Category Archives: Knowing God

Rehearsing God’s Mercy

“Hallelujah!  Thank God! And why?
Because He’s good, because His love lasts.”  Psalm 106:1 (The Message)

When we hear the word “rehearse”, we conjure up visions of singing, dancing, or acting. A rehearsal is a preparatory event that is performed before the official public performance, as a form of practice. The intent of a rehearsal is to ensure that all details of the performance are adequately prepared and coordinated for presentation. This Psalm is a timely rehearsal for recounting God’s loving protection and provision in our lives.

In Psalm 106, the psalmist rehearses or prepares the Jews who have returned from Exile by recounting the mercies extended by God to the nation of Israel. Can you imagine returning to your hometown after a seventy-year absence?  Many of the older Jews had died in captivity; younger Jews had little to draw upon to refresh their memory of God’s love and provision for Israel during her glory days. They arrived to burnt gates and broken walls. Many would have even forgotten God’s reason for allowing them to go into captivity–their habitual, sinful nature and rebellious lifestyle (v.43).  It was the psalmist intent to prepare the returning Jews’ hearts and minds for spiritual revival—a return to God.

There are several key learnings to be gained in reading this psalm.

  • Confess and repent of your sins to avoid God’s judgment. “We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.” (v. 6)
  • Seek God’s wisdom and acknowledge in all your decision making. “They soon forgot his works; they waited not for his counsel.” (v. 13)
  • Eliminate complaints about what you don’t have and express gratitude for God’s provision. “Yea they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word: But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.” (w.24-25)

Even in Israel’s rebellion and sin, God never failed to extend His mercy and grace. “Nevertheless he regarded their distress when he heard their cry.  For their sake he remembered His covenant, and showed compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love” (vv.44-45).  God always gives mercy and restoration.

Also read:  “God in and among us:  The Presence of the Lord

If the psalmist were to rehearse God’s mercy in our life, what would he write? Would it be similar to Israel’s history reflecting a life pattern of sin and backsliding? If we now walk under the guidance and direction of God’s Spirit, remembrance of our life B.C. (Before Christ) should not be an indictment against us but evidence of the immense love God has for us. While Satan uses our memory to evoke shame and guilt, we can use it in our testimony to others about the saving love of Christ. What God has done for you, He will do for others. There is nothing better than living in God’s A.D. (Abundant Dominion). Let us continually rehearse God’s mercy in our hearts and minds as we prepare for effective service and kingdom building.

SELAH:   Do you see evidence of God’s love and mercy?  It is through God’s divine love and mercy that we receive care and protection, regardless of the circumstance we may face.  Take time to reflect on where you’ve come from and then write your own psalm reflecting when and how God’s love and mercy was extended to you.

The Voice of the Good Shepherd

“When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” John 10:4 (NIV)

It is God’s desire to speak to His children.  As we’ve discussed, God speaks in a number of ways.  In the past, He spoke through the prophets.  In our lives, God speaks through circumstances, including closed doors and even in His silence.

Hebrew 1:2 states that:  “God has spoken to us in these last days through His Son Jesus Christ”.  Jesus’ incarnation became the anointed vehicle by which God would reveal not only His plan of salvation but also Who He was.  In His teachings, Jesus would disclose to believers that God not only listens to their cry but also speaks to them through both their expressed and unspoken needs. We complete this series, When God Speaks, by focusing on the believer’s need to listen for God voice as Jesus teaches about the “Good Shepherd”.

In John 10, Jesus launches a scathing charge against the religious leaders of that day.  Instead of caring for the people, like a true shepherd, they would perpetrate theft and abuse against the most vulnerable of the community. They are described in this illustration as thieves, robbers (John 10:1) and hirelings (John 10:1; 12, 13).  Jesus uses this familiar occupation to illustrate to His disciples, and us, an important fact about followers of Christ—they know His voice.

Followers of Christ know His voice.  He “calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3).  To call His sheep by name infers a personal relationship with the Good Shepherd.  As He approaches, the sheep “hear His voice” and prepare to respond to His lead.  We must be prepared to hear Jesus’ voice as we move through the busyness of our daily lives.  These activities, though necessary, often deprive us of important time to receive God’s guidance and instruction for the “sheep of His pasture” (Ps. 100:3).

Followers of Christ know His voice.  They know His voice through experiencing His love.  He first loved us (1 John 4:19) and gave himself as a ransom for all men (1Tim. 2:6). The hireling doesn’t care about the sheep—he flees when trouble (the wolf) draws near.  God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners, He died for us (Rom. 5:8).

Followers of Christ know His voice.  They do not know a stranger’s voice (John 10:4, 5) and therefore, will not follow them. The voice of the stranger represents the world and its trappings.  The stranger attempts to lure followers of Christ away from the safety and the will of the Good Shepherd.  However, even if the sheep goes astray, they can be  assured that He will come to find them (Luke 15:4-6).

The Good Shepherd still calls out today. It is up to each of His “sheep” to listen for His voice.   This can be accomplished by reading His Word and spending time in prayer and meditation.  The 23rd Psalm is the most familiar and most popular of the Psalms; this is because of the reassurance and comfort individuals receive while reading it.  Jesus’ presence as the Good Shepherd promises provision, rest and restoration, and protection (Ps. 23:4).  Take a spiritual break and read the 23rd Psalm.  Listen for His voice—He’s calling your name.

SELAH:  Read the 23rd Psalm and visualize yourself as an actual sheep in God’s flock.  Write down the things God says to you as a result of doing this exercise.

Closed Doors

“The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them,

for the LORD has told you, ‘You are not to go back that way again.’ ” Deut. 17:16 (NIV)

My favorite aunt gave me a small wood plaque to hang on the wall in my office. On it are written these words, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.” The inference is that God in His wisdom and providence will always provide a “way” for us.  God’s way sometimes involves closed doors.  This week we continue our series, “When God Speaks.”  God speaks volumes when He closes doors.  Ever ask yourself, “What is God saying?”

Closed doors often lead to new opportunities in our lives. Closed doors force us to try new options, meet new people, and exercise spiritual gifts and talents that may never have been used. Joseph faced many closed doors in his life. The first door closed when his brothers sold him into slavery; the second door slam in his face when Potiphar’s had him falsely imprisoned. The final door, he thought, shut tight when the cup bearer forgot him for two years. Though the closed doors were first “used for evil, God used them for good.” (Gen. 50:20)

Closed doors result in the strengthening of two important spiritual muscles–“trusting by faith” and “learning to wait.” In Hebrews 11 we see the “Faith Hall of Fame”, made up of those individuals who trusted God even when the doors appeared closed. (Hebrews 11:4-31) Though the closed doors were first viewed as obstacles, they trusted in God’s promises and waited … even unto death. The results were both rewards and “great faith.”

Closed doors position us to accomplish God’s purpose and plan for kingdom building. The Holy Spirit forbade Paul to preach the word in Asia Minor (modern Turkey). God had a different plan for Paul that would first take the gospel to Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10).  Though this door was first viewed as a detour from proclaiming the gospel, God expanded Paul’s ministry beyond anything he could have imaged; his Epistles would become part of Holy Scripture, read and preached in countries around the world.

In the game show, “Let’s Make a Deal,” contestants choose from “prize doors” that offer either a rich reward or an ugly, disgusting “zonk”. Knowing this, contestants must choose to open the right door and leave others closed. Our omniscient God doesn’t operate like this game show. Whenever God speaks through a closed door, we can be assured it will lead to our good and His glory.

SELAH:  What door has God recently closed in your life?  What was He saying to you in that action?

God Speaks Through Circumstances

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Romans 8:28-29 (NRS)

 

In our culture, it is not unusual for people to greet one another with the inquiry, “How are you?”  In response, a multitude of replies are available but my favorite is, “I doing fairly well under the circumstances.”  This is my opportunity to respond, “Why are you under your circumstances and what are you doing to get back on top?”  Circumstances are conditions or facts that affect a situation.  These can be either positive or negative.  They define a state in which an individual, group, or even a nation may find itself.  This week we will explore how God speaks to us through circumstances.

