Sunday, December 29, 2013

Prayers for the New Year

The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer
The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications.

Psalm 86:6

King James Version (KJV)

       Another year is just about up and a new one around the corner.  Were your prayers answered in the way you wanted this past year?   What are you praying for in the year to come?

        Prayers often exist in layers--what we need, what we want, and what we hope for in regard to others.  All prayer is answered, but sometimes when it's not the answer we expected God to give us, we think that our prayer was not heard by God or he decided not to answer our prayer.   

        "No" is just as much as an answer as "yes".

        When our prayers are superficial and pertain only to the here and now, perhaps we have not put enough thought into the prayer process.  What we ought to do is frequently not what we end up doing.

         If your prayer life seems futile and not to be working very well, don't stop praying.  Pray harder. Pray deeper.  Ask God for help in praying and don't just ask God to give you things and do things for you.  Prayer is not meant to be superficial.   Prayer is our direct line to God.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Romans 8:26

English Standard Version (ESV)

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Birth of a Shepherd

Good Shepherd
Good Shepherd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Adonai (The Lord) is my shepherd; I lack nothing.

Psalm 23:1

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

           The motif of the shepherd is one that runs throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible.  Shepherding was a significant though not highly regarded occupation in those days.   Sheep were offered as sacrifice to God.  There are so many layers of the symbolism of sheep and shepherding in the Bible that it makes total sense that Jesus himself would be depicted as both the Good Shepherd and the Lamb of God.  
        Jesus is our King and our Shepherd.  He leads us and he rules us.   He is God as man and the God of mankind.   The duality of his nature becomes more evident as we study the prophecy of his coming, the story of his life, and the Good News of his resurrection and salvation.   The story of the Bible points to Jesus from the very beginning.

         When Jesus was born both kings and shepherds came to worship him and pay him tribute.  We too should pay tribute and worship our King, our shepherd, and our Savior.   In Jesus we have everything that ultimately matters.   

 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

Luke 2:15

King James Version (KJV)

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Three Kings

English: Adoration of the Wise Men by Murillo
Adoration of the Wise Men by Murillo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.

Psalm 72:11

King James Version (KJV)

        As we approach the Christmas date when we celebrate the birth of the Christ child, we might do well to remember the journey of the three kings or wise men--the Magi.  The signs of Christ's coming had been foretold for generations from the days of Adam.   Did it take a sign in the heavens for the Magi to know about the coming Christ?   Did they know why they were going to Bethlehem?

       They were "wise men" as tradition tells us, but from whence did their wisdom come?  They may have been studied in the prophesies that had previously been declared.  Or perhaps they were moved by the spirit.  We don't know absolutely why they came or who they were, though there is much speculation based on historical study and early church tradition.  The point is that these were important men--royalty even.  These were men of high intellect and influence.

        If important men like the Magi sought to find Christ and bow down to worship him, wouldn't it make sense that we all should be doing the same?

         As we rush and stress about the festive holiday season, don't forget to take pause to praise Jesus and worship the One True King--Lord of lords, the Messiah.  If earthly kings were concerned about the Christ, shouldn't we also be thinking about Jesus during the celebration of his first coming to this world as we await his next coming?

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."

Matthew 2:1-2

New International Version (NIV)

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Who Do You Hate?

Honestly, I don't have time to hate people who...
 (Photo credit: deeplifequotes)
Let those who love the Lord hate evil,
    for he guards the lives of his faithful ones
    and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

Psalm 97:10

New International Version (NIV)

         "Hate" is one of those words we use far too flippantly.  Think about how often you casually use the word "hate".  We may "hate it when that happens", or hate a certain kind of food, or even jokingly tell someone "I hate you!".   We may say we hate a certain politician, celebrity, or person in the news.  Then in times of unrestrained anger we tell someone that we hate them.

         It's a powerful word that word "hate".  It might even be considered on a par with profanity.  "Hate" is a word that can hurt and do great damage.  Instilling hatred within the hearts of others can tear families apart, destroy friendships, and bring devastation to nations.   Hatred can wield a power than can inflict great damage on other people.  

