Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tear Down the Wall

Tear Down the Wall
(a plea for brokenness)

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite (repentant) heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Jeremiah 17:14 Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
John 14:16-17 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

From my youth, all the days of my life before you called me to salvation in Christ, I built a wall around my heart. In the foolishness of my flesh, I took each brick; forged in anger, hurt, resentment, grudges, pride, and arrogance; bound together by the mortar of selfishness and self-centeredness; and constructed what I thought was an impenetrable barrier. I believed I had protected from invasion or interference the very essence of who I was.
Then You called.
The glorious light of Your truth shown in my heart. You called me, saved me, indwelled me, and changed me. I am Yours!!
Yet in my flesh, I have found the wall still standing: standing between me and all that You want me to be. You have my body! You have my mind. My spirit is Yours. But much of my heart is still held captive within the prison I started building long before I knew You.
The strongest thing in my life prior to knowing You was the wall. Yet in Your presence, the wall is a vapor; dispersed by Your slightest breath.
However, for it to fall, I must surrender it to You.

Blessed Father in heaven, giver of life, in humility and repentance, I surrender the wall around my heart to You. You live in my heart and I beg you to tear down the wall I built in ignorance and fear. Nothing can stand before the strength of Your will. Trusting in Your word, standing in Your truth, believing with the faith You gave me, I surrender all. May my heart beat according to Your good pleasure. May the stench of isolation dissipate in the warmth of Your love and the freedom only You can give. May Your love shine through me as openness and vulnerability replace seclusion and defensiveness. I pray it and claim it in the strong name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.

Psalm 145:17-19 The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. 18 The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. 19 He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.
See Also: Psalm 18:1-3, 51:10 & 119:11, Jeremiah 17:9, Philippians 2:13 & 3:13

Friday, June 3, 2011

Autopilot Prayer

Autopilot Prayer
Matthew 6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Christ tells us that when we pray (not if we pray); don’t use meaningless repetition thinking you will get extra credit for all the words you use. I believe Christ is telling us that our prayers should be heartfelt and focused (see James 5:16).
  • Proverbs 10:19 says that where there is a multitude of words, sin is not lacking. This applies when you are talking to God as much or more than when you are talking with others. We must also be very careful not to make insincere or hasty promises to God (see Ecclesiastes 5:2). God takes vows very seriously.
Autopilot prayer is prayer that is:
  • Void of passion or purpose
  • Without thought or trust
  • Based in comfort or convenience
  • Guided by routine or repetition
As you read the discussion below, please don’t think I am condemning anyone else’s prayers. Using repetition to teach a child to pray is beautiful; sincere/passionate repetitious prayer honors God. I am addressing the pointless quotation of ‘packaged’ prayers and the mindless recall of scripture or lyrics. This devotion is the result of evaluating my prayer and praise.
Example 1 – Childish Prayer
If a child prays, ‘God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food.’, and the prayer is fresh and sincere, praise God. But if your child has prayed this prayer at dinner every night for three years, take your child off autopilot and teach him or her to talk to God.
A dear friend of mine recently told me that he is having his children memorize scripture as prayers to God. What a beautiful way to hide the word of God in a child’s heart (Psalm 119:11).
Example 2 – Robotic Prayer
‘Heavenly Father, thank you for this day and for this food. Bless it to the nourishment of our bodies and bless the hands that prepared it. In Christ name, Amen.’ Does that prayer sound familiar? Have you prayed that prayer on autopilot? Again, I can’t stress enough, even a routine prayer that is prayed with sincerity is honoring to God. But are you thinking? Feeling? Are you playing a recording as you speak to the creator of heaven and earth? The Holy Spirit that indwells you should be leading you in prayer (Ephesians 6:18, Jude 20).
Example 3 – Recital Prayer
Have you ever prepared to speak in front of a crowd and practiced so much that you had it totally memorized? You could say it frontwards, backwards, while washing the dishes. Unfortunately this same recital mentality can creep into your prayer life. Have you ever prayed ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ (Matthew 6:9-13, Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name…)? Once you memorized it, how many times have you really thought about what you were saying? Christ taught this prayer as a model for us to follow; not a speech to memorize. As referenced above, memorizing scripture is a God sanctioned method to cleanse your heart and guard against sin in your life. But reciting scripture to God without thought, feeling or intent has to be offensive to Him.
Example 4 – Sing Along Praise
'Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.’ My friend, that is the Gospel!! And what a beautiful melody. I absolutely love the hymn Amazing Grace. But I have sung it many-a-time while lost in the beauty of the music and the comfort of its familiarity. What a shame. When we praise God in song, we should always be aware of the message and the personal application to our lives. Yes, we can sing in autopilot. Don’t do it!
My prayer is that this devotion will touch the life of someone who needs to get off autopilot and open their heart to God. If that is not you, praise God again!! If it is you, celebrate with a renewed passion in your prayer life.
Lord and Savior, this devotion serves as a confession for the faults in my prayers to you. Please forgive the distractions and preoccupations that lead me to autopilot prayer. May your Holy Spirit guide and inspire my prayers. Touch my heart. Touch the heart of others. Blessed be Your Name forever and ever. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lament for the Lost

Lament for the Lost

Have you ever stopped to wonder why,
As days, and months and years roll by;
Each time you feel His tender call,
You turn away again and stall;
Rejecting what He’s offering you,
Seems like the easy thing to do.

But don’t be fooled, you’re not OK,
You need to yield to Him today;
Although you feel you’re in control,
Satan wants to take your soul;
You’re in a war you cannot win,
Unless you see Christ died for sin.

Apart from God, nothing is right,
Absence of good turns day into night;
Hell is real and waiting for you,
Suffering forever is what you’ll do;
God will judge all lost in their sin,
Never to hear the Gospel again.

