Our corporate chaplain is responsible for this one. It’s all about praying in the morning. I remember him telling me that this was something he was trying to develop the habit of doing, and upon further review, I’ve decided to try it too. As a concept, it’s actually pretty easy to do. In the morning I am not usually in need of anything, but I am understanding now that calling upon the Lord is an act of spiritual clarification. From evening prayer to dawn’s affirmation of God’s power, I probably take this time as much for granted as anyone. After some morning prayer practice, it’s becoming apparent that I need to thank God for seeing me through the night. At this point I ask him to order my steps, guide my thoughts and allow me to do something during the course of the day to give indication of a deep appreciation for letting me wake up.
If you allow yourself to concentrate on what God has done for you on any given day, then it becomes obvious that he is indeed here and working wonders on your behalf. If you do not believe, try this. At the end of today, take a moment and reflect on those things that you can think of that prove God was walking with you all day. Now start with this morning because you really didn’t have to wake up. If you hadn’t noticed, some people didn’t. If you drove, flew, took a cab somewhere and arrived safely, you might want to give God a little credit for being accident free. You might have even passed one on your way. Can you remember seeing anyone in need of food, clothing, a few dollars, maybe a bath? But it wasn’t you? All “natural disasters” missed your house. No floods? No tornadoes? No hurricanes? No earthquakes? While I’m at it, how’s your family? Are your kids healthy? Are they simply alive and still breathing today? Someone you know under intense pressure, emotionally, financially, physically? Can you begin to see where I’m coming from? God’s hand is everywhere in your life today, if you just stop being busy and take a good look. I promise you if you just slow down a bit, you’ll see God’s presence time and again in your life and not always the person’s next to you.
Once you begin to realize that God is present all the time, then, prayer easily and rapidly becomes praise. I mean once you recognize the real possibility that God held “my” hand today, then it stands to reason to me that a genuine thank you is in order. So now out of any sleep I’m awakening from comes a hand palms open with a praise that goes something like this: ‘Thank you Father God for seeing me through the night. Stay with me and remind me during the course of this day of your infinite blessings bestowed upon me. Let me do something. Let me say something today to make you proud and show you my appreciation of your giving me the time and opportunity to demonstrate who I am and whose I am to the world.’ The words might change from time to time, but the intent is the same. I hope to no longer take my consciousness for granted. There’s a reason my eyes were opened and I must acknowledge I had nothing to do with it. As such, I think it prudent to acknowledge the One responsible and look for his purpose after that. The next step for me then is to try and maintain a consistent spiritual posture. I know it’s not easy. The world will test you. But since God was gracious enough to give me the day, the least I can do is act like I know who the day belongs to. From goodnight in the evening to hello in the morning gives all of us a real opportunity to understand the simple gift of life. That time between sleep and wake up is worth praising God for. Kind of gives new meaning to that “joy comes in the morning” thing.
May God bless and keep you always.
In the spirit of the times, I was wondering about what it really means to have a personal relationship with God, the operative word being personal. I’m learning that as one starts his or her journey toward the Almighty, it becomes more and more obvious that when you get to the inevitable fork in the road, which path you take is a matter of choice, not circumstance, not fate and certainly not an accident. Once you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, what’s in your heart takes priority over what’s in your mind, and certainly what comes out of your mouth. When faith takes over, the claim of ignorance as defense for unholy actions, unholy practices and hypocritical conduct fall by the wayside. The proof is in the heart.
Like the child who responds in silence to the paren, who states, “I know you know the difference between right and wrong, or, I know you know, you weren’t raised that way,” the silent child knows in his or her heart that the parent is correct. No answer is the answer. And I believe so it is with God. No matter the situation or the circumstance, when you acknowledge God, you can no longer use the excuses that you didn’t know, or you didn’t have control or, well, after all it was an accident. This is God we’re talking about, and it’s your heart he’s talking to. You can deny it if you want to, but no answer is an answer and no decision is a decision. Faith in the face of temptation does not automatically mean we’ll always make the right choices or decisions. As a matter of fact, more often than not, we’ll let God down as well as ourselves. A true understanding of faith, however, will not allow you to stay down. Through faith and a personal relationship with God, each of us can get up and try again. We can even go back to that fork in the road and make that right when we previously made the wrong left. It’s called try again. Personal relationships allow you to make mistakes and realize the relationship lets others know, what you did is real. But what your heart says or meant, is understood. You don’t get a pass. But you do get the benefit of the doubt.
