True Prayer

Why is prayer so difficult to some folk? Is it because we reason, we are only talking to the air, it’s imaginary, it’s just something people do who really have lost their minds? Is it because we’ve tried praying before and well..let’s just face it..nothing happened…or worst …the opposite of what you prayed happened..so now you’ve totally given up on the prayer thing..Some folk reason..Well, if there really is a God who is in control of everything…then He certainly doesn’t have time for my prayer, He’s already made decisions about everything ….so what will my little prayer mean.. And there are other folk who feel they’d like to pray more..but they really don’t know how..

That’s what Jesus disciples were probably thinking on this particular day mentioned in this passage..

The passage is recorded in Luke 11:1-13

The truth is we should pray without fainting.. The bible is very clear that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much..

If you are a parent…imagine with me for just a moment.. your child is about 5 years old, you drop them off to kindergarten everyday…and one day the teacher calls you in and says they need to speak with you about your child..They tell you that your child has been having some anxiety issues… your child just gets up out of their seat and walks the floors for no reason every day appearing worried..your child is very distracted from their school work and they are not engaging with the other children well..and sometimes they even cry …You ask the teacher..”Have you asked my child why they are behaving this way?” and the teacher says..”Why yes I have..” You say: ” what did the child say?”the teacher says..”Each day the child says your not going to come and get them, they believe you will just leave them here” You say..But I’ve come everyday to pick them up on time..even before now, they were in nursery and every day I picked them up..what would cause them to have this perception of me.. I am not threatening them that I won’t come to get them, I’ve never insinuated that I don’t love them..why would they believe I wouldn’t come to get them and take them home where they have a bed and their own room and clothes and food to eat?? You leave astounded and you feel bewildered that your child would ever believe that about you…that you would ever leave or abandon them is the furthest thing from your mind..you love them and want their well being even over your own…

Now let’s just flip this script a little… at the beginning of this text..in verse 1 of Luke 11…Jesus is praying..by Himself..and His disciples are eavesdropping..Notice they don’t interrupt Him, they wait until He’s finished…then they ask Him..”Teach us to pray” Obviously, they’ve seen Jesus praying before..It’s a regular custom, something He does everyday, this is something they’ve noticed he’s serious about..He knows something evidently they don’t know about prayer…

In other words..We’ve been watching Your life and Your ministry and we’ve seen You heal the sick and even raise the day..We’ve seen You feed multitudes of people and we’ve seen You cast demons out of people..with just a word, and we were wondering where You got Your power until we saw You communing with Your Father..Now we’ve been praying all of our lives..we are Jews …we were trained to do so from our youth up, we go to the temple too and we know all about what they do…but something about what You do is different…You are very personal in Your prayers and they reflect a relationship that brings about a power that helps You do things other people who pray can’t do..will You please teach us this?? Don’t teach us how to heal the sick, don’t teach us how to raise the dead..all that was really cool stuff…we want the source! We want the relationship You have with the Father..

Without hesitation Jesus gave them the model prayer..but then He did something I think was profound…He gave them illustrations…throughout the chapter that I thought were completely instrumental..I want to share them without taking up too much of your time. He started however by pointed out that Abba is Our Father..He’s not just Jesus Father..this implied relationship..let’s keep that part of the context in tact..

#1. He talks about a person who goes to a friends house at midnight…They have what they consider an emergency…A guest has come to their home and they have nothing to give them to eat..Let me level with you … unless me and that person are Real Close..I’m not going to knock on anyone’s door unannounced to ask them for some of their food to give to another person who just happened to come to my house in the middle of the night..that person would be waiting until the morning, because they probably should have told me they were coming in the first place… But the moral of the story isn’t necessarily the relationship the two friends have..although that is a key point..it’s that the person kept asking! Even though the friend originally says NO! After all it is midnight.. You can’t possibly expect them to jump up and they have a family sleeping as well, and come to the door to give you 3 loaves of their bread and your not even offering to pay them back..That’s not the point..Prayer isn’t for the faint of heart..Jesus is proving a point here..In order to be successful at prayer..You’ve gotta do it often and You’ve gotta keep asking until you see the thing you’ve believed according to the word..that’s what we call faith in bible terms…even when the first response is NO! Keep Asking, Keep Knocking, and Keep Seeking..Never give Up!

