Category Archives: Prayer

Search Me

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

We are masters of disguise, are we not? We are adept at hiding our innermost feelings from those around us. We can place the most villainous or depraved thoughts deep in the recesses of our mind and feel confident that no one will ever know–maybe they won’t. With a certainty, though, we can say that God knows.

David’s prayer in these verses is not so that God will search us so that HE may know what is in our heart. The entire psalm is about God’s knowledge of what is going on in the “secret” parts of our life. I believe that David was asking God to search him and then reveal to him the things about his life that were displeasing to God.

The word “search”, as used here, literally means, “to penetrate”. David has described the things that he is doing externally in his effort to please God, but he wants God to look beneath the veneer of activity into the substance of the soul. David realized that man has the potential for bitterness, anger, lust, murder, pride…any of the sinful desires of the flesh, and he knew that sometimes these impulses and imaginations could be compartmentalized and buried within us. Often these sins can be so deeply ingrained in our persona that we do not realize they are there. At other times we may have forgotten about unrepented-of sins in our past.

Are we willing to ask God to penetrate our heart, looking past the vain facades of denial, apathy and self-confidence? Are we able to place the entire evaluation of thoughts, motives and imaginations in His hands, asking Him to point out to us the areas of our life that displease Him?

What if He does start identifying trouble spots in our life? How will we respond? Will we meekly acquiesce to His verdict or will we become “spiritual lawyers” who look for loopholes or extenuating circumstances? Even worse, will we harden our heart to the conviction of His Spirit?

What we must never forget is that God already knowswhat is in our heart. This prayer is simply a matter of humbling ourselves before God and responding to His word, “lead me in the way everlasting”.

An Answered Prayer

In a brief post a few days ago, I had asked you to pray for a man in our community who was dying of cancer and did not know the Lord. This man was the father of one of the members of my church.

 This gentleman passed away late Tuesday evening, but I am thrilled to report that last night at church, his son shared that his father had accepted Christ as his savior before he passed away.

This was a tremendous blessing and an answer to prayer. I want to thank all of you who said a prayer for him.

Remember

Monday marks the fifth anniversary of the infamous terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, as well as the heroic efforts of the passengers of Flight 93.

It is my privilege to participate with many other bloggers in an effort to commemorate each of the 2, 996 victims of the WTC.

This post is in memory of George Llanes, age 33, resident of New York. I did not know George or anything about him, but I sincerely hope that his death does not go unpunished. I pray that God’s grace and peace will be with those who loved him and that through this horrendous set of circumstances, they will be drawn closer to Him.

You can read more about this memorial as well as other victims at this website.

May they never be forgotten.

Christ the Advocate

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. I John 2:1-2

John, in a fatherly manner, explains that he has written about fellowship, light and confession so that we will not sin. God has never intended for His grace to become a license to sin, but it instead gives us liberty from having to sin. We should never take sin lightly, because God doesn’t take it lightly. One need only look at what Jesus endured on Calvary to see God’s hatred for sin.

God knows, however, that we are still dealing with the ongoing tension between flesh and spirit. Daily we face the struggle and must constantly make the choice to walk in the Spirit (light) rather than the flesh (darkness). In those times when we fail to make the right choice, God has made provision for us to be forgiven if we are willing to confess our sins.

Jesus Christ is our advocate. These two verses are an explanation of verse 9 of the previous chapter, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

As an advocate, Christ has two functions. In the first, He speaks to God on our behalf. In response to our confession, He stands before the Father, presenting Himself as the covering (propitiation) for us. As the Father looks at us, He does not see the offense, but the righteousness of Jesus instead. When Christ was on the cross, He literally interposed Himself between us and the judgment of God. Now, when a believer confesses a sin before God, Christ presents His perfect sacrifice as payment for that sin and forgiveness is extended. This has nothing to do with our merit, but it is because the blood of a righteous advocate satisfies the justice of a righteous judge.

His second function is to speak to us on behalf of the Father. As mercy is extemded from the throne of God, Christ, by His Spirit, speaks peace to our soul, assuring us that all is forgiven and our fellowship with God is restored.

Don’t let unconfessed sin hinder your fellowship with God. Confess that sin and by faith receive the forgiveness that God has promised. Keep short accounts with God and enjoy the sweet communion that God desires to have with you.

“Croc Hunter” Dies

AP News reports that Steve Irwin, better known as Animal Planet’s “Croc Hunter”, was killed earlier today by a stingray while diving off the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Apparently the stingray’s barb pierced Irwin in the heart. His crew tried to resuscitate him but were unsuccessful.

