Friday, November 26, 2010

Not Just Another Thanksgiving

I was thinking this morning about this day we call Thanksgiving. I was thinking about how I don't want to get lost in just going with the traditions... eating turkey, being with family, having fun, and miss the purpose of Thanksgiving. This thanksgiving, my focus of thanks has been mostly centered around the people God has placed in my life to "strengthen my hand in God" as Jonathan did for David.

God has given many abundant blessings... actually, life being one of those. Having had a somewhat close call with a punctured lung a few weeks ago was a reminder of just how frail my life is. The Lord's faithfulness has been so real this last year... seeing Him provide everything plus some for the mission trip to Mexico... seeing how He protected there and caused everything to run smoothly... seeing how He took me out of the job that I was kind of stuck in and moved me to a more long-term (Lord willing) job... seeing how He prepared me for the challenges of this new job... seeing how He has provided for our family's needs on a day by day basis... etc. There have been countless more ways that God has been faithful to me over this last year... in fact, God defines faithfulness. Anything that He does is faithful. It is impossible for Him to be unfaithful... even when I am completely unfaithful.

I was thinking this evening about how important thankfulness is. I did a search earlier today and read more from it on BibleGateway... I was just searching for the word, "thanks". I didn't get as far as I would have liked, but the concept of giving thanks is absolutely central to our daily life. Something I hadn't noted before is that they actually had people set up specifically for the purpose of giving thanks to God. How cool would that be? "What do you do for work?"... "Oh, I give God thanks." Okay, now I have be honest and admit that I didn't study it to the point of knowing how much time they spent doing this, but it was important enough to set specific people in charge of giving thanks to God. If it was that important to them, it ought to be just as important to me. My life ought to be centered around Him... and as it's centered around Him... seeing His continual faithfulness, it ought to overflow with giving of thanks for His unending faithfulness and love.

One of His acts of faithfulness to me is bringing many godly people into my life to "strengthen my hand in God". To those that have made such efforts, I cannot tell you how much it means to me. Thank you.

God, I am so thankful for Your unending faithfulness, yet, I am not nearly as thankful as I want to be. Would You, by Your grace, give me a heart of thankfulness. Do not allow me to credit myself with the blessings that You pour out so continually. It is not because of my faithfulness that Your bless, but truly, only because of the righteousness of Christ on my behalf. So, help me not lose sight of that. Help me never to grow weary of giving thanks to You. May it not be just another act of lip-service, but an accurate reflection of my heart. Help me be more thankful. Help me love You more. Thank You for the cross.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Repetitive Prayers

I have been thinking about prayer quite a bit lately. This may sound strange, but I am kind of more scared to pray now than every before. Perhaps part of it is that I am praying some "scary" things... things that require a trust in Him that is beyond what I feel like I can handle, yet I know that with His strength, He can and will enable me to do anything that He calls me to do. I know that fear (as in being afraid) isn't the proper response to answered prayer, but I have to be honest and say that when I am praying things that I am scared to pray... knowing full well that He will answer it... it kind of scares me! I trust Him, but my timid heart fears how He might answer it. He has never once failed me in any way... so I don't know why I fear His next plan. It is a constant battle to fully trust Him with all of my heart.

I have also been thinking about praying the same kinds of things over and over again. I was telling God on the way home from work all the different things that I am tired of praying for and He graciously reminded me of the following passages.
Luke 11:1-8
It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples." And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" Then He said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and from inside he answers and says, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' "I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
Luke 18:1-8
Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, "In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. "There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, 'Give me legal protection from my opponent.' "For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, 'Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.'" And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? "I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"
Genesis 32:24-32
Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." He said, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed." Then Jacob asked him and said, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved." Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob's thigh in the sinew of the hip.
Matthew 15:21-28
Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed." But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, "Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us." But He answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" And He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." But she said, "Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus said to her, "O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed at once.
God, would You give me Your grace and help to come boldly before Your throne. Strip away the self-centered fear that my heart is so prone to and fill me with a desire to do nothing other than Your will... no matter what it costs. Fill my heart with Your desires. Help me not grow weary in prayer, but to press on in faith just how You instructed us to pray--with Your will as my focus, and with much perseverance. Conform my will to Yours alone. Give me courage to take the next step. Glorify Yourself in me... no matter what it takes.