Posts Tagged ‘Scripture’

Quick Post: Scripture based Prayers

“They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the LORD shut him in…The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters.” Genesis 7:15-16, 18

Heavenly Father, Thank you for rescue from the flood of judgment against my sin and guilt through the Ark of your Son. Keep me in the safekeeping of that ship; shut me in that I might be kept by you, for you. And bring me safely to the new earth in due time.


“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)

Heavenly Father, thank you for being well pleased with Your Son and His Work, so that you are well pleased with me. May I rest today in Your pleasure.

The Voice of Despair

I have been thinking about something in a sermon that I preached quite awhile ago that I remembered recently.  Something I need to hear and be reminded of right now.  From my sermon on 1 Samuel 27 (if you want to see the Scriptural context), I made this bit of application <in italics below> in one of the main points:  

      The voice of despair speaks into our lives, as well.  If you think about it, you will realize that we are always speaking to ourselves.  We have conversations with ourselves about our lives.   I’m not talking about hearing voices, nor am I trying to psychoanalyze here.  I’m talking about the inner monologue or even dialogue (if we get to arguing with ourselves) that takes place in our heart.    One commentator said that “all of us propagandize our souls”.   And if the propaganda is something other than the truth of God’s Word, His Character, His Sufficiency, His Promise, then we are in trouble and might begin to look to Philistia for our salvation, than to the Lord.   

    Who would you say is David’s greatest enemy?  The easy answer is Saul.   And certainly Saul has been a great enemy of David.  But the reality is that David is his own worst enemy at this very point.   And we are our own worst enemies.   We too look for heavenly comfort from earthly sources.  We buy into the idea, telling ourselves this lie, that “if only” I had or I was  __________, then everything would be okay.   And those lies then shape our decisions and the direction of our lives.    David is the fainting king.  And we’re just like him – not kings mind you – but full of fainting, faltering faith.

What does the voice of despair say to you?  What do you say to yourself in dark moments?  Where are you tempted to run instead of the Lord?  And what does God say to you, about you and about your circumstances?  My guess is that they are quite different, if we actually get around to seeing what God’s Word has to say to us.  I know that that is my need. I need a different voice in my head and you probably do to.

Fighting for the Truth

LiesSpiritual life is a fight for truth.  For a greater reality.  Why must we fight for truth?

Because we have an adversary who has been lying since the beginning.  Satan started his attack on truth in the Garden (Genesis 3) and it has been one of his choice weapons since then.  He is called the father of lies in Scripture (John 8:44).  On the other hand, it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18).  But we are so perceptible to the subtle mistruths and misdirections.  Have you ever heard these whispers in you ear?

  • How could God love you?
  • God won’t forgive you again.
  • Did God really say that?
  • God won’t keep his promises
  • How can you trust God?
  • Jesus was just a good teacher.
  • Jesus didn’t really rise from the grave
  • You are unloveable
  • You will never amount to anything
  • You are to far past redemption
  • Trust yourself – it’s the best way
  • You can not depend upon God to see you through this trial
  • God is punishing you

And the lies go on and on.  Sometimes they are close to the truth.  Sometimes they appeal to our sinful flesh.  Our pride.  Our wounds.  Sometimes we believe the lie, because the truth of God’s grace seems to good to be real.  Or just for other folks, but not for me.   

Brothers and Sisters, do not believe these lies.  See them for what they are.  Shine the Light of God’s Word upon them and reveal the mistruths.  Pray for the Spirit to help you discern between truth and error.  Fight for the truth of God’s Word.  There is life and freedom in God’s Word.  Help one another in this battle.   One of the best things you can do for a brother or sister in Christ is to pray for them and to share Scripture with them.  May we be a church that does that for one another.  

John 8:32-38 (ESV) So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave[b] to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

Preparing for Cancer

How does one prepare for cancer?  Specifically, how does a Christian prepare to face the battle of cancer in their life or in that of a close family member?

And I don’t mean, how do you keep from getting cancer.  I’ll leave you to your own devices with that one.  Certainly, I don’t have anything worthwhile to share in that category anyway!

I do not hold ourselves up as paragons of faith, but I do wonder in amazement at how steady we have been through this (It’ll have to be a separate post, but we must remember that faith is more about it’s object – Christ – than our “work of faith”).  Our faith has surprised me at times.  I don’t mean to paint an inaccurate picture.  To be clear this whole thing sucks (to use a technical term), I hate it many days, and the teardrops are too numerous to count at this point.  And yet, there is something more.  Really, there is Someone more.

One answer, in my mind, without a doubt is all of the prayer that we have received and continue to receive.  Friends, family, preschoolers, acquaintances, and strangers lifting us up before the Lord.  Yes, that has much to do with it.  And that’s probably another whole reflection.  Here, I want to think about preparing in the years before trials come, suffering hits, and horrific news knocks us to our knees.  In that sense, this applies more broadly to cancer.

