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To those of us who are Christ-followers, we must realize that we speak a language few understand, and the problem is becoming increasingly evident.

Several years ago our family traveled to the SW United States. Since we were only a few miles from the Mexican Border, we decided to cross over and see this foreign land that is our neighbor. None of us spoke Spanish. None of us had ever experienced a situation in which we were obviously the minority. It was an interesting lesson to learn!

Don’t get me wrong. The people were very friendly and tried to be accommodating. There were a few smiles which I assume could have been translated as “silly Americans!”

The problem wasn’t intelligence. The problem wasn’t arrogance or racism. The problem was we didn’t speak the language. We tried. The people tried. But while there was some similarity, there was an obvious communication gap.

I see similar situations in the church today. We need to come to the point where we realize we live in a post Christian Era and a post Christian America. Regardless of who’s to blame, we simply don’t speak a language others understand.

Don’t ridicule the natives. They simply don’t understand. Our visit to Mexico and a small cafe was ‘rescued’ when a server knew English. He could translate to our server what we wanted to eat.

In the spiritual realm we also have a translator, the Holy Spirit. I’ve tried to remember to pray that the Spirit would speak to those in my circles that need Jesus. I can say my words. I can tell my story. But HE is the one who will give understanding. Don’t just pray for those you know who need Jesus. Ask His Spirit to ‘interpret’ the message for you.


“I tried praying once but nothing happened.”

“I prayed really hard that mom would be healed and she died. What’s the use?”

“I really needed that job but he wouldn’t give it to me. I doubt he really exists anyway.”

You can add yours to the list. We are a hurting people and when you are hurting, and God seems silent, well…that’s about the worst feeling a person can get.

Unanswered prayers are one of the most difficult of all topics because the pain is real. It’s hard to understand a God that seemingly builds your hopes up and then smashes them to the ground.

Oh, sometimes we can look back and see the reasons. Sometimes we come to a point of understanding. But not always.

There are tons of unanswered prayers in the Bible by some pretty Godly men. Joseph, Moses, Abraham, David…to name a few. My favorite is Job. That guy really got nailed and God never did explain it to him!

So what made them go on? What pushed them through the silence and darkness? I think it was the realization that a bad day with God was better than the best day without him. I haven’t gained all understanding on this yet, but it seems God is more concerned about our faith in him than he is our earthly comfort. That’s not to say he is against earthly comfort of course. He offers plenty. But his main focus is on trusting him and seeing the world through his eyes. The closer we get to God, the more his desires become our own and the wiser our prayers become.

Prayers that match his desires are more likely to be answered.


I remember it vividly. I’d had my eye on a certain truck at the local car dealership for some time. I couldn’t afford it, but had all sorts of good ‘ministry’ reasons to buy it. Finally I went in to talk to the dealer. He gave me a deal I chose not to resist. A deal that was right out of my budget range. You don’t get deals like that everyday! I signed the papers and drove it off the lot, completely ignoring the knot in my stomach. God never yells. God’s soft voice is often drowned out by the voice of desire.

Fast forward…i remember watching the repossession guy hooking my truck up to his truck and watching my dream truck being pulled away down the street.

Today is the first day of 2019! Many will be making resolutions to lose weight, eat better, spend more wisely and the list goes on. Goals are good. Plans are good. But the missing ingredient in many of our planning sessions is the ultimate question of ‘Where is God in my plans?

Each week we say the ‘Lords Prayer’ at our church. Each week we say “thy will be done” but in reality, our hearts are saying ‘my will be done.’ When our hearts are in tune with God’s heart our plans will naturally gravitate towards his desires and not our own.

Make 2019 the year that God shows himself mightily to you because you are close to his heart. Draw close to him and he’ll draw close to you.


Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Proverbs 2:3

“She’s leaving for home tomorrow. I don’t want her to go. I love her, but she says we’ll never work out. What can I do?”

Slide1That phone call happened over ten years ago but I still hear the panic in his voice. My friend Bill (not his real name) was several years younger than I was. He was just starting out in life and had finally met the girl of his dreams, although she may have referred to it as a nightmare, not a dream.

Bill had a heart of gold but his youthfulness often got him in trouble because he would often act first, think later (and rarely listen). The woman of his dreams had moved to the Midwest for the summer to stay with a friend and see if things could work with Bill. Obviously, things weren’t going well.

As Bill and I talked on the phone I gleaned a few more details about the situation. His girlfriend told him that the summer had been one of frustration and futility. She was going home because it was obvious things would never work out between them and she didn’t want to waste her time trying to get Bill to listen to her.

I’m no ‘Abigail Van Buren’ but I told Bill that if he really loved her he needed to sit her down, ask her to tell him what needed to happen to make things work, and keep his mouth SHUT. This was not an easy skill for Bill. He would often revert to making excuses, or defending himself or pointing out other people’s weaknesses. Silence and listening weren’t a skill he excelled at.

My advice must have worked. Ten years and three kids later Bill and his bride are happily married. I’d like to take credit, but my advice really wasn’t magic. Each of us need to learn the skill of listening in our relationships with each other and especially with God.

Proverbs 2:3 tells us to “Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.” If you are like me, my prayers are often a list of requests for myself or others. I pray for things and events, but not insight and understanding.

It’s interesting that Solomon would pen this proverb. He chose insight and understanding over power or wealth because he knew that with insight and understanding the rest would probably naturally fall into place.

Bill learned a valuable lesson each of us need to learn. We serve a God that is all-wise and all-knowing and his desire is to share with us what he knows so we can make wise choices in life. We will learn far more about God by listening to him than talking to him. Using his word as a foundation be deliberate and passionate about coming to him. Hebrews says we can approach the throne of grace with confidence, not timidity. (Hebrews 4:16)

PRAYER: Father God, life at times confuses me. Other times it scares me. Help me learn how to listen to you so that I can gain the wisdom I need to approach the issues I’m facing in life. Thank you for your passionate desire to help me through. Amen.

 

 


And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. 2 Corinthians 1:11 (NLT)

do by selfMy daughter showed her independence at a very young age. When it came time to put her coat on she would refuse help by stating in a very emphatic way “Do Byself” which translated as “I’ll do it by myself!” She had far more confidence in herself than we had. We learned early on to give her a couple minutes to get ready because it took her longer without our help.

As parents the idea of independence can be bittersweet for some of us. On the one hand, we all obviously want our children to grow up to think for themselves and be independent. But on the other hand, in reality, during those times of solitude we have to admit it’s hard to see them get to the point when ‘we are no longer needed’. For example when we see our ‘little girls’ or ‘little boys’ drive away in the car for the first time alone.

Independence is a good thing in many areas and our society applauds it. But there are some times when independence isn’t profitable. In the mid-60’s Simon and Garfunkel made a song popular that celebrated independence. “I am a Rock” proclaimed the gospel of not needing anyone for anything. An Island is completely self-sufficient. A Rock can’t be hurt by feelings of inadequacy and can weather even the most violent storms.

While the words made for a good song, independence in the spiritual realm isn’t profitable or even wise. The Apostle Paul and his troop of missionaries/ministers was going through a terrible ordeal. They were under constant attack to the point where they feared for their lives. In spite of the danger, they survived and Paul gave credit for their survival to the power of prayer and not just the prayers of his men, but the prayers of others that knew of him and lifted him up to the Father.

Somehow in the Christian life we’ve bought into the idea that to ask for help is a sign of weakness. Or maybe it’s the fact that we’ve been burned by ‘well-meaning friends’ who take our private requests and make them public or use them as a soapbox to try to fix us. (If you aren’t sure what I mean, read the story of Job and his ‘helpful friends’.)

Once our trust in others has been damaged by others it’s admittedly hard to ask for help. Especially in the matter of prayer when our requests are sensitive. There is perhaps no one in the Bible with a more fiery personality than the Apostle Paul. He was a man’s man. He was a leader. He was about as independent as they came. However, when it came to spiritual matters, I doubt very much that Paul had a ‘Do Byself’ attitude.

Paul knew the importance of surrounding himself with trusted people who would lift him to the throne of grace for strength, wisdom and protection. Each of his prayer partners had a part in his ministry as he states in today’s verse. It’s as if Paul is saying, “many people will be thankful because you prayed for us.”

Have a struggle coming up that you don’t know how to handle? Not sure what the future holds or which direction you need to turn? Surround yourself with people you can trust to pray for you objectively and without judgment.

PRAYER: Dear God. I don’t always ask for help very well. I have far too much confidence in my own abilities. I hesitate to ask others to pray because I don’t want to look weak. Provide me with people I can trust to strengthen me through prayer. Give me the courage to ask for help when I need it. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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