Pray at All Times and Never Give Up

In chapel this week, we talked about prayer again and we talked about  the importance of consistency in regard to our prayers.   I believe that consistency in our prayer life is something that most Christians do not emphasize enough.  Jesus talks about the importance of consistency and persistence in prayer in Luke 18.  He tells of an unrighteous judge who was constantly petitioned by a widow who needed legal protection.  Finally, the judge gave in and granted her request, not because he cared for her, but simply because of the widow’s persistent pleas for help.  The unrighteous judge wanted her to go away.  Jesus followed that parable by saying in Luke 18:6:

Luke 18:6  And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge *said; 7  now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? 8  “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

I do not know what you may be praying for this week but I know that you should exercise your faith and be persistent.  I know that you should not give up.  I know that you should boldly go to the throne of grace regularly and seek wisdom, strength and provision from the Lord God.  The Lord cares for you and He hears and answers the prayers of His children.  The responses and answers you receive are not given to make you go away, they are designed to draw you even closer to Him.  Go to Him in prayer, lift up your requests and supplications so that you can experience His peace and His presence today.

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Approach with Confidence

I have had several conversations with different people over the years about the concept of prayer. And I have dialogued with many individuals who have respectfully stated that they saw no need for it and thought that Christians were wasting their time engaging in it. Many have pointed to several individuals they know who have prayed for something but did not get the answer they desired. They therefore drew the conclusion that God does not answer prayers. I disagree and believe that such a conclusion is born out of a wrong understanding of the purpose and the concept of prayer. Prayer is not a means where we drop off a laundry list with God of things that He must do for us. No. Although the Bible does say in Philippians chapter 4 that “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let our requests be made known to God” it does not promise that we will have our requests and our “wish list” fulfilled. Prayer is a means whereby we come boldly before the throne of grace “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” And when we go to God’s throne we accept whatever mercy, whatever grace, and whatever help God bestows upon us. He may not pull us out of a difficult situation, but we can always trust the He will pull us through those situations.

It helps me to think of prayer like this. God is a mountain and prayer is a life line; it’s a big strong rope that we make into a lasso. And we swing that rope and we lasso the top of that mountain. Now we are connected and we put our hands together and pull on that rope, and we pray, and we pull. And we invite other people to pull on that rope with us! And when we pull on that rope, it doesn’t pull the mountain closer to us, it pulls us closer to the mountain! The more I pull, the longer I stay at it, the more people I invite to pull with me, the closer I get to the mountain. See, prayer helps me draw near to God. And when I am closer to God, I have a better chance of seeing and understanding how He is working in my life so that I can line myself up with His will.

At the same time, prayer pulls me closer to His comfort, closer to His mercy, closer to His grace during my time of need. And it is true sometimes He does answer my prayers, my requests and my supplications EXACTLY as I have asked. That does happen sometimes. Sometimes it does not. But what happens EVERY time is that God gives me His comfort! What happens EVERY time is that He gives me His grace! What happens EVERY time is that God embraces His child who draws near to Him in their moments of need. As Paul says in Philippians chapter 4, when I make my requests known to God by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, I am blessed with a peace that passes all understanding. God always answers prayer. He may not give me what I want, but He shall always supply me with what I need.  Therefore, let us confidently approach His throne of grace.

Posted in Christianity, Draw close to God, faith, Faith during hard times, God answers prayers, God loves you, Hebrews 4:16, Help from God | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Much Do You Need to Know?


This week someone earnestly asked me, “How much do you need to know to share the gospel?” In answer to their question, I told them about a man I know a long time ago named Ronnie. Ronnie lived in a group home facility for people with cognitive challenges. Ronnie loved to smile and Ronnie loved to tell his story. Ronnie would gently and sincerely tell people about how his life used to be before he knew Christ. His was not a life filled with drugs or violence but he would tell you it was a life filled with anger, bitterness and frustration on a daily basis. Ronnie said that one day he finally went to church with a friend who had been consistently inviting him; a friend who treated him with gentleness and respect. Ronnie said he began to learn about Jesus and after several weeks of fellowship in a bible study with his friend, he prayed to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Ronnie sang in a choir with some of his friends from the group home. Ronnie loved to put on his suit and go out and minister in the community as a part of the choir. As a member of the choir, God blessed Ronnie with many opportunities to share his story.

