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Discussion in 'Discussions about Religion.' started by RiverOL, Oct 29, 2013.

  1. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    A Father and a Friend
    Luke 11
    "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find ..." (v. 9)



    The great danger of a quiet time is that we will use it as an opportunity to petition God rather than to know Him and be known by Him. I thought back to a statement I remember reading in C. S. Lewis's book, Prayer: Letters to Malcolm, to the effect that the older he got the less involved he became in petitionary prayer.

    "The strange thing is," said Lewis (and I am paraphrasing now), "the more I pray for things the less my prayers seem to get answered. I think God is leading me on to ask less and less for things and more and more for Himself." Then he expressed this profound thought: "Prayer is taking part in the process of being known." I glanced up as I wrote those words and looked out at the trees in my garden.

    God knows everything there is to know about those trees, but they are not persons so they cannot join in the process of being known. God knows all there is to know about me, but that objective knowledge is quite different from the process of drawing close to Him in prayer and letting Him know me through my opening up to Him.

    One is objective knowledge, the other experiential. And what is breathtakingly marvelous about all this is that in every spiritual tete I hold with God, He seeks to draw my soul into such a relationship with Him that I know Him as a Father and a Friend. Such knowledge is almost too good to be true. But also too good not to be true.

    Prayer:
    My Father and my Friend, may my times of communion with You be more than just a petitioner talking to a Supplier. I know You are willing to open Yourself fully to me; help me open myself fully to You. In Christ's Name I ask it. Amen.
     
  2. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Good Morning God

    "The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."1

    When praying for God's guidance, do you ever feel that your prayers are not rising above the ceiling? Or do you sometimes find it difficult to concentrate because your mind wanders all over the "wilderness" as it were?

    I recall one occasion when I was badly wanting God's guidance, before going to bed, I picked up my bedside telephone and dialed 1-800-4heaven—from which I received a recorded message that said in a flat monotone voice: "You are dialing the wrong number."

    I was at least amused. It is true that (whether we feel it or not) God does hear our prayers when they come from the heart. As the old ditty says: "I often say my prayers / but do I really pray / and does the meaning of my heart / go with the words I say?" God doesn't always answer our prayers in the way we want, but he always answers them in one way or another. Sometimes his answer is "no," sometimes it is "yes," and sometimes it is "wait a while."

    However, when having a difficult time praying, I have on many occasions written my prayers to God. This is something that King David often did in his Psalms. I have found this very helpful and suggest that you try and practice doing this oftentimes.

    Today's suggested prayer is an example: "Good morning, God, this is Jane (your name) calling/writing. Thank you for your promise that you always hear my prayers when I pray sincerely from my heart. Again today I commit and trust my life and way to you. Please guide me in the way that I should go. I am available so please use me to be 'as Jesus' in some way to every life I touch this day. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus name, amen."
     
  3. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Knowing God
    Philippians 3
    "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection ..." (v. 10)

    It is not my purpose at this moment to explore the philosophy of prayer, but I do feel it will be helpful to some if I point out that God delights also to be known. The Father is known by the other members of the Trinity (and of course they by Him), and that undoubtedly brings Him great pleasure. But He longs to be known by His children also. There is something in the heart of the Deity that enjoys being known. A lovely, though apocryphal, story told by a Jewish rabbi describes a conversation between Abraham and God.

    It goes something like this. "God said to Abraham: 'Do you realize, Abraham, that without Me you would be nothing?' 'Ah yes, Lord,' said Abraham, 'I do realize that without You I would be nothing.' Then he thought for a moment, and bowing his head low to the ground said: 'Forgive me if I am being presumptuous, O Lord, but it occurs to me that without me You would not be known.'"

    This is only a story, of course, and is not intended to convey that God is dependent on His creatures. It simply illustrates the truth that in some mystical way we enrich the heart of God by knowing Him. I am not saying that by knowing God we add to Him or complete Him. That would be foolish. But we can by our deeper knowledge of Him bring Him pleasure. And if there is no greater reason than that for knowing God, then it ought to suffice.

    Prayer:
    O Father, I am grateful for the way in which I have come to know You, but I long to know You still more. You open Yourself fully to me; may I open myself fully to You. In Christ's Name I pray. Amen.
     
  4. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    God's Will—Our Hiding Place

    "For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock."1

    In her bestseller book, The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom tells of the tense times in Holland during the German invasion. One night when there was bombing and shelling happening all around the house where she and her sister lived, Corrie couldn't sleep. Hearing her sister in the kitchen, she decided to go down and join her.

    Long into the night after all the bombing ceased and all was silent, Corrie returned to her bed only to find that her pillow—right where her head lay—had been pierced with a sizable piece of sharp metal shrapnel from an exploding bomb! Going downstairs to the kitchen saved her life!

    She rushed to tell her sister saying, "Betsie, if I hadn't heard you in the kitchen . . . ." To this her saintly sister interrupted, "Don't say it, Corrie. There are no ifs in God's world. The center of his will is our safety."

    Later through terrible trying times in a Nazi prison, Miss Ten Boom was to learn over and over this marvelous truth: "God's will is our hiding place."

    Suggested prayer: "Dear God, I don't ask that you deliver me from the storms of life, but please help me to find deliverance in them. Hide me in the hollow of your hand, and in the shelter of your tabernacle, and set me high upon a rock. Gratefully in Jesus' name. Amen."

    1. Psalm 27:5 (NIV).
     
  5. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Stated Times
    Matthew 6
    "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen." (v. 6)


    In order to go deeper with God we must sit quietly in His presence, talk with Him, and let Him talk with us. Those who say they can develop their relationship with God without stated times of prayer and the reading of His Word are fooling themselves. Jesus (as we saw) is our best example.

    He knew God's presence better than anyone, yet He made time to get alone with Him and talk to Him in private prayer. To say that we can develop a rich relationship with God by recognizing we are always in His presence but without taking time to have a spiritual focus is as senseless as saying that we can live in a state of physical nourishment without having regular meals.


    As I travel I often ask Christians I meet if they have a daily or regular quiet time, and sometimes the answers I receive astonish me. One man told me: "Yes, I get up early, sit quietly in my garden and watch the birds feeding or the goldfish swimming in the pond ... and I feel rejuvenated in my spirit and ready to start the day."

    The modern idea of a quiet time! The whole purpose of the quiet time is to take in the spiritual resources of God. Nature is wonderful and restorative, but for the intake of spiritual resources we need the blessing that comes from the Word of God and prayer. The quiet time is where the soul grows receptive, where prayer becomes powerful. In turn we gain the quiet heart, that becomes quiet confidence, and that becomes quiet power.

    Prayer:
    O Father, deepen the conviction within me that I cannot develop my relationship with You without taking the time to commune with You. Help me make my meeting times with You one of life's great priorities. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
     
  6. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Ah, What Then?
    Psalms 46
    "Be still, and know that I am God ..." (v. 10)

    In the quiet time the soul is stilled so that it concentrates on God, and it is through this concentration that the spiritual life is deepened. The great French Christian Blaise Pascal once declared that "nearly all the ills of life spring from this simple source, that we are unable to sit still for long in a quiet room." In this modern age people seem to find it difficult to sit quietly for long.

    They must have a radio blaring or something else to drown the silence. Sitting still can be therapeutic, but what if in the stillness we meet with God? We then receive spiritual therapy. God waits to offer us infinite resources -- for the asking and the taking.

    The quiet time is where the soul grows receptive, where prayer becomes, as a poet put it, "the organ of spiritual touch," where the touch becomes, as effective and as healing as the touch of the woman on the hem of Jesus' garment, where peace flows into our turbulence, where love absorbs our resentments, where joy heals our griefs, and where we enter into the process of being known.

    The quiet time shuts us in with God, the door closes upon us, and then infinite resources flood into our soul. The door opens and we move out, with an increased awareness of God, ready to face a world that knows so little about Him. There is, as we have said, great benefit in stillness, but when we meet with God in the stillness -- ah, what then?

