Friday, July 27, 2007

2 Chronicles 7:14

2 Chronicles 7:14-“…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

I’ve forgotten how to pray.

I know that it’s just talking to God like you would the person sitting next to you. I know that it’s not a big theatrical production. I know that it’s the simplest thing in the world to do.

Yet, I’ve forgotten how. Somewhere, along the way, I missed something.

You see, when I mean that I’ve forgotten how to pray, I mean that I don’t remember that prayer is not meant to be selfish. I’m not supposed to just pray for me and mine. I’m not just supposed to toss up a prayer for everyone else around me in a general way and hope that God miraculously blesses them.

I’m to pray for those around me, without ceasing. There are plenty of examples in the Bible of people whose prayer life existed outside of their own four walls. I’m to imitate them, as they imitate Christ.

I mean, God even had Jesus give us a model prayer to use when we seek Him in prayer. Many people know the Lord’s Prayer, but they take it to mean LITERALLY that is what they should pray.

But the Bible states that Jesus said, “In this manner, therefore, pray…” He didn’t give us a rote set of verses to recite in the throne room. He gave us a MODEL to guide our prayer life.

I don’t know exactly when I drifted away. I know I did, I just can’t pinpoint when. Of course, that’s the design of the enemy, isn’t it? Don’t come out in the open and do something like that; instead, slowly lead them one step at a time, not even realizing how far from the boat they are drifting.

Have you forgotten how to pray? Have your prayers become enamored with your problems and your desires and the things you want in life? Have you missed God’s greater calling in prayer by wrapping it in a cloak of self-centeredness and getting what you alone need?

I realize that some of the greatest times of success in my life have been when I stopped focusing on the things I’m going through, and expand my horizons. When I begin to pray and seek and minister to those around me that I am in contact with every day, I find I am more victorious in my own life.

And by the way, the phrase “those around me” doesn’t JUST mean my family. It means my co-workers, my neighbors, my friends, my church, my pastor, my small group, my country, my President…everyone.

It doesn’t mean stopping up the Holy Spirit and confining Him to just my small corner of the world. I’ve got news for me and you as well; the Universe DOES NOT revolve around us. God loves us all. And He wants us to care for everyone around us.

I love science fiction novels. I just finished reading a Star Wars series. In the books, there was a creature that was given the name, ysalamiri. It was a non-aggressive creature. It had all kinds of predators, but no real defenses. It did, however, have a peculiar ability.

You see, the planet it inhabited, the predators searched out prey by using the Force. (EVERYONE knows what the Force is, right?) The ysalamiri had the innate ability to PUSH back the Force, to create a void in which they could NOT be sensed. So, the predators that hunted them, couldn’t find them.

Better yet, the ability multiplied as they congregated together. Meaning, the more of them were located in an area, the bigger the shield of protection could grow.

Imagine if God’s people would use their innate ability to pray for each other and put up a protective shield around each other. Think about if every Christian started praying for each other, of how large the bubble of protection would become over our nation.

Think about how much of the world we could cover, if we prayed correctly. And think of all the enemy’s servants, searching around for us, not being able to get to anyone. And if they searched out the weak, the prayer covering would protect them because they would be in the blind spot.

As the song goes, “What if His people prayed?”

Be blessed in the Lord today.

Bo J.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

2 Corinthians 2:14

2 Corinthians 2:14-“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”

Well, how do you smell this morning? What is the odor that everyone around you smells? Are you someone that everyone wants to get a good whiff of, or are you someone that clears a room whenever you walk in?

We don’t really take our Christian walk very seriously sometimes, do we? I mean, we go to church, and come home. We go to work, or to school, or to meetings, or on errands, or one of the million things that we do in our daily lives.

But have you ever thought about why you’re doing it? Better yet, as I asked above, have you ever thought about how you SMELL when you’re doing it?

Are we walking in victory and triumph, or are we simply walking around in a daze? Are we God’s hands and feet in this world?

I hate to tell you this, but a lot of times I’m not. I would like to think that I am, but I miss the mark plenty of times.

“Well, if it’s so hard, why even try? Why not just live your life the way you want, and get what you can now? Why not just be happy?”

That’s easy to answer. My life is not my own; I’ve been bought and paid for at a steep price. I’ve been redeemed. I’ve been set free.

I’ve been freed from the power of sin in my life. That doesn’t mean that I DON’T sin. It means that I have been freed from the cruel taskmaster who directed my thoughts and actions before I met Christ.

It means that I can make a realistic choice now, as to what I do. I can see what is in front of me, and chose wisely, instead of choosing to fulfill my own lusts and pleasures.

I can believe in something, and Someone, and place perfect trust and faith in His abilities. He told me that once I give my life over to Him, He’ll bless me and protect me. He’ll place a hedge of protection around me.

Then, I look in His word, and I see that He hasn’t broken a promise yet. And it’s been a LONG time for Him to go without doing that. Heck, I can barely make it a day without breaking some promise that I made to someoneJ.

When I read this verse, I realized that God did more than just wash me clean and give me a new set of clothes. He did more than set a crown of victory on my head. He gave me a new smell; His smell.

When the Holy Spirit took up residence in my heart, I got the greatest cologne ever made applied to my body. I smell better than I ever have before.

Each of us who is now marked and labeled as a child of God has been given a new fragrance. We are to use that gift to bring others to saving knowledge as well, in EVERYTHING that we do.

So, the next time you’re driving and someone cuts you off, smile in love. Be patient in the grocery line, or the line at the bank. Stop trying to win every discussion; don’t try and be the one who is right all the time.

Be the fragrance of God, and let everyone around you inhale deeply of the scent. Don’t clear a room whenever you walk into it.

Be blessed in the Lord today.

Bo J.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Isaiah 59:1-2

Isaiah 59:1-2-“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”

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Each time I think of the things in my life which have brought me to where I am, I want to cry. I want to shrink from my wickedness and pretend like it’s not there.

But then, I realize, it’s why Christ died, and rose again; because of my wickedness, my imperfections, and manifest unrighteousness; because I am imperfect, self-serving, and lowly of heart.

Lord, help me to be more like You. I realize I need a Savior because I am not there yet. And if I had a choice, I would choose the easiest path, the smallest bumps, and the shortest roads. I can do nothing on my own but what You do through me. I can try all I want, but I cannot, CANNOT do it on my own.

I thank You Lord that You can and will. No matter how obstinately I try, You will do all You can to lead me back to the path I need to be on. I ask that You make me receptive to Your leading; and give me wisdom to follow Your lead. I love You so much God, and I am sorry that I continually miss the mark.
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I wrote that almost 9 years ago, on 7-24-98. I was working at Dresden Nuclear Power Station in Morris, IL at the time. I don’t know what I was going through at the time, but it appeared to be a period of self-reflection.

I kept a personal log of my daily activities, so that I knew what surveys I had to document, and to keep track of the jobs I had covered that day. I came upon this log, and was looking over it, when I saw that entry.

The verse came to mind almost immediately.

How often do we wonder why it seems as if God has hidden His face from us? How many times are we like the ancient Israelite people; going our own way and then wondering why God isn’t backing us up? How many times do we want to do our best for God, in our own time and in our own way?

God says that our iniquities have separated us from His love and protection. He hasn’t moved; instead, we have. We have defiled ourselves, and then have the nerve to approach God with a self-satisfied smug look on our face, thinking of what we got away with under His nose.

I have a little surprise for you-God is not stupid. And He’s not blind, nor deaf. He is intolerant of darkness and sin, however. It’s His nature; darkness can’t co-exist with the Light. So, why do we continually think that we can walk the line of both and make Him bow to us?

We need to stop making excuses and start making a difference. There is a world of people around us going to Hell because we are too busy skirting the line, seeing how close we can get to actual sin.

It’s time to make a stand. Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. God will hold us accountable for our actions, just as He will the unsaved. It’s His nature; the trademark of a righteous Judge. He can’t just hold the wicked accountable for their actions and allow us free reign.

We need to remember that in our daily walk.

Be blessed in the Lord today.

Bo J.