Monday, 30 April 2007

Their heart is far from me

“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” - Matthew 15v8

Throughout Jesus’ ministry He was constantly opposed by the Pharisees who seemed to watch Him like a hawk waiting for His to mess up so they could criticise Him. They had a huge list of rules and traditions. In their minds the spiritual obeyed the rules and the ungodly did not.

Jesus and His disciples were never ones to follow those traditions. Over and over again they did things that rankled the sensitivities of the Pharisees. When the Pharisees complained Jesus chose to drive the point home. The traditions they had developed through the years had no basis in scriptures. These men had made God’s word “of no effect” by their man-made traditions. Their rules had become the standard instead of God’s word. They drew near to God with their lips and they knew all the right words, but their hearts were far from God.

There is a clear warning here against setting up man-made standards as the plumb line of spirituality. What God really expects in simply having a right heart – if we do that all the rest falls into place without the list of man’s rules.

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Why did you doubt?

“And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” - Matthew 14v31

Peter really blew it when he took his eyes of off Christ and looked at the storm around him. He did however do the right thing next, in fact he did all he could do – He called out “Lord save me!” The wonderful thing is that Jesus did just that, He reached out His hand to save Peter. Jesus showed His mercy, but then He saw the perfect opportunity to teach a lesson.

“O you of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?” After all they had seen and after he had just seen Jesus walking on the water why indeed would He doubt?

The answer is simple – he was human. Just like you and me are human. We see God answer prayer after prayer and work out situation after situation and yet what do we do the next time a problem comes along? Far too often we do the same thing – we doubt whether or not God can sort things out for us. How often could Jesus say to you and me, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Saturday, 28 April 2007

When he saw the storm

“But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” - Matthew 14v30

Once again Jesus tried to get away. He miraculously fed the massive crowd who followed Him. When that was done He immediately sent the disciples away in a boat and went apart to spend time with His Father. As the disciples were sailing away a huge storm hit the sea and the disciples were afraid. Jesus once again put others first and went to the disciples, walking on the water.

Of course, in their panic, the disciples didn’t know how to respond and thought they saw a ghost. Jesus calmed their hearts with the wonderful words – “Don’t me afraid – it is Me.” Peter asked to Jesus call him out and Peter began to walk on the water himself. In an incredible act of faith Peter stepped out and began to walk on the sea himself. Then Peter made His mistake – he took His eyes off of Jesus and saw the boisterous storm around him. The he began to sink.

When do we fail? When does our faith let us down? When do we succumb to the storms around us? The tragedy comes when we take our eyes off of Jesus? When we see the “wind boisterous” instead of the Captain of the Storm we are sure to sink beneath the waters just like Peter did.

We must keep our eyes on Jesus. The storms are going to come. As we walk by faith, we must keep our Saviour in view, or we too will fail.

Friday, 27 April 2007

Selfless serving

“But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.” - Matthew 14v16

There are times when putting others first is not easy. During times of personal challenges and difficulties we sometime just want to withdraw to ourselves and not deal with people. I don’t know about wanting to deal with people, but there was a time was Jesus suffered a personal situation and sought to get alone.

His cousin John had just been beheaded. When the news came to Jesus the Bible says that He decided to go off in a boat to a quiet, secluded place. Because of all that He had done the people would not leave Him alone. He looked out and saw the crowd, but instead of being put-off by them, His heart was once again moved with compassion.

His disciples encouraged Him to send them away – but in spite of the personal feelings He had He knew that these people needed ministered to. “They don’t need to go – feed them.” Now feeding them is another story, but for the moment lets remember Jesus’ attitude.

We all need a time a part, but there are times when even then, we must lay our feelings aside in order to serve.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Jesus’ ministry at home

“And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” - Matthew 13v57-58

I really enjoy the human side of the Scriptures. I like the fact that God lets us see the human side of what He is doing. It seems to make the Bible more “real” somehow.

Here Jesus returns home to minister. One would think that there would be a grand homecoming, with bands and banners and plenty of speeches about the home town boy made good.

This however was not the case with Jesus. When He came home the people responded with dismay. “How can this be a great prophet? We all know Him. He is the carpenter’s son. We have furniture in our homes that He made. His mom is here as well as His brothers and sisters.” They just couldn’t accept that He was anyone special.

Jesus made the point that prophets rarely are given any honour in their own homes. It may almost be a case of “familiarity breeds contempt.” As a result of their unbelief Jesus did not do many great works among them. When it comes right down to it, people have to respond – it is up to them.

Lets not be surprised when people don’t believe – they did not even believe when Jesus was among them.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

The brothers and sisters of Christ

“For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” - Matthew 12v50

There can be no doubt that Jesus had a family on earth. We see His mom and His half-brothers and sisters making appearances throughout the gospels. Here they appeared when He was starting to make waves to try and talk to Him.

When one came to Him saying that his family wanted to speak them He, as usual, turned things around to a spiritual aspect. “Who are my mother and brothers?” He asked. He pointed to His disciples and said that His mother and brothers and sisters were all those Who did His will.

This is an simply astounding truth! Those who do the will of the Father in salvation become a part of the family of God. How can we be considered the brothers and sisters of Christ? It almost seems sacrilegious to say it. But Christ says it Himself – that makes it true!

Praise God that He allows me to be in His family. May I live worthy of it.

Monday, 23 April 2007

A bruised reed

“A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.” - Matthew 12v20

I had never thought much about this passage until I read the book “The Bruised Reed” by the Puritan writer Richard Sibbes. It was one of those things I just read over without paying much attention. However, after reading the book and careful reflection this has become a very special passage of scripture.

The bruised reed and the smoking flax are both things that are seen as useless and worth nothing other than to be discarded. A bruised reed was no good for the shepherds flute and a smoking flax gave no light. Why bother? Just throw them in the bin.

There are a lot of people who the world sees as broken reeds and smoking flax. There are people we see who just don’t look like there is any hope or any use for them. The wonderful thing is this is exactly the kind of person that the Lord wants to use. God wants to use the weak, the humble, and the base things of this world. No wonder He does not break the bruised reed or put out the smoking flax. He instead seeks to restore them.

Praise God that He uses the useless!

Sunday, 22 April 2007

I will have mercy

“But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.” - Matthew 12v7

It is so easy to put God’s expectations on us in a nice little box. If we could just do that then we would know exactly what to do to please God. All we would have to do is see how we match up with the rules.

The Old Testament Law did just that.. The Pharisees had used the Law to set up a strict God of practice. Among these was a strict prohibition against doing anything on the Sabbath. When Jesus had his disciple pick corns of wheat to eat on the Sabbath day the Pharisees criticised Him. He pointed out that they had totally missed the boat. God gave the Law to point out how far short man fell of God’s requirements. The Law was also an opportunity for God to show His mercy.

We need to see that God is indeed a God of mercy, and what He expects from us is for us to reflect that mercy to those around us. God’s desire is not that we have a strict limit of laws and restrictions, but that we see His perfect mercy. He is a God of justice, but He is also a God of mercy. We are indeed to present our bodies as living sacrifices to Him, but we need to be able to “walk in the rain of His mercy, let it soak us down to the bones.” Apart from His mercy we would be without hope, but praise God we have His mercy.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Come unto me

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” - Matthew 11v28

As we read through the word of God we discover a pattern of God’s revelation to man. God is holy, just, and righteous. He cannot and will not tolerate sin. Over and over He makes this abundantly clear. We are dealing with a righteous God Who will punish sin.

Yet, it seems at least, that every time God talks about His righteousness and judgement He follows it with words of love and compassion. Here he talked about the great judgement on sin that He will exact, but then He offers an amazing invitation to all who labour and are burdened down by sin. As amazing as the offer is, it is also incredibly simple – “I will give you rest.” His yoke is easy, His burden is light.

There is no guarantee here that there will not be any problems. There is a promise that we have an eternal hope to carry us through those times. Later on we find out that even in the most troublesome times Jesus is praying for us and that He is with us to share the load with us. We are yoked with Him when it seems our load is heaviest. Therefore we can find rest, even when the burden seems so heavy.

How do we apply this? We must have the faith to trust what God says and share the burden with Him.

Friday, 20 April 2007

Disciples and apostles

“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these…” - Matthew 10v1-2

Early on in His ministry Jesus called 12 men to be a special group do disciples. A disciple is a follower, a student, one who heeds the words of another. These twelve travelled with Him in a type of travelling school. In their minds they were preparing for the day when they would assist Jesus, Whom they considered Messiah, the set up His earthly kingdom. As always a very special teacher/student relationship developed as time went by.

The time came when they were called on to put their teaching to the test. Now the students are called on to go out on an embassage. Jesus commissioned them to carry His message and do a work for Him. At this stage they were being sent on a short term trip to put into practice the things they had learned.

We are not Apostles in the same sense as these men were. However, it is obvious that we too are on and embassage. As followers (disciples) we are also commissioned as ambassadors (apostles) of His work and His word. Lets be sure that we balance he two roles in our lives.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Moved with compassion

“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” - Matthew 9v36

I don’t like crowds. I don’t like Christmas shopping, queues, traffic jams, or mass events. I don’t like crowded rooms. We all see crowds differently. Some, like me, simply don’t like them. Others like the buzz and excitement of being in a crowd. Still others can take them or leave them. Surely, this is an area that is abiblical, and area that the Bible doesn’t address.

Here Jesus had just had a successful ministry of healing all throughout the land.. He healed every illness and every sickness that He encountered. When he looked out a little later He saw a huge multitude of people. Someone like me might have thought, “I wish these people would just go away.” Others might have thought – “Yes, I love the buzz, lets get at it!”

How did Jesus respond when He saw the crowd? When He saw them He realised that this crowd were wandering without direction and without hope. He saw them as sheep having no shepherd. Of course this is a great picture of the importance of praying for labourers to go into the harvest, but I think it is important that we see Jesus heart and compare it to ours.

Jesus’ heart was stirred, moved with compassion. He saw beyond the crowd and saw individuals who needed hope. He was put off by them or excited by them – it wasn’t a crowd, but people who needed hope and direction. Crowds should have an impact on us. When we see a crowd let’s strive to see them through Jesus’ eyes, let our own hearts be moved with compassion. Let’s see beyond the crowd, and see the people.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Reaching the lost

“And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” - Matthew 9v11-13

One of the greatest challenging situations we face is knowing how to deal with the lost. We know that in some ways we are to be separate from the world. We know that there are a lot of worldly practices that the word of God condemns. We know that we are not to be defiled by the things of the world. Yet, we still need to reach the world for Christ.

Some think that the best way is to live something of a “neo-monastic” life where we live and function in our Christian environment where we only reach out when we need to or we do our job of knocking on doors and telling other about Christ. Some would never think that we should be actively involved with the world.

The Pharisees felt the same way. We need to keep ourselves clean from the world so we should not be involved with it. When Jesus and His disciples sat down to eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners there were questioned about their behaviour. Jesus heard the question and made the reason clear. “I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” His teaching was clear; in order to reach them we must go to them.

We need to keep ourselves pure and unspotted from the world. At the same time we must go out to them with the gospel. Since Jesus set the example He will give us the wisdom to do so.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Even the wind and the waves obey Him

“But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” - Matthew 8v27

Very few events in Jesus’ public ministry had the kind of impact that this event had. Tricksters, charlatans, illusionists, and such could fake all kinds of “miracles.” We still see those kinds of things happening today. However, not one of them has ever tried to control the weather.

Jesus was crossing the sea with His disciples when a huge storm hit. The ship was being tossed, but Jesus was asleep. In their lack of faith the disciples panicked and woke Him. They did not think that He cared. When Jesus awoke He first commented on their lack of faith, the He simply spoke the words “peace, be still” and the stormy seas calmed. All were astounded at His power because no one else had ever done that.

How often are we like the disciples? How often do the storms of life make us afraid like this storm did the disciples? Since He is able to control the weather, can’t He take care of the storms in our lives?

Monday, 16 April 2007

A soldier’s faith

“When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” - Matthew 8v10

Sometimes, in the spirit of reading the word of God we can forget about the historical setting. Judea was under Roman occupation. Roman soldiers lived all throughout the land. Certainly, like any people, the people of Judea did not like being under the thumb of a foreign power.

When Jesus finished what we call the “Sermon on the Mount” a great multitude followed Him. Sometime, in the midst of all this a Roman officer in charge of a division of 100 men came to Jesus concerning a sick servant. From the very start we see something different about this man in that we had any concern for his servant. Chances are that this was a Jew, and for a Roman to be concerned shows something special about him.

The man asked Jesus to heal his servant, but didn’t even feel worthy for this Jewish teacher to come into his home. In addition he also understood authority. He knew what it was like to take control and have his will obeyed. He therefore understood what it meant fro Jesus to have authority of nature. It just made sense that if this Man had power to control disease, all He had to do was speak a word and it would be done.

Jesus said that He had never seen such great faith. No one amongst His own people had shown such faith. The Jews tended to look for a sign. This foreign soldier just exercised simple faith.

I wonder what Jesus would say about my faith, compared to this soldier’s?

Sunday, 15 April 2007

How firm a foundation

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.” - Matthew 7v24-25

Jesus was the great Master Teacher. He often used very common illustrations to teach great eternal truths. Here He used lessons everyone can understand. Everyone knows the importance of a good foundation, not that they always apply that wisdom. For example, here in Ireland, because of a lack of land near Dublin, many developers have chosen to build on flood plains. No one likes to think about it, but these homes are now liable to flooding given the right conditions. The houses look great, but there is no real foundation. As Jesus pointed out only a foolish young man would build in such conditions.

When it comes to physical illustrations we all understand. Sadly, when it comes to a spiritual application, we tend to miss the boat. We can swallow the world’s ideas hook, line, and sinker and decide to build our lives on people, possession, popularity, and prestige. All of these are like the sand Jesus talks about. The Bible later teaches that there is only one solid foundation – Jesus Christ. If we are not laying our foundation there then we are wasting our time. All of this will one day be gone; only Christ remains.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Do unto others

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” - Matthew 7v12

There are versions of the “Golden Rule” in almost every culture. I have read that in most of them it is worded in a negative sense, “Don’t do anything to anyone that you would not want them to do to you,” or something like that. Not everything that the world teaches is bad. Here Jesus lets the Jews, and us know that this principle is one that we too should put into practice, but here in a positive light. Not only are we not to do what we would not want others to do to us, but we should do good things that we would want others to do to us.

The Golden Rule is not just a worldly philosophy – it is backed up by God Himself. This basic principle of society is one that we as Christians can use to be glowing testimonies for Christ. While everyone basically might accept the Golden Rule – very few practice it. Sadly, not even Christians tend to practice the Golden Rule.

Think of the testimony we could be if we made this a part of our lives. Why can we practice it in a way others cannot? Because we have Christ living and dwelling in us.

Lets be careful that we don’t dismiss something like the Golden Rule just because it is well known.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Giving good things

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” - Matthew 7v11

At first glance “Ask and it shall be given you” has huge appeal. If we are not careful we can think that God is like a genie in a lamp who is ready to grant us not three, but all the wishes we want. Some Christians have taken this to mean that we have a “name it and claim it” ability to get whatever we want from God.

Verse 11 lets us know that it is not quite that simple. Jesus here appeals to our reasoning as parents. “You know how to give good things to your children.” We are not perfect parents, and still we know what to give our children. When they are asking and asking we basically know what is good and what is not good for them. If a three year old what to play with a knife and starts crying for it, we still are not going to give them what they want because it is not good for them, we would not be loving to give them everything they ask for.

When it comes to prayer we can be assured that God, Who is perfect, always knows what is good for us. When we ask we can be assured that He will answer according to what is good for us. We want our children to trust us to do what is best for them. Are we willing to do the same for God?

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Picking out specks

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” - Matthew 7:1-3

Isn’t is far easier to see the sins of others than to deal with our own sin? Jesus never tells us to be foolish and never use discernment, but He does warn against having a harsh judgemental spirit.

Perhaps there is a hint here about a judgemental spirit. Jesus tells those who spend their time picking at specks of sin in others to stop and deal with the beams of sin in their own eyes. This really makes sense, doesn’t it? If I have a sin that I don’t want anyone to know about, why not point out someone else’s sin so that everyone looks there instead? That way nobody notices my own sin!

Lets be more concerned about the sin in our own lives than in others. If we were honest with ourselves we would have to admit that dealing with our own sins is a full time job.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Don’t worry – be happy

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” - Matthew 6v33

Bobby McFerrin wrote a silly song called “Don’t Worry – Be Happy.” The chorus goes like this:

Here is a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don't worry be happy
In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy......

Although the song has is a silly, light, and trivial view of life, it does have message which we can apply.

Worry can be a crushing part of life if we are not careful. We can be so consumed with the worries of life that we really can’t serve God effectively. We hate to admit it. We like to call it worry, fretting, or just being practical. Worry however is a serious issue because it means, at the end of the day, that we really don’t trust God.

Jesus points out in this passage that God takes care of all creation. He feeds the birds and clothes the flowers – surely He is able to take care of us.

As the little ditty above says, there is trouble in every life. Worrying just makes it worse. We as Christians can take it a step further though – we have a promise from God Himself.

If our focus is on the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then we have the promise that all we need will be provided!

Indeed, if anyone can say it we can – “Don’t worry, be happy!”

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

God and mammon

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” - Matthew 6v24

Most of us like to have it both ways. We really seem that we want to do right and serve God, but at the same time we can’t quite let go of the world. If we are not careful we can spend our whole lives in a delicate balancing act trying to figure out how we can do both.

Jesus makes it clear – you can’t have it both ways. Those who try to do it are like the Laodicean believers who were lukewarm in their faith. The truth is that we can’t do both right. As Jesus puts it we are either going to hate God and live the world, or love God and hate the world.

We all know what the right thing to do is. The question is which of us are willing to totally forsake the priorities of the world and instead FULLY commit ourselves to loving and serving Him?

Monday, 9 April 2007

Laying up treasures

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” - Matthew 6v19-21

Getting more “stuff” seems to be a major motivation for a lot of people. We all have far more than we need, but we also seem to be in a rush to get more and more and more. Our garages, storage areas, and presses are bulging so what do we do? Do we get rid of the stuff? No, we get more storage space.

The problem is that one day all of this stuff is going to be burned up, rusted, moth-eaten, corroded, or turned to dust. All those special treasures we have stored up are going to be gone. Why, then do we keep going after more stuff? Why is it more important?

The answer is simple – we have a totally wrong focus. We, contrary to the word of God, choose to look on the things that are seen instead of the things that we do not see. We spend our lives in a rat raced to try to win as much stuff as we can instead of seeking to please God and lay up eternal treasure.

Our quest for treasures indicates where our hearts really are. How do we do when we look at what we seek? What do our treasures indicate about our hearts?

Sunday, 8 April 2007

When you fast

“Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” - Matthew 6v16

There is one aspect of the Christian life that we neglect far too often. Most Christians strive to live a godly life, go to church, pray, give, and even share their faith. For some reason, in most cases, fasting is not part of Christian’s way of life.

I think we are missing the boat if this is the case in our lives. When Jesus taught on prayer he seemed to take fasting for granted. He did not say “if you pray,” but “when you pray.” He seemed to simply assume that men would pray as a part of their Christian lives. Assuming that to be case, he told the disciples, and us, how to fast.

Fasting is not some religious show or ritual. When (not if) we fast we are to go on about our normal lives. We get up, shower, shave, get dressed, and go about our daily business. We don’t make it a big deal; it is just a part of life.

Sadly, far too often we miss the boat when it comes to prayer and fasting. If you don’t “know how” to fast – just start and ask God for His direction. God will honour our desire to do right.

Saturday, 7 April 2007


“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” - Matthew 6v15-16

As the years go by I am discovering that one of the most destructive elements in a Christian’s life can be an inability to forgive. People are miserable because they can’t forgive some previous offence committed against them by parents, siblings, co-workers, friends, or spouses. Their whole lives are dominated by bitter feelings.

This is a serious issue. We MUST be willing to forgive others in the light of what Jesus has already forgiven in us. Look at the depth of the sins and offences He has forgiven. How can we not forgive others.

Unforgiveness means that we are not going to have a proper walk with God. Our daily transgressions are going to break that sweet fellowship and communion with Him. He will never bring up our forgiven sins, but we need daily cleansing to walk in sweet fellowship. When we acknowledge our own sins, we enjoy sweet communion with Him.

If we are not willing to forgive others, how can we ever expect that sweet fellowship?

Friday, 6 April 2007

Deliver us from the evil one

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from [the] evil [one]: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” - Matthew 6v13

Nobody likes to talk about the devil. He is scary. No one likes the think negative thoughts and he is definitely a negative. We can take things too far and blame him for everything like a comedian did in a 60’s television comedy when he excused all he did wrong with “The devil made me do it.”

We do fight the enemy of our own wicked flesh. I think that is where most of our daily struggles with sin really come. We do face the allurements of the world, and part of the pattern prayer is that God would keep us from tempting situations. Yet, we must never forget that we do face the evil one.

The Bible says that he daily walks the earth like a roaring lion, seeking “whom he may devour.” Because of that we are to sober and vigilant. Even while we do all of that we must walk in absolute dependence on the Lord. Without His help we will always lose. In our own strength we fail, in His strength we win because “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Our Daily Bread

“Give us this day our daily bread” - Matthew 6v11

Sometimes what is commonly called the “The Lord’s Prayer” or “The Our Father” can become so common that we forget the depth of the truths in contains. This little phrase “give us this day our daily bread” is one example of that.

Why is this so important? It teaches us an absolute reliance on our Heavenly Father. We like to think that we can do it all ourselves and that we can take care of ourselves. We don’t tend to like to think that we need anyone.

The truth is, however, that we do. We depend on God for everything. When we pray we need to remember that everything we have is from Him. Before we can learn to depend on Him for the big things, we need to learn to depend on Him for the basics.

Give us this day our daily bread, even if it is not on our lips, must always be on our hearts.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Thy will be done

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”. - Matthew 6v10

We all like to have things done our way. A famous singer was well known for a song called, “I did it my way!”

The last part of the song has these words:

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows -
And did it my way!

What a tragic, empty view of life. The sad thing is, at the end of the day, doing it our way only results in one thing; the ability to say “I did it my way.”

As the children of God we need to acknowledge that God knows better than we do. Our way is not going to be the best way unless we are smarter than God. It is the epitome of arrogance to think that way will and way is better than His will and way.

Do we trust God and His wisdom enough to always say, “Your will be done,” or do we think we have a God we can manipulate to our way of thinking?

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Our Father in Heaven

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” - Matthew 6v9

Praying is something that can he hard to understand, and even harder to practice. Talking to God is something that is foreign to most people. Jesus did not leave us helpless or hopeless when it came to pray.

Jesus laid out a pattern and some principles of prayer. There is nothing magic about saying the words over and over again. Jesus had just warned against that when He gave this pattern. It is not even a legalistic list of all that must be included in prayer. It is a pattern of what kind of thoughts should be a part of our prayer life.

Jesus starts with an amazing concept. When we pray we can do so in the knowledge that we are talking to our Father in Heaven. If we are not careful we can become so accustomed to the fact we forget just how amazing it really is. God, the One who created the universe, allows us to have a Father/son relationship with Him. This is purely an act of love and mercy. We do not deserve to have Him as our Father, even less to be able to talk to Him.

At the very beginning of His teaching on prayer He lets us know that we have the capability to talk to God as our Father. What an amazing privilege!

Monday, 2 April 2007

God knows what you need

“Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” - Matthew 6v8

Here we have what some may consider an oxymoron. When Jesus taught on prayer He mentioned several important aspects. Amongst those is this comment about praying – “Don’t pray like the Pharisees, making a show and calling attention to themselves. God knows your needs before you pray.”

What then is the purpose of praying? Why bother if God already knows? First of all that, kind of question really misses he point. If God is truly our Father as we claim, then we should not consider it a “have to” situation. Talking to our Father should be a joy and something to be excited about.

Leaving that though, what is the comfort of praying when God already knows what we need? There should be great comfort that God knows what we need before we start praying. Why, because He knows what we need instead of what we want. When we pray we can do so with the knowledge that even though we don’t know the difference, God knows the difference between what we want and what we need. What we want can get us into trouble. God loves us so that He does not always give us what we want. He knows what we need and that is what He promises to provide.

When we pray we can rest that He knows what our needs our. That allows us to enjoy our time with Him.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Praying in the closet

“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” - Matthew 6v6

Like everything else prayer can be misused and taken advantage of. In our zeal to impress men instead of pleasing God we can be tempted to use prayer as a tool to make others think highly of us.

The Pharisees had a habit of going out in public praying high, pompous prayers so that everyone would think highly of them. Even now people can go to church and when called on to pray try to impress everyone with how “spiritual” they are by how they pray.

Our public praying is important – we cannot negate that, corporate pray is a part of what the church does. Jesus however deals with the heart. When we pray, Jesus says to go into our room, close the door, and talk to our Father, letting Him answer our prayers in a very clear way.

We can even, in a sense, go into our closet when praying in public. Whenever we pray, we need to remember that we are simply talking to our Father. Lets never pray in such a way that we forget Who we are talking to and what we are doing.