    Prayer: My Father and my God, I see that I need to think more seriously about the whole nature of my quiet times. In avoiding legalism, help me not to go in the other direction either -- the direction of casualness. In Your Son's precious Name I pray. Amen.
     
  7. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Can God Be Trusted?
    Psalms 20
    "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." (v. 7)

    We consider now another matter that is essential if we are to go deeper with God -- confidence in His character. Is God good and can He be trusted? The manner in which we answer this question is crucial to our ongoing relationship with Him. If we have doubts about His character -- His justice for example -- it will most certainly affect the way we view Him and approach Him.

    You may have heard the story of the farmer whose one and only tractor failed. So he decided to walk across the fields to a neighboring farmer whom he knew had three. As he strode to the neighbor's farmhouse, he reflected on what he knew about his fellow farmer. He remembered that he never appeared at any of the village's social events, and he had heard somewhere that he had a reputation as a skinflint.

    More negative thoughts about the farmer entered his head, but by this time he found himself at the door of the farmhouse. The farmer, who had seen him coming across the fields, appeared at the doorway and asked: "What's the problem?" "I've come to tell you," said the man, "that you can keep your jolly old tractor!" Many do not realize how profoundly the way we think about God and His, character influences the way we worship Him, the way we work for Him, and the way we witness to Him. Any doubts about the goodness of God will result in our souls keeping their distance from Him. If we do not have complete confidence in Him, we will not desire a close relationship with Him.

    Prayer:
    Father, I see how crucial is this issue. Help me deal with any doubts that may be circulating in my mind. I don?t want any distance between You and me; I want closeness. I am listening, dear Father. Continue leading me on. Amen.
     
  8. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Rich Is Not What You Have

    "Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."1

    Dr. James Moore wrote, "During World War II, four young American soldiers who had been on the front lines of battle for some time, were sent back to a small French village for a little R & R. When they arrived in the village, they realized that it was Christmas Eve. They began to discuss how they would like to spend Christmas.

    One of the soldiers said, "You know, as we were coming into town earlier today, I noticed an orphanage on the outskirts of the village. Why don't we go there in the morning and take some Christmas joy to those children?" The others liked the idea and the more they talked about it, the more excited they became. So they went out and bought all kinds of toys, candy, clothing, food, books, and games. Early the next morning they showed up at the front door of the orphanage with wonderful Christmas presents for all the children.

    "The orphanage director was pleased and all the children were delighted as they opened their gifts. All the children that is, except for one little girl who stood quietly off to the side. She appeared to be 5 or 6 years old and her face looked very sad. One of the soldiers noticed that she was not participating, so he asked the orphanage director about the little girl. 'Bless her heart,' said the director, 'we just got her last week. Both of her parents were killed in a car wreck. There was no one to take her in, so we brought her here.'

    "The soldier went over to the little girl and gently he said to her, 'It's Christmas morning and we have wonderful Christmas presents here: toys, clothes, candy, food, books, and puzzles. Which would you like? What do you want most for Christmas?' And the little girl said, 'I want somebody to hold me.'

    "Maybe that is the best Christmas gift of all—someone to hold us. As somebody once put it, 'Rich is not what you have. It's who you have beside you.' Well, this sacred season comes along once each year to remind us that 'Love Came Down At Christmas,' that God is even now reaching out to us with open arms, and that He wants us to accept His love and to pass it on to others."2

    Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that love came down at Christmas from Heaven in the birth of your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to earth to give his life as a ransom for my sins. In gratitude for all you have done for me, help me to live with eternal values in view and not get caught up in the materialism of this world. But rather, help me to give to others as you have given to me. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
     
  9. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Doubt and Disobedience
    Genesis 3
    "[The serpent] said to the woman, 'Did God really say, "You must not eat from any tree in the garden"?'" (v. 1)

    We continue discussing the point that unless we have a strong conviction that God is entirely trustworthy, we will not desire a deep and ongoing relationship with Him. Yesterday we spoke of the distance from God our souls experience when we entertain doubts about His goodness.

