Friday, November 17, 2017

Pray from the Heart

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
Matthew 6:5-8, NKJV
Pray from the Heart
Rather than follow a chronological arrangement of the prayers of the Bible, I would prefer to move around by going  back and forth between the Old and New Testaments. Before looking at specific prayers from the New Testament, it would be good for us to summarize Christ's teaching on prayer and apply them to our own manner of praying.
Prayer, according to the Lord Jesus Christ needs to be from the heart. It is not an outward exercise to follow so that others may see how great and devout we are, but rather a humble coming before God in all of our own unworthiness. God sees us as we truly are; He knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts.
Knowing that, we come before God as Psalm 42:1 (NKJV) explains, 
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.

What does the Bible have to say about our hearts? Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV), tell us, 
“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?"
So, we find two contrasts. Left to ourselves, our hearts are very deceitful to the point that even we, ourselves, are deceived. Yet, there is hope in Christ. Christ changes those deceitful hearts and gives us hearts like that of a deer who is longing for the water brooks to quench his thirst.
As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we know that we have an advocate in Christ. We come to Him naked, destitute, and blind. In His great love He clothes us in His righteousness, grants us the riches of glory, and gives us eyes to see and perceive the wonders of His glory.
When we pray, then, let us come to the Lord Jesus Christ just as we are. Let us speak with Him as one friend to another, pleading for His help to live this life in a manner than is pleasing to Him.
What of the person who knows nothing of Christ? Go to God. Plead with Him that He will take your sinful, deceitful heart and make it pure. How can He do such a thing? It has already been done by the Lord Jesus Christ. He left the glories of heaven to come to this earth for one reason: that He might purchase salvation for His people. How did He accomplish such a thing? He bore our sins on the cross of calvary, died, was buried, was resurrected, and ascended in Heaven where He sits at the right hand of God the Father.
In Heaven, He continually makes intercession for us before God Almighty so that when God looks upon us, He does not see our sin, but rather sees the righteous blood of Christ. Cry out, then, to the Lord Jesus Christ to save you!
Pray that God would give you eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts of understanding!
What an amazing God we serve!
God Bless You,
Linda



Wednesday, November 15, 2017

First Recorded Prayer

And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!
Genesis 17:18, KJV

Genesis 17 records a conversation between God and Abraham. 


1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
Genesis 17:1-9, KJV
First Recorded Prayer
One has to appreciate the fact that the Old Testament saints were just people like you and me. God literally pours out His heart and plans to Abraham promising to make a covenant between Abraham and his seed. He will no longer be called Abram, but because God will make him the father of many nations, he will be called Abraham.
How does Abraham respond to this amazing declaration by God to him?
Abraham says, in essence, "God, are you not forgetting something? Sarai and I have no children and I am now 90 years old." So he states in verse 18, "O that Ishmael might live before thee."
Like Abraham, we are prone to read the promises of God given to us in His Holy Word and then dismiss them as not possibly being able to apply to us. So, Abraham presented Ishmael to God and asked, "Can you not bring me all of these amazing events through the son I already have?"
Sarah is too old to bear children, so there is no way that Abraham can perceive of God making him a father of many nations through a son he does not have. 
Do we do this same thing in our prayers to God? Here we have recorded the first actual prayer in the Word of God and it is a prayer of doubt and compromise. Abraham's very words display his lack of confidence in God, so he conveniently provides a compromise through his son, Ishmael.
Having the Bible, we already know how God answered this prayer. Abraham was denied this request by God. God had a better plan and certainly had no problem bringing His plan to pass.
What kind of God do we serve? Do we serve a God whom we cannot trust? Are we constantly in doubt that our God can provide for us? Do we find ourselves making compromises to God that we believe are more fitting for our lifestyle or our circumstances?
Let us remember that there is only one God. The God of the Bible--the God of Abraham--is the same God we worship today. Every promise He has made in His Word has already come to pass or will come to pass in future days just as He has proclaimed.
If you are not a believer, there is one prayer you need to make. Recognizing that, before a holy, righteous, and pure God, you are filled with darkness and sin, you need to cry out to Him for salvation. No man who has ever lived, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, has had the ability to stand before God. The Lord Jesus Christ, the perfect man and perfect God, came here for one purpose, and that was to die for His people. On the cross, He bore our sins. He bled and died so that we might have His righteousness poured upon us.
Does that mean we become sinless when we become a believer? No! We will be tainted with sin as long as we live on this earth. But, in Christ we find perfect forgiveness. When we come to Him for salvation, our lives are changed forever. No longer do we desire to be consumed by the things of this world, but rather, we look to God and His Holy Word to teach us how to live in a manner pleasing to God. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to teach and guide us while we are still in this world.
If you are a believer, what God do you serve? Do you serve the God of the Bible, or do you find yourself trying to accommodate God's Word (and God, Himself) to fit your lifestyle? 
Let us pray that we will serve the one and only true God--the God of Abraham. If we find that our prayers remain unanswered, maybe God has a better plan in store for us.
The things of this earth will only satisfy us for a very short time, but in Christ we find love, joy, and peace that will last for all eternity!
What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hagar and the Angel

And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.
And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.
And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee.
But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thine hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.
And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.
And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
10 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
11 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction.
12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
13 And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?
Genesis 16:2-13, KJV

Hagar and the Angel

Who was Hagar, and what made her so special that she received a visit from the Angel of the Lord?

Hagar was Sarai's handmaiden, or slave. She had no personal rights as is shown by this narrative from Genesis 16. Sarai was unable to bear children, so, like we so often do, she took matters into her own hand. She decided that if her handmaiden bore a child, then she could claim this child as her own, thus solving the problem of her own barren condition. 

How often do we do the same thing? God does not answer our prayers in the manner in which we believe He should, so we determine to solve the problem in our own way. 

However, as is also the normal case, nothing went the way Sarai imagined it would. Hagar did, indeed, become pregnant by Abram, but now Hagar looked down upon Sarai. She may only be a slave, but she was able to do what Sarai could not--become pregnant by Abram. She was no longer the diminutive, submissive slave.

When Sarai brought her complaints to Abram, he told Sarai to do whatever she chose with Hagar. Sarai, in retaliation, treated Hagar harshly.

One has to feel a great deal of empathy for Hagar. She chose none of this on her own, and now she was being treated harshly by her mistress. She did, again, what we are so often prone to do--she ran away.

And, that is where the Angel of the Lord found her. And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.  Genesis 16:7

What an amazing God we serve. Hagar, just a poor slave, was visited by an angel of the Lord with a message from God. This child she carried was a boy whom she was to name Ishmael. Though he would be a wild man, yet we know from a later passage that he, too, would become the ruler of a nation of people. God told her to return to Sarai and submit herself to her mistress.

How can we apply this passage to our lives today? Most of us live a relatively free life compared to that of Hagar. Though we may have others who make decisions for us, we have the freedom to make most of life's choices on our own.

Let us think of the lessons we can learn from Hagar.

First, we are not too little or too unimportant to be heard by God. As believers, we know that God chose us in Him before time began. He chose us while we were yet sinners. He did not say, "I see some good in that man, woman, or child, so I will call them to be my child." 

How can a holy, righteous, and pure God speak to us who are poor, wretched, and blind before Him? He is sinless and we are filled with hearts that are prone to wander from this God we love. The answer is in Christ. Christ did what we cannot do. He bore our sins and suffered God's wrath when those very sins were poured upon Him on the cross.

Second, Hagar submitted herself to the Lord even though it would prove to be a very costly decision. If we have never gone before Christ and submitted ourselves to Him, then now is the day of salvation. Only in Christ can we be freed from our sins. Let us submit ourselves to Christ, confessing our sins and inability to serve Him in our own power. Let us call upon Him to save us and make us His child, forever!

If we are children of God, let us remember that God is truly sovereign. He loves us and cares for us more than we can ever know. Because that is true, He does not always guide and direct us in the way we want to go. Sometimes it is necessary to just quietly, like Hagar, submit ourselves to our Lord and Savior. Only in Christ and in submitting to Him can we find perfect joy, perfect happiness, and perfect peace--not just now, but for all eternity!

There are many more lessons we can learn from Hagar, but she will appear again very soon when she has another conversation with an angel of the Lord in the wilderness.

In closing, note that God appeared to Hagar in the wilderness. Often our most treasured experiences with the Lord are in our own times of wilderness wandering. 

May you go to Christ, today. Rest in Him for, as His child, He loves you more than you can ever imagine.

God Bless You,
Linda





Monday, October 23, 2017

Dear Readers

Dear Readers,

My "Daily" Bible Devotions have certainly not been that. I see that I have not added a devotion since July. Just to update you, we have been in the process (a long process to be sure) of moving.

Our move has been completed, and though we will have some unpacking to do, I am ready to get going again.

I will be continuing my series of devotions from The Prayers of the Bible. Although I will most likely not write a devotion every day (I am retired now), I do hope to write several each week.

Thank you for your continued support.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated.

In Christ,
Linda

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Abram Prays to God

And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
Genesis 15:2-3, KJV

Abram Prays to God

In the book of Genesis, as we read the story of Abram/Abraham, we read many directives from God to Abram. However, the first actual prayer by Abram which is recorded in the Word of God is shown above from Genesis 15.

Abram's life is rich with blessing as we see this extraordinary man follow God. This is not the God of his fathers--this was a God previously unknown to Abram. Yet, when God begins to appear to Abram and speak to him, we find that Abram was amazingly obedient. God was not asking small things of Abram, but rather, God was commanding him to leave everything he had formerly known--family, friends, and even his gods--to follow Him.

By the mercies and grace of God, Abram did not lack for riches, but there was one thing that Abram did lack. Abram had no children; his wife, Sarah, was barren. 

Abram fell before God and asked that God would give him an heir for at this time his only heir was his personal steward--a man who served him faithfully but was not his descendant.

How did God answer this prayer of Abram? 

And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
Genesis 15:4-5, KJV

God's intention was not for Eliezer to be Abram's heir. Instead, God promised that Abram would have an heir. Not only did God not stop there, but he brought Abram out to look at the stars of the sky. He asked Abram if he could count the stars. As Abram gazed up to the starry heavens, God said, "So shall thy seed be."

What a powerful illustration of God's grace to his servant, Abram.

How did Abram respond?

And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
Genesis 15:6, KJV

How has God answered that prayer? How many believers have there been in this world since the days of Abram? How many believers live in all the countries of the world today? As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we worship this same God. As such, we are the children of Abram; we are part of that starry heaven that Abram gazed upon!

Does God answer prayer? Oh yes! The difficulty, however, does not lie with God, but it lies with us. Do we believe that God answers prayer? Do we believe that God answers our prayer?

Are we guilty of limiting God because we do not believe He will answer our prayers like He answered those of Abram? Do we limit God and instead trust in the works of men (ourselves included) to answer our prayers?

Man has achieved so much, especially in the last century, that I fear we are far too ready to trust in men and women to take care of our needs. The world offers so much, does it not?

However, there is one very important thing you will not find in this world. You will not find the true way to heaven and an eternity with God. Only in Christ can we find true salvation. Only in Christ and in our Father, God, will we find the One who can truly care for us and take care of all of our needs.

It took Abram a lifetime to discover this. Have we, in the years we have lived on this earth, made that same discovery? Is it God in whom we place all of our trust? Go to Christ, He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life. 

Yes, God answers the prayers of His children!

God Bless You,
Linda
 

 

 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Beginning of Prayer

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
Genesis 2:23, KJV

The Beginning of Prayer

The words recorded above were the first words of Adam as recorded in the book of Genesis--the book of beginnings. Is this a prayer? In essence, yes! Who was Adam speaking to? He was speaking to God. What is prayer? Prayer is a conversation with God, or as Robert Burns stated, "A correspondence fixed in heaven."

Adam, created perfectly, had a relationship with his Creator that we will not have until we reach the courts of heaven. We can not possibly relate to this experience of Adam. He walked in the Garden of Eden and talked with God. 

Unfortunately, his relationship with God (and thus our relationship with God as well) changed when Adam and Eve sinned against God. Being thrust out of God's beautiful garden, Adam and Eve faced the stark reality of their new life. Never again, while living on this earth, would they have that comfortable presence with God.

