Imagined

a man kneeling and praying

It Started in a Swamp

Walt Disney imagined building a Florida theme park in 1959, and construction began in 1965. Most of the land was a swamp. However, Walt Disney died on December 15, 1966, during the creation of the complex. Today, Walt Disney World is the most visited vacation resort in the world, with an average annual attendance of more than 52 million.

As I understand it, in 1971, near the opening day of the Magic Kingdom theme park, the chief architect was standing beside the widow of Walk Disney with a map of the 39 square miles targeted to be developed for what became Walk Disney World. He asked Walt’s widow, Lillian, if she could imagine such a large theme park. She said, “I don’t have too. Walt already did.”

Do the Imagined

Acts 2:12-14, 40-41, Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd…With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Peter had learned from the time he sank while walking on water. God’s opportunities may only last for an instant. He stood up in faith. Now Peter had faith, strong faith. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter preached Jesus and the cross; thousands were saved. No doubt, the number of people saved was more than the Pharisees ever imagined.

Throughout history, we have seen God use His people to accomplish things that others couldn’t imagine. God has used believers to build hospitals in impoverished nations, universities in newly formed countries, scientific breakthroughs that astounded academia, and more. Each time God’s servants did imagine these endeavors succeeding. They did these works because they trusted the one true God.

A Modern Example

If we consider just one modern example let’s consider 24-7 Prayer

Their story began in 1999 when some people started a prayer room in a warehouse on the south coast of England. Surprisingly, young people flocked to this prayer room. At some point, a person spray painted a poem on a wall; the poem went viral. 

That first prayer room has now touched more than two million people in more than ten thousand prayer rooms in most denominations and more than half the nations on earth. And it continues today. 

Now It’s Your Turn

God is still at work. He still uses ordinary people, as Jesus did with the fishermen. You’ve probably heard, “God’s not looking for ability but availability.” It’s true. He wants people that will drop what they’re doing and go where the Spirit leads them and not fear the wind and the waves. He wants you. He has a vision of who you could be. If you haven’t already done so, dive in because He’s calling.

Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

By the way, Lectio365 is part of my morning devotional.

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The Ear

an ear with posts and pins

We read in Proverbs 8:29, “when he (the LORD) assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,” 

A Boundry

I spent many years managing technical people, and an essential part of my job was hiring the right people. Many of my job candidates came through employment agencies. Both the agent and I worked together to make sure the agent understood the skills that I needed, and I appreciated the difficulty they faced in finding that person.

Down through the years, I worked with many highly professional agents. But occasionally, I’d get a clunker. Usually, the first indication was when the agent would “drop by” without an appointment, or they would invite me to lunch and “happen” to have a candidate with them.

Hiring is the single most important decision a manager makes. Therefore, it’s critical to follow a formal process so that every candidate receives the same opportunity to win the job. I dropped agents from my roster that regularly violated the boundary between employer and employment agent.

God’s Boundry

God, too, has a boundary when it comes to getting God’s ear. We see this in (John 9:31): We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 

You may not be able to get a Hollywood star on the phone or get the governor of your state to reply to your text, but you can have the ear of the God of all Creation if you do His will, and that begins by receiving salvation through His Son, Jesus!

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Secrets In God

a closet

If you are going to tell a friend a secret, Starbucks is the wrong setting. In fact, no coffee shop will work because everyone is listening to everyone else’s conversation. No, to tell your friend a secret, you need to go someplace private. That is what Jesus told us to do when we pray:

Jesus said, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you”. – Matthew 6:6

Alone With God

I’ve found that the time I spend alone with God works just like regular friendships; it deepens with time. And with consistency, I don’t have to spend very much time on housekeeping. That way, we have time to intercede in prayer for people, pray for our leaders, our country, our pastor, and so forth. But then there needs to be a time when I speak with my God.

If God should desire to raise us to the position of one who is an intimate and shares his secrets, we ought to accept this gladly. – Saint Teresa of Avila

I need to hear from God, feel His presence, and share our secrets. What secrets? Well, if I told you… 😉 The truth is that in our intimacy with God, He will create secrets. “Give Joe an extra big tip next time.” Don’t tell anyone what you did. Or, “Tell Sue that you will bring her name before the God of all Creation.” It’s just between Us/us.

Profound Secrets

Sometimes God’s secrets are much more profound. They may deal with your relationship with the Holy Spirit. God may be planting a call to foreign missions in your heart. I personally knew a man that, during his prayer time, God promised to carry him through a difficult time. Less than a week later, he was diagnosed with cancer. God brought him through the medical process, and he is a cancer survivor.

If your prayer time tends to be a “shopping list,” carve out a little extra time to strengthen your relationship with the one true God. You may be surprised at the secrets He shares with you.

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Intense, Fervent, and Unwavering

fishing lure tied to a fishing line

Many years ago, God showed my wife a metaphor from Amos 3:5 (ESV) which reads, “Does a bird fall in a snare on the earth, when there is no trap for it?” What God showed my wife from Amos 3:5 was that we could not expect God to answer a prayer unless we’ve prayed that prayer (i.e., set the trap).

Too often, we toss out a prayer when we have failed to connect our faith to it. That’s like throwing a fishing lure into a lake with no fishing line attached to it. Have we forgotten our Savior’s words to the woman that was continually bleeding? Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:34)

There are four components to a Christian’s prayer. (1) We ask of our heavenly Father only what is in His will. (2) We ask Father God in the name of Jesus. “In Jesus’ name” means that we assert that our prayer is in full agreement with Jesus. (3) We depend upon the Holy Spirit to lead us to pray what fulfills #1 and #2. (4) We pray using the faith that the Holy Spirit of God gives us, for, without faith, it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)

No evil in this world can withstand the intense, fervent, and unwavering (James 1:6) prayers of God’s righteous children. (James 5:16)

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God is Spirit

people with their hands raised

Isaiah 46:9-10
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

From Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, regarding Isaiah 46:10: Declaring the end from the beginning – Foretelling accurately the course of future events. This is an argument to which God often appeals in proof that he is the only true God (see Isaiah 41:22-23Isaiah 43:12Isaiah 44:26).

We read in 1 Corinthians 4:20 (ESV): For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. And John 4:24 states, God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

Since the kingdom of God consists of power and God is Spirit, our prayers are not limited to circumstances, time, authorities, or even the laws of physics. For we pray to God, and He is greater than everything. I pray that our understanding of God will become greater and that we will see God is greater than our understanding.

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God loves you no less

man kneeling at a church pew

I had started a technology company and had a handful of employees. I had bootstrapped the company – no venture capital. At this point, the company was about four years old. I had expensive professional employees. Most held advanced degrees. 

We’d experienced steady growth. Never once during those four years had I missed a payroll. God always provided.

One day, close to a payroll, I went through the company’s financials. It looked grim. Even if I didn’t draw a paycheck, there just wasn’t nearly enough to do a partial payroll. All of my cash was tied up with “work-in-progress.” I was deeply concerned, but God had led me to start this business, and He’d never failed me.

On the morning of payday, my company’s cash flow was the worst I’d ever experienced. Realizing this was a watershed moment for the company, I rushed to my church’s office. I asked the pastor and everyone there to join me in prayer for God to overcome this moment that otherwise would harm my staff and crush the company. We prayed. God provided. The payroll was fully met that day.

God Loves You No Less

This crushing financial event in my life is why I relate so strongly to King Hezekiah’s actions when an invading force conspired to crush him and all of Judah. But God miraculously saved him and his people from destruction. 

Look at what King Hezekiah did when he heard the threat: Isaiah 37:1 (ESV), “As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord

I didn’t tear my clothes or put on sackcloth, but I tore my heart and humbled myself before Father God, and I went to the house of the Lord. 

God loves you no less than me. When you are “hard pressed on every side (2 Cor. 4:8),” and all seems lost, tear your heart, run to your church, gather Godly people around you, and pray. God will hear, and you may see inexplicable events unfold, for “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Ps. 46:1).

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Say Grace

Marines giving thanks before a meal

Many years ago, we were about to have breakfast with some friends when our four-year-old son announced, “We don’t pray over breakfast!” We’ve prayed over breakfast, and all of our meals since then.

The Bible documents several times when Jesus blessed the food before a meal. We see this when Jesus joined two of HIs disciples on the road to Emmaus on the day He arose from the dead. The Scripture states in Luke 24:30, “When He (Jesus) had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them.” 

Paul, too, gave us an example of giving thanks before a meal in Acts 27:35 (ESV):  And when he (Paul) had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat.

Before a Meal, I Pray

I spent a large part of my life traveling the world for my work. During those travels, I’ve eaten in some very sketchy places. So I sincerely pray before a meal. I have no doubt these prayers have saved me from significant discomfort. I believe this because of what the Scripture in 1 Timothy 4:4-5 (NLT emphasis added) states, “Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.

Whether we “say grace” or “give thanks” or “ask God’s blessing” or “pray” before eating a meal, we are following the example that Jesus established. He set the precedent for us.

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Prayer Closet

Small shed with lights on

My wife and I have been building an office. We used a shed, had electrical installed, and are now working on the interior. It’s small but big for a prayer closet

I’ll be praying, studying, writing, and perhaps doing some technical stuff in this office. It’s healing to have a place where you can get alone with God – no interruptions!

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Mathew 6:6 ESV)

You don’t need an office of your own to get alone with the God of Abrahm, Issac, and Jacob, but you do need a place where you can go to be alone with our God. Just ask Him and He will show you your prayer closet. You’ll never regret it.

Photo by my wife!

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Insurmountable Attacks

police dog practicing

Tumultuous voices come at us from every communication medium and social setting. At times it seems like our best option is to become a social and media recluse. But, of course, as Christians, that’s the exact opposite of our purpose in life. 

How do I stand a chance in a sea of people that would like nothing better than to see me fail? Well, you are in good company. The Bible is full of people that belonged to God and faced insurmountable attacks. It’s part of our job description.

If you want to commiserate with someone, choose Elijah. Read chapters 17-19 of 1 Kings. You’ll feel better.

Pick the Correct Battle

Behind all ungodly decisions are people. Jesus died for us while we were still in our sins (Romans 5:8), and He did the same for the people that are attacking you. We don’t know what God has planned for these people. They may receive Jesus on their deathbeds.

So what should we do? We learn in Ephesians 6:12 (ESV), “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

In the verse, above, “rulers” do not mean human rulers. This verse employs a poetical way for Paul to say “the prince of this world,” meaning Satan, as the Apostle John wrote in John 12:31.

So, what should you do? Pray – ask, ask, and ask again! Read the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8. Seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance – where God guides, He provides. And write or go to people that you would never expect to give you a minute of their time (knock). Remember, you have the promise that Jesus spoke, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7 ESV) 

Back to Elijah

While you are in this spiritual battle, ask Father God for His strength. Jumping back to Elijah, the Scriptures state, “And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:46 ESV) 

Regarding the exceptional feat recorded in 1 Kings 18:46, Benson’s Commentary states, “God gave him more than natural strength, whereby he was enabled to outrun Ahab’s chariot for so many miles together.” I pray God will give you this same strength. Amen!

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Weak Hands and Feeble Knees

pic of horse with mountains in the background

Just in case you didn’t get the memo, growing old may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. I used to hold the hymn book for my wife, but no longer. I always knelt for morning prayer, but that’s no longer the norm. Aging brings on weak hands and feeble knees. Let me hasten to add that I have no complaints, and I am thankful for this season of my life.

100 Miles Away

Chapter 35 of Isaiah contains amazingly clear statements about the work of Jesus. There’s also compression of time in this chapter. Often what God’s prophets see is what is similar to what we see when we see the Rocky Mountains. They look close, yet they are 100 miles away. Still, we find great comfort in the passage of Scripture found in Isaiah 35:3-4. 

Isaiah 35:3-4 (ESV)

Strengthen the weak hands,
    and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
    “Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
    will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
    He will come and save you.”

Claim These Words

These words of the prophet may correctly be connected with Hezekiah’s speech in 2 Chronicles 32:7, and may also telescope to the earthly ministry of Jesus. Nevertheless, these words of God go beyond those two historical events; these words apply to all reconciled through the blood of Christ to God. You can claim these, quote these back to God, take refuge in their promise, and be at peace for surely Almighty God hears you.

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