Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Meditating on God's Word Everyday

I have been super, super busy over these past few days (thus why there hasn't been a blog post in a week).  It's so easy to get overwhelmed with life and caught up in the business of it all.  I have found over and over again that in the practical, everyday ins-and-outs of life it is so easy to forget God.  Not deny His existence, but just to live...well...without Him.  To be so caught up with the things of this earth that I forget Who He is. I forget to love Him.  I sometimes stress and worry over things because my eyes are turned down to my problems and not upward to Him.

I bet you've felt this way before too.  It's so easy to slip into this trap.  So easy to forget God.

The Lord has been showing me over these past few days the importance of meditating on God's Word.  It is so vital if we desire to live lives that are on fire for the Lord that we stay our minds on Him.  Our minds need to be refocused on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 4:1-4).

Each morning as I read my Bible, I ask the Lord for a verse to meditate on.

When I meditate on Scripture as I go about my daily tasks, I find the day so much more rewarding and fulfilling than if I had concentrated my attention completely on my to-do list.

Meditating on God's Word gives me life!

But that's exactly what God said it would.  Proverbs 4:20-22 says,  "My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh."

I have truly found that to be true.  There are so many gems--verses that hold such wonderful meaning and promise--that wee do not discover because we read over them in a hurried manner, say "Oh, that was a really good verse," and then move on. I know I have done that so many times.  But when I have taken the time to write down a verse and consider what it means, I am blessed beyond measure. Psalm 119:93 says,  "I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have given me life."

But how do we meditate on God's Word?

  • Begin by picking a verse or passage of Scripture to meditate on.  As you read your Bible in the morning, ask God to give you a verse.  He will.
  • Say it out loud many times as you go about your work. There is something so powerful about speaking the Word aloud.
  • Think about what it means on the surface. What does it say? In what situations does it apply?
  • Dig deep and consider the meaning of each word.  What role does each word play in the sentence?  What are the implications of each word?
  • Apply it to your own life.  What does it mean for you? What does it actually look like lived out in real life?
I encourage you to begin today.   You can start right now!  Here's a beautiful verse to meditate on as you go about your work:

"You will keep him in perfect peace,Whose mind is stayed on You,Because he trusts in You."
~Isaiah 26:3

Monday, February 15, 2016

Pray For Revival

"The coming revival must begin with a great revival of prayer. It is in the closet, with the door shut, that the sound of abundance of rain will first be heard. An increase of secret prayer with ministers will be the sure harbinger of blessing." ~Andrew Murray

"The evangelization of the world depends first of all upon a revival of prayer. Deeper than the need for men – aye, deep down at the bottom of our spiritless life, is the need for the forgotten secret of prevailing, world-wide prayer." ~Andrew Murray

"Nothing would turn the nation back to God so surely and so quickly as a Church that prayed and prevailed. The world will never believe in a religion in which there is no supernatural power. A rationalized faith, a socialized Church, and a moralized gospel may gain applause, but they awaken no conviction and win no converts." Samuel Chadwick

"We can never expect to grow in the likeness of our Lord unless we follow His example and give more time to communion with the Father. A revival of real praying would produce a spiritual revolution." ~E.M. Bounds

"An awakening is ready to burst on the dismal scene when Christians have a deep, profound Spirit of prayer for an awakening." - Lewis Drummond

"Oh! men and brethren, what would this heart feel if I could but believe that there were some among you who would go home and pray for a revival - men whose faith is large enough, and their love fiery enough to lead them from this moment to exercise unceasing intercessions that God would appear among us and do wondrous things here, as in the times of former generations." - C.H. Spurgeon

"If revival depended on you -- your prayers, your faith, your obedience -- would your church ever experience revival?" - Del Fehsenfeld Jr.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Abide in His Love

As with each Valentine’s Day, most of us usually spend a little more time thinking about love.  Our love for others. Their love for us. We recount our love and devotion to others through cards and gifts. 

However, all human love pales in comparison to the greatest Love of all. The One Who is Love.

We might receive or give flowers and chocolate.  We might demonstrate our devotion through hugs and kisses.  But there is One Who gave His very life’s blood for us. There is One Who demonstrated His love by dying on a crude wooden cross. This One is Love.

During this season especially we should spend some extra time meditating on God’s love.  On what He has done for us.  On His surpassing greatness and faithfulness to us, His unworthy servants.  Let us abide in His love.  Jesus said,

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love” (John 15:9).

Our Savior’s love for us surpasses all greatness!  Jeremiah 31:3 reminds us,

“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting 
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”

He loves us with an everlasting love!  He has drawn us with His lovingkindness.  And now He has invited us to feast on His love. To abide in His merciful compassion.

God’s love is beyond comprehension.  And it is our desire “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).  We haven’t even scratched the surface of His great love for us.  Yet we are invited to dive deep into the rich oceans of His lovingkindness.  We have been summoned to abide in His love.

We can abide in His love by meditating on the Scriptures that exemplify His amazing sacrifice for us.  In the Bible, God reveals His heart of mercy and lovingkindness, and when we dive into its pages, we too can catch a glimpse of the majesty of His love.  His heart is for us.  He loves us.  He longs for us.  And we can behold that glorious truth through the Word of God.

There is so much of God’s character that is hidden beneath the surface of the Scriptures.  To uncover the veiled truths, we must truly meditate on the Scriptures.  In the words of John Chrysostom, “To get the full flavor of an herb, it must be pressed between the fingers, so it is the same with the Scriptures; the more familiar they become, the more they reveal their hidden treasures and yield their indescribable riches.”  I invite you today to bask in His love. To meditate on His love.  To abide in His love.

And, as His love takes first place in our heart, as we are filled with the knowledge of what He has done for us, that love bubbles forth from our soul.  We are filled to overflowing and just can’t keep it in.  And so as a result of God’s love for us, we demonstrate love for God.  As 1 John 4:19 says, “We love Him because He first loved us.”  It is His love that prompts our love in return.  As a result, the more we know of His love for us, the more we love Him in return. This isn’t really a concept that can be explained, so I encourage you to try it for yourself. Then you will truly understand.

Today, and, for that matter, every day, take some time to abide in His love.  “Feed on His faithfulness” (Psalm 37:3).  Taste His goodness (Psalm 34:8).

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lessons from the Jews on Praise ~Part 2

If you remember from the last article, we were in the middle 2 Chronicles 20.  The Jews (led by king Jehoshaphat) had just received an answer from the Lord telling them that they would be victorious, and amazingly, they would not need to fight in this battle.  They believed the Lord and praised Him lifting their voices high in worship.  The next morning here's what happened:
"So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”
And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying:

“Praise the Lord,
For His mercy endures forever.”

Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated" (vs. 20-22).
What did they do?  PRAISED!  They praised the Lord, knowing that He would answer. They went out to the place of battle with a song of praise on their lips.  How amazing!

Notice too that when they began to sing, the Lord began to win the victory.  To praise the Lord was the part in the battle that the Jews were supposed to play.  Here's what happened next:

"For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.   So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped" (23-24).
The Jews didn't even have to lift a finger! The Lord fought for them and they had only to "stand still and see the salvation of the Lord."  Think of how amazing this is!  What a great victory the Lord won for them in that day!  He still required obedience (they had to have enough faith to go out to the wilderness of Tekoa) but it was the Lord who fought for them and won the victory.

In addition to that amazing triumph, the people of Israel found so much spoil on their enemies that it took them three whole days to gather it!  What happened next the day?
"And on the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berachah [which means blessing], for there they blessed the Lord; therefore the name of that place was called The Valley of Berachah until this day" (verse 26).
 They blessed the Lord there.  And after:
"Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat in front of them, to go back to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. So they came to Jerusalem, with stringed instruments and harps and trumpets, to the house of the Lord" (vs. 27,28).
They won the victory through rejoicing.  The Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies.  It was praise the whole way through! Praise when they came to seek the face of the Lord.  Praise when He gave His answer. Praise on the way to battle. Praise when they saw Him win the victory.  And praise once they returned back to Jerusalem.

What about us?  Are our lives so saturated with praise?  Continue to meditate on the lessons you have learned from this amazing chapter of the Bible.  What challenges you? In what area might the Lord be asking you to become more like the men and women in this chapter?  I would love to hear your thoughts on how we can apply this biblical account to our own lives!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Lessons from the Jews on Praise ~Part 1

This past Sunday, our pastor mentioned a chapter in the Scriptures that really caught my attention.  During the afternoon, I looked up that chapter, 2 Chronicles 20, and was really surprised by what I read.  I've read it before, but the Lord opened it anew for me this time.  And I pray that He might do the same for you today.

It all begins when "the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against [king] Jehoshaphat" (vs. 1).  Enemies approach.  Foes are lying in wait for them.  Insurmountable foes.  What's a king to do?  Read how Jehoshaphat handles the situation:
"And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord" (verses 3 and 4--emphasis mine here and thereafter).
These verses alone are worth meditating on.  The Jews had a problem.  And instead of mounting the troops and strengthening the barracks, they chose to seek the Lord.  Imagine what would happen if we took our every problem to the Lord like these people did?

They got on their knees and they sought the face of the Lord.  The prayer of Jehoshaphat is recorded for us.  He recalls to mind the character of the Lord and His promises.  He claims those promises.  Verse 12 ends the prayer: "O our God, will You not judge them [our enemies]? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” 

Their eyes were upon Him.  And He certainly answered their prayers. The Lord spoke to a man named Jahaziel, a Levite, and said:
"Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’sTomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you. (verse 15-17).
The answer came. The Lord had heard their cry and He would be true to His character. He would deliver them. They had only to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.  He would fight for them. And He would win the victory.  Immediately upon hearing this the people, led by their king, bow before the Lord and worship Him.  Then the Levites "stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high" (vs. 19).  What amazing times of rejoicing and worship! Here's what happens next:

Just kidding.  =D  Tune in next time to hear the rest of the story.  If you can't wait that long, you are welcome to read the story in 2 Chronicles 20 for yourself.  But if you don't look the story up, you'll find all the details in the next article.  Until then, meditate upon the lessons we can learn from seeking the Lord and praising Him for His answer.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Praising Him Before the Answer Comes

I was studying Isaiah 42 this morning and verses 10-13 really caught my attention and taught me an important lesson about praise:

"Sing to the Lord a new song,
And His praise from the ends of the earth,
You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,
You coastlands and you inhabitants of them!
Let the wilderness and its cities lift up their voice,
The villages that Kedar inhabits.
Let the inhabitants of Sela sing,
Let them shout from the top of the mountains. 
Let them give glory to the Lord,
And declare His praise in the coastlands.
The Lord shall go forth like a mighty man;
He shall stir up His zeal like a man of war.
He shall cry out, yes, shout aloud;
He shall prevail against His enemies." (Emphasis mine)

Isaiah is calling the people to praise. Why? Because the Lord is going to do something! He hasn't even done it yet, but the people begin to praise Him.

I believe this is true faith.

Bringing our requests before Him, laying them at His feet, and then praising Him!  Why can we praise Him before He answers?  Because "this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him" (1 John 5:14-15).  Because "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you" (John 15:7).  Because "whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him" (1 John 3:22). 

There are many other instances in the Scriptures of where men and women praised the Lord for answering their prayers when as yet they hadn't seen His answers with their eyes. But they knew their Lord and they trusted Him.

