Sunday, April 28, 2013

What do you want? Part II

           Have you ever been exhausted waiting for God to answer your prayers? Or have you ever prayed for something so much bigger than you—that only a God-intervention makes it happen? 

Sometimes it feels like biting off more than you can chew.

I prayed for a BIG THING years ago. I was tired of praying about it even though I felt assured in my spirit that I was in the right direction. Nothing around me looked like it was ever going to happen.

Did I Miss God?

I wondered if I got off the wrong track somewhere. I checked and rechecked my motives. I sought godly counsel and advice. I even asked God to shut the door if it wasn’t His will. But the door always remained slightly ajar—not quite open, not quite closed. One day I fell back on my bed and said aloud, “Whatever happens…happens.” I was tired of wanting what may never happen. Believing in prayer became too hard. I heard a strange question in my mind:

So you want an Eliezer?

Eliezer Prayers (Genesis 15:2)
Abraham was frustrated because he was promised to have children numbering as the stars in the sky. Yet years later, he still was childless. Eliezer was Abraham’s head servant and destined to become the heir of the household.For Eliezer to become Abraham’s heir—he wouldn’t have to believe God. 

Whatever happens…happens. But God wanted Abraham to press forward in faith. God wants us to press forward in faith as well in spite of our BIG THING. We could just throw up our hands and give up. It is much easier in the short run, but if we do—we will always wonder What if I pressed in faith and believed God?

Ishmael Prayers (Genesis 16)
Sarah advised Abraham to sleep with her servant, Hagar, to produce an heir. It was simple biology 101—no faith required. It was an act of the flesh to bring about their answered prayer without having to wait on God. Their manipulation of God’s original plan with human effort only caused more pain and agony.

When asking God for our BIG THING, we may be tempted to step in the way and make it happen. We may seek human help/intervention financially or we may manipulate people or scripture to justify our actions. At any rate, it’s our own way and God won’t get the glory.

Isaac Prayers (Genesis 15:6)
Prayers of faith for that BIG THING may take time, effort, and patience. It’s the best way because the outcome results in the total glory going to God. For Abraham and Sarah to have a child in their old age was God. There’s no other explanation for 2 elderly people to have a son that would lead to the birth, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. God got the glory!

Your answered prayer to the BIG THING will have nothing to do with your skills, intelligence, influence, or financial status. It’s a magnificent testimony of God’s goodness and grace in spite of yourself.

My BIG THING took 18 months of praying, believing, trusting, and waiting. In that time I told others about it, even though I knew if it fell through, I would be embarrassed. But instead other people began to believe in God for their BIG THING. Not for worldly possessions to consume on our lusts, but rather to use our prayers of faith as a powerful and effective weapon in building up the kingdom of heaven.

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

The New International Version. 2011 (Jas 5:16). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What do you Want ? Part I

 Don’t you think that’s a great question for Jesus to ask you? This is especially true because He has the power and ability to meet your every need or desire.

“What do you want?”
            When Jesus and the disciples left Jericho, there were 2 blind men calling after Him even though the crowd was telling them to be quiet. Jesus asked, “What do you want?” It was obvious they wanted healing, but Jesus made them verbalize it. Do you really know what you want from God? It’s surprising that many of us haven’t actually verbalized what we want God to do for us. Why should we have to ask? Doesn’t God already know? Of course He does.

Yet something happens on the inside of us when we speak out to God with clarity in our requests. Many times we can be vague…bless everyone…do everything that needs to be done…etc. When we are specific in our prayer requests, we know our prayers were answered.  Wouldn’t it been strange for the blind men to answer, “Or nothing really Jesus…just bless our lives and that’s good.”

“What do you want?”
            James and John sent their mother to make a request from Jesus. They boldly said, “We want you to do for us whatever we ask.” Jesus asked, “What do you want?” Their request to sit on Jesus’ right and left side made the other disciples grumble.  

Verbalizing your request helps you discover your true motives. Is it all about me and mine in prayer? How much time am I interceding for others? When we really take the time to hear ourselves pray, our understanding is broadened and the Holy Spirit prompts us to pray more God-centered rather than us-centered. If we ask with the wrong motives, our prayers won’t be answered. (James 4:3)
“What do you want?”
            After John the Baptist pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God, two of his disciples immediately started to follow Jesus. He turned around and asked, “What do you want?” He gave these men the whole day to spend with Him.

