Pray to Honor God

Scripture: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  Matthew 6:5,6 NIV

Observation: Jesus instructs on the proper way to pray.

Application: This can present a bit of a quandary for some Christians, especially new or immature Christians. How do we speak with and honor God in all circumstances if we are to do it secretly?  Am I to pray over my food in front of coworkers or in restaurants?  Am I supposed to close these journal entries with prayer or would that be considered showiness by God?  What am I to do, pray publically or not?  I believe the answer is twofold. First, in these passages I believe that Jesus isn’t speaking of prayer in the context of praying over food. I believe that he isn’t speaking of prayers of thanksgiving and blessings.  I believe he is speaking of quiet time, time alone with God, time in our prayer closet, time of close, intimate conversation.  Thanksgiving and blessings, to be sure, are part of the conversations we have when we are alone with God but when we want to thank him for the provisions he has given and to ask him to bless them, that is different prayer.  Jesus warns us to be careful to have our private conversations with God in private and not make a show of them. Second, our prayers are a matter of heart. If we want to thank God for all that he had provided because we feel that honoring him before we partake of those provisions is important, then we must. If we influence those around us by our reverence for God by doing so then that’s a bonus for the Lord.  If we bow to pray to make coworkers or fellow diners look at us in awe, then we have been served and we have received the entirety of blessing that we are going to get.  We prayed for ourselves and our standing among men and not the Lord.  Public prayer is a matter of where our heart and intentions lie.  When public prayer is proper, we should pray and we should do it to honor God and him only.

Prayer: Father, I pray that when I pray I do it with the purest of motives. I wish to honor you when I pray in both private and public. I ask that you lead and guide me to do so for your sake. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen

Doug

The Righteous Will See God

Scripture: On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot.  For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face.  Psalm 11:6, 7 NIV

Observation: The wicked are punished, the righteous abide in the Lord.

Application: I must rest assured that, although I suffer from Satan’s attacks on all sides, one day I will see his face.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for being my strength in times of trouble. One day I will be in your presence because of the righteous life that you have made possible for me to live. Thank you. Amen

Don’t be a Disappointment

Scripture: But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”  1 Samuel 15:22 NIV
Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the Lord was grieved that he had made Saul king over Israel. 1 Samuel 15:35 NIV

Observation: Samuel tells King Saul that his excuse for why he and his soldiers disobeyed the Lord by not completely and totally obliterating the Amalekites and their possessions didn’t hold water. At the end of that chapter we see probably one of the most horrible statements in the bible. Because of Saul’s selfish disobedience Samuel says, “…And the Lord was grieved that he had made Saul king over Israel.” 1 Samuel 15:35b NIV

Application: Can you imagine anything more terrible than finding out that God was so disappointed in you that he was sorry that ge had blessed you.  To me that statement is the antithesis of Matthew 3:17 NIV, “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'”  I want God to be “well pleased” with me, not sorry that he sacrificed his son for my sake!

Prayer: Father, I pray that I never disappoint you like King Saul did. When I meet you face-to-face I want you to tell me well done. I love you. Amen

Doug

In the Image of God

Scripture: The Philistines asked, “What guilt offering should we send to him?” They replied, “Five gold tumors and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers.       1 Samuel 6:4 NIV

Observation: The Philistines send the Ark of the Covenant back to Israel with a sacrifice.

Application: Because the Philistines had taken possession of the Ark after routing the Israelites they were struck with disease and pestilence.  Their priests told them the specific way to return the Ark. As the Philistines were sending the cart carrying the Ark on its way they were also to send a sacrifice of gold to appease the “god of Israel.”  “Five gold tumors and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers.” 1 Samuel 6:4b NIV  Five gold tumors and rats “…because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers.” It appears that the Philistine priests advised the people to send gold representations of their diseases and of themselves to appease God.  I don’t know about you but if I worshipped a god that considered me like a rat I believe I’d find a new god.  Praise God that I do.  I worship the creator of all. I worship God who made man in his image, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  Genesis 1:27 NIV

Prayer: Father, thank you for considering me worthy of being made in your image.  It seems to me that people who don’t know you and worship all manner of creation should be able to see the futility of that worship, especially, when viewed in the light of this passage of scripture.  Amen

Doug

I am Ruth

Please read the whole book of Ruth when you have an opportunity.

