Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Lord's Prayer: Fellowship with God

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

The Lord’s Prayer is a miraculous blessing that Jesus gave His disciples to help us as we speak with God. We were created to have fellowship with our Father in heaven. What an honor!

Jesus wanted us to have a beautiful example of the intimate relationship that we were created to share with our Maker.

It is amazing to me that the God that created everything from the furthest star to the smallest particle wants to know me, talk with me, and cherish me in the same way that my own father loves and cares for me.

The Lord’s Prayer shows me my position as a child of God and gives me principles that I can carry into every prayer as I talk with the Father.

My parents began teaching me and my siblings at an early age to pray reverently and openly with God. As I have grown older I have recognized that that they used Jesus’ example to teach us the correct way to fellowship with Him.

Since beginning this study on the Lord’s Prayer I have been blessed by the many ways that its principles are carried into every part of my fellowship with the Father. The greatest blessing over the past few weeks has been to take one phrase of the Lord’s Prayer at a time and pour out my heart to Him as I put the prayer into my own words and personalize it with my particular circumstances and requests. This can take a long time, but it is completely worth it as I share every part of my life with God.

Our Father is amazing! “He is ever lending generously (Psalms 37:26),” and there is so much to thank Him for. We praise His name, for He is good!

When I pray “Your will be done” I ask that His will would be done in my country, community, and church. I pray for my future, and believe me; this topic alone can take a long time! There is so much to cover! Tell God everything. He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24) He wants us to trust Him completely, and He is always a ready confidant.

I pray for each of my friends and relatives by name. I ask God that His will would be done in their lives and they would be effective witnesses for Him. Or, if they are unbelievers I pray that they would realize their sin, repent, and become part of Christ’s Kingdom. My list includes playmates I have not seen in eight years, friends I see frequently, and now, people from the blogosphere that I have never met but have come to know through their writing.

“Our daily bread” is almost a never ending topic. God always provides, and Psalms 37:25 says, “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.” I pray that my father’s work would be successful and he would be favored and trusted. God is faithful! Every concern from the nitty-gritty to the gigantic can be covered under “Our daily bread.”

It is always humbling to repent of sin, but it is absolutely necessary to our walk with the Lord. It is also humbling and heart changing to pray for all of your “enemies;” those that irritate you, rub you the wrong way, or have harmed you in the past. Pray for them. It isn’t easy, but God expects us to forgive and pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). God will use this to draw us closer to Him, and it opens the flood gates of His own forgiveness for our sins.

The last thing we want is mechanical prayer. God is intimate and personal! He wants you to make Him your best friend, closest confidant, and loving Father. Always strive to grow in Christ and become closer to your Heavenly Father. Confide in Him! Trust Him! He will always be there for you.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Matthew 6:13b KJV

Friday, August 25, 2006

Deliver Us From Evil

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

We are surrounded every day by wickedness and evil. This world has been corrupted by the sinfulness of man, and Satan seeks to destroy all that is good. In 1 Peter 5:8 we are instructed, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Despite the Devil’s great power, however, he does not have any authority over us. We are believers in Christ. Colossians 1:13 says that, “He [God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”

There is still much need for us to pray unceasingly for God to deliver us from evil. Arthur W. Pink wrote,

“…Satan no longer has any lawful authority over us. Nevertheless, our adversary wields an awesome and oppressive power: though he cannot rule us, he is permitted to molest and harass us. He stirs up our enemies to persecute us (Revelation 12, 13), he inflames our lusts (I Chronicles 21:1; 1 Corinthians 7:5), and he disturbs our peace(1 Peter 5:8). It is therefore our constant need and duty to pray for deliverance from him.”

Satan will tempt us to sin, and his evil snares will not always look repulsive. It will be by its very nature tempting. He will try to make us discontent and unhappy. He wants us to chafe under God’s rule.

