Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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To Pray or Not to Pray?

Is there ever a good or a bad time to go to God in prayer?  Are there times when we turn to Him more often and other times when we hardly pray?

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 we are guided to “pray without ceasing.”  Here Paul is guiding us to be a person who always has prayer on our minds and on our lips.  According to Paul (and many others), we should pray about everything.

Yet if we believe in an all-powerful and an all-knowing God, what is the point of praying?  He already knows our thoughts, our situation, our needs, our… We don’t pray for God’s benefit.  It is for our benefit that we pray.  Prayer is one way to stay in tune with God and it is a means to hear God’s voice.  Prayer is also a way to remind us of and to make us more sensitive to the needs of others.

So, is there a good time or a bad time to pray?  The good time is always and the bad time is never.  He always wants to hear our voice.  God is faithful and His love is unfailing.  Through prayer we come to know God more, so pray often.  May our day be filled with words spoken to our Lord and Savior!

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May We See

In John 9 Jesus heals a man blind from birth.  It is really a pretty simple event.  No begging for Jesus to heal him, no pre-healing conversation, no post-healing event.  Jesus notices the man, puts mud on his eyes, and tells him to go wash in a pool.  The man does and now can see.

The Pharisees become stuck over the fact that Jesus healed on the Sabbath instead of seeing the working of a miracle.  They are blind to the truth before them.  The Pharisees are spiritually blind.  They bring in and question the man and then his parents and then the man again.  The man simply tells what happened but the parents are afraid of the leaders.  They play it close to the vest.  But the man boldly retells tha story and angers the Pharisees.  He doesn’t care because now he can see.  After this witness, some amongst them must have begun to see the miracle, but they kept their eyes squeezed shut.  They too were afraid to be cast out.

The man that was healed had been physically and spiritually blind.  The Jewish society believed that his pre-birth sin (or his parent’s sin) had caused him to be blind. Because of this, the man lived on the outside of Jewish society.  And then he encountered Jesus.  First Jesus heals his physical blindness and then later his spiritual blindness.  In between this man offers a simple testimony to the Pharisees, almost a childlike faith.

But the Pharisees are still stuck, blind to the miracle.  How many people do we know who are stuck at this rule or that requirement or that misconception about our churches or our religion?  How many need to simply see or experience Christ-like love and service to begin to see our faith?  How can we be that experience for one who is blind?  May our own eyes be open and our hearts be willing so that we can see and seize that opportunity before us!!

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God’s Flashlight

Prior to the story of healing the blind man that we find in John 9, Jesus had been in the temple.  There He claimed the connection to God and stated his purpose on earth was to bring glory to the Father.  This claim angered those in the temple.  But Jesus stuck to his guns and stated gain that he was here to bring glory to God and to do His work.  Just as they were picking up stones to stone Jesus, he slipped away from them.

In today’s story Jesus returns sight to a blind man.  But the man did not ask to be healed.  Jesus and the disciples were walking along the road and they saw the blind man.  Being raised Jewish, the disciples asked a question based on their upbringing.  They wanted to know if the man was blind because of his own sins or because of the sins of his parents.  This was the common view of why someone would be born blind.  But Jesus never answers their question.

Instead Jesus returns to what he was talking about earlier.  The healing of the blind man will occur not to bring Jesus glory but to bring glory to the work of the Father.  Healing will come to display the work of God in this man’s life.  While on earth Jesus was the light of the world.  He was here to shine light on God.  His purpose was always to glorify God.  We are called to continue to be that light.  We are called to be the word, hands, feet, eyes, … of Jesus  not to bring glory to ourselves but to shine it upon God.

In Hebrews 13: 5-6 we hear these words: “God has said, ‘Never will I leve you; never will I forsake you.’  So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.”  This day and each forward, may we remember these words and go forth to boldly shine the light of God on all we meet.

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Light of the World

“Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness.  Opened my eyes, let me see.  Beauty that made this heart adore you, hope of a life spent with you.”  These are the opening lines to the song, ‘Here I Am to Worship’.  We were once called from the darkness into the light.  As we come to know Christ, we come to live in His light.

Once we have accepted Christ we are ‘walking in th light.’  We come to realize that we cannot keep anything hidden from God.  We were once under the illusion that we could.  But once we believe in Christ, we realize that God always knew what we were doing in our sin.  We just come to know that He knows.  Once we are walking in the light, we make decisions from the WWJD perspective (what would Jesus do?)  As we walk in the light, we cast light along other’s paths as well.  This can expose darkness in their lives – and what a great opportunity this can be to minister to them!  At times this too can remind us of darkness we yet have in our lives and it allows us opportunity to grow in our walk with Christ.

Yet alas!!  We are human and at times we step out of the light and into darkness.  Satan is ever knocking at our door, ever bringing temptations before us.  Like Christ, he also never gives up.  At times we may stumble, but the great love and light of Christ always is there to call us back.  Praise be to God for His unending love of you and me!!

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Content in Christ

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want….  Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23, verses 1 and 6)

We trust and lean into God in good times and in bad.  The opening line to Psalm 23 is such great reassurance.  Paul also knew well the key to being content in any and all situations because he knew that God’s presence in his life was all that really mattered.  Paul always lived life with one eye on  the eternal prize.  In Philippians 4 we read these words: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  The strength we find in God is the key to our contentment in this life.