You see, this personal relationship makes you aware somehow of the distance between you and God, much like the distance between you and a loved one. Time and distance are supposed to make the heart grow fonder. In this case time and distance bring no peace and no satisfaction. For a true believer, one recognizes if God ain’t happy, you ain’t happy. Until you know the source of this angst and this anxiety, the choices you make will continue to be wrong. When you submit to the will of God, I promise you you’ll begin to see the path God has laid out for you. Hence, when you choose incorrectly, it’ll become obvious that you’re headed in the wrong direction. You’ll understand God hasn’t moved. You have.
“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” Romans 4:7-8. Is this possible? I understand it is if I can just get to, “…circumcision of the heart by the (Holy) Spirit…” Romans 2:29. All things are possible to those who love the Lord. Again, as the child who knows he or she has disappointed a loving parent, there is no joy until the relationship is again put back in balance. Or, the couple who realizes anger and argument cannot last forever and must be resolved in order to find conjugal peace. Walk with God. Better yet, simply attempt to walk with God and trust me, you’ll know when you’re out of step. You’ll feel it. It will make you stop and think. You will not have peace, and we all know what it does to you when you don’t have peace where and with whom it counts the most. However, being in right relationship allows you to make the first move. It’s called humility in the face of being wrong. I guess what I’m saying is when you know you’re wrong, if you take the first step by reaching out your hand for forgiveness, God will show you he’s there. In fact, he was there before you ever moved your hand.
May God bless and keep you forever.
For a moment I’d like to think through this thing called covenant. I understand the dictionary definition as you probably do also. But here I’d like to take a moment and look at it biblically. It is really something to think that God made a covenant with His people. That would mean you and me. In essence He’s made us a promise. Now if you’ve lived as long as I have, you’ve had people make promises to you that one, they have no intention of keeping and, two, they failed miserably while trying to keep their word. A third example would be he or she could have cared less about keeping a promise they made to you. Perhaps you are one of these promise breakers rather than a promise keeper. I know I’ve broken a promise or two in my day. But the subject here is God. I’ve got to assume that if anybody keeps His word, it’s got to be God. Therefore it stands to reason and faith that we should take to our graves the covenant promise God made to Abraham i.e.us. It’s the one Jesus came to fulfill.
Now if I’ve got the concept down and the importance associated with keeping one’s word, then I need to be more careful in the promises I make and to whom I make them. It appears the foundation of spiritual belief is wrapped up in a simple promise. To Noah, “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you green plants, I now give you everything.” Genesis 9:3. To Abraham, As for me, this is my covenant with you…..you will be the father of nations….I will make nations of you and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for generations to come, to be your God and the God of the descendants after you…..I will be their God.” Genesis 17:2-8. To Moses, Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant then out of all nations, you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine you will be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation…..” Exodus 19:5. From Jesus to the disciples, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood…for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes….. 1 Corinthians 11:25-26.
Remember this is God talking about His promise to us. Have you made any promises to Him lately? What about to yourself about Him, or to someone who loves you or to someone you love? Have you kept them? Are you a covenant breaker or a covenant keeper? Do you believe you when you talk? Do you speak the truth when you do?
There is a saying we’ve all heard about speaking the truth into existence; also, be careful about what you ask for. You see this covenant thing had a powerful beginning. A promise is downright Godly. It has to be. The first one came from God to us through Adam and Eve. It kind of get all caught up in words and the power of words and the understanding of words; God’s words, your words and more words. They have incredible power, if we could always understand them in the context of covenant. They are really vehicles to communicate with each other and the original covenant maker. A reality for all of us is that we are accountable for our words and thereby our actions.
My obligation then is to emulate God almighty in a manner befitting His divine order. “So shall my word be that goes forth out of your mouth…” Isaiah 55:11. This covenant is a wondrous thing because God keeps His word. The more we understand this, the more scripture opens up and reveals the true nature of God. If I am made in his image, honesty should be the stuff of which my promises are made. Truth is the essence of life and faith in God’s word is unshakeable. Hopefully, others can put their faith in my words and yours too.
May God bless and keep you always.
How many of us have an addiction, a weakness, something we are aware of but just cannot shake on our own? It may be a secret, your secret, something you dare not reveal, for it goes completely opposite of who you believe yourself to be and counter to the person you are truly trying to become. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 says, “To keep me from becoming conceited, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” If I’m the only one shouting right now, it’s okay. Talk about some powerful stuff.
