Thursday, September 30, 2010

Prayers of Desperation

I don’t know where the idea came from that “prayers of desperation” are not “good form” for a believing Christian. One should not get that desperate; we should have our act together so prayers of desperation would not be needed. Tell that to…

• David --“This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” Psalm 34:6

• Hannah--“In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD.” 1 Samuel 1:10

• Jeremiah—“the waters closed over my head, and I thought I was about to be cut off I called on your name, O LORD, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: "Do not close your ears to my cry for relief." Lamentations 3:54-56

• Jesus—“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:44

• The Ten Lepers--"and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed.” (Luke 17:13-14) The ten lepers had no other option to be healed; no antibiotics, no Mayo Clinic. Leprosy was a death sentence. They were desperate.

My favorite prayer of desperation was Jonah from the belly of the whale. Jonah 2:7-10 says, “"When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD." And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.”

Jonah prayed, “When my life was ebbing away. I remembered the Lord.” In verse 8 it says this, “Those who cling to worthless idols (things of this life) forfeit the grace that could be theirs… Oh, how true. Verse 9…"salvation comes from the Lord.

Yes, in desperation, God answers. Are you desperate enough? Do you believe God really hears our prayers? He does. Forgive us O Lord.

James 5:13 says,  "Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Living in tents…startled and frightened

Luke 24:36-37 - While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.

My camping experiences in tents have been interesting. (Judi says,"Interesting is a good way to describe it!") I remember standing in a tent filled with two adults and three children holding on to the fragile tent frame while 50 mile per hour winds and rain howled around us. That turned out to be the last time we tented!

Paul says in 2 Corinthians that our earthly bodies are tents; very temporary housing. (“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.2 Corinthians 5:1.) We look forward to heavenly bodies and a heavenly dwelling place; the world pursues making this tent into a mansion. Face lifts, butt lifts, and other drastic measures are taken to preserve a “tent”. I believe Christians are as confused as the world about our current political, economic, and physical circumstances. We need to remember that they are temporary. We should not be startled or frightened. We look ahead towards the future, towards Heaven, remembering whatever happens, God’s plans are never thwarted. In the midst of this recent chaos, there is “a light” that shines and the Light’s name is Jesus Christ.

Remember our times are in God’s hands. Remember our bodies are a temporary dwelling place (tents). Our vision should be to look towards the eternal. Remember this, the body is sometimes curable; the soul is always so. Yes, we will fold up our tent and go home but our soul is eternal and in this life is always open to be renewed, healed, sustained and forgiven. Don’t be startled or frightened by these days. God is and will always be on the throne. His plans are never thwarted.

On the days when we want to pack up our tent and go home, remember the Lord calls us home. He packs the tents and we are along for the ride.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Why I stay on the farm

"The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place”   Acts 17:24-26 ESV

Recently I read the following and wanted to share it with you.  It is from Harris’ Farmer’s Almanac 2010 (p. 39).

Hardscrabble Life

The full-time country life, with its high maintenance, time-consuming lifestyle, can become a bit overwhelming for the aged or the injured, or those with a growing family. Homesteaders and farmers often give up, thinking the smart thing to do is to move closer to jobs and schools and hospitals. To those who have been doing the same chores morning and night, day in and day out, and driving to town to work, or to shuffle the kids to games and lessons, relocation can look like a good move. Or maybe it is the human condition to wish for an easier life.

So, you put the farm up for sale. Chances are that the new owner will not be someone who will pick up the chores list where you left off. Instead of passing the old home place on to another family who will prune the peach trees and patch the barn roof, more likely he will have it bulldozed, even the row of walnut trees, the apple orchard, and the creek full of watercress. Your new home in town may be next to a house of barking dogs, with street lights as bright as day, bad air, bad water, high utility bills, drunk drivers and aimless people snooping around in the middle of the night. For this you traded away the green hills, the sky full of stars, the hoot owls, the orchard in full bloom, and the porch that looks across the hollow on a lazy summer afternoon.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

“The Gospel According to Jesus: What is Authentic Faith?”

I have recently been reading a book by John Macarthur entitled, “The Gospel According to Jesus: What is Authentic Faith?” published by Zondervan in 1988. The following is a quote from p.35-36 of this book.

“The gospel according to Jesus calls sinners to give up their independence, deny themselves, submit to an alien will, and abandon all rights in order to be owned and controlled by the Lord. By confessing Jesus as Lord (Kurios), we automatically confess that we are His slaves (douloi).

"What does this mean in practical terms? To borrow the words of Edwin Yamauchi,

"It means that we have been captured, beaten, enslaved. We discover, however, that our captor is a Despot of love and mercy. Neither is there anything slavish or servile about our slavehood, for we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear but the spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15). Nor has our reduction to slavery been a debasement or an abasement…We have been elevated to serve in a heavenly court and have been invested with a higher nature.
"…(It also) reminds us of our ransom from another master at an incredible price. It was not for the fabulous sums of all the royal estates we were bought, nor was it for handsome features or some prized skill we were purchased. But rather unlovely, without any merit, rebellious at heart, we were redeemed with the precious blood of the Master Himself.
"Having thus been bought by Christ we are entirely His. Yamauchi, “Slaves of God.” p.48-49.   There is no other possible way to view it.
"There is no legitimate way to adjust that message to make it sound appealing to people who admire Jesus but are not prepared to serve Him.”

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Giving God what He wants

Are you disillusioned with life? Has it not turned out as you planned? For most of us, our life has not turned out as planned. Life takes many twists and turns. Sometimes we end up where we least expected; that is not necessarily bad.

When we become disillusioned with our life, we are truly at the bottom of the barrel. When we are disillusioned we see no way out—no light, no hope. Usually when we reach the bottom, we are willing to listen and learn.

The story is told of a man hopelessly stuck in the bottom of a deep hole in the ground. Different people walked by and looked in the hole. They told the guy to try harder to get out. Some told him it must be punishment for some past sin. Others just looked and said nothing.

Jesus came along, climbed into the hole and lifted him out. Yes, we like Jesus must be willing to get dirty and humble ourselves to help someone else.

I run into disillusioned people every day. Some have become angry. Anger only eats a hole in our heart and makes us feel impotent (helpless). Some are indifferent; a self-centered response. We don’t care about anyone else. We could care less about anything.

If we are disillusioned with life, the only way out is the Lord Jesus Christ. Buddha is dead; he cannot climb down the hole. Mohamed is dead; he cannot climb down into the hole. The Hindu gods sit quietly on the shelf. The Hindu priests would not get dirty; no, they would not go into the hole.

Jesus came to earth; He came down to us. He became nothing, a microscopic ovum to enter our sinful, hurting world. He did not live in palaces. He was the best friend of lepers and the other down and outs. Yes, the God-man Jesus lived among us and He alone lifted us out of our sin and misery.

If you are at your bottom, simply pray to God the Father through Jesus Christ. Jesus is our advocate, our healer, our savior. What God wants from us is a humble and contrite heart. God wants true repentance; a turning around, a true turning to Jesus and His Father. God doesn’t need us. If God hasn’t given you what you want, I ask, have you given God what He wants? Micah 6:8 says, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Come and tell Him what you want. He is our only hope. Left to ourselves, we are hopelessly lost. Come to Jesus and live. Humble yourself before the one and only Mighty God.