Tag Archives: Prayer

Don’t Be Like Your Dog

Don’t Be Like Your Dog

“A little lad of six was invited out to lunch in a neighbor’s home. As soon as all were seated at the table the food was served. The little boy was puzzled, and, with a child’s frankness, asked, “Don’t you say a prayer before you eat?” The host was uncomfortable, and mumbled, “No, we don’t take time for that.” The lad thought silently for a while, and said, “You’re just like my dog! You start right in.””

Don’t be like your dog on Thanksgiving.  Remember to give thanks to the Lord.

One of my favorite things to do each holiday season is to watch Charlie Brown and his talented dog, Snoopy.  One of the best yearly reminders of God’s blessing to early America can be seen in Charles Schultz’ rendition of the Pilgrims coming over on the Mayflower, meeting Chief Massasoit and Squanto and sitting down to dinner and giving thanks to God for surviving the brutal and deadly winters they were unprepared for.  With little food, a majority of the settlers buried, and with great uncertainty facing the future, they stopped everything to praise and thank the Lord.

It has been said that being truly “thankful” involves “giving.”  After all, the word Thanksgiving is a compound word; and both “Thanks” and Giving” are words rich with meaning.  Grateful people are happy people.  Have you ever seen a complaining, grumbling person?  Sure.  Are they happy?  No.  We are most happy when we have thankful attitudes, grateful words, and gracious actions.  If you are consistently giving praise and thanks to the Lord, you will be less likely to be critical, self absorbed, and feeling negative about life.

We need to be like the Apostle Paul who said in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  The early Christians living in the city of Thessalonica were challenged and encouraged to give thanks in everything in life.  Every life stage.  Every circumstance.  Every weather event.  Every electoral cycle.  Every season of life.  Every start to the week.  In.  Everything.  Give.  Thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Thank-you for reading these devotionals.  I am grateful for each reader and pray that these postings will be a help to you.

 

 

 

 

 

(Snoopy rendition by Charles Schulz, from internet search)

Advertisements

The Sour Life

The Sour Life

A little sour goes a long way with me.  A little lemon is good, not a lot.  Do you like rhubarb/strawberry pie?  Grandma Harness used to make that a lot.  I also enjoy rhubarb crisp.  Each year we harvest our own rhubarb and are sure to put a lot of real sugar in the crisp  because of how sour the rhubarb is! I even like some of the “Sweet and Sour” candies made today.  Sour foods taste bitter, acidic, and tart.  My palate can handle only so much.  I like sweet much better.

When it comes to relationships, sour, is not something that you want your life to be described as.  Christians do not want their outlook to be “sour.”  Our relationships should not taste sour and our emotional/spiritual perspective should not be bitter.

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled…” Hebrews 12:15

One funny story goes like this: “Two writers who were bitter rivals were both attending the same party. One had recently had a book published, and the other commented to him, “I read your new book and liked it. Who wrote it for you?”

The other replied, “I’m glad you liked the book, who read it to you?””   (6,000 Plus)

Two simple observations of the devastating effects of bitterness include:

  1. Bitterness troubles the one who is bitter. This includes a guilty conscience, irrational reasoning, with confused anger and responses to others.
  2. Bitterness affects the people around the one who is bitter. A husband affects his wife.  A wife affects her husband.  Parents will impact their kids. While some believe a self-propagated lie that “my bitterness only affects me” – the truth is “many be defiled” by one person’s bitterness.

Some people are bitter about their childhood and upbringing.  Some are still angry with their parents for schooling, sports, discipline, and other areas.  Some people are bitter towards childhood acquaintances from school, church, or teams they played on.  Others develop hatred in college, towards their “first romance” or even in the first real job.  Some are in relationships with people right now and are allowing unresolved issues, anger, selfishness, pride, or misunderstandings sour their outlook on life.

A basic practice of Bible Christianity is “self-examination.”  Considering the Word of God, are you harboring any level of bitterness towards someone?  Here are several identifiable characteristics of bitterness that can help you in your self-assessment:

  • Obsessive thoughts of revenge
  • Sarcasm
  • Critical or unkind comments
  • Self-righteousness
  • Conflicts with others
  • Aggressiveness in relationships
  • Controlling behavior

Bitterness will wreak havoc on a person and their family.  Being bitter will bloom into many other areas of sin; neglect, hostility, and wrong thinking.  The fruit produced by bitterness will be a life of regret, an outlook of despair, and a heart of hatred.

If any of the characteristics of bitterness are found in you, do everything you can, with God’s help, to get it pulled out of your life.  What should a bitter person do?

  • Confess the bitterness as sin.
  • Identify the source: jealousy, anger, rage, fear, pride.
  • Ask other people to pray for you. This demonstration of humility makes it clear that you mean business.
  • Ask for another Christian to hold you accountable when you exhibit any of the characteristics of bitterness.
  • Ask forgiveness of those you have impacted directly with bitterness.
  • Ask forgiveness of those who were indirectly impacted because of your bitterness.
  • Restore your relationship with God. The vertical relationship with Jesus is directly impacted by your horizontal relationship with other human beings. Getting relationships right with others is one way to get your relationship right with God.
  • Be happy in Jesus!  Don’t live “the sour life!”

 

 

(“Characteristics of Bitterness” – Guide to Biblical Counseling.  Clinton and Hawkins.)

 

 

 

 

Prayer Changes Us

Prayer Changes Us

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  John 15:7

“A fifth grade boy who had heard a sermon on persistence in prayer was praying by himself in his room one night. As his dad passed his door, he heard the boy praying over and over again, “Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo.” The next day, the dad asked his son what he was doing. The boy replied that he had given the wrong answer on a test for the capital of Mexico, and he was praying that Tokyo would become the capital of Mexico.”

Some people pray trying to “fix” a situation or change the way things are.  What if prayer changed us more than the situation?  It is very possible. Observe.

  1. When we pray the will or Word of God, we are “in tune” with God’s plan.
  2. When we pray for the will of God, we are asking for more than merely what we think is best.
  3. When we pray in the will of God, we are demonstrating faith and confidence that “His way is best.”
  4. When we pray the Word of God, we are allowing His presence in us to be more evident.
  5. When we pray in God’s will, we are able to rest, have peace, and totally rely on His working it out. All the while, the practice of prayer is also changing us.

While pray does “change things” – it can also change us!

 

 

 

 

 

Did You Think To Pray?

Did You Think To Pray?

Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.  Psalm 88:9

We pray when we are in trouble.  It is easy to turn our thoughts to Heaven when we have a big problem or a predicament that we are in.  For most people, the first time they fervently pray is when hey are in trouble.  Affliction drove the psalmist to pray every single day.  He actively sought the Lord lifting up “holy hands” to God, begging for His deliverance, guidance, and help.

What if we learned to pray before the big problem comes?  How would an active prayer life before the trouble arises help us navigate the storms of life?  It think it would make a big difference.  Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the “Prince of preachers” said “All the Christian virtues are locked up in the word prayer.”

The daily discipline of open communication with God, asking and receiving, better known as prayer, can change your life. There are several ways prayer affects not only the situation, but the one doing the praying.

Prayer calms the soul.  Prayer creates a connection with God. Prayer confirms our relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus.  Make it a daily practice to spend time with God in prayer.

I leave you with the words of Mary Kidder in her hymn “Did You Think to Pray?”

  1. Ere you left your room this morning,
    Did you think to pray?
    In the name of Christ our Savior,
    Did you sue for loving favor,
    As a shield today?

Refrain:
Oh, how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day;
So when life seems dark and dreary,
Don’t forget to pray.

  1. When you met with great temptation,
    Did you think to pray?
    By His dying love and merit,
    Did you claim the Holy Spirit
    As your guide and stay? [Refrain]
  2. When your heart was filled with anger,
    Did you think to pray?
    Did you plead for grace, my brother,
    That you might forgive another
    Who had crossed your way? [Refrain]
  3. When sore trials came upon you,
    Did you think to pray?
    When your soul was bowed in sorrow,
    Balm of Gilead did you borrow
    At the gates of day?

 

 

Overnight Success

Overnight Success

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalm 1:3

Mushrooms can grow fast! Because of the way they absorb moisture, some mushrooms appear to grow overnight!  Then in the heat of the day they shrivel back down.  Some mushrooms will instantly shrink when confronted with a rain storm.   Trees connected to a good water source however grow – but at a much slower rate.  Their growth is not stunted by the heat, wind, rain or elements. Christian men and women should desire to be “like a tree…”

We all want to live blessed and happy lives.  We hope to see the Lord prosper and provide all our needs.  Most of us want even more than merely our needs met.  Many Christians want overnight success.  They want to be in the fast track to “success.”  In the Bible, success is not the next promotion, the next vocation, the next location to live or the next vacation.  Success is not the bank account, the number of friends, or the amount of “free” time you may have.  Golf courses and ball games do not even factor in.

