Tools for your Quiet Time #14 – Organizing your prayer list

Heath Perry:

I am searching for easy ways to stay diligent and to stay organized in my prayer time. I don’t want to forget someone or something that I said that I would pray for and also I want to be more consistent in my prayer.  I found this method simple yet thorough!  I will be trying this method and writing a follow up on it!

Originally posted on The Passionate Follower's Journal:

This is post #14 in a series of posts “Tools for Your Quiet Time.”  You can find the earlier posts here: #1#2#3#4#5 - #6#7#8#9, – #10,#11#12#13

Organizing your prayer priorities

For years, I struggled to find a way to include the many things I needed to pray for and about, into a system of some kind so that I wouldn’t overlook or forget them. I wanted to be diligent in my prayers for my family, friends, and church family, but felt that the great number of things I should be praying for was so overwhelming that I couldn’t get through it! It seemed like I’d never be able to consistently pray for all those needs! I tried to write out my requests on a “list” so that I could…

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You Don’t have to Just “Cope” With Life, Live in Freedom Through Forgiveness

Bible Passage: Matthew 18:21-35

You have undoubtedly heard the expression, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me!  The expression insinuates that the person should forgive the offender one time, but that they should be keeping an eye on the person who hurt them. Then the next time, they should not be so forgiving. It means that the person should be aware of the hurt, sleeping with one eye open, and marking that person in a way that they will not hurt them again.  But what does Jesus teach about forgiveness?  What is God’s command concerning this topic?

In the American & western cultures today, we are taught that we are all victims of something.  I am a victim of my parent’s poor decisions, or a victim of a friend, spouses’ or co-workers bad choice.  We are taught in this society to “cope” with these things, to talk about the hurt and pain, and to accept everyone as they are because they are a product of their environment, just as you are of yours.  If we do these things, we will somehow be better.

Jesus’ teachings are in stark contrast to these philosophies.  In fact, the Bible teaches that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and not a product of our environments. We are sinful from birth (Psalm 51:5) because of our sin natures and that there is no good in us and in our inherent natures (Romans 7:13-25).

So if we are all sinners and have sin natures and those who would do wrong to me are sinners; and I do wrong to others because I am a sinner, then where does the merry-go-round stop?  Do we then have any hope? Shouldn’t we all just accept who we are and do what comes natural to us?  I should just accept the fact that I will do wrong and sin away!  I mean, I only live life once! Life’s a party! Or insert whatever phrase helps you “cope” with another week.

Since the inception of the sinful nature in man, which is Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God, God has had a plan for mankind to be able to be forgiven of their sins.  The ultimate plan was to have a permanent solution in place for mankind to be able to be forgiven of their shortcomings, their sins.  This plan was none other than God sending His Son to earth to die for every sin of every sinner.  He then rose again on the third day and ascended to heaven.  This is God’s plan of forgiveness!

Think of every wrongdoing that you have ever done, even the ones that no one knows about.  Think about the sins that you have committed that if anyone were to know about, your reputation would be tarnished forever.  God says that He has forgiven you for those sins.  They are really sins against God.  Because God is Holy and perfect and His commandments are perfect, if you have broken any of His commandments, you have sinned against God.  Yes, you have done wrong against those people that you have hurt also, but the real problem is that you have done wrong directly against The perfect and Holy God Himself.

And now God has created one way for you to connect with Him again!  In this one way, He wants you to have an intimate relationship with Him.  That one way is by believing in Jesus Christ and following Him.  It is a simple process but yet so hard for many to follow.

The problem that many have is usually in their self reliance.  But remember, that we are flawed human beings and would you put your trust in someone with as many problems as you have?  I wouldn’t!  Would you rather trust an eternal God who has had a plan since day one for your life?  I would and Have!

But let’s boil down this forgiving others thing!  I had to build some groundwork for you to understand the final point of forgiving others.  The truth lies in what God did and continues to do for us!

Peter asked Jesus how many times he should have to forgive someone before he didn’t have to forgive them anymore.  Peter thought seven times was quite a lot and no doubt it is.  In fact, I am usually ready to call it quits after 2 or 3 times myself, if I go by how I feel.  I feel like there is some sort of protection that I owe myself after being burned by someone several times.  But Jesus answered back that we need to forgive 70 times 7 times.  Now 490 times is quite a lot!  But I think that we are missing the point if we think that we need to have some sort of webpage counter going for everyone that hits our sinned against page for a particular sin.  I don’t need to have some sort of database running of who sinned against me so that I can cut a person off once they hit the 490 counter!  Have the database text me so that I coule get notified and I would say “Oops, you lied to me 489 times, One more lie and I no longer have to forgive you”!  That’s not how it works!  70 times 7 was a poetic phrase in that culture that showed that there was no end to the times that you should forgive someone.