This particular story reminded me of the one in Luke 18 where the widow goes before the judge for justice..she knows what her rights are and she constantly petitions the judge until he reasons..I will give her what she wants not because I care anything about her or God..but unless she wearies me with her coming and make me look like a wicked judge before these people…

#2. Let’s say one of your children ask you for a fish..that’s reasonable right? They want something to eat..You as a parent have a mandate to provide them with this..it’s part of “your job” right..  would you give them a snake …or say they’ve asked you for an egg..would your give them a scorpion..What’s Jesus’ point.. When we pray and ask God for things He will not take our prayers and give us what will harm us..He will always give us what will help us because He is the best parent there is..and just as a child can trust their parent won’t give them something that will harm Him..we must be able to trust that God won’t give us something that will harm us ultimately..

When we look at the 2 illustrations He gives us in this particular text as it relates to prayer..we can extract these 2 truths..that we need to know and settle if we will be a person of True Prayer..

It may be that you’ve been in the category of one of those people mentioned earlier..You’ve given up on prayer for one of many reasons..Maybe you just don’t feel that connected to God..although You know He’s Your Father, I want you to know He wants relationship with You. He doesn’t want you to come to Him treating Him like He’s a genie or a sugar daddy, He wants to meet Your needs, but just like any other parent.. He wants a genuine relationship with His children since He doesn’t have grandchildren. Maybe Your that person who says..I’ve tried praying before and hey if God’s gonna do something for me..He’s gotta read my mind..and know that I want Him to heal my marriage, or help me to deal with the person on my job, or deliver my children from bad decision making..Or heal my mother whose sick..If this were the case He would not implore us to pray and not faint…He would not say Whatsoever things You desire…as them in prayer..believing and You will receive them..only do not ask amidst to fulfill your own lust..and ask according to His word..out of your relationship with Him..and You will know True Prayer!

 

Working out my kinks

This morning I was in the midst of my normal Sunday Sabbath day homestyle routine washing, drying, folding, ironing, hanging and putting away clothes…it’s quite a job, but I set aside this time every Sunday to prepare for the whole work week.. Normally the process is pretty easy, painless, seamless even…not today….I decided that my closet had far too many clothes in it for me to limit myself to only wearing certain clothes. Why should I  have people think I don’t have many clothes but the ones I wear more and more when in fact I have a closet filled with clothes they’ve never seen, I figured, I bought them to wear them.that’s exactly what I plan to do….

That’s when…I got out those dreaded pants..the pretty ones..that had that tag on the inside..”Dry clean only”. Now I was married to a man who used frequent the dry cleaners, and he looked flawless everywhere he went..as much as I dug that about them…The cleaners was never my favorite location to visit. I preferred to simply iron my own clothes and if I couldn’t do it…I wasn’t paying some extortionary fees..to have someone do to my clothes what I could do myself. I’d taken these pants several times in the past, I wasn’t pleased with the price nor what the pants looks like. See they were supposed to make them look like I just bought them off the rack for at the price they charged to clean them the truth is I could just have bought another pair…off the rack..

I said within myself…I’m gonna get these pants looking nice enough for me to wear them comfortably. I washed them and to be honest..they looked “Real Wrinkle”. Not just a little wrinkle, but it would most certainly take some time and “effort” to rid my pants of the problems they had lurking within..I started off just ironing them like regular pants.. But when I noticed that didn’t work, I was getting a little discouraged well I thought I’d try to  put some water in the iron and pressed that steam button and when I saw that wasn’t working, I thought to myself..’What will it take to get these wrinkles out’.. I mean these wrinkles are like made into the pants all of a sudden..It never takes this long to get a pair of pants ironed for me..I tried spraying starch on them and also pressing the steam button constantly…that didn’t work..but all the supplies I was using were working..what I was doing was what wasn’t working..
I continued to work at it..until I finally decided to try something else..Spraying a little extra starch just on the parts that had wrinkles a little harder to get out than others. When I would make those areas have a “wet area” for the iron to dry with the starch I saw the stains begin to come out..I smile and thought..Ha! I got it.. I know how to get these wrinkles out..these blemishes in the pants making them unfit to wear.
I remember when I was married, even though my husband would send the clothes to the cleaners from time to time, he was an excellent “presser” I mean he could iron some clothes like they came from the cleaners and you would’ve never know the difference..but he exerted effort..It wasn’t a time when he just stood there ironing nonchalantly, he was focused and sometimes I’d look at that poor ironing board and say to myself..”good lawd he’s gonna break it” it would look like he was going to push those clothes right down onto the floor as hard as he was pressing them onto that board with all that starch..

