God & Idols?

Thus says the Lord GOD: “Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations” ~ Ezk. 14:6

There is no room in your heart for both God and idols. The Lord desires to sit on that throne and does not tolerate any idol competing for your love, devotion and affections. We cannot serve both God and mammon (idols). The call to all true believers is to turn away from every form of idolatry and to turn heart, soul and mind to God in Christ. It is the doubled-minded person who tries to serve God and keep secret sins, desires and idols tucked away in their heart. Let us be willing and eager to repent from these things. And turn in faith, hope and prayer to the Lord and God of our salvation.

~ apl

An Undivided Heart

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.”

~ Ezekiel 11:19

This was the great and glorious promise the Lord gave to Israel under the Old Covenant through the mouth of His prophet Ezekiel. God was going to restore His people, but in a new and refreshing way. He was going to place in them the drive and desire to listen, obey and serve the Lord by giving them a new undivided heart and a new revived spirit. Through this work of grace, God’s people would be eager to live for Him.

It takes a new heart and a new spirit to truly serve God. Through Christ, sinners become a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). By faith in Him, we can receive that new heart and new spirit which is not only means our merciful salvation, but means we have the high privilege of serving Him. We owe the Lord an undivided heart. Our salvation cost Him His own Beloved Son whose heart was not undivided in His sacrifice for you. Let us then take our new heart and new spirit and wholly and undividedly give them back to Him.

~ apl

As God Speaks

And He said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak to you.” ~ Ezekiel 2:1

God’s call on Ezekiel’s life was for him to go up to Israel and speak only the words that God would give him. Ezekiel was God’s mouthpiece; sharing with the people only that which the Lord revealed to Ezekiel through His own Words. Ezekiel was a faithful minister and did as God said. When we share our faith, let us only share that which comes from God’s Word. Opinions and feelings may change, but the eternal truth of Scripture and the power of God’s Word never does. Therefore let us read, study and pray as God’s speaks to us, and we in turn, speak to others.

~ apl

I Pray, Lord

“I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations;  but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’  Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” 

~ Nehemiah 1:5-11

In this magnificent example of a deeply faithful and sincerely earnest prayer, the Old Testament prophet, Nehemiah, grants God’s people for all time a wonderful model prayer that we can take to heart and meditate upon as we cultivate our own personal prayer life.

Nehemiah’s prayer begins as all diligent prayers should, by acknowledging God for who He truly is. Notice how Nehemiah confesses the Lord God of heaven is a “great and awesome God”. Likewise he stresses in his petition how the Lord is gracious and faithful, remembering His covenant and the attending blessings of “mercy” and “love” that are contained therein. Only after such a humble and reverent introduction does the servant of the Lord request the attention of His God towards his prayer.

Nehemiah’s prayer continues in a manner I recommend all prayers do. Look at the words he uses to pray to God – Nehemiah prays God’s own words back to Him:

Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations;  but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’ 

What better way to garner our Lord’s attention and to move Him to respond to our prayers than to recite back to Him His own infallible inerrant words! When we sweetly mingle together the power of God’s own Word with the petitions of a solemn and devoted prayer, we have what I believe, like in the case of Nehemiah, a beautiful and acceptable prayer.

Now please notice with me, beloved, not only does Nehemiah recite God’s own words back to Him, but he also recounts God’s own actions. Towards the end of this astonishing prayer we read:

Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.

Nehemiah “reminds” God of His merciful redeeming acts through His “great power” and by His “strong hand”. It should be clear the Lord loves to be gracious, to redeem and to restore. He loves when we can recall in our own hearts and minds His past goodness and use this truth as our motivation to approach Him in prayers for future blessings.

As we seek to come before our Lord in times and seasons of prayer, let us bear these things in mind. 1. The Lord should be acknowledged for the great and awesome God He truly is. 2. His own words make for a strong and powerful petition as we come to Him. 3. His own actions stand as a wonderful testimony to God’s faithfulness and goodness to His people. May we bear this in heart, mind and spirit as we say; “I pray, Lord”.

Christ, Our Portion

“In trial and weakness and trouble, He seeks to bring us low, until we learn that His grace is all, and to take pleasure in the very thing that brings us and keeps us low. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. His presence filling and satisfying our emptiness, becomes the secret of humility that need never fail. The humble man has learned the secret of abiding gladness. The weaker he feels, the lower he sinks, and the greater his humiliations appear, the more power and the presence of Christ are his portion.”

~ Andrew Murray

Peace With God

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

~ Romans 5:1 (NKJV)

May we never minimize so great a peace! May we never discount what it means to be at peace with God. We may long for peace here and now, but may we ever so much long for peace in eternity. May we remember how far we have fallen away from the grace and favor of God and how far He has come to turn away His great wrath and grant us His peace. We now have the privilege of serving the Price of Peace. He who declares to the storms “Peace, be still”. He, who is Jesus Christ, and brings to us this peace which Scripture describes as surpassing our understanding. God’s peace does surpass our understanding, doesn’t it? Who can comprehend such mercy? Such love? That the sovereign and eternal God of heaven and earth, He who is holy, blameless and pure – He who the Bible says is comprised of unapproachable light – would justify poor sinners through the sacrifice of His own Son – and reconcile, that is join together, His lowly creatures back to Himself through and by His eternal and everlasting peace.

Amen

The Ship of My Life

Steer the ship of my life, good Lord, to your quiet harbor, where I can be safe from the storms of sin and conflict. Show me the course I should take. Renew in me the gift of discernment, so that I can always see the right direction in which I should go. And give me the strength and the courage to choose the right course, even when the sea is rough and the waves are high, knowing that through enduring hardship and danger in your name we shall find comfort and peace.

~ Prayer of Basil of Caesarea (329-379)

Where Are You Going?

Much of the feebleness, barrenness and paucity of religion results from the failure to have a scriptural and reasonable standard in religion, by which to shape character and measure results. We cannot possibly mark our advances in religion if there is no point to which we are definitely advancing. Always there must be something definite before the mind’s eye at which we are aiming and to which we are driving. Many Christians are disjointed and aimless because they have no pattern before them after which conduct and character are to be shaped. They just move on aimlessly, their minds in a cloudy state, no pattern in view, no point in sight, no standard after which they are striving. There is no standard by which to value and gauge their efforts. No magnet is there to fill their eyes, quicken their steps, and to draw them and keep them steady. In religion, we must not only go on. We must know where we are going. This is all important. It is essential that in going on in religious experience, we have something definite in view, and strike out for that one point.

~ E.M. Bounds (1835-1913)