Monday, March 27, 2017

God's Word
and Prayer

In reading and studying recently on the subject of hindrances to prayer, I came across a verse that really jumped out and hit me right between the eyes. I had been looking at verses that dealt with hindrances to prayer, such as the relationship
between husband and wife:

1 Peter 3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands;
that, if any obey not the word, they
also may without the word
be won by the conversation of the wives;

1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge,
giving honour unto the wife, as
unto the weaker vessel,
and as being heirs together of the grace of life;
that your prayers be not hindered.

Then there is the hindrance to prayer by offences and wrongs against others:

Matthew 5:23-24 Therefore if thou
bring thy gift to the altar,
and there rememberest that thy brother
hath ought against thee;
Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way;
first be reconciled to thy brother, and then
come and offer thy gift.

Then the subject of our unforgiveness grieving God and hindering our prayers:

Matthew 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

Matthew 6:15 But if ye forgive not
men their trespasses,
neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

When I began to really study what it is that hinders our prayers and puts a 'roadblock' to God answering and hearing our prayers, I found that there was a lot! Our covetousness, our self-will, our rebellion, our disobedience. All of these things are a hindrance to prayer. These are things that were already clear to me and understandable. But then came the verse that I had never really noticed before.

Proverbs 28:9

He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law,
even his prayer shall be abomination.

This was a BIG revelation to me. A disinclination or indifference on our part toward the Bible hinders our prayers! This verse tells us that if we turn away our ear from the law (Word of God),
even our prayers are an abomination.

Knowing the Bible is not enough.
Reading the Bible is not enough.
Blessing depends on delighting in it
and meditating on it” John R. Rice

Psalms 1:1-3 Blessed is the man that
walketh not in the counsel
of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners,
nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD;
and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted
by the rivers of water,
that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;
his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

In this Psalm, we see that the man that delights in the Word of God, and the man that meditates on it, is blessed. He prospers. He brings forth fruit.

Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not
depart out of thy mouth;
but thou shalt meditate therein day and night,
that thou mayest observe to do according
to all that is written therein:
for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

There is a close connection between the Word of God and spiritual prosperity. How can someone who is disinterested in the Bible, one who has his heart turned away from the Word of God, ever please God in prayer? All the promises in the Bible concerning answers to prayer involve a heart that is eager to find the will of God. And how can we find the will of God if we are not daily in his Word. If we're not abiding in Christ's Words, how can we ask anything of God, we won't know the will of God to be able to pray for it.

John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and
my words abide in you,
ye shall ask what ye will,
and it shall be done unto you.

We all know of George Mueller and his amazing prayer life and God's blessing upon his life. But even he knew where his priorities should lie.

He tells of the new ease and joy in prayer he had when he began first to read the Bible before prayer every day and let his prayers begin out of what the Spirit whispered in his heart
as he read the Word of God.”

So, in reading the Bible and meditating on it and delighting in it, we are able to see more clearly God's will for our life, and therefore, we are able to pray more effectively. Our prayers will be inspired by the Holy Spirit. If we are indifferent to the Word of God or have no interest in reading it, if we find no joy in God's promises, how can we even begin to ask anything of God. His words are not abiding in us. So what right do we have to ask anything in His name?

If we go back to my key verse in Proverbs and look at that word abomination, we see that is means
'something disgusting. Abhorred. Loathed. Hated.' Those are pretty strong words for God to use and yet he does. He sees our prayers as an abomination, or something disgusting if we are not reading his Word and letting his Word abide in us.

If we are meditating on the Word of God, prayer will form in our hearts. Now we know that to meditate, we don't have to assume a contortionist position and say 'Ommm' and go into some state of altered conciousness. NO. To meditate simply means to dwell in thought; to muse; to reflect. But what do we meditate on? The Word of God.
The promises of God.

In the Greek the word is 'hagah' and it has the meaning of 'to study' but also, interestingly enough, 'to murmur in pleasure or anger'. I found that last definition kind of ironic because how many times do we murmur in anger, when we are reading the Word of God, because it convicts us and shows us our sinful hearts and we don't like God's piercing light so bright upon on lives. It hurts and we are like Saul, 'kicking against the pricks'. And so sometimes we 'murmur in anger' instead of pleasure.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick,
and powerful,
and sharper than any twoedged sword,
piercing even to the dividing asunder of
soul and spirit,
and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

I don't know about you, maybe you already knew this verse, but I never realised the relationship between really studying the scriptures and meditating on them and my prayer life. Of course, I knew that it was important to read the Bible and to be daily in God's Word. But, to have God say that my prayers are an abomination to him if I am turning my ear away from his law! Wow! If my prayer is an abomination to God, then any fellowship or communion between
me and God is hindered.

