12/29/08

Complacent and comfortable

I keep sitting comfortably as I learn. Something must be wrong, because there’s nothing comfortable about dying to self and giving all to follow Christ. There’s no endurance in this race when it feels like a cakewalk.
God, make my spiritual walk real. Make the things of eternity more real to me than even the things I see on this earth. I feel trapped by what I can see but my heart wants more, this isn’t satisfying.
Teach me to apply what I have learned instead of nodding at every great sermon point and acting as if agreeing with doctrine is good enough. Teach me in such a way that what I learn changes my actions, not just my intentions.



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12/18/08

Advent Conspiracy

If you haven’t seen this already, check it out.

“The story of Christ’s birth is a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love.

So, what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists.

And when it’s all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of Christmas?

What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?

Welcome to Advent Conspiracy.”

http://adventconspiracy.org/


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12/16/08

More than a prayer for survival


Matthew 6:9-13:
9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

prayer1 More than a prayer for survival
I was a little disheartened when I found myself praying only for God to get me through finals with good grades this past week. That seems selfish to me. It seems like I am praying for daily bread while completely neglecting to express any desire for His kingdom to come, His will to me done. The Lord’s prayer is not a prayer of survival, but a prayer of mission. I had neglected the mission, and was instead preoccupied with my own fears. That sounds reminiscent of the people Jesus sent home because they were too worried about personal matters to focus on Kingdom work.

It was time to refocus. What if I prayed for more than survival? What if, instead of praying only for my daily bread to survive, I prayed also for His kingdom to come and His will to be done? I made it my prayer that God would use me, for His glory, to touch the life of one of my fellow students during finals. Actually, I had to be even more specific than that, because I have found that when I pray vaguely, I am much less likely to even look for an answer. There is a place for general prayers, but I needed to be praying more specifically. Maybe you have noticed that too… If we only pray, “God, be glorified in me,” the prayer is so vague we don’t really even look for an answer, let alone look for an opportunity to do our part in the answer.

So I picked out a name to pray for. Not, “God be glorified in me during finals.” Not, “God be glorified in my during finals by using me to touch someone’s life.” No, it was, “God, please use me for Your glory in _____’s life, because You have put his name on my heart and I will seek to be used by You.” That prayer changed the whole outlook for the week. I wasn’t struggling to survive, I was striving to serve. There is no great reward in surviving, only a fleeting feeling of having maintained a firm grip on zero. Loss avoided, but nothing great gained. Getting the grades you are supposed to hardly feels like a great gain…at least in my book, it feels like doing what was required to stay in the game.    Skirting the edge of disaster feels like an accomplishment only if you are pessimistic enough to have expected the disaster, thus making anything short of failure seem good. However, there is great gain to be found in participating in the mission, both heavenly rewards and blessings here on earth.

God honored my prayer in a gracious way. Gracious, because He answered it out of faithfulness to His child, even when the child (me) takes a while to remember that to live is Christ. It was also a wake up call. Wake up, and pray for more to happen every day than just my laundry list of earthly needs to be filled. Prayer for the Kingdom to come springs forth from a heart that earnestly desires to be used. Look eagerly and actively for a specific answer, because God moves when we are willing to embrace our purpose and glorify Him by seeking His will above our own.



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12/2/08

Teach Me – Part 2

I find it interesting that with everyone one of David’s requests for God to teach him is an accompanying praise, petition, or promise.

The overarching request for God to teach us His Word is sourced from our adoration of God, mingled with our physical and spiritual needs, and partnered with a vow to obey. We want God to teach us more about His praiseworthy character, because the more we know the more we see that only He can fill our every need, and when we see who He is and how He is everything we need, faithfully following is the enlightened heart’s response.

Practical application:
1. Make requests of God based on a knowledge of who He is and what He wills, not simply according to first-impulse self-oriented desires. How can God deny a request that is consistent with His character from a saint aligned with His will?
2. When you make your requests known to God, watch for Him to reveal more of His character to you in His answer. How often do we forfeit a deeper knowledge of God because we neglect to notice His character displayed in His actions?
3. Ask God to teach you and commit to following the truth He opens your eyes to, instead of following on the condition that it suits your fancy. Why would God honor a request from a heart with a noncommittal attitude?



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12/1/08

Teach Me

Psalm 119:12, 26, 29, 33, 64, 66, 68, 108, 123, 135, 171
12 Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes!

26 When I told of my ways, you answered me;
teach me your statutes!

29 Put false ways far from me
and graciously
teach me your law!

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;
and I will keep it to the end.

64 The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love;
teach me your statutes!

66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I believe in your commandments.

68 You are good and do good;
teach me your statutes.

108 Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord,
and
teach me your rules.

124 Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love,
and
teach me your statutes.

135 Make your face shine upon your servant,
and
teach me your statutes.

171 My lips will pour forth praise,
for you
teach me your statutes.

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” (Psalm 119:18). I don’t want to rely upon second hand learning. I love to hear your word preached, but I want even more to go before You in Your Word and see with my own eyes. What bride would be content to only hear of her lover described by her friends? I am in a covenant relationship with God and will not be satisfied with anything less than going to His Word to know Him personally. Teach me, O Lord.



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