Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:8
Today is simple. Summed up in a simple, yet humbling and submissive prayer. I cannot take credit for originally authoring this prayer as it was written by Anabel Gillham. Her words, however, echo my sentiment and heart toward my Heavenly Father. I share them because maybe, just maybe, they will resonate with your own.
You are aware of everything that is going on in my world at the present time . . . what has happened in the past . . . and what is to come in my future. That is beyond my comprehension. You know all of my needs before I even tell You about them. That, too, is beyond my comprehension. But I accept it as Truth. I know it. And in spite of that, knowing, I enumerate all of my needs to You time after time. Of course, the presupposition would be that I don’t believe You heard me and You’re doing nothing about these crises of mine. Well, that’s wrong. It’s for my own benefit that I present them to You over and over again. I guess I think this will communicate to You how important they are to me. (I am so limited in my understanding of You.) Thank You that You have heard me as I talked to You and that You have taken these petitions and You are working Your mighty plan in each of them. In Your timing I will see and understand. My wisdom is infinitesimally small. Your wisdom is infinite.I refuse to tell You WHAT to do . . . but please confirm to me that You are DOING.
Filed under Belief, Faith, Heart, Humility, In Christ, Life, Love, Prayer, Strength, Surrender, Thinking of Me, Trust, Truth
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. Acts 10:1-2
Admittedly, remembering to spend time with someone whom you never, or rarely, see is at best … difficult. There is an old saying that may be familiar that says, “Out of sight, out of mind.” The truth of this phrase works great when you’re trying to keep something from your children or working diligently on a diet. To introduce whatever that is, regularly brings it to mind – and then your mind latches onto it like a tractor beam and your thoughts revolve around it.
But this phrase carries with it a danger when it comes to spending time with my Lord. If I don’t look for Him, have faith in His presence, call on Him casually as well as during defined moments, then recognizing Him becomes far more difficult and I become less at ease with my time with Him. In this instance, out of sight and out of mind equates to Jesus my acquaintance instead of Jesus my Lord, my Friend, my Confidant.
Nothing spells love better than time. For Christ in me, His time is everlasting and abundant. His measure of love through time is endless. And the more I spend time with Him, the more at ease I become in my awareness of Him in my daily events. There have been some unusual places (or at least seem unusual to me) where spending time has fueled my fellowship with Him. Speaking with Him at the grocery store, sipping coffee at Starbucks, mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, learning at conferences, visiting with others, at the playground, fishing on the lake, wading at the beach. Precious moments where there are conversations – simple conversations.
Let’s here of some places in which you’ve had a conversation with your Lord Jesus because you’ve been at ease in His presence.
Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23
Yesterday I stepped out on a limb and started a new exercise program. If you know anything about me, you’ll know first hand this is not typically a part of my daily repertoire. However, despite it all I decided to take a stab at it.
Little did I know my heart would feel like a steal drum keeping up with the rhythm of the climatic stanzas of the 1812 Overture. Relentless! But while this is new and energetic, it proves well for the overall health of my entire being. It’s good for my heart!
But what happens when my spiritual heart begins to feel the effects of mistreatment? It, too, begins to effect my entire being – from spirit to earthly shell.
I’m sitting in Starbucks this morning and struggling with maintaining a single thought. You know those days when strangeness continues to walk into your world? I’m tempted in frustration for the baby crying in the corner, the guys sitting right over my shoulder who talk like they’re sitting across the room from each other. Oh, and lets not forget the man and his newspaper in the chair next to me whose phone won’t stop ringing as he refuses to answer. Makes for a moment to turn your heart – toward a critical spirit or toward the love of God – you know, it’s not really about me anyway.
Lord Jesus, for the moments when life looks strange, remind me of how normal you are. For the things that nag me, remind me of the abundant love you give. For the things that grieve me, with your mighty hand wipe my tears. For the things that I doubt because I don’t know, increase my faith. For the things that offend me, keep my heart from being critical. For when my heart gets stepped on by others, give me the comfort of your healing touch.
And my Lord says to me . . . . Guard your heart Mark! From it flows everything and if left unguarded will harden!
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:3-4
Change is excruciatingly painful. It is extremely undesirable, yet somehow necessary. Life rarely, if never, flows down the same channel or at the same pace or taking a familiar shape. It is liquid and with it, seeks to demand conformity. What makes the difference with change is not its inevitability, but more so the strength and nature of ones response to such changes.
But what happens when change seems to completely sap one of every bit of energy and motivation, sending you spiraling through an ultimate need for renewed strength and fortitude? It can be immobilizing!
Precisely! This is a job for our Redeemer! The God of whom the Psalmist speaks who never sleeps nor slumbers. God never takes a break . . . He never taps out! (I found this to be a good place to take a deep breath . . . Inhale big . . . Exhale big — it helped me!)
God’s strength endures forever – a mighty and strong hand He extends to the weary! His truth never fails — He is the solid rock on which to stand forever – never shifting! Isaiah 40:8 says,
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. “
Thank you Lord Jesus, that when the tides of my life, the swift currents of my day change the shores with which I’ve become far too familiar that I can fix my eyes and my heart on your never changing Lighthouse!
