Tag Archives: prayer

Sacri-nice

Proverbs 15:8

“The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
    but the prayer of the upright pleases him.”

What God Wants…

God hates the sacrifice of the wicked, but he isn’t to keen on the sacrifice of the righteous either, especially when it becomes the be all and end all. Countless times in the Bible God makes the point that He isn’t interested in sacrifices, the idea of coming and making a payment for your transgressions. No, what He is interested in is your behavior, how you will respond to His grace and forgiveness in your own life, and how that will inspire you to treat others.

Inspired by?

In Matthew 18 we see the story of a servant who owes his master a huge amount of money. He’s panicking, how will he pay this back? What will happen to his family? He goes before the master and begs for more time, and incredibly the master let’s him off. Scot free. Let’s not miss the huge significance of this – this is truly incredible and as counter cultural now as it was then.

I sometimes watch Undercover Boss, now I am not naive I know it’s probably scripted, but I can’t help but be moved when some big CEO enters the life of a low level employee, sees their struggles and their debt, and does something about it. What we never see is how this affects the person in question. They seem very grateful in the moment, but we never see the lasting change.

Not so with this servant. The Bible tells us that straight away he went looking for another servant who owed him a considerably smaller amount. We’d be entitled to think that he had in mind to set this servant free from his debt, to share the grace he had experienced. But in fact all he wants is the money owed to him. How sad that this servant was even more enslaved to money than he originally thought.

Washing feet

At the opposite end of the spectrum we find Jesus. Jesus the entirety of God squeezed into man form, denying His deity to inspire humanity, relying fully on the Father to further the future of the broken. We all know Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, we all know this should blow our tiny minds, but I’ll be honest it was just one of those things I accepted, until I reread the account and came to these verses in John 13:3-5 ‘Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.’ 

Why did Jesus do this? BECAUSE He knew who he was. Because He wanted to show the world a powerful image of what happens when we take the lowest place.

Prayer

All very good and well you may say but how’s this connected to the proverb? Prayer changes everything. If you want to be a person who shares grace rather than shrugs grace then you need to start on your knees.


Dream Big!

Proverbs 13:12

“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” (KJV).
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.” (NLT).

When Hope is Deferred

Have you ever wanted something really bad or prayed about something for a very long time, but it never happened? Everyone has stories that they could share about disappointment and grief over things that they hoped for that never happened. When hope is deferred – when something you want doesn’t happen, or it doesn’t happen as quickly as you want it to – your heart gets sick. Hope deferred can cause you to stop hoping, stop dreaming, and even stop praying.

About ten years ago, my step-father lost his battle with cancer and he died. When that happened, my mom stopped praying. For many years, she refused to pray for circumstances to change, because she feared that they would only get worse. I am thankful that things have changed, and that she’s praying again today. Too many Christians allow themselves to get heart sick and then they lose courage, give up, and eventually they die.

“But”

The key to understanding God’s purpose in this Proverb is found in the small but important little word “But.” When I was an adjunct professor at Pacific Life Bible College in Surrey, BC, I always taught my Bible Research students to look for those key connective words. There is an example of this in Ephesians chapter two where the Apostle Paul talks about how we “were by nature children of wrath… But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us (has) made us alive together with Christ.” (v. 3-5).

So, although it is true that hope deferred can make our hearts sick – But God – His desire is that we would dream, and dream big. For when those dreams are finally realized, there is life and joy. Thank God for the big “buts” in the Bible!

When Dreams Come True

Also in Ephesians, Paul tells us that God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” (Ephesians 3:20). Our God is a good God, and He loves His children very much. He longs to bless us, to care for us, and meet all of our needs. But so often, we never ask. I wish we as Christians would believe the Bible more than we do!

Jesus Christ Himself taught, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). Do you believe the promise? If you do, then pray! If you are in trouble, call upon the name of the Lord, for He is mighty to save! And when the Lord answers your prayers, make sure you praise Him. “to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph. 3:21).


Be Blessed!

Proverbs 11:10-11

“When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.
By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.”

It’s Not Political

It is so hard to comment on these verses without sounding political. And believe me, as a pastor, the last thing you want to do is sound political – that’s when they start sharpening the blade on the guillotine.

But it should be obvious to anyone who reads these words that there is a connection between morality and a healthy community. It should also be obvious that left to the unrighteous, a city will fall into ruin, if not be overthrown.

Wicked Mouths

Yet, here in America, for example, the Freedom from Religion Foundation  is doing everything it can to strip Christianity from public life. Did you get that? It’s “from” religion, as opposed to “freedom of religion.”