And the last line of the Psalm!!!  “Surely goodness and love will follow me… and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  These words resonate so deeply within our souls.  These words are our reassurance that even though we pass through the shadows in this lifetime, God’s love and goodness are always there.  They are a foretaste of dwelling in His house forever.  When we go through the day-to-day with this in mind, we can find the contentment and peace that comes from walking with Christ.  May our walk today be in lockstep with Jesus!!

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This Is Our Jesus

The shepherd of the famous 23rd Psalm is our Jesus.  What are your green pastures or quiet waters?  Are they just these things or is it a quiet bike ride or some time with a good book?  Is it early in the morning or late at night with your Bible, devotional, and journal?   It is wherever you find restoration of body, mind, and soul.

Do you feel the guiding hand?  Do you sense the rod and the staff protecting and keeping you?  Do you feel His lead in keeping you on the right path and comforting you in your times of sorrow and trial?  This is our Jesus.  He is there for us in every aspect of our lives.

Does He sit with you when you are in the presence of your enemies?  Does He go so far as to bless you in their presence?  He is willing, for this is out Jesus.

What comes of following this Jesus?  Surely goodness and love.  Hardships and trials too?  Surely.  But we do not walk through them alone.  For He is with us.  This is our Jesus.

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In Charge by One

When Samuel went to Bethlehem to anoint Israel’s next king, he was looking for what we often look for in a leader –  strong, powerful, mighty, charismatic…  Some of these are surface characteristics but others are ‘hidden’ or are things we can sense about someone.  But this is some of the typical list that we look for in our leaders.  They are also characteristics that many of us would like applied to ourselves as well!

But God told Samuel ‘No, no no!’  God told him that it is what is in the heart that matters.  In essence, God told him, ‘To rule my people Israel, faithfulness to me is what matters.’  A heart for God is what counts.  To rule or leas from the perspective of God is what is needed.

It is still what matters today.  It does not matter if you own your own business or if you are in charge or a large number of people.  To live with a heart turned to God matters just as much as if you are only leading yourself.  Most of us fall somewhere in between owning our own business and leading just ourselves.  It does not matter.  Leading a God-filled, spirit-led life is ALL that matters.  And we each are fully in charge of whether or not we live that way.  Seek God.  Love God.  Share God.

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In His Presence

In 1 Samuel 16 Samuel is sent off to find Israel’s next king.  Samuel is still sad for Saul’s failure as king – after all it was Samuel who anointed him king.  Samuel wished for some time to grieve Saul’s failure.  But God will have none of it.  He also was traditionally the bearer of bad news, so he was less than enthused about going to Jesse of Bethlehem.  But God directs him to go under the guise of making an offering to the Lord.

We also want to sit in our grief or sadness at times.  Not in times of a significant loss, but at times with some small losses we like to stay with it.  At times we like to sit on our own little ‘pity pot’.  It is odd, but at time we like the ‘woe is me’ moments in life.  Yet this is not where God calls us to be.

After a period, we are urged forward again by God or by someone God sends our way.  Like Samuel, we dust ourselves off, glance heavenward, and resume our journey.  We return to the path that God calls us to walk.  It is then that I am reminded, God is always with us.  We are always in His presence.  Thank you, for always being there O Lord!

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Drinking at the Well

When you think of ‘living water’ what do you imagine? Do you see a gently bubbling spring or a huge waterfall pouring over a cliff? It really does make quite the difference. So when Jesus said that he was the living water, what image did he have in mind?

And what does Jesus offer us? The living water is life-giving to us. The living water washes us clean. The living water offers us hope and is a glimpse into eternity. It is something that we can live without but something we shouldn’t live without. Life is so much better when one allows the living water of Jesus Christ to be a part of our life.

Today may the living water of Christ refresh and renew you. May it make you clean again. May you drink deeply of His water!!!

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God Among Us

When one focuses in on the specific situation the Israelites were in – in the desert, no water, feeling a bit abandoned – one can see why they wondered if God was among them.  In certain situations we too can wonder if God is with us.  At times we can all become so overwhelmed with the moment and lose sight of the big picture.  And it is in that moment of panic that we wonder where God is or why He would ‘allow’ us to go through that situation.

As we turn to the Bible we find answers to the questioning of God’s presence.  Long ago God established a covenant with His people.  The covenant still exists for us today.  The covenant was a two-sided arrangement – if the people would dedicate themselves to God, then He would dwell among them.  The covenant remains there for us today as well.  In the New Testament, Jesus put forth two answers when questioned about which law was the most important.  The first was a repetition of Deuteronomy 6:5 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.  The second came from Leviticus – love your neighbor as yourself.  The first really speaks of what it means to dedicate yourself to God.  The second speaks to what it means to live it out.

God always seeks to draw near to us.  We make many choices each day – some draw us into God’s presence and some push His presence away from us.  When we choose to draw near, He is there.  When we choose to read our Bible, to spend time in prayer, to worship Him, to reach out to the needy, … then we are living in His presence.  But when we choose to listen to the whispers of the world and choose to focus on things other than God, then we do not sense His presence.  Yet God is always near, always present with us.  If we are only looking within, we do not see Him.  We must live with eyes, ears, heart, mind, hands and feet seeking to be in tune with God and our world.  It is then that God is among us!