Friday, December 12, 2008

Letting Go

I'm sure you've heard the statement, "Let go, and let G-d."

Boy, but isn't letting go hard?! Especially if you've got a bit of "controller" in you! But the ability to "let go" is part of a giving heart----did you ever think of it that way?

In the first place, we are to let go of our very selves to G-d. When we come to Him with a humble heart entreating Him for salvation, we are to give him our hearts, our very lives---for He has bought us with a price. When we belong to G-d, our lives are not our own anymore.

Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."

When we hold onto all we have for dear life, we are the loser. We have to let go in order to gain! Jesus tried to teach His disciples this principle. In verse 25 of Matthew 16, He went on to say, "For whosoever shall save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake, shall find it."

You know that when we truly love someone we must be willing to let them go. Holding onto them for dear life will only strangle the life out of the relationship. Letting go is liberating. Letting go allows for the other to be able to GIVE of themselves, freely, so in turn, we may receive. And it goes both ways!

The things we treasure the most---our loved ones, earthly possessions, our careers, our positions and entitlements---we must give them to the L-rd---let go of the cords we hold onto so tightly---that we may be able to receive what the L-rd has for us. If we are so filled up with our own selfish desires and misplaced values and priorities, if our love is totally given to other things......where is there any room left for the L-rd to fill us with His blessings, which really are of value?

Paul, by example as well as by his preaching, tried to impart this truth to the early believers, and it is preserved in Scripture for us today: "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my L-rd: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,"

With the economy, indeed the world economy, looking more bleak every day, 21st Century believers probably should re-evaluate our lives. We mortals get so earth-bound that many times we fail to remember that this world is not our permanent home. We're just "visiting". Rather than be fearful and give in to despair, we must be willing to let go, and with the joy of the L-rd as our strength, live each day, trusting the L-rd to complete His perfect plan for our lives.

Psalm 37:4---"Delight thyself also in the L-rd; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Unmet Needs---Part II

Have you ever prayed and prayed for a specific need that you have, wondering if it was ever going to be met? For whatever reason, the L-rd chose to allow you to experience the lack of something---income, health, a car, a good credit rating, or any number of things?

Are you experiencing unmet needs in your life right now?

We're very familiar with and often quote the verse in Philippians that states, "My G-d shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19 Isn't this the verse we stand on to claim G-d's promise to supply our need?!

You probably also know that G-d's promises usually have conditions. Did you know that this promise is no different? Problem is, we usually don't pay attention to these conditions---we get so excited about the promises! How many of us have underlined G-d's promises in our Bibles......but the conditions....well....we kinda just ignore them......after all, they're for other people who aren't living right!! ;-)

So....what's the condition to the L-rd supplying all our need? First, let me give you some background regarding the scene here in Philippians. Paul was writing to this church from his prison in Rome. This church had, on more than one occassion, sent love offerings and needful items to Paul to help meet his needs. They had just done so again, and Paul was acknowledging their offerings to him in verse 18, "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to G-d."

Paul knew that these Philippian Christians had sacrificially given to support him, and thus his statement that G-d would supply all their need.

Therein lies the condition: if we give in support of those serving the L-rd, then the L-rd will supply all our need.

When we sacrifice for the L-rd, He is, in turn, faithful to meet all our needs!

Truly, it is more blessed to give than to receive!

Unmet Needs--Part I

Who among us has not experienced the pendulum of "feast or famine"? Life is like that, isn't it? We can bemoan life's rollercoaster experience, or we can choose to view it as the "spice of life"...a break from the sameness of monotony.

Hey---life can be an adventure or it can be a fearful thing. It's our choice.

What?!! How can we choose what life dishes out to us, you ask! We can't....but we can choose what our outlook is. Like someone famous once said [well....they probably were famous; the saying is. I just don't know who said it first-- ;-) ], "If life gives you lemons, then make lemonade!"

You know, that's good advice. We can choose to be happy within whatever circumstances we find ourselves, or we can choose to sulk and be miserable, and make everyone around us miserable, too. If we consider others---which is what the L-rd would have us to do---we know that there is always someone else who has it worse off than we do, and would gladly trade places!

Paul was so wise. He was horribly beaten numerous times, shipwrecked, imprisoned, destitute, sick unto death, yet he chose to count it all joy, and to be content in whatever state he was in. His circumstances did not dictate his outlook or his attitude. He knew his life was secure in the L-rd. This earthly life, with all its ups and downs, is just temporary; we have something incredible to look forward to---"a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

II Cor. 4:17---"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

Next time we feel downhearted and discouraged because we see the glass half empty instead of half full, we need to adjust our focus. The enemy would have us hone in on what we lack instead of all our blessings.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Conditions for Answered Prayer---Part IV

An important condition for answered prayer is that we first have a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is our mediator!

I Timothy 2:5,6---"For there is one G-d, and one mediator between G-d and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."

If we have repented of our sins, and accepted Jesus Christ as our only Savior, we can then come directly to G-d's throne of grace (Heb. 4:16) because Jesus Christ is our High Priest and Mediator. We don't need to go through Mary, the saints, a priest. Jesus Christ is all we need!

We must come before the L-rd with clean hearts (Psa. 66:18).

We must ask in faith, nothing wavering (James 1:6,7).

A lack of any of the above will prevent our prayers from getting past the ceiling.

Sometimes we don't receive anything of the L-rd due to a lack of prayer! We know that the L-rd knows all, and that He is aware of our needs and situations, but He wants to hear from us! He wants us to come before His throne and tell him what's on our hearts, and what we need Him to provide. James 4:2 says that, "ye have not because ye ask not."