There are many biblical examples that illustrate how God used circumstances to speak to His people.  Circumstances dictated that Moses would be set adrift in the Nile.  It was there that he would be found by the king’s daughter and adopted into the royal household by the ruling Pharaoh (Ex. 2:1-10). God later spoke to Moses after his 40-year circumstance and re-directed him to deliver Israel from bondage.   In the book of Acts, we find God speaking to the early church by using the political and social circumstances around them.  Jesus had clearly articulated the scope of the church’s ministry:  “and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  While it was within their “comfort zone” to stay in Jerusalem, God spoke through the circumstance of persecution to move the gospel to a larger audience.   Throughout the Bible we find God speaking to people through special favor, through personal loss, or through miraculous deliverance.  God spoke to them through their circumstances.

God still speaks today through circumstances.  He will use conditions and situations from our everyday life to place us in a position to hear His voice.  Does God create circumstances to make us do His will?  No, God has created us as freewill agents and desires that we choose to live within His divine plan. But God will allow circumstances to flow into our life to accomplish His glory and our good (Rom. 8:24).  In addition, to conform us to the image of Christ, God will permit circumstances in our lives that will mature us and grow our faith (1 Pet. 1:5-7).  What may appear at first to be a “stumbling block” may, in actuality, turn out to be a “stepping stone”.  God speaks through closed doors as well as opened doors; through delayed prayers as well as answered ones.

As believers proceed in this Christian walk, we must remember that the intent of our life is to glorify God and to accomplish His purpose on earth (2 Cor. 5:15). That’s why it is important to be intentional in prayer and reading God’s Word especially during difficult and challenging times, regardless of the circumstance (Phil. 4:6-13).

Also read:  Divine Inquiry

As we develop our personal relationship with God, we will understand that He loves us and can be trusted with every aspect of our life. Then circumstances will not overcome us nor will we live “under them” (1 John 4:4).

SELAH:  Think about a time when you were “under your circumstances”.  What was God saying to you?

The Word of the Lord Came

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways.” Heb. 1:1 (NIV)

It’s not unusual for companies to employ individuals to interface with the public to share information about their company and its activities.  Countries appoint ambassadors to communicate their foreign policies and opinions with regard to world events.  In this nation, it is the presidential press secretary who frequently convenes press conferences with the media to communicate key messages from the White House.  Such positions, though not unusual, pale in comparison with a special groups of individuals called by God to speak His Word.  As we continue our teaching series, “When God Speaks”, we focus that unique group, the Old Testament prophets.

The Nation.  The people of Israel had become a nation.  They had been redeemed from slavery in Egypt and given the Law to guide their activities as God’s chosen people (Deut. 7:7-9).  God fully expected them to be committed to a life of obedience to those laws and to honor the “call” He had made on their life.  Unfortunately Israel constantly fell down in their calling.  God’s Law no longer proved effective in shaping Israel and the society in which they lived.

Also Read:  “Why Did God Choose Israel as His Chosen People?”

The Need.    The people’s slackness had grown into forgetfulness (Deut. 8:11-14).  Sometimes the fault was a result of the wrong priorities.  Other times, the people had allowed themselves to be pulled into the culture and worldview of their times, resulting in idolatry and sinful practices.  Even the nation’s religion was corrupted into “non-moral ritualism”—“having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:5).

The Notice.  The prophets were men raised up by God to put Israel on notice—they were to return to God or suffer the consequences.  In examination of both the Major and Minor Prophets, God’s message remained consistent and sure:  The Lord is Ruler of all history and He calls all to repentance. The prophets’ pronouncements always included a blend of judgement and hope, reflecting God’s heart and His desire that all would come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).  If Israel repented and returned, God would extend mercy and receive them to Himself once again.

The prophets did not share in their writings much about how they received their instructions from God.  We simply read:  “Thus says the Lord” or “the Word of the Lord came” (Jer.47:1; Ezek. 17:1; Zech. 8:1).  Came translates the Hebrew verb “to be” meaning “the word of the Lord became a living, present reality.”    In examining the historical books of the Old Testament and other writings from ancient historians, i.e., Josephus, Philo, it is clear that, when God spoke, things happened.