Sometimes you may just want Jesus. In the darkest hours of despair there is no comfort from anyone or anything but Jesus. There are no words to describe the beauty of His presence to fill your heart with peace in the midst of confusion and pain. He’s Emmanuel—God with us all the time. Start with a small increment of time set aside for Jesus. Make it sacred by committing to the same time and place every day.

“What do you want?”
That is what God is asking you right now. Why not just be honest and talk to Him for awhile? You won’t ever regret hearing that question.

Bible references: Matt. 20:20-28, 29-34; Mark 10:35-44; Luke 18:35-43; John 1:35-39

Saturday, April 6, 2013

I’ve been Rejected!
Interview with Leah from the Bible

Have you been rejected? Have people turn their backs on you? Maybe you were passed over for a job promotion or jilted by someone you thought was the love of your life? Or maybe you're the black sheep of your family—the least favored child. The following interview is based on Genesis 29-30 and is intended to encourage those who have a history of being rejected.

The older sister, Leah, was secretly married to Jacob through the schemes of her father, Laban. Her younger sister, Rachel, was the intended bride and the love of Jacob’s life. The wedding ceremony didn’t allow Jacob to see that he was actually marrying Leah instead of Rachel. Jacob worked 14 years for both women. God blessed Leah to have six sons; while Rachel had a longer wait before giving birth to 2 sons. She died after the birth of her second son. Leah was tolerated by Jacob, but never loved like Rachel. She longed for his affections in spite of his rejection.

Leah…you must have had some idea of that changing the marital arrangement would be painful for Jacob and Rachel?

“Jacob worked seven years in order to marry my sister, Rachel. He was so in love with her that it seemed like days. But my father was indifferent to their love seeking his own interests. It was the custom of our day that the oldest daughter should be married before the youngest. I knew it was wrong, but a woman had very little power over her life in those days.”

The morning after when Jacob discovered it was you he married, and not Rachel, how did you deal with his disappointment?

“It was very hard. I was not loved. Jacob was obligated to me as his wife, but his heart remained completely committed to my sister. ”

Did you ever feel that Jacob loved you?  

“No, I was known as the weak-eyed sister…the plain Jane compared to my younger sister, Rachel, who was known for her beauty.”

How did you cope with the rejection?

“I turned to God in my distress and He heard my cry. I birthed many children and became a part of God’s covenant with Abraham. My descendants would be innumerable like the stars in the sky.”

What was your relationship with Rachel? It had to be testy.

“Absolutely. She resented the fact that I could have children and I resented the fact that Jacob loved her and not me. At one point she wanted mandrakes from my son, Reuben.”

What was significant about the mandrakes?

“Mandrake is a flower and in our culture it was believed to have magical powers. My sister, Rachel, probably wanted them so she could bear children.”

What did you say to her?

“I said, ‘Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?’ So she had Jacob come spend the night with me in exchange for the mandrakes. I gave birth to another son after that night.”

But in spite of your giving birth to sons, it doesn’t seem like Jacob grew any more affectionate with you…even to the point of showing much more favoritism to Rachel’s two sons than to your six sons.

“This is true. His favoritism ran a deep root of resentment in my boys. But I learned to seek the love of God more than the love of Jacob. At the birth of my first son, I was so sure that he would love me more than Rachel. But eventually I accepted honor above love and that God was the true Giver of the best gifts.”

As a daughter you were treated as a pawn by your father, and as a wife you were treated as a burden—what advice would you give to those who know what it is like to be used and rejected?

“God has no favoritism towards His children. Even if you have been rejected by others, God knows how to make even that difficulty work in your favor. He loves each of us completely and unconditionally. Stop pursuing man’s approval and acceptance. Look to your Father in heaven and He will give you everything your heart desires within His will.”

Scripture References:  Genesis 29:16-17, 23-32, 30:9-20, 37:3-4; Romans 2:11, 12:2; Ephesians 2:4, 6:9; Colossians 3:25; Galatians 1:10; Psalms 37:4, 136:2

The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Take your Time with "All in Good Time"

Book Review for All in Good Time

Maureen Lang's book, All in Good Time, was a wonderful, heartwarming read. Her protagonist, Dessa Caldwell, reminds me of the women who started rescue missions such as Frances Nasmith, Maria McAuley, Beulah Bulkey, and many more who sacrifice their lives for others. This novel is especially helpful for those who struggle with the thought "Have I misunderstood God?" Lang's storyline and plot are well written and keep the reader engaged. The only thing that I thought might be slightly problematic is that some of her characters tended to have a more refined language use than what they should've had for their background. However it doesn't take away from this book being an enjoyable read.

I received this book for free from Tyndale for this honest review.