Knowing God as they did, we would assume, however, that they continued to pray to their Father God and would teach their children to do the same.

Is this too simple or easy for us? Are we being too familiar with this awesome and holy God we serve to think of just conversing with Him as we converse with one another? Are we guilty of not praying to God because we believe that we do not know how to pray to Him? Do we feel too unworthy to approach His throne of grace?

These are valid questions and should not be too easily dismissed. Getting back to our subject of prayers in the Bible, one would think that the book of Genesis would be filled with prayers and supplications to God. Is that what we find. In actuality, that is not really the case. 

In most instances, in this study, we will be looking at actual prayers as we think of them, and not just the conversations that Adam, and later Cain, had with God in Genesis 3 and 4. Genesis continues with a history of the development of civilization. After Cain killed his brother, Abel, we are told that Cain went out from the presence of the Lord (Genesis 4:16).

Was all lost? Was there none who would follow after God?

25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.
26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.
Genesis 4:25-26, KJV

No, all was not lost. God raised up a godly seed through Seth. 

In our next devotion we will actually look at the first recorded prayer in the Bible by Abraham. We know that Enoch and Noah were men who were recorded as walking with God, yet, the Bible does not record any actual prayers they made to God.

It is not until after the flood that God continues the narrative of a godly line of people who followed after Him, the One and True Living God, by giving us the account of His servant, Abraham.

Let us, today, think of our own relationship with God. God--the God of all the Universe, has reached down, loved a people unworthy of His love, and called them to be His children. Let us respond to His great and wondrous love for us. Let us seek a regular and personal relationship with Him in prayer and Bible study. He loves us, He guides us, and He will carry us through all of the difficulties of this life and then take us home to live with Him forever!

What an amazing God we serve. Nothing in this life is more important than Him!

God Bless You,
Linda





Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Prayer

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.
Ephesians 6:17-19, NKJV

Prayer

I have been a believer for a long time and yet one thing in my spiritual walk seems to concern me. I would like to have a stronger prayer life. Oh yes, I talk to God constantly throughout the day, and yet I think there is so much more to prayer that I am missing.

I would love to say that is because I am so busy. While that may have been true for many years, it really is not a valid excuse for me anymore. I think that, even though I passionately love the Lord and desire His leading an guidance in my life, I do not spend very much time just meditating and praying to God.

Think of it--God, the Creator of the universe, loves us. That love is so great that He desires communication with us. And, He is available 24/7. Prayer is more than just coming to God with all of our needs, wants, and desires. Prayer is conversation with God Himself. 

When I thought of this topic, I remembered the phrase from Ephesian 6:18: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. What does that really mean? Let's take this a phrase at a time:

Praying always - yes, it is good for us to be in conversation with God all day long. We literally are to live in an attitude of prayer as we understand that God walks with us through every experience of the day, He hears every conversation we have with others, and He knows our most intimate thoughts and desires. Why not, then, acknowledge His active presence in our lives and converse with Him throughout the day.

With all prayer and supplication - prayer is more than just asking. Yes, we do ask God to help and intercede in all of the events of our lives. We recognize that, as believers, we are totally dependant upon God to live and guide us through each day. That is the supplication part of the phrase. However, with the supplication is the phrase, with prayer. Prayer equals conversation with God. We pray to Him and we ponder His response. As we consider who God is, we realize the great Helper we have!

In the Spirit - Christ promised to the disciples that when He left this earth, He would send His Spirit to help and empower them. We need to get to know the Spirit. He lives within our very hearts and guides our thoughts and actions. When reading God's Word, He helps us to understand what it means and helps us to apply it to our lives. He is our Helper, Our Guide, and Our Constant Companion!.

In this study, I will be using a book entitled, "All the Prayers of the Bible," by Herbert Lockyer. My own personal goal in this study is to go to the Word of God and actually study Bible prayers and God's response to those prayers. In doing so I hope that all of us will not only understand this powerful subject much better, but that we each will become strong and powerful prayer warriors. 

In the end, may Christ be glorified. Without Him we have nothing, but with Him we have everything!

God Bless You,
Linda