That’s when I noticed..It wasn’t until I applied a generous amount of starch along with some heat I was able to see the results I wanted. Boy, did those pants shine beautifully when I hit them just right in the problem areas with some solution and heat..

It reminded me of a verse..It’s found in Eph. 5:27

Jesus was saying that there will come a day..where we as the church being His bride will be presented before God…
But that means that   we have to be at our best, in our splendor.. Without the wrinkles and spots..now while we’re here on earth..there may be some moments we feel the heat is being turned up and we want to run from the board…we want to cool off just a moment..I’m sure the pain if the pants could feel it was excruciating.. the heat and the pressure I was applying was probably a bit much..but I got the result I wanted..and now I can put them on and wear them and they can represent me well..
People of God the only way we can represent Christ well is if He is allowed to get out of us those things that cause us to be a bad representation of Him!

Speak the word only!

Have you ever noticed our culture is becoming more and more advanced by the year?

It used to be that if someone wanted to have a personal assistant they hired a person who would come and have their own separate little office, then whatever the person would say who had the “authority” or money to pay for the servant/ personal assistant..would simply ring a bell or pick up the phone or press a button, the person would come in and be “at their service” ..but today we live in an age of technology that we have things like Alexa..Oh you’ve heard of Alexa…she’s that artificially intelligent personal assistant.. Google created it..and all you have to do is “say the command” and wallah it’s done..The spiffy little device is word activated..it can only complete a request after the request is given..

This reminded me so greatly as I was inspired this morning by an amazing sermon..that the whole earth is word activated..There’s a law of confession.. If you say what God has said…if you believe what God has said in your heart..it is that “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed all you have to do is speak to a MOUNTAIN and see it move” I’m reminded of a story where a centurion came to Jesus ..and his servant was ill..He wanted Jesus to heal him..and even when Jesus said..I will come to see about him..He said something so powerful so amazing! I’m a person in authority..I’m not naive  to the game..I know that God created the heavens and the earth in the beginning using nothing but His word..and You are under His authority..Listen I too am a man under authority..and if I say to one servant do this He does it..and to another do that and he does it..so I know it is with you…Although I’m speaking of natural things..I know You have authority Jesus..for it is that ” at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow” He had enough faith to know that if Jesus only said a word…His SERVANT would be healed..and so it was …He spoke the word..and that very hour it happened…Imagine that… That servant said..”Speak the word only” and when Jesus spoke…realizing that we have the power of life and death in our tongue..realizing that we will give an account for every idle word we speak..realizing that we can speak things that be not as though they were..Be encouraged that just as Alexa can “turn off the lights” at your word..or it can “place an order for pizza” Or “tell you the weather outside” Just as your navigation system can be word activated and you can ask Siri a question because it is word activated…You have power to speak by faith…and see a mountain moved..
If your saying a lot of words..but they have no power behind them..realize that a curse without a cause is empty, that’s what it says in Proverbs..but if you are speaking the word Of God and believing it in your heart be advised there’s nothing more powerful than that in the earth…speak the word consistently and believe it in your heart without double-mindedness and just see what happens!

Counting the cost of discipleship!

I came upon a very interesting passage today! I couldn’t get around it…I had to share it with you all. I’m hoping it will encourage someone.

This is an awesome message taught by the Master Teacher Himself..On counting the cost..Now we all know …we can get all the wisdom we need from Jesus..and He was a strategist..Teaching us even now through His Spirit within how to plan well..

