Saturday, December 02, 2006

Persistent Prayers

"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:7-8 (NIV)

It is not wrong to bring the same request to God time and time again. Jesus encourages us to persistent prayers, but He condemns prayers that are nothing more than a repetition of insincere words.
We do not have to explain in lengthy detail our problems to God or justify why we need His help. As Jesus reminds us, God knows our "need before you ask Him". God is going to give us what is best for us and what is according to His will. He just wants our prayers to be honest and sincere.
If our prayers are heartfelt, we can never pray too much. The purpose of persistent prayer is not so God can hear us, but so we can hear Him.

There is Hope

"The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock." Psalm 27:1-5
Every person has experienced fear. While we have that in common, the source of our fear will be different for each person. Fears can range from the common (sickness, death, change, the dark) to the not so common (colors, numbers, gravity, laughter). There really seems to be no limit to what can frighten a person; there are even people who are afraid of fear itself (phobophobia).
What we fear is not as important as how we cope with our fear. Fear, if we let, can control our lives, paralyze us and rob us of our joy.
Fear is a signal to us that we need to change our focus from ourselves and our own limitations to God and His unfailing love. As Christians, we have no reason to fear anything in life or in death because God is always with us through every situation and He promises to take care of His children and keep us safe. (Genesis 15:1) When we focus our attention on His love instead of our fears, we will be filled with hope and our fears will be eliminated. (1 John 4:18)
There Is Hope
Bob Hefner
You see me as unafraid and strong,
But that perception is sometimes wrong.
I may be scared and feel so alone,
And only Christ's love can set us free.
I see you as boisterous and brave,
But I'm sure sometimes you're worry's slave.
The truth is you're a lot like me,
And only Christ's love can set us free.
We're not alone in the way we feel,
Just knowing that can help us heal.
We're not victims and there is hope,
Christ will give us the strength to cope.
No matter what is in our past,
Memories and events that hold us fast.
Christ came to redeem us from those things,
Trusting and obeying Him victory brings.
To be set free may take a while,
But Christ accompanies us every mile.
He'll forgive our sins instantly,
And gradually make us what He wants us to be.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Prayer: A Measure of Spiritual Maturity

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3

God is ready and willing to answer your prayers. Of course, He is also quite capable of taking care of your needs without your asking. However, God wants you to ask for His help. In prayer, you must humble yourself before God and lay side your willfulness and worry.
Your prayers also reveal your level of spiritual maturity because what you pray for shows what is important to you. If you are only praying for worldly stuff (money, possessions, etc.), then you are neglecting those things that will last an eternity – knowing God, dwelling in His presence, walking in His love and being spiritually strong. Listen to your prayers and decide if you need to adjust what you are asking God to provide you.
"Man is never so tall when he kneels before God – never so great as when he humbles himself before God. And the man who kneels to God can stand up to anything." Louis H. Evans (Christian author)

A Solid Basis for Self-Esteem

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." Genesis 1:26

Our self-worth should not be determined by our looks, possessions, achievements, or public opinion, but instead by the fact that God made us in His image. Because we are made in God’s image, we have no right to criticize or downgrade ourselves; to be critical of ourselves is to criticize what God has made and the abilities He has given us. God is happy with how He made us and we are valuable to Him (Genesis 1:31). Since we are made in God’s image, we should make sure that we are reflecting His character in our love, patience, forgiveness, kindness and faithfulness.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Joy, Prayer & Thanksgiving

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Obeying these three commands -- always joyful, thankful and praying -- often goes against a person's natural tendencies, but a person's joy, thankfulness and prayer life should not fluctuate with their circumstances or feelings.

How can you pray continually? By having a prayerful attitude that acknowledges your dependence on God, realizing His presence within you and determining to obey Him fully. With the right attitude you will find it natural to pray short prayers frequently and spontaneously; this is not a substitute for regular times of prayer, but an outgrowth of those times.

How can you give thanks in every situation? By recognizing that even when bad things happen God is still with you, He is in control and working to bring good out of a bad situation.

When you do what God commands you to do, you will start to see people from a new perspective. It will be easier to be joyful and thankful, and you will be more inclined to pray short prayers praising God.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Secret to Contentment

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13 (New International Version)

What is the secret to contentment? The answer lies in your perspective, your priorities and your source of power. You can be content by seeing your life from God’s perspective, focusing on what you should be and not on what you feel you should have, setting your priorities according to God’s will and being thankful for what God provides you. Contentment is also found by drawing on Christ’s power for strength and relying on God’s promises. The strength you get from your relationship with Jesus is sufficient to do His Will and to face the challenges that arise from our commitment to Him.

Jeremiah Burrough, a 17th century English Congregationalist and Puritan preacher, stated "Contentment is not by addition but by subtraction: seeking to add a thing will not bring contentment. Instead, subtraction from your desires until you are satisfied only with Christ brings contentment.". If you always want more, ask God to remove that desire and teach you contentment in every circumstance.

God will supply all of your needs – not in the way you want, but in a way that He knows is best for you. By trusting in God, your attitudes and desires can change from wanting everything to humbly accepting His provision.

Being A Living Sacrifice

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:1-2

Out of gratitude that our sins have been forgiven, God wants us to offer ourselves as "living sacrifices". Being a living sacrifice means daily setting aside our own desires to obey God, putting everything He has given us -- time, money, gifts -- at His disposal and trusting God.

Our refusal to conform to the world should go further than avoid certain worldly activities. It should be firmly planted in our minds because it is possible to avoid most of the corrupt behaviors of the world and still be proud, greedy, selfish, stubborn and arrogant. We should allow God's Word mold not only our activities, but also our thoughts and attitudes. Only when the Holy Spirit renews, reeducates and redirects our minds will we be truly transformed into Christ's image.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Plans for a Bright Future

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 (New International Version)
Because God knows the future and the good plans that He has in store for us and because He will never abandon us, we have unlimited hope. However, this is not a guarantee that we will be spared pain, suffering or hardships. Instead, it means that God will be with us and working out each situation for our good. (Romans 8:28)
We should never despair because God is always with us and we have the privilege of prayer and God's grace. Nothing -- "neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers." (Roman 8:38) -- can separate us from God and His love for us.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

God is Holy! Am I?

"I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy." Leviticus 11:44

I have always known that God is holy; it's a fact that I know and accept without question. According to the scripture above, I'm suppose to be holy also.

I have never thought of myself as holy. Holiness seems like a very lofty goal --- definitely a high standard, but God wants His people to be holy just as He is holy. (Ephesians 4:24)

Holy means set apart for a sacred use. Something that is holy is different and unique. This is how God views Christians --- we are separate from the world and we have a special purpose.

Our actions and attitudes should be different than non-Christians since we should be reflect the goodness of Jesus Christ. Remaining spiritually separate from the world is not easy to do living in a world that is unholy.

We cannot achieve holiness by ourselves; holiness begins with faith in Jesus. Through Jesus' death, He will "present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation." (Colossians 1:22) By trusting in Jesus, our sins are forgiven, we are made right with God and we are empowered to live a holy life.

I have been holy for a long time now (ever since I became a Christian as a child). I just haven't had God's perspective when looking at myself. I tend to be critical of myself which means my view of myself tends to be negative. When God looks at me, he sees me as holy and as His child; He sees me in a positive light. I need to change the way that I look at myself and see myself as God sees me, and I need to remember that I am holy and act accordingly (all of this with God's help, of course!).

*Colossians 3 contains rules for holy living.



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