So how does God speaking through the Old Testament prophets relate to us living in the 21st century? My first observation is that for both believers and unbelievers, the view of our current world strongly resembles that expressed in “The Need.”   For believers, God still expects those He has chosen (Ep. 1:4-5) to follow His Word.  It is God’s moral instruction for living; for by it we are both warned and blessed (Ps. 19:11).  Old Testament prophecy provides for believer’s “blessed assurance” that God is still sovereign ruler of all history, including the 21st century.   For the unbeliever, the words of the prophets offer an opportunity for restoration with the God who sees and knows all—in time and in eternity.  For the unbeliever, it’s time to “come and see” Jesus (John 4:29) and accept His offer of salvation.  When God spoke through the prophets, His Word did not return “void” but accomplished all that it was sent to do (Is. 55:11). Even today it is still critical to listen as God speaks through His prophets.

SELAH:  The Old Testament prophets spoke of the salvation we have received.  Read 1 Peter 1:10-12.

God Speaks–Are You Listening?

For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.  Psalm 95:7-8 (NIV)

God speaks.  For many people this is hard to understand and even more difficult for others to believe.  I’m often asked, “How do I know if God spoke to me?”   In response to that question, we will begin a new study series entitled, “When God Speaks.”  As believers, “the people of God’s pasture”, we believe that God does speak to us.  The more appropriate question is, “are we listening?”

Our belief in God’s speaking is sometimes tied to “false narratives” (wrong tapes playing in our head) about Who God is.  Some see God as an indifferent creator looking down on us ready to punish us for doing wrong.  Others see God as a benevolent grandfather patiently waiting to indulge our every need.  Unfortunately both views are incorrect.   Who is God and why does God want to speak to us?

First, God wants to be in relationship (not religion) with us (Isa. 49:15-16).  When we spend time with Him, we begin to understand the love He has for us.  During those intimate moments together, we discover His ways (how He operates in the world) and His paths (how He operates in our individual lives).  (Ps. 25:4-5)

Secondly, God desires that we live free from the bondage of sin (Heb. 2:14-15).  Satan and the world want to keep us in darkness through lies.  These lies result in guilt, shame, and fear.   God, however, wants us to know the truth—His truth concerning our identity (heirs of God and children of light) and our destiny (eternity with Him).  It is this truth that sets us free (John 8:32).

Lastly, God longs for us to walk in the purpose He has ordained for our lives (Jer. 29:11).   We are God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10) created for “good works” which include service to others.   True joy in the Christian life is found in discovering the plans that God has for our lives.  All things are possible with God (Mar. 10:27).

Although God desires to speak to believers, we have, unfortunately, developed “habits of behavior” that often hinder our ability to hear Him clearly.  As we move through life, we have, metaphorically, “gotten on the wrong BUS”—a bus that frequently takes us away from God and toward the things of the world.    

Busyness robs us of both energy and our ability to hear.  Busyness most often is the result of wrong priorities.  As a rule, we place importance on the things we value.  Hearing from God deserves first priority. It’s hard to hear God when you’re multitasking; He gets caught between our thoughts and His voice becomes “muted”.

Unbelief houses all the lies we hold about ourselves and about God.  We believe that God speaks to others but not us.  We attribute this excuse to “being humble” but in reality we don’t believe that God is (His existence) or God can (His power) or God will (His promises)—so why talk to Him?  There is always a “lie” in unbelief.

Self (sin, too) keep us from hearing from God.  This happens when “self” (versus God) rules our life—self-righteousness, self-esteem, self-sufficiency, self-promotion.  When self is on the “throne of our heart”, God finds no place for Him to sit (except on the outside).  Sin separates us from a holy God.  When sin dominates our life, God won’t talk or listen (Gen. 17:1).  This condition, however, can be corrected (1 John 1:9).

Bob Sorge offers these thoughts concerning hearing God’s in his book, Secret of the Secret Places.

Hearing the voice of God is largely a matter of the will.  We must choose to hear Him.  We must make the choice of setting aside time to listen quietly.  This hearing is a today thing that we do.  Hearing His (God’s) voice is conditional—built upon the condition of quieting out hearts to listen.”

Want to hear God speak?  Begin “today” spending time at least 15 minutes per day reading God’s Word and listening for His voice.  Journal what God tells you!  Make the choice to get off the BUS!

SELAH:    What are the things that interfere with your hearing God speak?