Ronnie was not what most people would consider a highly educated man, but he had a great deal of understanding. He understood what Jesus did for him. He understood that Christ had delivered him from his sin and from a bitter attitude and an angry spirit. Ronnie knew his personal story. Ronnie knew Christ as Lord and Ronnie took advantage of every opportunity to tell his story. When I hear that question, “How much do you need to know to share the gospel?” I think of my friend Ronnie. And then I understand, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Oh, I hope you know Christ like Ronnie did. I hope you know Christ as Lord and Savior. And if you do, I hope you tell your story.

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A Time to Grow


I was recently asked how my early years as a Christian set the tone for how I would live out my Christian faith. I came to know Christ as Savior when I was 12 at a youth event. My family was not involved much in church and as a result, I did not attend very regularly or read the bible as a new believer. For that reason, I did not grow much spiritually. My early years as a Christian did set a tone all right, but it was a tone of “how not to live out one’s faith.” More than ten years later, I was still a baby Christian. My ways, my habits, and many of my attitudes were not much different than they were before I came to know Christ.

Because I was not growing spiritually, by default, I had grown more worldly. Eventually, I came to a point where I realized I needed to be a good steward of God’s blessings and to be a good steward, I needed to grow in the faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ. I also realized I could grow and that I would grow if I would consistently engage in the spiritual disciplines of my faith – namely, prayer, studying God’s word, and making time to assemble with God’s people. When I think about spiritual growth versus worldly growth, I am reminded of an old poem that goes like this:

Two natures are at war within my breast,
One is cursed, the other is blessed.
One I love, and one I hate.
The one I feed will dominate.

The things we do every day determine how we will grow.  May we ever choose wisely.  Blessings to you and yours, wishing all of you…and me! much spiritual growth in 2023.

Posted in Being Blessed, Christianity, doing the right thing, Draw close to God, faith, spiritual growth | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What a Great Love God Has For Us


It has been a busy week but a blessed week as I had the opportunity to lead 4 different chapel services in which we discussed and spoke of God’s great Christmas gift to us – the gift of His Son and Our Savior, Jesus Christ. We had some great times of worship and discipleship as we talked about the importance of our faith and explored ways that we can walk in a way that honors the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. If we know Christ as Lord, then we know how much God loves us and it should impact the way we live and love others.

If You Only Knew

How would you live if you only knew,
The depth of the love God has for you?
Would you start each day off with a smile?
Would you push through each challenge and go the next mile?
Would you reflect His love in all that you do?
How would you live if you only knew?

How would you live if you only knew,
The depths of the love God has for you?
Would you treat everyone you meet with God’s love and grace?
Would you do your part to bring a smile to each face?
Would you share the love that’s been shared with you?
How would you live if you only knew?

How would you live if you only knew,
The depths of the love God has for you?
Would you face each day grateful for the gift of God’s Son?
Would you go into each battle knowing the victory is won?
Would you do things differently than the way that you do?
How would you live if you only knew?

I hope that you have a great Christmas. I hope that you get to spend some time with people who care for you and who care about you. And most of all, I hope that you know how much God loves you.

Posted in Being Blessed, Being Thankful, Christmas, faith, God loves you | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kind and Encouraging Words


I recently had an opportunity to spend some time with our grandson Theo who just turned three. We sat on the floor and played with trucks, drums, and a few other toys. I had a great time. My favorite part of the time we shared together was listening to Theo chat away while we were playing. Whatever activity we were engaged in, whatever game we were playing, Theo kept telling me things like, “Good job Papaw” and “I knew you could do it” and “See, you’re good at this.” It was a wonderful afternoon. I love that boy.

As I look back on our visit, I am reminded of Proverbs 16:24 which says, “Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Kind words, encouraging words, and words of support are indeed sweet to the soul. They are healthy for all of us, no matter what stage of life we may be in. I am so proud of my grandson for so effortlessly and genuinely sharing such kind and encouraging words with me and with others. It lets me know that he is hearing such words from his parents, his grandparents, and all the other special people in his life. And that is indeed sweet to the soul, both his…and mine.

Posted in Being Thankful, Christianity, Encouragement, encouraging others, faith, God has blessed me, grandchildren | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Message of Love


This week, we had a special event for the people we serve at the hospital where I work as a chaplain. We listened to Christmas music, ate Christmas cookies, and provided everyone with an opportunity to take a “selfie” in front of a Christmas tree and send it to their families along with a personalized message in a Christmas card. Many of our patients have been separated from their families and not seen them for quite some time so the event was well received by all. It was a time of smiles and laughter. Many shared with me how grateful they were to be able to reach out to their families and send a picture of themselves and share an important message with the people they love.

As I reflect on this event, it reminds me of the very reason Christians celebrate Christmas. All of us like sheep have gone astray and we have all been separated from God. But God, in His love, has reached out to us, sending us the most important message we could ever receive. He has sent us a message of redemption and restoration through His Son Jesus Christ. At Christmas we acknowledge and celebrate that God has declared and demonstrated His love for us by sending Christ to be our Savior. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.”

Posted in 2 Corinthians 9:15, Christianity, Christmas, forgiveness, God's Love, Lord bring us peace | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mama’s Rocking Chair


I have a good friend who lost their grandmother yesterday. I woke up early praying for her and others who I know are grieving the loss of loved ones today. On such occasions, I generally try to express some of my thoughts in writing. For my friend, and others who are hurting today, I pray that you will experience God’s comfort and His peace.

 

Mama’s Rocking Chair

Every day I have reminders
That she had to say goodbye,
Every keepsake, every picture
Makes me want to cry.
But the best reminder I have,
Sits in the corner over there
And every day I take some time to sit,
In mama’s rocking chair.

And when I’m feeling lonely,
That chair’s my favorite place,
It’s where mama would hold me,
And wipe the tears from my face.
She couldn’t answer every question
But she knew just what to say
She taught me life’s best lessons
Before she went away.

Now she’s in the presence of our Savior,
‘Cause she believed the words He said,
She’s giving thanks with Jesus,
They’ve already broken bread.
And I know someday we’ll hold each other
When we meet again up there,
But until that day comes, I’ll rest
In mama’s rocking chair.

Every day I have reminders
That she had to say goodbye,
Every keepsake, every picture
Makes me want to cry.
But the best reminder I have
Sits in the corner over there
And every day I take some time to sit,
In mama’s rocking chair.

Posted in Being Thankful, Christianity, Dealing with grief, Draw close to God, final memories, God's comfort, Grief | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This is the Day


On the news tonight, I heard one newscaster touting a new segment on their program called “Working for the weekend.” The segment provides information about local activities available in our area during the weekend. One of the other anchors said something about “Yeah, everybody is working for the weekend.”

The exchange reminded me of a conversation I had with someone years ago. It was a very frantic and busy Tuesday morning at the office. I was tired and frustrated and I commented that I couldn’t wait for the work week to end, “I wish it was Friday already.” A friend suggested I take a different perspective. They told me when they are frustrated and feel that way, they meditate on Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

My friend offered me some good advice. Instead of wishing our lives away and just slogging through a tough work week, we should ask for the Lord to help us have the right perspective. Yes, some days are harder than others but every day is a gift. Every day the Lord’s mercies are brand new. Every day our Lord promises to be with us, even on the most frantic and toughest of days. And for that, we can always rejoice.

Posted in Being Thankful, Choose to be happy, Christianity, Encouragement, faith, Faith during hard times | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Lord is Good


In our chapel class this week we have been looking at some passages from Psalm 86 and talking about the goodness and mercy of the Lord. As our group has spoken about which verses in this psalm resonate with them, our attention was frequently focused on the promises in verses 5 and 7. David writes:

Psalm 86:5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in loving-kindness to all who call upon You… 7 In the day of my trouble I shall call upon You, for You will answer me.

I love the truth of these scriptures. The Lord is indeed good. The Lord is always ready to forgive. The Lord will provide an abundance of loving-kindness to all who call upon Him. Do you feel downcast and discouraged? Are you experiencing troubles and trials today? Call upon the Lord, for He is good. Trust in Him for He offers forgiveness and abundant loving-kindness to all who call upon Him. He will answer you and strengthen you.

Posted in Christianity, Draw close to God, Faith during hard times, God will help you, God's comfort, Psalm 86:5, Psalm 86:7 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment