THE MOST IMPORTANT COMMANDMENT
“ One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchange of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: “Which is most important of all the commandments?”
Jesus said,” The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”
The religion scholar said.” A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that’s better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!”
When Jesus realized how insightful he was, he said, “You’re almost there, right on the border of God’s kingdom.”
After that, no one else dared ask a question.” Mark 12:28-34 (Message)
Prayer: Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gift of faith, hope and love and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command, through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen
A LIFE THAT MATTERS
“Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering to slaughter.” Proverbs 24:11 (NIV)
The most life impacting, in my face, between the eyes book I have read in the last couple of years is Called to Greatness: Becoming a Lifeline for Those Who Need Hope by Ron Hutchcraft, more recently published under A Life That Matters: Making the Greatest Possible Difference with the Rest of Your Life.
The second chapter describes the lifeboat scene after the Titanic crashed into an iceberg. We know there were not enough lifeboats for all on board, but even more disconcerting was the number of empty seats in the lifeboats rowing away from the ship. There were people in the water wearing lifejackets, facing an imminent death. Half-empty lifeboats passed them by fearing rescue was too risky. Hutchcraft uses this analogy to ask the reader, “Are you rowing past people who need to be rescued?” Or, perhaps it is you who needs to be rescued.
Hutchcraft creates urgency and teaches the reader how to communicate with others the forgiveness we all need and can’t get on our own. To help the reader communicate more effectively, he offers definitions for “ Christian-ese” terms. He defines being saved as “(being) rescued by Jesus from the death penalty for running my own life.” And accepting Christ as, “welcoming Jesus into your life, realizing who He is and why He came.”
The most exciting result of sharing Jesus’ message is another soul in heaven but there is also a fulfillment in our otherwise full and restless lives when we take part in the powerful work for which God designed us.
Prayer: Father God, I feel that restlessness, that empty hole that You create in Your children that can only be filled by You. I have said, “There has to be more to this life.” Forgive me for chasing other gods—among them wealth, security, prominence, and amusement. At the end of each futile race I felt empty and thirsted for something more. Help me to embrace Your love and Your forgiveness and help me to share it with others who need hope. Lord, open the door for me to become a lifeline for others, to make a difference with the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen
OPEN YOUR EYES
“And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charges against whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:”For your sake face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angel nor demons, neither the present nor the future, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans 8: 28-39 (NIV)
The year has come and almost gone. We look ahead: some with hope and jubilance, some with fear, some with anticipation, some with faith, and some with a pretend faith. The passage of Scripture has always been a superb “kick-in-the pants” to tell me that my faith is real or a wordy, but airless flat tire.
The meaning and message to verses 38 and 39 must be keenly accepted; else what we are saying is so much meaningless mush.
How enormous and satisfying is the feeling that nothing can separate us from God’s love as Paul writes here. If you need some example of this kind of love only look around you. It is shown to me daily by my marvelous wife during these long days of my illness. A hundred and one things are done by her for me each day, from driving me to doctors to cooking and cleaning, without complaint.
Look around you, open your eyes and you will begin seeing things being done for or with you which are examples of working love. God’s even greater love cannot be torn away from us by anything or anymore.
Prayer: Good day Lord. Thank you for your caring, working love for me and all others. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen
WHY ARE YOU AFRAID?
“Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” Matthew 8: 23-26 (NIV)
While flying overseas with my father, the plane hit an expected pocket of turbulence and I grabbed my father’s hand. “What are you afraid of?” he asked. “God is in control.”
When the storm raged on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples were afraid. When the storms of life swirl around us we often become afraid, too. We become terrified at all the problems of life. They can overwhelm us. By nature we are a frightened, fearful people. We regret the past, afraid of the present and fear the future.
Jesus tells us, “You of little faith. Why are you so afraid?” He also tells us that he died and rose for us. That he loves us wholeheartedly and that we should put our trust in him. Jesus promises to be with us always. He promise applies not only when our life goes our way but also when the unplanned events (storms) occur in our life.