You know some things in the Bible reverberate over and over again and we still don’t get it. I don’t mean to imply that we don’t understand the words, because most of us do. The point is, we do not or cannot incorporate what we’re reading into our daily lives. In this passage Paul lets us know that there is indeed a reason to accept our shortcomings and deal with our flaws and faults with a basic understanding that in doing so, God will invariably show up and then proceed to show out. It is through your warts that God can demonstrate to you and me and the world that he is Lord. Can you imagine experiencing the “perfect power” of the Lord? Apparently it’s as easy as looking in the mirror and making an honest assessment of who you really are and who you should be striving to become. To put it into proper perspective, you are who you are only in relationship to God. And don’t forget to take your imperfections with you. If you know and accept yourself to be a child of God, then you must attempt to be an example of God’s Word and his work. The only thing standing in your way is admitting to yourself, you can’t go it alone. You and I need help, and that help comes only from one source. It’s the perfect source and comes with consequences. The consequences begin with recognizing that there is divine purpose in your particular set of weaknesses. I know that’s hard to believe, but it is true.
Dare I say most of us would reject the notion that sinful could be anything more than just sinful? The text ,however says it is our duty to understand through spiritual recognition that God chooses your problems to show off his righteousness through you by doing miraculous things. When you get a hand from the Lord to overcome your addictions, your passions, your vanity, your shortcomings, you get so much more than you bargained for. According to this part of the Bible, you also get Christ’s power to work with. Isn’t that something? No wonder Paul continues by saying, “That is why, for Christ’s sake I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
By itself, you might wonder how Paul comes up with this conclusion. But when taken in the context of the entire passage, isn’t it true that out of many impossible situations and circumstances, God rescued you? How many testimonies do you need to hear before you give God the praise he deserves? Or is it that you can testify on your own about frailties that have become strengths to be relied upon and give you wisdom to share? All I’m saying is stop fighting yourself. Stop denying your insecurities. Accept them and give them too, over to the Lord. Then step back and watch God do his thing with your life. He’ll do things you never could, and watch him revel in those who see his divine work through you. It’s that let go and let God thing. Paul just reminds us that even on your worst day, it’s not about you. If you just remember it’s all about him, good and bad.
May God bless and keep you always.
Is it really possible to put your life in the hands of the Lord? To some modest extent I have experienced the effect of trying to do just that. I ask the question of you because I feel obligated to share the exhilaration. Exhilaration may be a poor choice of words, but it comes close to describing the emotion associated with an honest effort. And, honest effort is again why I ask the question, is it possible for you to really get inside of what putting your life in the hands of God really means? I can only share with you what I think.
The obstacles in the way of making an honest effort to embrace and step to God are at times huge and obvious. At other times they are so subtle they’re practically indiscernible. For example, pride can get in the way, because pride has no place in the relationship between you and God. Then the truth be told, pride has no place in your relationships with your fellow man either. To pride, you can always add envy, vanity, greed, lust, selfishness and bitterness, just to name a few more impediments to an honest attempt to let God order your steps in his Word. In sports they say it’s not whether you fall or fail, it’s what you do after you fall and fail, because you’re definitely going to. Time and again we fall. Time and again we fail. It’s part of the game of life, also necessary part of the Christian experience. The question always has been, what do you do next? Is it possible in the context of your reality to get up, dust yourself off and try again to put your life in God’s hands? Many of us, including me, want to hold on to our own abilities to solve our own problems, cure our own ills (sinful natures) and figure our way out of impossible circumstances by ourselves. We routinely pass judgment, think and act as if we’re better than others and give God no credit for the many blessings we do have. The positives (of life) are due to our own ingenuity and the negatives are blamed on everybody but us. Now let’s see you make the effort. Let go and let God. Submit first and then see what God has to say about your situation. Without this submission, I don’t think any of us is in a position first hear and then listen to the Word of God. Y’all know I believe Satan shouts and God whispers. If you’ve ever been whispered to when you think the person speaking is saying something important, then you know your capacity to shut the world up and out. You can be anywhere and hear a whisper, just like a parent who can hear their child’s voice in a sea of young faces on a crowded playground. I believe if we put forth the effort, we can hear God tell us how to give our lives to him. There is a singularity to hearing God’s Word. He is specific in what he says to you as opposed to what he says to me. That singularity becomes a plurality as we begin to understand his message, if not his words, are intended to have the same effect on each of us. It’s like an optical illusion. Once you finally see it, you can’t from that point on, not see it. Once you get someone else to see it, he or she can’t not recognize it from that point on either. It’s, well, exhilarating. Failure is only then a byproduct of lack of effort. But the saved make the sincere effort. It’s not always successful. But it’s always there. The key is to build upon the successes one success at a time and not dwell on the failures one failure at a time. Therein lies the answer to my original question. You can do it, and God expects it to be done one step, one day and one situation at a time. “So then dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation….”2 Peter 3:14-15.
May God bless and keep you always.