Character-driven prayer

Character-driven prayer

Don’t make rash promises, and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. After all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few. – Ecclesiastes 5:2

Matthew 6:8-10

 8 Your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!

 9 Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.

 10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your Will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Friday Night Lights is an American sports drama television series. It follows the lives of a football-driven community in rural Texas. Set in the fictional town of Dillon, it deals with the hopes, aspirations, and struggles of extremely relatable people involved with the Dillon Panthers high school football team (and East Dillon Lions in later seasons). The Dillon Panthers, one of the nation’s best high school football teams. Their head coach Eric Taylor is one of the best high school football coaches in America as well.

The series boldly showed heartfelt, authentic prayer on the small screen. It contributed to the show’s authenticity and significance. It presented people living out their faith, albeit rather imperfectly. It showcased how a godly man, although not an overtly religious one, could be a role model, a shaper of men, a builder of character, a friend that sticks closer than a brother, with the moral compass to do what is right. His commitment and values are repeatedly seen through his prayers.

In the series finale, “Always,” Coach Eric Taylor offers up a prayer before the state finals. It’s a simple prayer. It is memorable because it does not focus on self-serving and self-aggrandizing victory. Rather it focuses on talent and unity.

Dear Heavenly Father, keep us and protect us tonight. Please allow us to take the talents you have given us and use them to the very best this evening. As a family. As one. Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Coach Eric Taylor models character-driven prayer which focuses on making the best use of abilities rather than short-term outcomes. His goal is to shape and develop people of character and integrity.

REFLECT & PRAY

Our commitment and values are seen through prayers.

Father my heart be right in Your own eyes. May prayers be more and more character-driven and reflective of a heart that is pleasing to You.

INSIGHT

What should be our attitude when we pray? How does it reflect our character and walk with the Father?

The Psalms offer many models. They are God-centered, not man-centered. They are character-driven. They overflow with thankfulness and gratitude. They highlight particular qualities of the Father that are attractive, desirable, and worthy of worship.

Psalms 107:1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

Through the centuries many have attempted to follow these models. They are often seen in prayers offered at mealtime.

The most ancient of examples are the Jewish Brachot (Blessings) before eating.

Special Brachot – benedictions – are traditionally said in Hebrew before eating any food or drinking any beverage.

Each benediction begins:

Baruch atah adonai elokeinu melech haolam

Blessed Are You God, our Lord, King of the World.

The endings depend specifically on what is to be eaten or drunk:

For Bread:

… Hamotzie lechem myn ha’aretz.

Who brings forth bread from the ground.

For Wine & Grape juice:

…Boreiy pree hagafen.

Who creates the fruit of the vine.

The Common Table Prayer was first published in the year 1753 in a Moravian hymnal.

Come, Lord Jesus, be our Guest; and bless what you have bestowed.

There is also the Catholic Table Prayer

Bless us O Lord, And these thy gifts,

Which we are about to receive, from thy bounty,

Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

For small children

God is great, God is good. Let us thank him for our food.

By His hands, we all are fed. Thank you, Lord for our daily bread. Amen.

How can we develop a character-driven prayer life?

It all begins in our hearts. We must get them right with the Father.

Proverbs 16:7 When people’s lives please the LORD, even their enemies are at peace with them.

If our hearts are not right with the Father what will happen?

Psalms 66:18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.

The English word translated regard comes from the Hebrew word roeh. Roeh is a common Hebrew word that means to see. Psalms 66:18a is literally translated, “If I had seen iniquity in my heart.” However, Metaphorically it means that if he had been aware of his sin yet done nothing about it.

It has thus been translated “If I had cherished iniquity” (RSV); “If I had ignored my sins” (TEV); “If I had not confessed” (NLT). Some translations take an even more pejorative tact. “If I had thought about (doing) evil” (TOB); “Had I an evil thought and in my mind” (NJV); and “If I had had wicked intentions” (FRCL). The sense is, “If I turned my head from my sins,” “If I had shut my eyes on the evil I had done,” and “If I had put deaf ears on my sins.”

The point is, if we don’t get it right about sins in our hearts, our prayers will not be right either. We are only deceiving ourselves if we think they are.

Psalms 66:18 states what would have happened if the psalmist had not been aware of and confessed his sins; God would not have listened to his prayer, that is, God would not have done what he had asked God to do” (UBS).

How do children of the King get it right? Ask the Father to point out unknown sin within and confess it.

Psalms 139:24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Follow the advice of Lord Jesus Christ on how to pray.

Matthew 6:5-7

5 When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.

 6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

 7 When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.

“If we refuse to admit to some sin, despite the conviction of the Holy Spirit on our heart, we can have no confidence in prayer and no right to expect a divine “yes.” God blesses obedience, not stubbornness” (Stanley).

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The plain answer

The plain answer ∙

I and the Father are one. – John 10:30

John 10:33 You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.”

“Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity).

The Lord Jesus Christ often made statements that were difficult to take in and accept. But that is precisely the point. The Lord Jesus Christ does not provide us with comfortable, safe options or opinions. He made it black-and-white. We either believe or we reject what He said is the Truth.

The religious leaders in His day were curious about exactly who The Lord Jesus Christ was. He had performed many miraculous signs and the word had gotten out. He made strong, penetrating, insightful declarations that contradicted the standard religious party line. Many often defied logic. He was confrontational and provocative.

No doubt they were thinking things like:

Who do you think you are?

What right do you have to tell us what to do?

Why do you always think you are right?

Why should we listen to you?

Why do you think your way is better than ours?

Pretty much the kind of stuff that any average person would say who is not a child of the King, and regrettably many who are.

He gives a plain answer to the unspoken query that they were all thinking, “Who are you?” He essentially said, “I am God!”

John 10:30 I and the Father are one.

He made this statement, knowing it would shock, provoke, if not incite the religious leaders that opposed Him. To find talking points to attack Him, they did not have to do any opposition research like modern political candidates. He provided all the ammunition they needed. His words stirred their emotions, if not their hatred, and gave them all the more reason to resist and oppose Him.

The plain answer was, “I and the Father are One.” It is a clear statement of His deity.

“The word One does not suggest that the Father and the Son are identical persons. Rather, it means that they are one in essence: the Father is God and the Son is God, but the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father. He is speaking about unity, not identity” (Wiersbe).

Those who heard His words understood exactly what He meant by what He said. How do we know? By their reaction. If He were not God, then His words are sheer, audacious blasphemy. Blasphemy was to be punished by death (Leviticus 24:16, Numbers 15:30ff, Deuteronomy 21:22). The religious leaders picked up stones and were prepared to stone Him on the spot.

John 10:31-33

 31 Once again the people picked up stones to kill him.

 32 Jesus said, “At my Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone me?”

 33 They replied, “We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.”

At His trial, the Lord Jesus Christ was found guilty and condemned. Why? What was He found guilty of? He was guilty of claiming to be the Messiah, the Son of God! How tragic! His outrageous claim was true. He is the longed for, predicted Messiah of Israel!

Mark 14:61-64

 61 But Jesus was silent and made no reply. Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

 62 Jesus said, “I AM. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

 63 Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Why do we need other witnesses?

 64 You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” “Guilty!” they all cried. “He deserves to die!”

Or perhaps it wasn’t so outrageous after all. In fact, it was True Truth.

REFLECT & PRAY

If the Lord Jesus Christ was not God as He claimed to be, then He was either a liar or lunatic.

Father how often I struggle and resist You. I may question what You say and expect of me. But I have no right to question Your authority to say it. You are the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings. Resistance is not only futile, it is ridiculous.

INSIGHT

Who is Lord Jesus Christ? All children of the King know for sure.

Matthew 16:15-17

 15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.

But there’s more.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Truth (John14:6). The Lord is not talking about knowing important facts about Him. Nor is this Truth merely abstract nor propositional. It is personal. It is knowing the Lord Jesus Christ in an intimate, personal way (Krause).“It is instead a statement about a living relationship with the Son of God, ‘the truth,’ who gives freedom to human beings (John 8:36)” (Borchert).

The Word of God provides something that is not found anywhere else: True Truth (Francis Schaeffer)! The world is filled with personal opinions, truth for now, political polls, contemporary consensus, or the lack thereof. Philosophy and education pursue truth but never seem to find it.

But there’s more. Knowing the truth produces freedom.

John 8:32 You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

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Deborah warrior princess ∙

Deborah warrior princess

Barak said to her [Deborah], “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” – Judges 4:8

Judges 4:3-14

 3 Then the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help.

 4 Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet who was judging Israel at that time.

 5 . . . the Israelites would go to her for judgment.

 6 One day she sent for Barak . . . She said to him, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: Call out 10,000 warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at Mount Tabor.

 7 And I will call out Sisera, commander of Jabin’s army, along with his chariots and warriors, to the Kishon River. There I will give you victory over him.”

 8 Barak told her, “I will go, but only if you go with me.”

 9 “Very well,” she replied, “I will go with you. But you will receive no honor in this venture, for the LORD’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh.

 14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Get ready! This is the day the LORD will give you victory over Sisera, for the LORD is marching ahead of you.”

The remains of a powerful Viking – long thought to be a man – was in fact a real-life Xena Warrior Princess.

The lady war leader was buried in the mid-10th century along with deadly weapons and two horses, leading archaeologists and historians to assume she was a he, according to findings published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. They were wrong!

“It’s actually a woman, somewhere over the age of 30 and fairly tall, too, measuring around [5 feet 6 inches] tall,” archaeologist Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson of Uppsala University, who conducted the study.

She was buried with all the weapons of war a warrior required: a sword, an ax, a spear, armor-piercing arrows, a battle knife, shields, and two horses. She also had a war-planning game in her lap. It may well have been used to try out battle tactics and strategies, which indicates she was a powerful military leader. Hedenstierna-Jonson asserted, “She’s most likely planned, led, and taken part in battles.”

The discovery marks the first genetic proof that women were Viking warriors. Osteologist Anna Kjellström of Stockholm University noticed that the skeleton had fine cheekbones and feminine hip bones, researchers said. They conducted DNA analysis and confirmed it was a female.

“This image of the male warrior in a patriarchal society was reinforced by research traditions and contemporary preconceptions. Hence, the biological sex of the individual was taken for granted,” said Hedenstierna-Jonson. The research was led by the Stockholm and Uppsala universities. (https://phys.org/news/2017-09-genetic-proof-women-viking-warriors.html)

The book of Judges covers the period between the time of Joshua and the time of Saul and David. During this period there were 15 judges or leaders that ruled over the nation of Israel. It was a truly topsy-turvy time. The judges were often a combination of civic administrators, civil judges, and spiritual leaders. One of those judges was Deborah. As a judge, she held a position of authority that commanded respect.

Judges 4:4-5

 4 Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet who was judging Israel at that time.

 5 . . . the Israelites would go to her for judgment.

Deborah was not merely an administrator and judge; she was also a prophet. She frequently received messages from the Father. She then spoke on His behalf.

How did Deborah see herself (Judges 5:7)? She was “merely a mother in Israel, not a great warrior or even a prophetess, though she filled both of those roles. A mother is an unlikely leader of a successful revolutionary war” (Constable). Yet she becomes a reluctant warrior princess.

REFLECT & PRAY

There is an important lesson here that is seen throughout the Scriptures. When men are unwilling or unable to do the task that the Father has in mind, He will prepare and raise up a woman in their place. This should inspire women of all ages to be faithful and available to perform any undertaking that the Father has for them. Consider Esther, Ruth, and Mary.

Father thank You that when You have a task to be done you will rise up and choose the perfect person to get the job done. May each child of the King aspire to be that person.

INSIGHT

Apparently, Barak was the commander-in-chief of Israel’s army at the time. Once Deborah received the message from the Father, she took the initiative and sent for Barak. She lays out the Father’s battle plan and promises ultimate victory.

Judges 4:6-7

 6 One day she sent for Barak son of Abinoam, who lived in Kedesh in the land of Naphtali. She said to him, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: call out 10,000 warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at Mount Tabor.

 7 And I will call out Sisera, commander of Jabin’s army, along with his chariots and warriors, to the Kishon River. There I will give you victory over him.”

How did Barak respond? He thought the plan sounded great. But he was very reluctant to lead the army into battle. After all the opposition had 900 iron chariots. Even though victory was guaranteed, he was intimidated. He was frightened, if not petrified. He made a rather peculiar and unusual request.

Judges 4:8 Barak told her, “I will go, but only if you go with me.”

Undoubtedly, Deborah was bemused and a tad shocked. At that time and place in history, going to war was man’s work. Women were not directly involved in battles. Israel was a male-dominated society.

Judges 4:9 “Very well,” she replied, “I will go with you. But you will receive no honor in this venture, for the LORD’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.”

Deborah harshly confronts Barak for his cowardliness. What he asked for, shamed not only him, but also the entire army of Israel. Today she might say, “you are a disgrace and a wimp. But for the honor of the Father, and the safety of Israel, I will do it.”

When the men of Israel act like children, the Father treats them like children. He literally puts a mom in charge. What classic irony. So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. And the rest is history.

Judges 4:14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Get ready! This is the day the LORD will give you victory over Sisera, for the LORD is marching ahead of you.”

But there’s more.