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, please help us to trust in You as the master pilot of our daily lives. We shall not be afraid. Amen
PRAY WITHOUT CEASING
"Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere". Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)
Have you known or know of a person who prays a lot? A person your friends say we should tell ----- because they are a good prayer?
How did that person become known as the person who prays a lot and should be asked to pray for others? In Ephesians it tells us to pray all the time. In 2 Thessalonians 1:11 it says "And so we keep on praying for you, that our God will make you worthy of the life to which He called you. And we pray that God, by His power, will fulfill all your good intentions and faithful deeds." What a blessing to be able to pray a lot for others, that their lives become worthy in God's sight. Not only does that person become known for praying a lot, but they are known for caring about others' lives and what is going on with them. Their lives are looked at, and if they are seen as a person that God hears their prayers, they will be a "go to" kind of person.
Not only does that person pray, but that person really believes that God does answer prayer. James 1:6 says "but when you ask Him, be sure that you really expect Him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind." As a praying person, if you speak of God, answered prayers, and blessings, others will know that you do believe what you advocate. They see it in your life. In 1 John 5:14-15 it says, "And we can be confident that He will listen to us whenever
we ask him for anything in line with His will. And if we know He is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that He will give us what we ask for." The prayer trusts, and that trust will bring many
blessings, especially the blessing of His peace, what great assurances. The prayer knows God listens and so do those who observe him.
When people are going through a time of struggle or crisis in their lives or the lives of their loved ones, they go directly to those people whose faith is tagged as REAL. Are we those people? Do our lives mark us as a person one would go to or get in touch with when they want to get in touch with God?
Prayer: We pray "that you will always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus". Amen (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
GOD HEARS YOU
“Listen to my words, O Lord, and hear my sighs. Listen to my cry for help, my God and King! I pray to you, O Lord; and hear my voice in the morning, at sunrise I offer my prayer and wait for your answer.”(Psalm 5:1-3 (TEV)
All this material on prayer it can get confusing and sometimes we feel guilty. Am I not praying right? I talk to God continually and feel my prayers are answered. Not always when I want or the way I want, but I feel God’s presence in the answers.
Am I really a prayer warrior, battling for Christ? Sometimes I feel I am and other times not. I wish I were more vocal and can make myself heard, but other times the silent, behinds the scenes, is more effective (Matt 6:6). I can feel God’s presence both ways.
Putting our wholehearted trust in the Lord whether intercessory, silent, vocal, petition or any other way of praying all are conversations with God. He hears and knows what we are saying before we do. If we would only put our trust in Him and not hesitate we would not get in trouble. “Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes.5:18)
Prayer: Jesus Christ we come before you today as sinners in need of prayer. Hear our prayers as we each converse with you at this time. Amen
CREATE IN ME A CLEAN HEART
“Remove my sin, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear the sounds of joy and gladness; and though you have crushed me and broken me, I will be happy once. Close your eyes to my sin and wipe out all my evil. Create a pure heart in me, O God, and put a new and loyal spirit in me. Don’t banish me from you presence; do not take your holy spirit away from me. Give me again the joy that comes from your salvation and make me willing to obey you.” Psalm 51:7-12 (TEV)
Have you ever done something you knew is wrong but did it anyway; something that could have hurt someone else or even your. Did you feel badly about it? Did you feel heavy hearted inside and that feeling would not go away?
David in Psalm 51 felt that way. He had done something terrible and felt worse and was asking God for forgiveness. David was asking God to come into his heart and make him clean. We each need to have God come into our hearts and take away the ache and hurt we feel. We need to ask God to lead us in a new direction and help us to follow him. Only with God’s help can we have love. Only with God’s forgiveness are we able to sing songs of joy and praise again.
Prayer: Lord, there is nothing that we have done that you will not forgive. Thank you for your forgiveness and for cleaning our hearts when we sincerely ask through the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen