Expect an Answer – James 1:5-7

When you pray, do you ask God for something.  Perhaps an answer to a problem you’re having, or for a blessing you may need?  Do you ask God a question on why God has allowed something to happen? Have you asked him about what you are supposed to do next in a situation?  I’m sure we all have, that’s a natural part of prayer.  In fact, in the book of James, we see that God actually wants us to ask him, He wants us to seek his wisdom.

If you need wisdom — if you want to know what God wants you to do next — ask him, and he will gladly tell you.  He will not resent your asking.  -James 1:5

God will give us answers, he will answer your prayers.  That doesn’t always mean we will receive the answer we want, but He will answer and we can be assured that the answer is the right one, the one that is best for us and fully within God’s nature and will, even if we disagree with him or don’t like it.

Let me point out something else that I believe we often forget.  It comes from the very next verse in James.

But when you ask, be sure that you really expect an answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  -James 1:6

So when we ask, do we really believe that God will answer?  Again, I don’t mean just a disagreement in the answer that we do receive….but do we really believe he will answer at all?  I find myself often praying for direction from God and then as soon as my prayers are done, go back to stressing, worrying and trying to figure out an answer to that which I just asked God to answer.   I laid my burdens down at the feet of God, which he says in so many places in the Bible that we should.  And then I pick them right back up when my prayers are done as if to say….”OK God, I’ll take those back since I’m not sure you’ll take care of it for me.”

People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  -James 1:7

God promises to answer our questions and petitions we pray about in a way that fulfills His holy will.  We just need to believe that He actually will answer.  Just think of how much stress and anxiety we could be rid of if we simply believed.  I know I seem to be ending this post on a bit of a bleak note…so let’s go back to James 1:5, see God’s promise and then believe that he will provide answers.  The joy will be unending if we simply believe.

If you need wisdom — if you want to know what God wants you to do next — ask him, and he will gladly tell you.  He will not resent your asking.  -James 1:5

 

A Christmas Blessing

As I had my morning coffee this Christmas Eve, I was reading through some news sites and blogs and was amazed at what I saw, news about retailers sales figures this Christmas, the latest news about the A&E and Duck Dynasty controversy, Planned Parenthood releases a 12 days of contraception video (really???!).  I saw blog posts on why we should be buying this or that technology this Christmas, I saw videos that play at the heartstrings (Apple I’m calling you out here with your Misunderstood commercial) but still miss the point of this time of year.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a scrooge, I love this time of year — the gifts, the lights, the songs, the TV specials.  I love Santa Clause and all the goodness he represents.  I love all the fun and excitement the children have on Christmas morning.  But do we still remember why this exists?  I think it’s all about the blessings.  The blessings that we are to others when we give them a gift or simply our time.  The gift that God gave us in his Son, the greatest gift of all.  It’s about the blessings, not receiving, but giving.

St Nicholas

As I said, I love the idea of Santa Clause.  Looking back at the origins of Santa, we go back to St. Nicholas, a fourth century bishop famous for giving gifts to the poor.  In one legend, he gave bags of gold, in secret so as not to embarrass the recipients publicly for accepting charity, to three daughters who could not afford their dowry and would most likely become prostitutes.  St. Nicolas was a blessing to those he helped.  St. Nicolas devoted his live to Christ, he could help himself but to be a blessing to others.  

War on Christmas

I don’t like the term “War on Christmas”.  I don’t think it’s accurate.  I think what we have is a situation where we as Christians are neglecting the true meaning of Christmas.  We are falling into a trap where we are keeping the blessings to ourselves, being recipients of blessings, but not being a blessing to the world.  So what can we do today, in this age of commercialism and selfishness? 

  • Wake up each morning and ask yourself….Who Can I Bless Today?  God will show you.
  • Be forgiving.  Not just on Christmas or Thanksgiving, but year round.  Be difficult to offend.  Be quick to forgive those in your family and circles of influence.  Be giving and forgiving to those on the margins of society.
  • Change lives one day at a time.  Even a small contribution can add to a great difference in those that receive.
  • Reflect back on your life and count your blessings.  Be thankful for all that God has given us.  What if God only gave us what we thanked him for?

Small steps, but each reflect a blessing that you can be to others.  Who cares what the media says, what political correctness deems we can or can’t say or think, what those non-believers and cynics say we “must” believe…..if we take small steps, despite their efforts to squash the meaning of Christmas, we can be a Christmas blessing all year round.

God Bless all of you and Merry Christmas!

Bible Study Minute – Psalm 118:24 – Today is the day

Psalm118-24Today is the day that God has given us.  There are days that are easy to rejoice in and there are days that rejoicing is the last thing on our minds.  But let’s remember what we learn in this psalm,

This is the day the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it.  -Psalm 118:24

When reading through the psalms, we can notice that the writers situations were often out of hand, or their sorry or guilt was overwhelming.  The writers wrote their psalms to God, telling him exactly how they felt, often crying out and questioning why they were in the situation they were in.

Something important to note was that they were completely honest with God, telling him exactly how they felt.  But as they talked with God, their prayers ended in praise.  God had given them a reason to rejoice and they praised God for that.

When you don’t feel like rejoicing, tell God how you truly feel.  God will give you a reason to rejoice.  God has given you this day to live and to serve him, be glad and praise him for that!

Bible Study Minute – Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in God Completely

Trust in God completely, there is no need to worry.  That is the message we get from Proverbs 3:5.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  -Proverb 3:5

When we worry we are actually saying, “If I try hard enough, I can find a solution to my problem.”  This is the opposite of what this verse tells us.  Worry is our failure to trust in God to take care of the situations that arise in our life.  Worry never changes our circumstances, it just changes us.  The stress and anxiety actually release chemicals in our brain that have adverse effects on our well-being, both mentally and physically.

Removing worry from our lives is easier said than done at times.  But start by thinking and saying “I trust in God completely;  there is no need to worry.”

 

Bible Study Minute – Proverbs 1:19 – Greedy for Gain

Proverbs1:19I was reading through some other things this morning, and came across the verse quite unexpectedly.  Again as God often does, I stopped to read it, then I had to re-read it and it got me thinking.

How often do we think “Man, life would be easier if we just made more money” or do we wish we had a bigger house, nicer car, or the latest, greatest gadget.  I don’t think that hoping or praying for such things is necessarily wrong, but if it begins to become an obsession, then we run into problems.

Such is the fate of all who are greedy for gain.  It ends up robbing them of life.  -Proverbs 1:19

Such a simple little verse, but says so much.  The fate that is talked about there is mentioned in the previous verse.

But not these people!  They set an ambush for themselves; they booby-trap their own lives! -Proverbs 1:18

Who are these people that those “greedy for gain” are compared to?  Verse 16 tells us it’s those that commit crimes and that hurry to commit murder.  That’s putting them in some company there.

One of the traps we can fall into very easily is being “greedy for gain.”  It begins when the enemy plants a suggestion that we can’t live without something or more money.  That desire feeds upon itself until it becomes an all-consuming obsession.  When obsessed like this, you miss out on the blessings that god is trying to provide us (which is sufficient – 2 Corinthians 12:9) and we miss out on opportunities that God puts before us where we can be a blessing to others.

Personal Application

I personally struggle with this.  Not that I’m striving for great possessions or an absolute ton of money, but I have a tendency to look at everything I do and try to find a way to make money from it.  I have a hard time just sitting back and enjoying something I’m doing.  I’m always looking for an angle to monetize it.  This tends to make my hobbies and what should be times of enjoyment and relaxation into work.  Eventually, I get tired of the stress or the failure of monetizing something and I give up on it and move on to something else.  Never realizing the full enjoyment out of it.  I keep doing this over and over again, never learning from my failures before.  I have a saying that I like to repeat, “Practice makes permanent, not perfect.

I do feel to that if God has intentions of blessing me through some activity or hobby, he will do so.  By my meddling and looking for the angles I’m slowing the whole process down and I’m not receiving the full blessing that god is giving.  If I just sat back and enjoyed myself and stopped worrying about my “greed for gain,” the blessings would come and I could be a blessing to others.

 

Who Can I Bless Today?

Who can I bless today?  That would be a nice thing to think everyone morning when I climb out of bed.  Who can I bless?

Do I actually think that?  Not often enough unfortunately.  I often worry about how I’m going to be blessed this day.  How will God work in my life to get me out of my problems?  How will God improve my lot in life?  Those are the type of things that naturally go through most of our minds I imagine.

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.  –Galatians 6:10 

God wants us to not only be a blessing, but be looking for opportunities to be a blessing.  Could be as simple as saying a kind word, or helping someone carry their groceries, or paying for someone else’s meal or tank of gas.  God will present opportunities to us each day, to be a blessing to others.  We have to listen and be ready no matter how awkward or crazy the notion may be.  You never know who God will put in front of you to bless directly or even indirectly.  Who may witness your act of kindness and be blessed by that?  You never know and should always be ready.

I’m going to try and ask every morning…..Who can I bless today?

Bible Study Minute – Romans 8:26 – Holy Spirit

Romans8-26-2As often happens in my Bible study time, I’ll begin reading one section of scripture, only to be lead to another which was what God really wanted me to see at that time.  So it happens today, when I was reading Romans 8:28 and I accidentally read Romans 8:26 (I guess at 5:30 in the morning, my eyes have trouble with the small print).

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress.  For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray.  But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. -Romans 8:26

After my initial confusion, since it wasn’t what I was expecting to read, I realized, that God was speaking to me in that verse.  My Bible study took a decidedly different turn than what I had set out to do.

The Holy Spirit seems to be forgotten quite often.  I know I often forget about the great gift that God gave us in the Holy Spirit.   Jesus tells us God is sending the Holy Spirit to us.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you. – John 14:16

This promise that God will be sending us the Holy Spirit who will never leave us, who is with us always should show the importance and power of what God has given us, yet I tend to forget that He is there.  Looking back on Romans 8:26, we see that the Holy Spirit will pray for us when we don’t even know how to pray.  Moving on in verse 27;

And the Father, who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. -Romans 8:27

So when we don’t know what or how to pray for a situation in our lives, the Holy Spirit does, and the Spirit knows what God’s will is and will pray in accordance to God’s plan.  So we can be assured that whatever our issue is that we are trying to pray about, the Holy Spirit will make sure it get’s before God on our behalf.

There are times when I’m praying about something, that I find myself fumbling for words or how to pray about it.  At those times, I often would just say “God, you know what I’m trying to say” and at that point I usually find a peace about it.  I believe that at those moments, the Holy Spirit takes over, puts my prayers before God and comforts me by giving me a peace about it.  I now believe that what is playing out, is exactly what Romans 8:26,27 are talking about.