PRAYING BOLDLY

The Lord calls us to pray boldly, asking God for big things; yet, too often, we’re timid. We ask God to fix the little things that bother us today. Sometimes, those little things seem big, like salvation for our children or to cure a loved one’s malignancy, but those prayers merely ask God to take care of the situation. They don’t really involve us. Jesus said He wants us involved in our prayers, so that we become part of the solution we seek. That’s where boldness comes in, by aligning ourselves with God in salvation’s story.

Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. — Ephesians 3:20 (BSB)

‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.’ — Jeremiah 32:17 (NASB)

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man, this is impossible; but with God, all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (BSB)

THERE IS AN AMAZING STORY OF JESUS IN THE GOSPEL OF MARK.

Okay, you say, aren’t the Gospels filled with amazing stories of Jesus?

One moment, you say, He’s raising Lazarus from the dead, then He heals 10 lepers and  restores sight to two blind men. He stops a woman’s hemorrhage just by her touching His cloak. He feeds 5,000 men — the Bible tells us men, Pray Boldly - lightningin addition to women and children, so there probably were 15,000 people — then He does it again with 4,000 men — plus their families — shortly afterward. If that weren’t enough, He tells the wind to shush and the waves to quiet.

Even the disciples were incredulous, asking themselves, “Who is this man?” (Mark 4:41 NLT)

True enough, but this story in Mark is different from the others. This one focuses on Jesus in a way that clearly transports him from an earthly realm to a heavenly one.

Before I tell you the story, I have a question for you.

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HOW BOLD ARE YOUR PRAYERS?

Well, how big is your God?

My guess is your God is no bigger than your prayers. If your prayers are small, probably your God is small. To pray boldly, as the Scriptures encourage us, requires a big God. A God big enough to have created creation, itself — including you.

If you’re like me, you’re probably a bit in awe of praying to the Creator of the universe. Here we come in prayer, armed with a wish list of stuff Man Praying Humblywe want Almighty God to take care of, much like giving him His morning “To Do” list. Even while we lay our requests at His feet, we can’t help wondering if our weak requests in our puny lives in our insignificant corner of the universe is even worth His attention?

What would it take for each of us to take Him seriously when He beckons us to prayer?

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LET’S GO BACK TO THE STORY.

Jesus comes down from a mountaintop with three of His most trusted disciples — Peter, John, and James — and He finds a distraught man whose son is acting strangely. The  men approaches Jesus and urgently tells him his son is possessed with a demon that causes him to froth at the mouth and fall to the ground, going rigid. Sometimes, the man said, the demon throws his son into the fire to burn him.

Then the man tells the Lord, while pointing to the nine other disciples who did not accompany Jesus to the Woman Praying Earnestlymountaintop, “I asked Your disciples to cure him, but they weren’t able to.” The man searches the Lord’s face earnestly, then asks, meekly, much like many of our prayers, “Can You help him?”

Mark records the Lord’s answer to the man, which, really, is the Lord’s rebuke to us: “What do you mean, if I can? Anything is possible if a person believes.”

Then Jesus commanded the demon to leave the boy and never return.

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JUST ANOTHER WONDERFUL STORY OF JESUS, YOU SAY?

No, not exactly. What makes this story so spectacular is what Mark tells us happened just before this healing incident occurred, back when Jesus was on the mountaintop  with His inner circle of trusted disciples.

Mark tells us that on the mountaintop, while Jesus’ three closest disciples watched, “Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and His clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than earthly bleach could ever make them.”

During this transforming moment, Peter babbled something inane, as Peter was wont to do, but Mark passes over it quickly, dismissing it as mere background noise.

Then, Mark tells us: “[A] cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is My dearly loved Son. Listen to Him.’”

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THIS SEQUENCE OF EVENTS IS POWERFUL.

There is a testimony for us. There are so many ways that our Lord tells us to pray boldly, even telling us that if we have the faith of a small mustard seed, we can pray in the Lord’s name, and He will move mountains for us (Matthew 17:20 NIV).

Why, then, don’t we?

Adult Man in PrayerEven as believers, we are likely to pray “small.” Most of our prayers focus on our lives, and our families and loved ones. As part of prayer and fellowship groups, we extend our  prayers to include those members and their concerns; and, yes, we open our eyes to the suffering around us and pray the Lord’s intervention to sooth our concerns.

What we don’t do is go beyond ourselves and petition God, who tells us not to be anxious about anything, but to share everything with Him in petition and thanksgiving.  (Philippians 4:6 NIV)

There’s nothing wrong with our prayers for our loved ones and for help in those areas of our lives where we hunger for God’s tender grace. It just that God is so much BIGGER than that. We seldom ask Him to go beyond the routine request.

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JUST THINK OF JESUS TRANSFORMED ON THE MOUNTAINTOP — and meditate on just who He is — and what He can do … and then meditate on how little we ask of Him.

How bold are your prayers? How big is your God? 

One pastor said that health and wealth and miracles are Pray Boldly (script)wonderful things, but the Apostle Paul told the church in Ephesus that He prayed that the love of the Lord Jesus Christ would dwell in their hearts through faith.

To what end? To this end: “[That you] may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19 NASB)

NOW, THAT’S BOLD!

PRAYER: Our heavenly Father, forgive us for offering You timid prayers, which often are just a list of our wants and needs, when You call us to pray boldly for Your kingdom, that Your will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Help us to see a grander vision that You want for us, to pray boldly and then offer ourselves, in obedience to Your call, as part of that prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen


PRAYING FOR BOLDNESS

Jesus often tells us He can handle our requests, like this one: “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man, this is impossible, but with GOD all things are possible.’” — Matthew 19:26 (BSB)

Apostle Paul sought boldness: “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, divine utterance may be given me, so that I will boldly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it fearlessly, as I should.” — Ephesians 6:19-20 (BSB)

Here’s a prayer for the early disciples after Peter and John were released from prison: “And now, Lord, consider their threats, and enable Your servants to speak Your word with complete boldness. — Acts 4:29 (BSB)

Paul leaves us with this thought: “Pray without ceasing.”— 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (BSB)

God’s People Complaining

The Lord is so gracious in His Word, that He devotes needed passages to remind His people that we are called to praise His Holy Name. Too often, caught in the net of our earthly desires, we grumble and complain over, really, little things. While I’m not proud of my whining, the Bible is clear that God loves me and is in charge of the situation.

Exodus 17:3-4 (NLT) “But tormented by thirst, they continued to argue with Moses. “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Are you trying to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?” Then Moses cried out to the LORD, “What should I do with these people? They are ready to stone me!”” 

Philippians 2:14 (NIV) “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.”

THE BIBLE TELLS US in the story of Exodus — where the Jewish people were led out of slavery by God’s mighty hand — that within two months they were grumbling. First, they complained they had no food (Exodus 16),  then they complained they had no water (Exodus 17).

thumb_IMG_0798_1024It’s easy for us as readers in the 21st Century to wonder how they could possibly doubt that God would rescue them from their every adversity and provide for their every need.

THAT’S NOT THE WHOLE STORY. Today, we can read the story and place ourselves in the position of the Israelites. God has blessed many of us in marvelous ways, but we often grumble.

I personally enjoy good health, a retirement with sufficient material resources, a new home with a paid-off mortgage, and a lovely woman to be my wife and join me in our walk with Christ and our retirement years. Yet, I still complain.

THE LORD HAS BLESSED ME RICHLY. He has promised to watch over me and lead me. He calls on me to trust him. When life presents its challenges, and I start to grumble, I need to stop and reflect for this is a moment when the Almighty is calling me to grow in my faith and in my character, both to enhance my earthly witness and to be prepared for an eternity in Glory.

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PRAYER: Our Heavenly Father, we are ashamed when we let our petty tribulations interfere with our faith walk, when we look in the rear view mirror and see a past more glorious than it was and through the windshield  and see a future dimly lit. Help us remember that this is the moment when we need to ask for God’s help, believing He will deliver us. Forgive us our complaining and our shortsightedness. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen

 

 

Opposing Sin With Love

In a world with so much sin, so many broken lives, we can draw comfort from this one amazing fact: Jesus loves us and accepts us as we are. He calls us to turn from our brokenness and follow him, and He promises to redeem us to his glory. Amazing Love.

When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, Lord,” she answered. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” John 8:10-11 (HCSB)

JESUS CLEARLY TELLS US to love our neighbors as ourselves, but not to love our neighbor’s sin and certainly not to embrace it. The Lord showed mercy on the woman accused of adultery, which is sinful behavior, but he admonished her not to continue in her sin. Loving our neighbor means helping our neighbor through his or her struggle with sin, not by supporting our neighbor’s sinful behavior.

Today, we’re faced as a country with a cultural divide regarding homosexual or same-sex marriage.

The secular battle lines are drawn between political liberals who believe legally sanctioning “marriage” between two men or two women represents equality and freedom from oppression, that oppression being the bigotry of the majority heterosexual population. They reasonWoman Caught Adultery that the free-flowing love that one man or one woman may feel for a same-sex partner is no threat to their neighbors’ heterosexual marriage and that, after all, society should not be able to dictate their expression of love.

They are opposed by political conservatives who argue that marriage between two men or two women violates long-standing human experience in all parts of the world and, by so doing, upsets or discards received wisdom in favor of current prevailing passion. They say that tradition mandates continuing a marriage arrangement that works, regardless of the divorce rate, and scoff at providing tax breaks for those who want to experiment with settled practice.

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THERE IS A THIRD VIEW and one that too often is ignored: the view of Christ’s followers. For faith-based Christians, homosexual behavior is unnatural behavior contrary to God’s law and contrary to how He made us (Leviticus 18; Romans 1). He has warned us repeatedly from the writings of Moses and the prophets through the teachings of Jesus and the apostles to refrain from sexual immorality.

Such immorality, the Bible says, includes sex with children, the neighbor’s spouse, a close relative, the family pet, or a same-sex partner.

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THE BIBLE ALSO IS CLEAR that we are to love our neighbors and pray for them. Nowhere does it say we are to embrace their sinful behavior, condone it, or codify it into law, nor are we are called to look down upon our neighbor’s sin or rank-order their sin — we have enough sin in our own lives to atone for. All of us have fallen short of God’s glory and are in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23).

Love means joining hands and raising our eyes to the Lord, asking his forgiveness for our sins, and joining in fellowship with others to serve him. Some among us may struggle with homosexuality, some with alcohol addiction, some with lustful hearts or immodest dress, some with uncontrolled anger, but our Lord calls us into fellowship with him and one another to encourage each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

We long to hear our Lord say to us, as He said to the fallen woman, “Don’t continue in your sin, but I do not condemn you. I love you, and my mercy abounds.”

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PRAYER: Lord — Help us to see our neighbors they way you see them, as lost sheep in need of a Shepard. You call us to model Christ-like behavior by showing love for our neighbor but that love should manifest itself in helping our neighbor overcome sin, not in supporting our neighbor’s sinful behavior. We’re also called to refrain from judging our neighbor because we also sin. In the Name of Him who knew no sin.  Amen

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Juan 8:10-11 (EM) Entonces Jesús se enderezó y le preguntó: –Mujer, ¿dónde están? ¿Ninguno te ha condenado?
Y ella dijo: –Ninguno, Señor. Entonces Jesús le dijo: –Ni yo te condeno. Vete y desde ahora no peques más.

Rejoicing in God’s Grace

The Lord grants us his grace as a gift to us. He will not abandon us.


A Short Devotion on God’s Amazing Grace … and Our Response

Nehemiah 9:5 (ESV) “Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.”

Galatians 1:10 (GW) “Am I saying this now to win the approval of people or God? Am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.”


The Lord God wants us to take the narrow path that leads to life. He warns us that few will find this path and ensures us that (a) without Him we can do nothing and (b) He will be with  us always. Through Him, we can take the narrow path with confidence because He will light our path and guide our steps.

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“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

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Prayer: O Lord, be our constant guide. Hold us close when trouble strikes us. Let us know that You will not abandon us but will lead us along the straight and narrow path — the one that leads to life. Amen


Regocijo en la fuerza de Dios

Nehemías 9:5 (DHH) «Levántense, alaben al Señor su Dios por siempre y siempre. ¡Alabado sea, con bendiciones y alabanzas, su alto y glorioso nombre!»

Gálatas 1:10 (DHH) Yo no busco la aprobación de los hombres, sino la aprobación de Dios. No busco quedar bien con los hombres. ¡Si yo quisiera quedar bien con los hombres, ya no sería un siervo de Cristo!

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Oración: Nuestro Señor, sea nuestra guía constante. Sostenemos a cerrar cuando los problemas nos llama la atención. Háganos saber que usted no nos abandonará, pero nos llevará por el camino recto y estrecho – el que lleva a la vida. Amén