One of the primary objects of attack by the FRF is prayer in public places. Their efforts have resulted in football teams being prohibited from praying before games. They have managed to keep graduating valedictorians from thanking God for their success.  They are even trying to prohibit city, county, and state officials from asking God’s blessing on government meetings. What fools!

Don’t they realize it is by the “blessing of the upright” that the city (or county, or state, or nation) is “exalted?” Yet, the righteous are being forced into silence, while the “mouths of the wicked” broadcast night and day.

“Don’t bless me!”

It wasn’t long ago that few people sued to force employees of different retail stores to quit saying, “Have a blessed day.” They said it made them feel “uncomfortable” to have religion “forced” on them. They said that “a business is no place for religion.” Talk about being hyper-sensitive! These “wicked” people could not stand the thought of being “blessed” by God? Why wouldn’t anyone want to be blessed?!

Sadly, because of government administrations that encourage immorality, the “wicked” have developed a stronger voice with which they have been shouting down the righteous. However, if the peoples of the world would only listen to Solomon, they would spend far less money fighting gangs, crime, drug abuse, violence, abuse, and internal corruption, and more time rejoicing.

If the “cities” and their leaders would only let a few more “upright” bless them, they might not be overthrown.

Have a blessed day!


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 2nd Week of Advent – Day 3

Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. -Matthew 3:5-6

angelic architecture art baptism

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

With repentance comes confession. Even in the time of Advent, when we look forward to the coming Messiah, we must remember the importance of confession:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. -Romans 10:9

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. -James 5:16, KJV

As we prepare for the Messiah, it has to include the preparation of our hearts, as we confess our sins to God and to others and are baptized.

God in Heaven, we have sinned against You. As we confess, we thank You that You are faithful to forgive.


How to Pray

Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. –Proverbs 30:7‭-‬9, KJV

Do you ever think Jesus felt frustrated with His disciples? They made a few silly statements and asked quite a few silly questions, sometimes immediately after He gave a decent explanation of things.

That has little to do with today’s passage, but for people steeped in religious teachings and Bible readings (well, the tanakh, or our Old Testament) they missed quite a bit.

For example, do these verses look familiar?

And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say,

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
Luke 11:1‭-‬4

Admittedly, it could be hard to miss this little prayer in Proverbs for how important it really is, especially knowing Jesus’ disciples were mostly anything but religious leaders who studied the Scriptures frequently.

This passage, though, does more fully explain what Jesus was telling us to pray:

  • Teach me to be content,
  • Help me control my mouth and thoughts,
  • Keep me from blaspheming you by my actions,
  • Remind me that You are in control, and people watch me when I say I am Yours.

In other words, “God, help me love You and love others.”

It keeps coming back to these two things. Almost like they are great commandments. 😉

Pray for contentment in all things but one: Pray for an abundance of love.


God Can Change the Flow

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. – Proverbs 21:1 KJV

So often we – yes, you and I – feel it’s useless to pray for our leaders, especially those like presidents, kings, and even dictators. We pray but never see any results, like our prayers were never heard.

I’ll be the first to admit, it can get discouraging, especially when we are exhorted to intercede for those in authority:

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. – 1 Timothy 2:1-2

But what we have a hard time comprehending is how God can bring about change in what seems unchangeable.

The king’s heart…the president’s heart…the prime minister’s heart…is as hard to change as the course of a river. You and I cannot do it, but God can.

Believe it or not, rivers changing their course is not as uncommon as you might think. But in an article I was reading on the subject , one sentence stood out, and I think it illustrates perfectly how God works.

“Rivers changing direction is relatively common, according to the scientists, but is usually caused by tectonic forces, landslides or erosion.” – USA Today

The heart of the king can be changed as easy as God can send an earth-shaking event into his life. The heart of the president can be changed as quickly as the foundation on which his beliefs are built suddenly slide out from under him. The heart of the corrupt dictator can suddenly change when the full effect of erosion leaves his policies a wasteland, allowing a simple rainshower the power to wash him away.

The God who made the rivers and changes their courses is the one who holds the heart of the king. His hand is mightier than the heart.


Don’t kill the mockingbird (just shut him up)

tree-46766_1280I’m sitting on the back porch as the birds herald in the morning when I hear the cat-bird.  Yea, he’s back!  I love that odd avian sound truly mimicking a cat. 

Oh, wait.  Now I’m hearing a jumble of sounds (including the cat-bird’s) all mixed together, all different.  There seems to be a cacophony of twitters all coming from the same bird in rapid fire succession.  It’s still pretty dark, so I can’t see the perpetrator, but it’s got to be a mockingbird—that strange creation that can’t seem to find a voice of its own.  Continue reading