And, too, the L-rd being all-knowing, He knows our hearts in the matters we bring before Him. He knows our desires as well as our motives behind those desires.

The next verse in James 4 cautions us: "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."

Sometimes what we ask of the L-rd is just not good for us. Sometimes our requests are just selfish desires that would not edify us. Our Heavenly Father knows what's best, and He loves us enough to say, "No", when we ask for things that would not be for our own good, just as we do our own children.

In this case, we need to remember that He will grant us our requests according to His will. That should be our desire as well....His perfect will in our lives.

Finally, there is another condition for prayer:

John 14:13, 14---"And whatsoever ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my Name, I will do it."

It really bothers me when believers fail to pray in Jesus' Name. The only reason we can come before G-d's throne is because of Jesus Christ our Mediator and High Priest! Our Heavenly Father hears us because we are justified by the blood of Jesus Christ. We must pray in Jesus' Name, and our motive should be that the Father be glorified in the Son.

John 15:16 further explains how the L-rd views things.

"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my Name, He may give it you."

The L-rd will give us our petitions that we ask in Jesus' Name in order for us to bear fruit for Him! This should be our motive behind our prayers, and will help prevent us from asking amiss! If we pray according to His will, and our requests will bring glory to the L-rd, and help us to bring forth fruit in our lives for His sake, we can have confidence that the L-rd will give us our requests!

If we examine our hearts, and ask the Holy Spirit to show us our deficiencies in our prayer life, and how we need to correct our thinking and approach to prayer, I believe that our faith will grow as we receive answers to prayer and a closer relationship with our L-rd!

Conditions for Answered Prayer---Part III

Once we have established a relationship with the L-rd, whereby we can come boldly to His throne of grace, then we need to examine our faith.

Did you know that faith plays a large part when we pray? G-d requires it of us. Faith is necessary for salvation, and it is necessary in our walk with the L-rd. This includes our prayer life. We must be faithful people---full of faith----when it comes to all aspects of our relationship with the L-rd. The thing is, the more we get to know the L-rd, the more our faith grows! If we have little faith, then perhaps it's because we don't have the relationship with the L-rd that we should.

Matthew 21:21a, 22 says, "Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith and doubt shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."

One reason why our prayers may go unanswered is a lack of faith!

James 1:6,7---"But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the L-rd."

Wow---we shouldn't even think of receiving anything of the L-rd if our faith wavers! often are we of little faith?

"L-rd, I believe; help mine unbelief!", we need to cry!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Conditions for Answered Prayer---Part II

How can we have assurance that the L-rd will hear and answer our prayers, the cries of our hearts? There are some Scriptures that are very specific and clear about this, and they should give us confidence when we bring our petitions before the L-rd.

First thing, though, we must make sure we have the foundation to having a relationship with the L-rd where we can come before His throne in prayer. This foundation is that we know Him....and that He knows us as His blood-bought child. Does G-d know you?

I John 3: 21,22--"Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then we have confidence
G-d. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we
keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.
And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the Name of His Son,
Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment."

I John 5:14, 15--"And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask
according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He
hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we
desired of Him."

Once we have established our relationship with the L-rd, and realize that we can have confidence in Him to receive our petitions if we ask according to His will, then we should not be timid in approaching the L-rd to ask of Him:

Luke 11:9, 10---"And I say unto you, Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."

The L-rd was telling his disciples that their Heavenly Father wants them to approach Him with their needs, and that He will provide. We should not be afraid to ask the L-rd to supply our needs. The enemy wants us to think that our Heavenly Father is unapproachable, that He is stern and unyielding. The following 3 verses in this passage illustrate how much our Heavenly Father loves His children---His kindness towards us:

"If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he give him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?"

But guess what?! Not only do we have a loving Heavenly Father, we also have a Great High Priest who makes intercession for us!! Hebrews 4:14-16 assures us of this:

"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of G-d, let us hold fast our profession.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

Not only do we, as blood-bought sinners, have a loving Heavenly Father, but we have a merciful High Priest in Jesus Christ. We can have confidence in Him, and bring our petitions boldly before His throne of grace! Does that not reassure your heart that the L-rd will hear and answer?!

Conditions for Answered Prayer--Part I

Do you have regular conversations with G-d? Just you and Him, talking things over, you sharing your heart with Him? What is *praying* to you?

Jesus demonstrated how to pray when one of His disciples asked Him, "L-rd, teach us to pray." If we study the components of that prayer, we may find that we need a refresher course in learning how to approach G-d's throne.

We are to beseech our Heavenly Father with a humble heart, relinquishing our will to Him.
We are to ask Him for our needs.
We are to ask for His forgiveness----as we forgive others!
We are to ask for protection from temptation and deliverance from evil.
We are to praise and glorify G-d.

While we are so familiar with this prayer, we unfortunately stop at the last sentences, "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." But have we taken notice of the following verses in Matthew 6:14, 15 where
the L-rd reiterates the importance of forgiving others; do we realize the impact of unforgiveness on our prayer life? Evidently, it is extremely important because the L-rd emphasizes that it is imperative that we forgive others!

David said, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the L-rd will not hear me." Ps. 66:18 He prayed, "Create in me a clean heart, O G-d; and renew a right spirit within me." Ps. 51:10.

We cannot have a clean heart and harbor unforgiveness. Who are we to withhold forgiveness from others, in our hearts, when the L-rd has forgiven us so much?

Once we approach the L-rd with a clean heart, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Heb. 4:16