Posted in Jesus, Prayer, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Prayer

Due to some medical situations and some other commitments, I haven’t been able to do much with this blog this year. Somehow an entire year has slipped away and not much has been written. I’d like to change that in the coming year.

With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching, I thought I’d take an opportunity to write out some thoughts.

When I was a child of in the 4-to-6 year-old age range, I had a good idea that I thought would be a great timesaver, so I told my mother. I said that we should just pray over our meals 1 time and say “Thank you, Lord, for this food, and for every meal you provide from now on.” I figured that would cover it, and we would not have to spend so much time praying for our food before each meal. My mother answered by saying that I wouldn’t want someone saying, “Thank you for this present, and for all the presents you may give me for the rest of my life.” You see, the gratitude should be fresh, meaningful, and should have something to do with what you are actually thankful for.

I think about his whenever I am thanking the Lord for my food. How easy is it to slip into a stale, old recited prayer that has nothing to do with what you are about to partake? Teaching children to pray “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food.” Is fine, because it is teaching them to pray, but at some point, they need to be taught to break the routine and pray an original prayer. It does not help if mom and dad are praying the exact same word-for-word prayers every day. The only thing this teaches is how to memorize a script, not how to communicate with God Almighty.

We see several times in the New Testament where Jesus takes bread and “blesses” it. The form of this word in the Greek actually means “to celebrate with praises”. In other words, He offered His thanks for it. In another scripture, we see the Apostle Paul, after having endured a violent storm and many days without food, “he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all, and he broke it and began to eat.” (Acts 27:35). These prayers, I’m sure, were not some rote, memorized-from-children’s-church, candy-coated prayers. I am certain that these were heart-felt instances of joyous praise, thankful for what God had provided. This is what our prayers are supposed to be.

I challenge, no, I dare everyone out there to cut loose of all of the memorized, routine meal prayers. Instead, model each and every one of your prayers to the situation at hand. Pray for each other. Pray for needs. Ask God for healing. Pray for lost souls (at meal time? YES!!) Be specific about what you are thankful for concerning the food. There is no need to rush the prayer, bless the individual dishes. We often think of the prayers that Jesus prayed over the food as a quick prayer to the Father, but think about how we just defined the word “bless” – “to celebrate with praises.” No celebration is going to be a quick little “bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies.”

This Thanksgiving, and every day, turn your mealtime prayers into something more than just a routine, well-practiced, memorized, repeated quotation. Instead, celebrate the goodness of God the Father.

I wonder what will happen if we all quit praying routine mealtime prayers, and instead, actually include God in our prayers?

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Posted in Faith, HCYR, Healing, Holy Spirit, Prayer

Baby Judah’s Transformation

This is to update everyone on the prayer request I put out a couple days ago.

My friend put out this blog:  Baby Judah’s Transformation,  to keep people updated on his baby’s condition.  Please read it, refer to it often, and pray!

Thank you so much, and I know my friends appreciate all the prayer support they can get.

Posted in Healing, Jesus, Prayer, Worship

Urgent Prayer Request

I have some very good friends who were approaching the final weeks of pregnancy.  Yesterday, July 13, the doctor decided that a C-Section was necessary to deliver this child early as he was not receiving proper nourishment. Now that their son has been born, my friends are facing many new challenges as his health continues to be a struggle.

One thing I know for sure is that we serve a mighty God who cares for His children.  He listens to our prayers, and is compassionate toward us.  Nothing is to big for Him.  Nothing is to difficult.  Nothing is impossible.  Our God has been healing human ever since sickness has existed, and I fully believe that He will continue to do so.

The family reports that this baby:

 “is currently on a breathing tube and many other tubes that are helping the doctors give him oxygen and glucose to strengthen him. 

He needs praise and prayer for healing of his lungs and heart.  Both are very important to his health and healing. He also needs a good report on his chromosome test.  

There is of course more to all of this but that is the simplest way to explain what we know for sure he needs healed.”

Of course, please pray for the parents as well for both the emotional and the physical stresses, especially on the mother.

Thank you all.

Posted in Government, Salvation

Independence Day

H A P P Y    I N D E P E N D E N C E   D A Y  ! ! !

 

It has been a while since I last wrote, but I do have some things I want to say.

First, it is Independence Day, today. For some reason, I hear the name of this holiday being expressed as “July 4th” or “4th of July” interchangeably, as if that was the name of the holiday. It makes me wonder how well it would go over if on Christmas, I would start wishing everyone a happy “25th of December” or on New Year’s Day a “Happy 1st of January!” This might seem like a petty argument to some people, but, in 1776, the revolutionaries did not fight for our fourth, no, they fought for our freedom, our independence. This is something that we need to never distance ourselves from.

We need to remember the point of this holiday: we are celebrating our INDEPENDENCE, our FREEDOM! Every firecracker that is fired off needs to be done so in a mood of celebration because we are free.   Our country is so blessed, and we need to take every opportunity to thank God for it.

In the same way, we, as Christians, have obtained freedom from a life of sin. The Apostle Paul tells us: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1, NASB).

When Christ died on the cross, and rose again on the 3rd day, the power of sin was forever broken. For those who choose to accept the free gift that Christ has given, there is life independent from the control of sin. That is cause for celebration! I hear my neighbors setting off fireworks for Independence Day starting about June 30. I guess they can’t wait to celebrate. As Christians, that is the attitude we need. We need to celebrate our freedom from sin and our life in Christ. We need to celebrate it every day. We need to celebrate it with all the gusto that we can muster.

If you are not living under this freedom, do not let another moment pass you by. Ask Christ to forgive your sins and give you this freedom. Then, join the celebration.

“So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;   and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’…’So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.’” (John 8:31-32, 36, NASB).

 

H A P P Y    I N D E P E N D E N C E   D A Y  ! ! !

 

Posted in Faith, Jesus, Prayer, Worship

Marinate in the Presence of the Lord

“O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”
(Ps. 34:8 NASB)

This scripture is right up my alley. Talk about simplifying spiritual things to a level that we all can understand. David writes this Psalm and draws a comparison of the goodness of God to food! All of us can appreciate when good food has been in our mouths. You take a bite, and it tastes so good, after savoring it, you are ready for the next bite. No one simply says, “Well, that bite was so good, I better not risk taking another, it might not live up to that first bite.” Then you live satisfied with just the one taste. No, once you’ve tasted something good, you take another bite.

As I look at this scripture, and think of how God can use something as simple as food to evoke images of His glory, other terms come to mind. I wanted to take some time today to share what I feel the Lord was impressing on me during my prayer time.

There is a method of preparing meat in which you marinate it. The definition of “marinate” is “to put meat or fish in a sauce for a period of time to add flavor or to make the meat or fish more tender.” As I was in prayer one day, I really felt like the Lord was trying to tell me that I need to marinate in His presence. What does that mean? Well, to plug into the definition of marinate, I would be the meat, and the Presence of the Lord would be the sauce, so He was telling me to soak in His Presence for a “period of time” so that He could add His flavor and make me more tenderhearted.

Soaking in the Presence of the Lord can take on many forms:

  • It can be prayer – not just talking to God, but talking with God. Truly listening to what He has to say instead of only taking your shopping list of needs to Him.
  • It can be worship – Singing to the Lord, Glorifying Him, Magnifying His Name, Lifting Praise to Him
  • It can be sitting quietly in His presence
  • It can be Bible study. Not merely reading the words in the book, but actually meditating on what they say. Charles Spurgeon urged his students, “Let us, dear brethren, try to get saturated with the gospel. I always find that I can preach best when I can lie a-soak in my text. I like to get a text, and find out its meanings and bearings, and so on; and then, after I have bathed in it, I delight to lie down in it, and let it soak into me.”

When I looked into the actual process of marination, I realized that it doesn’t actually change the properties of the meat. The liquid that the meat soaks in does not absorb into the meat, rather it is a process of adsorption (the marinade adheres to the surface of the meat). I thought that this kind of tossed my whole analogy out the window. But it really does not. The process is still there. We still need to soak in the Presence of the Lord. However, the result needs to go beyond what marination does. That’s when the Lord brought another word to mind.

