Wednesday, February 25, 2015

God's Call On Your Life

Chuckle: Michelangelo's mother: "Can't you paint on walls like other children? Do you have any idea how hard it is to get that stuff off the ceiling?"
Quote: "Show me the way,  Not to fortune and fame,  Not how to win Laurels  Or praise for my name --  But show me the way  To spread 'The Great Story'  That Thine is The Kingdom  And Power and Glory."              --Helen Steiner Rice
    "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8 NIV).
This powerful passage reminds us that God calls his people for specific purposes. It also reminds us that the response which pleases and honors God is "Here I am, send me." Or, "Here I am Lord and I will gladly do whatever you wish me to do -- Your will be done. . . ."
There is a central truth: God's call is not only for a select few, but for every believer. Isaiah was listening to a non-specific call from God, but he personalized it by stepping forward in complete abandon to make himself available for whatever God had in store for him. Whether we hear the call of God depends on the condition of our hearts and spiritual ears. And how we interpret that call depends on our spiritual mindset. Am I listening for the call of God? Will I hear him when he calls? Or, am I so far away from God that I can't hear his voice?
"But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear (and obey), but shalt be drawn away, and worship other God's and serve them; I denounce (declare) unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish. . ." (Deuteronomy 30:17-18 KJV).
We see here the classic pattern of people drifting away and rebelling against God. You see, if our hearts are turned away from God, we will not hear Him. Then we will establish other substitute gods in our lives -- anything that becomes more important to us than our relationship and fellowship with God. When this process has run it's course, we will no longer be listening for the One True God's call. We will not hear that still small voice of invitation to join Him in fulfilling His purpose for our lives.
As a pastor, I have had Christians say they did not sense God calling them to teach a Bible study class, serve on a committee, or to witness to a lost friend. Sometimes our hearts can turn away from God and toward other things. Then we can move so far from God that we are unable to hear his call and don't know if God is calling us or not. We may not be listening for God's call because our hearts are turned away to other selfish things. To hear God's call, we must listen intently and with purpose -- leaning forward toward him with anticipation while cupping our spiritual ears with our hands, so to speak, for fear that we might miss something the God of the universe wishes to say to us.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, February 2, 2015

Prayer: Our Spiritual Breath

Chuckle: A lady stopped for speeding was asked to show her driver’s license.  She replied, “Yesterday you took my license, now you expect me to show it to you!”
Quote: "For the Christian, praying should be like breathing. Just as breathing is the response of physical life to the presence of air, so prayer should be the response of spiritual life to the presence of God."Unknown source 
    "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 NIV).
In the same way that we continually breathe physically, God would have us to continually breathe spiritually through prayer.  Prayer is not just a spiritual exercise, or keeping up appearances before others, or a shot in the dark -- hoping God may hear.  No, prayer is conversing with your Heavenly Father in the same way you might talk with your earthly father.  Your prayers are meant for His ears only and reveal the very essence of your being -- the deepest recesses of your heart.
Our joyfulness, prayerfulness, and thankfulness should be continuous and should not ebb and flow with changing circumstances in our lives.  You breathe physically through every situation, good or bad, and do not stop breathing when you have a physical crisis.  No, your oxygen flow becomes even more critical during difficult times.  Likewise, we need spiritual breath at all times.  Obeying the instructions in our passage -- be joyful, keep on praying, and be thankful -- often goes against our natural inclinations.  However, when we make a conscious decision to do what God says in reference to prayer, we will find it much easier to be joyful and thankful.
Obviously, we cannot spend all our time on our knees in prayer, but it is possible for us to have a prayerful attitude at all times.  It happens when your walk with your Lord becomes so close and intimate that you sense his presence with you every second of every day.  His Holy Spirit's presence becomes an extension of you own -- like you becoming one with him.  Once we reach this kind of relationship with God, it makes good sense that we converse with him continually.
Prayer can become as normal as breathing when we acknowledge our dependence on God, realizing his presence within us, and determine to obey him fully.  Praying will then become natural, frequent, short, and spontaneous.  One way to describe this concept is "breath prayers."  As you think about your Lord during your daily activities, and as you breathe, you can use your inhalations as reminders to hear God speak to you and your exhalations as reminders to speak to God concerning the desires of your heart.  For example: As you exhale, praise God for his boundless love; and as you inhale, hear him say, "I love you and am with you always."  In other words your physical breathing can remind you to breathe spiritually.
One final thought: A continuous prayerful attitude should not replace regular times of prayer and meditation on God's Word, but be an outgrowth of regular times with God.

Love, Jerry & Dotse