Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Privilege of Prayer

I have been thinking this morning about what a blessed privilege it is to come into the presence of Almighty God through prayer.  The book of Hebrews reminds us that is is through the shed blood of Jesus that we have the right and authority to enter.  

Hebrews 10:19-20 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him
since He always lives to make intercession for them. (emphasis added)

     I want to make two observations regarding this truth.  First of all, I wonder how many believers really take advantage of this truth.  Those of us who trust fully in Christ as our Savior have the blessed invitation to enter the presence of the God of all the Universe.  What an invitation!  All throughout Scripture we see God inviting His children into his presence, yet we rarely accept.
     I have never been invited by the President of the United States to personally tour the White House.  If I were invited, you better believe I would go, and it would not take repeated invitations.  How many times does God have to extend the invitation for us to come into his House before we accept His offer?  
     Secondly, when we do enter into God's presence in prayer, how do we enter?  Do we approach Him flippantly, casually, nonchalantly, or indifferently.  Or do we enter into the presence of Almighty God reverently, and respectfully?   Ken Hemphill, author of The Prayer of Jesus said, “Prayer is a privilege of communication between a child and the Father.  It is not a human right. Not a non-negotiable demand.  It is a privilege—a privilege made possible only by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.”[1]
“Every time you pray ‘Our Father,’ you are praying a relational prayer that is absolutely assured of placing you in a holy, awesome, glorious presence of God.  But you are also reminding yourself that this privilege of prayer is not a matter to be taken lightly.  It cost Christ everything, and it has given us more than we could ever deserve.[2]
     Have you ever caught your children doing something wrong?  You discipline them, yet they still commit the same violation.  Then they come and beg something from you.  The relationship is still there, but I’ll bet it is highly unlikely that you will give them what they want. 
     Don’t we as believers do the same thing?  We sin. We hold grudges. We fight.  We grumble and complain, and we go to God, calling on him as Father and wonder why He doesn’t answer our prayer.  I believe many Christians come flippantly into the presence of God instead of realizing the enormous cost--The death of Jesus.  O that we would respectfully, and humbly draw near to the God that created us, loved us, and provided a way approach His throne of Grace.

[1] Ken Hemphill, The Prayer of Jesus, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publisher, 2001), 26.
[2] Ibid., 28. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Let it start with Me!

British Revivalist Henry Varley once said“The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him." To which D.L. Moody added, "I will try my utmost to be that man.”

I was sitting in the office today and the song Let it Start With Me by the group No Other Name began playing.  The song contains a powerful message.   The chorus says, "Let it start with me. Open up my eyes.  Fill my heart with your compassion.  Free my mind from all distractions. Use my hand, to set the captive free.  Move my feet to follow after you, or change the world and let it start with me."

I wonder how many believers would say "Free my mind from all distractions"?  Hebrews 12:1-2 says,  "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight (distractions), and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (emphasis added)

I believe every Christian would like to see our world changed for the cause of Christ, but are we willing to lay aside the things that keep us from running an effective race?

Would you join me in saying, "God, change the world, and let it start with me!"

Check out the official music video for Let It Start With Me by No Other Name

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Making it Matter

I love the beginning of a new year.  I think it is funny to see who many people write the previous year's date.  I wonder how many times I will write 2011.  I have never been much on setting resolutions, but I googled "funny new year's resolutions" and there were among my favorites.

  1. Watch more cute and cuddly kitten on youtube.
  2. Check my work e-mail account at least once this year.
  3. Switch my user name to "password" and my password to "username" to make each a lot harder for      hackers to figure out.
  4. Watch less standard definition.
  5. Stop buying worthless junk on Ebay, because QVC has better specials.
  6. Start using Facebook for something other than Farmville and stupd quizzes.
  7. Help kids stay safe by not texting on my cell phone while eating McDonald's and speeding through crosswalks in school zones with a frost covered windshield.
  8. Start a blog about how I would write more often if I had something important to write.  Only make one blog entry and leave it published for years.
  9. Talk with a robot voice all the time.
  10. Stop drinking orange juice after I just brushed my teeth.
  11. Buy new clothes big enough to account for next year' holidays.
  12. Lose weight by inventing an anti-gravity machine.
  13. Lose weight by living on the moon.
  14. Find a more accurate scale
  15. Build biceps by increasing reps of Ding Dong curls to 3 sets of 15
  16. Stop buttering my doughnuts.
  17. Eat more fruit...snacks.
You may decide to begin the New Year with one of these or other resolutions,  If you have not considered it, let me encourage you with this one thing.  Make every day matter.
It has been rumored that King George III of England said on July 4, 1776, "Nothing of importance happened today".  Whether King George realized it or recognized it, something significant happened that day.
The same is true of our lives.  Every day matters!  We should make the most of every encounter with people in the grocery story, at the gas station, on busy Saturday mornings at Wal-Mart.  We should make the most of every interaction with our family, and friends.  Make it Matter!  We go through life so often from one day to the next without realizing  that something significant is happening around us.  Whether we realize, or recognize, God brings different situations into our lives to influence us or for us to be influential.
So, accept the challenge and Make it Matter!

Friday, December 30, 2011

My First Post

I never thought I would actually see this day.  Tricia has been encouraging me to blog for a while now, and today is the day I decided to walk the plank and take the plunge into the wide world of blogging.  At this point, I have no idea how often I will post.  I have friends who blog often and some that blog every now and then.  It is interesting to see a post begin to form in Tricia's mind.  I can always tell when a "post is coming on".

This past summer our teenagers attended Fort Bluff Camp in Dayton, Tennessee.  One of the first messages that we heard that week spoke to my heart very deeply.  The preacher was talking about what it means to truly follow Jesus Christ.  Preaching from Luke 14, he said that to be a true follower of Christ you had to love Jesus more than People, Possessions, or Places.  When we returned from camp, I continued to study this theme.  My Pastor told me about a book called Not a Fan written by Kyle Idleman.  The book has challenged me deeply and caused me to examine my Christian walk.  I look forward to sharing more about the book in future posts.

For now, let me encourage you to examine your love for Jesus Christ.  Do you love People more than you love Christ?  Do you love Possessions more than you love Christ?  Do you love Places more than you love Christ?  Our desire as a family is to be completely devoted followers of Christ.  That is why this blog is entitled Simply Follow.