His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)


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A Lever for Change

Peaceful protests are a good lever for change. Unfortunately, as we have seen, criminals and anarchists who don’t care about change are hijacking peaceful protests. The criminals just see an easy opportunity to get away with looting. I don’t pretend to guess what motivates the anarchists—it looks to me like they just enjoy stirring up trouble.

But there is one lever for change that is not so easily hijacked—your vote. I don’t know if there’s much our federal elected officials can do to fix problems such as the one that’s shattering our nation right now. But I do know there is something state and local officials can do. So, along with our peaceful (hopefully) protests, we should tell our local elected officials that unless they implement tangible and effective change by this November, we’re going to vote them out of office. I bet that will help get something done.

The best legacy for George Floyd and all victims of such crimes should not be violence, looting, and division. I think the best legacy that we could honor them with is to have all of us, regardless of race, come together around effective and long lasting change that will ensure that crimes like this never happen again. And in keeping with what I normally post about, more powerful even than our vote would be all of us praying together.

And yes, this is not the typical type of thing I post. But like many of you, because of what’s happened, and the violence that has come on the heels of violence, well, it’s stirred up too much anguish for me to keep bottled up. So I’ve added my small voice to the cries of all those who are also saddened, along with the groans of our country and society that seems to be trembling on the knife edge of survival (maybe that’s what the anarchists want—to push us all over the edge).


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Praying in the Name of Jesus—an Amazing Experience

I was just reading about what it means to pray in Jesus’ name, in the book, Abide in Christ, by Andrew Murray. And I finally saw a deeper, clearer meaning.

To pray to God in Jesus’ name is as if Jesus Himself is asking Father God on my behalf. Yet instead of Jesus asking for me, Jesus has said I can go directly to God and use His name. It’s almost like he says, “You have my approval to ask the Father.”

I’ve known this before, but today I think Jesus opened my mind to the deeper meaning, which is: Before Jesus will give me his approval to use his name, he needs to be willing. What I need to do is first go to Jesus and ask Him to bless my request. And I completely believe that Jesus will bless all prayers that glorify Father God.

And Jesus will show me how prayers can glorify God, and how to change errant prayers so they will then glorify God. Then, I can go to the Father with Jesus’ blessing and say something like, “Father God, in Jesus’ name and with His blessing, I humbly ask you for (insert request here).”

So today, I did just that. And what a GREAT time of prayer it was! I’ve never felt so certain that a prayer will be smiled upon by God and granted in some way. And now I’m excited to see the outcome.

Give it a try. It’s great!!! And if at first it feels awkward to go to Jesus and ask for his blessing, well, maybe the two of you just need to become closer friends. And the beauty of going to him with requests like that is the more you meet him in this way, the closer you will become.


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Just do it

So much violence… so much hatred… too much. Seems like the world is falling apart. Lots of people, like me, are trying to help by recommending we all look to God and Jesus for comfort and answers, and peace. What can I add that hasn’t already been said? Nothing. So with regard to what all compassionate folk are recommending, enough writing. I’m just gonna go do it. “Dear Jesus, I’m hurting and I need your help…”


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Chasing Humility and Peace – Day 26

Trying to escape stress, stress of life, mainly stress at work.

I run, but I stumble, and stress tackles me.

So I run to God, to Jesus’ Spirit within me.

Surrender to Jesus and His peace; that’s my soul’s desire.

Yet surrender requires humility, so now I’m running to that.

Then this morning, dark MONDAY morning… something new.

My mind fell into that old stress-pit of brooding over Monday.

Oh how I dread Monday’s.

But then God gave me that “something new,” a new thought.

And I started praying for people at work.

Everyone, especially those who push my buttons and set me ablaze in the stress-inferno.

Praying.

There’s peace in prayer.

There’s compassion in prayer, even for the button-pushers.

Monday doesn’t feel so bad now.

Monday can be exciting, and maybe fun.

For this Monday I go to work with God.

And we will pray for my co-workers.

While in the midst of that stress-pit of work, I’ll pray for the button-pushers.

Dear Jesus, thank you.

Let’s go pray Your grace upon everyone we meet.

And please help me show them Your love and humility.

 

Day 25                    Day 27 →

 


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Dear God … for Terrie

Dear God, dear Jesus… you know Terrie’s condition. You see the Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma that is rapidly killing her. You see her now, in that hospital bed.

I don’t know Terrie as well as you do. In fact, I haven’t seen her for many years. But because of your love that fills me now, I too feel love for Terrie, like a brother for a sister. And I love her husband, as a brother. And I love her children, as a father. Unfortunately, I’m feeling this love more profoundly only now – now that I’ve heard about Terrie’s pain and suffering.

