Thursday, 31 March 2011

Making Time To Spend With god In Prayer:

 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
[1 Thessalonians 5:16-18]

I have a friend. We have been friends for more than 20 years now. we spent a lot of time together years ago, sometimes we would call each other on the phone and talk for hours. I still love talking to her but usually,unless I make the first move and call her she doesn't call me. I understand, after all I know she has a busy life, she has 2 daughters and a husband and she works a few days a week. It would be nice though if she would call me sometimes.  don't you have people like that in  your life that say they will call you or keep in touch and they don't?
I have two other friends that I share a house with. we have lived together for 16 years. They are a married couple and I have a room in their house. Even though they like to have times when they are alone, they always have time for me. If I go a day without talking to them I regret it. Sometimes we don't even talk but just sit silently together, only speaking when we have something to say.

So what does this have to do with prayer? i was thinking about this today. It seems like when bad things happen in our lives we are constantly calling out to God for help but when things are going ok we sometimes forget to pray. I have prayer times twice a day but sometimes I think "Well here i am, father, but I don't really know what to talk to you about."  sometimes I have things on my mind and it's good to talk to god about them but other times I just rest in god's presence, speaking if I have something to say and listening in case he has something to say to me.

the point is, he is always available any time we want to talk to him. More than that, he wants us to come talk to him as often as we can, even if there's nothing specific we have to say to him. he knows that we are busy with different things but he wants as much of our time as we are prepared to give him. He wants to be involved in the things we do. The bible says:
In all your ways acknowledge him,
   and he will make straight your paths.
[Proverbs 3:6]
 He knows we can't always drop everything and get on our knees,  sometimes all we can do is send up a prayer while we're working and he accepts that. He is glad when we spend time with him, no matter how long or short. That thought just makes me want to praise him. The God of the universe wants to have  a relationship with me and wants me to talk to him at any time!

The bible tells us to:
 Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
[1 Thessalonians 5:16-18]
Does that mean we are supposed to spend all our lives on our knees praying? I think we would soon have very sore knees if we tried that. no, it means that we should learn to always be aware of our relationship with God and that we should keep those lines of communication open at all times so that we can talk to god and he can talk to us. Whether we send up what I've heard called "arrow prayers" [little prayers like "god help me"  or "I love you Lord"  or "What should i do about this lord?"] or whether we take some time out of our activities to sing and praise God or to talk to him about what is on our hearts, we need to keep open the lines of communication with our heavenly father.

The more effort we put into our relationship with God the more our love and faith in him is going to grow and the more we will know him. We can't get to know someone without talking to them and we get to know them as we spend time with them.

I hope this message has encouraged you to spend some time in prayer today. Remember that god loves you and he is waiting to hear from you.

Father i thank you that you love us and that because of your grace and mercy you have made us part of your family  through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. help us to make more time for you even in the midst of our busyness. Thank you that you are always there for us whenever we reach out to you. I praise you God and thank you for your love and kindness in Jesus' name Amen.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Third message on love: love to others.

[All scriptures in this message are taken from:
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by
Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

We are in the third and last part of our study on love. That doesn't mean I won't have more to say on the subject but to date, this is the last teaching i have written on it.  Thanks for taking the time to read what I have written and I hope it will bless you.

 We have looked at god's love for us and our love to him. Now let us look at our love for others, since loving the brothers and sisters in Christ is a very important part of our christian life.

1 john 4:7
 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

So love for others is not a suggestion, it's an imperative.
1 john 4:21
 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

 Jesus gave it as a new commandment:
john 13:34
 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Well how do we love each other? Jesus is our greatest example:
Ephesians 5:2
 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

if the pure and righteous son of god can love us all to the extent that he would willingly die on a cross for us and  pay the price for our sins, then surely we can learn to love each other, even when it's difficult or it demands a lot of us.
Here are a few points to ponder:
1. our faith in god grows when we love each other:
Galatians 5:6
 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

2. Love comes from a pure heart:
1 Peter 1:22
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.
you might think "But I'm far from being pure so how does that work for me?"  I can relate. But God, if we will allow him to, will purify our hearts. We can't regain the innocence we have lost but we can grow in Godly purity and love from a pure heart.
Love Described:
Many of us will be familiar with 1 Corinthians 13, where love is beautifully described. Here are a few verses that might help us understand how to love each other as Christ loves us:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts,
 always hopes, always perseveres.

I read a book by the great writer max Lukado once, i don't remember which book it was, but he took us through 2 simple exercises. The first thing we did was replace the word "Love"  in these verses with the name of Jesus, like this:
"Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind"  etc. We can see from this that jesus fulfills all the requirements of love.
The other little exercise in the book I read was to replace the word "love"  in these verses with our own names like this:
"Rishie is patient, rishie is kind" etc. Talk about a reality check! if we think we are doing ok in loving others then doing that will show us where we really are. It's not to condemn or pull us down  but to show us where we are and where we need to improve. Be encouraged,though, the more we know Jesus and the more we are made like him the better we will do in that exercise. God, who is love in it's purest form, is willing to teach us how to love, so we are in good hands.

Loving Our Neighbour:
Of all the commands we have in god's word, the most important is love to god:
Matthew 22:37
 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
and next to that in importance comes this:

Matthew 22:39
 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 

Loving our neighbour as ourselves does not mean that we condone their sinful actions, or even that we have to like them all the time, but what it does mean is
that we should seek their good, or want what's best for them and do what we can to help them. A good rule to follow is the golden rule:
Matthew 7:12
"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

we don't like to be gossiped about so we shouldn't gossip about our neighbours or friends. We don't like to have our heads snapped off so we shouldn't be snappy with others. We do like to know that our friends or neighbours are with us when we go through hard times, so we should be there for them when they are going through hard times.

Encouraging Each Other:
We must encourage each other to grow in love for others:
Hebrews 10:24
 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

There is a lot more that could be said about loving each other, such as:
1. that our love must be sincere and fervent.
2. that it is active and involves us doing good deeds for others.
3.  that we must put the needs of others above our own needs.
4. that we may be called on to give some of our possessions and some of our time in order to help those in need, like Jesus gave up heaven for a while and gave up his life to help us.

This is just a bit of an overview and I hope it's helpful to you. Let's just finish with this thought: 

1 Corinthians 13:13
 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

and this is my prayer for all of us:
Philippians 1:9-11
 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God.

These questions don't need to be answered except maybe just between you and god. I put these here as something to think about.
1. have there been times in your life where other Christians have loved you like Jesus loves you?
2. What did that person do to show Christlike love to you?
3. can you think of occasions when you have shown Christlike love to others?
4. Can you think of anyone in your life that you can show God's love to?
5. What do you think holds us back from showing Christlike love?