In the Presence of the Lord: Approaching God in Prayer

“…by this time you ought to be teachers; you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” Hebrews 5:12

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The language of a 16-month-old:

Talking at the speed of movement,

Chatter that sounds like nonsense,

Earnest sounds directed to an object,

Unrecognizable noise in motion,

Conversation with a stuffed animal,

Requests in his own sign language,

Whimpering whines with pleas,

Loud cries for instant attention,

Laughter, chatter, whines, cries.

The babble of baby speech.

In the presence of our God, we may believe that our communion with Him in prayer is at a level of maturity. But what if the Lord only hears hurried talking and chattering that appear as nonsense, lacking significance? What if He mostly hears whimpering whines and loud cries from us? Will He even hear a few recognizable words–worthy enough to be spoken– before our language again regresses into chatter, whines, pleas, cries, and babble?

13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.  (Hebrews 5: 13-14)

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In the presence of our Lord, are we still in the developmental stages of language and expression? How should we speak to our God:

Matthew 6:7 –And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words

Proverbs 10:14 –Wise men store up knowledge, But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand.

2 Timothy 2:16 –But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness…

Matthew 6:7-8(7)And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. (8) So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

How should we approach our Lord and our God:

Jeremiah 29:13 — You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.

Hebrews 4:16 — Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Psalm 100:4 –Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name!

God has granted us the privilege of approaching Him in prayer. We can speak with the Almighty Creator of the universe. We can talk, one-on-one, with the Most High. Let Him hear in our words that we are seeking to know Him. Let Him hear in our language that we are in awe of His presence. Let Him hear in our expression that we are thankful for His love and grace. Let Him hear through the tone of our communication that we love Him. Although we are His children, our conversations with God should reflect our growth in Him, beyond childish “me” talk and “empty chatter.”

(Sharon G. Tate 03/26/17 blog) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

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I CAN THROUGH CHRIST!

I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO

STRENGTHENS ME. (Philippians 4:13)

Within this one verse, Christians can find hope, courage, support, and the will to persevere through “all things” that we encounter in this life. It is a simply stated verse with profound implications and possibilities for each one of us. What have we done with this verse in our lives? What does it really mean for you and me?

Instead of looking at the whole of the statement, an analysis of the individual parts can explain why this verse is so important to each Christian:

“I”   The first word makes the entire verse very directed to me with the use of the personal pronoun “I.” It means that “I” am the one speaking these words—aloud, in writing, while reading, in thought, in prayer.

“CAN”   It is possible for me, but the word “can” also reveals that it is up to me. “I can” if I want to; “I can” if I have courage to try; “I can” if I have faith to believe; “I can” when I seek God’s help. The use of this word shows if I don’t have the “I can” belief, it is unlikely I will proceed to action.

“DO”   This is the follow through to “I CAN.” It is up to me to act on the belief that “I can” in order to “do all things.” The little engine that kept saying “I think I can, I think I can” would not have made it to the top and over the mountain – if it hadn’t gone beyond merely thinking the words. The little engine needed to act, and so must I.

“All”   In many situations, a statement containing the “all” word is too inclusive, making it false. There are almost always exceptions to “all.” If we didn’t read the entire verse, stopping at “I can do all things”—then the statement would be untrue. By myself, I cannot do all things. This means I must recognize my dependence on God who can help me “do all.”

“Things” We tend to think of “things” in respect to physical objects. Yet, a “thing” has an expansive range of coverage. It has no specific name—so it can be just about anything. God has no limitations. Only I can limit what He wants to do for me —and what He wants me to do for Him.

“Through Christ”   He is the Way. He is the Door. I must go “through” Him to “do all things.”

“Who”   A pronoun replaces and references a noun. The noun in this case is Christ. There is no other “Who” but Him. Jesus Christ is the “Who” strengthening me– so “I can do all things.”

“Strengthens”   Christ holds me up when I feel I cannot and helps me see that “I can” with- and through- Him.

“Me”   Full circle in the verse- from “I” in the beginning and back to “me” in the ending–I see that I truly need Him. Christ is my personal Cheerleader, my personal Coach, my personal Example, my personal Friend, my personal Savior, my personal Redeemer.

Although the verse begins with “I” and ends with “me,” it is not about me. It is always about Him. Alone, I am a weak vessel. Through Him, I can become stronger and “do all things” that He wants me to do and get through—for Him.

Have we really examined this verse to become fully aware of the meaning, the possibilities, the hope, and the promise God is so willing to offer to us? They are endless, but the words I must say and act upon, with unfailing belief, in order to do all things are —“I can through Christ.”

(Sharon G. Tate blog 03/19/17) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

Our All-Powerful God: The Calm in the Storm

When He thunders, the waters in the heavens roar;
He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.
He sends lightning with the rain
and brings out the wind from His storehouses.

(Jeremiah 10:13)

 POWERFUL

ALMIGHTY

OMNIPOTENT

COMMANDING

SOVEREIGN

SUPREME

ALL-POWERFUL

 We serve an AWESOME GOD!

The winds lifted shingles off roofs, knocked down power lines, shook cables on the Mackinaw Bridge, felled trees on houses, shoved pedestrians along the sidewalk, left families in darkness, stole warmth from homes, sent objects flying in defiance of gravity– as uncharged smartphones lay silent on shelves.

Newscasters reported the strength and impact of the winds, weathermen issued warnings by intensity, dispatch operators answered the overwhelming surge of calls, emergency personnel reactively responded. But NO ONE could calm the winds.

Yet, there was ONE who could, as He had shown this power before to His disciples:

(Mark’s account: Mark 4:36-39) 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat. There were also other boats with Him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

(Mark’s account: Mark 4:36-39) 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat. There were also other boats with Him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

(Matthew’s account: Matthew 8:23-26) 23 Then He got into the boat and his disciples followed Him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

The calm in the storm. We can only experience it through faith and trust in our All-Powerful God. The calm after the storm. It can only come when we go through the storm with our Lord who cares for us.

Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
Whose hands have gathered up the wind?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and what is the name of His son?
Surely you know! (Proverbs 30:4)

No mere man or woman can gather the winds and order them to “Be still.” The stillness can only be found when we are in the same boat as Christ, the One who can rebuke the winds– and us when we lack faith in His Power and His Love.

(Sharon G. Tate -3/12/2017 blog ) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

PRAY WITHOUT CEASING . . .

THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER
               1 Thessalonians 5:17 translations:

Pray continually.                                                      1599 Geneva Bible                                                     Continually be prayerful.                                      International Standard Version
. . . pray constantly. . .                                            Revised Standard Version
Be unceasing in prayer.                                         Amplified Bible
[praying perseveringly]
Pray without ceasing.                                            American Standard Version
. . . and never stop praying.                                Contemporary English Version
. . .pray at all times. . .                                           Good News Translation
Pray without ceasing.                                       King James Version
. . .pray all the time . . .                                         The Message
. . . without ceasing pray ye; . . .                       1382 Wycliffe Bible
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The message across time and translations remains the same: constant, continual, unceasing prayer. One version included this addition in brackets: “ praying perseveringly.” To “persevere” means the following: “persist, continue, carry on, go on, keep on, keep going, struggle on, hammer away, be persistent, be determined, see/follow something through, keep at it, press on/ahead, be tenacious, stand one’s ground, stand fast/firm, hold on, go the distance, stay the course, plod on, stop at nothing, leave no stone unturned, hang on, plug away, stick it out, hang in there” (google.com).

                                                         TO PERSEVERE MEANS TO ACT.

Prayer changes lives, events, attitudes, history. What could be different if we each prayed with unceasing perseverance? How would our lives be changed? In what ways would the world be altered? How could the Father of Lies ever confront, intercept, or halt such a barrage of unceasing prayer?

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” ( Mark 11:24). This means WE are responsible. Our personal prayer lives matter; our church family prayers matter. Our belief is crucial. The world we live in desperately needs our intervention. The means to do this is through “praying perseveringly” to God who can—and will—respond. “And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:15).      

                                                         WE MUST PRAY WITHOUT CEASING.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 03/06/17) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word