91. But Jesus knew His scripture and He knew the enemy had left out just 4 little words that drastically change the meaning of these words. “In all they ways” – that means in the everyday life you live. It does not mean He will prot4ect us if we decide to jump off a cliff, or in front of a train. Jesus told the enemy that he shall not tempt the Lord His God. We should never do that! If the enemy came to you quoting scripture, would you know if he was accurate? Jesus used scripture from Deuteronomy all three times the devil approached Him.

I have long been an advocate of reading the bible through in a year at least once in your young Christian life. I have done it at last 6 times through my 40 years of being a Christian. Not when you first get saved, but sometime after that would be better. The reason I believe that is important is two-fold. First, it gives you the whole story, and you are better able to connect the New and Old Testament. Second, Jesus told us the Holy Spirit would bring things to our remembrance (John 14:26). How can He bring it to your remembrance if it is not already in there? Now I do believe that the Holy Spirit can give you scripture from anywhere in the bible, but it is better for you if it is already there ready to utilize when you need it.

I got a little sidetracked there, but my point is that you need to know scripture so that when you hear that quiet voice, you will be able to discern if it is God or the enemy. Remember, Satan can appear as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). We need to know our bible!

In Matthew 13 Jesus gives the parable of the sower and the seed and explains what it means to the disciples.

18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Jesus lets us know here how important listening is. We will also refer to this portion of scripture in our next lesson – Accepting the Response. The first person is the one who receives the seed – the word – by the way side. The way side is hard, trampled down dirt, and the seed cannot take root at all. It is gobbled up by birds the moment it is cast down. These are those who think they already have all the answers and are not even willing to listen to exhortation or another differing view. There is a lot of pride in this person, and I have been there in the past. When God tries to speak to them, if it’s not what they want to hear, they don’t let it in at all. They are almost in a place where they refuse to hear the voice of the Lord, even though they have prayed and asked for a response. If it’s not what they want, they won’t hear it.

The second one is the one represented by the stony ground. The word comes in and takes root, but then tough times come, it is forgotten and cast off. The voice of the Lord makes a first impression, but if it does not take care of the trial or test completely, that person forgets the mercy that has already been extended and backs off from what God has said. Boy, would I be in trouble if I did not recognize the little mercies (and big ones) He has granted me and spoken to me while going though this cancer business. His voice is always speaking, guiding and directing. I keep asking for healing, complete healing, and slowly but surely it is coming. It would be very easy for me to say “Well, God has not completely healed me, so I guess He is not answering my prayers,” or “God has not made my songs big hits yet, so I guess He is not hearing my prayer”. God IS healing me – one step at a time. God is still sending me songs – His purpose is known unto Him – who am I to question it. I will not allow my circumstances to outweigh His mercy!

The third person is the one who accepts the voice of God and what it has to say., and the word takes root and blooms in them only to eventually be choked out by the world and the mockers. Have you ever had someone who says to you – “God did not do that, the doctors did”. Or maybe it was more like “God would not tell you something like that – you must be dreaming”. We hear those words, and we stay quiet after that about what God has done, or what He has said. Why? Because the world chokes God’s word right out of us. The voice of the Lord becomes silenced in that particular case because we were intimidated by the voices of this world.

And the last of course are those that hear the word and take it in. They study it out and know that it was God that was talking to them. They stick with it and grow and are fruitful because of it. We need to be like the last the ones that take in the word and act upon it. Don’t let the world, or your problems, or anything else rob you of what God has said. No one else knows what God has said to you, unless you have told them, or unless God has revealed it to them. It is important to seek Godly counsel in the form of a pastor or mentor on critical decisions, as long as you know those people you are asking are filled with the wisdom of God. But remember – if you are going to do that, be ready for God to speak through those people!
Always keep in mind that His still, small voice is the one that created the universe. It is the voice that hung the stars in place. It is the voice that started the earth, sun and stars rotating in their own ways. His voice is the most powerful force in the universe, and He is speaking to you on a regular basis. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God.” It is in the stillness of life that He comes to us and speaks to us. Make sure that, in your prayer time, you allow time for God to speak to you!