So don’t turn your back, don’t run and hide,
Open your heart to the One on your side;
Confess your sin, accept Him as Lord,
For Christ paid the debt you could never afford;
Believe He is God and rose from the dead,
So you can be saved, just as He said!

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:18 and 2:14; 1 Peter 5:8; James 1:17; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:15; Matthew 25:46; Romans 3:10, 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, and 10:9

Prayer: Gracious and loving Father, only You, through the work of your Holy Spirit, can draw the lost to Christ for salvation. I pray dear Lord, that in Your infinite love and mercy, You may use this simple poem to lead someone to the scriptures listed above, then to their knees to ask for forgiveness of their sins, to confess Christ as Lord, to believe He died for their sins and rose from the dead, and to accept Him as Lord and Savior. Amen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How Dead is Dead?

How Dead is Dead?
We all know that Christ used parables to teach us spiritual lessons. But have you ever noticed how God, in His infinite wisdom and sovereignty, uses actual historical events recorded in the Bible to teach us?

One of the greatest examples of God using actual events to teach us is the deliverance of the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The word Exodus means, ‘the way out’ and the book of Exodus is the story of how the nation of Israel is redeemed by blood and by power.

Israel was delivered from the Angel of Death by the blood of the Passover Lamb and they were delivered from the Egyptian army by the power of God as He parted the Red Sea. God uses these events to teach us about our redemption from sin by the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross and from the temptations of Satan by the power of the Holy Spirit that indwells us.

Now let’s look at how Christ uses three miracles He performed to teach us of His power to save anyone (regardless of how lost in sin they are).

In the New Testament, Christ raised three people from the dead: Jairus’ daughter, the widow’s son and Lazarus. Read the following scriptural accounts:

- Jairus’ daughter: Luke 8:40 – 56 (enjoy the added bonus of reading about Christ healing the woman with the issue of blood while on His way to Jairus’ house (Christ is never too busy to heal us).

- The widow’s son: Luke 7:11-17

- Lazarus: John 11:38-44 (read John 11:1-44 for the full account)

Never forget that these Biblical accounts are actual events. Christ raised these three people from the dead!

But the spiritual illustration is that Christ can give spiritual life to anyone, regardless of how dead in sin they may be (Ephesians 2:1 – And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins).

Jairus’ daughter had been dead for a very short time. The widow’s son had been dead for hours (but probably less than a day because of Jewish burial customs). Lazarus had been dead for four days.

Anyone who has not accepted Christ as their Savior is spiritually dead (whether they are someone who tries to live a moral life or someone who rapes and murders). But no one is beyond the reach of Christ’s love. He died for the sins of the entire world – 1 John 2:2 and He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

No one is beyond the love of Christ. Read about Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10. See how Christ saved the chief of the tax collectors: a man hated by the world but loved by God.

So how dead is dead? It doesn’t matter. Christ can give eternal life to anyone who accepts Him!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, teach us to hate the sin not the sinner. Your love can save anyone, no matter how lost in sin they may be. Please use me to share Your love with the lost. Amen.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Prayer of ‘Un-abomination’

A Prayer of ‘Un-abomination’
Proverbs 6:16-19 says:

16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

An abomination means something that is detested or repulsive.

If God detest these seven things, we should pray that we are not these things. Therefore, this devotional is a prayer to God asking His Holy Spirit to empower us to never be these things.

Read this prayer. Then write your own!

Heavenly Father, I praise Your name and humbly acknowledge that only through the power and guidance of Your Holy Spirit can I become the Christian You want me to be. In Proverbs 6 You clearly tell me seven things that are repulsive to You. Please, dear Lord, help me never to be these things.

I ask that I never look down on others or exalt myself. May the example of humility Christ set for me guide me in my thoughts, words, actions and attitudes.

Jesus Christ is the Truth. Jesus indwells me. I pray that only truthful words come out of my mouth. May I honor You with all my words.

May your peace that passes understanding guide my life and relationships. May I learn to forgive others. I pray I never shed innocent blood.

My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak. May my thoughts be ever focused on You. Guard my mind against wicked thoughts dear Lord. May my creativity be focused on, and dedicated to, serving You.

Cleanse my heart of sinful curiosity. May my only interest in mischief be aiding the unfortunate and mistreated or witnessing to the lost. Give me wisdom to discern when I should engage in any questionable situation.

May I never misrepresent myself or others for self-preservation, protection, personal gain, or revenge. May my words and testimony, whether in court or in casual conversation, be honest and accurate.

May I never stir up trouble within my Christian family. On the contrary, may my influence be one that facilitates harmony and conflict resolution. May others see that we are Christians by the way we love another.

I ask these things in the precious name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What were you thinking?

What were you thinking?
As Christians, our ‘thought life’ is so very important. God sees our heart and knows everything we think about. Don’t you want to honor Him with your thoughts!

There are three things trying to hinder our relationship with God by drawing us into a sinful thought life:

1. Satan. Our great adversary. If you are a Christian, he wants to damage your testimony/witness.

2. The World. Satan is the temporary ruler of the earth (although he can still only do what God allows). So this fallen world draws you to inappropriate thoughts.

3. Your Flesh. That part of you that existed separate from God prior to your salvation.

What are the potential impacts to your thought life if you give in to temptation?

Galatians 5:19-2119 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

But in his letter to the Philippians, Paul told his Christian brothers at Philippi what they should be thinking about.

Philippians 4:8-98 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Prayer: My Father in heaven, my heart is yours. You are worthy of all praise, honor and glory. Forgive me where I fall short of Your standards. Thank You for Your righteousness through Christ. Please Father, help me to have a thought life that honors You. In Christ name I pray. Amen.