Thursday, May 28, 2009

Prayer and Common Sense

More from Oswald Chambers:

"Jesus never mentioned unanswered prayer; He had the boundless certainty that prayer is always answered.... God answers prayer in the best way, not sometimes, but every time, although the immediate manifestation of the answer in the domain in which we want it may not always follow. Do we expect God to answer prayer?
The danger with us is that we want to water down the things that Jesus says and make them mean something in accordance with common sense; if it were only common sense, it was not worthwhile for Him to say it. The things Jesus says about prayer are supernatural revelations."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Joyful Abandon

"Do not worry
about your life, what you will eat or drink;
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more important than food, and
the body more important than clothes?"
(Matthew 6:25)

A mostly-paraphrased section from Oswald Chambers:

What we call "common sense," Jesus may call unfaithfulness. The Holy Spirit nudges as we go through life -- Where does God fit into this relationship? Into this holiday plan? Into these other details? -- and he does this persistently until He becomes our first consideration. Until we reach that point, there is confusion.

"Do not worry..." Basic provision isn't your problem to worry about. In fact, to take on such worries shows that you don't trust God to take care of the practical details of your life. Do you remember what Jesus said would choke the word he puts in? Not the devil, but the cares of this world, the little worries. [See Matthew 13.] Faithlessness begins by deciding I will not trust where I cannot see, and the only cure is obedience to the Spirit.

Jesus invites us into a life of joyful abandonment.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

For This Reason

"For this reason... I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers" (Ephesians 1:15-16). For what reason? The verses prior paint a wonderful picture: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ... chose us... to be adopted... glorious grace, which he has freely given us... in accordance with the richness of God's grace that he lavished on us.... And you also were included..." That whole section is a powerful proclamation of God's love and grace in the lives of all who choose to follow Him. It is indeed reason to celebrate.

And what is Paul's prayer? "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe." We are called, first and foremost, to relationship with God. We are invited to know God.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Why Do You Do This?

Acts 1:1-8 contains an incredibly speedy review -- Jesus came, taught, died, resurrected, and taught some more -- which sets the scene for the next three verses. He promised again the coming of the Holy Spirit, who would empower the disciples to tackle their God-given mission. Then "he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight."

"They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going..." Makes sense, doesn't it? This Jesus, their Savior and Teacher and Lord, was not just leaving, but leaving in a pretty spectacular manner. I wonder how long the disciples would have stood there watching if not interrupted by the "two men dressed in white" who prompted them with this question: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky?"

It reminds me of the question asked of the women by two similar figures at Jesus' empty tomb: "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" (Luke 24:5), and it reminds me that God does not meet my expectations of how the world works.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Everything Changed

Jesus spent three years in ministry on earth, and it changed everything in the lives of those who followed him. He healed sick people, liberated spiritually oppressed people, welcomed rejected people, taught seeking people, challenged wrong people, and loved all people. His disciples would never be the same after encountering the Messiah...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Getting Ready

The worship team gathers for about an hour on Sunday mornings to finalize preparations for worship. They rehearse the music, clarify the order of service, adjust the sound system. Like the Levites of the Old Testament, they do not just sing; they lead the way into the presence of God.

They are getting ready right now. I have joined them occasionally over the years, and know more or less what they're probaly doing. Dave makes sure things are ready for the team, Phil adjusts the sound system, Deanna and Jen set up the computer. Then, before anything else, they come together for prayer. It is a significant time in the life of this group, and therefore in the life of our church.

I am thankful for this group of committed people who do not take themselves too seriously, but do not take worship lightly. I look forward to joining them soon for a great morning focused on our great God.