The last thing I want to mention is out of Exodus 29:20 where we read that the ears of the priests were anointed. Are your ears anointed to hear the word of God? Faith has to be applied to hearing just as much as it does to anything else, because without faith it is impossible to please God. Are your ears ready to hear with faith, nothing wavering, or is your faith double-minded? Will you accept the voice of the Lord when it comes, or will you toss His words up in the air and say I’m not sure whether that’s God or not? Are you ready to accept His response even if it goes completely against what you would like? That will be our next lesson!

A.S.K. – The Key to Prayer Chapter 3A – We Must be Heard – Part 2

We continue on the study how we can more effectively be heard by God. We are using 1 Chronicles 7:14 as a guide for this lesson. In the last lesson, we discussed the first three points in this promise that God gave to Solomon: we must be his people, be called by his name, and then humble ourselves before we go to the next step.

2 Chronicles 7:14 King James Version (KJV)
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

PRAY

This whole study is on the activity of Prayer. We have already spent a lot of time on prayer, and will be going further into it throughout the rest of this study, so I won’t spend much time here. Just a few scriptures to keep the word active.

Mark 11:24 King James Version (KJV)
24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

These words of Jesus are very powerful. Putting this in context as we look back in the previous verses. Jesus and the disciples walked past a fig tree that looked like it was in season to produce fruit. When they went up to the tree there was no fruit. Jesus says that the fig tree would not produce any fruit forever. The next morning, they came by the same tree and it was withered and dried up and the disciples were amazed.

When we pray for the right reason it will be answered. This fig tree is symbolistic of those who show on the outside the fruits of righteousness but inside they are dead and non-productive. Jesus wants all of us to be fruitful, not just what people see but what is inside of us. This fig tree was hypocritical in a sense, and we must not have hypocrisy in our lives. He goes on to say that we can move a mountain if we believe. If we are desiring the things of God, our prayers will be answered if we believe that God will answer them. This is not a call that we can pray for anything we want. It has to line up with God’s word. The whole body of scripture on prayer needs to be taken together, not individual verses.

Matthew 6:7 King James Version (KJV)
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Jesus tells us that we should not use meaningless repetitions. He wants us to pray from our hearts with our own words, not our heads  prayers that we have learned. This is a key to being heard, He says. Even those that don’t believe can pray vain repetitions which are words that are just written by somebody to repeat over and over again. They become commonplace and really don’t mean anything to me personally.

My prayers need to be personal ones that tell God what is in my heart. I know that a lot of people pray the Psalms on a regular basis. I would recommend that you not necessarily pray exactly what’s in the Bible, although that is a good thing. I would suggest that you write out the Psalm that you want to pray in your own words and make that your prayer. Psalm 119 is a great place to start because it is full of request to know God’s Word better.

James 5:16 King James Version (KJV)
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

James tells us to pray for one another. Intercessory prayer is critical to God and critical to the church. It is much more powerful for us to pray for somebody else that it is to pray for ourselves. Jesus rarely prayed for himself, and when He did it was asking God to help Him do God’s will.. We will be covering intercessory prayer in much more detail in a future lesson.

1 John 3:22 King James Version (KJV)
22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
This portion of scripture tells us that if we ask, we will receive IF we keep his commandments and do things that are pleasing in his sight. That’s a very big IF! God desires to honor our prayers. How much do we want His call on our lives? The more we follow His call and follow His commandments, the more we will see our prayers answered. The prayer of faith is powerful and when we walk in that faith and trust in God’s commandments to guide our path, He will answer

SEEK HIS FACE

We have covered this in-depth in Chapter 2 but it won’t hurt to look at it again briefly.

Deuteronomy 4:29 King James Version (KJV)
29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
Psalm 119:2 King James Version (KJV)
2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

If we seek the Lord with all our heart, we will find him. As we said before, He’s not hiding. He’s right there waiting and hoping that we will call on Him. God does not force himself upon us, or into our lives. He wants to bless us, He wants to have a relationship with us. God does not move away – it is us who move away from Him.. And if we seek Him with all the we have we will find Him. I believe this applies to absolutely everyone, even those who say there is no God. If they seek Him with all their heart, they will find Him.

Psalm 105:4 King James Version (KJV)
4 Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.

Seeking His face means to be able to stand before Him. I don’t know about you, but I love to be in His presence. But we cannot stand in His presence if we have sin in our lives. We need strength from Him to carry out His commandments so that we can stand in that place. The next portion of this verse deals with the sin we may have. One more verse on seeking first.

Hosea 10:12 King James Version (KJV)
12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
We have spent quite a bit of time on this already so I will not spend a lot of time here, but it’s important that we break up the hardheartedness that we may have when we want to seek the Lord. We should prepare ourselves to seek Him because we will find that we get better results. If we come to him with pride and arrogance demanding to see Him that, will not work. We should be walking in His righteousness and mercy.

TURN FROM YOUR WICKED WAYS.

We need to repent of the things that we have done that don’t line up with the Word. If you would like to do a great daily bible study on repentance, I suggest you go to Amazon.com and buy the book entitled “The Walk of Repentance” by Steve Gallagher. It is an amazing 24 week journey, and you will not regret it. We need to walk with a repentant heart on a daily basis because we are sinners saved by grace. There is never a day goes by that we don’t need to repent before the Lord, that we don’t need to turn from our Wicked Ways and come to Him.

Isaiah 55:7 King James Version (KJV)
7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
God will have mercy on us if we forsake our wicked ways. That means leaving them behind. Not just our actions, but our thought life as well. God knows all that we think, every word out of our mouth, every action we take. Can you honestly stand before Him and say that there is not a single ungodly thing in your life? I can’t! If I turn away from these things, He will abundantly pardon me. That sounds good!

Ezekiel 18:21 King James Version (KJV)
21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
I want to live, and I want to live in close relationship with God. God promises me life if I turn away from my sins and do those things that are lawful land right. This is a promise from God to every man not just a Christian. It is imperative that we get rid of our Wicked Ways

Ezekiel 18:31 King James Version (KJV)
31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
He will give us a new heart and a new spirit when we get rid of our sin. We need this because our old heart is full of transgression and bad deeds. The spirit of this world is within us and it causes us to follow after the statutes of the world. If we turn from our transgressions and our sins, then God will give us these things so that it will be easier for us to steer clear of them in the future. In the New Testament, we read that when we are in Christ, we are a new creation – I needed that once He saved me

Joel 2:12-13 King James Version (KJV)
12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORDyour God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

We need to turn to God and fast, mourn and weep over our sin. Ask God to take it away. He tells us we need to rend our heart. This is an interesting phrase. Throughout the Bible, we can see places where people tear their garments because of sin. This is a sign of remorse and of sorrow over the sin that’s been in the nation or in their lives. Once the sin has been revealed, they would rend their garments. God wants us to rend our hearts instead of our clothing. When we rend our hearts because we are torn apart by the sin in our lives, this is a sign of a contrite heart to God, which He honors. Psalm 5i:17 says that a broken spirit and contrite heart are sacrifices to God that he likes. When we are broken before Him, God is gracious and merciful to us.

THEN WILL I HEAR FROM HEAVEN

After all this has been done. After we humble ourselves and pray and seek his face and turn from our wicked ways then God says He will hear from heaven. This is an exciting promise! Psalm 34:15 tells us that his ears open to the cry of the righteous. Isaiah 59:1 says His ear is not heavy that it cannot hear but our sins have caused us to be hidden from Him, and He will not hear. Psalm 66 18 says if I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me. All these things show us that it is important to come to God in the right manner if we want to be heard!

Let’s finish one more scripture:

1 Samuel 8:18 King James Version (KJV)
18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day

The Israelites had decided to choose a person from among them for their King instead of keeping God as their leader. God granted their request and gave them Saul, but He gave them a warning as well. This shows us that God will answer prayer even if sometimes it will be detrimental to us. God warns them that if they do this thing, and take Saul for their King instead of God, there will come a time that they will call on Him and He will not hear them.
I for one do not want that to happen in my life. I don’t want someone on the throne of my life besides God. That includes putting myself on the throne. If God is not King of Kings and Lord of Lords in my life, He just may not hear me when I cry out to Him. He has given us plenty of warning and He has given us this portion of scripture as a guide to be more effectively heard in our prayer life. I for one truly desire my prayers to be heard by God and I don’t want to have any questions in my mind as to whether He heard me or not. So, I’ll do all I can to keep this portion of scripture and to study it and to know what God expects. My prayer life will benefit when I do!

A.S.K. – The Key to Prayer Chapter 2D – Seek and Be Blessed

Now that we have looked at the importance of seeking the Lord let’s look at the blessings that come from that. Some of these verses will be repetitive from my last lesson but I think it’s worth looking at them again – nothing wrong with doubling up on blessings, right?

Deut 4:29 – But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

Jer 29:13 – And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

As we said before, when we put all of our heart and mind into seeking the Lord we will find him. I am a firm believer that if any atheist would seek the Lord they would find him. Anybody who is backslidden and is falling away from God, if they would seek the Lord they would find him. He’s not in hiding. He hasn’t run away. He is not trying to avoid you. He said he will never leave you or forsake you. He is just waiting for you to seek Him!

Do you remember the story of the prodigal son? In Luke Chapter 15, Jesus tells us the prodigal ran off with his inheritance, got into trouble and decided to humble himself and come home. He was sure his father would be furious. But instead, his Father was watching for him, ran to meet him, put a ring on his finger, a robe on his back, shows on his feet and made a feast for him. God is waiting for you just like that father waited for his son. Seek Him today – He has great things in store for you once you find Him.

1st Chronicles 28:9 – And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.

God tell Solomon that if he seeks him you will be found. But if you forsake him then God will cast him off. Now which would you prefer? Before He says this, God says that He searches the hearts and He understands the imaginations and the thoughts that we have. I can’t imagine that He would still want me to seek Him if He knows some of the thoughts and imaginations that I have but He does. He so desires a relationship with us!

Psalm 34:10 – The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

When we seek the Lord, we shall not want any good thing. He’s not talking about new cars or bigger houses or money – the things this world has to offer. What He’s talking about here the gifts that only God can give – joy, peace, mercy, grace, hope – the list is long. These are the good things that God will give to those who seek Him. I should seek Him all the day long for these things because they’re so needed in my life on a day-to-day basis.

2nd Chronicles 26:5 – And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.

I believe God is not a respecter of persons. That means He treats us all the same. So if Zechariah was made to prosper as long as he sought the Lord, I believe we will too. What is your definition of prosperity? The online dictionary defines it as being prosperous. I looked up a couple other definitions and found that it means to flourish, usually in a financial way. I don’t believe in the Prosperity Gospel that keeps coming back around so frequently. I do believe God wants us to prosper in every area of our lives. He desires that our families, our jobs, our communities, our churches and all we put our hands should flourish, to grow and become more fruitful. That is the prosperity God brings into our lives – much more precious than material possessions that are here today and gone tomorrow.

Amos 5:4 – For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:

I think we all want to live, don’t we? This short little scripture says if we seek Him we will live. It won’t be any life that we live, but it will be a good life that we live. I will be a life that contains those things that are priceless the things mentioned above – unspeakable joy. amazing grace, peace that passes all understanding, unsinkable hope, unfathomable love. All of these are part of the life that God wants to give us if we’ll just seek him

Matthew 6:33 – But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

This familiar portion of scripture says He will add all these things to us. The verses preceding this one talk about the necessities of life – shelter, clothing and food. We don’t have to worry about those things, and those are the biggest things we worry about. God will supply all we need because He loves us more than we can even possibly imagine. Why else would He send His Son to die for our sins. I like to couple the next verse with this one. Matt 6:34 says take no thought for tomorrow. In other words, don’t worry. Give God all your problems and don’t fret over what tomorrow may bring. As my favorite author puts it “Don’t insult today by looking for a better tomorrow”.

Hebrews 11:6 – But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

If we come to God we have to believe that He is. After all God introduced himself to Moses as I am. We must know that He is who He says He is and He can do what He says He will do. He is the creator of all things, He parted the red sea and the Jordan river, He fed over 2,000,000 people in a desert wilderness for 40 years, He saved Daniel out of the Lion’s den – do you get the picture? He can do whatever is needed.

