Posted in Christianity

Shut The Door

Thoughts for heading into the night, into the quiet, on a number of levels… Worth pondering. Each in its context… And praying.

“Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourselves a little while until the wrath has passed.” Isaiah 26:20

“But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6

“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy, for in You my soul takes refuge. In the shadow of Your wings I will take shelter until the danger has passed.” Psalm 57:1

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

“He will cover you with His feathers; under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and rampart.” Psalm 91:4

“The prudent see danger and take cover, but the simple keep going and suffer the consequences.” Proverbs 22:3

(Passages taken from Berean Study Bible)

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

On Psalm 91:1

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].” (Psalm 91:1 AMPC)

Dwelling Place.png

What might it mean to dwell in this “place”, the Presence of the One Who is the Person of God Himself? We can only come into this through our Lord Jesus Christ, as we continually trust in Him. We’re shown here that we remain “stable and fixed,” as we “dwell in” – abide, remain, stay put – through abiding faith / trust / confidence in our Lord!

This entire Psalm is chock full of many promises to those who love God and have been brought to faith in Christ. We should take this to heart, “For as many as are the promises of God, they all find their Yes in Him [Christ]. For this reason we also utter the Amen (so be it) to God through Him [in His Person and by His agency] to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:20.) Therefore, this is a good Psalm to keep before us in these days of great instability and disinformation and obfuscation, to meditate on it, and to personalize it as a prayer – even commit it to heart.

Remember – We can take the cue from the very beginning – Psalm1:1,2 about where to fix our prayerful thoughts and attention:  “Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night.”

The promise here in Psalm 91:1 is that no foe can withstand the power of Christ (to Whom is given all authority in heaven and on earth, per Matthew 28:18). Often the biggest foe is where we fix our attention. Will it be on this life’s concerns, or riches and wealth, the news, worries, or some other thing? Or instead might we “look up”?! “If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3) Realize that if your new life is hidden with Christ in God, then you can see that you dwell in that “secret place” spiritually, and these promises are yours!

Isn’t it worth knowing what they are? A daily verse by verse prayerful contemplation of Psalm 91 might be a very fruitful place to start, to make His promises your own, if you can see that you are God’s own in Christ Jesus!

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality

Christ Our Exemplar

We can see Jesus’ example when the heat was on, in ways you and I cannot imagine.

Jesus’ Arrest:   ‘Then said Jesus unto Peter, “Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”‘ John 18:36.

Jesus On Trial:    ‘Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world; if it were, My servants would fight to prevent My arrest by the Jews. But now, My kingdom is not of this realm.”‘ John 18:11.

Jesus’ Execution / Crucifixion:    ‘And Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they cast lots, dividing His garments.’ Luke 23:34.

There’s something deeper here than meets the natural eye. How did Christ walk? How was He led? How did He know His Father’s will for Him, which was the way of the Cross? He was led of the HOLY Spirit. (See Matthew 4) He spent many hours in prayer (communion with the Father).

Although the Son of God, 2nd person of the Holy Trinity, ‘Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.’ Philippians 2:6-8.

‘During the days of Jesus’ earthly life, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.’ Hebrews 5:7-9

‘Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Jesus walked.’ 1 John 2:6.

‘Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.’ Romans 13:14.

‘Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us walk in step with the Spirit.’ Galatians 5:24, 25.

‘The greatest among you shall be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let in those who wish to enter.’ Matthew 23:11-13.

“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2,3.

This is all a reminder of some lyrics from an old song: “Dance in the darkness, slow be the pace; surrender to the rhythm of redeeming grace…” by Carey Landry

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

When In Doubt

Just a quick one –

To feel or battle doubt need not be necessarily condemned as sin; it is rather an emptiness that begs to be filled with right understanding, the answers of questions, or a need for information that brings puzzle pieces of the bigger picture into view and puts them together. This is something I had to learn from experience – after a long struggle due to buying into the idea (from previous reductionist religious/spiritual programming) that doubt was a “crime punishable by death,” so to speak. Once I could see it for what it is, then the answers it represented began to fall into place as well, and much needed direction came into view. Never criminalize yourself for doubting, but pray and keep on praying – in spite of your feelings.

Someone needs to hear this, so I am posting this remark. Pass along as you wish.

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

A Prayer to Begin the Countdown to the Holidays

 
Lord, please let my eyes be opened that I may see all that I have to be thankful for, and lift from me the blindness that propels me into a habit of complaining. I ask Your forgiveness for the many times I have indulged this tendency and Your all powerful help to dispel it.
I know that Your love and goodness are boundless. Your grace is perpetual and ever extending itself into my life. For this I give You thanks, as without You I am nothing and can do nothing.
Let me be filled with Your Holy Spirit, so that my heart may be pure and my eye single, and that Your kindness and generosity may radiate from me. Let me ever be mindful of and in harmony with Your will of perpetually bringing forth in me the likeness of your Son Jesus Christ, our only Savior and Lord, in Whose name I pray.
Amen.
Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

PrayeRant

See link before reading this article.
Articles like this one frankly drive me nuts. Certainly we can pray “spontaneously from the heart,” but if anyone wants to pray the Lord’s Prayer verbatim, then pray it with all your heart! I’m sick of this mindset that practically criminalizes praying the Lord’s Prayer, or using memorized prayers, or a prayer book. For Pete’s sake, have you never been so weary that you didn’t know what to pray, yet feel the need, but the Lord’s Prayer or the 23d Psalm came to mind, and it was prayed from the heart in a state of exhaustion?
And how do you know that praying it does not instill its “teaching” into you in profound ways, since it is God’s Word, taught by the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity Himself to His disciples. It’s not just a template or pattern! If the Lord gave it thus to His disciples, it should be good enough for us. Just because it may be said word for word does not mean it’s done mechanically.
I have been in nursing homes and prayed the Lord’s Prayer with residents who do not know their name or where they are, they are so far gone in dementia, and ordinarily could not speak. But as they hear the words, they perked up and recited it along with me! And there was a sense of God’s presence so strong right then and there. Think that recited prayer was not heard? Think that wasn’t a miracle? Think again!
IMO, these kinds of articles which supposedly “instruct” people in some ways make things more difficult and condemn childlike faith. It’s almost bordering on a sort of legalism that says, “You have to pray our way, so you can only pray spontaneously.”
Hogwash.
I suppose it’s also a crime to chant the Psalms per this mindset. Or pray the Scripture. Something else to demonize?
Another rant for another day.
Posted in Christianity, Observations, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Orange Flags

A bullet point to begin the week:

Don’t be afraid to ask questions or peer into things where you never looked before, on any subject, or any issue. Inside we all have “orange flags” about a lot of things. Don’t ignore them when they show up – even where you may have thought a matter was thus and so before. Dare to be skeptical, at least a little, not gullible and naive. Pray for discernment and direction. Knowing the truth is better than false hope any day.

Posted in Christianity, Observations, Uncategorized

Spiritual Lessons From The Sugar Maple

Psalm 57:1-3

“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until  these calamities be over past. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.”

Sometimes God will draw our attention to the most amazing truth while in His Presence in prayer and meditation on His Word. There are times – sometimes long stretches of time – where we wonder if God is really involved at all in our life or in the outrageous affairs of humanity. We drift along on edgy faith, when all of a sudden, He will let us know He’s right here right now – because we simply need to know it.

The foregoing was the focus of prayer and meditation time this morning, yet rather than going into any sort of deep exploration of it, my attention was drawn to a pattern in the Psalms of the King who was after God’s own heart. There are three things present in the Psalms: Supplication – bringing our issues before the Lord; Affirmation – where the supplicant affirms, based on God’s promises and his experiences with them, that the Lord will answer and intervene; and Praise – a continual flow of gratitude and thanksgiving in the confident tone of the psalmist’s prayerful songs – no matter what the circumstances, and before the needed divine intervention occurs.

It was then that I realized that the first letters of these words make up an acronym: “SAP”: Supplication. Affirmation. Praise. I also felt strongly prompted to do a search on the word “sap,” in terms of maple trees and how they produce the sap that is made into sweet, delicious maple syrup.

This begs the question, that if I’m “frozen” in circumstances, but I’d really like to be a prayer warrior like the King was, and have victory, how do I “get the SAP running”, so to speak?

As I read along I was profoundly delighted at what was revealed. It became obvious that God has always used nature to reveal His ways. But before we get to that, we may want to notice that as David cried out to the Lord about his very real and very serious problems, we see him always affirming right behind that, without a doubt, that the Lord would answer and save. In faith he got the SAP running and never doubted that God would move on his behalf – as Soon As Possible (SAP again!) – from God’s perspective, timing, and at His leading.

Likewise we upon whom the culmination of the ages has come in Jesus Christ, the Messiah the Son of God, ought therefore all the more confidently call out and draw near to God, as we affirm His answer even before it materializes, giving Him the praise and glory due His name.

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds throughChrist Jesus.Philippians 4:4-7

We can rejoice in His ever present presiding over all things. In so doing – and then in gratefulness moving with the Holy Spirit by faith (our “sacrifice” of praise!) – we confidently and successfully not only resist the evil one, but send him packing. Out with the bad, in with the good! (And a note of caution: faith is often not about feelings.)

According to the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association, temperatures above 32 cause positive pressure within the wood of the maple tree. It is the pressure within that makes the SAP flow!

When we are under pressure, that’s the time to stop pouting and start praying. In fact, we should get into the pattern of praying without ceasing whether or not we’re under pressure. That way we’re in the habit when the going gets rough. May the Holy Spirit cause us to see the pressures of our life in this light of prayer at all times – sometimes pressures are the wakeup call from God to get the SAP flowing. Now there’s a lesson about King David’s kind of praying!

Did he have pressure? The Psalms are his prayer hymnal about that very thing. We can also read his story in 1 Samuel 16 through 1 Kings 2:11.

The Psalms are still the very best and most relevant “prayer hymnal” for the people of God under pressure to pray today as they were then. Especially when we may feel tongue tied in our praying – the “frozen chosen.” So we can bring on the SAP through Supplication, Affirmation, and Praise – in concert with Israel’s foremost king and songwriter!

This is just my thought, but it seems like the Sugar Maple might be a very good Tree of Life symbol. We can rejoice that His intention toward us is “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3

How sweet it is! “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.” Psalm 34:8,9.

( You can read all about maple trees and sap here: https://www.massmaple.org/about-maple-syrup/how-sugar-maple-trees-work/ )

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Prayer Request

May we all who are so inclined give thanks, pray, and agree together that God’s hand will keep in check the severe winter storms headed for our Great Lakes region and other areas of the USA. May He Who has power over wind and wave protect especially the poor, the homeless, the marginalized, the frail and elderly living alone, who have little or nothing, those who are ill, and also all lost or abandoned animals, or any in danger of losing their life due to exposure to the elements such as farm animals and wildlife. If He wishes to provide for any need through us during this time, may it be so. May the Almighty One also protect the utilities, power lines, and all infrastructures which we so often take for granted to keep our homes and places of business warm, well lit, and safe. And let’s give thanks for His lovingkindness always. Amen.