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10/31/14

Permalink 07:25:11 am, Step(s): 11 Prayer and Meditation, 187 words   English (US)

A Journey

"Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God." (Psalms 84:5-7 )

Life is a journey. Sometimes we have mountaintop experiences and other times, we are in the valley of despair. But I've found that through it all, as I choose to trust in God, that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28 ). It's great to have the mountaintop experiences, but it's in times of trouble that I lean on Him most heavily. It's in times of trouble that I see Him working most in my life to bring me to a better place. And it's in trusting and obeying Him in those hard times that helps to build my character to become more like Jesus.

"For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee." (Psalms 84:10-12 )

Sometimes God's blessings are disguised as trouble and trials, but He is always close by, providing a shield to protect us against more than we can handle (1 Cor 10:13 ). As a result, we come out of trouble a better person than before. Even though I often don't understand now, I believe that I would not choose to be led by God any differently than He leads me now, if I could see the end from the beginning, as He does.

"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out." (Step 11)

08/15/14

Permalink 08:56:20 am, Step(s): 11 Prayer and Meditation, 551 words   English (US)

A Gentle Whisper

"... as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'"(1 Kings 19:11-13 )

Many times I have wished that God would communicate to me in a strong voice, like a mighty wind, clearly stating His will for me, laying out a master plan that I could follow for years to come. But I don't hear Him speaking to me in that way. The closest to that is what I "hear" from His Holy Word. He provides me with a huge amount of instruction in the Bible, for which I'm thankful.

But what about that "gentle whisper" of God? Every day, there are times when a thought will pop into my mind, and I wonder, "where did that come from?". Sometimes, I recognize it as a temptation. But, often it seems to be the "gentle whisper" of God, saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30:21 ). I'm trying hard to recognize that voice, in the midst of so many others. Sometimes it comes as a result of my prayer, asking for wisdom (James 1:5 ). Even then, it could be a long time afterward that I remember, "oh yeah, a while after I asked for wisdom, I got an idea that helped me solve that problem. Thank you Lord!"

Other times, it comes without my asking. One day, when I was taking our burnable trash to our wood-fired boiler, some papers on the top caught my attention, and that "gentle whisper" prompted me to look more carefully at those papers and ask around to make sure they were to be burned. I'm sorry to say that I dismissed that thought, and put them in the fire anyway. Later, I discovered that one of those papers was homework that my son hadn't yet turned in. God cares about the little things as well as the big. I read somewhere that He "is ever sending messages" to those who will listen.

Sometimes I wish that God was more pushy with his directives, but more and more I realize that God has a great deal of respect for our freedom of choice -- even when we make the wrong choice. Maybe that's why He says, "Come now, and let us reason together..." (Isaiah 1:18 ).

"The Lord says,
'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.'
Many sorrows come to the wicked,
but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!"
(Psalm 32:8-11 )

"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out." (Step 11)

05/16/14

Permalink 08:40:31 am, Step(s): 11 Prayer and Meditation, 424 words   English (US)

Seeking God

"...he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he rewards them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6 )

For me, it is relatively easy to have faith in the word of God, as expressed in the Bible. I grew up with the Bible and believe that it's writings are inspired by God. But where it's harder to have faith is when the "rubber hits the road", so to speak. When life gets hard; when bad things happen; when my will is crossed; those are the times when faith becomes more of a challenge. Those are the times when my trust in God and His Holy Word is tested.

It is vital for me to diligently seek God. You see, if I have not been improving upon my "conscious contact with God" by regularly spending time in prayer, and Bible study, then my faith becomes weak in challenging times. But, If I have been spending quality time with God, then my faith is stronger. I'm much more likely to trust God when trouble comes. I'm much more likely to hear His promptings and to "die to self", choosing to follow His leading.

There is a lot of talk these days about relationship, and I need a saving relationship with God. But some of the talk in Christian circles tends to minimize the role of the Bible (particularly the Ten Commandments) and denies the existence of satan and his host of evil angels. Of course if there were no tempter, things would be different. But, since there is, it is difficult for me to always know which voice is speaking to me. It could be the voice of God, but it could also be the voice of evil telling me things that sound pleasing. Or, it could also be the voice of my own thoughts and feelings, based on my learning history. Because of this, it is VITAL for me to be grounded in the Word of God. The Bible is the only place I can be sure to find truth. Maybe that's why the apostle Paul said, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15 ).

Continuing in this kind of saving relationship with God involves choices that go against what I want to do or say, but God is faithful to give us what it takes to make good choices (1 Corinthians 10:13 ). And when we follow through, making those hard decisions to follow God's leading, it is our privilege to enter into the peace that only God can give. "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7 ). And, in times of trouble, what could be better than that?

"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out." (Step 11)

02/21/14

Permalink 08:06:27 am, Step(s): 11 Prayer and Meditation, 336 words   English (US)

Anxious for Nothing

"Be [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." (Philippians 4:6 )

It's tempting for me to be anxious when life gets hard, forgetting that no matter how hard it gets, God is still there for me. I must remind myself that "... God is faithful, who will not suffer you [or me] to be tempted above that [we] are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that [we] may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13 ).

It's easy for me to get anxious about all the things I think I need to do. But am I seeking God's will as to what HE would have me to do? Maybe I'm taking on more than what He has directed me to do.

Whenever I humbly seek God in prayer -- letting my concerns be known to Him, surrendering my anxiousness to Him, and seeking His will for me -- He gives me wisdom. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:5 ). And, He gives me peace. "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7 )

The Father's presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. He has no need to resist evil, for Christ is his defense. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord's permission, and "all things" that are permitted "work together for good to them that love God." (Romans 8:28 ). {Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing 71}

For these things, and so much more, especially the infinite sacrifice that Jesus made to save me, I am eternally grateful to God. So, when life gets tough, and when life gets hectic, I must look to the author of my eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9 ), and focus on the best things...

"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." (Philippians 4:8 )

"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out." (Step 11)

12/06/13

Permalink 08:52:56 am, Step(s): 11 Prayer and Meditation, 304 words   English (US)

Partaking of the Divine Nature

As I search for God's will for my life, my first consideration is the ten commandments (Exodus 20:1-20 ). Then I recall that, "... this is the will of God, even [my] sanctification..." (1 Thessalonians 4:3 ). More specifically, the apostle Paul tells me that God's will is that I should be transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2 ), and that I should do the will of God from my heart (Ephesians 6:6 ). He also said that, no matter what happens, I should give thanks, because that's God's will (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ).

I really want to do God's will because "he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (1 John 2:17 ) and because Jesus said, "For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother." (Mark 3:35 ). I want to be tight with Jesus. I want to do the will of God. I want to be transformed/sanctified. But, can I actually accomplish this? A short answer was given when, "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." (Mark 9:23 ).

So, I must ask myself: How great is my trust in God? Will I trust Him enough to choose to do His will, even when it seems impossible? Do I really believe in His great and precious promises?

"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2 Peter 1:3,4 )

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13 )

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13 )

As I continue to search for God's will for my life, and the power to carry that out, once again I come back to surrender -- I want to die to self and be alive to God. I think Paul said it best, when he said: "I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20 )

Is it possible to do God's will -- all the time? With all the evidence given me in Holy Scripture, I must answer "Yes". My ability to do God's will is directly proportional to how much I empty my life of "self", because that's just how much He can fill me with His sweet Holy Spirit. That's how much He can "will and to do of his good pleasure" in my life (Philippians 2:13 ).

"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out." (Step 11)

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