Then the writer says God is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him. Oh my, can you imagine what the rewards of God are like? I can only start to think about what kind of rewards He can give me in my life. I don’t seek Him for the rewards, but I know that He is a rewarder, and so I will take whatever he wants to give me. I can be sure whatever reward He has for me will be good, and it will help me to grown closer to Him and grown in my faith.

Ask, then seek. Next, it’s time to start knocking!

 

Climbing Then and Now

In the early 60’s, our yard was a magnet for kids from around the neighborhood.  We had a big back yard where kickball and baseball games took place all summer long.  In winter, the snowplows tended to pile the snow high right where we lived, and forts were built regularly.  But the big attractions were truly that – big.  We had twin sugar maple trees, one in the front year and one in the back.  Both trees towered over our 2-story house, so they were at least 50 feet tall.  I never took the time to measure them.  They were in the prime of life, so majestic and strong.  It was partly because of these trees that the Goodale Street Tree Climbing Club was formed.

There were six of us in the club.  My brother was the president, and I was vice president.   Believe that is because we were the best tree climbers of the bunch.  Living in Massachusetts, we were surrounded by woods, and trees were prevalent.  It was not unusual for us to get together and make it a mission to climb trees throughout the woods on a Saturday afternoon.  We loved to climb.  It didn’t matter what kind of tree, or how big, we were up to the challenge.  If the bottom branches were too high to reach, we would shiny up he tree to get to them.

But the silver maple in our back yard was our favorite.  It was built perfectly for climbing.  The branches were layered in such a way that you could easily climb it any way you wanted to.  And you could come down and out of the tree in a variety of ways.  My favorite was to walk right out of the tree.  Yes, you read that right – walk out of the tree.  Two of the big bottom branches ran parallel to each other, and you could walk on the bottom branch while holding the top branch until the branch bowed far enough for you to hit the ground. ­ Of course, you had to be fast in getting off the branch, because once your weight was off of it, it would spring suddenly back up to position.  If you weren’t careful, you could get a nasty whipping from that branch.

One of my fondest memories was the day I told my friend David I could climb all the way to the top and stick my hand out.  If you have ever been to the top of a silver maple, you know that the branches get pretty flimsy up there.  He didn’t think I could do it.  Well, for a tree climber, that’s a challenge you can’t let go by the wayside.  David headed over to the back side of the yard so he could see me, and I proceeded up the tree.  The first 2/3 or he tree were easy, but as I got to the top portion, the branches were less sturdy, and I had to carefully maneuver my steps.  But I was able to get closer and closer to the top.  Finally, just barely able to keep myself from swaying down, I reached for the opening in the top of the tree and stuck my hand out.

“Can you see it” I shouted.

Ya, I can.  Wow.” was David’s response.

I slowly started back down that tree, proud of my accomplishment.  No one else had ever dared try that kind of a stunt.  David rushed over to me and just looked at me with amazement.

“Man, you did it!  I can’t believe it”.

“I can’t either.  It was a bit scary up there, and I won’t do it again.”   I said, a broad smile lighting up my face.

And I never did do it again.  And nobody else ever did it either.  I was the tree climbing king in that moment.  I had done something that no one else even dared to try.  And it felt good.

Youth is a wonderful thing.  We were pretty carefree, and a challenge was rarely left on the table for long.  It seems as I grow older, I take less risk.  I am more cautious with my decisions.  In a way that is a good thing because I have more responsibility and a family that depends on me.  But in a way, it’s a bad thing.  I am reluctant at times to step out in faith and share the gospel with people I come in contact with.  I have ample opportunities since I am in the insurance business, but rarely take those risks.  I sometimes wish I would be more outgoing with my faith.

Now that I am climbing out of a two year battle with Multiple Myeloma.   I am in remission, but am still going through maintenance chemo treatments and my immune system is shot.  It has been quite a climb, and the Lord has been with me every step of the way.  His mercy has overshadowed all the darkness of cancer.

I am so blessed to have this platform to share my faith.  Over the last two years, I have been able to share my poetry and thoughts with all of you.  So many times, I have received comments of how someone was touched by the words God gave me.  What a blessing to know God can use me to minister from the comfort of my La-Z-Boy chair.  I may never stick my hand out the top of a tree again, but I will lift my hand to God and worship Him with the utmost abandon.  There is no risk in that!