When we have no desire to read God's Word, to meditate on it, to follow God's commands, to really search it out, it shows sin in our heart. That indifference to the Word of God shows that we have a carnal mind. As in 1 Corinthians 2:14

But the natural man receiveth not the
things of the Spirit of God:
for they are foolishness unto him:
neither can he know them,
because they are spiritually discerned.

If you know someone who is full of the Spirit, then you can know that he is full of the Word of God.
He delights in the law of the Lord. He reads it.
He mediates on it.

My focus of late has been on prayer and having a more effectual prayer life, but in doing so, I am learning more and more the importance of really getting into God's Word and truly meditating on it and letting the Spirit guide me through his Word as to how I should pray. Letting the Spirit inspire my prayers so that they are really what God would have me pray for, and not just empty phrases from a heart devoid of God's Word. Knowing God's will is not going to come from a heart that is not immersed in God's Word. God has given us the answer book to all of our questions. It's up to us, to search it out and hold fast to His promises.

Don't let your prayers become an
abomination to God!

Friday, March 24, 2017

A Day Out

On Tuesday, Dave and I had a day out.
We were able to do a day trip to help
some friends of ours who are moving into
town off a station near here.

Emilee kindly let us use her ute
(well, she didn't really have a choice)
so, leaving the girls to their
beauty sleep, we headed out.

It was 7 hours one way to the station
then a couple hours there to load up
and 7 hours back home again.

The short way there was impassable
due to the wet season so that meant
going the long way around.

We were able to get the ute nice
and dirty for her in all the muddy puddles

It was a nice change for Dave, from the normal
daily routine of delivering milk, and I enjoyed the
break from school and housework.

The girls were very disappointed that they couldn't
come, but we couldn't really fit them in the ute
and they would have gotten
VERY muddy on the back
due to Emilee's "Muddies"
that love to flick up the mud,
the bovine excretions and whatever else.
(Not to mention the illegal factor or the fact
that once we had loaded up for the return trip
there was NO room at all,
except maybe in the chicken cage
with the 15 chickens and 1 rooster)

We saw a lot of diverse and beautiful countryside
and had fun splashing in the mud
and just being together.

Being the passenger in this expedition,
meant that I had to open and close ALL of the gates!
16 in total! Open  Close  Open  Close.......
and you get the picture.

But, as the daylight faded, we were headed back
home, after topping up on some food at HiWay Inn.
(they truly do make the
BEST burgers in the Territory!)

Home again, home again,
late, but safe and sound and ready
to get back to normal routine when the sun came up.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Trials and Testing

This past 3 weeks have been full of trials
and testing with back to back issues,
sickness, discouragement, loss.
These have been a refining process from God.

Job 23:10
But he knoweth the way that I take:
when he hath tried me,
I shall come forth as gold.

During this time, I have been reminded of
God's mercy and love. I have started looking
back over some notes that I wrote over 8 years ago,
while recovering from pneumonia.
I remember reading through the book of Job,
and trying to glean wisdom through
his time of trial. I remember questioning God
and asking the 'whys' of my situation
instead of looking to the 'who'.

One of the verses that I strove to achieve was,

Philippians 4:11
Not that I speak in respect of want:
for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am,
therewith to be content.

A very good quote I read at the time was,
“It's not HOW can I get out of this,
but WHAT can I get out of this?”

So many times, in times of sickness,
discouragement and loss, I ask God
to remove me from the situation.
The HOW. Get me out of here, Lord!
Make me well! But, I should really be asking,
what does God want to teach me through all this?
The WHAT. What is God's eternal plan
in this time of testing?
We don't need to doubt and question God.
We need to trust Him. One of my
favourite sayings is this:

Don't doubt in the dark what you know in the light”

When everything is going well, we know God is there. We hold to his promises and thank God for the blessings. But, oh how lost we become when the darkness closes in. Our little candle flickers and all but goes out. We forget God's promises. We forget that he is still there in the darkness.
His promises still hold true,
whether on the mountaintop or in the dark valley.

God didn't answer Job's plea for death. He had something better for him. God looked beyond Job's depression, discouragement and bitterness and saw that he still had faith. So often, we should be thankful for unanswered prayer.
We often pray for things that
we would later regret if God had granted them.

God understands all about it,
and lovingly turns a deaf ear to our words,
but a tender eye to our wounds”

So, what can I get out of this? Well, I believe that recently I have been on a mountaintop, and that means, LOOK OUT! There's a valley somewhere below. It is encouraging to me that God sees me as special enough to send trials. He sees me as someone worth refining. He wants to purify me and see me “come forth as gold”. I am not just something
to be cast in the fire.

So, maybe like Job, God is allowing Satan
to afflict me in order to test my faith.
(Not because of any perfection on my part)
Remember, Satan only has the power to
touch us if God allows it.

Job 1:12
And the LORD said unto Satan,
Behold, all that he hath is in thy power;
only upon himself put not forth thine hand.
So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

And a comforting verse is found in

1 Corinthians 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you
but such as is common to man:
but God is faithful, who will not suffer you
to be tempted above that ye are able;
but will with the temptation also make
a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

God will make a way of escape. Often that 'way of escape' doesn't come as soon as we'd like. But God sees the bigger picture. He knows the limitations to our faith. He knows our weaknesses. God knows us better than we know ourselves, so He is so much better able to bring the trials and end the trials.
All in His perfect time.

James 1:12
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation:
for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life,
which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

So our response to trials is important. How many times does God have to repeat a trial because we were too thick to learn the first time?
(I have both arms raised) Hmmm.

I was reading recently of a common theme that runs through a lot of the Psalms. Often we see at the beginning of the Psalm, David is on his face in pity. Then, he is on his knees in prayer. Then he is on his feet in praise! Do you see the upward progression?
Face. Knees. Feet!

Oh, if we could only grasp this concept! The trial is hard and I'm on my face before God and moaning and complaining about my circumstance, then I get on my knees in prayer and realise the need for God to work and purify and intervene and then I rise to my feet and shout, PRAISE GOD!
And thank Him for the trial he sent.

I don't always manage to shout PRAISE GOD! at the end of a trial, but it's definitely a goal to shoot for every time. And a good reminder to me to remember who is in control of every situation. Refining. Purifying. Cleansing. To be more like Christ.

Many years ago, I came across this song and it is always in my mind when I'm going through a trial. Learning to thank God for the trials that come your way is a sign of growth.

I Thank You Lord
For the trials that come my way
In that way I can grow each day
As I let You lead
And I thank You Lord
For the patience those trials bring
In that process of growing
I can learn to care


But it goes against the way I am
To put my human nature down
And let the Spirit take control of all I do
‘Cause when those trials come
My human nature shouts the things to do
And God’s soft prompting can be easily ignored

Verse 2
I thank you, Lord,
with each trial I feel inside,
that you're there to help,
lead and guide me away from wrong.
'Cause you promised, Lord,
that with every testing,
that your way of escaping is easier to bear.

Verse 3
I thank you, Lord,
for the victory that growing brings.
In surrender of everything
life is so worth while.
And I thank you, Lord,
that when everything's put in place,
out in front I can see your face,
and it's there you belong.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Charles Spurgeon's Disclaimer

This morning in reading about praying
according to God's will,
I read about a disclaimer that Charles Spurgeon
is said to have added to all his prayers.

Food for thought.

"Lord, if I have asked for anything
that is not according to Your mind,
I ask You to disregard it.
And if any wish that I have expressed to You
- even though it is the desire that burns in my
bosom above all other wishes -
is a wish that is not right in Your sight,
disregard it, my Father.
But in Your infinite love and compassion,
do something better for Your servant
than Your servant knows how to ask"

Monday, March 13, 2017

Open thy Mouth Wide

Psalm 81:10

I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee
out of the land of Egypt:
open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.

Ok, so I'm on the subject of praying BIG again. I have been doing so much study lately on prayer and learning how to pray BIG, that I just have to say a few more things about what I've learnt.
This verse was brought to my attention while I was reading and it got me thinking about the practicalities of praying BIG.
There are many examples in the Bible of people praying BIG prayers. For example, take a look at Joshua.
Joshua 10:12-14 Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.
For some strange reason, in all my years of wisdom, cough cough, I never really realised that it was Joshua who asked for God to make the sun stand still. It wasn't that God just did it. It says that Joshua 'spake' and 'he said'. As in, Joshua asked God to make the sun stand still! Did you catch that? He asked for God to make the sun stand still??? My mind boggles at his faith in God. For him to ask such an enormous thing of God with hope and expectation of receiving it!
Talk about praying BIG! And I thought some of my prayers were BIG!
Then take Elisha for example.
2 Kings 2:9-14 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.
He asked a BIG thing and God granted his request. I would have loved to have been there as he smote the waters. I can just imagine the thunder in his voice as he cried Where is the LORD God of Elijah?”. Ba Boom! And the waters parted and he went on to do double the miracles that his predecessor Elijah did.
God is pleased by our boldness in prayer. God is waiting to do great and mighty things. We read about the widows pot of oil and how she went out and gathered as many pots and vessels as she could, and God filled every last one of them. You know, if she had had more vessels, God would have filled them too!
So why do we not put out more vessels for God to fill? Is it because of our lack of faith? Why do we put limitations on God?
Ephesians 3:20 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
“Exceeding abundantly above all that we ask”. Wow! God is able to deliver but we are so weak in our faith, that we continue to ask little things of God and hesitate to ask the BIG things.
And then there's that little word 'if'. We tack that onto our prayers. Lord bless us with such and such, if you can Lord, if you will Lord. What! There is no 'if' about God's power. The only 'if' is whether or not you believe and have faith!
Jeremiah 32:17 Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
John R. Rice put it like this:
“Small prayers are a sign of weak faith. Big prayers show faith in God. Big prayers, when answered, stop doubts and glorify God, strengthening Christians and convicting sinners.”
So there it is. The end goal. To glorify God. What a testimony it is when a Christian is able to share an answer to a BIG prayer with the unsaved world. It shows God's great power. It shows that God is still in control. It shows that God is almighty and powerful and has no boundaries.
I love the verse of this song by Annie J. Flint:
              “His love has no limits, His   grace has no measure,His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.”

