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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

There’s Nothing I Can’t Bring to God in Prayer

In review of Romans 8:32 it says, ”Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” (NLT).

Today’s verse from from Romans 8:31-39, where Paul explains that nothing can ever separate me from the God's love. He explains to me that If God is for me, who can ever be against me? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for me, won't he also give me everything else? God has give me a right standing with himself through Christ Jesus who died and was raised to life for me. He sits at the right at God's right hand, pleading for me. Can anything ever separate me from Christ's love? Despite all the things in my life, his overwhelming victory is mine through Christ who loves me. Because of this, its proof that nothing can ever separate me from God's love.
Given this, I should never think that I'm not good enough for God to save. If God has given his Son for me, he isn't going to hold back his gift of salvation. He won't turn around and condemn me. He will not withhold anything I need to live for him. Paul even says that Jesus is pleading for me in heaven. God has acquitted me and removed my sin and guilt, so it is Satan, not God, who accuse me. When he does, Jesus, my advocate, sites at God's right hand to present my case. No matter what happens to me, no matter where I am, I can never be separated from his love. Any suffering or problems I experience should never drive me away from Him, but help to identify with him and allow his love to reach and heal me.

I’m reminded this morning of the classic TV game show “Let’s Make a Deal” that features a simple concept: You pick what’s behind door number 1, 2, or 3, and then make a deal with the host.

In the eternal “Let’s Make a Deal,there are also three doors. Behind door number 1: I have sinned, and that means God, who is perfect, can not let me into his perfect heaven. I end up rejecting his offer to cleanse me of my sins, so I end up in hell. Door number 2: I have sinned, and I try to make up for it by doing some good things. But I can never be good enough to match God’s holiness, and I’ll still spend eternity separated from him. Door number 3: I submit to God’s plan and let Jesus cleanse me of my sins. Jesus Christ says, “Here’s the deal: I’ll take all of your guilt and sin, and I’m going to give you all of my goodness. You get to spend eternity in heaven with me.”

What a deal!

In fact, it’s the best news in the world. Heaven is a perfect place. I’m not getting there with all my badness. I’ll only get there with all of God’s goodness, but it’s already been paid for and it’s free, it’s a gift God offers me. Why? Because God is a good God. It’s the best deal I’m ever going to get!

Romans 4:25 says that Jesus “died for our sins and rose again to make us right with God, filling us with God’s goodness” (TLB).

So what does that have to do with prayer? It has everything to do with prayer. If I don’t understand this, I’ll never understand prayer. What God did for me at the cross makes prayer possible.

The Bible says, “Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” (Romans 8:32 NLT).

When Jesus Christ died for me on the cross, he solved my biggest problem. So any other problem I have in my life is small potatoes! If Jesus Christ, because of his goodness, died for me, I should know he loves me enough to help me with my bills, my health and my relationships? There is nothing I can’t bring to God in prayer. If Jesus loved you enough to die for you, he loves you enough to answer your prayer

Bottom Line:
God freely gave His Son for us, if He did this, won't he freely give us everything else.

What this means to me:
Since God didn't spare anything, he even gave his own Son, he will surely give me everything else I need.

In summary, If God is for me, who can ever be against me. God freely gave his Son as a sacrifice that paid the penalty for me. Jesus died for me and my sins. He rose again to make me right with God. What he did makes prayer possible. He gave me the greatest gift for the biggest problem I will ever have. Given this, there is nothing I can bring to God in prayer. He loves me enough to help me with any thing I face.

Today Father I give you praise for who you are and for what you have done for me. I offer up my life to you and give up my own agenda so that I can do what you made me to do. Help me to see this in my life and every day interactions. Please give me wisdom and guidance in what I do, and what I manage. Give me wisdom to lead my team and help me to respond to others in a loving and caring manner. Overall I want to make a difference in the lives of others. These things I pray in your Son Jesus name, amen!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Learning to Be a Better Listener

In review of Proverbs 20:5 it says, ”The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (NIV).

Today’s verse is Proverbs 20:5. It reminds me that someone’s thoughts may be as deep as the ocean, but if I’m smart, I will learn to discover them.

What I’m learning is that for my prayers to be effective, I need to learn how to be a good listener. Why? Because prayer is a conversation. While I may not hear God’s voice when I pray, he has still given me the Holy Spirit and Scripture to know how he wants me to live and to encourage me. I’m guilty of being too busy, and I talk too much to really hear and understand what God, and others, may be trying to tell me.

I think that I’m already a good listener. However there’s a big difference between hearing and listening! Hearing is simply the vibrations that take place in my ear. Listening is how I decode those vibrations in my brain. Many times I’ve heard my wife, my daughter, or co-workers say something, but I didn’t listen.

Good listening turns out to be a skill. And if I’m going to be effective in my prayer life, and in all your relationships, I must learn to develop it. This morning here are four tips I came across to become a better listener.

1. Withhold judgment and criticism from the start.
Don’t evaluate until I’ve heard and comprehended it all. I’ll admit that this isn’t natural. When someone else is talking and I hear something I disagree with, I’m tempted to say, “Time out! Stop right there! Let’s deal with this.” And I never get any further. But I need to hear the person out. Proverbs 18:13 says, “To answer before listening, that is folly and shame” (NIV).

2. Keep calm.
Don’t become defensive. The Bible says in Proverbs 19:11, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (NIV). If I’m patient, I’m wise. I need to be patient with people who are less mature and those who misjudge. I need to remain calm.

3. Be an active listener.
I become a good listener by asking creative questions. Proverbs 20:5 says, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (NIV). This verse says the real meaning of people is down inside of them. A person of understanding will be able to draw others out with questions.

4. Paraphrase and summarize.
To be a good listener I must be able to tell a person what they’ve just told me before I talk about what I need to talk about. Before I share my side of the story, I need to let the other person know I understand where he or she is coming from. To do this, paraphrase what they’ve said back to them.

Bottom Line:
Good advice lies deep within someone's heart, learn draw it out.

What this means to me:
Purpose and advice lie deep with someone's heart. If I am smart, I'll draw them out to discover them

In summary, for my prayers to be effective, I need to learn to listen. Prayer is actually a conversation. While I may not hear God's physical voice, he speaks to me through the Holy Spirit, His Word, and others. If I get too busy or talk to much, I won't really hear and understand what God and or others are telling me. To be a better listener, I need to withhold judgment and criticism. Don't evaluate until I've heard and comprehended it. This is much like one of Steven Covey's 7 habits, "Seek first to understand, then be understood". Keep calm. Overlook immaturity. Be an active listener. Ask creative questions to draw out responses. Lastly learn to paraphrase and summarize.

This morning Father I pray for me to practice better listening skills and to not be too busy or in a hurry. I also ask for your wisdom and guidance as I lead today and interact with others. Help my interactions with others be filled with love and in a helpful manner. These things I pray in your Son Jesus name, Amen!

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Four Ways God Answers My Prayers

In review of Luke 11:11-13 it says, ”You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (NLT).

Today’s passage comes from the last part of Luke 11:9-13 in a section where Jesus teaches his disciples about prayer. Jesus told them to keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. If my daughter asks for a fish, do I give her a snake instead? If she asks for an egg, do I give her a scorpion? Of course not! So if, a sinful person knows how to give good gifts to my daughter, how much more will my heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.

Persistence, or boldness, in prayer overcomes my insensitivity, not God's. To practice persistence does more to change my heart and mind than his, and it helps me to understand and express the intensity of my need. Persistence in prayer helps me recognize God's work.

Even though I will make mistakes, I still treat my daughter well. How much better my perfect heavenly Father will treat me, his child! The most important gift he could ever give me is the Holy Spirit, whom he promised to give all believers after his death, resurrection, and return to heaven.

God always answers every single prayer, just not always the way you want or expect it.

He does it in one of four ways.

When the request is not right, God says, “No.” Just like parents say “no” to their kids for a hundred good reasons, God doesn’t owe me an explanation every time he says “no” to my request.

When the timing is not right, God says, “Slow.” There’s a big difference between a delay and a denial. “No” and “not yet” are not the same thing, and learning and accepting the difference shows spiritual maturity.

When the request and timing are right, but I’m not right, God says, “Grow.” He wants to do something in your life before he answers your prayer because I’m not yet ready to handle the answer.

When the request is right and the timing’s right and I’m right, then God says, “Go.” God often gives me the green light to my prayers, and it’s a reason to celebrate!

Luke 11:11-13 says, “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (NLT).

I need to keep in mind the perspective that God is never going to give me anything that is hurtful or bad for me. After all, if even imperfect parents know how to give good gifts to their kids, won’t God, who is good and perfect, do even more for me? He is ready to answer my prayer, in his own perfect time and way.

Bottom Line:
Ask and receive. Seek and find. Knock and the door will be opened. We know how to give our children good things, we don't give them something bad. How much more will God provide for us.

What this means to me:
I am to keep asking, for if I ask, I can receive. If I seek, I will find. If I knock, the door will be opened. If my child asks for something I don't substitute it with something bad. So, If I know how to give good things, how much more will my heavenly Father do for me.

In summary, if I ask, I'll receive. If I seek, I will find. If I knock, the door will be opened. If I, as a sinful person, knows how to give good things to those I love, how much more will my heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to me. Persistence does more to change my heart and mind than his. It helps me to understand and express the intensity of my need. Persistence in prayer will help me recognize God's work. God will answer every prayer, just not in the way I'd want or expect. He answers in one of four ways. No, slow, grow or go. God will never give me something that is hurtful or bad to me. He is ready to answer my prayer, in his own perfect time and way.

I have a practical example today, as myself and my team are preparing for our office move. The new location has some new equipment and I’m now finding an issue where monitors are not being recognized for certain hardware types (which equate to about 1/2 of all computers.) I really didn’t expect this (and we had pre-tested and didn’t see this issue) and I really want to have no problems for people come Monday when they show up to work. I really need a solution that we could make work without work-arounds (just allowing them to plug in and work.) Yesterday, on my own effort and through some team members, I tried to come up with a solution. On my way home I started to pray that I would quickly find a resolution and have time to push out a fix. Other alternatives have come to mind, but they include either by passing the docking station or bringing over old ones to reconnect with.

Today I’m reminded that I should continue to pray for a solution and pray for those who are helping me with it. Consider a plan as an alternative approach if needed. Also, keep in mind the ways God answers. “No, slow, grow or go”.  So I pray this morning Father that you help me and my team find a solution and or determine an alternative plan. Help me to be open with my leadership about what I’m up against. I ask for your wisdom and guidance to pull all the logistics needed to execute the move and to be prepared for things that come up. Help me to lead those around me. Most importantly help me to respond in a caring manner to those I interact with. I pray these things in your Son Jesus name, Amen!

My Lasting Identity Comes from God’s Family

in review of Ephesians 2:19 this morning I read, “You are members of God’s very own family . . . and you belong in God’s household with ev...