Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Thinking of Prayer as Jesus Taught

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.     
I Thessalonians 5: 16-18

The emphasis of today's devotional is learning to pray continually and believing that God answers all our prayers. I am learning once again how to pray continually. At one time, I got it....but then it slipped away from me and now I must relearn it. I really like some of the things that Chambers writes in his devotional today.

The correct concept is to think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts. Our blood flows and our breathing continues “without ceasing”; we are not even conscious of it, but it never stops. And we are not always conscious of Jesus keeping us in perfect oneness with God, but if we are obeying Him, He always is. (Chambers)

God answers prayer in the best way— not just sometimes, but every time. However, the evidence of the answer in the area we want it may not always immediately follow.(Chambers)

...and it might not be in the way we were hoping He would answer....but we must always trust that He answers in the best way. I have a memory of begging the Lord not to take someone I loved away from me. I pleaded and begged and cried out again and again. He answered that prayer in the best taking that person I loved away from me. By accepting the truth of this...that God knows best goes along with yesterday's lesson of surrendering my will to his. My right to what I thought would bring me the best marriage. The best happiness. It's hard to do this. It's handing over all of the controls to Him.

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  Matthew 7:8

What does this scripture mean if it doesn't necessarily mean that we always get what we want? It means that we can be assured of an answer. That if it doesn't make sense to us...that we must trust  Him and eventually a door of understanding will open. We need to knock and ask and believe.

Here's something else that Chambers writes:

The danger we have is that we want to water down what Jesus said to make it mean something that aligns with our common sense. But if it were only common sense, what He said would not even be worthwhile. The things Jesus taught about prayer are supernatural truths He reveals to us.

I've experienced the supernatural and it is so cool! I believe you, Lord. You are doing a supernatural work in me. Thank you.

(Photo by Jennifer Boyer, Flickr Creative Commons)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Good or the Best?

Today's devotional is all about a specific truth that the Lord has recently been driving home to me. Isn't that the way? Do you ever notice it? The Lord will show you some truth in scripture during your quiet time. On the drive to work, you turn on the radio...and a pastor is preaching the same point using the same scripture. On Sunday you show up to church guessed it. Same truth....maybe in a different scripture...but the same truth of the Lord. I'm quite often in the remedial class of the Lord...where lessons are repeated often before I grasp them.

The Lord has been showing me that to follow Him I must surrender my rights. My right to fairness. My right to be understood. The right to have a misunderstanding from long ago clarified. The right to live in a house that is neatly trimmed out with fresh paint. Yes...I know that last one sounds silly....but that one hits home for me. The scripture today is about how Abram and Lot came to a place where they had to decide who ended up with what piece of land to live on. By rights, Abram should have had first dibs, but he surrendered that right to Lot. Lot chose the more fertile land. Abraham took what was left.

So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” 

Genesis 13:8-9

From Chamber's devotional today:

....if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God make your choice for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the appropriate thing to consider, if you were not living the life of faith. But if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and allow God to make your choice for you

This has been a particularly difficult discipline for me to learn. I hesitate to even write the particulars here. For by writing about I taking hold of my right to communicate the wrong committed against me years ago? And if I do I have an alterier motive? Am I hoping a certain someone would read it and the truth would be told to him? I've already plowed ahead where I should not have in the past. I thought I had the right....but I should have surrendered it to the Lord. I paid the price. Look what eventually happened to Lot after he chose to pitch his tent close to Sodom. He was swept into the the sinful beliefs and points of view they held. Lot knew the Lord and was spared....but only barely escaped the flames. is never my right to hold a grudge against someone. In this case...I have held a grudge against my mother. I have dishonered her by rehearsing my anger against her. "Forgive me, Father."

I placed the picture of my mother remind me that she was a godly woman. She wasn't perfect. She caused me a great amount of pain...but I must not hold onto that grievance.

Something else that Chambers points out:

Whenever our right becomes the guiding factor of our lives, it dulls our spiritual insight. The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best. In this passage, it would seem that the wisest thing in the world for Abram to do would be to choose. It was his right, and the people around him would consider him to be a fool for not choosing.

Quite often God's way doesn't make any sense. It is at those times that it is particularly difficult to surrender my rights. I don't understand the wounds He has inflicted upon me...but I must yield myself to Him and his choosing for me.

This is what He calls me to:

...“I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.

Genesis 17:1