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Archive for the ‘prayer’ Category

We’ve all had those “Gibeonite deception” moments.

I’m talking about that sickening realization that we should have prayed for God’s wisdom rather than trusting in our own.

It stinks to realize that we’ve been tricked and trapped by our pride, whether it be with a bad business deal, a poor choice of neighborhoods or a dysfunctional, morally compromised relationship.

You can read at this link about how the Israelites thought they were smart enough to make peace treaties without God’s help when they entered the Promised Land.

But then they realized that they weren’t smart enough and, as a result, stuck with a perpetual reminder that they did not cleanse the land of pagan influences as God had ordained.

King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 3:5-6 that we are to trust the Lord with all of our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. As we acknowledge Him (as Lord) in all our ways, then God will direct our paths.

Joshua and the people of Israel leaned on their own understanding rather than asking God for direction and they got burned.

Please pray for wisdom when it comes to entering into close emotional relationships or into business deals or into a church family or into a new place to live

Pride claims no need for God’s help.

Humility confesses an abundance of need for God’s help.

You and I are not smart enough to figure out all the angles but God’s wisdom can help us to avoid problems we wouldn’t see otherwise.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Once again, I’m humbled by my lack of perceptiveness.

Here was my prayer just now:

“Thank you, God, for reminding me of why I must continue re-reading the Bible year after year. I have SO much to learn.”

I have read the book of Acts countless times and yet I never paid close enough attention to the first verse of Chapter 3.

I did today, however, and I am convicted of a change I need to make in how I approach prayer.

Here’s what I read there:

“Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service.”

The two apostles were used to praying at a designated time during the day. It was part of their spiritual discipline.

And when you read the rest of Acts 3, you’ll see how their devotion to prayer opened a huge door for ministry.

I like that sequence.

I want to experience the same depth of opportunity.

I believe as I become more structured in my prayer life, God will open more doors for ministry.

I’ve never designated a non-meal time during the day when I would stop for prayer other than my morning devotional time.

I need to make this change.

Perhaps you’ll do the same.

I need to have set-aside time with God.

Pray that I will find the discipline to get this change done. I have set my phone alarm for 3 p.m. daily in order to remind me.

I believe that more ministry opportunity — and power for ministry — will result.

I will pray the same for you.

Wouldn’t it be great if you and I could pledge to hold each other accountable for doing this?

If you’d like to join me in this, please let me know.

As always, I love you
Martin

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The father’s efforts hadn’t solved the problem.

The local physician’s efforts failed.

The town rabbi’s efforts didn’t succeed.

Perhaps even a temple priest living in the area had tried but his efforts produced no result.

And then these apostles of Jesus Christ stepped to the plate and took a swing at it.

Nothing.

What a string of failures.

Then Jesus showed up.

The boy possessed by a demon was soon set free from that terrible tormenter by the divine Deliverer.

“Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.” (Mark 9:27)

Frustrated by their inability to heal the boy, the apostles asked why couldn’t they do the miracle. Here’s what Jesus told them:

This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”

We all face obstacles for which our efforts and others’ efforts to help have not succeeded.

Some of you are greatly struggling financially. Others of you are hurting much in your relationship lives. Perhaps you’re among those whose bodies are not responding to medical treatment in the desired way and you’re discouraged.

I am facing some tough challenges in ministry and some personal business matters. And I would be foolish to rely only on myself in dealing with these.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not smart enough or strong enough or wealthy enough or tough enough or spiritual enough to slay these foes on my own.

I need to pray.

More.

For apart from prayer, apart from God, I can do nothing.

The father in Mark 9 was 0 for 5 in getting help, that is until he pleaded for Jesus’ help.

Let’s let His experience give us the needed reminder that prayer is the key to unlocking the intercessory power of God.

Whatever your tough challenge is, PRAY.

And please share this advice with others.

It’s the only path to resolution.

As always, I love you
Martin

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When a family member or dear friend is having a hard time, we typically find the time to pray for him or her.

Why? Because we love him or her, we want the situation to improve, we know that God has the ability to bring about changes and provide inner strength so desperately needed.

But what about when hard times are faced by people we barely know? By people we perhaps wish we didn’t know?

Intercessory prayer is not to be a matter of nurturing a buddy list.

It is, instead, to be a matter of seeking God’s intervention into the lives of those around us in order for them to experience better lives.

Even more, prayer is the opportunity for us to thank God for all the people in our lives, not just our family and friends.

This is not my invented philosophy. This is the command of God.

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” (I Timothy 2:1)

The Apostle Paul had plenty of people who hated him and wanted him dead.

He had even more people who didn’t like him and didn’t care if anything good happened to him.

Yet, Paul prayed for God to help them all. He prayed that pagan government employees would sense God’s leading and do the right things to protect society.

I’m sure that he thanked God for the opportunity to display his faith in ways that helped others and glorified God.

And so should we.

Let’s make sure that everybody in our corner of the world — yes, even that person who doesn’t like us — is lifted up in positive, intercessory prayer. Let’s ask God to help them.

And even if we have to tell our prideful nature to “Cease, be still,” let’s give thanks for those who give us grief.

One other thing….

This isn’t to happen only when we feel like it.

This is to be job #1, Paul said.

Wow.

I’d better get to praying…..

As always, I love you
Martin

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I need to be more like Job.

I need to pray more for our kids.

Job prayed for his children’s relationship with God and when he was concerned that they might have sinned, he would offer sacrifices to the Lord on behalf of each.

Praying as he did so, of course.

You can read about in the first part of chapter 1 in the book of Job.

Perhaps you’ll be compelled by Job’s example as was I.

I need to pray specifically for each of our children and their spouses. I need to pray for our grandchildren.

And I need to do this every day.

The adult kids are not perfect just as I’m not perfect.

They sin just as I sin.

That’s why I need to pray for them to hear the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit so that they’ll fall before the Lord in the repentant desire for forgiveness, something that I need to do often as well.

Job 1:5 is so compelling regarding intercessory prayer and sacrifice — “This was Job’s regular practice.”

Let’s make our regular practice, as well, whether on behalf of biological children, in-law children, adopted children, godparent children, nieces, nephews….

You get the idea.

As always, I love you
Martin

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There are times in our lives when we make biblical decisions that are really dumb.

And costly.

I’m not talking about choices made in alignment with the precepts of the Lord but instead decisions similar in prideful foolishness to those made by Bible characters.

Scripture is filled with examples of bad decisions. That’s actually one of the reasons that we can trust the integrity of the Bible. Other religions’ dogma manuals don’t describe the failures of the religion’s heroes, calling into question the objectivity of the writings.

When we read of the sins of one usually faithful Bible character after another, we sometimes see ourselves.

Adam and Eve believed the lie that God was lying and they suffered as a result.

Of course, we still suffer today from their sin.

Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samson, David, Solomon …. the list goes on of people who were famous for their biblical lives yet flawed in their conduct.

The common threads? Their good choices were made by asking God first and their bad choices were made without asking God first.

There is a cost to not asking God in prayer if we should do certain things.

Today’s reading in the One-Year Bible provides another confirmation of this truth.

Judah’s King Josiah picked a fight with Pharoah Neco that he should have avoided.

But King Josiah didn’t pray about it first.

HUGE mistake.

King Josiah lost his life because he didn’t pray to God for direction.

You can read about it by clicking here.

This was so sad, so unnecessary.

King Josiah had just led his people in a thrilling time of national revival and one would think that praying to God would have been the first thing the king did.

But perhaps overconfidence took over and Josiah ignored King Solomon’s timeless warning recorded in Proverbs 16:18:

“Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.”

Listen, it doesn’t matter how satisfied we feel with our faith and personal competency with the challenges we face in life. If we don’t pray for wisdom, leading and strength — if we try to handle things on our own because we think we know what’s best — bad things will eventually happen.

Judah suffered terribly after Josiah’s debacle and ended up destroyed with many dead and others enslaved.

Let’s pray first before significant decisions, OK?

The cost of not doing so is too high.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s tough to watch somebody you care about continue to make choices that harm themselves … and sometimes others.

The problem might involve booze or drugs or bitter hatred or porn or unrestrained spending or sexual immorality or even just a merry-go-round of failed, short-term relationships.

Sometimes, the choices are particularly harmful and can lead to steep costs such as financial, moral or physical bankruptcy.

You might even have someone you love who is in the midst of a painful, costly chapter now because of previous choices.

So what do you do?

Lecture them?

Look the other way?

Write them off and stop caring?

Beg them to stop?

Giving up on them is not a faithful option.

Giving them up to the Lord IS the faithful option.

While our words to them might vary based on their personality and our level of relationship with them, the words that will matter most are those spoken not to them but to the Lord.

When chronic sin has enchained a loved one’s life, only the power of the Lord break that chain.

That’s why our prayers are so important in the desired deliverance of a loved one from Satan’s grip.

Sadly, the consequences of that loved one’s sin are sometimes already taking hold by the time we learn of the problem.

What do we do?

What Aaron did in Numbers 16:43-50, that’s what.

We carry the burning incense of prayer to the Lord, standing between Him and the “dead,” the loved one in rebellion.

Click the link above and you’ll read of how Moses’ brother Aaron, the first high priest, grabbed the incense burner from the tabernacle and ran out to stand between the grumbling Hebrews and the cloud of the Lord’s presence that had covered the tabernacle.

You’ll recall that the smoke and aroma of the incense burners were visible representations of the prayers that God desired from His people.

By running and grabbing the incense burner, Aaron was clearly indicating the prayerful desire for God’s mercy to not give people the punishment they deserved.

God relented.

The full weight of consequences was withheld.

Thank God for Aaron’s intercession.

Please, my friend, pray fervently for your loved one caught in a lie of Satan.

He or she might still have to feel the bitter sting of some consequences, but your “standing between the living and the dead” just might persuade God to withhold the full measure of consequences they deserve.

We’d certainly want someone else to pray this for us if we were caught in Satan’s web of deception.

As always, I love you
Martin

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