Scripture: But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.  Your people will be my people and your God my God.   Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”  Ruth 1:16-17 NIV

Scripture: Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”  Ruth 2:11-12 NIV

Observation: To understand my connection to Ruth I need to give you a little history.  Elimelech and his wife Naomi along with their two sons Mahlon and Kilion left Judah during a time when there was a famine and settled in Moab.  During that time Mahlon and Kilion married Moab women.  Mahlon to Orpah and Kilion to Ruth.  Moabites were not believers in the God of Abraham.  They were pagan worshippers.  In the years that followed Elimelech, Mahlon and Kilion all died.  This left the three women alone.  Naomi desired to return to her home in Judah, so she told her sons’ widows to return to their mother and father to be with their own people. Ruth begged Naomi to allow her to stay with her as she now believed in the same God that Naomi did.  She knew going back to her people would lead her back into the Moabite lifestyle of sin, (my interpretation).  She also felt a responsibility to care for Naomi.  So together they travelled home to Bethlehem in Judah.

Observation: The Lord gave me the same opportunity as Ruth.  Let me explain.  I was raised in a home of non-believers.  My parents worshipped each other and their god was the god of prosperity.  I spent most of my life trying to understand the ways of Christ.  I always fell terribly short since there was no Christian faith practiced in my home, let alone modeling Christ like values for me and my brother.  Our home was full of self-centeredness, distorted family values and  continual worship the idols of this world.  Just to bring reality home for you, during a conversation with my mother she was telling me about a “really good” person see had met.  I asked her what made this person good.   She replied,  “he has a lot of money, he’s a doctor, and he’s good-looking.”  Her impression of what “good” was had nothing to do with the character of this person.  He literally could have been an axe-murderer.  As you might imagine this way of thinking was a huge influence on me as I was growing up.   Many times I prayed for deliverance from myself.  I knew God was real, I just didn’t understand how personal he could be and how he wanted to provide guidance and safety for me. I read in the Bible how he loved me and that I was his child. After many years of prayer and declaring the Lord as my King he answered my prayers.  Just like Ruth the Lord gave me an opportunity to leave my past and seek out a place where I could grow as his child.  For Ruth it was Judah; Laurie it is Kansas.  Ruth had the responsibility of caring for her Mother-in-law, Naomi.  I was blessed with the responsibility of helping a wonderful Christian man raise his two amazing children Andrew and Ashley through their teenage years.  People who don’t understand may say “she ran away from home.”  However, believers understand that sometimes it takes a paradigm shift for someone to break the chains of sin and live a life of freedom according to God.   Just like Ruth,”May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge,” Ruth 2:12 NIV, married a good man named Boaz, I have prospered in so many ways with Doug. He is a blessing from the Lord to me.  As for those I left in California the Lord has told me he will redeem them in his timing.  I pray for the Lord to be speedy in that.

To those of you that are struggling as Christians, look at your life.  Pray for the Lord to instruct you in what areas of your  life you are struggling with sin and ask for deliverance.  Remember to stay the course in obedience to Him.  Share your deepest concerns, he can’t help you unless you confess to him.  Wait on the Lord to give you counsel.  Christ wants you at your best with the ability to worship and serve him without distraction.  He wants you to be strong with the ability to weather any storm that comes.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your deliverance.  Without your patience and love I would be lost to Satan.  Thank you for seeing my love for you during the toughest times in my life.  Lord, thank you for my loving husband who blesses me with his love for you, his protective nature over me and his wonderful friendship.  Lord help us to share your love and truth with those we have in our family and those you bring into our lives. Lord, give us the strength to face Satan’s attempts to draw us away for you.  Amen

Laurie