My Beloved Son

elderly hands folded in prayer

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 ESV

Prayer is a Healing Activity

Prayer is a healing activity for us. As believers, we pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17). But when we get alone with God (Matthew 6:6) and pray to the Triune God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, hears us, consoles us, and acts on our behalf.

As part of our healing, before we pray, we need to settle any matter where someone has something against us (Matthew 5:23). As we enter into prayer, we believe that God is and that He answers prayers (James 1:6), knowing that “if we worship God and do His will, God listens to us (John 9:31). 

Preparing for Prayer

Entering prayer, we draw near to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). We are entering our prayer time with confidence (1 John 5:14-15). We give thanks to God (Matthew 6:9-13). We confess our sins to God (1 John 1:9 ) and forgive anyone that has wronged us (Mark 11:25). As we pray, we should take time to be at peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

We Ask

Praying, we go before our Father, praying in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18 ). We pray on behalf of others that are in need (1 Timothy 2:1-2). We ask our Father for spiritual things, material things, emotional things, human things. We ask because our God has told us to ask (Matthew 7:7) and we remember that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37)

We pray to our Father, trusting that the Spirit leads us as we pray, and we know that Jesus is our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5 ) between our humanity and God’s divinity. Most importantly, we pray for the will of Jesus, our Lord. That is what Jesus meant when He taught us to pray in the name of Jesus (John 14:13). 

God’s Beloved Son

So, whether we begin our prayer in the name of Jesus or close our prayer in His name, when bringing His name before our Father, I think it’s good to acknowledge that our petitions are in the name of God’s beloved Son (Matthew 3:17).

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/prayer-can-do-anything-that-god-can-do/

God Is In Control

cockpit of airplane

I was reading a commentary about the birth of Jesus and Herod’s attempt to find Jesus and kill Him, and this statement jumped out at me: Thus are the very errors and crimes and cold indifferences of men all overruled.” Isn’t that encouraging? We know that Jesus and His family did escape Herod’s trap. As God’s Word states, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Beyond The Pale

The pervasive pettiness that permeates our institutions is beyond the pale. Treachery and vile accusations have always been go-to tools for those that have no fear of God. My statement is not specific to politics, for I see this problem within both the public and private sectors. Nevertheless, it is heartening that schemers can make their plans, but it is God’s will that prevails. We see this in James 4:13-15

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

Be at peace, for God is in control.

Photo by Jan Huber on Unsplash

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/our-father-is-always-in-control/

Pray God's Will

Many times when I have a need, or I intercede for someone, I first talk with Jesus. He has been hungry, thirsty, tired, ridiculed, and rejected. He understands me. So I may take a few minutes or several days with Jesus for talking, listening, and discerning before I am ready to take my request to God, our Father.

I do these things because of John 16:23 (ESV),“In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” Regarding John 16:23, MacLaren’s Expositions states, “Our Lord here sums up the prerogatives and privileges of His servants in the day that was about to dawn and to last till He came again.

You see, if I’m going to pray in Jesus’ name, it only seems right for me to be sure that He agrees with that for which I’m asking. Using His name is serious business. While I’m preparing to go before our heavenly Father, the Holy Spirit, who abides within me, guides me, and I receive the confidence that I will pray God’s will. If I pray God’s will, whatever I ask in the name of Jesus shall be accomplished.

Photo on Visual hunt

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/fight-for-sight/

Stay or Go?

A childhood memory popped into my head as I prepared to write this devotional.

When I was a boy, I lived on a farm. It was a small farm, but to a young child it was my world. A world to be explored, studied, conquered and be conquered. My imaginary adventures took place on that land of woods, pasture, field, and home.

One summer day, a black and white collie happened upon my domain. Instantly I could tell that the dog was poorly cared for. His coat was full of burrs and other prickly things. The hapless dog’s fur was overgrown and matted. I had never seen an animal in such a pitiful state.

Though I thought that sad specimen of a collie needed me, when I approached him he ran away. Days or weeks later I spotted the collie a few houses down the road from home. 

He appeared to live at that place. Why didn’t he leave? His life couldn’t be worse. It seemed so odd to me.

Wasted by Familiar

This memory got me thinking about how easy it is to let ourselves waste away in familiar situations. Certainly, there are times when it is God’s will for us to represent Jesus in woeful environments. And there are times when it’s God’s will to be wasted for Jesus. I wrote a devotional about being wasted for the Lord.

Still, I know people that God called to be missionaries but they didn’t go. They stayed in their familiar world, like that poor collie, rather than launch out into a life of faith. A life that God’s heart had crafted for them.

Missionary is just an example. God may be calling on you to advance your education, open a business, or teach. The question is the same as that collie faced: stay or go. If God says “stay”, then rejoice in God’s will. If God says “go” then go, you’ve got a great adventure ahead of you. As 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV) states, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Photo credit: Janitors on Visualhunt.com / CC BY

You may like:
https://rockexcavationservice.org/go-ahead/

God’s beloved

Dust on a man's handds

I was reading an interesting article titled, “4 Ways Your Bible Points to Jesus” and I came across a fascinating quote:

We obey as a result of being God’s beloved, not to cause God to love us. His grace toward us precedes, enables, and motivates our efforts toward holiness. – Bryan Chapell

That one sentence shows us how trustworthy is the love of God. His plan of redemption was conceived and implemented while every person in the world was a lost, reprobate sinner. Each of us was saved while we were still an enemy of God. It was God’s love that drew us, and it was by His grace through faith that we were saved.

This fundamental characteristic of God to act before there is evidence of success is found throughout the Bible, and not only regarding humanity’s salvation.

We find assurance of God’s compassion in our walk with Jesus in Psalms 103:13-14:

13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust.

This is such an encouraging passage of Scripture. God knows how we were formed. He was there. He did the work. He truly knows you and me.

Photo by Austin Ban on Unsplash

You may like:
https://rockexcavationservice.org/god-orchestrates/

We Need to Know

My wife and I met in a gospel group. As we traveled nearly every Sunday afternoon to churches for Sunday night services we got to know each other.

She had an active college life as well as a vast family life. I, on the other hand, was a few years older. I was a single dad (rare in those days) with a full-time job, a house, and an active life within my local church.

I Need To Know

Our first few dates were superficial. We were discovering if we both “liked” each other. One evening, after I picked my wife-to-be up at her apartment, we were driving to our group’s practice session when I turned to her and said, “I have a problem.” (You can stop here and ridicule me. I deserve it.)

My question caught her off guard, so she had no idea what I was going to say. I said, “I really like you.” I wanted her to know that I would back off if it was a problem. She said, “That’s not a problem.”

My clumsiness came from not knowing her. At that point, we had spent very little time together. Because of this, I wasn’t confident that I was reading our relationship correctly. This problem of “knowing” is even more important when it comes to our relationship with God.

A Plethora of Promises

God has given us many incredible promises throughout the Bible. From the book of Genesis, when God gave us the promise of the Messiah to the last verse in the book of Revelation, 22:21, which reads, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

So, when we come to promises like the one in 1 John 4:14 we need to understand that the Holy Spirit inspired John to write this promise to Christians that know what fits within the will of God. To do this, we have to develop a deep, personal relationship with the one true God.

Usually, but not always, it takes time to learn the things of God. We need time to study God’s Word, to be mentored by mature Christians, and to learn to discern God’s will. We need to learn to be led by the Holy Spirit, using the Name of Jesus legitimately, and to ask the Father for things that please Him and not “ask with wrong motives, that you may squander it on your pleasures.” (James 4:3)

1 John 4:14-15, This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

It’s all about knowing and obeying the will of God

Is that wonderful, or what! If we ask for anything that is within the will of God, we will receive it. Now, remember the words I’ve written before presenting this Scripture to you.

Just as I had to make sure my will was in alignment with this young woman I had started dating, we each must make sure that what we ask is in God’s will. If it is then nothing in the world can prevent us from receiving our request. 

Please know that disappointment and bitterness have come to many people that tried to convince God their requests were His will. When you pray, be bold, and be sure.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

You may also like:
https://rockexcavationservice.org/god-is-relationship-2/

No animals were harmed during the writing of this devotional

Holy Priesthood

1 Peter 2:4-5, As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

This “holy priesthood” to which God called us is not in name only nor is it a formal position within the clergy. This role is for all Christians. If we, as Christians, are called to a holy priesthood, then we have work that we must do that aligns with our position.

We don’t sacrifice bulls or goats or lambs

God does not view us as holy priests after the lineage of Aaron; ours is a spiritual priesthood. We don’t sacrifice bulls or goats or lambs in this new priesthood. Since we operate within the Spirit, our sacrifices are spiritual. A good question to ask here is, “What does Peter mean by “spiritual sacrifices?”

We read that Jesus is a living stone (singular), and we are living stones (plural). Therefore our holy priesthood is modeled on that of Jesus, the Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14). As such, our spiritual sacrifices are foremost that of self and will. Here is a verse to verify this statement: 1 John. 3:16 (ESV), “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”

One Mediator Between God and Man

As we know, the ministry of Aaron and his sons was to mediate between people and God. However, as the Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV), “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…” So, in addition to self-sacrifice, what is it that Christians do in this holy priesthood? Every Christian everywhere is called to be mediators and intercessors between each other and God through Christ Jesus.

We have confidence in our call to be mediators and intercessors because “...we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us…” (see the full context in Hebrews 10:19-25) 

Mediating and Interceding

Our spiritual duty in this holy priesthood is to mediate and intercede for other Christians. This duty means that we counsel and pray with other Christians, using the wisdom, guidance, and other gifts the Holy Spirit gives us, so all Christians come into alignment with the will of God.

As intercessors for other Christians, we add our standings with God to other Christians’ standings. We say “amen” to the prayers our brothers and sisters pray as they lay their petitions before God with assurance, through mediation, that their requests can be asked in the name of Jesus.

These roles help keep the Body of Christ healthy, protected, and in alignment with God’s will.

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

You may also like:
https://rockexcavationservice.org/gods-will-and-our-will/

Names

As some of you know, I have an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) cat named Max. Science has proven that cats recognize their names. Although, for poor Max, we affectionately call him by many permutations of Max. The most common name is Maxy, but sometimes he’s Maximillion, sometimes Maximus, well, you get the idea. These names are meant to be affectionate, but for Max they are most likely confusing. Science hasn’t proven that cats are skilled in grammar.

Having recently been away from home for a week, Max was stressed by my absence and was a complete nuisance when I got home. Upon my arrival I had other things on my agenda than to let Max go through his OCD routine but  he would have none of it. That’s kind of the way I am with Jesus.

Routine

When my routine gets upended by life I lose my routine with Jesus. Oh, I still make time for Him in the morning, but that may be in a car. And, we still talk but it’s difficult to carve out a quiet time to read my Bible, meditate on His word, and pray. So, when I finally get my life back, I’m like Max. I’m desperate to spend time with my Master.

Here’s where the rest of my Maxishness comes into play. Names are very important to the one true God; the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. The LORD renamed Abram, Sarai, and Jacob. He named the children of Hosea. Jesus gave new names to Peter, James, John and probably Saul/Paul. Also, each of God’s children gets a new name when we get to heaven. Names are important.

Confused

Also like Max, sometimes I am confused by my Master. I see myself as a worn out man of little or no worth. However, sometimes, God calls me by a name like “the one who breaks down walls.” That’s confusing to me but Jesus sees me in Him; yes, I said that correctly. He is in me but I am in Him. And, the person I am in Jesus has different names, kind of like Max.

You also may have different names because you are loved by God and used by Him. Perhaps, you are the “the builder of churches”, “the compassion giver”, “the teacher of children”, “the elder”. I don’t know how God sees you or the names by which He calls you. But you should know this, God often renames His people.

Mark 4:13-17 (ESV), And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder);

So, pray and listen. That name you hear may be yours.

Photo by Mara Page on Unsplash

You may also like:
https://rockexcavationservice.org/his-vision-is-complete/

Spain or bust!

Ro 15:28 (NIV), “So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way.

How amazing it is to me that Paul speaks of going to Spain. Because of the Roman empire, there was the Pax Romana, Roman Peace, which enabled people to travel in relative safety. God surely used the Roman Empire as a tool.

Evangelists, as well as everyday Christians, moved throughout the empire, spreading the good news of Jesus. The very thing that was corrupt, wicked, and built by man was used by God as a vehicle to transmit the Gospel of Jesus!

The pagan Roman empire became the Holy Roman empire because Christians shared their good news with pagans. This shows that God does change the hearts of whole nations and even empires.

God can and does use whatever He pleases for the fulfillment of His will; even us!

Photo by Calvin Hanson on Unsplash

You may also like:
https://rockexcavationservice.org/gods-crazy-about-you/

T words

The Letter “T”

As odd as it might sound, the letter T was originally X-shaped. Its earliest ancestor was probably an X-shaped Egyptian hieroglyph, which in turn became the X-shaped Phoenician letter taw. Over time, this X steadily straightened, becoming more of a + shape, before the Ancient Greeks knocked the top off to create their T-shaped letter tau. And it’s from tau, via Latin, that T has ended up in English.

T is now one of the English language’s most frequently used letters, and on average it will account for just under 10 percent of all the language you’ll use. – BY PAUL ANTHONY JONES

I’m always fascinated by words. As I was praying today, I stopped myself when I told Father God that I would “try.” Now, try is a good T word. Try shows good intentions. Try shows that I’m ready to move from thought (another good T word) to action. And, action is what God desires from us, but only when we are acting in His will.

With the above paragraph written, I soothed my conscience a bit. Still, I was concerned. Aren’t we Christians stalwarts of trust in God? Yes, of course, we are. “So, does ‘try’ belong in a prayer?”, I muttered to myself. Quickly, I opened Biblegateway.com, select English Standard Version, and searched for “try.” There were twelve verses in the ESV that contained “try.” Well, eleven because the search also returned “Tryphaena and Tryphosa.”

Try

Eleven times “try” is used in the whole of the Bible. I was feeling that I’d gone out on shaky ground when praying “try.” Then, my eyes fell on Ephesians 5:10 (ESV). Here is that verse, in context:

7 Therefore do not become partners with them;
8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),
10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

There it was! The Holy Spirit had inspired Paul to write “and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” That was the gist of what I’d been praying. I was on solid ground. It is okay to use that “T word” with God. In fact, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 19:14 NIV) And, what is one of the obvious things that children do? They try things.

Try Is Okay

As we continue to live and mature in Jesus, we always will be confronting “try.” The first time we fervently pray with someone, the first time we give our testimony, the first time we (fill in the blank). All of those are preceded by our decision to “try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”

So, let us launch out in our prayers and launch out in our actions. It’s okay to try. We grow in our successes and grow from our failures. And, over time, our “try’s” will become “treasures” as we increase our trust in Jesus. (You’ve gotta love those T words.)

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

You may like:
https://rockexcavationservice.org/deep-mommy-deep/

%d bloggers like this: