Persevering Prayer

Today I was reading via BiOY (bible in one year reading plan). For an unsolicited advertisement I’ll highly recommend this reading plan. Download the app to your phone or tablet or you can read this plan through YouVersion as well. Some of this content came from the devotional portion of todays reading.

We sometimes have to wait a long time for the Lord to act and answer our prayers. ‘The Ark remained in Kiriath-jearim for a long time—twenty years in all. During that time all Israel mourned because it seemed the Lord had abandoned them.1 Samuel 7:2’. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never felt like the Lord had abandoned me. But notice even in this verse is says “it seemed the Lord had abandoned them.” Sometimes it seems like the Lord isn’t there or it seems like your prayers are worthless. Or it seems like the Lord is silent. Some times I’ve felt like I prayed for a long time, but they prayed for twenty years for their country before God acted. That is some persevering prayer.

Finally, it was Samuel’s intercession and persistence in prayer for twenty years that brought the people of God victory. Samuel said, ‘I will pray to the Lord for you’ 1 Samuel 7:5. 1 Samuel 7:8, They said do not stop praying to the Lord for us… 1 Samuel 7:9 says Samuel persevered in prayer to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him’.

I’m so encouraged by this to persevere in prayer. Even if it feels like the Lord has abandoned me or if the Lord seems silent. Keep praying. Keep pleading to the Lord. What if it takes 20 years? … I think most of us would say, “Lord, could you work a little faster…?”. His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). In those times when the Lord “seems silent”, persevere, be persistent, be disciplined, trust his ways.

Don’t be Afraid 

2 Kings 6:16,“Don’t be afraid,” Elisha answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

Elisha’s servant was afraid of what he COULD SEE.
Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we DO NOT SEE
2 Kings 6:17, Then Elisha prayed, “God, open his eyes and let him see.” The eyes of the young man were opened and he saw. A wonder! The whole mountainside full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha!

If you feel surrounded by difficulties remember that, when everything seems against you, God has a mighty army that can come and deliver you.

The Next Generation

Psalm 78:4,6,7

‘We will not hide these truths from our children.  We will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord about his power and his mighty wonders. So the next generation might know them and they in turn will teach their own children.  So that they should see their hope in God and not forget the works of God.’

I’m so grateful to the Pastoral leadership and the many volunteers at our church that pour countless ours investing in ‘The Next Generation’. They have poured out their love on my kids and the children of hundreds of others.  This week is VBS (vacation bible school) and we see our kids excited to go and come back telling us all they learn and I know many of other kids lives are changed during this week. I’m excited by what God is doing in the next generation.

I am in no way the best example for my kids… but I am the greatest example for my kids.  Because they see me…good, bad, ugly, upset, happy, sad… you name it.  So I need to always be aware as to how I handle life’s little hiccups as well as life’s deep valleys.  Little eyes are always watching.  I don’t always react the best way… and when that happens I also feel its my job to ‘own up’ to my lack of reactionary discipline and tell my kids, “Daddy messed up”.

I’m grateful for those in my life that invested in me.  I’m grateful for a wife that knows when to say, “Why don’t you just go outside for a little bit”… but I mean… that RARELY happens… I typically keep a really calm demeanor and never get frustrated.  I just wrote that for illustrative purposes.

So… THANK YOU to those that pour into The Next Generation!

Work with Skill

Exodus 35-36, has some pretty cool insight into placing skilled people in places to do the Lord’s work.

Bezalel was chosen by God to build the tabernacle (37:1) (see also 31:1–5). He responded to God’s call and ‘made everything the Lord commanded Moses’ (38:22). He worked with a team and accomplished great things for God. The key to his success was that he was a man filled ‘with the Spirit of God’. Exodus 31:1-3, The Lord said to Moses, “I have called Bezalel and I have filled him with the Spirit, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and craftsmanship.” It says basically the same thing in Exodus 35:31. Not only was he filled with the Spirit of God but he was skilled, and had the ability to do what God was asking of him.

It is possible to be talented without being filled with the Spirit. But when the Spirit of God fills people for certain tasks their work takes on a new dimension. It has a far greater spiritual impact. This can be true even where the natural ability is not particularly super duper. Hearts can be touched and lives changed.

I want to be that leader that is filled with the spirit. I know I’m not the most talented musician or singer, but I trust that by the power of the Holy spirit lives can still be changed and hearts touched.

There is a level of confidence in the abilities the Lord has given me to do certain things but I want to be careful not to put too much confidence in those abilities and just throw God out of the picture. I want to have a spiritual impact and I need the spirit of the Lord in order to achieve that.

*Some of the content from this post was taken from, here.

Dealing with life’s questions

Psalm 13

How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?  How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?  Consider and answer me, O Lord  my God;  light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.  But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord , because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 13 is not very uplifting at first. It is how we all are though. The first 4 verses are crying to God questioning just about everything, how long will you ignore me? How long will these problems persist? How long will you allow my enemy’s to have victories over me? Question after question of Why God? Where are you God?

Then there arrives the BIG BUT… I like big ‘BUTS’ and I can not lie… (don’t lie…you just sang along with that line)

We all need to throw in a big ‘but’ when life is generating a lot of questions.

Verse 5, But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
Verse 6, I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

Even though the questions didn’t get answered, problems didn’t just go away, the big ‘but’ put things in perspective. BUT I will trust you, I will rejoice, I will sing praise,…I might be living with a lot of questions BUT you have been good to me and I can trust you, rejoice in you, and sing to you. Things might not make sense in my mind, BUT I can still praise with all my heart and mind because I trust WHO I KNOW God is. God is faithful, trustworthy, loving, good to us… So even with questions in life we can still worship in spirit (heart) and in truth (knowledge of who God is) which are the worshippers The Lord is seeking. (John 4:23-24)

– quote from Nicky Gumbel “He is always working on our character and enabling us one day to look back and say, ‘The Lord … has been good to me’ (Psalm 13:6)”

ALWAYS

This weekend we are doing the song ‘Always’ in our worship set. (http://youtu.be/hN7L3m9jIcc) This song stirred up the thoughts below.

God will come through ALWAYS. Just now reading through Genesis 21:14-21 where Hagar and her son where sent out in the desert. They were out of water and she had just placed her son under a tree and walked away in order to not be around him when he died. Just at that time an angel of The Lord told them where to get water. They survived…God came through, as he ALWAYS does. Not too early, not too late.
In Genesis 22:1-14 is the very we’ll known story of Abraham and Isaac. Just at the right time The Lord provided for Abraham so he didn’t sacrifice Isaac. In verse 14 we read that Abraham named that place “Jehovah Jireh” or “The Lord will Provide”.
God does provide for us at the exact time, ALWAYS. Paul says, “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:19)”
Nicky Gumble says, “Our task is to obey God (to ‘seek first his kingdom and his righteousness’, Matthew 6:33a) and he promises that if we do that, he will provide for all our needs (‘All these things will be given to you as well’, (Matthew 6:33b)).”
I also like these quotes from Nicky Gumble, “Personally, I don’t think God ever intended, for a moment that Abraham should actually sacrifice his son Isaac. The sacrifice of children was always an abomination to the Lord. But, he wanted to establish Abraham’s priorities.” “This was a test of both Abraham’s faith and priorities.”
“Like us sometimes, they had to wait, but eventually God’s promise was fulfilled. During the waiting period the challenge is to keep trusting God”
If you are like me, sometimes if “feels” as though God did not come through in the way we thought he should have, but the key there is that it was not in the way WE THOUGHT. Isaiah 55:8, 9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
God WILL come through ALWAYS.

Bent Creek Vol. 3