Over the holiday weekend, I talked to a dear friend who knows and loves the Lord.We have such spirited conversations and one of our favorites is catching up on the lives of our grandchildren.While we discuss their various activities, we sometimes receive a lesson in a most unexpected way.
Her oldest grandson is the same age as my oldest granddaughter; both will enter fourth grade in the fall.Her grandson relayed an experience that many children face – a bully decided to make him the target.
Jonah mentioned the bully to his parents, but handled the situation in a very mature way – he told his mother that he “prayed” for the little boy as he knew something had to be wrong.Jonah couldn’t understand why he was being treated this way. The next time he and the bully interacted, he asked him why he was so mean to him.Children are often brutally honest so the little boy said, “you have things I don’t have.”
That sentence struck a nerve.Instead of fighting fire with fire, Jonah elected to share what he had with this little boy.He might share his dessert or offer to share his lunch or bring a sandwich especially for this little boy.
As time went by, the former adversary has become Jonah’s best friend; even protective of him.In this real-life example, Jonah has epitomized the passage found in Job 31:16-18 .
Prayer:Father God, You have taught us a very valuable lesson through Jonah – a little boy who is full of an understanding far beyond his years.How many of us have ignored the needs of others while taking care of our own?How many of us have come to You in all situations instead of leaning on our own understanding?
Many of us have experienced bullies and not all of them are in school; some are in our churches, workplace and other facets of our lives.Have we realized that they may be in pain?Have we prayed for them because we know something has to be wrong for them to treat us the way they do?
Father, we often have more than we need and we could share with others who are less fortunate.It was revealed that this little boy was being raised by a grandparent and money was tight; they couldn’t afford many of the “things” he would have liked.
Father, I remember the young girl who taunted me in elementary school.While her name escapes me now, her mother had passed away and her elderly father was doing his best to raise her and a sister.We could see her house from the classroom window, just across the railroad track from school and she resented me.Since we were about the same size, my Mother worked with the school principal to share apparel, including coats and sweaters since the Midwest had distinct seasons.(We never wanted to embarrass her, so they were unaware of the benefactor.)
I can’t say we became good friends, but when she no longer looked different, she felt better and acted differently.We were both blessed.
May we continue to be a blessing to others and learn from Your children.
Out of the mouths of babes…
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, July 7, 2010
“Finding Peace in an Angry World”
I received an encouraging email from a subscriber which ended, “I pray that you may find peace in all that you do.”It’s not uncommon to end our correspondence with a benediction of some kind.This one seemed like a huge request from God.There are lots of things I do which are not peaceful at all.Just dealing with the needs of others brings a lot of anxiety to a minister of the Gospel.Peace?How do I find peace in all that I do?
This was my reply:
Your prayer request for me is awesome...."peace".I’ve had a rough day and this was exactly what I needed to hear, appropriately timed for someone who is carrying a lot of weight from a lot of different directions.I remember that when the apostle Paul would write to one of his groups, he always began it the same way: “Grace and peace be to you.”For years, I read those verses at the beginning of chapter one hurriedly, without thinking it was more than a greeting to begin the letter.Then, I looked closer."Grace" always precedes "peace" in each one of Paul’s writings.Look at the beginning of each of Paul’s letters and you will see what I mean.That seemed too obvious to be a coincidence, so I studied the two words and this is what I learned.
GRACE…it is God's unconditional love to us, undeserved, unmerited in any way; it is all “Him,” not us; it was by His hand that we were given everlasting life.That must come as the first message in the morning when we awaken, and the last one we hear as we go to sleep at night.Once we fully comprehend the depths of His love, His ability to give us His most precious gift, His own flesh and blood, then everything else pales in comparison.So, it really is possible for us to find the next word that follows:
PEACE...more than a state of mind; it is a way of life.And it comes to us because our circumstances do not matter as much anymore, certainly not as much as giving your only child up on the altar of sacrificial love, as our Lord did.Life will always be hectic, and sometimes out of control.But God's grace will help us to rise above the mundane activity and find meaning to everything that happens to us, both good and bad.It will not always be peaceful around you, but the Christian may always be at peace.Amen and amen.
Many people would quickly point to their family, their career, or maybe their health as the things that “lead” them - the things that determine their actions.Others might say their church, their spouse or a mentor they respect.All of these may provide leadership in our lives; but, how do we know if we’re being led properly?
Scripture tells us that “…if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:13-15 - KJV)
Are you being “led by the Spirit of God”?How do you know for sure?
My hobby is building computers; and, as a result, I’m frequently asked to diagnose computer problems.Very often, those problems are the result of computer viruses - little insidious programs that direct (or lead) the computer to do things its operator did not intend or direct.Usually you can tell when a virus has infected your computer by its actions.When your computer is doing something it should not be doing, it’s very likely that you have a virus.
We can apply that same test to our own lives - when we’re doing something we should not be doing, it’s very likely that we’re being led by something (someone) other than the Spirit of God.
The desires of our sinful nature are in conflict with the desires of the Spirit.“It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.” (Galatians 5:19-21 - The Message)Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
“But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard - things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely” (Galatians 5:22-23 - The Message).
Acts driven by Spirit produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That is our test!Those who belong to Christ have crucified the passions and desires of their sinful nature and instead, are led by the Spirit.(Galatians 5:16-26)Just like the computer, you can tell by observing their actions.In this case, their actions do reflect the intent and direction of their “operator” - the King of Kings, Jesus our Lord.
≈ Devotional for Friday, July 9, 2010
“How to Develop a Powerful Prayer Life”
Dr. Gregory R. Frizzell, in his book How To Develop A Powerful Prayer Life, tells the story of a high school student who wanted to play football. The coach was thrilled to hear this hunk of a young man say that he wanted to be on the team. Coach said, "Son, I'm so glad you want to play. We sure need a player of your size." That day, the student didn't show up for practice as he promised.
This routine continued for a week. "Coach, I really want to play football." And the coach would say, "Come to practice." Later, when the young man ran across the campus and began his speech one more time, the coach interrupted him with these words: "No, son, you really don't want to play football. I told you in order to play you must come to practice. The truth is, you had rather do other things than pay the price to be on the team. When you say you want to play, yet you won't come to practice, you are really just kidding yourself. Now excuse me while I go and coach the boys who are waiting at practice. You see, son, they do want to play football."
In Dr. Frizzell's book (given to me by a dear friend), he mentions three foundations of a powerful prayer life: 1.View your daily prayer time as a relationship with God and not some legalistic duty or discipline. 2.Spend significant time alone with God in uninterrupted prayer. 3. A powerful prayer life requires the "balanced practice" of all five types of prayer: praise, confession, petition, intercession and meditation.
Beloved, join me in a consecrated effort to get in the game. Will you agree with me to give practice toward our wish to experience an ever-deepening relationship with God? It begins with a disciplined prayer life.
GospeLines Prayer: Father, fill me with a passion to know You and love You with all my heart, and teach me to see prayer as the focus of our relationship. Amen and amen.