Devotional

So…WHO Do I Bless?

Good SamaritanMost Christians know they should be ‘blessing’ others. The problem can be who -there are so many! We can be barraged with appeals, through media and elsewhere. The same Bible that tells us to be generous also gives us guidance in this area.

Who is (literally) in front of you?
After Jesus reaffirmed the importance of ‘loving your neighbor to a ‘lawyer’ (religious expert), the lawyer questioned Jesus – “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25-37). The text indicated the lawyer was wanting to justify his level of non involvement. I mean, you can’t help everybody (true). Jesus’ answer is what is called The Parable of the Good Samaritan. There we see, again, religious experts literally walking around a traveller in trouble (he had been beaten up). Its not that they didn’t care – it just wasn’t something they had planned on. Their service to God was carefully segmented – God’s time, and their time. This was their time. The Samaritan (looked down on by the Jews) came upon the person in need, and reoriented his life to help the person at whatever level they needed. It was ‘inconvenient’ love and generosity, because we cannot always schedule the needs of others. We don’t have to look far – who is in front of you?

Who responds?
Earlier in Luke 10 (v. 1-16) Jesus sends out His followers into the places “He was going to go” (v.1). In other words, we come before He comes. As they receive us, they receive Him (v. 16, Matt. 10:40). Our generosity will make the most difference when it’s given to those to whom God has given us favor. It’s not hard to discern or observe if someone is ‘receiving us’ or not. It’s expressions, body language, openness. Those are the doors we step through. We don’t’ need to force them, nor should we. We are able to give the words of life and bring His healing to those with whom we find favor. Step through those doors of opportunity and watch God bless others and work through you.

Jesus & Coffee in the Morning

Jesus & Coffee in the Morning

coffeeOf all the spiritual disciplines, there can be none more important than the practice of a daily time of prayer. It seems to have the power like nothing else to keep believers close to God and strong in faith. I can not think of another spiritual discipline that has yielded more results in my life personally than embracing the habit of consistent morning prayer. I think there is something to what Jesus said in Matt. 6:33, seek first the Kingdom of God and our needs will be met. Space does not allow me to share all the blessings, miracles, wisdom and guidance provided, etc because of putting God literally first in my daily routine.

Yet, consistently I hear Christians telling me they have problems staying consistent in this area. This lack of consistency shows up in lack of consistency in other key areas – like having grace to be a fruitful, victorious Christian.   Why is this so hard?

I think it comes down to:

  • Minimizing it’s importance. Too many Christians get serious about prayer only when something’s going wrong. Then they light up the prayer requests, via Facebook, their church or whatever. God is merciful despite our lack of faithfulness, but this takes a toll over time. Also, our flesh takes over and tells us it’s ‘legalistic’ to get a ritual going. We live by grace! Only, we actually don’t. We live in the flesh too often.  Prayer only stays important when God actually becomes your SOURCE!
  • Ignorance. We get motivated and then fizzle out.   We ‘run out of things to pray about’ and then don’t feel effective. That’s what I want to deal with here.

My simple plan:

(A)  Block out the time.

For some time now (over 20 years), God has let me know I need to spend an hour a day with Him. And no, it’s not legalism. It’s grace – God’s love, presence, wisdom, and ability being imparted daily to me because I show up for my daily appointment. I’m not saying you should spend an hour, but what is God saying to you? I don’t believe God’s grace will be in great supply if you don’t block out time.

(B)  Follow the pattern

A lot of books have been written on prayer, but the best teaching is by Jesus Himself, over 2000 years ago. It’s known as “the Lord’s prayer”, but it is better entitled, “the model prayer”.   The most complete version of this is in Matt. 6:9-13. The following main distinctive areas are covered in this pattern prayer.

  • Praise Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name…

This is where I spend the first time in prayer. I wake up, shower, get my coffee, and begin with conscious verbal spoken praise. I bless God like they did in the Psalms (34:1; 100:4, etc.) I spend time praising God until I fully enter into His presence and I feel I have adequately expressed my praise to Him.

  • Purpose Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven

I pray for His Kingdom (government) & will over the following areas:

–      Myself, My family, My church, My city/region/nation, The world…

as the Lord leads.

  • Provision Give us this day our daily bread…

–       I keep God linked to my finances; expressing my faith in His provision and promise.

  • Pardon Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors

–       This is a daily checkup on my forgiveness toward others: have I really done this?

  • Protection Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one…

–      The Message puts this well,  “Keep us safe from ourselves and the devil” 

  • Passion Yours is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever!

–       I end as I begin, in praise and thanksgiving for who God is as well as all you have just petitioned Him for!

 

(C)  Be led by the Spirit

Rom. 8:26, 27 tells us we don’t know how to pray as we ought, but the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses.   I Cor. 14:14 tells us we don’t have to just pray out of our understanding but can pray out of our spirit with the spiritual language called praying in tongues. This is a tremendous help in our prayer life that the Holy Spirit has made available to us after we are filled by Him.

When we honor God by blocking out time each day (morning is preferred and given us as a pattern), and follow these Biblical patterns and instructions, this can be the most powerful time of the day. By the way, that’s why I don’t call my morning prayer time my ‘quiet time’. It’s not always quiet! It’s my time with God.