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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1 Samuel 28: How the Mighty Have Fallen

At this point in our narrative, David has found refuge in Philistine territory and managed to keep up such a false face that the king of Goliath’s hometown believes him to be one of his greatest allies! In fact, as King Achish prepares to wage war against Israel, he calls upon David to help and promises to make the outlaw one of his top men in reward for his “loyalty.” And David, in sync with his undercover identity, agrees to come along and fight against his own people.

The scene closes there and shifts to Israelite territory. The narrator quickly reminds us that the beloved prophet Samuel is dead and that Saul has purged the land of “mediums and spiritists.” Then the camera zooms in on Saul himself. Continue reading

Do You Do Right to be Angry?

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I was grumpy. Those of you who know me may be surprised by that statement, but believe it or not, I do get grumpy from time to time! Don’t believe me? Ask someone in my family.

So anyway, I was grumpy. As is usually the case, it was over something stupid. My plans had been somewhat changed – hardly changed – but I didn’t like it. I was thinking grumpy thoughts toward my mom, even though it really wasn’t her fault. Honestly, when I think about it, I think I was grumpy because my plans had been sort of taken out of my hands and put in hers instead, and I was resenting the loss of control. Even though the end result was pretty much the same. Silly, right?

Well, as I was grumbling inwardly to myself, these words rose in my mind, “Do you do right to be angry?” Continue reading

Comparisons

I remember, when Life Action came to my church nearly 3 1/2 years ago, one of the leaders gave an illustration to the youth that I have not forgotten.

I don’t remember his exact words, but here’s the gist of what he said.

Ruler1He showed a picture of a ruler, and talked about how we create our own standards of holiness. We put people like Hitler down at the very bottom of the ruler, and other criminals pretty close to him. We put ourselves higher – closer to the top than to the bottom. Peers who do “more bad things than us” go a little below us, while above us go maybe a few people we really admire (our pastor, a famous missionary, the apostles, etc.). So we stand back and think, “I’m pretty well off! I’m not as bad as all those people below me, and I’m closer to the top than to the bottom. Yep, I’m a pretty good person.” Continue reading