    Do you realize that the reason for the distance between God and the first human couple in the Garden of Eden was doubt about God's goodness? Doubt about God soon leads to dislike of God, and dislike of God soon leads to disobedience.

    When Eve responded to the Tempter's insinuation that God did not have her best interests at heart (by withholding something from her), the doubt she entertained soon led to dislike of God, and then it was relatively easy to take the next step and disobey Him.

    The moment her doubt about God's goodness expressed itself in taking the forbidden fruit, the foundation on which her relationship with God was established -- trust -- crumbled beneath her feet. Adam rapidly followed her in committing the same kind of sin (doubt about God's goodness) and then, inevitably, distance replaced closeness.

    Since the Fall, every child born into this world has within its nature a basic distrust of God. Paul puts it like this: "The sinful mind is hostile to God" (Rom. 8:7). The word hostility can be translated "enmity." No one trusts someone they regard as an enemy. Distance between humankind and God arose when the first human couple doubted His goodness. Closeness between human beings and God comes when we have confidence in His goodness. As we said yesterday, no confidence -- no relationship.

    Prayer:
    O God my Father, help me have an unshakable confidence in Your character so that no doubts prompted by the devil will ever penetrate my soul. I want no distance between us, but an ever growing closeness. Grant it, in Jesus' Name. Amen.
     
  10. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Build on the Rock
    Matthew 7:15-29
    "'... everyone who ... does not put [Jesus' words] into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.'" (v. 26)

    "The biggest problem we face in the Christian life," said Dr. Cynddylan Jones, a famous Welsh preacher, "is distance." He continued: "The only way that distance can be overcome is by having the perspective of Job who said: 'Though He slay me yet will I trust Him.'"

    When I talk to counselors in training I tell them that what they should be listening for as a counselee tells his or her story is distance. That's what underlies most problems that bring people into counseling. This does not mean we should ignore or make light of the surface problems with which people may be struggling.

    But the plain fact is this -- when we are close to God and have a deep and intimate relationship with Him, we may feel downcast but not destroyed. Therefore, every Christian counselor's ultimate goal should be to close any distance there may be between the person and God, and to develop spiritual oneness.

    Counseling is not effective or complete until this is accomplished. How does distance come between ourselves and God? There are many causes -- bitterness and resentment against another, persistent sin, failure to establish a devotional life -- but largely it arises through a lack of trust. If you cut your way through the maze of human problems that's what you find -- an inability to trust. That's what happened in the Garden of Eden, and that's what happens in our personal Garden of Eden also. To try to develop a close relationship with God and fail to deal with this most basic issue is about as effective as building a skyscraper on an acre of sand.

    Prayer:
    O God, I see so clearly that although there are many things that bring about distance between You and me, the most basic is lack of trust. Help me settle this issue once and for all over the next few days. In Christ's Name I pray. Amen.
     
  11. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    What Worked? What Didn’t?
    . . . he is a new creation. The old has passed away;
    behold, the new has come—2 Corinthians 5:17

    God’s at work in us—every one of us—whether we can see it or not (Philippians 2:13). He’s working to transform our character into the character of his son, our King, Jesus Christ. And he’ll continue working until the work is complete (Philippians 1:6). Our job is to join him. Our job is to follow Jesus and work ourselves, in obedience, to increase the amount goodness and light in our lives . . . and to decrease the opposite:

    “. . . do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:14-16).

    Who among us doesn’t need more goodness and more light? That’s rhetorical, of course. And when’s a better time to increase our intentionality about increasing our holiness than at the beginning of a new year? That’s rhetorical too.

    So how do we? Well, we get intentional by looking at the choices we’ve been making—whom we’ve been spending time with, the practices we’ve been engaging in, the experiences we’ve been enjoying. We get intentional by taking time to reflect upon those choices . . . and upon their results. And we get intentional by deciding which relationships, which practices, which experiences we’d like more of, going forward, because they increase holiness—and which we’d like less of, because they don’t

    Consider the past twelve months. What was good? Who was good for you? What worked? What wasn’t so good? What didn’t work? Now, draw up (and commit to) a simple, practical, achievable plan for bringing more of what’s been good, and what’s worked for you, into the next twelve months . . . and less of what wasn’t and what didn’t.
     