The Hebrew word baraq, transliterated into English as Barak. Barak means lightning. While the Hebrew word devorah is transliterated into English as Deborah. Deborah means bee. The enemy was not struck by lightning, but rather they were stung by a bee (apologies to Mohamed Ali).

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Here I am – hineni

Here I am – hineni

Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight.” – Exodus 3:3

Exodus 3:2-6

 2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up.

 3 “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.”

 4 When the LORD saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied.

 5 “Do Not come any closer,” the LORD warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.

 6 I am the God of your father – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.

For millennia, human civilizations across the world have created cities, palaces, monuments, tombs, temples, churches, mosques, and other structures that inspire awe. The amazing works of art and architecture known as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World serve as a testament to the ingenuity, imagination, dedication, and sheer hard work which people can achieve.

They are inspiring and often take our breath away. They draw us in by their sheer majesty and uniqueness. Consider the following: Taj Mahal, India; Colosseum, Italy;

Chichen Itza, Mexico; Machu Picchu, Peru; Christ the Redeemer, Brazil; Petra, Jordan; Great Wall of China, China.

How do people draw close to the Father? The Father’s assessment of humanity is pretty grim. Some people may strongly disagree. Yet His assessment is accurate, yet grievous.

Psalms 14:2-3

 2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise if anyone seeks God.

 3 But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, Not a single one!

Knowing the condition of the human race, the Father seeks us. He is the ultimate seeker.

Luke 19:10 the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.

The Father frequently uses awe-inspiring means to get our attention and draw us closer to Him. As a result, we turn to Him, we embrace and begin a dance with the eternal.

REFLECT & PRAY

“God can take an insignificant bush, ignite it, and turn it into a miracle; and that’s what He wanted to do with Moses” (Wiersbe). The Father desires to do the same with each child of the King no matter how small and inconsequential we see ourselves.

Father thank You for seeking me out getting me to turn towards You.

INSIGHT

The Father often uses miraculous interventions in the natural world: violent storms, whirlwinds, plagues and pestilence, the opening of the Red Sea, the burning bush, and ultimately the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He draws and beckons us. He engages our curiosity and interest. We are often fascinated and strangely attracted. Marvelously, we turn and seek Him.

Jeremiah 29:13-14

 13 ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

 14 ‘I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD.

The story of the burning bush is well known. Yet many details are often overlooked. There was much more than a burning bush that got Moses’ attention. The angel of the Lord was present. He was the source of fire that did not consume the bush. He was the one who spoke to Moses from the midst of the burning bush. The bush itself did not say a word to Moses. Bushes are not known for their great oratory.

Exodus 3:2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up.

It was because of the seeming violation of nature that Moses observed that he was drawn to come closer. The Father initiated; Moses responded.

Exodus 3:3 Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight.”

Moses is the perfect prototype for each child of the King. The Father initiates contact, we respond.

Exodus 3:4 When the LORD saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied.

The repetition of Moses’ name has special significance. “In ancient Semitic culture, addressing someone by saying his or her name twice was a way of expressing endearment, that is, affection and friendship. Thus Moses would have understood immediately that he was being addressed by someone who loved him and was concerned about him” (Stuart).

Moses’ words are few, but they speak volumes: “Here I am!” In fact in Hebrew, there is only one word hineni which literally means I am here. On one Level, Moses is simply saying “yes.” But a simple yes can often be pregnant with meaning. This is particularly true when the one who is calling is the Father God. Perhaps, Moses is not merely saying, “Present and accounted for,” but “What would you have your servant do?” The Father was not merely calling out to Moses, the Father was calling Moses into His service. Moses was to become the leader of Israel to bring them out of slavery in Egypt. Perhaps hineni is like the response of the Cylons robot troops from the 1970s TV series battleship Galactica: “By Your Command.”

Contrary to his depiction by Hollywood, when Moses was at Sinai he was no Charleston Heston. He was very insecure. He had self-image issues and had some kind of speech impediment (Exodus 4:10). Moses was not being modest, he was frightened and unprepared for the great task that the Father was assigning to him.

“What Moses thought of himself, or what others thought of Moses, really wasn’t important. God had spoken and that was all Moses needed for assurance that he was the right man for the job” (Wiersbe).

Exodus 3:11 Moses said to God, “Who am I . . ..”

The Father’s response should give confidence to every child of the King down through the millennia.

Exodus 3:12 God answered, “I will be with you.”

“‘I will be with you’ is all the assurance God’s servants need in order to succeed” (Wiersbe).

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Obedience without honor is hypocrisy

Obedience without honor is hypocrisy

And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote. Because of this, I will once again astound these hypocrites with amazing wonders. The wisdom of the wise will pass away, and the intelligence of the intelligent will disappear.” – Isaiah 29:13-14

2 Kings 23:2-25

 2 And the king went up to the Temple of the LORD with all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, along with the priests and the prophets – all the people from the least to the greatest. There the king read to them the entire Book of the Covenant that had been found in the LORD’s Temple.

 3 The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the LORD’s presence. He pledged to obey the LORD by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul.

 24 Josiah also got rid of the mediums and psychics, the household gods, the idols, and every other kind of detestable practice, both in Jerusalem and throughout the land of Judah. He did this in obedience to the laws written in the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had found in the LORD’s Temple.

 25 Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since.

One hideous development of modern warfare is the IED. IEDs have been in the news for decades. The term IED came into mainstream use during the Iraq War that began in 2003. IEDs are “homemade” bombs and/or destructive devices used to kill, maim, destroy, incapacitate, harass, or distract. They are also called roadside bombs. The IED (Improvised Explosive Device) is constructed out of military materials or whatever other materials are available. There is no one procedure to make an IED. Materials and explosives available vary greatly from place to place. But there are several common features. For example, they are intentionally deceptive and contain a detonation mechanism. They are typically deployed near walkways or along thoroughfares.

Before the advent of the IED, the concealed weapon of choice was the time bomb. A time bomb is an explosive device whose detonation is triggered by a timer.

Sadly, early childhood experiences often set IEDs or time bombs in our spirits. Later in life, they unexpectedly are triggered and go off. Regrettably, we often do not know that they had been planted until they explode and the damage is done.

Obedience without honor is hypocrisy. It creates a time bomb. Outward conformity, without real, deep, heartfelt devotion and love is no more than mere pretense. Worst still, it is utterly offensive to the Father. He desires obedience that flows from a human heart overflowing with love and respect, not superficial, meaningless displays of religious devotion.

Mark 7:6-7

 6 Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

 7 Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”

Consider the old cliché about “standing up on the inside.” The story is told of a 4-year old little girl’s mom. Mom has come to the end of her rope regarding the little girl’s misbehavior. She says, “Alexa, go sit in the corner, right now! Don’t get up until I tell you to!” Alexa goes to the corner and sits down. In a few minutes, Alexa retorts, “Mom, I am sitting down on the outside, but I am standing up on the inside!” It is part of our fallen DNA. Sadly, many children of the King are in that mode: outward compliance but inward rebellion. A rebellious spirit is invisible and often indiscernible. Often only the Father and the person themselves know what exists.

If we are rebelling on the inside, no matter how good it may appear on the outside, we are not really obeying at all.

Malachi 1:10 “How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “and I will not accept your offerings.”

REFLECT & PRAY

Psalms 139:23-24

 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Father you know the secrets of our hearts. Search my heart and reveal what You want me to see and address.

INSIGHT

How do these time bombs get set? There are planted by insults to the tender, vulnerable spirits of little children.

Consider a little boy whose dad is never home. He spends most of his time talking with his mom. He grows into his teenage years; his conversations often turn into arguments. An invisible IED is planted that it’s okay and normal to argue with a woman. Later in life, he marries young lady and the homemade bomb is triggered and goes off, and he begins to argue with her. Their relationship is marred.

Consider the little girl who obeys her parents purely out of fear of the consequences of not doing so. There is no love or respect. Later in life, she marries a young man. Her hidden IED goes off. She does not respect or value his wishes or opinions. She merely goes along to keep the peace, but she churns inside. Over time they grow further and further apart and they have no conscious awareness on why.

These time bombs are insidious and diabolical. Children of the King enter the kingdom with live time bombs ready to explode at any time. They have no idea that these incendiary devices lurk inside primed and waiting to go off.

Why is it important that we become aware of our triggers and explosive responses? We often go into denial and hide the truth from ourselves and also attempt to hide them from the Father as well. How foolish to try to get something by Him. The Father knows everything all the time.

Isaiah 29:15-16

 15 What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their evil deeds in the dark! “The LORD can’t see us,” they say. “He doesn’t know what’s going on!”

 16 How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid?”

Is there any way to uncover and safely remove our inner explosive devices? Yes, of course. The Father knows us thoroughly and He searches every heart. He is able to reveal our weaponized wounds.

Jeremiah 17:9-10

 9 The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?

 10 But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives.

He will reveal them to each child of the King if they desire Him to do so. The process can be long and arduous. But will redemption and freedom are at the end of the tunnel.

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

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Outrage fatigue ∙

Outrage fatigue

Lawlessness will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. – Matthew 24:12

John 14:1, 27

 1 Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.

 27 I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

John 16:33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. 

We live in “The Age of Outrage.” Many thinking, caring people being confronted by national and global events have reached the point of exhaustion, hopelessness, cynicism, and apathy. This has been labeled Outrage Fatigue. They are simply exhausted from being upset. It is almost impossible to find the energy to take it anymore, not to mention deal with it effectively.

It is as though our outrage button has been pushed so many times that it is broken. Our mental and emotional energy has been exhausted. Just when you think it cannot get worse, it does. What was once unthinkable, has become the new normal.

In 2018, Ed Stetzer wrote a book entitled, Christians in the Age of Outrage: How to Bring Our Best When the World Is at Its Worst.

Stetzer writes, “Our world seems awash in anger, division, and hostility. We need to decide how to respond. This is indeed our moment to learn how to live like Christ amid the shouting, anger, and hatred. To be sure, there is a lot in this world that is outrage inducing . . .. And But this is part of the problem. How do we know when righteous anger has made the turn into unbridled outrage? These questions do not have easy answers.

That’s why I wrote this book: to help Christians think through the unique challenges of this age. I’m encouraged because I’ve witnessed so many Christians bringing their best to build the Kingdom of God. The age of outrage cannot-and will not distract us from what is true” (Ed Stetzer).

Sadly, what we see in our fallen world today is nothing new. Good and caring people have been tormented by mankind’s wickedness and decadence for millennia.

2 Peter 2:7-9

 7 But God also rescued Lot because he was a righteous man who was distressed of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him.

 8 Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day.

 9 So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment.

REFLECT & PRAY

The Father is greater than all things on earth and in heaven. He is greater than the angry and wicked people of the earth. Nothing and no one is His equal.

Father without question I have struggled with outrage fatigue. You saw these things coming and have provided what is needed for each of Your children to rise above, whatever brings us down.

INSIGHT  

Some folks in the world seem to have the “happy” gene. Apparently, their DNA has an abundance of “cheer up” written in their genetic code. They bring sunshine with them wherever they go.

The Father God is like that. With the singular exception of the day that the Lord Jesus Christ, His Son died, the Father never has a down day. He never suffers a setback, disappointment, or disillusionment. He is never taken by surprise.

Even the best of us have physical and emotional limitations. Inevitably, human strength gives out. The Father’s capacity and strength have no such limitations. The Father is greater than our circumstances. He promises to share His strength with us when we are discouraged and need it the most.

Isaiah 40:28-31 

 28 Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

 29 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.

 30 Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.

 31 But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

As we grow to spiritual maturity, an amazing internal transformation. We develop the skill of trusting Him and depending upon Him. His unlimited strength flows into us. We can rise above, whatever brings us down.

The events and circumstances that provoke our outrage were known and expected before the foundation of the world. Current events were once prophecies. In the last days, mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts (2 Peter 3:3).

2 Timothy 3:1-5

 1 You should know this, in the last days, there will be very difficult times.

 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.

 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good.

 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.

 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

“It’s an angry world right now, and we need a grace-filled and gospel-driven response . . . Ed Stetzer shows us how to walk through the minefields of disagreement in winsome and God-honoring ways” (Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference).  Ed Stetzer offers a fact-laden, research-driven analysis of the chaos and rage of our times. Stetzer takes a common-sense approach and offers the children of the King a means of responding in a wise and refreshingly different way.

2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knows how to rescue godly people.

As children of the King want to be circumspect, select our battles wisely, and find strength in His strength.

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Handel’s Messiah ∙

Handel’s Messiah ∙

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

Revelation 19:6 Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

George Frideric Handel’s oratorio, Messiah, puts to music, beautiful, elegant, and memorable music, the greatest story ever told. In modern times, it has become a large-scale quasi-dramatic production at Christmas time throughout the world. Handel intentionally wrote it to be performed by as few as four singers and only a few instruments: strings, continuo, two drums, and two trumpets. He wrote it in this fashion so it could be performed anywhere. Since its premiere, on April 13, 1742, not one year has gone by without it being performed somewhere in the world. It is the most famous and frequently performed oratorio of all time.

For the children of the King, Handel’s Messiah is perhaps the greatest of all pieces of classical music. It is one long and delightful reflection on the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Israel, the Savior of the world, the coming King of Kings. The text itself was taken directly from the Scriptures, mainly the King James Bible, and also from the Coverdale Psalter, included with the Book of Common Prayer. Words were seamlessly joined together. Old and New Testament scriptures were juxtaposed were an obvious connection existed. Laid out in this fashion, the power and life inherent within the biblical text were released with all of their heart-gripping wonder.

The oratorio is divided into three parts. Part 1 highlights the Nativity and recites primarily prophecies by Isaiah and others, and climaxes with the announcement of Christ’s birth to the shepherds found in the Gospels, particularly Luke 2:8-14. In Part 2, Handel focuses upon the Passion and concludes with the magnificent “Hallelujah Chorus.” Part 3 covers the Resurrection and Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The words highlight the truth, the allure, the loveliness of Scripture, and exalt the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Subtle undertones and textures in the format of the music are recognized by those who have the training and knowledge to be aware of such things. “All We Like Sheep” is set to music that sounds scattered and rambunctious. You can see a herd of sheep scattering in all directions. “For unto us a Child is born” is sung to a subtle, uplifting, theme which climaxes in the words: “and His name shall be calleth, Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

And of course, the famous, magnificent, triumphal “Hallelujah Chorus.” The uplifting chorus climaxes with the eloquent, intentionally compelling words, “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Lord of lords for will ever and ever, hallelujah, hallelujah, and King of Kings forever and ever, hallelujah, hallelujah.

Handel succeeded far beyond all that he could have ever imagined. Messiah lovingly and unreservedly presents the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the fulfillment of prophecy, the Savior of the world, and the coming King. Handel created his magnificent work of art in just 23 days. Surely, he was empowered and borne along by the spirit of God. The music often rises to great loveliness and power. Regarding the Hallelujah chorus, Handel, a German by birth and upbringing, spoke in his broken English, “I did think I did see all heaven before me and the great God himself!”

Oh that all of the children of the King, and even those who are not, could rejoice and enjoy this delightful, uplifting, God-honoring music and Scripture.

Most great vocal classical music was written in languages other than English. Over the years, many works have been translated into English. But frequently much was lost in the translation.

Do you suppose it was a coincidence that Handel was born in Halle, Germany in 1665 and took up permanent residence in London in 1712? The greatest oratorio of Christian truth was written in English quoting from the then ubiquitous King James Version. The words and sentiments behind them were easily understood and absorbed. And for some time now, English has become “the need to know” language for much of the entire planet.

REFLECT & PRAY

Matthew 26:64 And in the future, you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.

Father you are the omnipotent mighty king, ruler over everything. One day Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ will reign among the Your children.

INSIGHT

Revelation 19:6 Hallelujah! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns.

The Greek word translated Omnipotent or Almighty is pantokrator. Pantokrator comes from two Greek words pantos which means all, every, everything, and krateo which means ruler. Pantokrator means ruler of everything.

This is in stark contrast to what the god of this world is called in Ephesians 6:12. He is referred to as the world ruler, in Greek kosmokrator. Kosmokrator comes from two Greek words kosmos which means world, world system, and krateo which means ruler. Kosmokrator connotes the ruler of the world, the world system.

The enemy’s power is limited and delegated. The power of the Lord Jesus Christ is unlimited. It is the personal power that He possesses as deity. No one can resist the power and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In one sense, the Lord God Almighty already reigns. He is sovereign. He is in control of all things. But He has reigned from a distance. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns, everything will be different. He will no longer be far off and distant. He will begin reigning in a way that is “up close and personal.” He will be in the midst of His people. He will be in direct “hands-on” control.

No matter how good the leadership has been for planet Earth since the time of Adam and Eve, the planet Earth has never been a holy, righteous, and peaceful place.

Government run by mere humans is incapable of achieving perfect peace and harmony. When the Prince of peace is present on earth. He will establish the promised Kingdom of God. The Lord Jesus Christ will reign.

For the first time ever, the people of planet Earth will enjoy just, holy, and righteous leadership. It will be a time of peace, prosperity, and tranquility. There will be no wars or rebellions for a thousand years.

All the people on earth will have the same “religion.” There will only be one faith. That faith will be in the Lord Jesus Christ, the king of Israel. All who enter into the kingdom of God will be true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Faithful feet

Faithful feet

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105

Psalm 119:105-114

 105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.

 106 I’ve promised it once, and I’ll promise it again: I will obey your righteous regulations.

 107 I have suffered much, O LORD; restore my life again as you promised.

 108 LORD, accept my offering of praise, and teach me your regulations.

 109 My life constantly hangs in the balance, but I will not stop obeying your instructions.

 111 Your laws are my treasure; they are my heart’s delight.

 112 I am determined to keep your decrees to the very end.

 113 I hate those with divided loyalties, but I love your instructions.

 114 You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope.

Happy Feet is a 2006 computer-animated musical comedy film directed, produced, and co-written by George Miller. It stars the voices of Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy, and Hugh Jackman. It is a movie about emperor penguins, who find their soul mates through song. Every emperor penguin sings their unique song called a “Heartsong” to attract a mate. If the male penguin’s Heartsong matches the female’s Heartsong, the two penguins become mates. Norma Jean lays an egg, which is left in her mate Memphis’ care, while Norma Jean leaves with the other females to fish. Memphis briefly drops the egg. The resulting chick, Mumble, is born with a terrible singing voice, he can barely sing at all. But worse yet he does n have a Heartsong. Without a Heartsong, Mumble may never make and find true love.

However, remarkably Mumble can tap dance. None of the penguins had ever seen tap dancing before. Mumble’s dad, Memphis, says it “just ain’t penguin.” When Mumble becomes a young adult, he is frequently ridiculed by his elders. Mumble is just too different – especially for Noah the Elder, the stern leader of the empire penguins. He ejects Mumble out of the community.

Mumble befriends a group of Adelie penguins called “the Amigos,” who embrace Mumble’s dance moves and welcome him into their group.

Soon it is mating season and Mumble falls in love with Gloria. Having no Heart Song, Mumble begins tap dancing in synch with Gloria’s song. She falls with him and they join together singing and dancing to “Boogie Wonderland.”

The naysayers took their stand, Happy Feet “just ain’t penguin.”  Happy Feet just don’t belong. But what about Faithful Feet?

What are Faithful Feet? They are feet that are guided by the Word of God and follow the right path. Children of the King should have Faithful Feet. Faithful Feet should be one of their primary qualities. But alas, Faithful Feet are almost as rare as Happy Feet are among emperor penguins. Just because some of us begin life a little cracked, that will never stop us from acquiring Faithful Feet. But it is our decision to make. We have to want Faithful Feet and pursue them.

REFLECT & PRAY

“Left to ourselves, we often don’t know which way leads to life and which way ends in death; we remain in the dark. But God’s Word provides us with a searchlight to cut through the darkness and lead us to safety” (Stanley).

Father, deep in my heart I long to follow You and live by Your Word. I made plenty of mistakes and fail, I long to get this right. Guide me one step at a time.
INSIGHT

In the Old Testament, life is envisioned as a path that people follow. How do children of the King follow the path that the Father has for them? The Father has provided the word of God as our guide.

Colossians 1:13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son,

The fallen world in which we live is dark (John 1:5; 3:19; 12:46). How can we see our way in the darkness “Only God’s light can guide us aright. Obedience to the Word keeps us walking in the light” (Wiersbe).

Darkness is the absence of light. Darkness is simply darkness. It never varies. Darkness continues when there is no light present. However, with a mere hint of light, a dark place is no longer dark. The greater the light the less the darkness.

The ancient world did not have lights such as we have today. In their place, the people carried little lambs containing oil. The lamps were small clay dishes that looked like flattened teapots. They contained a small wick and their light shone ahead in the darkness. With each step forward, the light moved forward. But, the light illuminated the path only one step ahead. Because of the darkness, the route ahead in the distance could not be seen. Consequently, those that ventured out at night, walked very circumspectly and slowly in order not to venture off the path.

This is how the Father intends for us to walk through life by faith, one step at a time. Each step of obedience, walked off by Faithful Feet illuminates the next step. Slowly but surely children of the King Arrived at their intended locations along the way that the Father desired.

The word of God is a light that illuminates the path of life. It provides information and guidance for children of the King to know how to live.

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Psalm 119 is Hebrew poetry. Hebrew poetry rhymes thoughts, not sounds. Thus my feet and my path are understood as synonymous or parallel thoughts. They refer to proper behavior, conduct, and a way of life for every child of the King. The word God provides the truth needed for good moral decisions.

Faithful Feet are illustrated in the following prayerful words:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.”

“But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.”

“Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone” (Thomas Merton).

Sometimes children of the King have Fearful Feet rather than Faithful Feet. But as we walk through life following the word of God, our fear diminishes our faith grows. First, we decide to want Faithful Feet. Then we take the next step start walking in submission and obedience to the word of God.

Do you walk in faith or fear? They are mutually exclusive.

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