Ready for the answer?  Here it is:  walking faithfully with the Lord day in and day out for years.  In good times and bad.  In plenty and in want.  You get the idea.  As we do that, what happens?   We will have read the Scriptures, we will have heard the Scriptures proclaimed, hymns and songs will root into our bones, and we will watch others deal with the falleness of life.    We will come along side of them when they need prayer, meals, hugs, and encouragement.  We will see the faith of the saints carried out in both the mundane and the tragic.

Trust is something that we learn over the seasons.  We learn that God is trustworthy during the harvest and even during the drought.  For He provides.  Not always what we want or expect, but still this is something that has to be learned over the course of time.  But if we don’t put ourselves in the company of others and we don’t learn those hymns and we don’t hear the Word of Life, then it will be hard for us to trust.  We will have stunted our growth.  Think about it this way.  That hymn that you are singing on Sunday (you know the one that you don’t like the tune of), may not be for today.  You might be learning it for a tomorrow that is going to come and you’ll need to be reminded that “Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds ye so much dread are big with mercy, and shall break in blessings on your head” (“God Moves In a Mysterious Way”, William Cowper, 1774).  You’ll need to have treasured up already the Words of Scripture that alone give life and lead us.  You’ll need to have put in some time already listening to the pastor drone on just a little too long once again.  It may not seem like much is happening right now, but I can assure you that the cumulative effect of walking with God and His people, can sustain you when you are diagnosed with cancer.

Thus says the Lord:

“Cursed is the man who trusts in man

and makes flesh his strength,

whose heart turns away from the Lord.

He is like a shrub in the desert,

and shall not see any good come.

He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,

in an uninhabited salt land.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,

whose trust is the Lord.

He is like a tree planted by water,

that sends out its roots by the stream,

and does not fear when heat comes,

for its leaves remain green,

and is not anxious in the year of drought,

for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

                                                                                (Jeremiah 17:5-8)

 

How can we bear fruit in a drought season?  Only if we have placed our trust in the Lord and have been nourished by Him before that.  That is part of how you prepare for cancer.

Chemo Eve

Tonight is Chemo Eve.  That is, I start my chemotherapy treatments tomorrow (Wednesday morning).  Chemo Eve isn’t near as cool or exciting as Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve.    I don’t even get to dress up like on All Hallow’s Eve (or better known Halloween).  Maybe I should dress up – that might make things more fun.  I’m taking suggestions, but keep in mind I don’t want to be kicked out of the place.   I think.

And that illustrates my emotional state leading into this.  I have actually had a hard time discerning what I am thinking and feeling the past few days.  Other than just feeling weighted down, bearing an awful load.  That’s especially how I felt Monday morning as I was on my way to the office.  Nothing a donut couldn’t fix, but then I actually become the awful load (Full disclosure:  I did eat a donut and it was really yummy).

With some more rumination, I do think I have ferreted out my predominant thought and it follows, in some ways, my previous thoughts about being on a bullet train to an unknown destination.  I am not primarily fearful, though it can’t be said that I am serene.  I am not primarily anxious, though it can’t be said that I am at complete peace.  I am not primarily worried, though it can’t be said that I don’t spend a good bit of times thinking (worrying?) about the list of potential side effects.

Nope, here it is:  I do not like being out of control.  Out of control of my body.  Out of control of my schedule.  Out of control of my future.   Out of control of my days and nights.  Out of control of my plans.  It is this that haunts and hounds me most, especially when I am not busy with work or the kids.

Some months ago, I called my friend and mentor in ministry after hearing about his diagnosis of cancer.  His is terminal.   I recall him telling me that one of the things he was wrestling with, and that we all have to do in some regard, is reconciling himself to the reality that he is not in control and never was.  Or some words to that effect.  I assented to that truth, as I agree and agreed then, in principle.   In principle, it sounds good and right.  And it is.  In practice, well, that’s another thing altogether.  Now, we are “cancer buddies”, as he says.   And the mentoring continues!

So, I wrestle with my dislike of feeling out of control.  Though I know the One who is in control.  Of all things.  Of this.  And so, what is left for me to do?  There is trust and dependence, but I will confess that those don’t come quite as easily as I would like.  What is left for me to do?  I must plunge myself in the waters of Scripture.  Let the words of Romans 8:28-29, 1 Peter 1, Psalm 121, and Psalm 46 wash over me.  I breathe the air of a dependence that is foreign, but ultimately life-giving, as this world is not my home and the air here is a bit polluted.   And while the water flows and I breathe deeply, I am also confronted, confounded and comforted with the reality that the Lord is not just doing this in me, but also through me. 2 Corinthians 4:11-12:  “For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.”   And, of course, I do none of this one my own.  But with and through the countless prayers of many – known and unknown.