  12. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Where Is God?
    Psalms 74
    "Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long." (v. 22)

    How do we develop trust in the goodness of God when so much that is happening in the world seems to contradict it? If God is good, how can He allow disasters? Dr. M. Scott Peck opens his book The Road Less Travelled with these words: "Life is difficult.

    This is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it." I have great difficulty with some of Dr. Scott Peck's statements, but I fully endorse these remarks. Once we accept the fact that life is difficult -- that the mystery of why calamities and suffering occur will never be fully solved while we are here on earth -- then we will stop demanding that a satisfactory answer be found and begin to get on with life. Christians go down different routes regarding this matter of calamities and suffering.

    One is to close their eyes and pretend the tremendous problems are not there. But integrity requires that we face whatever is true. Reality is grim -- innocent children are abused, starved, massacred -- and countless other forms of atrocity are carried out around the world daily. We must not blind our eyes to these facts and pretend they are untrue because they appear to contradict the concept of God?s goodness.

    Pretense must never be our refuge. We must be willing to look at these things, unpleasant and horrible though they be, and allow ourselves to be jarred by them. When we face life honestly and allow ourselves to be jolted by what we see, then, and only then, are we ready for God to speak.

    Prayer:
    Gracious and loving heavenly Father, give me the courage not to bury my head in the sand and pretend there are no problems. Help me stand even when I cannot understand. For Your own dear Name's sake. Amen.
     
  13. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Our Heart... the best gift

    "My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways."1


    There is a poem that I heard when I was young, and it always comes to mind around Christmastime. There are different versions of it, but if I remember correctly, it goes something like this:

    "What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb. If I were a wise men, I would do my part; yet what can I give Him? Give Him my heart."

    At Christmas, we remember how God gave us an incomparable gift. A gift in which he wrapped all His love and forgiveness. He gave us His only Son, Jesus, to be born as a baby and later grow to be our Savior and Redeemer. When we think about the greatness of this gift, there is absolutely NOTHING that we could give God to compare with His gift to us. However, there is one thing that would be the best gift we could give Him… Our heart!

    When we make the decision to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we come to be his children. And just like we, as parents, rejoice at the birth of our children, God also rejoices as our Heavenly Father when we are "born" in faith. The love that He feels towards us never ends. Despite our failures and imperfections, God loves us and desires that, we too, love Him in return.

    This Christmas, my beloved reader, I encourage you to give your heart to Jesus. The joy, peace, and love that you will feel has no comparison. Even when trials and hard times come in our lives, we can completely trust that we are not alone because Jesus is by our side and will never leave or forsake us. If you give your life completely to God, you can be sure that He will do marvelous things in your life. Only in Jesus will we be complete. It is because of this amazing gift that we can truly celebrate Christmas.

    Suggested prayer: "Dear God, there are so many distractions during Christmastime that we sometimes lose focus of the true reason of Christmas… Jesus Christ. Allow us to recognize how very much you love us and the great sacrifice that you made when you sent your Son to this world. Help us never take your amazing gift for granted, and allow us to live each and every day for you. Gratefully. In Jesus name, amen."

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!



    1. Proverbs 23:26 (NIV).
     
  14. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    What this Year Might Hold
    The Lord is my helper; I will not fear—Hebrews 13:6
    We have an enemy, brother, and he is a liar. He “fills the world with lies” (John 8:44 MSG). He doesn’t tire of his work . . . and he is clever. He reserves certain lies, holding them, waiting for the right time and for the right men. For he knows that some of his lies are more persuasive at certain times and under specific circumstances.

    As we stand now, looking out at the expanse of a new year, he knows it’s time to whisper fear into the minds of men. He’s whispering, to those who’ll listen, to be afraid of what trouble might be coming. He’s whispering this lie now because he understands our nature. He knows we like control. He knows we like to know what’s next. He knows it’s difficult to feel “in control” when facing the uncertainty . . . when anything, really, might happen. And so, he knows it’s time to take advantage.