Luke 14:28-33 was so powerful.. I couldn’t help but share it..You can apply this to your decision to marry, start a job/project, finances, educational goals…It will work because it’s truth…but in this particular passage it’s related to following Christ..

Jesus begins this passage by saying something like.. “If you intend to follow me… If you intend to be my disciple… If you intend to do anything successfully, you would do well to follow these instructions”

Now let me give you the instructions He gave us all who intend to be like Him and walk with Him..

We must be willing to hate (that’s a strong word) not prioritize over our relationship with Christ…our mother father, sister, brother, children, spouse.. that just about covers every other person..then He said you must be willing to Hate/ regard as less than valuable your own life…If you wish to follow Christ..You will have to do something else first…You will have to pick up your cross…and you will have to make a choice to do that EVERY DAY! Your husband, your children, your job isn’t your cross…their your choice..by the way!

Once you have decided to take it up…then you can be His disciple..

Now, He gives very general instructions…

If you’ve made a decision to do anything..He gives an example of sitting down…by yourself..Don’t make decisions rashly.
You have to count the cost so that you will know if you have what it takes to carry out the thing you’ve decided to do…
Your decision to follow Christ shouldn’t be made haphazardly. It must be very deliberate..and don’t let anyone tell you that you’ll have koolaid coming out of your faucet…He said you would have a cross…that you must pick up..and a cross simply means a way that we must die daily to our own fleshly desires…the things that feel good to us..doesn’t sound like a sunshine type life..for we may even have to hate our lives so much we are willing to die for Him..

After you have made the decision your going to do this..And you’ve known the sacrifices that will have to be made..this means each day you must make time to build a working relationship with Christ..you know those hours you used to sit on the phone with your closest friends..He’s saying now He has to take the place of that closest friend…He wants to be the first person you run to and the person you spend the most time with…But if you make this choice…You get life! and not any life…Life more abundantly…and You will live eternally..

so in a final recap let me tell you the steps mentioned in Luke 14:28-33 that you will need to take to become a follower of Christ..but let me mind you..if your not willing to do these things your not worthy to be a disciple at all…Forget it!

#1.Decide what you want..

#2. Sit down, get away alone, don’t make the decision cause it feels right and the pastor made you feel guilty..

#3. Count the cost..estimate what this will mean and how your life Must change to bear fruit for Him.

#4 consult those who have walked with Him and are in season.

#5. Consider whether or not your able to stand with Him until the end..come what may…are you sufficient

#6. If your not willing to do what it takes and have already made a decision…send an ambassage the passage says…for if you can’t do this…You can’t be His disciple
It’s a terrible thing to begin a task and your mocked because you didn’t have what it took to finish it in the end…
Be strong and settle in your heart nothing will deter you then walk in Christ and experience His life!