         Hate needs to be handled with care if we are to handle it at all.  God hates sin and we should be discerning of the evil that God hates.  Remember the old adage about hating the sin and not the sinner?  It's very true.  Even when people are trying to hurt you or ruin your reputation, hating them is not the answer.
 Anyone who claims to be in the light 
but hates a brother or sister is still in
the darkness.

1 John 2:9

New International Version (NIV)

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Sunday, December 1, 2013


Helping the homeless
Helping the homeless (Photo credit: Ed Yourdon)

The wicked borrow and do not repay,
    but the righteous give generously...

Psalm 37:21

New International Version (NIV)


        We are merely stewards of those things that are bestowed upon us.   Your possessions are gifts from God.   You are merely the money manager of what is in your bank account.   Any of these material things to which you may lay claim can be taken from you at any moment.  How much do you depend on worldly things?

         There are many in this world who live in dire circumstances.  Poverty. Hunger.  Loneliness.  There are probably some of these in your own community.  Most of us have received help from others in our lives.  Now is always the time to pay forward the blessings that we have received from others.

           And all blessings ultimately come from God.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Luke 6:38

New International Version (NIV)

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Why Should We Be Thankful?

God the Father 01
God the Father 01 (Photo credit: Waiting For The Word)

Give thanks to the God of heaven,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

Psalm 136:26

English Standard Version (ESV)

         There are many reasons that we should be thankful for what we have while we are in this life.   Thankfulness is directly mentioned or alluded to many times in the Bible.  It's a predominant theme in fact.  

         My prayers to God are filled with praise and thanks.  I'm starting to feel better about asking God for things that I think I want.  His guidance is the most desired request.  What he gives me after that point is what I understand He wants me to have.  I am thankful for whatever he bestows upon me.  Blessings abound in my life.

         There is no thing or experience that this world has to offer me that is as important as what God is in my life.  If I have nothing in this world, I have everything in God.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,  for our God is a consuming fire.

Hebrews 12:28-29

English Standard Version (ESV)

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Time for Giving on our Minds

Homeless beggar on a building window ledge
Homeless beggar on a building window ledge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
    I will now arise,” says the Lord;
    “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”

Psalm 12:5

English Standard Version (ESV)

        The time of the giving season is upon us.   Soon many will be sitting down to feasts with family and friends as they give thanks for all with which they are blessed.  Holiday sales will create shopping frenzies as some prepare for the gift giving that Christmas brings.  

        Other tables may be sparsely set if there are tables at all.  The poor, the homeless, and those beset by war and disaster might be merely hoping for a few scraps--forget the feast.   So many are struggling in the world and those numbers seem to be on the increase.  We hear the pleas for help, but some of us are hoping we are not heading in that same direction one day.  We pray for them as well as ourselves.

        The Lord God will arise in His time to give shelter to those who are lacking and feed those who are hungry.   In the meantime the duty falls to those of us who can do something.  Remember next time you encounter that scruffy man or woman with outstretched hand, that could be our neighbor, our brother, or our child.  It could even one day be you.

         Our mission should be to feed the hungry when their bellies are empty and not pass judgement on why they are hungry.   The beggar you see could be anybody.  Your blessing upon them will be a blessing upon you.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Hebrews 13:2

English Standard Version (ESV)

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Waiting Again for an Answer

Christians praying in Goma, DR of Congo.
Christians praying in Goma, DR of Congo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

Psalm 5:3

King James Version (KJV)

         I want something badly.  This thing that I want has been in my prayers a lot lately.  When I wake up in the morning and before I go to sleep at night I pray for this one thing among the many other things for which I pray.  I hope God is not getting upset with me for bugging Him about this one thing so much.

         We are told throughout the Bible to pray for our heart's desires. But our prayers must be within the will of God.  We can't just pray for any old thing and expect to get it.  Not all things are good for us to have and sometimes the time is not right for our prayer to be answered.   

          Maybe I won't always get what I want, but I'll get what I need.  God will bless me with the things He wants me to have.  That's more important than what I want.  All prayers are answered according to God's will.

           Next time you think that God hasn't heard your prayer, just remember that "No" is an answer.   God knows better than you what's best.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12

New International Version (NIV)

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