Tag Archives: conversing with God

PRAYER OF JABEZ

10 Aug

Summary of the Sermon by Pastor Irwan Fransiskus, at Bethany International Service, on Sunday, 6 Aug 2017.

Prayer of Jabez

The prayer of Jabez teaches us how to depend on God and to call upon Him.

1 Chronicles 4:9-10 – Jabez was more honourable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez saying, “Because I bore him with pain.” Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.

Jabez’s mother gave birth to him in pain. She named her son “Jabez”, which means “pain.” Perhaps she led a painful life, so she decided to name her son “pain” literally. Jabez’s prayer is made up of four parts. First, Jabez asks God to bless him. Second, he asks God to enlarge his territory or increase his responsibility. Third, he prays that God will be with him and stay close. Lastly, Jabez asks that God keep him from harm so that he will be free from pain.

The Bible mentions that he was an honourable man because of his prayer.

1. Jabez asked God to bless him.
Jabez understood that the blessings of Abraham in Genesis 12:2 – ask the Lord to bless us to glorify Him. Jabez understood the purpose of God’s blessings. Jacob wrestled with an angel at the Jabbok river until he was blessed (Genesis 32:26).

Power, fame, wealth, beauty and health cannot satisfy us. We can learn from the life of famous people like Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Thierry Costa and Getulio Vargas. They did not find the meaning of life in their status, and these successful people ended up committing suicide.

2. Jabez prayed for God to enlarge his border so that God’s hands may be with Him.
Jabez understood the prayer of Moses in Exodus 33:15 “If Your presence do not go with us, do not bring us from here”.

If the Lord is with us, His favour is also with us. It is very important to stay close to God and rely on His continued support and guidance throughout our life.

3. Jabez asked God to keep Him from harm.
Jabez clearly knew and prayed specifically to the One who could protect him from evil and pain, 1 Chronicles 4:10 – Keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain. The Hebrew word for harm in this verse correlates with 1 Corinthians 10:1-11 – these are the examples of harm or “evil”.

How do we keep ourselves away from harm/evil? There are four examples of the word “harm/evil” in the Bible:

1. Idolatry – anything we love more than God is our idol.
It could be our hobby, our occupation or even the love of chasing money (Ecclesiastes 5:9-10, Ephesians 5:5).

2. Sexual immorality is a sin we must avoid.
We live in a world where society is experiencing moral degradation, where same sex marriage is legal in some countries. Genesis 49:2 records that Ruben slept with his stepmother (one of Jacob’s wives) and as a result Ruben was denied of his first-born birth right.

Lot and his daughters committed incest, and their two descendants from this relationship resulted in constant battles between the Israelites and the Moabites and Ammonites (Genesis 19:32).

3. Putting God to the test is to demand God to prove Himself to us in our own way.
Pastor Mark Wolford, from the US State of Virginia, was bitten by a rattle snake and was killed during a church service for putting God to test. He was well-known for handling dangerous snakes in a test of faith. We need to practise godly discernment by not doing dangerous acts to demonstrate God’s protection upon us. When we view God through our doubt and demand something of Him as a way of determining whether or not He can be trusted, we are in danger of testing God.

In the Bible, there are examples of both acceptable and unacceptable kinds of testing God. It is acceptable to “test” God concerning tithes and offerings (we give because we have faith in Him), for example, but unacceptable when the test is to demand something from God to prove Himself to us because we lack faith in Him.

4. Grumbling is a harmful attitude and it is evil in the sight of God. Proverbs 20:19 It is that faith-inspired action of obedience that God loves. As seen in the example of Israel’s journey out of Egypt, they developed a habit of grumbling.

How do we value the love of Christ in our life? God has given us everything, even His precious blood on the Cross (John 3:16). There is no greater love than the love of Christ. Jacqueline Kennedy’s love letter to the British Ambassador to the US, was sold in an auction for a price for USD$190,000. The Bible is God’s love letter to us, and is priceless. Our food is to do the will of God and to accomplish His work, John 4:34. Let us work out our salvation and work for food that endures to eternal life (John 6:27).

At the end of the prayer of Jabez, it is clear that God approved of this faithful prayer by granting it. It is also important to see that Jabez was passionate in his plea to God: "He cried out to the God of Israel." God wants to hear that we need Him through passionate prayer.

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CHALLENGES FOR EVANGELISM

6 Jul

The Summary of Sermon by Ps. Djohan Handojo at Bethany International Sevice on Sunday, 2 July 2017.

CHALLENGES FOR EVANGELISM

Pastor Djohan recently attended a conference at Wittenburg in Germany where the Reformation started by Martin Luther. 

The conference discussed how to bring the Gospel for every person and challenges in sharing it. The gospel brings freedom and transforms life. 

In sharing the gospel today, we faced several challenges :-

 1. Ideology 

People do not believe in God. 40% of the people in the Western world become atheist. They do not find God important in their lives.
2. Secularism  

People look into the world and there is less emphasis of God in the society. In South East Asia, many people still have strong faith in God. We still find Christian schools, many Church services in the malls and hotels.

3. Moral 

Today sexual disorder is considered normal and acceptable especially in the western world. The government in America and other western countries legalized the same-sex marriage. Even the schools are teaching it and educate the right to develop love and feelings beyond the gender which is gender disorientation.

(
James 1: 2-3) The world is constantly under temptation by the devil. Only the kingdom of God is unshakeable. 

We are dealing with self centeredness. People have the tendency to become self centered. Some of us struggle with sin but Jesus is waiting for us to come back when we have gone astray in the world. 
(2 Corinthians 5: 17-18) We are the new creation in Christ. It is important for us to walk in Christ every day. God will see us in a different way, God will see Christ who has redeemed us and see us as a new man or new woman in Christ.

When we are still living in the old self, the devil can attack us. When we live as a new man in Christ, the
devil cannot attack us. However, we can live a victorious life because God is in us.

(1 Corinthians 6 : 2 – 3)  For us as believers, one day, we will reign and rule with Jesus. We will judge the world and the fallen angels. 

Now, the Holy Spirit is in the world but one day the Holy Spirit will be taken away from the world. The world will turn into chaos.
(John 6:54- 55) Whoever eat of my flesh and drink of my blood remains in me, have the salvation and eternal life.

TIME OUT

5 Jan

TIME OUT by David C McCasland

Read: Acts 11:19-26; 13:1-3

Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. —Acts 13:3  

El Bulli restaurant, 2 hours north of Barcelona, is so popular that customers must reserve a table 6 months in advance. But noted Spanish chef Ferran Adrià decided to close the doors of his award-winning restaurant for 2 years so he and his staff could have time to think, plan, and innovate. Adrià told Hemispheres Magazine, “If we are winning all the prizes, why change? Working 15 hours a day leaves us very little time to create.” In the midst of great success, they took time out for what is most important to them.

The first-century church in Antioch experienced a time of exciting growth when “a great number believed and turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:21). As a result, Barnabas and Saul came to teach the new believers (vv.25-26). But along with the hard work, they took time to seek the Lord through prayer and fasting (13:2-3). Through this, God revealed His plan for taking the gospel into Asia.

Few people can take 2 years off to think and plan. But all of us can build time into our schedule to seek the Lord earnestly through prayer. As we open our hearts and minds to God, He will be faithful to reveal the steps of life and service that honor Him.

There is a blessed calm at eventide that calls me from a world of toil and care;

How restful, then, to seek some quiet nook, where I can spend a little time in prayer. —Bullock

PRAYER IS AS IMPORTANT AS BREATHING.

pray

ARE YOU AFRAID THAT GOD WON’T COME THROUGH?

30 Nov

ARE YOU AFRAID THAT GOD WON’T COME THROUGH? By Cindi McMenamin

Are you someone who is constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Do you find it’s easier to expect the worst than the best?

Do you find yourself fearful that God won’t really come through for you?

Consider the following scenarios and see if you can relate:

Diane is single and in her early 40s. Her greatest fear is that she will never marry. Although she had a string of unhealthy relationships when she was younger, she can’t help but feel that God is punishing her now by not letting her enjoy her life with someone who will treat her well. What do I have to do so God will give me another chance? she asked me recently.

Melissa is frustrated that she can’t get pregnant. But beyond that is a deeper fear that God is still mad at her for a rash decision she made 10 years earlier. Maybe I will never be able to get pregnant because I terminated the one pregnancy I did have! Perhaps God will make me pay for that the rest of my life, she expressed to me, through tears.

And Sarah and Jason saved for years to buy their first home. They entered a mortgage commitment carefully and after much prayer. But now that Jason has lost his job, Sarah fears they will lose their home as well. Why is God punishing us? she asked me. If Jason was going to lose his job, why did God let us get the house in the first place?

As humans, we are no strangers to fear. Our fears range from living out our lives alone, to not being able to have children, to losing our jobs or homes or someone close to us. Often, our fears are rooted in a misunderstanding of who God really is. Depending on your upbringing, you may see Him as One who is angry and has no intention of letting you live a life you will enjoy. Or, you may tend to see Him as the One who seeks to pay you back for mistakes you’ve made in the past. Or, maybe you see Him as One who will think good and hard before coming to your aid when you find you are in need. But God isn’t an angry God with a vengeance to get back at you. He’s a God who loves you and wants your love and trust in return.

Hebrews 11:6 says “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (NIV, emphasis added). God wants your faith—not your fear—that He really can come through for you. But in order to have faith in Him, you must know who He is and be convinced He’s trustworthy.

The Bible tells us “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear….” That means if you love God perfectly, you will trust Him completely, and where there is complete trust, there is no fear. So let me help you get to know—and love—this God you no longer need to fear.

1. List Your Past Mistakes that Have Made You Fear God

We all have baggage that we, by nature, try to hide. But God wants to release you of the guilt and shame in your past. By listing your sins on paper, you are acknowledging them to God so He can remove them from your mind and heart. Psalm 32:5 says “I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’—and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Not only does God forgive us of our past mistakes, when we are truly sorry for them, but He removes them from us and makes us no longer accountable for them. Psalm 103:12 says: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

2. Look to Scripture to Reshape Your Understanding of God

In order to really believe you’re forgiven, you have to give up any false perceptions of God by looking to the Bible to see who God really is. Get into His Word and you will discover:

He’s not a god who considers you bad, but is instead the God who said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).

He isn’t a god who points his finger at you and shakes his head. He is instead the God who said “I know the thoughts that I think toward you…thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

He isn’t a god who desires that you be punished. He is, instead, the God who laid down His life to suffer in your place so you would not have to be separated from Him for eternity (Romans 5:8, paraphrased).

He is not a god who will withdraw his love from you if you do something wrong. He is, instead, the God who says “nothing can ever separate us from Christ’s love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away” from those who have put their trust in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38, NLT).

3. Let God Show You His Softer Side

It wasn’t until I started looking for God’s softer side that I saw it. I saw Him as my Protector, Provider, Rescuer, Loving Father, Spiritual Husband, and Friend. God said, in Jeremiah 29:13 “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Look for the God who pursues your heart. And let His perfect love for you drive out your fear.

Source:www.crosswalk.com

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HOW THE SPIRIT HELPS US UNDERSTAND

27 Sep

HOW THE SPIRIT HELPS US UNDERSTAND by John Piper

1 Corinthians 2:14–16

The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

The manual of operation for the Christian wartime mentality is the Bible. It was inspired and authorized by the Commander, and contains all the truth needed to win people over from the enemy camp, deprogram their old thought patterns, train them in strategies of righteousness, and equip them with armor and weapons to defeat Satan and liberate his captives (2 Timothy 3:16–17; Ephesians 6:10–19).

God’s Manual and Our Inability to Understand It

The manual is one of a kind. The Communists had their Manifesto. The Maoists had their Little Red Books. The Muslims have their Koran. But only the Bible contains the writings taught not by human wisdom but by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:13). Only the Bible reveals “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). The Christian manual of operation is unique because it reveals “the things of the Spirit of God”—things from God that man can’t find out on his own, things that are often very foreign to our way of thinking. And therein lies a great problem.

I want to talk about that problem today and how God works by his Holy Spirit to overcome it. The problem is described in 1 Corinthians 2:14. “The unspiritual man does not receive (i.e., welcome) the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” The NASB gives a more literal rendering when it says, “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.” The problem is: what good is a manual of operation that can’t be understood by ordinary people? If the Bible reveals the “things of God” and the natural man is not able to understand them because they are spiritually appraised, then how will this book ever be able to win anyone over to God’s side?

Let’s begin by making sure we understand the situation described in verse 14. We need to understand first what Paul means by “natural man” and by “the things of the Spirit of God.”

What Is a “Natural Man”?

The word for “natural man” is used one other time in the New Testament to refer to people, namely, in Jude 19, which says, “It is these who set up divisions, worldly people (i.e., natural people), devoid of the Spirit.” Natural people are defined here as people who do not have God’s Spirit. They are simply ordinary people whose hearts and minds are not touched with the renewing work of the Holy Spirit. The opposite of “natural man” is “spiritual man”—a person whose mind and heart are renewed by the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:12 confirms this. “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.” In verse 14 the “natural man” cannot understand the “things of the Spirit of God” because they are “spiritually discerned.” In verse 12 Paul is able to understand them because he has received the Spirit. Therefore, a “natural person” is a person who has not received the Spirit. That’s why he can’t understand “the things of the Spirit of God.”

What Are “the Things of the Spirit”?

But now what are these “things of the Spirit of God” which people can’t grasp without the Spirit? The context makes this pretty clear. Notice the word “folly” or “foolishness” in verse 14. Whatever “the things of the Spirit of God” are, they are folly to the natural man. Chapter 1, verse 18 shows us what this is: “The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” The same thing in verses 23–24: “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” In other words, what the natural man can’t understand is the heart of the Christian message—the word of the cross. But the word of the cross is not just a simple statement that Christ died on the cross for our sins. The word of the cross is a radical indictment of human pride. It describes a way of salvation which according to 1 Corinthians 1:29 has this purpose: “that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (cf. 3:21).

The word of the cross is a message about my crucifixion, not just Christ’s. Paul said in Galatians 6:14, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Therefore, when Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:14 that “the things of the Spirit of God” are folly to the natural man, he means that the gospel of Christ crucified and all its devastating implications for natural human pride are simply foolishness to the natural man. A view of reality which aims to take away every ground of boasting from in man and put it all in Christ crucified is foolishness to humans in their natural state apart from the Holy Spirit. So the natural man is a person without the Holy Spirit, and “the things of the Spirit of God” refers to the word of the cross and its devastating implications for human pride.

The Problem Is Not Intellectual Inability

Now with these definitions let’s see if we can restate the situation described in verse 14. The reason this is important is that if we misunderstand the problem Paul raises in verse 14, we will almost certainly misunderstand the work of the Spirit in solving the problem and may well look to the Spirit for a work he was never intended to perform. You’ll see what I mean as we dig into verse 14. Take the phrase, “He is not able to understand them,” that is, the natural man is not able to understand the things of the Spirit of God. What does this mean? Does it mean that the natural man does not have access to sufficient information? Does it mean that he lacks the mental powers to construe the meaning of Paul’s sermons? If it means either of these, how shall the man be held accountable to receive the things of the Spirit?

In Romans 1:20 Paul talks about the basis of accountability and says, “Ever since the foundation of the world God’s invisible nature . . . has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. Therefore they are without excuse.” In other words, the availability of knowledge is necessary for accountability. If you had never heard the gospel, and a Chinese evangelist stood up here and preached the word of the cross to you and you didn’t receive it because you didn’t understand a word of what he said, would you be an illustration of the natural man in verse 14? I don’t think so. Romans 1:20 would imply that you are not accountable to believe a message whose meaning was not available to you because its language was unintelligible. So when Paul says that the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit, I don’t think he means, the natural man can’t construe the meaning of the gospel.

It Is the Moral Inability to Judge Value Rightly

On the contrary, Paul implies that the natural man can construe the meaning of the gospel because when he does, he calls it foolishness. The things of the Spirit are foolishness to the natural man not because he can’t see their meaning but because he sees it and regards what he sees as a waste of time. The problem in verse 14 is not a lack of clear speech nor a lack of intellectual power to interpret. The problem is that when the word of the cross is clear and the intellect of the natural man has interpreted it adequately, he regards it as foolishness.

The last phrase in the verse confirms that this is the problem. The RSV says, “They are spiritually discerned.” The word for “discern” here is the same one translated twice in verse 15 as “judge”—”the spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.” It’s a shame that the RSV and NIV and KJV did not use the same meaning for this word in verse 14 that they did in verse 15. The NASB is excellent here. It says, “He cannot understand [the things of the Spirit] because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man.” The word means to assess or appraise or make value judgments about something.

So when Paul says in verse 14 that the reason the natural man does not understand the things of the Spirit is that they are spiritually assessed or appraised or judged, it becomes clear that the basic problem is not an intellectual inability to construe the meaning of Paul’s message; the problem is the moral inability to assign the right value to it. There is a big difference between saying that the things of the Spirit are gibberish and saying that they are foolish. “Foolish” is an assessment you make of something you have understood but regard as ridiculous. Gibberish is a description of sounds that are unintelligible. The problem with the natural man is not that he describes the gospel as gibberish but that he assesses it as foolishness. So what Paul means in verse 14 when he says that the natural man “is not able to understand” is that he is not able to understand the things of the Spirit as valuable. He can see their meaning, but he cannot see the meaning as precious. He can restate Paul’s argument and comment about its implications; but then he simply rejects it out of hand as religious rubbish.

The Word of the Cross and the Pride of Man

What this text teaches, then, is that all of us by nature recoil from the truth of God; we recoil from the truth of the Bible and from the word of the cross. We hear the call of the gospel to submit to a crucified Christ and we defend ourselves against it by saying it is foolish. What the natural man means when he says the gospel is foolish is that he cherishes something which the gospel demands that he give up. We call advice foolish when it asks us a higher value for a lower one. If you advise me to jump off a bridge, I’ll say that’s foolish because I value my life. If you advise me not to spank my sons when they disobey me, I say (perhaps to myself) that’s foolish because I value the wisdom of Proverbs and the good effects of loving discipline. And if you advise a natural man to follow Christ crucified, he will say that’s foolish because he values the self-reliance and self-exaltation he would have to give up.

The main point of 1 Corinthians 1–4 is to show that God has accomplished our redemption in such a way that every prop of human pride is knocked out from under us. “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God . . . Let him who boasts boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:27–31; cf. 2:5; 3:7, 21; 4:6).

When the natural man hears that, he says that’s foolish. Why? Not because he doesn’t understand its meaning, but because he loves the praise of men. He loves the exhilaration of accomplishing great things in reliance on himself. He loves the autonomy of pulling his own strings. He loves the sense of esteem that he can get through the use of his intelligence or skill or talent or strength. The suggestion that all this should be left on the bridge while he jumps off into the arms of Christ is to him simply ridiculous. In our natural condition we cannot prefer Christ over self-glorying. The desire for credit is too great. Jesus said, “How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44). Faith in Christ is foolishness to the natural man because the essence of the natural man is his love of self-determination and the sense of power and pride that come from it, while the essence of faith in Christ is to say, “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of Christ.”

How Can We Understand the Things of the Spirit?

What hope is there, then, that anyone will welcome the things of the Spirit? How can Christ crucified come to be valued as the power of God and the wisdom of God and the source of infinite joy? 1 Corinthians 2:14–15 says, “They are spiritually appraised. The spiritual man appraises all things, but is himself appraised by no one.” The spiritual person is the opposite of the natural person. The spiritual person has the Spirit of God. Verse 12 says, “We have received . . . the Spirit which is from God that we might know the things given to us by God.” When the Spirit of God is at work in your life, then you will appraise things the way God does. You will not regard the Word of God as folly but as the most precious word imaginable. The first and most fundamental work of God’s Spirit in the life of the natural man is to shatter pride. The Spirit enables us to see on the one hand our desperate helplessness and on the other hand the all-sufficiency and beauty of Christ crucified. We begin to see and appraise things with the eyes of Christ.

This is what verses 15 and 16 are getting at. The Spirit enables us to appraise things with their true value, but when natural men appraise us, they will always go wrong. Why? Verse 16: Because apart from the Spirit no one thinks or appraises like the Lord, but we who possess the Spirit have the mind of Christ. We have begun to view and assess things the way Christ does. Therefore we do not reject but receive the things of the Spirit, even when they mean death to self; because now we know what is really valuable.

What the Work of the Spirit Is and Is Not

Now let’s go back to where we began. The manual of operation for the Christian wartime mentality is the Bible. It contains the truth needed to win us over from the enemy to Christ, to deprogram our old thought patterns, to train us in strategies of righteousness, and to equip us with armor and weapons to defeat Satan and liberate his captives. But we have a natural aversion to this truth. Therefore, the work of the Holy Spirit is utterly indispensable as we make use of this manual. But now we can see more clearly what this work of the Spirit is and what it isn’t.

The work of the Spirit is not to tell us what the manual of operation means. That we must determine by a disciplined study of the text. The Spirit inspired these writings and he does not short-circuit them by whispering in our ear what they mean. When we pray for his help, we do not pray that he will spare us the hard work of rigorous reading and reflection. What we pray is that he would make us humble enough to welcome the truth. The work of the Spirit in helping us grasp the meaning of Christ’s manual of operation is not to make study unnecessary but to make us radically open to receive what our study turns up, instead of twisting the text to justify our unwillingness to accept it.

The lessons are plain for those who long to fight the fight of faith and be an integral part of the war effort. We must be diligent students of the Commander’s manual. And we must soak all of our study in prayer that his Spirit would humble us to submit to every truth and commandment in it. The work of the Holy Spirit is to make us say from the heart as we take up the manual, “Far be it from me that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world was crucified to me, and I to the world.” If our pride has not been crucified by the Holy Spirit, the Bible will be a wax nose and we will call it foolish or mold it to fit our own natural desires. In either case, the word of the Commander will not be obeyed and the war effort will languish and the cause of the enemy will go unchecked.

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/how-the-spirit-helps-us-understand

4 STEPS TO CONVERSING WITH GOD

19 Sep

Four Steps to Conversing with God by Jay Lowder,, Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries

What is stopping you today from having an intimate prayer life?

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” – Ephesians 6:18

I have spent 20 years in full-time evangelism, traveling the world sharing God’s Word and speaking with people about life and spiritual issues. The hurts and frustrations of individuals run the gamut, but when it comes to our spiritual walk with God, one of the most common points of discussion is prayer.

There is a misconception about prayer that often hinders individuals from fully benefitting from this intimate act in which God desires us to take part. Too often, we view prayer as a reverent, eloquent monologue during which we use “thee’s” and “thou’s,” and we forget the essence of prayer is a simple conversation.

Communication is at the heart of our lives. Without it, our relationships would fail and we would live in isolation and frustration. Yet, every day we have successful conversations with friends, spouses, coworkers and even strangers.

God wants us to have this same type of conversation with Him, and applying some key principles can help strengthen your prayer life and relationship with God.

Avoid a Monologue

It is very easy for us to speak our prayer to God and move on with the next task, waiting for him to provide the answer. But if you really think this through, the concept seems a little odd. You would never call your best friend and speak for 10 straight minutes only to hang up without giving him or her opportunity to reply; so why would you do this to God?

Prayer is a two-way conversation. We need to practice the art of listening.

How do you listen to God? Sit alone, be quiet and wait on God to respond. Look at the example of Isaac in the Old Testament. He was not accustomed to waiting and hearing from God, so when God spoke, he did not even recognize His voice.

When you hear the voice of your best friend, you know they are in a room without even seeing them. If we take time and get alone with God and wait to hear from Him, we will hear Him. And the more you hear from Him, the more you recognize His voice.

God chooses to speak to us all in different ways – through Scripture, music and even other people. But if we aren’t listening for His voice, we may miss the good things he has to tell us.

Get Face-to-Face

We live in a technologically driven world. You can text your best friend, send a Facebook message or call them on the phone, but when you converse with them in person, there is a completely different connection. The same goes for our relationship with God. Intimate relationships require “face-to-face” connections.

Getting to know God and developing an intimate prayer life requires that we meet with Him in a place of intimacy. This will mean something different for every person. Just as a husband and wife may return to a special place on an anniversary, perhaps the intimate place you spend time with God is the place where you first met Him; a quiet place in your backyard; a favorite chair in your home; or a small closet in your bedroom. No matter where that place is for you, the important thing is that it’s yours and God’s – a place where you can have intimate conversations with Him.

Honesty is the Best Policy

What differentiates a relationship between a best friend from that of an acquaintance is honesty. For those closest to us, we are able to freely share our emotions, exposing the other person to a level of intimacy not known by others. We let our guards down and are honest with who we are – good and bad. God wants this same level of relationship.

We often think that in order to have this type of relationship with Christ, we must get our “lives together” before God would even want to talk to us. This is a lie from the enemy. In Isaiah 64:6 it says that the best we have to bring to God are like dirty rags to Him. Even on your very best day, you still aren’t good enough, but that’s okay because that is where God wants us. In grace and mercy He sees us blameless before Him because of His son, Jesus.

God is our creator. He knows about our fears, excitements, joys and concerns, but He wants us to tell Him about these things personally. We have to learn to be honest and tell God what is going on in our lives because He already knows and accepts us where we are.

Consistency is Key

For the most part, those who are near and dear to our heart are in our lives on a consistent basis. It’s rare that I go even a day without talking to my wife, even when I’m traveling, because I want to know how her day was. I’m eager to connect with her. In this same way, God is eager to connect with us and wants us to be consistent in our conversations with Him.

Forming a habit – good or bad – takes time, but once it is formed, it’s hard to quit. When you first begin praying consistently, it may be hard and out of the norm. You may not know what to speak to God about or how to listen to Him. But as time goes by, it becomes a staple to your day and you will begin to be able to converse with God with ease because you have formed a relationship. You will be eager to speak with Him.

So what is stopping you today from having an intimate prayer life? Don’t let anything hold you back from having a deep, personal conversation with Christ. He created us as a people who love community, and He wants to have that same intimate relationship with us.

http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/prayer/ conversing-with-god.html?p=2