Posts tagged ‘pray’

He’s Knocking

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”   Revelation 3:20

Every Christmas Eve my grandparents came to our house for dinner and then we would open the gifts they brought with them. Those are the only gifts we opened on Christmas Eve, but this only heightened my anticipation for the evening. I would sit in our living room waiting to hear for their knock at the front door. There was something warm and cozy about those nights. The meal, the conversations, the gifts, the love all came together to make me feel that life is safe and filled with joy. 

Every time I read Revelation 3:20, I am comforted by the visual of Him knocking on MY door, wanting to share a meal with me so He can talk with me and share with me. The really cool thing is that He always brings a gift for me – one that I need at that moment. Sometimes it is a word of encouragement. Other times it is a reminder that I am His child with citizenship in His Kingdom. And then there are the times He points out what I am doing wrong and how I can correct it. But no matter what, He always has the gift of salvation for me.

My problem is that there are too many times I am so busy with life or wrapped up in my own thoughts and troubles that I do not hear His knock. I worry about my schedule or my health or what others are thinking of me or my next project that needs to be completed. I get so consumed with the busyness of life that too many times I am not listening for the knock of Jesus. And I ask myself why I anticipated the presence, conversation and gifts from my grandparents once a year more than I anticipate the presence, conversation, and gifts from Jesus every day. I eagerly awaited the knock from my grandparents. I always heard it and answered the door. 

Why do we so often not hear the knock from Jesus? What does it look like for us to wait for Jesus? What does it look like to listen for His knock on our heart’s door? As I think of my experiences on Christmas Eve each year, I realize I need to focus on the door! I need to listen for the knock.

I find myself listening for His knock when I truly want to eat with Him. And so I find that He knocks as I read the Word and pray. That it seems an obvious time to hear His knock. But I have found that He also knocks throughout the rest of my day if I am listening. He knocks as I see a homeless person on the street, during a conversation with a critic, at a board meeting when tensions are high, and during a crucial conversation with a friend. When I answer the door, Jesus always has just the gift I need for that situation. And then I wonder why I don’t listen for His knock ALL the time!

How do you look and listen for Jesus in your life? What can you do each day to optimize your awareness of Jesus at your door? What does sharing a supper with Jesus look like for you? 

 

I Prayed in my Distress

In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free.  (Psalm 118:5)

It is time for me to get back to work! I have taken a few weeks away from my usual responsibilities to refocus on God’s plan for my life and find the best path forward to deal with my recurrent cardiac symptoms. As I have previously blogged, I found it very discouraging to face recurrent chest pain less than two years after bypass surgery. The easiest approach was to ignore my problem as I focused on the issues in the church. But this caught up with me when it became clear that my cardiac condition was only getting worse, and that it was affecting my relationship with God.

And so in my distress, I prayed to God. Such prayers, however, take time. Such a prayer requires specificity, reflection, and listening skills. There are times when 10 minutes each morning may be enough to stay connected with God. But I have discovered that I require much more time than that if I want to deal with my heart issues. When I take the time to open my heart up to Him, I find in Jesus a friend who loves my unconditionally and accepts me when I feel too flawed to be acceptable. When I take the time to pray in my distress, He takes the time to listen, ask questions, and point me in the right direction. 

We live at such a fast pace today that most of the time we don’t even realize we are in distress. When we do realize it, we rarely take the time to understand our distress. Where is it coming from? Why do we feel the way we do? What misbelief do we have that is preventing us from experiencing God’s peace? How can we overcome it? These are questions God answered for me when I prayed to Him in my distress. I simply needed to take the time to focus on God and seek His guidance.

God revealed to me the source of my distress. It wasn’t my chest pain. It was my belief that my self worth is tied to my physical health. So as my health deteriorated, this belief drove me to ignore my symptoms rather than face them. The emotional pain due to my misbelief was greater than the physical pain. But Jesus set me free as He corrected my misbelief. He assured me of His unconditional love. All it took was a willingness to voice my distress and listen to His response.

Distress is nothing more than an opportunity to experience peace and freedom in Jesus. All it takes is time with Jesus. We read in John 8:31-32, “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'”

Are you abiding in His Word? Are you taking the time to pray in your distress? Are you willing to discover your misbeliefs and allow Jesus to set you free?

 

Draw Near to God

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  James 4: 8

James reminds us to draw near to God. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, God is always waiting for us and wooing us through the Holy Spirit to come home to Him.  God is always ready to run towards us, to surround us with His grace. But He will never force His love upon us. So He patiently waits for us to respond to His loving call home.

What does it look like to “draw near to God” in your life today, to respond to His call home? For me in recent weeks it has been to accept my own heart condition. I had to accept the condition as real without accepting it as defining who I am. For months I had denied that it existed, which meant that I could live and eat as though I did not have this problem. Such living bled into every aspect of my life as none of us ever compartmentalize as well as we think we can. Pride set in because I could do as I pleased. I didn’t see at as pride, but once I accepted my condition, I was humbled before God realizing that my strength is in Him alone. And so as I have drawn near to God, He has simply put His arm around me because He was next to me all along. 

With His embrace, I have been able to cleanse my hands as the sinner I am. In the OT sanctuary system, cleansing symbolized the removal of guilt. When I go to Jesus, accept my condition, He removes my guilt. What a relief! I can now focus on my heart condition without feeling weighed down by guilt that I have contributed to it by unhealthy lifestyle choices. I know that I have not always made healthy choices, but as I come to God each day to cleanse my thoughts and actions, He takes away my guilt! My guilt will ultimately lead me back to the self-destructive choices that brought the guilt on in the first place. It is hard to live with guilt, so we either ignore that we have a problem or focus all of our attention on the problem rather than the solution.

What would it look like in your life to “cleanse your hands” today and have your guilt removed completely? For me it has been to look beyond my poor choices of the past and see the path forward. I can move forward in God’s grace when I am not encumbered with guilt. I am no longer worried about what I can’t do. I am now rejoicing in what I can do in His will.

And finally, James instructs us to “purify your hearts” which is curious because we cannot do this! Only God can purify my heart. The issue, however, is one of commitment. Am I committed to the purification process that we have just described? James tells us the problem we all have: we are “double-minded.” We say we want God’s will to be done in our life, but we continue to seek our own will. I have found that when I pray for His will, read His Word, submit to His instructions, that He purifies my heart. As my heart is purified, so are my motives, my thoughts, and my beliefs. As my motives, thoughts, and beliefs are purified, so are my behaviors. My hands will never stay clean if my heart is not purified.

What James describes is a moment by moment process. Paul says it this way in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.” I need His constant love, reassurance, and power to stay in His will. So today, I choose to draw near to God. What about you?

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