Talk to God, Not Just About

This devotional is brought to you by a sermon from John Piper that is necessary to every person on their Christian journey.

Psalm 23 teaches us the importance of communication with our Father, that it is important that we talk about Him to others, but that we also talk to Him.

In verses 1-3 David refers to God as “he”:

“The Lord is my shepherd…
He makes me lie down…
He leads me…
He restores my soul.”

Then in verses 4 and 5 David refers to God as “you”:

“I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me.
You anoint my head with oil.”

Then in verse 6 David uses third person:

“I shall dwell in the house of the Lord.”

What we must learn from David in Psalm 23 and other psalms is that we should not talk about the good news of God without having a personal relationship with the God we talk about. We should frequently interrupt our talking about God with talking to God.

Let us move from the general to the specific with God. Not only should God be someone we speak about, but someone we speak to.

Not far behind the theological sentence, “God is generous,” should come the prayerful sentence, “Thank you, God.”

 

7 Day Prayer Series: Day 7

Day 7.

Reveal yourself through me

“Show me a sign of your favour, that those who hate me see and be put to shame because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me” (Psalm 86:17)

To be a Christian is not only to have our personal prayers answered, but also to make a statement to the whole world. While prayer begins with us for our situations and circumstances, it should extend to a prayer for God to reveal himself through us so that the world may see and enjoy him. Yes, we must first come to God and pray for his listening ear, joy, strength and all the other good things but move prayer outside of ourselves and into what God desires. We must pray for our light to shine through all the world.

The world is watching us Christians: we should respond by wanting our faith and our whole life to mean something to the watching world. We want unbelievers and sometimes believers to know that our God is the one and only God, to come to him and be saved.

Let us transform our prayers from asking God to do for us into a desire for him to do in us something dramatic that moves the hearts and minds of others. It is important to move beyond our selves and into the world, something that can only be done when God works through us.

Thank you for staying tuned in and praying with me this week. I pray this series stays with each of us for this week, this month, this year, forever.

Blessings ❤

P.S If anyone has any prayer requests please make them known via comments or email and I’d be pleased to make my requests for you known.

7 Day Prayer Series: Day 6

Day 6.

Unite my heart to you

“Unite my heart to fear your name” (Psalm 86:11)

This world is full of division and our sinful heart’s are no different. More and more of us are divided between wanting to resonate with God’s heart, and fulfilling rebel desires and impulses. Unity becomes a word instead of a way of living. However, to be a Christian is to kill sin and stay on the side of righteousness, united with the Lord.

Sin divides our attention and affection to the Lord, but there is a way to move into unity. To counter the effects of this divided world our frequent prayer should be that God rid us of spiritual divisiveness, that we may not be hot and cold so God can unite our hearts in him.

Tune in for Day 7 (last day) tomorrow with a prayer on favour.

Blessings ❤

P.S If anyone has any prayer requests please make them known via comments or email and I’d be pleased to make my requests for you known.

7 Day Prayer Series: Day 5

Day 5.

Give me your strength

“Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant”  (Psalm 86:16)

The other day I went to the gym and tried deadlifting 150 lbs, it was a sorry mistake to say the least. I was weak and in need of strength. Many of us also need strength and don’t realize it until we try and lift our heavy weights, our heavy burdens and are unable to do so. For some we need strength to wake up ready to tackle our to-do lists and take on the world. Or maybe we need strength to do a seemingly simple task, getting out of bed. Many of us go through life tired, we forget to ask for help – for strength. Our individual efforts may work for a while, but eventually we will run out of gas and be left with small, short-lived strength. We need a refuel.

Along with our prayers for guidance, we need to ask God for strength so that we can walk on the path he wants to lead us on spiritually and physically. Relying on our own strength to go through life is much like the story of “The Three Little Pigs”. Some of us build with straws and others with sticks, but with God we can be like the third little pig who uses bricks and remains strong in the face of his enemy.

It is important to work hard, but never in your strength alone. You cannot do it all on your own. Work in the strength that he supplies. God will lend his own strength to all who ask as long as it is not for selfish or materialistic dreams. He will give you the courage and strength like he did Samson, if you commit to lay down your life for others in the name of Jesus.

Tune in for Day 6 tomorrow with a prayer on unity.

Blessings ❤

P.S If anyone has any prayer requests please make them known via comments or email and I’d be pleased to make my requests for you known.

7 Day Prayer Series: Day 4

Day 4.

Teach me your ways.

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth” (Psalm 86:11)

Here I’m focusing on the wonderful request of verse 11 for God to teach us his ways. In any trial, a teachable heart is essential. Ask God what you should be learning about Him and about yourself in the difficult situation because there is truth in his ways. Most of us instinctively pray for quick deliverance, but David prays that he will learn God’s ways so that in his trials he will walk in obedience to God’s truth. He prays that his loyalty will not be scattered or divided, but rather be united or single-minded in God’s truth.

Have you ever heard the saying, “the truth shall set you free”? I’m pretty sure that saying comes from the Bible because walking in God’s truth we see the truth come alive in us — in our priorities, in our relationships, and in our heart’s.

God doesn’t expect us to just figure it out on our own. He wants us to rely on his teaching and ask him for wisdom and guidance. Start with, “God, teach me your way” and then fill in the blanks with whatever it is you need his guidance on.

If we are willing to be taught, the Lord will use various means for our enlightenment.

Tune in for Day 5 tomorrow with a prayer on strength.

Blessings ❤

P.S If anyone has any prayer requests please make them known via comments or email and I’d be pleased to make my requests for you known.

7 Day Prayer Series: Day 3

Day 3.

Make my heart happy in you.

“Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul” (Psalm 86:4)

Prayers are not there only to rescue us from sin, but they also allow us to be flooded with joy in the Rescuer. Sin disrupts God’s ultimate plan for us, but it doesn’t have to control us. Through prayer God offers us an escape from our sin and a way into eternal joy. God wants us to be happy in him. There’s joy in knowing that our heart’s cry is answered when we turn to God, our heart’s will no longer be filled with sin and pain, but joy and happiness when we make that plea.

However, many of us look for this joy in other areas separate from God, but we cannot put on joy like we put on a pair of pants. It is only through God that joy is given, but we mustn’t expect to feel it if we do not ask God to receive it. Something supernatural has to happen in our hearts, and the supernatural only happens one way: with God’s help through prayer.

David asks (86:4), for God to make glad his soul. That was a bold request at a time of his great suffering. Like David, we ought either to be rejoicing in the Lord, or pining after him through prayer! Never assume you’ll find joy without asking God for it.

Tune in for Day 4 tomorrow with a prayer on walking in truth.

Blessings ❤

P.S If anyone has any prayer requests please make them known via comments or email and I’d be pleased to make my requests for you known.

7 Day Prayer Series: Day Two

Day 2.

Save me, and keep me.

“Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you — you are my God. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day” (Psalm 86:2–3)

There are many of us who face all sorts of people, some who mean well and others who don’t. As a result, we pray quite often for our friends and neglect our enemies. David had the same issue, but in the face of all his enemies, David looked to our God for protection and deliverance. He was often surrounded on every side, threatened in every way imaginable. But he recognized that hope and confidence is found in God and can only be complete in regular prayer for preservation. While he recognized those who meant well around him he also noted his enemies and made sure to pray against their evildoings. 

Our enemies may be a former friend, a coworker, or even a relative but I have news for you. We have an enemy far greater than them, an enemy more fearful than all of David’s enemies combined. His name is Satan. He has planted his mercenaries at every turn. And we are helpless against his schemes without a warrior fighting for us. We mustn’t fall into the trap set up by Satan or our enemies and believe that because we are saved we are shielded. The fact that David cries out for God to save him (86:2, 16) shows that he knew that he could not save himself.

Being saved is not an isolated, single occurrence but a daily commitment, much like prayer. You are being saved every day. But not without prayer. Each day should welcome a plea for protection and keeping, not a reliance on a committed made in the past. 

We set ourselves up for problems when we neglect to take seriously the plans of the enemy and rely on our salvation than our prayer for preservation.

Tune in for Day 3 tomorrow with a focus on joy in the Rescuer.

Blessings ❤

P.S If anyone has any prayer requests please make them known via comments or email and I’d be pleased to make my requests for you known.

7 DAY Prayer Series: Day One

**Friends, welcome to my very first 7-day series on prayer. While I’d love to talk exclusively on prayer in this one post I’m afraid you’d all be reading an essay rather than a blog post and the sure way for you to walk away with the teachings of this post is to go at it one day at a time.

A morning prayer is a great way to start your day. It allows you to seek God’s plan for the day ahead and prepare yourself for His goodness. Whether you need encouragement, peace, strength, wisdom, happiness, or patience God can meet you when you come before Him with your head and heart bowed. Let His Word go before you everyday of the week as you pray because a life full of prayer is the secret to a happy life. However, prayerlessness is the great enemy of true happiness. If we give up on prayer, or refuse to pray, we surrender our seat at the throne of grace.

However, it is not just the act of praying – the words, knees bowed that bring results, but the that the heart bows along with our knees. Some of us who do pray can find ourselves in danger of forfeiting prayer’s fullness as we fall into stale ruts of familiar words and repeated requests. We wake up each day, say the same prayers, and wonder why it doesn’t feel more real and life-changing. The problem is that while prayer should be our heart’s cry we distance our heart from the act and rely solely on our words.

There are also some of us who walk through the valley with our heads down and our mouths shut. We find no strength or rescue in prayer. But the Bible speaks too often and too highly of prayer for us to let our temporary situations pull us away from what brings us closest to God. Yes, we may know the Lord’s Prayer by heart, but those five verses are not the only guide we have to help us pray. It is the template. God has given us many different routes for getting out of our daily ruts through prayer. He has given us the tools of prayer through His Word. Take Psalm 86, for example. Here is the first of seven simple daily prayers drawn from David’s prayer.

Day 1.

Hear my cry

“Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace” (Psalm 86:6).

David wrote an entire book of songs/prayers to God and the common theme for all was his plea with God to listen (Psalm 4, 17, 27, 28, 30). David never took the ever-present help of God for granted. He never took it as something that is handed out to all without any work done on our part.

God Almighty, the sovereign and infinite, Maker of heaven and earth, hears your prayers. But, don’t take God’s ears for granted. Acknowledge His holiness and your sin when you pray. Think to yourself if you heard the same plea from a friend who promised never to make the same mistake ever again after you warned them and continues to do so. Imagine they call to talk to you, never asking for you to hear them out – instead they assume because you’re their friend you’d automatically give them your ear, your forgiveness and your advice. Wrong. We make the same mistake with God. We must plea for His ear, His forgiveness, His answer. We must not presume he will listen, but for Jesus’s sake we must ask him to hear one more prayer. It is the act of asking that he longs for, that is not only done through prayer but in asking that he hears our prayers.

A prayer of David.

Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
    for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
    save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord,
    for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
    for I put my trust in you.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
    abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
    listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
    because you answer me.

Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
    no deeds can compare with yours.
All the nations you have made
    will come and worship before you, Lord;
    they will bring glory to your name.
10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
    you alone are God.

11 Teach me your way, Lord,
    that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
    I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
    you have delivered me from the depths,
    from the realm of the dead.

14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
    ruthless people are trying to kill me—
    they have no regard for you.
15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
    slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
    show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
    just as my mother did.
17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
    that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
    for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Before you pray today remember to ask God to “give ear” – to first listen to your prayer, from there make your requests known.

Tune in for Day 2 tomorrow with a focus on preservation.

Blessings ❤

P.S If anyone has any prayer requests please make them known via comments or email and I’d be pleased to make my requests for you known.

Resolutions Into Realities

As we end one year and look to a new one, we pause to take inventory. In a rare moment of reflection and honest self-assessment, we admit our failures. We pledge to learn from them and move toward a better future.  We all want to be better, to live our lives fully and to love one another more selflessly. So, we make resolutions.

As we repent for the failures of the past year we resolve to do better in the coming year. We face the reality of sin and make attempts to correct them. We know that our resolutions to change often end in failure. We are prone to making wrong choices in daily life. But the difference between resolutions and reality is Christ.

In and through Jesus Christ, there is a path to being made new. He walked that path up the mountain of Golgotha, and through the tomb to the Resurrection. That promise of being made new, being born again, is at the heart of the Gospel, the Good News! St. Paul reminded the Christians in the City of Corinth – and reminds every one of us – “whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17)

New Year’s resolutions can be an important first step to change, but they are a far cry from real, lasting change when we rely wholly on ourselves and forget the One who makes all things new. On many occasions we hear people’s promises that this year will be different, “New Year, New Me”; they’ll own that new car, get that promotion, etc. yet we see no change. It’s not our circumstances that need to change, but our mindset, our way of thinking – we need not to walk another year outside of the path of righteousness.  If we really are resolved to see our hopes and resolutions for 2017 become a reality, we will do well to keep several basic truths in mind at the outset of a new year.

1. The Fewer the Better
The excitement of a new year, and desire for change often leads us to bite off much more than we can chew for one year. If you have too much on your plate chances are you’ll be left with leftovers of unresolved resolutions.

Consider one focus (or maybe a couple or three items) for the new year, or just the first three months of 2017, or even just January. A year is a long period of time in terms of habit-forming; typically we would do much better to just make one resolution at a time than to attempt many things and for so long a period as twelve months. Commitment to several things for a long period of time scares many and with that fear comes the breaking of resolutions.

2. Be Specific
Bible-reading, devotionals, and prayer are likely too broad. Give your resolution a more specific focus like reading the whole Bible this year, or not just devotionals but daily devotionals, or not just prayer but a prayer journal that you spend time writing in each morning, or before bedtime.

3. Craft a Realistic Plan
On many occasions our biggest let down for the new year is ourselves. We often devise unrealistic plans and end the year with disappointment because it didn’t come to fruition. I’ll be honest, last year I told myself I’d read the entire bible in a year. I tried to commit to reading 5 books of the bible a month for 12 months. As I’m sure you could already tell that did not happen. It was an unrealistic plan. While it worked all the way until September when I had more time, with the start of school came the end of my resolution. Map out clearly and concretely what it would take for a full month to cultivate your desired habit. Think long term and make sure it’s realistic given the things in your life. Part of being realistic is accepting a measure of modesty and patience to your goals.

4. Flexibility
If not now then eventually. Your resolutions don’t need to start in January and end in December. Some resolutions don’t need to take all year while others require more than a given year. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Like life your resolutions need to be flexible.

5. Cover Your Efforts in Prayer
In prayer, we re-consecrate ourselves again and again to pursue our resolves “by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11). We would be fooling ourselves if we made regular efforts into new habits without explicitly asking God to make it truly fruitful.

And so we pray – not just act, but ask – “that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:11).

Happy New Year! May the Lord bless you all in the Year of 2017

**I want to thank EVERYONE for tuning in, reading, encouraging, commenting, sharing, liking and following my blog. I am entering this new year with so much peace, love and happiness thanks to you all**

xo

Busy Bees to Busy Knees

The other day when scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed I came across a post from a friend and it wrote “thank God you’re busy. Many people wish they had something to do.” I sat staring at my computer screen for what felt like hours, baffled. Is this really what the world has come to? A desire for busyness? For what? To prove worth, importance? Have we started valuing our worth by how busy we are, how little time we have for others?

Many of us fall into the trap that to be busy is a good thing. It means you’re doing something with your time, making something of yourself and not falling into the issue of idleness. Webster’s Dictionary describes it as: “to lose or spend time in inaction, or without being employed in business.”

In Matthew 12:36, it means empty and fruitless. The “idle word” which Christ condemns, is a word morally useless and evil.

All in all, to be idle, many of us know is a bad thing. But the opposite doesn’t prove any better.

With an influence by Professor Bruce Hindmarsh it is clear that busyness is moral laziness. God has given us just enough time, every moment is a sacrament — these are massively important truths we need to soak in.

We are a performance-driven people, which means we are busy people. 15 hours — 2 hour of commute (to and fro), 2 for eating (sometimes skipping meals), 9 for work (school work included), 2 for Netflix (we’re all guilty of it), brushing our teeth in the car. We barely have time to pause and observe our surroundings, or acknowledge our Creator.

And God-forbid we aren’t busy. There’s then the fear that people see us as a failure. You’re not busy? You must be lazy. A nobody. We wouldn’t say it, but we behave that way, someone takes a year off school – a lazy nobody (I never directly heard that but I felt it on my break from school).

If you question where you stand answer this, have you ever taken out your phone and roamed through it in a waiting room or on the bus just to look like you’re busy? To be bored was once an inconvenience — now it’s treated like cancer: something to be treated with busyness. Some go as far as to fake a phone conversation.

We must take Jesus as our example. He was a very busy man with a God given plan. Fast-paced Jesus. Early-in-the-morning Jesus. Carpenter Jesus. Busy man, working man, preaching man, leading man. The difference lies in the fact that his busyness was in his spiritual life – he never let the mundane nature of the world entangle or keep him too busy.

Jesus takes a pause, he isn’t concerned about his busy schedule and tight deadlines on many occasions. Take his interaction with a blind man for example, “as he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth” (John 9:1). Day after day, the man sits and begs (John 9:8) — a man without a schedule, without plans… He’s not busy. Jesus did not judge this man who spent his days without a schedule but he helped, given his own schedule – he paused.

It might appear we aren’t sure how it is we relate to a needy blind man with nothing to do but we are him – we’re blind. We are born into work. Blind to the schedule we are beholden to.

I urge us all to PAUSE and revamp our TO-DO list, to change our busy bee nature into busy knees – finding ways to WORSHIP. Even if we were to get rid of all requirements for a long period of time and spend our days worshipping we’d still be far from an idle life.

TRY THIS:

  • Before you open your eyes in the morning, seek God’s face and bask in his presence. “Awake, my soul. Turn my eyes, Lord, from things that are unworthy.”
  • Before you climb out of bed and let your feet hit the floor, confess your sins and weaknesses and mentally lean on him.                                                                               “Carry me, Lord, so I can accomplish your goals.”
  • As you get dressed, beg God to cover your unworthiness with Christ’s righteousness. “Lord, clothe me with your armor, because I need your power and protection for the dark parts of this day.”
  • Before you gaze into a mirror or look at any screen (phone included), pray that he will “Show me your glory and goodness. That I will see it. And that I will reflect it.”
  • As you sip your morning coffee or fill your belly, ask him to fill you with his Spirit and the joy of your salvation. “That I would taste and see that you are good. That you would hunger and thirst for him.”
  • As the world and the day get louder and louder, remember to stop and listen for the Spirit over the noise. Learn to recognize him. “Let me hear your Lord.”
  • When you find yourself growing weary, run to God. Not to the world for a distraction, but to him. “Let me run to you instead of work when I feel weary.”
  • Don’t let a single hour go by without asking God to sustain you. Not tomorrow, not next week, but right now. Set an alarm if you have to until it starts to come more naturally. Like breathing.
  • As you climb into bed, look back and identify God’s providence.

(http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/busyness-is-not-the-problem)

“Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28

Be still, your soul

This week’s song is Never Too Busy by Bryon Cage