Problems and Prayer (2 Cor 1:10-11 )

He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and He will deliver us. We have put our hope in Him that He will deliver us again while you join in helping us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gift that came to us through the prayers of many.
In 2 Cor 1:10-11 Paul gives us a biblical flow for how to handle a situation. First, acknowledge the situation. A lot of times we want to be super Christians about it and ignore the situation but truth be told ignoring the problem will not make it go away. Ignoring it does not make you a super Christian, it makes you a dummy. Don’t be a dummy. There is nothing wrong with admitting you are not strong enough on your own to tackle everything that comes your way. God does not expect us to handle it all that is why Jesus is always making intercession for us.
Second, we ask for prayer. Whether because of pride, fear, thinking no one will, or any other reason, sometimes we have a problem asking for prayer. I know I struggle here and, to be honest, I think my issue is a mix of pride and not sure if anyone will pray but to resolve this I have started to take my prayer life for others, that is committing to praying for others, much more seriously and have been more aggressive with my follow through. We need to ask others for prayer and we need to follow through and pray for people when they ask us. Your prayers go straight to God. You might not know what to say. If you don’t then simply say what you do know. It is not a competition. You cannot earn a gold medal in praying so just pray from your heart.
Finally, rejoice when God comes through. A major part of sharing needs and praying for others is that we all get to be in on the rejoicing. There is something amazing about knowing that God came through for someone regarding something you have been praying about. It also strengthens your own personal faith. We are a family and when the family gathers the family gets to rejoice.
So in short, share your needs, pray for others, and rejoice when God comes through.
Just a thought,
Mike

Love Like Jesus

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Of all the things Jesus talks about and does this one is not on my list of things I like. I like when Jesus talks about asking by faith in His name because it gives me confidence that He hears my little prayers. I like reading about Jesus walking on water or calming the waves because it reminds me my Lord is above creation. I like reading that Jesus fulfilled the Law because it lets me know I don’t have to try and meet the tedious commands of it. I don’t like reading that I need to forgive those who harm me or that I need to turn my cheek to those who have slapped me because that is hard.

Jesus says to forgive because on the cross He forgave. He says to turn the other cheek because He turned His. Jesus did not come to give us a bunch of rules to follow instead He came, partly, to give us an example to follow. He is patient and we should be patient. He is gentle and we should be gentle. He is love and we should be love. Our task is simple…We are to walk as He walked.

 

 

Peace Beyond Understanding

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

God’s Peace comes through

  1. Rejoicing always and in all things
  2. Letting your gentleness be evident to all
  3. Not being anxious but laying all things down before the King

“Rejoice in the Lord always again I say rejoice” Philippians 4:4. This is the first step as it were in receiving the promised peace. The first thing Paul tells us is to do is rejoice, and rejoice. How do we rejoice when everything seems to be falling apart? How do we rejoice when it seems like all hope is lost? How are we to rejoice when there does not seem to be anything to rejoice about? It starts by understanding why we are rejoicing. We are not rejoicing because of what God does for us. We do not rejoice because circumstances are favorable to us. We do not rejoice because of any material thing. We rejoice because God is on the throne, and we rejoice because Christ came and gave His life as a ransom to redeem us from sin. We rejoice because Jesus Christ is Lord. That is the reason we rejoice.  If we can only rejoice because of things in the material world then we will lose heart and not be able to rejoice. We must look past the circumstantial, past what our eyes can see and say I will rejoice because I am in Christ, I will rejoice because God saved a sinner such as me and if I loose all I will still rejoice, and I will rejoice in Christ my comfort and hope. We do not praise God because of what He can do, instead, we praise God because He is God and He is worthy of praise. Praise and rejoicing go hand in hand as they are inseparably one and the same. We must get to the same place that Paul was in when he said: “whether in want or plenty I have learned to be content.” We must be ok with whatever God sees fit to give us. We must be able to say as Job did “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” I can not look at my present situation and look for reasons to rejoice or praise I must look past them and say by faith it is well with my soul. Rejoicing alone is not enough, however, it is only part of the answer.

The second part is to let others see in us what Christ has done in you“Let your gentleness be evident to all” as Philippians 4:5 says. You might be tempted as I was to say what does this have to do with receiving God’s promised peace. How is letting others see how Christ changed me bring in Gods promised peace? This gentleness is our patience in life, our gentle spirit, and our forbearance with others. We must show how we have been changed into a new creation, and are not the same old man. This is the fruit of the work the Spirit has done in us. How are we to expect to receive God’s promised peace of we are not being gentle with others as He commanded us (1 Cor 13:4 love is patient). It is a matter of obeying Him. The absence of patience brings in strife and where there is strife and quarreling there can be no peace. If we want Gods promised peace then we must also allow an atmosphere where peace can flourish or we would never know it was there. But rejoicing and showing my gentleness still are not enough to bring in the fullness of God’s promised peace.

The final part of this is to trust in God for all things “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God” Philippians 4:6. Jesus says what man by worrying can add one cubit to his life. We have a saying in my house when someone is fretting and being anxious about something they cannot control “are you going to get any taller” and “whose hands” ok so we have two sayings. What do I gain by being anxious? The simple answer is nothing, the slightly longer answer is I actually lose things by being anxious. Anxiety steals any peace that is there, it robs you of any good thing you have. It is only a negative there is no positive side to this. If I am anxious what I am saying is this problem, this thing is too big for me and too big for God. He who made the universe and all that is in it by His Word, my problem, is just too much for Him. There is nothing that He cannot do and nothing that cannot be brought to Him.  

In everything by prayer and petition make your request known unto God. We must bring everything and I mean everything to God. We are children of the King we have access to the throne of grace and we can and must come boldly to it. God of the universe, maker of heaven and earth the King of kings and Lord or lords says to us come to me with all your problems. He wants us to bring everything to Him there is nothing that will be too big or small to bring to Him. 

Just a quick word on how you can bring the big things to God without hesitation; bring the small stuff.  If you are not trusting God with the small things in your life how can you expect Him to handle the big stuff? We must start by coming to Him and saying, Father, I have a headache please help. Or Lord I can’t sleep please help. I have heard of and have myself prayed for things that may seem absolutely absurd to you and others but those things have strengthened my faith in a way that I cannot explain. We must get in the pattern of bringing all things to Him who sits on heaven’s throne. We must train ourselves to rejoice in all situations, to let our gentleness show before men, and to not be anxious but to give our concerns to the Lord. 

What does this look like when we are able to do this? What does it look like when we are able to live a life that is grounded in those principles? In 1873 the hymn ‘It is well with my soul’ was written. It was written after the greatest tragedy in Horatio Spafford’s life. His four daughters had recently perished at sea and passing the place they died he wrote these words

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

 

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

 

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!

My sin, not in part but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

 

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:

If Jordan above me shall roll,

No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,

Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

 

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,

The sky, not the grave, is our goal;

Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!

Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

 

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;

The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,

Even so, it is well with my soul.

Reading the words we can see that he lived a life that understood what the Bible taught about rejoicing, patience, and casting our cares on the Lord. These things have a real practical application and a real practical result when they are followed through on. We have to be able to understand that the things God calls us to do are for our benefit. The precepts He has laid down work for our good as those who love Him. If we love God we do the things He asks us to do and we can rejoice in Him, we can show or gentleness to others, and if we love God then we will cast our cares on Him and receive His promised peace.

Supposed To

Have you ever thought that you were made for more? This feeling that where you are now is not your destination but a stepping stone or that you are just in a waiting period. Not an I want more feeling but an I am supposed to do/be more knowing that you just cannot shake. I separate these two things because “I want more” can change depending on feelings and distractions but a “supposed to” hardly changes. The difference is between feeling and knowing. If you just have the want more my advice would be to figure out what the supposed to is and then focus on that. Wants are a good place to start but they are not strong enough to drive you. They are not concrete enough to strengthen you. You can get distracted and carried away by something else and that is ok if you are still trying to figure it out but a supposed to that’s a different story. A want to makes you say I’ll try while a supposed to makes you I’m all in.

I think it is clear I want to take a minute and talk about the supposed to. A supposed to is usually birthed out of a desire (I want), but it has been refined. It has been honed and shaped. It has been tested and its weight is known. It has gone through the fire so to speak and has come out harder. The very nature of a supposed to is to be hard. It is hard to make, hard to have, and hard to break. They are too hard to make because you cannot just wake up with it. You start with a desire and then test it out a little. You see if it can hold up. It is hard to have because it will push you. It does not let you settle for less. It needs to be hard to break because people and the world will try to break it.

Joseph and David are good examples of having a supposed to. The story of Joseph, in particular, is good to look at because his started with a clear want to and was tested over and over. David is also good to look at because he was tested by those closest to him.

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. I have four younger brothers and I contemplated selling them into slavery many times but I never actually went through with it. His brothers, on the other hand, had little issue with the idea. Joseph was the family favorite and because of his dreams and big mouth he went to Egypt. Joseph was good at everything he did. God’s favor was always on Joseph you could say he had the Midas touch. Every position he was put in he excelled at. Yard work? Check. Financial management? Check. Cooking? Check. Leadership? Check. It did not matter what he was doing he did it well. When he was thrown into prison he excelled there too. He was literally running the place in no time. Joseph was great at all of these things but these were not the things he was supposed to do. There is a very important lesson here and I am afraid that it is only half given a lot of times.

The first part is that you need to do well in whatever position you find yourself in. If you are a clerk be a great clerk, if you are a janitor be a great janitor, if you are a Sunday school teacher be a great Sunday school teacher. Whatever position you find yourself in do it to the best of your ability even if it is not where you are supposed to be. This is the part of the lesson I think we all know. We have heard it a thousand times but there is more and it is not hidden. It is right there in Genesis 40:14 and it where Joseph says to the cupbearer “but when all goes well for you, remember that I was with you.” Joseph was doing the things he had to do but he never forgot what he was supposed to do. He excelled where he was at and looked for opportunities to get to get to his supposed to. If your supposed to is not hard then you will settle and if you settle then you lose it. Joseph was not supposed to be in prison he was supposed to do great things. On to David.

David was a wonderful shepherd. He protected his flock by fighting a bear and a lion. That takes guts. He was a talented musician and I would imagine he was pretty good armor bearer (even though I am not sure what that means). He was a great poet and he was a wonderful friend. David was good at all of these things but they were not his supposed to. David was anointed by Samuel to be king and his destiny was not to be a shepherd. His first big test to his supposed to or you can think of it as a “meant for” was not against Goliath but against his brother and Saul. If your supposed to is not hard then you will let others determine your position and worth. His brother questioned his motives and suggested he was irresponsible (1 Sam 17:28). Saul tried to make him more like him (1 Sm 17:38). Saul is a great example of what will often happen to you when you try to live out your supposed to. People will kind of get on board with you and help you but first, you need to conform to their idea of how to execute the plan. If your supposed to is not resolved (hard) then you will break and end up coming up short. David put the armor on and then realized that he could not do the job dressed up like someone else. He needed to be who he was and do it the way God had taught him.

In both Joseph and David, we can see examples of how a supposed to is made and tested. These things are great to look at but unless you apply them to your own life then nothing will change for you. Unless we can take this and ask ourselves if we have our supposed to then they are just nice stories. If you already have your supposed to then take this as encouragement to keep going. If you know your supposed to and are living it then find someone who does not have theirs or someone who is working towards theirs and be a blessing.

Don’t settle for less than you were made for. Jesus did not come to save you and leave you stuck. He has great and wonderful plans for you. Jesus says in John 15 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” God wants you to bear much fruit as be a disciple of Jesus. That does not mean wealth or health but an abundant and full life. Why settle for less if God wants more for you?

Just a thought,
Mike