Month: April 2011

The Rough Road Ahead

One of the things I realize, in my quest to serve the Lord, is that the road ahead for most of us is not smooth, straight or well paved.   Life doesn’t work that way.   There are rough roads ahead for us.  It’s up and down, twists and turns, bumps at times and occasionally smooth.   This is the life of a believer.  Because we become a believer or commit our life to serving God our life doesn’t stop having problems.  The paths that we once walked will change and where it once was smooth it will now be rough and filled with holes and problems.   It’s never predictable, rarely smooth and often feels like a roller coaster ride.

The road traveled by most people is one that is filled with the least amount of resistance.  Most people want just smooth traveling with no disruption of their life.   But this is not the way reality is for the believer.  I believe that God shakes things up to get our attention.  Just when we think we have this thing called life figured out we suddenly hit another turn, another dip, another rough spot that we didn’t anticipate.  I believe that God allows these things to happen and it isn’t intended to make your life hard, it’s intended to change your dependencies….to change what you trust, who you trust and challenge you to grasp eternal things.  God intends it for us to learn to become more dependant upon Him and not on our own power.

If you understand that this is the normal life of a believer then it doesn’t seem to bother you so much when the next dip in the road happens.

I think that’s why old age is such a blessing from God.   I have traveled down some roads that I never thought I would survive.  Roads that were dark and seemed to never end.  Roads that were filled with challenges I never wanted to face.  There were times that I felt like I could no longer continue down that road and then God smoothed out a patch of road for me.  He straightened the curves and there seemed to be less hills to climb.  He allowed me to re-group and prepare for the next challenge and the next patch of rough road that was in my future.

To be honest, the ups and downs, turns and twists, rough spots and hard days are all blessings from God who is using each these things to draw us closer to Him.  I am thankful for these journeys that I have traveled.  They have taught me so much about God and His grace.  He is teaching me to lean more on Him each day and not on my own power and understanding.

Each one of us are on a journey.  Through His Word, God gives us directions and a map.  He tells us where the dead-end streets are and He tells us that we are heading down the wrong way.  He gives us places on the map where we can find rest (church) and He tells us that there is only One Way (Jesus Christ) to get to our destination.

But make no mistake…  for the believer and the unbeliever… there will be rough roads ahead.

Are you prepared?

Kept and Guarded

Over the past few weeks I have been spending time researching the many different prayers in the Bible.   I like to see how each prayer is presented and who was doing the praying and what did they pray for.  It has been a very interesting study and I have discovered that I have so much to learn about prayer and it’s importance in my relationship with Jesus Christ.

With that in mind, it’s always amazing to me to see new things in Scripture that I’ve read hundreds of times before.   That is the beauty of the Bible.  The message is sometimes so clear that you think you know everything you need to know about a particular verse and then one day God opens your mind and heart to something in that same verse that you never saw before.  When this happens, I know that’s the work of God.   At the right time, just when I need it, He shows me something new to help me in my walk.    I’m sure we miss a lot as we read the Bible because the deep insights that are hidden in the words we read just aren’t needed right now.   Then, just when you need them, you see something new.

This morning, I read Jesus’ prayer in John 17:12.  I had read this verse before but had never really seen this “something new”  thought before.

Jesus is praying for His Disciples…

“While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.”   – John 17:12

It strikes me that Jesus did His best defensive work on His knees in prayer.   He prayed for these men that followed Him.   He appealed to the sovereign God of the universe and kept them, guarded them even when they had no sense of a threat or of trouble.   Kept and guarded.  What interesting words to use. Kept from what?   Guarded from what?   What did Jesus know that these 12 did not?   What was happening that they were completely oblivious to?

I realize this is still happening today.  Jesus is still praying to the Father, interceding for us, keeping and guarding us from dangers and problems we are completely unaware of.   We truly have no idea how many times God has protected us from dangers that we had no clue about.  It is a wonderful feeling, knowing that Jesus is there protecting those that are His own.

Kept and guarded, what a wonderful reality for the believer today.  As we walk through each day, there is a sovereign God walking with us, protecting us, guarding us so that we can better serve Him.  I look forward to the day when I discover all that He has done in my life to keep and guard me from the enemy, from the world and from my own weaknesses.  It will be another opportunity to praise Him for His wonderful love as we see all that He has done for us.

Kept and Guarded a wonderful promise until the day we see Him face to face.

Prayer: Strength for the Inner Man

I think the Apostle Paul wrote down some of the best prayers ever prayed by anyone.  I wish I could have heard him pray out loud.  What must that have been like?   How did his prayer life change as he grew in faith?   I think his prayers tell us a lot about what he knew about God.

One of my favorite prayers of Paul is found at the end of Ephesians chapter 3.

Paul writes:

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.   Amen.

He starts this prayer off by stating that , “For this cause I bow my knees…” I found this to be very interesting.  The reason?  This is not the usual posture of prayer for a Jew.  Jews typically prayed standing, so to kneel is a sign of worship, of submission, of humility, it’s an obvious surrender to the Lord.   What a beautiful picture this paints.   I can imagine Paul, on his knees, praying for the church he had invested so much in.   He knew that without God’s work in their midst all his efforts were in vain.   He surrendered to God’s ability to take care of them and then he tells them what he’s been praying.

He continues to pray that God would grant unto them:

  1. Strength for the Inner Man.
  2. That Christ would dwell in their hearts.
  3. That they would be rooted and grounded in love.
  4. That they would comprehend the Truth of God’s Word.
  5. That they would know the love of Christ.
  6. That they might be filled with the fullness of God.

Imagine, if you can, how different your life would be if you really prayed and experienced these things each and every day as Paul did.   Paul could have prayed for anything for them and he prays for them to know the love of Christ.   It’s clear Paul knew something we don’t.   He knew the love of God personally and it had changed his life.   I wonder, if we prayed this prayer for each other, what a difference it would make in our lives?  We would never be the same.

More importantly, I believe we would change our world.