But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. Psalm 59:16-17
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7
My understanding of God’s approachability directly correlates with the measure of my belief that my circumstances are both significant and weightless to Him. When I am able to see God as caring for me despite my shortcomings, I am more likely to get on my knees in prayer.
This is the point in which I can fully experience the deepness of God’s care for me. It’s this deep relationship with my Savior that even James speaks of in James 4:3 when he says, “When you ask you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives.” I don’t have because I do not ask. I do not ask because I do not believe He cares to hear. I do not believe He cares to hear because I feel my prayers are trivial. And so, I do not ask.
It’s a dangerous cycle of thought that leads to self-destruction. Beginning my prayers with phrases such as, “I know this is silly, but . . .” or “I don’t think you really want to hear this, but . . . ” or “You already know this, but . . . ” sets the stage for this line of reasoning.
But James is telling us to pour it on! Empty our hearts of our unmet needs to the Father in raw honesty. He is telling us of the approachability of our Father to those things that matter to me. Big or small, those things that matter to me matter to Him, because He cares for ME — I matter to Him!
Lord Jesus, are you ready for this? This opens the door to a flood.
Therefore confess our sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16
I meet today at the front gates of the Gospel. And as I enter, I pray . . .
This is a recent blog post from a pastor in Nashville, TN — Scotty Smith. It can also be found at this link:
A Prayer for Examining Our Lives through the Lens of the Gospel
I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. (Phil. 3:12-15) For, to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Phil. 1:21)
Dear Lord Jesus, praying through this passage moves me to praise you for freeing me from the “paralysis of analysis”—an unhealthy, navel-gazing preoccupation with me. Now, as I examine my life through the lens of the gospel, it’s your glory, not mine, that I’m most concerned about. I matter, but I’m simply not the point. It’s so refreshing to really believe that.
I don’t know how old Paul was when he was when he wrote these words—maybe in his sixties or seventies—but it’s obvious that with an increase in age came an increase in gospel astonishment. He never grew bored exploring the unsearchable riches of Jesus, and he never seemed to tire of wrestling with the kingdom implications of the gospel.
Jesus, make me more and more that kind of man. Give me this kind of maturity in the gospel. I’m thankful that it’s your grasp of me and not my grasp of you that defines this way of life. Sometimes I lift my hands in awe and gratitude for the way you love me. Sometimes I shake my fists at heaven like a pouting, demanding child. Sometimes I wring my hands in anxious unbelief, like a hapless orphan. But I live and I will die secure in your palms and written upon your heart.
I praise you that as with Paul, you’ve given me a prize to win, not a wage to earn. I never earned my way into a relationship with you, and I don’t maintain a relationship with you by my efforts either. I am secure and beloved, all because of your doing.
What do I want for the rest of my days? I cannot say it any better than Paul, Lord: I want to know you, Lord Jesus, more intimately than ever. This is the one thing I want more than anything else. And I want to experience more of the power of your resurrection, for I have no power in myself to love others as you love me. And I want to enter more fully into the fellowship of sharing in your sufferings—living out the birth pangs of new-creation life in this broken world which groans for its release from the bondage to decay—a release that is sure to come (Rom. 8:18-25). Our labors in you are not in vain, Jesus (Phil. 3:10-11).
This is what I really want. Help me to have way done with lesser things, and be much more taken up with your beauty and kingdom will. So very Amen I pray, in your most glorious and grace-full name.
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3-4
I recall a moment a number of years ago when I hopped on my riding lawnmower to mow the old retention pond behind our house. Although it was dry from the summer drought, it was knee high with grass. Going in long circles on the outside of the bowl, the first two runs were admittedly a little spooky. Bugs flying in all directions, grass slapping my arms and legs on both sides — it’s creepy! This time it proved to be even worse. On my second go around I noticed something moving amid the grass in the center of the pond area. As I passed by, a 4-5 foot black snake raised it’s head above the waist high grass to grab a better glimpse of what was disturbing his field–ME! Chilling! I thought sure by the time I got back around it would have crossed my mowed path and vanish into the woods on the other side of the levy. As I approached, that was further from the truth. There he sat in the middle of the path — right in my way! It was like he was saying, “I don’t think so mister!” My arsenal was pretty lethal with a 48 inch spread of spinning blades, but it would require a direct hit and from all I had observed, his reach was serious. Honestly, I knew the mower was fast, but quite frankly it would never be fast enough when it comes to snakes. So we sat there, like it was some sort of dual at high noon some fifty feet apart. I inched forward thinking he’d get the idea and move on. But his idea was far more effective! He began to slide his way directly toward me. I immediately stopped the mower, I think I said something I shouldn’t, slammed it in reverse and floored it. Riding backwards, but looking forwards, this snake was persistent! I never knew the mower would go that fast in reverse!
I feel like this some days. I turn the corner and there sits the evil one bombarding me with a plague of thoughts of “what ifs” that are relentless . . . persistent. And in those moments, I must refuse the refuse he serves and stay my mind on the Lord. Reminding him of his garbage reminds me of my inheritance! Don’t let the trash pile up!
Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
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