Friday, 27 December 2019

Uncomfortable Prayer

Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.

      Teresa of Ávila said, "More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones."
      Praying God's will for your life can be uncomfortable. God might ask you to do something that seems to be an enormous request. Nonetheless, it has been asked. When Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane, it was not a pleasant time. It was a time to come to grips with why Jesus came to earth. Luke 22:42b Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done. The courage it took for Jesus to say, "Your will be done" was immense. 

      God may ask you to forgive someone for doing something so heinous and brutal, even though the brutality affected your life. The Lord may ask you to sacrifice something that means so much to you. No matter the degree of difficulty in the natural, we still have to come to God in prayer, and it may be very uncomfortable. God is moved by faith and not the hardships we are going through. Heb. 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
      I had a discussion with my uncle who is having a hard time forgiving two people in his life. One of them is dead, and the other is alive. The interesting thing is that the one who is dead, has so much power over my uncle's life, even though this person is no longer on this earth. The bitterness and resentment my uncle is feeling are being controlled by someone long in the grave. My uncle was being weighed down in anxiety because he could not forgive the past. Prov. 12:25a Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs it down.
      I explained to him - as uncomfortable as it is, he is going to have to forgive the actions that were done to him many years ago. God was asking him to forgive a dead man so that my uncle could be set free to go on living. "This is not an easy prayer," he said. The discomfort came when it was clear that my uncle wanted grace for himself but the judgment of God on those who had hurt him. He only started to get his peace when he asked God to help him forgive the living and the dead. I heard someone say, "What the tongue promises, the body must follow." If the tongue forgives, the body, soul, and mind will heal.
      We wouldn't need a saviour if we could do all these hard things on our own. We need our Lord's help in all our lives and all that we do. Phil. 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Whether we need deliverance from sin we participate in regularly, or we are dealing with a monstrous challenge in our life, we need to get down to some prayer time with the Lord no matter how uncomfortable it seems. 
      When Daniel was in the lion's den, it was not a comfortable place to pray from or situation to be in. But all he could do was pray. When Jonah was in the belly of the great fish, it was most definitely not a comfortable place to pray or be in. But, again, what choice did Jonah have but to pray? Jonah 2:1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish. After being whipped and chained in the deepest dungeon, Paul and Silas prayed and praised God in the discomfort of their pain and humiliation. These people prayed uncomfortable prayers in uncomfortable times but ended up in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
      Our Heavenly Father may be asking us to do some hard things. It will take prayer and we may not have a nice comfortable closet to pray in. We may be in the depths of our despair, pain, or suffering. The discomfort might even be palpable. Nonetheless, what else are we going to do? Psalm 121:1 I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? 2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth! That is it, saints. We keep looking to God in all our trials and hard times.
      We may be in a place of uncomfortable prayer because of a terrible situation. But, when a good word comes from God, our hearts will lose the anxiety that weighed it down. We will rise in the confidence of our God who loves us. 1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
      Father, we press into your eternal love and guidance. Many of us are going through very hard times and need your help. We ask for your help, courage, and strength as we go through the valley of shadows with our Lord and Saviour Jesus. We thank you, Lord, that through Christ, we have the victory for our lives, now and evermore. Amen!

Friday, 20 December 2019

Smile By Faith

Proverbs 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.

      Luke 18:8b But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?
      Good question. How many will have kept their faith through all the trials and tribulations that are coming against the saints on the earth? I am so grateful that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of faith. 1 Cor.12:7 A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good, 9a the same Spirit gives great faith to another. We can call upon the Lord and ask for His faith to be poured within us so that we can confidently walk by faith in what God has called us to do. This is truly a win-win blessing.

      This is why we can smile by faith, no matter what valley of darkness we are going through. The facts may be that you are fighting a terrible disease, but God's truth says, you have been given His word that heals. Psalm 107:20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. The facts in your life may find you struggling at every turn, but God's truth is, you are more than an overcomer in all battles. Rom. 8:37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 
      Asking God for His faith to be at work within us so that we can fight the good fight of faith, is a gift worth asking for. Wouldn't you rather face the enemy of your soul with God's powerful faith? Count me in on that blessing. Prov. 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.
      Sarah, in her old age, gave birth to a son, by believing God's promise to her. Her faith turned into laughter. Gen. 21:6 And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. The years that led up to this miracle were not always easy for Sarah. However, there came the day when Sarah's faith put a smile in her heart, because she had been smiling by faith at the promise God had made to her. Gen. 21:1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.
      We all have dreams and visions that we want to fulfill in this life. By faith, put a smile on your face and in your heart, and keep pressing into God's word for your life. There will be trials and obstacles along the way, but we are fit for the fight. We have the God of the universe living in our hearts. We have the gifts of the Holy Spirit within our grasp if we ask for them. No wonder Satan hates us - we have everything he tried to steal from God. But God, out of His love for us, gave us these wonderful blessings.
      When the Lord returns, how many will He find on the earth who have faith? We live in a very secular world-system that makes it clear what side of righteousness we have to choose. It will take honest faith in the Lord to make our walk with God genuine and of Godly substance. We are going to have to smile by faith in a lot of the strange and confusing circumstances that are becoming commonplace in the world. 
      God was not caught off guard by the events taking place in our time. He knows what we need to get through our personal battles and have victory over the temptations of this present life. God's gift of faith is needed every day, and I ask for it regularly. By faith, I can put a smile on my face, and walk in the grace of my salvation through Christ who loves me. In Jesus name, may the Lord find faith at work within us when He returns. Amen!

Friday, 13 December 2019

Unintended Consequences

Proverbs 24:12 If you say, “But we didn’t know about this,” won’t he who weighs hearts consider it? Won’t he who protects your life know? Won’t he repay a person according to his work?

      In 1957 a visiting beekeeper accidentally released some aggressive African bees into the wilds of Brazil, and the unintended consequence resulted in what we know today as - killers bees. Invasive species of animals, reptiles, bugs, and plants in most cases are the result of people not thinking things through as they introduce these species from other countries into the local environment. The resulting havoc has brought monstrous problems to certain parts of the world. Burmese pythons in Florida. Cane toads in Australia. Snakehead fish in California have created difficulties for the domestic species in these areas and are causing great budgetary cost to eradicate the unwanted invasive species.
      In most cases, the innocent small action of the people who released these invasive species did not intend to create a national disaster or set out to destroy the ecological environment of local species that are now on the verge of extinction. However, the unintended consequences have hurt a lot of people and the natural habitats of many diverse creatures. 
      Everything we do has an effect on someone or something. When we choose to sin we do not just hurt ourselves. The unintended consequences can have far-reaching implications that reach out and touch many. We only have to look to the first recorded sin to see the truth of the matter. Gen. 3:17 And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
      We read the story of a young prophet who was sent by God to bring a judgment against the altars of Bethel. King Jeroboam invited the prophet back to his palace, but the prophet said he could not go with the king because God had given him specific instructions. 1Kings 13:9 For I was commanded by the word of the LORD: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.’ The word was clear and the young prophet was heading out in another direction according to the word he had received.
      There was an older prophet from Bethel who went after the young man and lied to him saying, "God had instructed the young prophet to come and eat at his house." 1 Kings 13:18 And he said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.’” But he lied to him. I have no idea why a prophet of God would lie to another, but he did. 
      Some would say, "It was only a small lie. What harm could come of it?" Lots of harm came of it. The unintended consequence of falling for the lie turned out to cost the young prophet dearly. Because he had disobeyed the direct word of the Lord and had believed the lie, he paid for it with his life. 1Kings 13:24 And as he went away a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the donkey stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body.
      When the ten spies returned from the land of Canaan with the evil report that said, "They were too small a people to take on the giants in the land." Num. 13:33b To ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and we must have seemed the same to them. The unintended consequence affected that whole generation. They all died in the desert and only Caleb and Joshua entered the promised land along with the descendants of the fallen. The sins of ten spies cause a whole generation to lose their inheritance. What seemed to be a small counterreaction to what God had said was possible, turned out to be disastrous.
      How we live our lives matters and has a great effect on those who are in our sphere of influence. No one falls alone! God knows our hearts, and we cannot claim ignorance of what we know to be true and right, then turn, and act to the contrary. Prov. 24:12 If you say, “But we didn’t know about this,” won’t he who weighs hearts consider it? Won’t he who protects your life know? Won’t he repay a person according to his work?
       Before you write-off your actions as insignificant, ponder the results of the said actions. What has God asked you to do that you have put off because you just don't deem it important? What cheat, betrayal of trust, or lie are you about to take part in that could negatively affect your life for a long time? Even on this side of the cross, the wages of sin is still death. We who are in Christ should keep our hearts and minds clean and available to the work of the Lord. Let us not be the reason that others fall from grace. Let us be the reason that others sought God and lived. Amen!

Friday, 6 December 2019

Ironies To Contemplate

Proverbs 28:21 It is not good to show partiality — yet even a courageous person may sin for a piece of bread.

      The Word of God has many mysteries and ironies to contemplate. The world also has its share of ironies to think about. One of the questions I have often asked God is about the irony found in the above proverb. Prov. 28:21b Yet even a courageous person may sin for a piece of bread. My part of the conversation with God normally goes like this. "Since a man may sin, transgress, or steal for a piece of bread, then why did you create him to need that piece of bread for earthly existence? This seems to be a catch twenty-two type of situation." Of course, many answers could be debated as to why, but there it is, an irony to contemplate.
      I heard someone say. "Here's an irony for you. If God is in charge of everything, including your life, then why ask Him to change the circumstance that you are in?" A good question, if we were fatalists. However, Jesus asks us to be part of the answer that the world needs. The Lord admonishes us to pray and ask God to send His help to change circumstances. Matt. 9:38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. 
      Our Heavenly Father also invites us to come and reason with Him regardless of the deprivation we find ourselves in. Isa. 1:18 Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like woolRelationship with God gives us a way or an invested interest in being part of God's eternal plan. We were created in His image to exercise our creative ability to solve problems and contemplate the complexities, mysteries, and ironies of life.
      In the last few weeks, I've been attending some big family reunions, birthday parties, and gatherings. Some of the ironies I've noticed and thought about are, "Why are alcoholics so thirsty? Why are gluttons so hungry? Why do toxic people try to bring everyone down to their level of patheticness?" I'm not pointing anyone out in particular, because I'm not their judge. These thoughts are only my observations of those who are acting out some destructive behaviours. Eccl. 1:14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun and have found everything to be futile, a pursuit of the wind. Besides, if you ask my family about me, they will point out a few things in my life that they wonder about. I've come to realize, I can't change the people around me, but I can change the people who are around me, and therefore, simplify some of the ironic oddities that surround me. 
      To me, one of the ironies of life is that God has given us all we need to become the blessed of the Lord, and yet, that blessed gift is thrown back in His face with malice. People want to be freed, but don't want freedom. These same people who reject God's eternal offer, go on to live a life of destruction, then complain that their life is so unfair. Prov.23:29 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? It's like a prisoner complaining his incarceration for murder is limiting his liberties
      It is true that with Christ a lot of problems can be conquered, overcome, and defeated. But we don't live in a world where everyone accepts the authority of God for their lives. We live in a fallen world where murder, corruption, and harsh dictatorships are considered reasonable options. Just a way of doing business so to speak. The world's business card reads - Mayhem R Us. Pslam 12:1 Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. 2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. 
       I have been contemplating a lot of things these past few weeks, and no matter how many theories or opinions people come up with for the woes of the world, it still comes down to this choice. Eccl. 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
      So, I come back to my questions for God on the proverb. Prov. 28:21b Yet even a courageous person may sin for a piece of bread. I believe the answer for me is - even though I need bread to live, I also need to obey God who is the bread of life and has given me His life. Bread, in itself, may give us what we need for our daily existence, but God's gift through Christ gives us our eternal life. That life gives us the power to choose God's will and choose Him as our Lord and provider. Therefore, enhancing the reason for living beyond the existence of this world. I can live with that. Blessings to us all.