I love Psalm 119. If you want to get a greater appreciation for God’s Word, read Psalm 119. I remember the first time I read vs. 9. As a single man at the time, it immediately became my key verse for moral purity. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.” It served as the culmination for everything God had shown me about purity up to that point. For me, sexual purity required a constant diet of Scripture. Leaning on Him was the difference between ritualistic activity and true devotion. God’s word serves as our light on dark and unfamiliar territory. It’s where we find strength to endure.
I just realize that today’s Scripture for our 21 Days of Prayer happen to be the same one I’m teaching on today. I don’t think this was planned. In John 14:16-17, God promised to send the disciples another parakletos. The Spirit would be to the disciples all Jesus had been to them: a teacher, comforter, helper, advocate, encourager, rebuker, convicter, etc. Jesus came to stay temporarily. The Spirit would dwell within them forever. Jesus was limited to one location. The Spirit would dwell in multiple people at the same time and not be limited to location. This same Holy Spirit guides us, discloses God’s truth to us, and glorifies God through our lives. It is the Spirit that shows us the height, depth, and breadth of God. It is the same Spirit that convicts the world of sin, even though they don’t know Him. When a person somehow realizes that they are guilty of disobeying God and responds by placing their faith in Jesus Christ, it is the Holy Spirit who is at work. He convicts and draws. While God may appear to be silent and absent to us, the Holy Spirit is always at work
Philippians 4:6-7 has become one of my favorite passages of Scripture over the years. So much of our life is centered around wanting something. In a life where desires are constant, we often become anxious as we eagerly hope that God would grant us the things we desire. This passage is a reminder that God provides things that are far more valuable than material things. One of those things is peace. If we are willing to leave our requests at His throne, God can give us a peace that surpasses all understanding. It’s a peace that guards our hearts and minds from materialism, self-deception, the schemes of man, Satanic influence, disappointment; anything that can attack our hears and minds when it doesn’t seem like we are receiving the things we desire in life. I really love what verse 4 says, “The Lord is near.” We can have an overwhelming sense of peace realizing that the presence of God is with us.
To be honest, it’s difficult to see trials as beneficial from a human perspective. Trials bring thoughts and memories of difficulty, struggle, and frustration. Yet, God uses trials to test and strengthen us. Trials are also opportunities for us to gain wisdom. God never promises to take away our trials. He never promises to make difficulties easier to digest. He never promises to shorten them for our sake. Yet, He does make a bold promise in James 1:5. He promises to give us wisdom if we ask. He promises to give it “generously and without reproach.” Every so often, we meet people who are willing to give generously. They are willing to give us as much as we need or want. They also do without hesitation. “How much do you need?” they ask. When we reply with “a thank you,” their response is, “Anytime. Just let me know.” This is how God is with wisdom during trials. “How much do you need? Anytime. Just let me know.” Instead of asking for a way out, it would be to our benefit to ask for wisdom.
As I thought of today’s passage, Matthew 7:7-11, I thought of all the great gifts I received from my father over the years. He’s given me a video game system, stereo system, clothing, money, etc. Yet, love has always been his greatest gift. If my earthly father knows how to give great gifts to his children, how much more my heavenly father. Sometimes, He gives me the things I desire. Sometimes, He chooses not to give me the things I desire. Yet, everything he has given to me has turned out for my good even if it didn’t seem that way at the time. Believe it or not, God always answers every request we make of Him. It’s either yes, no, or wait. Regardless of His response, may we always remember His gifts are good.
Before Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he taught them how not to pray. In Matthew 6, he warned them about being hypocritical, vain, and selfish in their prayers. Prayer is about fanning the flame of intimacy with God. This is the reason Jesus told them to go to their closets and close the door. In the midst of life’s busyness, it is so important that we have uninterrupted alone time with God. Away from the noise. Away from distractions. Just us and our Maker.
For The Bridge’s 21 Days of Prayer, today’s Scriptural passage of focus is 1 John 1:14-15. The key to answered prayer isn’t my faith, but God’s will. The confidence that we have is that God is attentive and responds to prayers that align with His will. I cringe every time I hear some one say that praying “Lord, if it be your will” demonstrates a lack of faith. Jesus Himself said, “Lord, if it be your will, let this cup pass from me, yet not my will but thine be done.” Recognizing God’s will is not a sign that we lack faith, but rather a sign of reverence. It reminds us that the only privilege we have to the throne of God are those He has allowed us to have. The object our faith should always be our God, not our desires.