The Kingdom of Heaven: Humble Prayer

“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. In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

Matthew 6:5-14, NKJV

Have you ever heard someone lead prayer at your church and you found yourself wondering, “Did they plan this whole prayer out ahead-of-time?” The perfectly-worded sentences, the expert weaving in of Scripture, the lack of pauses, and maybe the addition of a “speech-giving voice” combine to make it all seem very scripted.

And then there’s the ones who are truly genuine – but again, their prayers seem so perfect that it can be intimidating to the simpler folk among us who haven’t quite attended that level of “prayer quality.” Continue reading

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The Kingdom of Heaven: Do Right for the Right Reasons

It’s been a little while since my last installment in the “Kingdom of Heaven” series through the Sermon on the Mount.

But I’m back now to pick up where we left off! We’d finished Matthew 5, so now we’re heading into chapter 6.

Chapter 5 focused very much on relationships: our relationship with God and with others. In that first third of His sermon, Jesus talked about things like hate, lust, divorce, faithfulness, going the extra mile, and loving everyone – even those who don’t return the love.

Chapter 6 transitions to a larger focus on our actions and the motivations behind our actions: Continue reading

The Joshua Commission: Go, and God Will Go With You

Go Where God Calls

After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying:

“Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them – the children of Israel.”

(Joshua 1:1-2, NKJV)

You may be, like Joshua, in the midst of grief. You may feel intimidated by the successes of those who went before you – or afraid because you know the failures they struggled with.

But no matter what is in the past, when God says it’s time to move, then move!

God called Joshua to cross into the land that He was giving to Israel. God is giving you a mission to fulfill as well. You don’t have to create it or plan it on your own: it’s a gift. All you have to do is say “yes” and go!

God will Keep His Promises

“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.”

(Joshua 1:3-4)

God promised Joshua specific results. As we start on our own mission, we may not have as many details. Like Abraham, we may be called to just go to the place God has shown us, and we might not know yet what that place is until we get there.

But this we do know: we can trust in the promises that God has given us. Just as He fulfilled His promises to Israel, so He fulfills His promises to us. “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deut. 7:9).

And we can trust that even if we don’t know all the specifics, He does. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

God Will Be With You

“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.”

(Joshua 1:5)

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31b). “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psa. 118:6).

Nothing and no one can stand in your way from accomplishing what He has called you to do. Why? Because He will be with you! You won’t have to fight the battle alone because He will stick beside you. You don’t have to be afraid, because you know that the victory is yours – because the victory is God’s! He will fight it with you and He will win it for you.

Find Courage in His Promises

“Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.”

(Joshua 1:6)

This is the first of three times in this commission that the LORD told Joshua to be strong and courageous. It must have been terrifying to shoulder the responsibility of leading the nation of Israel as they began their conquest of Canaan. No doubt he needed some encouragement!

So God told him (and still tells us today) not to fear.

God has promised the victory, and He has promised to go with you. Based on those assurances, take heart! Don’t let fears hold you back. Trust in His word and be emboldened by His promises. He has guaranteed success, so why hesitate?

Do What God Says

“Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.”

(Joshua 1:7)

Sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes it takes courage; but go where God calls and do what He says! If you do what’s right in His eyes, then you will prosper. Not necessarily materially, but certainly spiritually.

If you don’t turn aside to the right or the left, then where you will be? Always on the narrow path. Therefore God will bless you wherever you go, because you will always be going the way that He wants you to go.

Think On His Word

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

(Joshua 1:8)

Do you ever speak of Scripture? Do you ever meditate on it?

If you let God’s Word depart from your mind and heart for lengths of time, then you will eventually find yourself departing from God.

But if you keep it close, pondering it, speaking of it, seeking to follow it, then you will find yourself closer to God. And you will know better how to obey verse 7, staying on the narrow path without straying to the right or left. And again, God will give you success in what you do, because you’ll be doing what He wants you to do!

Psalm 1 tells us that when you delight in the law of the LORD and meditate on it day and night, you “shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever [you do] shall prosper” (v. 3).

Don’t Be Dismayed

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

(Joshua 1:9)

If you know what you are called to do, and Who has called you to do it – what is there to hold you back? There is nothing to fear.

Go where God wants you to go, and the God who went with Joshua will also go with you.

 

 

 

Fear

I am a fearful person.

I fear the unknown.

I fear the disapproval of others.

I fear the failure of what I set out to accomplish.

I fear the sacrifices I may have to make if I surrender wholly to God.

I fear what may happen as a result of this confession.

I fear the solution to my fear.

And that is not a good thing.

I know this in my head. How can I know it in my heart? Continue reading

Highlights from the Creation Museum & Ark Encounter

My family and I took a trip to see the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter in Kentucky in March 2017, and I had meant to post some pictures from that trip on here…. and never got around to it. But better late than never, right? So here goes!

(Click on any picture to enlarge it)