Lord, as you know, Terrie enters my mind a lot these days, ever since we heard of the relapse. Today I just felt like writing my prayers, and sharing my prayers with anyone who might like to join us in prayer.

Dear Jesus, as I feel your presence within me now, please pour your presence into Terrie, and throw out the evil disease that possesses her, and fill her with your love and peace. I know you love Terrie, and maybe you are ready to bring her home to heaven to live with you. But I also know you love her family. For her family, please heal Terrie so she can remain with them a while longer.

But no matter what dear God, your will be done. I give all my trust to you. Thank you dear Lord. Thank you dear Jesus, for sending your Spirit to be with Terrie now. She may not feel you there with her, but you’re there.

All my love for you dear Jesus.

CJ


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Where to go to Church?

church

It’s Sunday morning – time to get ready to go to church. Do you have a church to go to? Do you have a way to get there? If not, maybe do as I’m doing on this Sunday. Instead of looking to others for “church,” look within yourself.

Find a quiet place to be alone, but not truly alone. As Paul said, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

The one true Church, the Church that Jesus built, is not a building or a manmade organization. The true Church is the body in which the Holy Spirit of Jesus lives… my body, your body, the collective bodies of all who choose to believe and accept the gift of Jesus’ salvation and presence.

Manmade church can be great – I’ve grown a lot by going to such a church. But it’s not the true Church that Jesus built.

Do you want to go to Church today? Then quiet your mind, close your eyes, and look inside yourself … to the Spirit of Jesus within you. That’s where you can truly worship and praise Him. And maybe even sing a song for Him. I bet He’d enjoy such a one-person choir.

“But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” (Hebrews 3:6)

“And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22)


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Coffee With Jesus

coffee with Jesus

One of my favorite times of the day is early morning, when it’s still dark outside, with my cold hands warming around a hot cup of coffee. My mind starts out wandering, never stopping long in one spot. My thoughts are looking for Jesus, within me, yet my spiritual attention deficit disorder (SADD), keeps scattering my thoughts, hindering my efforts to find Jesus.

But soon the coffee gives my wandering mind the strength to wrest control of my thoughts and focus on my search for Jesus. And He’s always there waiting for me, in the midst of my thoughts.

We sit there together, while I sip my coffee. Closing my eyes to block out the distractions of the world, I look inside, to Jesus. And we just hang out together. Sometimes I talk. Often I try to just quiet my mind and listen. This quiet time with Jesus is my favorite time of the day. And I’m so grateful.


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Connected by Prayer

vine and branches

Instead of judging my friend and their annoying behavior, I decided to pray for them. Often, when I pray for someone who makes me annoyed or angry, I’m actually praying for myself. I ask for patience and understanding.

As I went through my day, frequently praying for my annoying friend, I realized I was truly praying FOR them, instead of me. I kept thinking that they are annoying for a reason – some pain in their life, perhaps. My prayers became filled with a compassion for my friend, rather than annoyance. And then the surprise opened up before me.

I started feeling a strong connection with my friend; some kind of spiritual connection, I believe. And I believe that connection was through Jesus. His vine and branch image came into my mind, where Jesus said, I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Our mutual connection with Jesus connects us to each other, spiritually. And I now believe that compassionate prayers FOR someone will strengthen those connections.


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Prayer vs. Judgment

do not judge

I’ve been reading The Good and Beautiful Life, by James Bryan Smith, just finishing the chapter about judgment. I learned a seismic truth while reading this chapter and then talking about it in our small group last night.

Smith gives a quote by Philo of Alexandria, who said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Being judgmental can come so naturally for me. It’s often irresistible. But when I look at my target, and realize that the behavior I wish to judge may be battle scars – my judgment melts into compassion. And given time, compassion feels a lot better than judgment.

Where judgment can lead to criticism, compassion leads me to prayer. And from my experience, prayer is far more helpful than judgment. Where feelings of judgment eat at my soul, compassion and prayer feed my soul. And my hope is that prayers will lead to healing of battle scars.


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My Quiet Time

Not alone in the trials

Quiet time.

I’m so grateful for the silence,

and the emptiness of activity.

Life is so loud sometimes.

I can’t hear even myself.

Definitely can’t hear God,

even though He’s right here within me.

But sometimes I squander the gift of quiet time.

Sometimes I fill it with my own noise.

Yet, once I empty myself of all the racket in my mind,

I can then see God, patiently waiting for me.

He’s always here, somewhere below my noise,

waiting for me to accept His gift of quiet time.

