Job 22:28

You will also decree a thing, and it will be established for you; and light will shine on your ways.

What do you think of when you hear the word “decree?” You probably do not think of the Bible. This verse from Job goes along with yesterday’s Word of the Day. Click Here to go to yesterday’s devotional.

This is still about prayer. We are learning that prayer is much more than a laundry list of requests. It also does not equate to begging God to do something for us. Prayer is much more about finding what God has already said and then bringing that promise forward to the physical realm. This is right in line with Romans 4: 17 which teaches us to, “call[s] into being that which does not exist.”

The other word I like is “declare.” It means the same thing but drums up a slightly different impression. This teaching is not meant to make us arrogant. We are not trying to put forward that we demand and therefore receive, but to tell you the truth, one of the definitions of prayer is to make a demand off of a promise due. The essential piece is that Father has already made the promise. We make a demand off of the promise, not the Father. None of us would presume we can order God around. However, He is trying to get us to use His Word to phrase a demand. This idea is more comparable to a checking account than an army sergeant’s command.

Checking accounts are called demand accounts. It means that you can make a demand on the sum equal to the balance. Checks are demand instruments. The holder of the check can show up to your bank and demand funds equal to the instrument’s written draw. That is what God is teaching us. He might say, “Here is the promise, child. Now make a demand off of that promise. Declare, decree what you desire which is in accordance to the promise and you shall receive it.” Does that make sense? We are not authorized to to beg for something not promised and you won’t receive that which is in contradiction to that which is promised but, you are authorized to withdraw from the Father’s account that which He has authorized. He says, make a demand on what I have already promised you and it will be established for you. Moreover, His light will then shine on your way. Sounds like pretty good stuff to me.

Prayer Model (revisited)

Psalm 103: 20

Bless the LORD, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word!

We have talked about prayer a good bit this year and I have tried to introduce you to a prayer model that may be a little different from what we learned as kids. I have also tried to show you the important role that angels and God’s Word play in prayer. This verse fairly shouts. God’s kingdom operates according to His Word and both God and His angels are listening, attentive to the utterance of His Word.

Most of us think of prayer as asking God for something or to do something. That is part of the conversation, of course. However, the church could benefit from a shift in thinking, a re-framing, if you will, about what prayer is. This is a bit of a tall task, but we can begin with us.

In truth, prayer can encompass a number of activities. I think the highest iteration of prayer is contemplative time with the Father. In this space there can be an exchange of questions, thoughts and ideas. It is not unreasonable to think that when the Father speaks, we might have questions. One of the craziest things I say when Yahweh shows me something is “You’re right.” Well of course He is right. He is always right but I have finally stopped correcting myself when I say that because it means more than validating His correctness.” And actually, it was the Father who said to stop going back and saying, “Of course you’re right.” What it really means is, “I see the value and truth in what you just said.” So this is really a dialogue between the two of us. He might say something which I immediately question. It does no good for Him to reveal something if I don’t understand it. The point I want to make here is that I consider all of this prayer.

Going one step further, I would include meditation in my prayer model. Why? First, I find that I cannot meditate without eventually opening my mouth in a question or comment. Meditation is a tool for bringing us into communion with God. Once there, though, I believe it becomes a conversation. Sometimes the conversation jars me out of the meditative state, other times it does not. Sometimes it jolts me into action. Other times I find myself sinking deeper into relaxed musings.

From there, what we vocalize can go far beyond simply asking God to do something. I think of that more as a request than a prayer. In the practice of law we would pray the court for a specific outcome. In other words, there would be a specific request for the court’s action. It, however, was preceded by the facts and a recitation of the law. In Christian prayer this would be the same as reciting God’s Word and then asking it to be done according to that Word. In other words, here is what the Word says and thus the result the spiritual laws must confer. This is the result I am asking for, Father, because your Word says this is how it is supposed to be. In this example we hold the Word up to God as our evidence that a certain result is “as it should be” and we speak that Word over ourselves.

The angels hear God’s Word and they always hearken to it. God responds to His Word. He has no choice, actually, because His Word, He cannot break. When the angels hear God’s Word, they hear His voice. His Word has His voice embedded in it. Do you want prayers answered? Speak God’s Word and the angels will most certainly respond because they are, in actuality, receiving direction from God.

I hope you will think on this some because I believe these ideas have the ability to transform your prayer life. Prayer is much more dynamic than we have modeled it to be. It is an exchange. It is us receiving the wisdom of God and then speaking it out. Prayer means communicating with God rather than reading Him a laundry list. It is as much about asking for His wisdom regarding a situation as it is about asking for a specific outcome. And, I think it is not about reciting every need we have to Him. He knows our needs already. He wants to know what we have to say about those needs and how we are going to frame them in the context of His Word.
After you have pondered this, send me an email with your thoughts.

Bless the Lord

Psalm 103: 1 – 5

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. I remember well when it came home to roost in my heart. I was in Florida, getting ready to go for a bike ride. It was the passage I read that morning and somehow the words just sealed themselves upon my heart. All that day i kept repeating them to myself.  Sometimes I still walk around saying to myself, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.” Those words bless me but even more the thought that I have any means by which to bless the Lord our God.

Additionally, this passage is packed to the brim with GOOD news. Do you ever just want to shout when you read some of these passages? Does it agitate your spirit in a good way? Man, this one exciting collection of promises! Here is my advice – pick one. Pick a favorite from above and bless God.

You can bless Him by believing the promise. You can bless Him by thanking Him for it and certainly you can praise Him. If this passage brings joy to your heart, that blesses our Father. When you share it with others, you bless Him.

Allow these words to penetrate your heart today and bless the Lord!

Peaceful Ease

Proverb 3: 23 – 24

Then you will walk in your way securely and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

This is a picture of what Christian life should be. It is a life of peace, tranquility and security. The fully realized Christian is able to lie down and sleep in peace because there is no fear or worry. They enjoy sweet sleep. Good sleep alone is a reason this verse is attractive, but I really like the picture it paints of a whole life lived in peace.

One cannot help but think of the Hebrew word Shalom. It is perfect peace. Shalom is not the same as tranquility. We use peace to mean calmness, quiet and serenity. In the Hebrew mindset those are the result of Shalom. When you have God’s kind of peace, serenity and those other things are the byproducts.

The image this verse conjures for me is one of quiet confidence. The person in this verse walks with the Lord from the moment she awakens and continues through the day. Of course she can place her foot securely as she walks her daily path. She is walking hand in hand with God, led by Him.

This verse is about embracing wisdom and understanding. Peace, ultimate, unfathomable peace is the result. Embracing wisdom and understanding means we don’t walk in the light of our own brilliance but in the glory of God’s insights and wisdom. This does have its challenge because it means we must pause to check in with Him. We must begin first thing in the morning getting our hearts and minds aligned in and with Him and then continue in that flow all day. It is the absolute best and most enjoyable way to live but it does not come automatically. We have to dedicate the time and invest the discipline to check in with our Father at the start of the day. This can be a challenge but that is the challenge I hope to encourage you to accept.

Walking in perfect peace, knowing that where you are about to place your foot is good solid ground is a joy. It comes with the Father’s perfect peace, Shalom. All things are as they should be, everything in its proper place. Your steps are divinely ordered, and your heart resides in ease. When you lie down, your sleep is sweet and your dreams, divine. This is the inheritance of the saints.

The Crimson Lens

Romans 5:9

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

In 2015 I wrote a devotion titled “The Crimson Veil.” The substance of that article is about the effect the blood has on our relationship with the Father. When He looks at us, He looks through a crimson veil, that veil being the blood of Christ. God sees Jesus’ righteousness and worth when He looks at us because He looks through the veil of sacrificial blood. Speaking for myself, that is a powerful image and certainly helps me understand who I am in Christ. And, it is a relief because which of us wishes to stand in our own right?

I had another thought about the crimson veil, though. You have heard that we all perceive the world according to our own filters or through the lens of our world, hence the rose-colored lens. It dawned on me that if I saw the world through a crimson colored lens it would most certainly color my perspective. What if I was able to see other people through God’s crimson-colored lens? I think that would change my world, and that would be a good thing.

Imagine if we all looked at the world through crimson-colored glasses. Think of some of the challenges of 2020 and then put on Dad’s glasses and look at them anew. Does it change our thoughts, our prayers? What does the world look like when it is covered in Jesus’ blood? Oh my!

This one observation shows why God cannot be the judgmental, vengeful God some people make Him out to be. He sees Jesus’ blood everywhere He looks. Imagine if Christians saw every other person through the crimson lens. What if, when we looked at someone who might not even have a redeeming character, we, none the less, saw them splattered with that precious blood? How would that change things? Well, it is something to pray for. I think I would be much more gracious and accepting. Wouldn’t anger recede? What about a sense of betrayal? Think about someone who really gets under your skin and imagine Jesus’ blood covering them. Isn’t it harder to feel the anger and frustration that you might normally experience? Maybe we should all take a deep yoga breath, slowly and fully exhale, and picture our adversaries covered in the sacred blood. I believe this could change the world and in a hurry.

Promises, Promises

1 Kings 8:56

Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant.

According to all God has promised us, may He be blessed, because He does not fail. This is rich language but more importantly, it is the assurance of God’s promises fulfilled in our lives. What value has the Bible if not to see God, to learn of His ways and promises and to, subsequently, see them fulfilled in our lives? God did not give us His Word so that we can study history. That is cool enough, but He wants us to see more than the history. He wants us to receive His promises which go all the way back to the beginning. All His promises are for us today. That is what the Bible is meant to communicate to us.

There is more to this. The author would have us know that not one word of God’s promises has failed. What do you think of that? All of God’s promises are yea and amen (2 Corinthians 1: 20). In other words, God’s answer to your prayer is, “Yes.” Why do we think God made promises? It is not as though we could ever extract from Him anything that He didn’t want to give. These “promises” are not the result of a bargained agreement. We do not have anything with which to bargain. The point is, He made all the promises in the Bible of His own volition. They were all His ideas. God is trying to get blessing to us. That is the reason He has made promises to us. He forged a covenant with us, and these are the benefits of that covenant relationship. So, every promise you find in the Bible is part of God’s covenant with you. Each one represents God’s will.

Do you see a promise of health or healing? Do you see the assurance of prosperity? What of favor and His continual presence? All those are God’s intent for your life. Therefore, we are to hold those up to Him, almost like an offering and receive of His glory and bounty. What kind of Father would He be if His children did not partake of His bounty? Can you imagine parents who live in affluence but do not share their sustenance with their children? That would just be wrong. We understand that from a human perspective, but we do not always translate that over to our Heavenly Father who, by the way, chose to be called Father. He self-identified Himself as our Father and that is a tremendously important concept. We did not name Him; He did. And with that choice to be our Father, He accepted a host of responsibilities towards us. He forever calls us His children which means He accepts the responsibility for our welfare. And, that is the source from which the promises originate.

Not only has He given us His word on a wide range of topics, He has not failed in any of those promises. Do you believe that? Are you living in every promise of God? If not, why are we not enjoying the fullness of His fruit? Is the Bible absolute truth? It says not one word of His good promises has failed so either that is a lie, or it is truth. If it is truth and we are not living in the fullness thereof, then where is the disconnect? Has He fulfilled the promise and we were not in the right checkout line? Is there something we must do or is it a simple matter of belief and trust? God is not a man that He can lie so we can rely on Him as truth. Therefore, the analysis must proceed from there. He is truth and love and life. In Him all prayers are yes!

Practical Compassion

Roman 12: 15        NIV

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

It would be interesting to hear from you as to what this sentiment says to you. It probably says more than seen at first glance. It is also probably appropriate for these times, specifically, because of the wide-spread and varied emotions people are experiencing around the globe.  People are facing a wide range of circumstances.  The situations and accompanying emotions can even vary by geographic region. What is our response to these changing situations and the real-life consequences? This is the application of compassion but what is that practical aspect?

When people mourn many times our response is to try to cheer them. This verse suggests that trying to cheer people up isn’t the only, or perhaps, even the best approach. Maybe compassion means meeting people where they are and being with them in their state. It is uncomfortable, for sure. We like to be around people who are happy and smile a lot. This verse suggests a level of empathy that many of us may potentially find discomforting. It is quite easy to rejoice when others rejoice but mourning with those who mourn is challenging.

Empathy means that we can share the feelings of others. We don’t have to coach them, teach them or try to change their emotions. We only need to be in their space with them. It validates their emotions. We are quick to try to change people but Jesus is asking us to just be with them where they are and show them his compassion. We just let our hearts be tender and give comfort.

Send me your thoughts. What does this look like in real world practice?