One of my other favorite examples is in Psalm 71. I read this at a time when I was waiting on the Lord for some answers and beginning to doubt if they would ever come.  But the Lord was very gracious to me as I read the prayer of the psalmist, specifically verses 12-14:

"O God, do not be far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!
Let them be confounded and consumed
Who are adversaries of my life;
Let them be covered with reproach and dishonor
Who seek my hurt.

But I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and more." (Emphasis mine)

The writer of this psalm cried out to the Lord, and, before He even gave the answer, this man said, "I will praise You yet more and more."  More and more?  Wow, that's amazing!  Here's a man who hasn't even received the answer to His prayer yet, but he is resolving to praise God even more than he has ever done in the past?  Wow--that's really inspiring!

So today, let us be like the psalmist.  Let us be like Isaiah.  And let us be like the countless thousands of other Christians who have gone on before us with shouts of praise.  We serve a God of miracles, a God who is generous beyond our greatest imaginations, a God Who is faithful even when we are not.  Let us praise Him today for all that He is!  Truly, He is worthy of our adoration.

"Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name." 
 ~Hebrews 13:15

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Praising Him When He Answers

Monday morning found me praying with a group of friends for something that to me seemed absolutely impossible. I asked for something that God alone could accomplish.  At the time, it seemed completely beyond reach except by the supernatural power of God.

And He answered.

He is so good and so faithful.  He poured out abundant mercy upon me, although I did not deserve the answer and the ones I interceded for did not deserve the answer, yet it came.

And then, I found myself thinking.  Oh, this wasn't really that important, I began to think.  It wasn't like I was explicitly saying that God hadn't done it, but I began to question how miraculous His answer actually was. My heart wandered to all the reasons why this answer was propelled by human means. I also looked back and wondered if the answer was that significant after all. Maybe it wasn't that important...

I began to doubt.

Not to doubt that the answer had come, but to doubt the character of my King in giving it to me.  

I began to dismiss God's answer as commonplace.

Instead of recognizing it as the miracle it was (and still is), I discounted 1) its significance, and 2) its former impossibility.

God answered my prayer in such a marvelous way. And it should have built my faith in Him. But it didn't.  I cast it aside as "normal" and "worthless" instead of praising Him for the wonderful way He should His mercy to me in answering it.

Have you ever done that before? I myself have been guilty of falling into this trap all too often.  But this week, the Lord stopped me. He reminded me of what I had prayed for and what He had done.  And when I really stopped and forced myself to think about it, I was amazed!

This day, let us remember to give thanks to the Lord for the ways He answers prayers.

We pray so hard for an answer, and then, when it comes, we seem to simply shrug it off.  Let us resolve to thank our merciful Savior for the many ways He has answered our prayers. Let us acknowledge His answers for what they are--complete miracles!  Undeserved grace and mercy.  Bountiful blessings.

I did not deserve the answer I received Monday.  But the Lord, in His great love and His abundant grace, answered the cry of my heart! He heard my supplications!  Pause for a moment and consider the wonder of this.  And let your heart turn to praise.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Secret Prayer

"The man who has gotten God’s word in the prayer closet neither seeks nor expects encouragement from men for the delivery of that word. The Spirit himself bears witness of the approval." ~Leonard Ravenhill

"I am perfectly confident that the man who does not spend hours alone with God will never know the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The world must be left outside until God alone fills the vision…God has promised to answer prayer. It is not that He is unwilling, for the fact is, He is more willing to give than we are to receive. But the trouble is, we are not ready..." ~Oswald Chambers

"The secret of praying is praying in secret." ~Leonard Ravenhill

"Shut the world out, withdraw from all worldly thoughts and occupations, and shut yourself in alone with God, to pray to Him in secret. Let this be your chief object in prayer, to realize the presence of your heavenly Father." ~Andrew Murray

"It would revolutionize the lives of most men if they were shut in with God in some secret place for half an hour a day." ~Samuel Chadwick