Permeate – to diffuse through or penetrate something. Once we have marinated in the Presence of Lord, we need to then allow Him to permeate through us. Whenever I think of the word “Permeate,” I think of a Jimmy Buffet song, One Particular Harbour. In this song, there is a stanza that goes:

Lakes below the mountain
Flow into the sea
Like oils applied to canvas
They permeate through me

Applying oils to canvas is just another way of saying “painting”. When that oil-based paint permeates the canvas, the properties are forever changed. It is never the same. Now, put that in context with allowing the Presence of the Lord to permeate through you. You will be forever changed!

Ephesians 2:10 says – “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (NASB)

I like the way the New Living Translation renders it – “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Finally, when we talk about soaking in the Presence of the Lord and allowing His Presence to permeate through us, there has to be a logical result.

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38 NASB). The NKJV translates “innermost being” as “heart”.

Marination is a slow process. It results in tender, flavored meat. When we soak our spirit in the Presence of the Lord, and allow His Presence to permeate through every part of us, the result will be that out of our innermost being, rivers of living water will flow. This doesn’t mean that there is a pool of water that needy people can come to if they seek it out. It says that the living water is flowing from you. If the Presence of the Lord has intermingled with your soul, you won’t be able to help but put it on display.

Posted in Bible Study, Faith, Politics

Hope

In a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, First Lady Michelle Obama states, “Now we’re feeling what not having hope feels like.” The statement seems to suggest that our hope comes from the person who has been elected President. If that was the case, then I whole-heartedly agree – I have no hope. However, it did not end with the elections in November. No President that has ever led this country has ever been able to produce the hope that any of us need.

The Bible is a great reference for telling us not only where hope comes from, but where to place our hope.

My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. (Ps. 62:10).

For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth. (Ps. 71:14).

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Rom. 15:4).

And now, Lord , for what do I wait? My hope is in You. (Ps. 39:7).

“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence. O my God, my soul is in despair within me; Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me. The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night, A prayer to the God of my life. I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” (Ps. 42:5-11).

How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the LORD his God (Ps. 146:5).

It’s easy to see from these few examples, that our hope comes from the Lord, and is to be placed in the Lord. The question could easily be asked, WHY? Why hope in the Lord? Well, the answer comes directly out of scripture as well:

This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” (Lam. 3:20-24).

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom. 5:1-6).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Pet. 1:3).

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 1:13).

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Pet. 1:17-21).

For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. (1 Tim. 4:10).

Our hope, as Christians, takes shape in many ways, through Jesus. Ultimately, we look forward to His return.

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. (Rom. 8:20-25).

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (Tit. 2:11-14).

Knowing where my hope comes from, who it is in, and what it is, I do not need any political entity telling me that I have no hope. No, government does not inspire hope in me. It never has. Only Jesus has that power. He’s not running for political office, but I elected Him King long ago, therefore,

I   H A V E   H O P E ! !

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13).

 

Posted in Worship

Thanksgiving

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Other than an annual holiday where we eat ourselves into oblivion, what is Thanksgiving? The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines it:

  1. the act of giving thanks
  2. a prayer expressing gratitude
  3. a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness

That’s nice. But can we get a clearer picture from the Bible? The word the Old Testament uses for “thanksgiving” means:

confession, praise, thanksgiving

1a) give praise to God
1b) thanksgiving in songs of liturgical worship, hymn of praise
1c) thanksgiving choir or procession or line or company
1d) thank-offering, sacrifice of thanksgiving
1e) confession

 The word the New Testament uses means:

  1. thankfulness
  2. the giving of thanks

So, we now know what the word means but what is THANKSGIVING? To find out, I am going to examine the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW of thanksgiving (just not necessarily in that order!)

1. What is thanksgiving?

We have already given several definitions of the word. In the Old Testament viewpoint, thanksgiving was all about giving praise. It is impossible to give praise, true praise, without a thankful heart.