In fact, Jesus makes it very clear that there are strings attached to the forgiveness that we are given from God!  In several passages, He states that if we do not forgive other people for the sins that they do against us, that the Heavenly Father will not forgive us for our sins.  That is very serious business.  Why does Jesus say this?  Because there is a loving and forgiving heart of one who has truly been forgiven their sins by the Heavenly Father, the Holy Spirit gives them a heart of tenderness towards others.  When we know that we deserve eternal Hell forever, and somehow God has forgiven all of our rottenness, we tend to let things slide with other people also.

You see the opposite of forgiveness is bitterness!  And bitterness is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Bitterness and love / forgiveness cannot be in the heart at the same time towards another person.  They are complete opposites.  If God is love then what room do you have in your heart for bitterness?

So, let’s boil this down further.  If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and you have asked God for forgiveness, then God has forgiven you of your sins, completely…all of them.  And since God has forgiven you of all of your ugly, rotten sin, what recourse do we have but to forgive EVERYONE of their sins against us?  And there are no prerequisites to us forgiving them, God doesn’t say, you forgive them if they ask for it or if they apologize in a nice way to us.  It is a command to forgive Everyone of every sin that has been done to us and to forgive them whether they are a friend or an enemy!  We need to forgive others freely, without holding back!

You see, God knows that if we do not forgive and we let bitterness take hold in out lives, that the bitterness towards that person will destroy us.  It will wreak havoc in all the other areas in our lives.  It will decimate your live, period. So let it go!

Now, the only way to truly be able to show someone else the love that God shows us through forgiveness, is by being forgiven ourselves.  If you haven’t been forgiven yourself from God, it is about time that you start.  It is a rather simple thing to have done.  You confess your belief and faith in Jesus Christ, confess that He died for your sins on the cross, and that He rose again the third day! You need to repent of your sins, confess your wrongdoings to Him, and ask God to forgive you of your sins.  Then and only then, can you truly forgive everyone else of their wrong-doings against you!

This seems to simple and it is, God made it simple, but many people like to overcomplicate this process.  Then and only then will you not have to “cope” for another week, but you will live in freedom, in a loving relationship with the Holy and Living God and you will have true peace with those around you.

Colossians 3:13 says “Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

If you have any more questions after reading this or if you have committed your life to following Jesus Christ for the first time.  I would love to hear from you!  Please send me a message and contact me!

 

Bible Passage: Matthew 18:21-35

21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.

28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.

35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

Categories: Matthew, New Testamanet | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Love God More than Your Own Life

Bible Passage: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5  (NKJV)

How much do you love God?  As a kid, I would separate my arms as far as they could go and tell my grandmother that I loved her this much.  What I was telling my grandmother was that I loved her so much that it was beyond measure.  To my little mind, by separating my arms and stating this, I was signifying that my love was endless for her.

Do we love God endlessly?  Do we love God more than our own life?  How about more than our family, wife, or kids?  Do we love God more than Sin?  These are important questions.

In the movie “Patton”, George C. Scott announces that he loves War.  He says that he loves war so much that he even loves it more than his own life itself.  That is a lot of love.  It is a passionate love for something or some activity.  There was such a sense of love towards War that it seemed in the movie that he would have gladly given his life up for war if it came down to it.  And isn’t that the ultimate sacrifice of love?

What is it then to love God that much, that I would love him more than my own life?  To love God more than our own lives means that we are willing to die for God if necessary.  Some of us are ok with the idea of giving our lives up to physical death for God.  But are we ok in dying to ourselves daily for the Him?

Jesus says in Luke 9:23-24 “…If Anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself,  and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”

Isn’t Jesus saying that we must love Him more than our own lives?  If we are ok dying for God then why don’t we die for God daily?  Isn’t that what Christ is asking us to do to follow Him?  If we are to follow Christ, there is no room to hold onto a love for sin, sinful things, or the world.  We put aside these things when we decided to follow Jesus.  We cannot serve two masters.

Crucifixion is a bloody way to kill someone; it is agonizing, bloody, messy, and violent.  Jesus brings up this picture to us that we need to get out our spiritual mallets out, drag our heavy cross to the hill, and nail ourselves and our love for anything else that we have to the cross.  It is a bloody mess, but we need to be violent, swift, and unforgiving with ourselves in nailing our sin to the cross, hating the sin, hating the world, and hating the flesh.