    We confront a choice, therefore. We can accept his lie, shoulder the fear, shrink back and focus on survival by returning to things that offer us just a little comfort—work, food, alcohol, pornography, distraction, withdrawal. Or, we can reject his lie, spurn his fearmongering, hold tight to the promises of God, and move forward—trusting that no trouble will surpass God’s ability to protect us and care for us.

    “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?’” (Romans 8:15-17 MSG)


    It’s important to, every so often, declare what you believe and with whom you stand. It’s important to declare these things before God and before your enemy. Pray a prayer of declaration right now, brother. Consider this prayer the foundation for your new year.
     
  15. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    The God Who is There
    Job 42
    "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you." (v. 5)

    The Book of Job records the story of a godly man who underwent some of the most bitter experiences it is possible to meet with in this life. At first Job says very little about his difficulties, but later in the book he begins to face the reality of what has happened to him and declares that if he could have an interview with God he would tell Him exactly what he thought of Him (Job 23:1--17).

    It was when he faced his hardships, recognized how he really felt and admitted it that God came to him and answered him (Job 38:1--41:34). We must never be afraid of admitting that what we see around us doesn?t match up with what we know about the character of God. To blind our eyes to the realities of life for fear that what we observe might turn us against God is utterly foolish.

    We must face difficult issues, for it is only when we do so that we are ready to hear God speak. If we refuse to face reality, then our souls are not alert to hear His voice. We fear that we might hear something to make us even more uncertain of God, and thus prefer to take refuge in illusion.

    When Job faced the reality of his situation and how he really felt, then he was ready for God to speak. But notice God didn't give any answers to Job's questions. He gave Himself. Job had an encounter with God that more than satisfied him. He could live without answers when he knew that God was there.

    Prayer:
    Loving Father, the more I learn about You the more wonderful I see You are. Help me never to take refuge in illusion but to bring all my doubts and fears directly to You. Do for me what You did for Job -- enrich me with Your presence. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
     
  16. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    What Will Your Legacy Be?

    "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one that sows to please the Spirit [of God], from the Spirit will reap eternal life."1

    I have borrowed today's title from Michael Josephson of Character Counts. In considering the shameful business leaders who have "cooked the books" in their accounting practices to make their company look far better than it was, and as a result hurt thousands of people, Michael wrote, "Consider the enormous shame that caused … [the] former vice chairman of Enron to commit suicide and write this note to his wife: 'I am so sorry for this. I feel I just can't go on. I have always tried to do the right thing but where there was once great pride now it's gone. I love you and the children so much. I just can't be any good to you or myself. The pain is overwhelming. Please try to forgive me.'"

    While most of us would never have the opportunity to do what these business leaders have done, we do however need to be careful about our actions. For every action there is a consequence. If I sow deeds of kindness I will reap rewards of kindness. If I sow seeds of love, I will reap rewards of love. Or if I sow seeds of hate, I will receive hatred in return. And if I sow seeds of evil, I will in due course reap rewards of evil. Whatever we sow we reap.

    So let's all think carefully about what we do. Our legacy depends on it. What do we want our loved ones to think about us when we're gone? And most important of all, when we get to the end of life's journey what do we want God to "think" and say to us? Will it be, "Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord?" Or will it be, "Depart from me for I never knew you?"

    Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to live with eternal values in mind realizing that what I sow in this life, I will not only reap the rewards/results of it here and now, but also in the life to come. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

    1. Galatians 6:7-8 (NIV).
     
  17. CoffeeAhSoh

    CoffeeAhSoh Alfrescian Old Timer

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  18. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Accepting the Inevitable
    Job 36
    "But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction." (v. 15)

    Oswald Chambers said: "Life is more tragic than orderly." Chambers knew that unless Christians are willing to grapple with this truth and accept it, they will be plagued by inner oughts and shoulds that lead them down the road of illusion.