While at times I thought he was crazy (for playing with snakes), his enthusiasm and obvious love for what he did certainly did provide for some wonderful and clean entertainment. My prayers go out for his wife and children.

He was 44 years old.

Bush Approves Abortion Pill

My brother over at Nephos posted earlier this morning that President Bush has expressed approval for Plan B, a “morning after” birth control pill that essentially aborts what is already conceived.

This is incredibly disappointing coming from a president who has promoted a “culture of life”.

You can read about the press conference in which he stated his support for the pill here.

While we definitely need to contact the Whitehouse and express our concerns (the article tells you how), I really think we need to go over his head on this one. Let’s talk to God about it.

The Bible says that the heart of kings is in the Lord’s hands. Let us pray that God will change the mind of President Bush concerning this abomination.

Weekend Survey

It’s hard to believe that it’s Friday already. This week we are going to take a new route on the survey.

Let’s call it Prayer and Praise. If you have a burden or prayer request, please feel free to share it with the rest of us. You can give as much or as little detail as you feel comfortable giving. I only ask that you say a prayer for at least one of the other requests given, and that you also leave an offering of praise to God.

Here are mine:

Request: Please pray for my family and me as we begin the homeschooling year today. Pray that we will have a profitable year.

Praise: Thank God that we have the opportunity to provide this for our boys.

I hope that your weekend is truly blessed of God.

The House that Prayer Built

Yesterday was a very exciting day at Pine Park Baptist Church. After 9 years of planning and praying, and 2 years of construction (and more praying), we finally moved in to our new facility.

We had a wonderful day with a great crowd (for us) in attendance. Many visitors came as we celebrated the miracle of the Resurrection inside our own miracle. In addition, we were able to baptize two who had recently come to faith in Christ. There were several there who had not been in church in a very long time. We had a great chance to share the Gospel with them and are praying that the seeds of God’s Word that were planted will come to fruition in their heart.

I call this building, “The House that Prayer Built”. As I mentioned, the church started planning this building about 11 years ago. Much thought and prayer had gone into the project, but about 21/2 years ago, it had come to a standstill. Money had just about stopped coming in, and there was no clear direction as to how to proceed.

As a church, we felt the need to seek the will of God. For 40 days, we held two prayer meetings a day. We had numerous prayer events and even had a couple of fasts (it does a Baptist good). As we prayed, we asked God for three things: wisdom, faith and unity. I do not tell you these things to bring attention to us, I tell you this so I can show you how God responds to the cries of His people.

We did not plan this at the outset, but by the end of the prayer campaign, our building committee came forward with a recommendation to begin construction. The vote in the church was unanimous, with several who had opposed the new project voting in favor of it. They said later that during the time of prayer, they saw the need for it and were now behind the project. We have not had one dissenting vote on any phase of the project since that day. God has blessed us with incredible unity.

This would require a bit of faith on our part, however. We did not have anywhere close to the amount needed to complete the project. Even the least expensive bids were well out of reach for our congregation. God raised up a man in our congregation who was qualified to oversee the project for us. This alone saved several hundred thousand dollars. We then began to realize that there were several steps we could take that would save money without sacrificing quality. Even after all of this, we still had less than half of the money needed to complete the project.

As a body, we felt strongly that we should build this without going into debt. I am not saying that it is always wrong for churches to finance things, but at this time, we did not believe that God was leading us to go in that direction. This raised the question, “What if we get started and can’t get it finished?” Thankfully, our people stepped forward in faith.

I say this to the everlasting glory of God. We worshipped in a brand new facility yesterday that is absolutely beautiful and DO NOT OWE ONE DIME! God is truly able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. You have to understand, we don’t have any wealthy people in our congregation, God brought the money in from some unbelievable sources. Our congregation realizes how blessed we are. We can testify that we know that God responds to faith in ways that we cannot imagine.

As you can tell, I am more than a little pumped about this. I want to continue with some more thoughts on forgiveness this week, but I just had to take a “time out” and share this blessing with you. To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Power to Forgive

Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet, we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5

It has been said that, “To err is human, to forgive divine.” I believe that is true. Forgiveness is something that only God can do through us. Oh sure, perhaps we can find it within ourselves to forgive the slight offenses against us, but we cannot forgive on the level that God does unless His grace accomplishes it in us.

The worst offense I have ever had inflicted upon me happened a few years ago. It involved betrayal by friends, being lied upon, my family being treated unjustly and a few other assorted unkind acts thrown in. I realize that I am certainly not the only one to have endured this, and it is certainly not as bad as circumstances that perhaps many of you have had to deal with. I only share this because I want to testify to the healing power of God’s grace that enables us to forgive. He helped me, He can help you.

It is not important that you know the details of the situation. I came out feeling humiliated and broken with a strong sense of loss and failure. I will admit that even though I knew I shouldn’t, I carried anger and resentment toward those who hurt me. I would try to deal with it, but I found the “old feelings” would still resurrect themselves given the slightest opportunity. Not long after, one of the parties involved was killed in a tragic accident. I am ashamed to say that a small part of me felt vindicated that this had happened. (This shows what unchecked bitterness can produce in us.)

I am learning that forgiveness is not always a “magic wand” that we can wave and make the hurt go away. I am learning that it is a healing process that God provides for us by His grace. Here is what I mean.

I had often read and even memorized the text I quoted above. I had even preached it on more than one occasion.

I knew that this healing was much more than mere physical healing, even though God is certainly capable of that too. I also knew that the sins we commit can leave their mark on us, but God’s grace is capable of healing that.

I had an epiphany one night, riding down the road and contemplating this scripture. It suddenly occurred to me to “connect the dots”. Jesus felt the pain of transgressions inflicted by others. Not only did He bear the pain of sins I have committed, He also has borne the pain of sins inflicted on me by others. I don’t have to carry that pain any more. When I claimed this truth, and surrendered this pain to Him, I felt a release like I had never experienced in my life. I could literally feel the hurt and bitterness leaving me. That night, I found the grace to forgive those who had hurt me as well as to admit my own wrongful contribution to the situation.

This is why God tells us to forgive others as He has forgiven us, for Christ’s sake. God is under no obligation to forgive us, but because Jesus bore the pain of our sins, God is willing to forgive. If He can forgive us for that reason, can we not turn loose of our pain and pride and forgive others for the sake of Christ?

My prayer for you that are carrying bitterness toward others in your heart is that during this Easter season, as you reflect on the ultimate sacrifice of our Savior, that God will give you the strength to turn loose of the pain and resentment. I pray that you will find the spiritual healing in Jesus that can lead you to forgive those who have sinned against you.

A Friend in Need

Let me tell you about my new friend. His name is David Eldridge and he is the pastor of Eastlawn Baptist Church in Pascagoula, MS. I had the opportunity to spend a little time with David this past week as I traveled with a group of men to the Gulf Coast on a recovery mission.

David, in his late twenties, is a graduate student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary working on his doctoral studies. Anyone who has ever tried to split time between studies and working knows what a challenge that can be.

Eastlawn Baptist Church is a fairly old church. At one time, the neighborhood around it was a place of prosperity. The church was thriving with over 600 in weekly attendance. Over a period of time, the neighborhood underwent a transition as many of the wealthy residents moved away. Attendance began to decline and by the time David arrived as pastor about a year and a half ago, they were running only about 85.

Then came Hurricane Katrina, pushing a storm surge that flooded the church with six feet of water. The inside of the building was destroyed by the water along with the homes of the whole neighborhood. The people of the church began to try to put their lives back together. David and his wife lost their home along with most of their members. The first service after the storm, they had less than 25 in attendance.

Shortly after the storm, a large church in another town called David and asked him to come be their pastor. This would have been a perfect opportunity for him to simply walk away from the rubble and get a fresh start in his life and ministry. Instead, he thanked the church but politely declined their offer. He feels that God knew that Katrina would devastate this neighborhood before He led David to Eastlawn and that God wants him to stay with these people and shepherd them through this process.

David has continued his studies at seminary. He and his wife have had to work at putting their home back together (still in progress). In the middle of all of this, they had a baby boy this past December. He is not only overseeing the reconstruction of the church, but also the homes of several elderly and widowed members of his congregation. While there has been a great outpouring of volunteer help from around the country, the responsibility of coordinating the recovery and rebuilding has fallen on his shoulders.

I told you all of that to say this, David desperately needs our prayers. He is exhausted. He is frustrated by slow-moving government agencies and insurance companies and contractors who are trying to gouge his people. He is trying to be the husband, father, pastor, student, and coordinator that he must be.

Please uphold this man of God and his church before the Lord. If you can, put them on your prayer list at church. I realize that this is only one story among many from this tragedy, but it is the one I know. Our brother needs a special measure of God’s grace to uphold him during this time. May he be strengthened with all might according to God’s glorious power.