Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sweet Half Hour of Prayer

Have you ever found yourself singing the hymn “Sweet Hour of Prayer” and wondered if you should be humming it instead? 

How many of us have an hour to pray?  Though it would be sweet, can we really find that much time in a day or even a week to commit solely to prayer?

These words of Christ to His sleeping disciples come to mind like words cutting deep:  “Could you not watch with me one hour?” 

Think of all the time Christ spent communing with His Father, sometimes entire nights after a weary day of healing and teaching.  No wonder He said, “I do always those things that please him.” 

He knew the Father’s heart.
He knew His will. 
He ached where the Father ached.
He grieved where the Spirit grieved. 
He rejoiced over the things that gladdened the heart of God.

Because He prayed.

He was God Himself.  And yet He prayed.
He was man, too.  Yet He found sweet hours for prayer.

What if you and I found some time this week for a “sweet HALF hour of prayer”?

My guess is that we'll find that half hour so sweet, we’ll soon try two back to back.

And turn from hummers of the hymn to singers full of gladness at the sweetness of communion.

Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer,
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne,
Make all my wants and wishes known!
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare,
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer.

Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer,
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To him, whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless;
And since he bids me seek his face,
Believe his word, and trust his grace,
I’ll cast on him my ev’ry care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Distracted by Stillness

“Be still, and know that I am God.”  (Psalm 46:10a)

With summer here, the stormy winter and chilly evenings of recent months have quickly been forgotten.  One morning, however, my heart felt like a lingering storm.   Numerous needs – my own and others’ – were crashing in on me like an unexpected whirlwind. 
 
Casting these burdens on the Lord, I was suddenly awakened to a scene quietly unfolding outside my window.   

Like a fitting backdrop, tall fir trees lining our neighbor’s fence stood motionless, being what they were created to be.
   


Without a word, early summer flowers were telling of their Creator’s faithfulness and love for beauty. 

   

Soon, a sparrow entered to complete the picture, not planting seeds or gathering food into a barn, but happily discovering and enjoying what our heavenly Father had provided for him.


This hushed scene struck me with its peacefulness – a sharp contrast to my stormy heart.

Distracted by this stillness, my thoughts turned to a particular storm in the lives of the disciples – one in which their Maker slept on a pillow.  The disciples weren’t sleeping.  With an unexpected storm crashing in on them, their lives were in turmoil.

But when they woke Jesus, He commanded the stormy winds and waves to be still.

And they obeyed.

Creation busies itself by resting in its Creator’s authority and by obeying the same command given to us:  “Be still, and know that I am God.”  (Psalm 46:10a)

He is God.

And that’s all we need to know to be still.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Grand Theft

Sitting in a Shari’s booth the other day with a friend, I looked outside as someone’s car alarm was blaring incessantly.  I wondered what was taking the guy in the backseat so long to turn it off.  (This happens to me frequently.  It’s embarrassing!)

Suddenly the “guy in the backseat” took off running, carrying something close to his chest. The car alarm continued to blare in front of a whole line of onlookers watching from their booths.




Just as he jumped into a waiting car, someone in the restaurant cried, “Call the cops!” and the car reeled away in a mad escape.

I had just witnessed a burglary. 
 
Burglary.  

Just the word sounds evil, dirty, like something I would never do.   
I would never take something that belonged to someone else.  And certainly not in front of several curious onlookers trying to enjoy a meal!

Then, I read in Scripture that I am not my own.  I don’t belong to myself.  
I am God’s.

If my life is not my own, what kind of theft am I committing when I make decisions without Him in mind?  Without considering if my decisions would reflect His ownership over me, or mine?

This is Grand Theft.

Because I have been bought with a price far greater than I could have paid. 

Belonging to the Lord is true freedom, and He is a careful Guardian.
We don’t need to take what belongs to Him into our own hands and do whatever we think is better. 
 
What kind of lives would we live in secret and in front of onlookers if we remembered that our lives are not our own?

They are either His. . .

Or Stolen.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Steps and Stops

Where were you when you first heard the gospel?

A camp meeting?
A church service?
A long flight and a kind seat mate?

Were you anywhere west of Asia?

If so, you have the providential hand of God in directing the steps of the first missionaries to be grateful to.

The first person to hear the Gospel west of Asia was Lydia, the first convert to Christianity in Europe.

Lydia was actually from Asia.

Even more ironically, the people who shared the gospel with her were missionaries who planned to go to Asia, but the Lord led them to Europe instead.

Sometimes closed doors don’t make sense.
Often the wide open ones don’t either.

For these missionaries, both the closed and open doors left them wondering.

But they obeyed.

And they met a group of women in Europe whose hearts were already prepared to receive the truth.

Lydia was among them and came to Christ.
Next, her household believed.
A slave girl was delivered from demon possession.
Then, a jailer was transformed.
His household believed.

And a church began in Philippi.

From there, the Gospel continued to spread West.
Now, it has gone all the way around the world.

God directs our steps . . . and our “stops,” someone once said.

If you heard the Gospel somewhere West of Asia, you have the "steps and stops” of God to be grateful to.

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We can never determine all the why’s of God’s leading. 
But we know this . . . His own, silent answer to our why’s have a greater meaning than we could ever comprehend.  A deeper and more loving meaning than we could ever determine for ourselves.

Steps and Stops of life are God’s prerogative.

Obedience and trust are ours.


(Click here to listen to "Lydia and the Women of Philippi")