Taking a Moral Inventory Matthew 7:3-4 “Why do you look at the speck in your brothers eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother ‘let me take the speck out of your eye’ and behold the log is in your own eye? You HYPOCRITE! First take the log out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye.” This question was meant to be an eye opener, Jesus is in the middle of His section in the sermon on the mount about judging others.. First he says it outright.. “Don’t judge so you will not be judged” Don’t we hear that statement a lot.. “Don’t judge me!”, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone!” But there’s a second thing to look at which He says.. Why are you looking at others, an not noticing yourself? Nevertheless as we continue to read on in the text we will see there are some judgments Jesus does not condemn, but in fact condones them.. So let’s look at our question for the day.. Why are you looking at a speck in someone else’s eye?? What’s the speck? The speck is SIN! Text pointed it out there and although it seems like Jesus is making a measure of sin, He’s not..He’s pointing out that by the same measure we use to measure others it will be measured back to us. … When we look at someone else and what they are NOT doing right, forgetting about our own trespasses we are not wise, because in that we will not have mercy on them hence Jesus’ statement.. “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” This is when we resort to things such as ask that question Jesus mentioned. ”Let me help you clean up your life and we can clean out of your mess first. I can see YOU really need help with that sin YOU are in!” In other words we have already made a decision to say to ourselves … I don’t have it all together but let me set you straight. Don’t worry about the sin in my life it’s about me extracting the sin from yours! I’m deputized to make your sin the main priority in my life” and Jesus says that’s not right…. So because I am so bent on helping you get rid of yours I don’t notice my own. God is saying this is a gross underestimation of our own sin.. The only reason we are judging their sin is because we are too prideful and wicked to look at our own sin…. and should we deal with that we would see we are more humble/meek in our restoring the one who has fallen away! If we would just be mindful of all that the Lord has saved us from today and is still at work in us on.. We will be much more mindful of others in our endeavors to “help out!” Imagine with me, you were Moses in the desert with all those sheep/ Children of Israel, imagine that those children are just as disobedient as they come. You really want to see them changed. While you have a pretty good relationship with God if He is good to anyone else you’re upset because that means somehow He is unfair. The children of Israel murmured, grumbled and complained. Come on don’t act like that’s never been you. And Moses got mad. He began to go before God in anger, and while he was angry one time he walked in disobedience. Sometimes, just sometimes, when we get too focusing in on others sin only not realizing we too need a Savior we would be in the same place they/ the disobedient one we can’t stand to see blessed are. But we say within ourselves, God it’s okay for me to act a fool from time to time and You forgive me, but this person, O no Lord, You have got to set the record straight and be fair. We as a society are so content on “mercy for me and justice for you!” that we miss the real story, which is the daily work Christ is trying to do in us. So Jesus gives us remedy as we take a daily moral inventory, it should not be a list of what our ex- husbands/ex-wives did wrong or how they need to change, and get themselves together or how our neighbor offended us and we need to tell God how desperately He needs to work on them… No, it’s more so about us going to God, declaring His wonderful majesty to us. It’s more about us deciding that the Lord’s way is better than our own and if it hadn’t been for the grace of God we would be in the same place the person we are judging is, but God had mercy on us! From this question we can clearly take away that it’s okay to judge others…but when we do so it should be from a standpoint of having fully already addressed our own sin. The old song says “Sweep around your own front yard before you try to sweep around mine” This is true, but once you have swept around yours…and you’ve realized the goodness of God you will be more merciful and in a spirit of humility..and thereby make more impact!

Question #1

Matthew 5:46-47

“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even tax collectors do the same?

 

The first word I want us to explore in this text is the word Love.
We know that many times people say that famous quote from Tina Turner’s ” What’s love got to do with it”  movie..

We live in such a cold society, it’s easy to just write people off.

But if we are to live as Christ wants us to live in this unconventional way that brings about what I call the blessed life we must take time to understand the way He teaches us to live.

 

The word love is a popular word in our culture and time. Everyone uses the word love for everything, we say we have love for people we don’t speak to, people we abuse and people we slander in our hearts and even to others, I’m sorry but this way of living is not the way Jesus prescribed through this text.

 

Love as it is used in this text is Agape.

Agape is an unconditional love.

In the Greek Language which the New Testament was written the word Love could have any of 4 meanings.

  1. Eros- this is a passionate or sexual kind of love shared between a husband and wife.
  2. Phileo- this is a brotherly kind of love shared between same sex or opposite sex as friendship.
  3. Storge- this is a family love, for instance from mother toward child or siblings etc.
  4. Agape- This love is the most powerful and the one Jesus asked us to love others with. It is a love that expects nothing in return.

It is to be full of goodwill and exhibit it.

Jesus says if we “agape” (Love unconditionally with our actions) those who love us only. What reward to we have?

That’s the question on the floor today if we are going to live as Christ called us to live as Followers of a living Savior.

 

I want to talk about that word reward very quickly just a moment if you don’t mind.

Firstly, Jesus says in this text if we show kindness only to those who show kindness to us, this is to say that there will be those who don’t act kindly toward us and are considered “testy” people, we are even to love them.