And I’m so grateful.

 


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Learning the hard way

learning hard way

The most effective lessons are the ones you figure out yourself.

Almost daily, I earnestly ask God to show me how to do something, like solving a writing problem in the book I’m working on. Though I feel His presence with me, and at times, He does seem to give me the answer, He doesn’t solve all my writing challenges.

It just occurred to me that maybe God has a good reason for not showing me the solution to all my problems. Like any good parent or teacher, maybe God is telling me that for some problems, I need to figure out the solution myself.

What do you think?


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Creepy Christians?

Here are some of the ways I used to feel around Christians; see if these sound familiar to your experience:

  • I felt like Christians were constantly judging my behavior and actions.
  • It seemed to me like Christians thought they were better than everyone else.
  • I felt like Christians disliked me and everyone else who wasn’t a Christian.
  • I thought Christians were flat-out weird whenever I saw them praying in public, and I’d stay far away from them, as if I didn’t want to catch whatever sickness they had.
  • The worst was that I always felt like Christians were trying to pressure me to convert and take on their beliefs. Just leave me alone and let me be how I want to be!!! – that’s how I felt.

Than I became a Christian. I remember my sister saying, “Oh no, are you now a Jesus Freak?” The answer was yes. Yet even though I had become crazy about Jesus, I sure didn’t want to become creepy. Ever since I decided that I really like Jesus and believe in Him, I’ve been searching for the truth of what a real “Christian” should look like. In other words, how would Jesus have Christians appear to non-Christians?

For all who call themselves “Christian,” here’s some advice from the experts (note, I like to put Jesus’ words in red, since He’s the best expert on the subject):

“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Corinthians 8:9)

“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” (Romans 14:13)

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” (Romans 14:1)

“But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12)

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men… But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matthew 6:5, 6)

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men.” (Hebrews 12:14)

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

“Be merciful to those who doubt.” (Jude 1:22)

All Christians should pay attention to the advice of the experts.


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It’s a Cold, Cruel World

It’s difficult and often dangerous out in the “real” world. As I raised my children, I protected them, fed them, taught them, cared for them, and loved them. I did my best to create a safe, joyful and loving environment at home. Yet they left.

Well of course they left; that’s the way of our society. Raise your children and then send them off on their own, to fend for themselves and put what you taught them into practice, hopefully.

It’s part of our nature to want to go out on our own, and live independent of our parents. We want to make our own decisions and direct our own life, without having to report to someone else. And along with this comes the responsibility of dealing with our own problems, on our own.

Of course for many of us, mom and dad are no farther away that the other end of the telephone, and they are often willing and able to help us deal with our problems. We may have left them when we moved out of their house, but they never really left us. Loving parents make themselves always available to help and guide their adult children.

Where am I going with all this? Well, I think this little scenario illustrates our history and relationship with God.

Humanity, in the persons of Adam and Eve, were lovingly raised by God, who offered them a home with Him, forever. He would protect them, feed them, teach them, care for them and love them. But the independent nature kicked in. Adam and Eve wanted to leave home and go out on their own, make their own decisions and direct their own lives.

I know some self-proclaimed atheists who make a case that all of the world’s problems are evidence that there is no God, for how could a God possibly allow so much evil. The truth is, God does not allow evil, in His home. But humanity struck out on their own, into the cold, cruel, evil world. We left God to go out on our own, spurred on by our prideful ego, which told us we were smart enough to live independent from God.

Yet we are not alone in this cold, cruel world. God is always just on the other end of the phone, lovingly willing to help us deal with our problems. All we need do is call, and listen.


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Misguided Worship; the Catholic Elevation of Mary

One of my past posts solicited the following comment: “Since Mary is the immaculate mother of Jesus and he was unable to deny her wishes on Earth (see wedding feast of Cana) she is the ideal intercessor!” I don’t know if this one comment represents the view of the entire Catholic Church, but it sparks some issues I would like to talk about.

First I would like to discuss this idea of Jesus taking direction from His mother, supposedly being “unable to deny her wishes.” Then I will try to compare the Catholic view of Mary with the biblical view (they are not one and the same). My intention is not to demean Mary in any way, but I do plan to focus on the truth; not according to the Catholic Church, but according to God.

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Was Jesus truly unable to deny the wishes of his mother? What does the following tell you about Jesus’ relationship with Mary?

“While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:46-50)

Jesus puts all who obey on the same level as His mother. He himself does not elevate her above anyone else. So why does the Catholic Church?

However, do Jesus’ words in the bible indicate that He was inclined to follow the direction of His mother, or did His guidance come from elsewhere? Please consider His own words…

“I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” (John 8:28-29)

“For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” (John 12:49-50)

“The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” (John 14:10)

“These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” (John 14:24)

“…the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” (John 14:31)

Jesus follows His Father, not His mother.

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Regarding the Catholic view of Mary, one of her attributes is that she is an object of Catholic prayer. One of the most familiar Catholic prayers is directed toward her; “Hail Mary, full of grace…”

Does Jesus call us to pray to His mother? No. Jesus tells us to go directly to God…

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:9-12)

And…

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)

In addition to being an object of prayer, Mary appears to be an object of worship. For me, it’s difficult if not impossible to separate worship from prayer. After all, prayer is an expression of worship. Praying to Mary is worshiping her.

What does God have to say about our worshipping other than Him? From the 10 Commandments:

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.” (Exodus 20:4-5a)

From this point in Exodus to the end of Revelation, we are told to worship only God…

“I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!” (Revelation 22:8-9)

Even an angel is not to be worshipped, and neither is Mary. Worship God!

I do not write this in order to criticize the Catholic Church. I write this out of concern for the souls of all who follow the ways of the Catholic Church. Jesus is concerned too…

“You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” (Matthew 15:7-9)


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Weak Faith = Weak Prayers

Have you ever noticed how you can gauge a person’s faith by how they pray? I’ve written about this before (“How would Jesus pray?”), but after just now receiving a particular prayer request, I can’t help but whine yet again.

I’m on a prayer chain at the church I attend. Tonight, after getting home from work and opening up email on my home computer, I found another in a continuous stream of prayer requesting messages. This one is for a certain person who has a medical problem and has been taken to the hospital. The request comes from their spouse, and what do you think they are asking for?

Let me see; first they want a “correct diagnosis of the problem.” Okay, the doctor can handle that. Then they ask for “effective treatment for physical healing.” Again, the doctor can probably handle that one as well. Next, they ask for “peace of mind for the family.” Well, I suppose the correct diagnosis and effective treatment will take care of the peace of mind. So far, I don’t see anything specifically for God. Oh wait, here’s one; the final request is for “a clear sense of God’s presence.” Last but not least I suppose.

I have to admit, I almost felt anger at this prayer request. It’s just so pathetic and weak. As I’ve written before (“Anything you want – just ask”), Jesus told us over and over again to ask for ANYTHING we want, and He will give it to us. So given that opportunity, the person submitting this prayer request asked for three things, before finally getting around to asking God for something only He can give.

Maybe look at it this way. If you went to the hospital in need of a complex surgical procedure, and you were given a choice of having a first year intern perform the surgery, or having the foremost specialist in the entire world do the surgery; who would you choose? By our lack of faith, too often we do not ask our foremost specialist for the kind of help that only He can give.

I did like their request to have a clear sense of God’s presence. And since I believe in what Jesus told us about asking for anything, I decided to ask for something that would bowl them over with God’s presence, the one thing that they should have asked for in the first place: I asked God for complete and spontaneous healing. Just for the fun of it, answer all four prayers with one holy healing. Maybe then they will understand the true power and love of God. And maybe then, they will no longer dishonor God with pitiful requests.

Please forgive me if I sound a bit harsh. A glass of red wine has a way of opening me up, so my true inner feelings spill out. And with that, good night and sweet dreams. (no matter what time it is when you read this, it’s bed time for me).

May God bless you and show you that He is capable of more than you can possibly image. Just ask Him, please.


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The answer’s not always yes

Please forgive me for ignoring something very important in the past three posts. I would like to thank seekhispurpose for pointing it out. In my enthusiasm to illustrate a power in prayer that I believe comes from praying with certainty and expectation, I ignored the fact that with our prayers, the answer is not always yes.

God doesn’t necessarily give us everything we ask for, no matter how strong our faith. When I look back at what I’ve written, I think I wrote those three posts for me as much as for anyone else. My faith in prayer feels weak sometimes. I feel that if I prayed with more faith in God’s love, I might experience more of His grace, in the form of answered prayers. Praying with doubts, as I sometimes do, is not a very good way to pray. I often feel like the father who responded to Jesus by saying something like, “Lord, I believe. Please help me in my unbelief.”

Yet even in our strongest moments of faith and belief, sometimes God says no. I don’t pretend to understand why God occasionally turns down our requests. Yet I do believe that His ways are as far above my ways, as heaven is above the earth.

I’m reminded of a time when I was helping with our church’s youth group. A close friend of many of the teenagers in our group had just died. Only a couple of days after his death, we got together for our regular weekly meeting. We didn’t start with a rowdy game, like we normally would have. Instead, we talked and listened and sat in silence.

One of the leaders told the kids something that has stuck with me. In comparing our relationship with God to a child’s relationship with their parent, he said something like this: “When you were a little child, like around 3 or 4 years old, did you always understand why your parents did the things they did? Now looking back, do you feel you understand more today? Do you think as you grow to become an adult yourself, you will understand your parents past actions even more?” After pausing, he concluded, “It’s like that with God. We are now like very little children to God. There is no way we can understand why He does certain things, or why He allows certain things to happen. Yet someday, maybe not until we are in heaven, we may understand.”

When the answer is no, I just try to accept the fact that I’m too little to understand God’s ways. It’s sometimes painful, like with a little child who is not able to have their way, but I believe I will be better for it, in the end.


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Anything you want – just ask

What’s holding you back? Why don’t you have everything you want? Are you taking Jesus at His word?

“Ask and it will be given to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

Judging by how often Jesus encouraged us to ask, I don’t think He wanted us to be timid about it.

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19)

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:22)

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24)

“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (John 15:7)

“I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” (John 16:23)

Ask… ask and believe… ask in His name. So why don’t you have everything you want? Why don’t I? I’ve been thinking about this for the past couple of days. I ask for quite a lot, and I sincerely believe I’m asking for things that are in line with what God wants; like healing for friends, salvation for loved ones. Yet what I ask for is not always granted. Why?

Did Jesus lie to us? I don’t believe that. Did He really not mean what He said? I don’t believe that either. The only thing that makes sense is that Jesus told the truth. So if my prayers are not being granted, I need to look at me for a fix.

The answer is simple, and we all know it: we need to ask with faith. We need to believe that God will give us what we ask for, and we need to ask in Jesus’ name. Okay, I believe and I ask in His name – but I still don’t have what I want.

Yet, do I really believe? That’s the real question I’ve been pondering the past couple of days. Do I really believe that God will give me anything I ask for? We’re talking anything here? Not just trivial stuff, but big stuff as well.

When I ask God to heal my friend of cancer, do I believe He will do it? I believe He’s capable, but I have to admit, most times when I ask for prayers of healing, deep down inside I don’t really expect God to do it. What kind of belief is that?

It’s like my son who recently came to me at 10:30 in the evening and asked, “You wouldn’t be willing to let me spend the night at David’s, would you?” He asked for what he wanted, but he didn’t expect me to give it to him (and I didn’t). Is that how we sometimes ask God for the things we want?

I ask you, next time you go to your Father in prayer, ask with certainty, ask with expectation. Don’t just believe, but expect God to answer. Don’t just believe, but depend on God to give you what you want. Rely on Him.

One final thought. It’s not just you I am thinking of; I’m also thinking about those who are not Christian. What kind of message do they see in how we pray? What kind of image of God do we paint for others to see? Do people see an all-powerful, gracious and generous God? Or do they see a weak, stingy God? Imaging if you will what the impact would be if all Christians asked and received whatever they asked for. What a powerful statement of God’s love, power and reality.

I’ve given one example of why I think we don’t receive what we ask for (we ask without certainty and expectation). Please add to this with ideas of your own.


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Catholic Confession – A Manmade Obstacle

It just didn’t make sense to her. Why should Mary have to see a priest to confess her sins? As she explained it to me, this was a key reason Mary left the Catholic Church; she didn’t like the idea of a middleman. To Mary, the confession felt like an obstacle, hindering her from being close to God. Why couldn’t she just go directly go God?

Yet Jesus tells us to go directly to God. He told us to 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 today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:9-12)

And…

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)

I think it all boils down to relationship. What kind of relationship does Jesus want to have with those who love Him, with those He calls “friend?” Jesus wants a relationship that is far more intimate than any we are familiar with. “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” (John 15:4) If Jesus is in us, and we are in Him (ignoring for now what that means and how that might look); yet isn’t this clear that it describes an unusually close relationship?

“Come to me,” “follow me – these are the words Jesus frequently used. Throughout the gospels, Jesus clearly conveys that He wants our focus to be on Him. Praying to an intermediary is a distraction; it takes our focus off of Jesus. Does that sound right to you?

Think of it this way: if I wrong my best friend, how would they feel if I go to an intermediary to ask for forgiveness? “What? E.D. wouldn’t come directly to me? I thought we were better friends than that.” How do you think Jesus feels when those He suffered to save, avoid Him; when His loved ones go to an intermediary to ask His forgiveness? He DIED for our sins; shouldn’t we go directly to Him when wanting to repent of those sins?