Let’s ask ourselves this everyday of our lives:

Do I love God more than my own Life?

Do I love God more than my sin?

Do I love God more than my fleshly desires?

And then let’s proceed in all earnestness and violence to nail these things to the cross with Christ! Then let me say and it be true that I love God with all my heart, all my soul, and with all my strength!

Categories: Deuteronomy, Luke, Old Testament | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Obedience to God When Faith Lacks

Naaman being obedient

Naaman being obedient

Bible Passage: 2 Kings 5:1-19

Are we looking for God to perform the spectacular in our lives? Have you asked God for a miracle to be done and afterward are you waiting for the fire of God from heaven to appear or for there to be a mighty sign of God that he performed the miracle? Yes, God can and has done miracles in that manner, but there are many recorded instances where God performs miracles through the mundane things and through less spectacular ways.

Here in this passage, we find that Naaman was looking for a spectacular miracle to be performed in front of his eyes.  He wanted to see a grand gesture from Elisha.  He wanted to see Elisha waving his hands over the diseased area and calling on the name of God to heal him.  He wanted special attention from Elisha to service him and to make him feel special since after all, he was the commander of the entire Syrian army.  Since Naaman was the 5 star general in the Syrian Army, I can picture Naaman bringing an entourage with him in all its official pomp and show.  He had his image to keep up, him being the top dog.

And being the top dog, Naaman goes to the top person in Israel, the King of Israel.  But the King did not follow the Lord and had no idea how to help this man.  This was a political disaster for the King.  Another King has sent his top General to him to be healed of a disease that was impossible to treat and yet the King of Israel was on the hook for producing a miracle.

Don’t we sometimes seek guidance and help from those not following God.  And while we get condolences or advice, they have no way of truly helping us since they are not guided by God.  We go to those who look like they should have some great advice or direction but we find that they do not have a clue as to how to help us.

“And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying ‘Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean’” 2 Kings 5:10 (NKJV)

Naaman ends up at the door of Elisha’s house and instead of Elisha coming to meet this mighty man, he sends a messenger.  How often in our prayers to the Lord are we looking for a direct answer from the Lord and He instead sends a messenger to us?  God answers our prayers in many ways, but are we tuned into God, looking for Him to answer our prayers in a different way then what we are expecting?  Are we looking for messages from God through a messenger that He may send?

Naaman was offended with receiving a message from Elisha instead of him coming out to meet him.  The message offended him as well, that he would be asked to complete a mundane task to be healed!  Not only was he asked to complete an ordinary and repetitive task, but he was asked to do something that he regularly did in his own country, in his own nearby rivers.  The thoughts of Naaman might have been towards the effect of him having to travel that great distance, to another country inferior to their own, receiving an inferior messenger than he deserved, and then being asked to wash in an inferior river than his own at home.

Oh, how offended we become when we don’t receive the attention that we think we deserve by church leaders or by someone meaningful in our lives and how offended we are when we are asked to perform menial tasks that do not stack up to the better things that we are normally used to experiencing.  You might say to yourself, “Don’t you know who I am?” or “I deserve better than this”, but God knows our hearts.  He wants to see obedience above all!  Naaman did not have great faith in what was being asked of him.  In fact, he had no faith!  His advisors talked him into listening to the message of Elisha and completing the task as outlined by him.  And so, his servants tell Naaman, what do you have to lose?   If Elisha would have asked you to do something amazing like hiking to a high mountain and offering a sacrifice there, would you do it?  But the servants reasoned that he should follow through with this small task.

I can imagine Naaman huffing and puffing through the ordeal.  Maybe he rolled his eyes as his servant counted.  I am sure after each washing that he would look himself over and see that the skin lesion hadn’t left him yet.  But, he was obedient.  In the end, the obedience to God’s promise had healed him.

In our times of doubt, when we lack faith, what do we have to cling to?  We have the promises of God to stand onto!  We have the Word of God to stand as our rock!  And ultimately, it is our obedience to the promises and Word of God that heal us.  And by our obedience, we see that God is faithful to follow through on His promises.  He will build our faith by His power and works!  Since we have nothing good in ourselves and all things good comes from God, doesn’t our faith in God come from Him also!  We don’t have to understand His methods, we don’t have to understand His reasons, we only have to be obedient!

Categories: Kings, Old Testament | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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