The reason great things don't happen in our churches and in our homes, is because of our small asking. We need to learn, me included, to pray expectantly, largely, with faith and God will answer.
Of course, we need to pray according to His will, but that's another subject that I've been learning about and would take a lot more writing and explaining so I'll leave it for another time.
But back to our original verse from Psalm 81:10, in regard to this,
“Our mouths are never full because we never open them wide”
Hmmm. Think on that for a while. I have been and it's opened up an amazingly long list of prayer requests that I need to now start praying.
I'll leave you with the words of the apostles of old. It is something we all need to ask of God,
Lord, increase our faith”

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Quiet Time

This morning, as I was having my 'quiet time',
I began to think about the term 'quiet time'.

Over the years I have really struggled to
make my time alone with God a consistent thing.

As the girls were growing up,
life was anything but quiet!
As the sun peeked over the horizon
the day began and straight away the cares
of the day began to press in.
A baby needing to be fed, a toddler crying,
dishes to wash, baking to be done,
and pretty soon that much needed time alone
with God was pushed aside and the
distractions of life took over.

I was always searching for that elusive 'piece of quiet'
to sit and calmly take in what
God wanted to say to me for that day.
But, over the years I have come to realise
that it is "God that supplies the quiet,
we just need to supply the time"
(I read this quote in an Emilie Barnes book and rephrased)

God doesn't expect us to come to Him
with a quiet spirit in order to have a quiet time.
We come to him with our cup overflowing
with confusion, worries, troubles, disappointments;
and He graciously and lovingly
pours it out and fills our cup with
His peace and love and joy.

He knows that life is busy and sometimes
we're overwhelmed with our to do list.
But if we would just stop for a moment,
give God some of our precious time,
He would bring the quiet that is needed
into our hearts.

Our quiet time is a gift from God,
not a gift from us to God. He wants us to come
alone into His presence and bring our cares to Him.

The quietness comes from our relationship
with Him and coming to Him and letting Him
rearrange our thought processes.
He calms the inner storms and brings
His peace that only He can give.

Sometimes we only have 5 minutes to give to Him,
we pour out our cares and He pours in His peace.
Other times, we have an hour to give to God
and these times can be so beneficial.

We don't need to 'get quiet' in order
to draw near to God, we just need
to be willing to come to Him with a
humble heart and ask Him to bring
the quiet that we need so desperately.

I have found that often times, just going for a walk
and talking to God can bring a calm to the storm.
There can be traffic going by,
other walkers passing, birds chirping or
any other amount of distractions,
but there can be 'quiet' in that time if we
focus on what God has to say to our hearts.
Remember, it's often that still small voice
that we are listening for.

I know for me
when the girls were little, I would make excuses
for not having a quiet time.
It just wasn't quiet. I thought I had to have quiet
in order for God to hear me.
God hears us even in the middle of a cyclone
and yes, sometimes it felt like that kind of chaos.

It's a heart issue. Bringing our hearts
in tune with God.
Waiting on Him. Having an attitude
of humbleness and meekness. In the middle
of all the clamour, calling out to Him
to bring His peace.

I am blessed now
to finally be able to spend that hour alone
with God, without distraction, but oh
what peace I could have enjoyed if only
I had realised that I needed to
give God my time and
He would have brought the quiet.

Psalm 107:28-30

 Then they cry unto the Lord
in their trouble, and he bringeth
them out of their distresses.
He maketh the storm a calm,
so that the waves thereof are still.
Then are they glad because they be quiet;
so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.