Thursday, October 24, 2013

All the Time

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34.1
I have always found the instruction in 1 Thessalonians 5.17, "Pray without ceasing," to be a great challenge. After all, who can pray all the time? I have reconciled myself to this point by advocating a consistent and persistent attitude of prayer. Even if I am not actively focused on praying, I should be in position- emotionally and spiritually, at least- to be praying. I shouldn't need to "prepare my heart for prayer." I should always be prepared to pray. 

That leads me to Psalm 34.1. How can I always be praising God?

  • First of all, my heart should be filled with blessing for God. Do not ever let yourself get in the position of being mad at God or blaming him for evil in your life or the world. God loves you. Bless him.
  • Be careful with your language. Remember that even when you think it doesn't matter, or no one is listening, God can still hear the words that come out of your mouth.
  • Focus your life on positive, beautiful and godly things (Philippians 4.8). It is easier to fill your mouth with praise when you fill your mind with God.
  • Be a positive influence in the lives of others. There are many people who are longing for something good in their lives. You can help someone else experience the love and grace of Christ by blessing God.
Prayer:  Jesus, I love you and honor you. You are great and full of glory. May my life and my attitude and my words all be a blessing to you. Amen. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Lord's Prayer VII

Deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Matthew 6.13
Let me offer a few thoughts to focus our prayer time today.
  • Satan is an adversary who wants to disrupt our lives in every way. He is perfectly happy to possess, distract or obstruct believers and their prayers. We must be constantly vigilant against him.
  • It may seem old-fashioned to believe in Satan, but there are too many things in the world that are evil. These events need an explanation and the devil fits the bill. Besides, why would we want to take a chance?
  • Although it seems that Satan rules the world, Jesus teaches us that we can be delivered from his influence. Don't be defeated or discouraged by the evil you encounter. God is the winner!
  • God is in charge of everything. We have a powerful ally in the battle against the world.
  • The Lord is not only the ruler of all with more power than we can imagine, he is filled with glory! How wonderful to know that mediocrity is not the plan for followers of God. We are blessed.
Prayer: Lord God, it is with relief and joy that we are reminded that you are in charge and you are interested in our well-being. Thank you for caring for us. For offering victory over our greatest enemy and blessing us with your presence we thank you.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Lord's Prayer VI

And do not lead us into temptation... Matthew 6.13
The world is quite literally filled with temptation. We are bombarded in advertising, television, movies, music, everywhere. We are tempted to sin in every conceivable way. We are encouraged to indulge our physical, sexual, emotional and relationship desires. Temptations come at us and cause us to not think about consequences. We look at how other people live, at how fun that temptation looks, and it becomes easy to rationalize or justify almost any behavior.

Temptation is inevitable. There can be no question about that. There is no way that normal humans can avoid all temptations. But Jesus, in his prayer does provide some help. Temptations will come, but we must avoid dwelling on them. We must not be 'led into' temptation. Our approach to things that Satan puts before us must be a three step process.
  1. When we are tempted, we must recognize and name the temptation as soon as possible. By identifying the temptation we lessen the significance of its power over us.
  2. After recognizing the temptation, we must take every measure possible to eliminate it and get past it. Temptation would love to come into your brain and rest there for awhile. As soon as you see it, get rid of it.
  3. Pray that you will be given victory over temptation and that it will not return. Never, never, never entertain the temptation, but rebuke it and pray that you can avoid it in the future. 
God has great things in store for you, but they will never come to pass as long as you focus on the temptations in your life.

Remember, being tempted is not a sin. However, when we focus on the temptations in our lives, we open the door to sin.
Prayer: There are many things that want my attention and my love, O God. Help me to discern the things that are from you and are good for me. Give me power and victory over the temptations in my life.  Amen.