IS GOD SPEAKING IN THE MIDST OF ALL THE SOCIAL UNREST?  YES! READ “DISCOVERING GOD IN THE PSALMS: THE SILENCE OF GOD”

 

 

 

I Did It My Way

“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.”  Psalm 19:12 (NIV)

“My Way” is a song popularized in 1969 by Frank Sinatra.    Although this work became his signature song, his daughter Tina Sinatra says the legendary singer came to hate it.  Although he didn’t like it, the song “stuck”.  She shared her father’s true feelings that he thought that song was self-serving and self-indulgent.  Behaviors that promote an individual’s will over God’s will often result in being “stuck”—stuck in sin.  Fortunately the Psalmist sought God’s intervention in his life in order that he might be “blameless and innocent.”     This week’s study closes out our series on “The Reality of God.”  Once the reality of God is revealed, the only response is to recognize one’s own depravity (sinfulness).

What stands in the way of receiving the revelation of God—either general or special?  What is it that hinders man from connecting with God who created and now sustains all things?  (S)  What impedes man in hearing God as He speaks through His “active and living” Word?  (Heb. 4:12)  The answer is sin and more specifically, man’s determination to do it “his way”.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Lutheran pastor and theologian, offered this observation about man’s resolve to express his will over God’s:  “Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”

Exposure to God, whether through general or special revelation, will always result in recognition of one’s sin (Ps. 19:6; 2 Tim. 3:16). On Mount Horeb, Moses quickly responded to God’s presence by removal of his sandals (Ex. 3:5).  Faced with the glory of God, Jeremiah confessed that he was a man of “unclean lips” (Is. 6:5).  It is impossible for sin to escape scrutiny in the presence of a holy and righteous God.

In these final verses, the Psalmist acknowledges his inability to recognize “secret faults” that hinder his walk with God.  Like the Psalmist, believers often have “behaviors” that we cannot see in ourselves but that are evident to others around us.  We call these our “blind spots”.  Faced with the reality of God, the Psalmist solicits God’s assistance in identifying his “spiritual blind spots” that escape detection by the human eye yet are easily detected by an all-knowing, all-seeing, and wise God:

“Errors” are often unintentional sins, sins of omission or even defiant attitudes that accompany intentional sin, e.g., Cain’s resentment surrounding his sacrifice to God (Gen. 4:5).

“Hidden faults” lie buried in the attitudes and veiled motives behind our words and actions e.g., King Herod’s request to the Wise Men (Matt. 2:7-8).  They can also include “toxic thoughts” that no one sees but slowly darken the heart.

“Presumptuous sins” are defiant sins, committed knowingly and deliberately, e.g., David’s affair with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:3-4).

The Psalmist solicited God’s intervention to avoid the “great transgression” (pasha), or rebellion.  These words sound much like the Apostle Paul’s description of the Christian’s struggle with sin:  “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24).  In both cases, the answer to the sin dilemma lie in God, our Rock and our Redeemer; then the Psalmist’s words (his actions) and his meditations (his thoughts) would be “acceptable” (ratsown) to God—a term used of literal sacrifices offered by Jewish priests (Lev.22:19, 29; 23:11).

Also read:  The Subtlety of Sin

While remaining in this earthly flesh, we will need the Spirit of God to help us combat sin and to conform us to the image of Christ (Heb. 12:1; Rom. 8:29).  By humbling ourselves “under the mighty hand of God”, we will find strength and redemption for the journey (James 4:10).  If, however, we choose to continue in our sin, living “our way”, we may, like Mr. Sinatra, find ourselves “stuck” with something we really didn’t want.

SELAH:  Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal “spiritual blind spots” you may have that are affecting your walk of faith.  Then confess (own up to the sin and ask for forgiven); repent (renounce and turn away from the sin); and then, Thank God (for redemption for the sin).

Charles Spurgeon offers “A Prayer for Acceptance from Psalms 19

This is My Father’s World

 

“The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.”  Psalms 19:1 (NKJV)

We open this new year of 2017 with a study on the reality of God.  In actuality, God’s existence is not something that has to be proven, especially to those who choose to believe more in themselves and in the capabilities of political and social movements to resolve the ills of the world.  Denial of God’s reality in no way negates its truth.  God is!  However, for believers, the reality of God is foundational to our faith walk and is based on the irrefutable fact of God as seen in nature  or general revelation (Ps. 19:1-6) and the undeniable truth of God as revealed in His Word (Ps. 19:7-11).  This week we focus on the reality of God as Creator.

 

Read:  “Confessing Faith with Confidence”

 

The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.  Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.  There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard.”   (Ps. 19:1-3)

The heavens and the firmament each have their part in making known the mystery of God’s glory.  God’s handiwork (ma`aseh) is proof of His intimate involvement in the creation of the world versus some random act of science.  It was God’s undertaking that resulted in the heavens and the firmaments (Gen. 1:3-5).  The Psalmist uses “declare and show” to express nature’s response in proving the reality of Creator God.  The constancy of day and night and the vastness of the heavens reveal the excellence of God’s creative work.  His work is undeniable regardless of man’s language or place on the planet (Rom. 1:19-20).

Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.”   (Ps. 19:4-6)

Dominant in the heavens is the sun, which is the focus of these verses.  The sun is metaphorically compared to a “bridegroom” and to a “strongman or champion”.  Like a bridegroom excitedly leaves his chamber (chapha) on his wedding day, the sun rises; like the strongman races on his course, the sun makes its circuit with radiance and vigor to warm the earth.  Those experiencing the sun’s rays need not listen for words, because the effect of the sun is evident—nothing is hidden from its heat.  While the psalmist did not know all that we know today about the solar system, he portrays in these verses the phenomenal way that the sun rises daily to accomplish its “line” in the work God has decreed for it (Eccl. 1:5).

 This is My Father’s World” is a well-known Christian hymn written by Reverend Maltbie Davenport Babcock.  Babcock frequently enjoyed walks to appreciate the panoramic view of upstate New York, telling his wife he was “going out to see the Father’s world”.  Every morning we awaken, confident in the fact that the sun will be there to greet us.  If we take the time, we can observe the sky, a familiar backdrop on which the sun will reflect it needed light and warmth.  Any gradation in the sky—from blue to black, can be directly attributed to changes in the weather conditions that day—be it clear, cloudy, or full of rain.  And as the day transitions to evening, the moon replaces the sun in its nocturnal work within the universe, adding planets, stars, and constellations to the now darkened sky. 

Modern theologians recognize the Creation and the plan of salvation as the most compelling witness to the reality of God and His power.  While postmodernist might argue for a more logical explanation for creation, they can offer nothing to resolve the growing challenge of navigating the 21st century with its volatility and uncertainties.  Even with our technological advancements and achievements, man has not been able to resolve the “issues of the heart” created by sin (Is. 61:1-2).  But God has!  (2 Tim. 1:9-10) The world is in need of a “reality check” that results in acknowledgment of the true God (John 17:3; 1 John 5:20).  This reality begins with each of us understanding, “This is Our Father’s World”.

SELAH:  Are their areas in your life where you are denying God’s reality and sovereign rule?

A Prayer for American Christians

Father God, we come to you utterly broken over the condition of our country. It is disheartening to see the division, the hatred, the intolerance. The violence is heart-breaking, and we long for peace in this great country of ours.

We fall on our face before you, confessing our sins. We pray that we as Christians will humble ourselves and pray and seek your face and turn from our wicked ways, so you will hear from heaven and will forgive our sins and restore our land (2 Chronicles 7:14). We are in desperate need of your healing power and your grace.

As Christians, we see our country turning further from you each day. People no longer reverence you, call on you. We shut you out of our public lives. Even more discouraging is how we shut you out of our private lives. We no longer desire to walk according to your ways, your truth.

Help us remember the message of the cross is foolish to those who do not believe! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).Help us remember we cannot expect those who do not know you to understand why we live the way we do. Help us remember we cannot expect this world to live by the same holy standards we strive to live by.

As this world grows darker and more opposed to the things of God, I pray you would let our light shine brighter. May we be a beacon shining brightly in this country! May we prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love (2 Corinthians 6:6). May others see you shining through us. 

As you look down on this great country and the mess we have created, we ask that you would raise up a remnant of faithful followers who seek you above all else, whose hearts are pure and whose hands are clean. May we have a single-minded devotion to you, desiring to know you and walk in obedience above all else.

We pray this remnant of faithful believers will have faith to move mountains (Matthew 17:20)! May our faith in the face of an increasingly dark world astound others as we see you move in our lives, providing for our needs as only you can, doing miracles in our midst. And may we never steal your glory, but always use your supernatural work in our lives to point the world back to you, to give you the glory you so deserve.

An important decision will be made next week. We don’t know the outcome, and we don’t know what either candidate will do once in office. Uncertainty abounds, and fear is rampant. We pray you will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you (Isaiah 26:3). Help us remember that no matter who is in office, you still control the hearts of kings. Nothing can touch us that is not sifted through your hands. You are Sovereign, Lord! 

Our future is in your hands, and we trust you. We trust you to be our guide as we navigate the tumultuous waters of this world. We trust you to bring good out of all things, even the painful, ugly circumstances. We trust that in your kindness you have called us to share in your eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus, and that after we have suffered a little while, you will restore, support, and strengthen us. You will place us on a firm foundation (1 Peter 5:10). We thank you that even though we are living in uncertain times, we can know that our future with you is secure.

Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of living in this great country where we have freedom to openly worship you. May we never take that privilege for granted, but always guard it and treasure it. May we not live in apathy to you, but live in awe of your love and forgiveness freely poured out for us. Allow our light to shine brightly as our hearts turn to you. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/dena-johnson/a-prayer-for-american-christians.html

 

The God of Possible

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible,

but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”  Mark 10:27 (NKJ)

When facing the challenges of life, the first question that comes to mind is whether we are able to handle them.  This response is based on our ability or power to alter or control the circumstance.   Either we have it or we don’t.  Those things we feel unable to master we describe as impossible.   As we continue our series, “In God We Trust”, it good to know that we serve the God of Possible.

The Greek rendering of the word “impossible” is adynatosThis word indicates that, a person or thing lacks the ability to do a specific action.  In our text today, this word is used as an adjective and means “powerless or impotent.”  However, what is impossible for unaided human beings is “possible” or dynatos with God.  God is more than able—excelling in power.

The Old Testament is replete with passages that illustrate human limitations.  Many times Israel called upon Jehovah to intervene on their behalf.  It was Jehovah Jireh (The Lord who provides) they called upon in time of need (Gen. 22:14).  After successfully crossing the Red Sea it was Jehovah Ripah (The Lord who heals) they promised to faithfully follow (Ex. 15:26).  In the time of battle, Israel lifted their voices to Jehovah Nissi (The Lord who is our banner) as their source for victory (Ex. 17:15).  Every name given to God in the Old Testament revealed His unalterable power and ability to handle every circumstance Israel faced.  From Genesis to Malachi, God proves Himself to be the God of possible.

The New Testament carries over this Old Testament view of human inability contrasted with God who is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask and think” (Eph. 3:20). Because of his inherent nature, God is able to help those who come to Him (Heb. 2:18), to save completely those who trust in Jesus (Heb. 7:25; Jude 24) and in short, to make every grace abound toward us (2 Cor. 9:8).    Man, though created in the image of God, apart from God is impotent—able “to do nothing” (John 15:5).

In an age where self-sufficiency is valued, it’s common to minimize God’s ability to do the impossible.  This belief may be held by those who feel there is no one who can understand their unique situation or problem.  They may feel embarrassed or even ashamed.  God’s love invites them to “cast their burden on Him because He cares for them” (1 Pet. 5:7).  Perhaps people view their challenges as insurmountable.  To them, The Creator of the universe responds, “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27)  Perhaps individuals are burdened by sin—sin they feel is unforgiveable.  For that group, Jesus gladly responds with open arms of acceptance and says, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”   The next time you’re faced with an impossible task, place your trust in God and shift your focus from your inability to the all-powerful, loving God of possible.

 Good to the Last Byte…  

What are the impossible things mentioned in the New Testament? Here’s a brief sampling for your personal study:  Matthew 19:26, Luke 18:27; Acts 14:8; Romans 8:3 and Hebrews 6:4.  It is of course impossible for God to lie, for His nature lacks that capacity (Heb. 6:18).  That should bring us great comfort and assurance in His Word.