2. Who do we give thanks (praise) to?

  • Christ – When we think about all that Jesus did out of love for us, how can our actions be anything but that of giving thanks. We do not have enough time here on Earth to give the praise to Jesus that he deserves, so He’s reserved a place in eternity for us to render to God what is God’s.
  • To the people around us.
  • Basically, to anyone deserving of it. My main thoughts are that of our thanks to God, but I wonder, how can we truly praise God, if we are not appreciative of those around us that help us out in this life. We have got to build a good relationship with those around us, because it is in that relationship that we find our relationship with Christ. We show our love for Christ in the way that we treat those around us, so we must render thanks to those who deserve it. The highest expression of our spirituality is not our relationship with God, but rather, it is our relationship with others.

 3. When do we give thanks?

  • Whenever we pray. Psalm 100 says:

“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.” (NASB, emphasis mine.)

This should be our standard – whenever we are in the presence of the Lord, we should be full of thanksgiving and praise for Him. Sometimes we seem to labor in our prayer, and that is okay if we entered into prayer correctly. We can find peace in our sorrowful prayers if we allow thanksgiving be the cornerstone of that prayer.

  • Always, and for everything:

“speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;” (Eph. 5:19-20 NASB).

This is talking about our relationships with those around us. Our conversations with each other need to reflect our thankfulness to God for what he has done in our lives. When we talk to others, we should do it with a song of praise in our hearts. In doing so, we eliminate strife. How can we argue and fuss with each other and sing a song of praise and thanksgiving at the same time? (This not as easy to practice as it is to “preach”, but thank God for grace as He irons out the wrinkles!)

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5:16-18 NASB).

It becomes easy to know when to be thankful if we make our lives a praise the Lord. When we enter into prayer, we will already be living out our thanksgiving. When we come into contact with others, we will be living out our thanksgiving.

4. Where do we give thanks?

  • In worship. – Where is a better place for thanksgiving?
  • In Trials.
    • Paul and Silas gave thanks in prison. The scriptures say that they were singing hymns. I do not believe they were singing “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.” They were probably singing “Trading My Sorrows” or “Amazing Grace”. (Acts 16:25-26)
    • When Paul was about to be shipwrecked, he called upon all the people to give thanks to the Lord and to eat. This was because he could see that even though the upcoming experience may be slightly less than pleasant, no one was going to die. (Acts 27:33-36)
  • In all things (See 1 Thes. 5:18). No matter what we face, we need to give thanks to God. It is easy for us to thank Him during the “good times”, but we should also thank Him during the “so-so times”, the “not-so-good times”, and the “hard times”. Thanksgiving is an action, not a feeling. It should be based on what we know is right, and not on how we feel. We need to Thank God at all times, no matter what.

 5. Why do we give thanks?

  • It is God’s will for us. (1 Thes. 5:18)
  • Ps. 100:4b-5 – “For the Lord is good;
    His lovingkindness is everlasting
    And His faithfulness to all generations.”

We can Thank the Lord because He is Good. No matter how we are, our God is just. When we are right with Him, He is good. When we are not right with Him, He is Good. This is a universal truth. All of us can think of many ways in which the Lord has been good to us.

6. How do we give thanks?

Is there a set pattern? It’s a funny thing to listen to people pray over food. Often times, I know word for word what some people are going to say in advance because they just repeat the same thing every time. Is this truly the expression of gratitude to the God of the universe? How should you express your gratitude, your praise, your thanksgiving?

  • With Sincerity. It is futile to give thanks unto the Lord if we do not mean it. It must be real. If we are insincere, then our thanksgiving is only a show for those around us, and God sees it too.
  • With Passion. How thankful we are shows in our expression of thanks. How would you show thanks to someone who gives you a dollar? How about a car? Christ gave us Himself. He gave us everlasting life. He saved us from our sins. He died for us. How do we find a passion strong enough to thank Him with?
  • With Celebration. Praise should be joyous. Thanksgiving should be fun to give. David realized this with all his music, and dancing.

When I look at thanksgiving, that’s how I see it. Please, feel free to add any comments, I’d love to read everyone else’s point of view.