Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Throne Room of Secret Prayer

Have you ever wondered why Jesus instructed His disciples to go into their room and shut the door when they prayed?  


Seems a little too intimate with a God so infinite. 

But notice WHO Jesus said we meet with in secret.

Your FATHER
·        We’re not talking to empty space when we pray. 
·         We’re talking to God the Father.

YOUR Father
·         He didn’t tell them to pray to “MY Father.” 
·         He said: “Pray to YOUR Father.”
·         Pray to a Person who loves us as His children.

Your Father who is IN HEAVEN 
·         He sits on the highest throne possible.  
·         “The Lord reigns.”
·         Our Father is in complete control.

Your Father who is IN SECRET
·         The quiet expanse of space behind a closed door is not loneliness.
·         Our Father in Heaven loves to meet with us there.

Your Father who SEES in secret
·         He’s not just a “presence” in the room. 
·         He SEES. 
·         He sees us while we pray. 
·         He sees the entire picture of what we lay before Him in our prayers. 
·         More clearly than we do.

Your Father who KNOWS what things you have need of
·         Before we ask, He knew. 
·         While we ask, He knows. 
·         And we can be sure He’s been storing up what’s necessary to meet the need He already is fully aware of.

Behind a closed door, we meet with our Father.

Who made this. . . .



And this. . . .



And this. . .



If we’re able to get up from our knees and still feel burdened, I wonder if we’ve really prayed.

Who are we talking to?  Really?

OUR FATHER. 
Who is in Heaven. 
Who is in Secret.  
Who SEES in secret. 
Who knows.

Let’s leave our burdens behind . . . in the throne room of secret prayer.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Bible Tells Me So

“Jesus Loves Me” was one of my favorite songs as a child. 
It’s still a favorite.

As a child, I just believed the adults were right when they taught us to sing, “The Bible tells me so.”  I just assumed that somewhere in the Bible it must say that Jesus loves me.

Since then, I’ve READ it in the Bible.  Several places.  Several times.

And I sing the song a little differently now.  No longer because someone else told me “Jesus Loves Me.”

The much more enduring, living, authoritative Word of God tells me so.

When Jesus was about to die for sinners, He told His disciples:  “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you.” (John 15:9)

He loves His followers in the same way the Father loves Him.
·         The Father loves Him so much He called Him His “beloved Son, in whom [He was] well pleased.” 
·         He loved Him “before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).

(And, incidentally, Jesus also said the FATHER loves us the same way He loves His Son.  See John 17:23.)

Paul was fully persuaded “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, [take a deep breath; he continues. . . .] nor height, nor depth, nor any other creation shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39).

·         “The apostle dares to defy the whole universe to separate [the Church] from the love of Christ." -- Spurgeon

Nothing in the universe can do it.

His Cross spelled love.
His suffering and death illustrated unconditional, sacrificial love.
His resurrection ensured unending love.
His promise to prepare a place for us so we could be with Him where He is means He desires us.  Wants us near.  His love will continue into eternity.  It will never change.

He “rests” in His love for us. (Zeph. 3:17)   
He’s silent in His love.  
A love too great for words.

If that silence seems deafening; if He seems to have forgotten . . . it’s impossible. 

He loved us before the foundation of the world; in a way the whole universe can’t take away; a love proclaimed by a death and resurrection and a promise to come again.  An everlasting love.

Yes.  Jesus loves me (and you!).

The Bible tells me so.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Every When

When do you talk to God?
In the morning?
At meals?
Only at meals?
Before you fall asleep?

Never?

What about “Always”?

Neither do I.

Paul prayed “always.” 
Yes.  Paul.  Who was busy sharing the Gospel, spending time in prison, writing epistles, caring for churches, making tents.  Several times, he told the churches he was praying “always” for them.

So what does that mean?  How did Paul pray “always”? 
And what does that mean for you and me?

My favorite Greek-word-study-help tells me “always” means “every when.”

Paul prayed . . . . at “EVERY WHEN.”

WHEN he shared the gospel.
WHEN he spent time in prison.
WHEN he wrote an epistle.
WHEN he cared for the churches.
WHEN he made tents.

Our lives are full of “when’s.”  

Every moment is a “when.” 
Every moment is WHEN we can pray.

Moments all strung together to make up a life that is conscious of Someone Else caring for our “when’s.”

This is praying "at all TIMES."

Placing “every when” in His capable hands.

Always.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mounting Up with Wings

“They that wait upon the Lord . . . . 
shall mount up with wings like eagles.” (Isaiah 40:31)

I was reading a book recently where the author likened faith and submission to two wings of a bird.

 
If we’re going to “mount up with wings” over our circumstances, we can’t do it with just one wing of surrender.  But no trust in the Lord.

Or with one wing of faith.  But no submission to what the Lord is doing.

It would be like a bird trying to fly with one wing, while the other lies limply at its side.

We have to both believe the Lord AND surrender to what He’s doing in our lives.


THAT’s what waiting on the Lord is.

And that’s exactly what Mary was doing when she told the angel, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38)

She was “waiting on the Lord” as His humble handmaid.

In fact, Mary was one of the greatest examples of a woman of faith and submission in all of Scripture.

Many want to say she was sinless, our mediator, a dispenser of grace, and the “Queen of Heaven.”

But Mary was just a humble, common individual who was hand-picked by God to be the mother of the Lord.
She was “blessed AMONG women.”  Not ABOVE them.
She would have never wanted to be on the pedestal she’s put on today.

She was God’s “handmaid” – the feminine form of the word “bondslave.”
A “bondslave” was someone who would do whatever was asked, at a moment’s notice. 
A life completely wrapped up in the will of another.

And that’s what characterized Mary’s entire life.

The angel told her, “. . . with God nothing shall be impossible.”
And she believed that.
She gave birth to Jesus when medically-speaking she shouldn’t have.

And she submitted to the will of the Lord, whatever that would mean for her.

The first thing it meant was that her betrothed husband was considering “putting her away privately.”
Her reputation was at stake.

It also meant she would enter into her son’s rejection. 
She had to give birth in a barn.
She and Joseph fled to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod the Great.
And she stood in silence as angry men crucified her Son.

If Mary had been a self-centered woman, wavering in her faith, and unwilling to submit to the Lord’s ways, she would never have been able to endure all that.

"The Lord was with her.” 
She was blessed indeed.

It would have been incredible to be the “mother of the Lord.”

Jesus said, “Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it.” 
(Luke 11:28)

In other words, we are EACH “blessed AMONG [others]” if we, like Mary, are trusting His Word and submitting to it.

Mary said to the servants at the wedding in Cana"Whatever He says to you. . . .do it.” (John 2:5)

That’s what it is to be His blessed bondslave.

Only then are we able to “mount up with wings.”


(Click here to listen to the lesson on "Mary, the Mother of Jesus.")