I will give a quick example of what this looks like them move forward.
The year I separated from my husband, I moved out to a place called Denton Tx. I lived there in some apartments I could afford coming from being a stay at home mom for 6 years. When I noticed I had an “inconvenient” neighbor I cried to the Lord many days about it. It was a lady named Tiffany, she lived there with her boyfriend and 5 children. Every night there was a loud noise on my wall..as I was asleep, and during the day also. I would often times be awakened from my sleep, flirting with the thought of either banging on the wall or knocking on their door having a fit.. I would change the rooms in my house and sleep on the sofa or in another room in the house just to get a good nights rest, I would even play white noise all night on my phone loudly just to drown out the music. The day came she was over on my side of the apartments talking to another neighbor Jackie, and when I saw her I could feel the anger rising even in my throat.. I couldn’t say a word. I spoke kindly, thinking to myself.. “Why do I need to speak to this lady, she’s so mean to me. I don’t have to love her as myself, she needs to love me as herself. That’s so unkind, I pay to live in a place I can’t even sleep in my own bed, how is that fairness”  Nevertheless the moment I introduced myself and shook her hand with a smile.. I felt a tinge of anger and bitterness leave me. I’m not saying I wasn’t upset many other nights I even got to the point I left a note on her door asking her to please be considerate of me. She was very unhappy, but the point of the matter is Jesus in this text wasn’t calling me to react to her in the same way she acted toward me even though it was very inconvenient to me.. I still had to love her with an unconditional love not predicated on her behavior. Get the point.
Now I close with this word reward!

A reward is a due paid, a wage for a person hired.  Now there can be both positive and negative rewards, but they are rewards nevertheless. Jesus is asking what reward do you think you will get if you only love those who love you, will it be a positive or a negative reward.
Let’s deal briefly with this word wage… I work a job, Monday-Friday 7:30-4:30p. Every 1st and 15th I look forward to something that is due me.. It’s not a gift, It’s not something my boss is giving me because of the kindness of her heart. She hired me, and it is her duty to keep her end of the bargain to pay me, unless I no longer report for duty.. Here’s my point, God has hired us to be His agents in the earth. Do you not know that by your kindness to others in the midst of their bad treatment toward you the bible says you reap coals of fire over their head. Your kindness melts their hearts and can ultimately change them for the better toward God.

In this life as a follower of Christ we are called to live … Unconventionally, it will go against the grain. It will not make sense all the time when they person cuts you off to just keep driving and say..>”Go right ahead, your more important than me, where I need to get is obviously not as important as where you do, so I will think of you more highly than myself” I mean this can even start in the home with a spouse, or a child. Sometimes the people closest to us can do the things that hurt us greatest, in this particular teaching of our Savior Jesus who left us the perfect example he challenges us to see things the way He does. So that, on that day when we see Him there’s a reward, due wages we receive for representing Him well, and possibly winning others to Him, by choosing to guard our hearts against offense.

This principle isn’t easy at first.. But the more you think of others more highly than yourself the more easier it will be.

Please see my “Unconventional living” blog for further reference on this text!

Don’t be phased

So, I read an interesting passage today…I wanted to encourage someone.. Always count only what you have left..

This morning I was having a little hot tea and quiet time with my heavenly Father..

That’s when something was impressed on my heart to share here with you… Personally…

Don’t be phased by the events in your life.. Although sometimes they can seem defining, they are only preparing you for a future so bright you need shades..

This morning I was reading the popular passage in the book of Ruth..ch 1…

We see Naomi, the start of the passage at this point.. She’s gone through great loss no doubt.. As a woman we live to experience that wedding day and then having our children.. But imagine if all that’s taken away.. After you’ve experienced the joys of it all.. She’d had the best life by many standards up until now.. They had a few set backs but they made it through..  together as a family..

Isn’t it always better to have a set back as a family.. Rather than by yourself.. But this one she thought.. She was the biggest.. After the death of that last son it appears something happened.. She viewed life differently..She viewed God differently.. Because she only saw him as good if the circumstances in her life were good at that moment…

Get a bigger view of life than your here and now..

Naomi started calling God unfaithful because of her turn of events..

She said he’d afflicted her…her complaint was he dealt bitterly with her.. And dear friends she wasn’t completely empty.. She hasn’t counted the daughter in law who wouldn’t leave her..

Sometimes it is best to view life as it is… From another perspective.. Higher than ours..