David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the tag “God”

Prayer (2015-01-06 Daily)

There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God.

–Brother Lawrence

 

I pray all the time.  In fact, I can’t not pray!  “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances,” Paul commanded the church in Thessalonica, “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV®).  Praying continually is God’s will.  Why?  Because only through prayer can we remain in constant communication with God, allowing us to witness the glory and power of the Almighty unleashed in our lives, something He fervently desires for each of us to experience.

Ever since I was itty-bitty I remember praying. I started with rote prayers before bed, embraced the rosary and graduated to powerful prayers let loose with compassion during bouts of intense spiritual warfare. But what is prayer, exactly?  And why should we pray at all?

From the time I was a child I knew prayer was how we communicated with God.  As my understanding matured, I dropped the almost exclusive use of memorized prayer and transitioned into a true conversation with God.  Now you can’t shut me up!  I mean, I can wake up from a dead sleep and fall instantly into a running dialog with the Creator.  And in those dialogs I’ve received amazing insights, powerful truths and supernatural strength to persist in my journey.

Prayer is how we lift our hearts, our minds and our beings up to our Daddy, a sacrifice of time and worship to engage with Him, to seek Him out, to let Him in.  Prayer is practical, an opportunity for us to not only worship, but to intercede on behalf of others, to express gratitude, to ask for our heart’s desires.  Prayer is an opportunity to seek guidance, receive orientation and get direction.

Prayer is dialogue, and we need to approach the throne with not only confidence, but with an open heart to receive an answer to our most honest supplications.  If our request is sincere, aligns with God’s will and is asked with right motives, then God is all too happy to grant our petitions.  But we need to listen.  And we need to receive it.

“Many people falsely believe that if you pray, God will bless you,” wrote Matthew Kelly in A Call to Joy.  “God will bless you if you live what you discover in prayer, because when we live what we discover in prayer we become one with God.  And when we are one with God, all that is His becomes ours.”[1]  Did you catch that?  Prayer goes both ways: we ask, God answers, but it’s what we do with the answer that determines the blessing.

Do you pray?  If not, it’s not too late to start.  Just step out and ask God to teach you how.  If you do pray, have you developed your prayer life into a habit, a running dialog with the One Who desires to talk to you more than anyone else in the universe?  If not, offer everything you do as a prayer to Him.  Offer your body as a living sacrifice, as Paul told the church in Rome, holy and pleasing to God.  You don’t need to fold your hands, get down on your knees, chant, or burn incense.  No, all God desires is your heart and the sincere yearning to talk to Him.

 

Copyright ©2015 by David C. Hughes

[1] Kelly, Matthew. A Call to Joy: Living in the Presence of God. Beacon Publishing, 1999. 101.

The Memory Tree (Part 2 of 2)

Good or bad, joy-filled or tragic, we are all the sum total of our pasts, the product of our memories and experiences. As humans we can allow these memories to bind us with the straitjacket of guilt, shame and depression rather than free us with the lightness of joy. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, the Bible is very clear that, as believers, our past behaviors, habits and experiences no longer have to define us. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Jesus said. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV®).

Shedding the soiled garments of our past lives, no matter how restrictive or burdensome, is a requirement to serve effectively in the Kingdom: “‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God,’” Jesus warned in Luke 9:62 (NIV®). And through Isaiah, God clearly called each one of us to open our spiritual eyes to the wonders of moment-by-moment renewal.

 

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

—Isaiah 43:18-19a NIV®

 

Through the saving grace of Jesus Christ, each one of us can “forget the past,” be freed from sin and put on the robe of salvation. Like Lazarus, we can be shed of the burial cloths and allow God to clothe us in the garments of new life.

But what about the good memories, the memories that bring us gladness, faith and renewed hope in the path we’re walking? Must we shed even those to move closer to God? No, quite the opposite is true. As long as the memories don’t become a hindrance to moving forward in our faith, good memories can clarify our vision, empower us and reinforce our faith walk. “Finally, brothers and sisters,” the Apostle Paul urged in his letter to the Philippians, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8 NIV®). As Rosa Parks, the “first lady of civil rights,” once said, “Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.” Goodness triumphs everything, and good memories can be the balm that soothes the weary soul, especially during this hectic time of year.

And memories, both joy-filled and tragic, can become a tool for the salvation of souls. We can bring the good, the bad and the ugly to the altar of the Most High God and sacrifice them to the One Who has the power to redeem those memories for the greater good. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1 NIV®). If we truly embrace God’s redemptive power and allow Him to restore us, to bring us into right standing by believing in the healing grace of His own Son’s sacrifice, we are renewed and made whole. By the sacrifice of faith we are freely given the gift of the forgiveness of sins and the glory of eternal life. That is the promise. That is the power of Jesus’ act of obedience. Through Him our lives can become a testimony—the good, the bad and the ugly can become a chapter in the greatest story ever told. “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story –/” the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 107:2, “those he redeemed from the hand of the foe” (Psalm 107:2 NIV®).

As each ornament on our family’s Christmas tree tells its own story, so it is with each ornament adorning God’s tree of life: His children. Yes, we all are products of our past, but it’s what we choose to do with our past that creates a meaningful present and a hope-filled future for not only ourselves, but for others.  As Bob Hope once said, it’s the simplest things that give off the greatest glow of happiness. This Christmas, let your glow shine brightly in a world sorely in need of some good news.

 

I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!

—Ebenezer Scrooge

 

Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes

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