    They will find themselves saying, "It ought not to be like this" or "Things should be different" -- and the only thing this kind of demandingness produces is frustration and anger. The Fall has turned this fair universe of God's into a shambles, and though much about the world is still beautiful, accidents, calamities, and suffering prevail. And these will continue until the time when God brings all things to a conclusion.

    There is nothing wrong with wishing that things were not so, but when we demand that they be different, when we say the effects of the Fall must be reversed and reversed now, we will end up feeling terribly frustrated. Life is difficult, as Scott Peck stated, and though prayer does move God to work supernaturally in some situations, life will go on being more "tragic than orderly" until Christ returns and finalizes His plans for this fallen planet.

    This is reality -- and the sooner we face it the better. True faith is not built upon illusion but upon reality. We may not like things the way they are in this world, but to avoid facing them because they don't match up with what we know about God is foolish. As I have been emphasizing, it is only when we face honestly the harsh realities of life that we become ready for God to speak to us.

    Prayer:
    O God, I see that facing the hard things of life honestly drives me to a place where I become desperate for an answer. Then You step in -- and give me not an answer but Yourself. I can live without answers, but I cannot live without You. Stay close to me, my Father. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
     
  19. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Not What—But Who

    "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."1

    I have read how Hayley Mills, a child star at the time, was escorted through Disneyland. As she was led past hundreds of people standing in line, a security guard attempted to stop her. "Hey there," he called to Haley's escort, "who do you think you are? Walt Disney?" Imagine his mortification when the escort turned around and said, "As a matter of fact I am Walt Disney."

    As the saying goes, "It's not what you know but who you know." That certainly holds true to get into many places. Joy, my wife, had the opportunity to be a guest at the inauguration of President Bush. How come? Because of someone she knew. She was a very good friend of the mother-in-law of a high ranking military officer who was stationed at the White House. Joy phoned me from the ball room to share her excitement about seeing the president in person. Jokingly I kidded, "Have you touched the hem of his garment yet?"

    There is one place much greater than any inauguration ball, the White House, or Buckingham Palace where so many would like to be invited to. However, to be invited to this one place it is absolutely imperative that we know the only person who can get us in—yes, it's into God's heaven. And that person is Jesus. You may know about Jesus, but do you know him as your Savior? And does he know you? If not, I urge you to accept his invitation to meet him today. For help, be sure to read the article: "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian without having to be religious" at: www.actsweb.org/christian.

    Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that your invitation to heaven is to 'whosoever will may come.' Thank you that that includes me. I confess that I am a sinner and thank you for dying in my place to pay the penalty for all my sins. I accept your invitation to come to you for my salvation, to ask for and accept your forgiveness, and to receive the gift of eternal life so that I will live with you forever in heaven. Thank you for your great gift of salvation and thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
     
  20. RiverOL

    RiverOL Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Messed Up Theology
    Job 13
    "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him ..." (v. 15)

    A friend of mine who is an instructor in the field of Christian counseling says that one of the things he likes to do with his students is to mess up their theology. He does so by asking them difficult questions about the realities of the universe in order to see how they attempt to square these issues with their view of God.

    "God always answers the prayer of faith," said one of his students. "Then why," he asked the student, "did I pray for an hour for my father who was desperately sick to have a good night and then hear that he had the worst night since he had been in the hospital?" "You didn't pray in faith," replied the student. That's the kind of glib answer many people would give to that question.

    Such people can't sit quietly in the presence of mystery and say: "I don't understand why this is so but nevertheless I still believe God is good." They must have some kind of answer that they can hold on to because when they have no answers they have no faith. Faith is Job saying: "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him." Anyone can believe when there are explanations and answers.

    The person who goes on to know God in a deep and intimate way is the one who can affirm that God is good even though there may be a thousand appearances to the contrary. Pray for me and I will pray for you that together we might come to the place of trusting God even when we cannot trace Him.

    Prayer:
    O God, bring us closer day by day to that place of deep confidence and absolute trust. May we know You so deeply that nothing we see around us will shake or shatter our belief in Your unchanging goodness. In our Lord's Name we pray. Amen.
     

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