God Hears

Today’s reading is Luke 1.

“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard.” Which prayer? When was it offered? The more I think about these questions, the more I consider two possibilities. Both possibilities teach us great lessons about prayer. The first is Zechariah had prayed for so long to have a child it had become a habit. Even at the point when he really no longer thought it was possible, he kept praying. Don’t be so quick to throw Zechariah under the bus if he had made this request so long it had almost become rote. Remember, despite being told no for years and year and years, he was still praying. And though it didn’t happen on Zechariah’s time table, God had heard the praying. Wow! OR (and this is what I think is more likely), Zechariah had prayed and prayed and prayed in the past, but he finally got to the point he believed God had said, “No.” That must have been painful. Though he was no longer praying that particular prayer, he kept faithfully serving the Lord. Now, years later, when the prayer is a distant memory to Zechariah, the angel proclaims, “Your prayer has been heard.” How long had Zechariah waited to hear those words? Long enough that he could hardly believe it or even how it could be fulfilled. Again, it didn’t happen on Zechariah’s time table, but God had heard. Please, don’t misunderstand the point. The lesson from Zechariah is not if you pray, eventually God will do what you ask even if it isn’t on your time table. We have to understand that sometimes the answer is simply, “No.” The lesson is God hears. Our praying is never in vain. When it is for God’s greatest glory and our greatest good, God will respond. Even if it has been years since we’ve actually prayed the prayer, God heard and remembers. Even if we’ve prayed it so long we are struggling with our faith in it, God hears and takes note. I’m so glad you are reading your Bible today, please don’t forget to pray. God hears.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 1.

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Worship

Today’s reading is Revelation 4.

I find it interesting and a little bit challenging, when I search my photo stock using the word “worship,” especially connected with images of “Christian worship,” I am inundated with pictures of people standing up, eyes closed, faces to heaven, arms upstretched. However, when I look through the Bible at pictures of worship, what I find (Old and New Testaments) is people falling down, laying on the ground, bowing, casting off crowns. Don’t get me wrong, I know men are to lift holy hands in prayer. I know through Jesus Christ we are forgiven and undefiled, therefore we have confident access to God’s presence, and we don’t have to come into it with self-flagellation, scraping on the floor, and begging for entrance. Therefore, I don’t want to establish some bodily posture rule about worship. Nor do I want to paint with such a broad brush as to say every prostrate worshiper has the right mindset and every upright worshiper does not. But I wonder if this stark contrast in the majority of “pictures” between modern Google and ancient Bible demonstrates some kind of shift in our view of worship. Obviously, each of us must examine our own heart regarding what we are doing in worship. Here is what I do know. No matter how we are sitting, standing, laying prostrate, raising hands, worship is the casting down of our own selves and our own worthiness before the Lord who is the only worthy One. Whether our bodies lie prostrate or not, worship is the prostration of our hearts and minds before a holy God who was and is and is to come, who is worthy to receive glory and honor and power because He is creator and we are creation. And whether we are actively involved in a worship action or not, this must be the state of our heart before God at all times. He is worthy. Praise God!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 5

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Read This Post, Cuz I’m So Spiritual

Today’s reading is Matthew 6.

“Beware of posting your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then your likes and retweets will be all the reward you get.”
Matthew 6:1–The Modern Application Bible

Okay, I admit it. I made up “The Modern Application Bible.” (At least, I Googled it and couldn’t find one.) But maybe that would be a good exercise for us. The desire to be authentic, real, and transparent in social media has really blinded us on this one.  Truly, nobody cares what we had for dessert last night, but honestly, we would be better off putting that picture or another cat video up than the selfie of our volunteering, the Instagram of our good deeds, or the blog post about what we learned in our family Bible study. And, to be blunt, the whole, “I want people to see what God is doing through me,” is some powerful, mind-bending, mental gymnastics from our adversary whispered in our ear to deceive us. If God really wants people to see what He is accomplishing through us, let Him post about it. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills; if He needs PR, He probably won’t ask us (see Psalm 50:10-12). Trust me, when Jesus said not to let our left hand know what our right hand was doing, He didn’t mean to take your selfie one handed. Let’s do some soul-searching before we post. Maybe we should all ask, “If this post, tweet, snapshot is really about God, why is it so full of me?” Then, maybe we should delete and just wait for God to reward us in secret.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 7.

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The Body is for the Lord

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 6.

God did not give us bodies so we could be involved in sexual immorality. Expanding that point, we recognize God didn’t give us our bodies so we could do whatever we pleased with them. Rather, He gave us bodies so we could serve Him with them. The body is for the Lord. But also note that the Lord is for the body. In other words, any restrictions or requirements God gives us are actually for our benefit. After all, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Whatever God tells us to do with those bodies will be for our good because that is also for God’s good. Further, what God tells us is for His good will be for ours as well. He is glorified in our bodies not by putting us down or diminishing our bodies, but by lifting us up in our bodies. Therefore, let’s be excited to glorify God in our bodies. That will be best not only for God, but for us as well.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 7.

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Gospel Priorities

Today’s reading is Acts 16.

Paul and Silas demonstrate lives governed by a gospel priority. They were wrongfully beaten and unlawfully imprisoned. Had I been in their shoes, I would probably have been grumbling and complaining. I would have been hollering about how I should be set free, how I was a Roman citizen, and how this whole mess just wasn’t right. But Paul and Silas were praying and singing. And that jailer–don’t even get me started about that jailer. He chained and confined them. He was part of this awful system that was mistreating them. When he decided to kill himself, I probably would have thought, “That’s what you get.” But Paul and Silas taught him the gospel. These are gospel priorities. These are lives governed by the gospel, not self-preservation. I have a lot of growing to do.

Monday’s reading is Acts 17.

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