Pray To Be A Servant

“and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Matthew 10:27-28

This verse tells us that those who desire to be honored in the kingdom of God must imitate His Son and become servants.  That means that as Christians, we should  all be praying daily for opportunities to serve  I found this resource online you might like to use as you ask God to make you His servant in the world.  Maybe you could print it out and try it as a spiritual discipline for one month.  What a great New Year’s Resolution it would be!

Click to access Servantprayercal.pdf

Not By Bread Alone

A previous post I did reminded me of this song, Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God.  I first heard it on my Lutheran Via de Cristo retreat weekend in 1990 and it has been a favorite ever since.  If it’s new to you, I hope it will become one of your favorites as well.  It speaks to our need for spiritual, as well as physical bread.

 

 

Seek The Kingdom

“And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.  For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your  Father knows that you need them.  Instead seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” Luke 12:29-31

Yesterday I spent most of the day with a group of ladies who are preparing to conduct a Via de Cristo Women’s Retreat weekend.  The leader gave us an ice breaker question.  We were tell the group what was the most important thing to us about our original weekend.  It was interesting to hear because there were so many different answers.  For one person it was the music;  for another a particular talk;  for another a conversation with a Pastor.  Women spoke about the love they felt, the acceptance they received and the people they met.  I heard comments like, “God must have planned that weekend just for me” or “I knew I was there to hear that one talk.”

What I got out of this was how different we all are.  Everybody needs something.  Not just food and drink, or money to pay the rent, but things like peace, friendship, mentoring, uplifting.  How amazing that God knows all our needs, physical and spiritual, and when we seek Him genuinely, He provides not only provides it all, but we get it at just the right time!

The key is for us to remember to seek His kingdom always;  to rest in His presence and His provision every day.  He knows our every need!  He’s taking care of things.  If we learn to seek Him, not just on retreat, but in the press of daily living, our lives would be so much easier!

So, I’m asking our readers, have you been on a Via de Cristo weekend, or any form of Cursillo retreat?  How did God provide for your needs that weekend?  I’d like to hear more answers.

The Prayer that Never Fails

“And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him.  And when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’  And he withdrew from the about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”  Luke 22:39-42

This post is in response to Beth Ann’s “Unanswered Prayer.”  On first reading of the verses above, you may think that Jesus’s prayer to the Father was not answered.  He asked to have the cup of suffering, which he knew was coming, removed.  That didn’t happen.  However, take note of the rest of the prayer … “not my will, but yours.”

If you have read any of the Mitford series of books by Jan Karon, you will remember that the main character, Father Tim, calls this “the prayer that never fails.”  Here’s a quote from another Christian book (Strengthen Yourself in the Lord by Bill Johnson)I was reading recently:

“Your faith grows as your heart, led by the Holy Spirit, perceives and understands the invisible realm of spiritual reality.  That unseen realm governs the visible realm and brings your mind and will into agreement with the reality of the Kingdom.  In essence, what I have just described is the process of renewing the mind.”

In some of our posts, we mentioned that prayer is about listening as well as talking.  If prayer is a conversation, it should not be one-sided. But I would challenge you to add,  prayer is about talking, listening, discerning the will of God, and lining our will up with His.

Wow, this is a hard teaching!  I cannot always do it.  It seems as if many of the things I desire and pray for are “good.”  I want that person I love to be healed;  I want my church to grow;  I want my friend to find a job.  It only seems reasonable to think that God must want these things, too.  But God’s ways are not my ways, and He does things at the right time, not my time.  Jesus knew this and He is my example.  To truly trust God, I must learn to add “the prayer that never fails” to my prayer repertoire.

My prayer partner sent me an email this morning and I read it as I was thinking about this post.  Here’s what she said about her recent doctor visit:

“So I’m praising God and thanking Him for whatever outcome He knows is perfect for me.”

I have learned so much from our prayer partner program.  These ladies are constantly reminding me of what prayer should be.  So, at least for today, I too thank God for whatever He has in store.  How about you?  Can you pray the prayer that never fails?

 

 

Count It All Garbage

We all know we’re to put God first.  If we’re honest, we also know how impossibly hard it is to do this.  Maybe we delude ourselves into thinking we’re putting God first if we are in church every Sunday and any other time there is a service.  Maybe we tell ourselves we’re putting God first if we tithe.  We may think having a quiet time of devotion or praying for a set amount of time each day qualifies us.  In actuality although all of these things are good and laudable and all of them lead us further in the process of sanctification, none of them are good enough.

Here’s a brief account of the standard God actually sets for putting Him and His kingdom first:

…the kingdom of God is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”  Matthew 12:45-46

Is God and his kingdom worth more to you than everything else you own?  Would you sacrifice everything, including your life for it?  The Apostle Paul says he would:

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.”  Philippians 3:8

Paul did not always measure up to his own expectations, because he also says, “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”  Romans 7:15  In all his human failures, Paul is still a better person than I am.  At least he really wanted to surrender everything.  Knowing how tightly I cling to the things of this world, I fear I would behave more like the rich young ruler in the book of Mark.  Remember what Jesus said to him when he asked what he had to do to gain eternal life?

“Jesus looking at him, loved him and said to him, ‘You lack one thing:  go, sell all that you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven:  and come, follow me.”  Mark 10:21

This young man went away sorrowfully because he couldn’t make that sacrifice.  He had great wealth which stood between him and making a complete commitment to Jesus.  Where is the gospel in this story?  Check out the very first sentence:  “Jesus …loved him.”  Jesus knows that none of us, even the most devoted can make the grade.  He had to do it for us, and He did it because He loves us.  As He tells the disciples in the same chapter,

“With man it is impossible;  but not with God.  For all things are possible with God.”  Mark 10:27

So consider what you are called to sacrifice for the kingdom and then do it.  It may be uncomfortable.  It may be IMPOSSIBLE.  You will probably fall short.  But remember, even when you fail, Jesus still loves you and so do I.

Let us know what you are trying to sacrifice for the kingdom of God.