Success in the Bible is being more like Jesus.  The Lord told Joshua to study the Bible to achieve and live a successful life.  Joshua 1:8 says, This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Since being successful is being more like Jesus, we must find ways to grow, develop, become disciplined, and have a strong desire to be more like Him.  There are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity. The legendary, winning, and Christian basketball coach John Wooden said: “When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. So don’t look for the quick, big improvement. Seek the small improvements one day at a time – that’s the only way progress happens – and when that kind of progress happens, it lasts.”

Determine each day to be more like Christ.  Perhaps the best place to start is a spirit of humility.  No Christian will ever succeed at the Christian life without first banishing pride from his life.  Speaking of Jesus, Philippians 2:8 says, And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

  • What is your plan for growth?  You must have a plan.
  • What personal discipline needs to be defined and applied?
  • How is your meditation (Bible reading and prayer) going?

Spiritual growth is like the tree planted by the rivers of water.  Do you want God’s blessings in life?  Do you want to live a happy Christian life?  Are you desiring to be more like Jesus?  It will take daily time, daily effort and daily commitment to being more like Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selah

Selah

Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah. Psalm 24:10

Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.  Psalm 39:5

Let the following story sink in and may it rearrange the priorities and worries of your mind today:

“A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag’s side door! He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown. The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, “What was that all about and who are you? Just what are you doing? That’s a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?”

The young boy was apologetic. “Please, mister, please, I’m sorry but I didn’t know what else to do,” he pleaded. “I threw the brick because no one else would stop” With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. “It’s my brother,” he said. “He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.” Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, “Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me.”

Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay. “Thank you and may God bless you,” the grateful child told the stranger. Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home. It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message: Don’t go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!”  (min127)

Don’t be so busy with life that you fail to let God have your attention.  The Bible term “Selah” means to “stop and think.”  We need to pause to pray.  We need to stop and read the Bible.  We need to slow down and sit with God a while.

We hustle through life to career and bank account destinations that do not matter.  We miss the joy of the journey to where God is taking us.  We don’t stop to offer help and encouragement like we should.  We may “do” much but are “being” very little in the eyes of the Lord.

May God help us live in such a way that a brick does not have to hit the car of our life so that the Lord could get our attention.  Give God your undivided attention today.  Stop running around after things that matter little and seek to arrange your life with Biblical priorities. It will change your life. Selah.

 

 

 

 

Making Time to Pray

Making Time to Pray

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.                   1 Peter 4:7

When faced with a big decision or fraught with a new diagnosis, we can start to pray like we never prayed before.  But why wait to pray?  There is much to pray for every day.

Between work and play – we need to make time to pray.

In the verse above, the word “sober” has to do with clear thinking.  Then the word “watch” is used and says we are to “watch unto prayer.”  It means to abstain from wine.  Abstaining from alcohol helps keep the mind clear.  It is a word that when applied indicates having clear attention.  While alcohol clouds the mind, we must be clear headed to pay attention to prayer. The Lord wants us to have a clear mind and level-headed thinking so we can give time to praying.

Most American Christians are too distracted to make time to pray.  For example:

Recode.net says American spend 5 hours watching TV every day. In comparison:  Media and Methods reports the average American spends only five hours per year reading books.”

The A.C. Nielson Co says that “TV viewing began to rise in the 1960’s. It is approximately the same point in time that the Standard Achievement Test scores began to decline. This time frame is significant because the first generation to cut its teeth on TV began taking SATs in the early 1960’s.

Spin.com says Americans listen to 4 hours of music each day.

In many ways, we are “entertained out of our minds!”  Our minds are “clouded- full of entertainment.”  No wonder we do not take the time to pray like we should.  The stats above do not even factor small screen time (cellphones, tablets, etc).

Be sure to “Watch” unto prayer today.  Decisive action and a definite plan to pause and pray can be taken in your life today.

Make some time to pray – today.