Who among us in not constantly warring against sinful wants and desires? You may feel like getting angry at your brother or sister, or you might want to talk back to your parents. We don’t need other people around to make us sin either. You can succumb just as well to temptation and evil thoughts in your own room as in the busiest mall packed with people.

“Deliver us from evil!” This should be our constant cry. Our role, however, should not be limited only to prayer. We cannot expect God to deliver us from evil thoughts if we do not practice turning from evil. It is ludicrous to think that God will save those who are determined to sin. The Bible tells us over and over to turn from evil. Job 28:28 says,

And he said to man, `Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.´

Peter was almost quoting from Psalms 34:14 when he wrote,

…let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 1 Peter 3:11

We have been given the righteousness of God. While our desire is to serve Christ He will help us overcome the evil of this world.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

Another important aspect of our deliverance is in the physical protection that he gives us. Remember Daniel in the lion's den. God protected him and closed the lion's mouths. Paul endured countless trials including shipwrecks and poisonous snake bites, yet time and time again God preserved his life. I know there have been times when I barely avoided injury. I know that God protected me. The Lord looks after His people.

We will have difficulties, and the life of the Christian could never be said to be easy; God is always with us to help and preserve us. In the darkest time, whether it be persecution, sickness, injury, financial difficulty, or anything else, God is our Help and Strength.

For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners. Psalms 69:33

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Little Chickens

They are growing so fast! This picture is of our red chick. It was taken a few weeks ago. The next one is the same bird, but it was taken two days ago.

It was their first time outside. They enjoyed the new experience of the grass, but they still preferred the feel of the more familiar mulch.
The chicks tend to stay huddled in one group, so this rare moment had to be caught on film. They might have been reenacting the days of segregation. The delicate white one has been left at the other side of the box!
This last picture was taken when they were a little younger. It was their first day at our house.
Matthew 6:25-34 "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?´ or `What shall we drink?´ or `What shall we wear?´ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.


In my previous post on Forgiveness we looked at our sincere repentance from sin. When we repent we are turning our minds and actions away from evil. We are saying that we don’t want to sin any more. It is only possible to lead a righteous life, however, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit.

And lead us not into temptation.” This section of the Lord’s Prayer ties directly into that change of mind. We are incapable of resisting sin on our own, so we ask God to keep us from temptation.

Among the final instructions before the crucifixion Jesus instructed His disciples to pray against temptation. He said, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Matthew 26:41

As Christians we have the best of intentions. We don’t want to sin and disappoint our Savior, so it can be tempting to fall into an attitude of “I am above that (fill in the blank) sin.” With this attitude we have only succeeded in falling into a different sin: pride.

Beware! On our own we are never above yielding to temptation. Our human nature is not strong enough to resist the attacks of Satan. Righteousness can only come through complete dependence upon Christ and His strength.

It is comforting to know that there will never be a temptation that we are incapable of resisting with the Lord’s help.
1 Corinthians 10:13-14 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”

Flee from sin. Run to God and humbly ask for His protection. Make the prayer “Lead me not into temptation” a part of your morning routine. He will be your strength as you battle temptation.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Questions

I filled in this survey a few days ago on Tuesday, August 15, 2006. It was a lot of fun!

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, find line 4 and write what it says.
~ the result of a realization of God’s holiness and goodness

2.Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What can you touch?
~ My chair rotates, so I can reach in every direction. There is the dining room table behind me, the printer to my left, and open air to my right. I will give you one guess about what is in front of me.

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?
~ What’s TV? Alright, if you want to get technical; about a month ago I saw the History channel at a motel. It was about assembling satellite rockets.

4. Without looking, guess what time it is.
~ 7:10 PM?

5. Now look at the clock. What is the actual time?
~ 7:02 PM

6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
~ My Mom just shouted for Susi-Cue. (My sister’s pet name)

7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
~ I just came from the great outdoors. I had the privilege to participate in a mosquito festival while working in the yard.

8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at?
~ I went to Wholesome Works to copy the questions for this quiz.

9. What are you wearing?
~ Caught! I am actually wearing jeans and an ugly green shirt. (I typically wear dresses. The mosquitoes would have loved that!)

10. Did you dream last night?
~ I have been dreaming a lot lately. Last night was no exception.

11. When did you last laugh?
~ Let me think… I know I laughed earlier today at the antics of two small boys I was watching.

12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?
~ A framed print of still life flowers and a vase. There are also two candles hanging.

13. Seen anything weird lately?
~ How often do you see baby chickens in someone’s Music Room? It is my family’s latest adventure.

14. What do you think of this quiz?
~ I am enjoying it.

15. What is the last film you saw?
~ My Darling Clementine (1946)

Oops, I just realized that my answer could make it look as though I watched the film decades before I was born. The movie was made in 1946. I watched it this week (2006.)

16. If you became a multi - millionaire overnight, what would you buy?
~ I would build an old English style home in the countryside. It would have a library with hundreds of books and a hedge maze in the lawn.

17. Tell me something about you that I don't know.
~ Mosquito bites don’t make me itch, and I started voice lessons three weeks ago.

18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
~ I would return this nation to its foundation of Christian liberty and small central government.

19. Do you like to dance?
~ No, it takes me out of my comfort zone. It might be fun if I could get past that. (The setting and people have a lot to do with that.)

20. Comment to George Bush:
~ Read and believe the entire Bible, make your decisions prayerfully, and do not consult Dick Cheney.

21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?
~ This will be a joint decision, so I will not be able to answer this question for a few years yet.

22. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?
~ I am partial to John, but this will be a joint decision and John is by no means set in stone.

23. Would you ever consider living abroad?
~ The United States is great, but my home is in heaven. This really isn’t my decision to make either.

24. What do you want God to say to you when you reach the pearly gate?
~ Well done, my good and faithful servant.

25. If any of you would like to do the survey and leave it as a comment on my blog and/or post it on your own, feel free. I would love to read your answers!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Forgive Us As We Have Forgiven

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
1 John 1:8-10
Repentance is an essential part of our prayer life. As Christians we have been redeemed by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Our past sins are erased, and we have been forgiven and made a child of God once and for all. Despite our changed natures, however, we continue to fall short of God’s perfect standard. Either in thoughts or actions, we make mistakes – we sin, and unrepented sin is a hindrance in our relationship with God.

Imagine for a moment a young child. He is loved by his father very much, and they have a special relationship. “Sam,” however, is not perfect; when Sam’s Dad gives an instruction to his son, the boy does not always feel like obeying! One day he rebels against his father and runs to his room. The father still loves his son, but there is a hindrance in their usually open and unobstructed relationship. Sam does not cease to be his father’s son, but until Sam comes out of his room and apologizes to his father their relationship cannot be exactly the way it was before.

God is our Father in Heaven. It grieves him when we sin against Him, and he is always ready to forgive us. Just as Sam was still his father’s son, we do not cease to be a child of God every time we sin. Our relationship is obstructed, however, and perfect peace is found only in repentance. We should search our hearts daily for any rebellion, bitterness, or pride that may come between us and our Heavenly Father.

God forgives us in the same way that we forgive those who wrong us. "...As we also have forgiven our debtors." How exactly do I forgive? Am I harboring unforgiveness? Am I forgiving in the same way that I want God to forgive me?

Now imagine again that Sam is in his room. His brother Paul comes in carrying Sam’s blue and yellow play-dough. At least it used to be blue and yellow. Paul has kneaded them into one big ugly green ball. Sam doesn’t like green and becomes very angry at Paul.

Paul apologizes to Sam and promises not to mess up his brother’s stuff anymore. Sam, however, is in no mood to forgive and ignores Paul’s attempts at reconciliation.

Later that day Sam is feeling guilty about disobeying his Dad and goes to him. After admitting his disobedience and asking for his father’s forgiveness, he is surprised when his Father is not quick to forgive. “You want me to forgive you when you are unwilling to forgive your brother?”

Sam is getting an effective lesson in Biblical forgiveness. After a few instructive words (His Dad might also read from Mathew 18:15-35) Sam will turn to Paul, forgive him, and also ask for his pardon for becoming angry and reluctant to forgive. Their father will be glad to see Paul forgive his brother and rejoice as he in turn forgives Sam for his disobedience.

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Colossians 3:12-13
True forgiveness is impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit. When we are wronged our first reaction tends to be that of revenge -- not God's love. Ask Him for help as you forgive; God will be faithful and just to carry you through.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sewing Sisters and Pancakes

My Father's Daughter has updated! Susanna tells about a special sewing project we have been working on together. It has been fun to see something beautiful rise out of scrap fabric, so go ahead and take a look at our latest venture!

Susanna and I have always enjoyed doing things together. I remember one activity in the kitchen many years ago. We were really too young to be cooking without parental supervision, but we thought that it would be a good idea to surprise our parents with an early morning breakfast.

They were very surprised.

Neither of us had ever made pancakes on our own before, but how hard could it be? We pulled out the cookbook, grabbed the flour and began mixing the ingredients. I don't remember exactly how far we got into the recipe before disaster struck, but it did strike, and our minds were pulled away from culinary delights.

One of us had poured oil on the griddle and turned up the gas. We wanted it to be nice and hot for our pancake batter. It did get hot and it continued to get hotter until it was...blazing hot!

"Fire! Fire!" shrieked Susanna as she dashed up the stairs to get our parents. I remained motionless with shock. My back was pressed firmly against the refrigerator at the other end of the kitchen as the flames leapt from the griddle. Smoke billowed and filled the house.

My parents came, and the fire burned itself out. No lasting damage was done. It is doubtful if Susanna and I finished the pancakes that morning, but I do know that we all learned an important lesson. It was a long time before we tried to be a blessing that early in the morning, and we probably stuck to fruit for awhile. Susanna and I had hoped our parents would be surprised, but we hadn’t counted on our breakfast being so dangerous!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.


“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Do most Americans understand what that means? Can they grasp the concept of relying completely upon God today for today’s needs? In this modern world of weekly or biweekly paychecks has the average American become reliant on corporations and savings accounts instead of the source of all plenty – our Father in Heaven?

God is our Sustainer. Everything comes from Him, and we are not capable of providing anything of our own strength. Corporations fail, paychecks can end with very little notice, and savings accounts can disappear.

Consider Lot‘s predicament as Sodom was destroyed for its wickedness. He had to leave everything. The Great Depression brought poverty to hundreds of families, and even now corporations eliminate entire departments as they seek to please their stockholders. Only God can be trusted. Asking Him for our food and other needs is a necessary part of our prayer life.

Our daily bread includes much more than our food, although that is a large part of it. Bread is a general term meant to suggest all of our needs such as housing, clothes, and health. God is our Provider, and it is His will that we be well fed and cared for. Psalms 37:23-25 has been a great encouragement to me.

“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand. I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.”
It is too easy to become worried about our provision and future. We want to come up with solutions and work ourselves out of our own problems. This is not only futile but in disobedience to Christ’s command to not be anxious over tomorrow.

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?´ or `What shall we drink?´ or `What shall we wear?´”
Matthew 6:31

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Matthew 6:34
God is great and will provide for our needs! Cast your cares on Him!

Jesus said:
I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."
John 6:48-51

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Embarrassing “Cell Phone" Moment

Cellular telephones are amazing devices. My family would be greatly handicapped without the blessing of my father’s cell phone. It helps us communicate with him while he is away from the house working.

Cell phones can also be a great annoyance. Weddings, concerts and even some church services begin with a plea to the audience, “Please turn off your cell phones. Do not be embarrassed to reach for it. Please turn them off before you humiliate yourself, distract those around you, and ruin this event!

I always thought I was safe from what might be called “Embarrassing Cell Phone Moments.” I do not own a cell phone, and my Dad is very conscientious about turning his off. A few weeks ago however, I learned exactly what it feels like to be the guilty party.

It was Sunday night, and my family was visiting a local church for the baptism of my aunt, uncle, and young cousin. We were excited to be there, and I was happy to meet many of the people who have become an important part of my extended family’s lives.

As the service began, I was seated between my Grandpa and Cousin Michael. The worship was joyful, and I enjoyed the experience of worshiping with a new gathering of Believers.

When the announcements were read following the praise and worship, a new sound came to my attention. It sounded like a musical cell phone ring somewhere behind me.

I did not turn nor take any notice of the noise but felt sorry for the poor soul who was most likely reaching for the offensive object.

The sound continued unchecked.

As the mechanical melody continued I began to feel a spark of recognition. “Where had I heard that tune before?”

I hummed it inwardly to get my bearings. “I know! That’s “Ashoken Farewell!”

Why was “Ashoken” playing on someone’s cell phone? The melody is not widely known, although it happens to be my favorite piece to play on the violin. I have practiced it countless hours, and it is my preferred selection when performing. Just a few weeks ago I had recorded it on my….

…I reddened with embarrassment.

My eyes darted down to the Bible and thick hymn book on my lap. As I lifted the hymn book, the noise became louder. It was no longer possible to assume the “cell phone” was a long distance away somewhere behind me. The only distance between me and the cause of distraction were the several hundred pages of songs, hymns, and spiritual songs!

Thrusting my hand into the pocket of my Bible, I discovered my tiny digital recorder. I pressed stop…repeatedly. The saddening tones of the farewell ballad came to an abrupt end as I sighed with relief.

Michael leaned over, and I was reminded of why noise makers should be kept out of church services.

“What was that?” he whispered.

I tried to ignore him.

“Can I see? What is that?” he asked more intently.

I leaned over and answered as softly as possible, “I will show it to you later.”

Great. It is Michael’s baptismal service, and he is thinking about what neat little device is in Cousin Elizabeth’s Bible. Never mind that I am not focused on the service either. It took me awhile to get over the embarrassment; eventually, I reasoned that most likely (translate that hopefully) very few people had heard it.

It was a reminder to be more careful with my digital recorder or any similar device in future. I hadn’t intended to bring it with me, but neither had I been attentive to items I was carrying into worship! If I had needed the recorder (perhaps to catch some nice 'cousin moment' after the service) I should have taken the precaution of turning it off.

So remember, when the announcer asks everyone to turn off their cell phones, check for anything technological that can make noise. It may keep you from a similar embarrassing “cell phone” moment.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Your Will be Done, on Earth as it is in Heaven

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

It is the Christian’s desire that God be praised and His will be done. We want this earth to reflect the perfection of heaven.

What makes Heaven perfect? His untarnished will is always done there. The forerunners of the faith are accompanied by heavenly angels as they gladly sing praises to the Heavenly Father. There is no sin to distract from the perfect and joyful following of God’s Will, and there is no sickness, pain, or despair.

Heaven is the picture of what we want here on earth. It is our prayer that we will fulfill God’s plan for our lives and praise God completely. We pray that God will use us to do His will.

How do we know what God’s will is? He gave us His Word to use as our guide and compass. There is no end to the practical and helpful wisdom found in the Bible.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Searching the Scriptures and praying that God will give us a clear understanding is the key to knowing God’s will. Fall in love with your Bible. It is the most important possession you have.

This is not always easy. I struggle with putting my time with God above my other activities and pursuits. Remember that unlike other books the Bible never disappoints. It is like a treasure trove waiting to be explored.

God’s will isn’t always the easy path. When Jesus prayed in Matthew 26:42, “Your will be done,” He knew that it was God’s will that he be arrested that night and suffer an excruciating death the next day. Jesus put obedience to the will of God over comfort and self-preservation. We should continually pray that we will have both the inclination and strength to follow God’s will.