Tag Archives: prayer

Finding peace: Philippians 4:6

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“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7 CSB

If you are like me, there are incidents in my life where worry rules the day.  Philippians 4:6 says, “don’t worry about anything.” Count me among those who wonder, how is that possible?  

For starters, I need to remind myself that God is sovereign, He reigns over everything.  He never gets distracted. There is never an incident in my day when God is not present.  Those who believe these things handle anxiety by praying.  In my conversation with God, I pour out my heart (help me, please!).  While I’m talking to Him, I also must remember to thank Him for all he has done, for listening to me presently, and for what he is about to do. God’s answer to my prayer might not be how I envisioned it, but I need to remember to thank him regardless of the outcome.

It is through prayer and thanksgiving that, “the peace of God, which passes all understanding can be found.”  This peace (that I cannot explain) guards my heart (faith in God) and my (worrisome) mind.

Peace be with  you!

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Psalm 119:137-152 Are you perfect?

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This stanza of the 119th Psalm highlights the righteousness of God.  He is righteous (137) and so is his word (138).  His righteousness is everlasting and true (142) and is unchanging (144).

How can anyone measure up to this standard of perfection? The psalmist’s approach is one of an all out pursuit of holiness (139). He recognizes his lowly and despised condition (141), yet he has an unwavering desire to understand God’s word.

The second stanza reminisces, considering the time and manner of the psalmists pleadings with God.  Charles Spurgeon summarizes it this way…He prayed with his whole heart (145).  He prayed, “God save me!” (146). He prayed before dawn (147) and all through the night watches (148), He cried out, “Preserve my life!” (149).  God drew near in response (150).

“He who has been with God in the closet will find God with him in the furnace.”  C. Spurgeon.

1 Peter 3:12 ties the two stanzas of this psalm together.  The eyes and the ears of the Lord focus on the righteous and listen to their prayers.

Annie and Willie’s Prayer

IMG_0561Twas the eve before Christmas. “Good night,” had been said,
And Annie and Willie had crept into bed;
There were tears on their pillows and tears in their eyes,
And each little bosom was heaving with sighs,
For tonight their stern father’s command had been given
That they should retire precisely at seven
Instead of at eight – for they troubled him more
With questions unheard of than ever before:
He had told them he thought this delusion a sin,
No such creature as “Santa Claus” ever had been.
And he hoped after this, he should never more hear
How he scrembled down chimneys with presents each year.
And this was the reason the two little heads
So restlessly tossed on their soft, downy beds.

Eight, nine, and the clock on the steeple tolled ten,
Not a word has been spoken by either till then,
When Willie’s sad face from the blanket did peep,
And whispered, “Dear Annie, is ‘ou fast as’eep?”
“Why, no, brother Willie,” A sweet voice replies,
“I’ve long tried in vain, but I can’t shut my eyes,
For somehow it makes me so sorry because
Dear papa has said there is no ‘Santa Claus.’
Now we know there is, and it can’t be denied,
For he came every year before mamma died;
But, then, I’ve been thinking that she used to pray,
And God would hear everything mamma would say,
And maybe she asked him to send Santa Claus here
With that sackful of presents he brought every year.”
“Well, why tan’t we p’ay dest as mamma did den,
And ask Dod to send him with p’esents aden?”
Four little bare feet bounded out on the floor,
And four little knees the soft carpet pressed,
And two tiny hands were clasped close to each breast.
“Now, Willie, you know we must firmly believe
That the presents we ask for we’re sure to receive;
You must wait very still till I say the “Amen,”
And by that you will know that your turn has come then.”

“Dear Jesus, look down on my brother and me,
And grant us the favor we are asking of thee.
I want a wax dolly, a teaset, and ring,
And an ebony workbox that shuts with a spring.
Bless papa, dear Jesus, and cause him to see
That Santa Claus loves us as much as does he;
Don’t let him get fretful and angry again
At dear brother Willie and Annie. Amen.”
“Please, Desus, ‘et Santa Taus tum down tonight,
And b’ing us some p’esents before it is light;
I want he should div’ me a nice ‘ittle s’ed,
With bright shinin’ ‘unners, and all painted red;
A box full of tandy, a book, and a toy.
Amen, and then, Desus, I’ll be a dood boy.”

Their prayers being ended, they raised up their heads,
With hearts light and cheerful, again sought their beds.
They were lost soon in slumber, both peaceful and deep,
And with fairies in dreamland were roaming in sleep.

Eight, nine, and the little French clock had struck ten,
Ere the father had thought of his children again:
He seems now to hear Annie’s half-suppressed sighs,
And to see the big tears stand in Willie’s blue eyes.
“I was harsh with my darlings,” he mentally said,
“And should not have sent them so early to bed;
But then I was troubled, my feelings found vent,
For bankstock today has gone down ten percent.
But of course they’ve forgotten their troubles ere this,
And that I denied then their thrice-asked-for kiss:
But, just to make sure, I’ll go up to their door,
For I never spoke harsh to my darlings before.”
So saying, he softly ascended the stairs,img_0849
And arrived at the door to hear both of their prayers;
His Annie’s “Bless papa” drew forth the big tears,
And Willie’s grave promise fell sweet on his ears.
“Strange – strange – I’d forgotten,” said he with a sigh,
“How I longed when a child to have Christmas draw nigh.”
“I’ll atone for my harshness,” he inwardly said,

“By answering their prayers ere I sleep in my bed.”
Then he turned to the stairs and softly went down,
Threw off velvet slippers and silk dressing gown,
Donned hat, coat, and boots, and was out in the street,
A millionaire facing the cold, driving sleet!

Nor stopped he until he had bought everything
From the box full of candy to the tiny gold ring;
Indeed, he kept adding so much to his store,
That the various presents outnumbered a score.
Then homeward he turned. With his holiday load,
With Aunt Mary’s help, in the nursery was stowed.
Miss Dolly was seated beneath a pine tree,
By the side of a table spread out for her tea;
A workbox well fitted in the center was laid,
And on it the ring for which Annie had prayed,
A soldier in uniform stood by a sled,
“With bright shining runners, and all painted red.”
There were balls, dogs, and horses, books pleasing to see,
And birds of all colors were perched in the tree!

While Santa Claus, laughing, stood up in the top,
As if getting ready more presents to drop.
And as the fond father the picture surveyed,
He thought for his trouble he had amply been paid,
And he said to himself, as he brushed off a tear,
“I’m happier tonight than I’ve been for a year;
I’ve enjoyed more pure pleasure than every before;
What care I if bank stock falls ten percent more!
Hereafter I’ll make it a rule, I believe,
To have Santa Claus visit us each Christmas Eve.”
So thinking, he gently extinguished the light,
And, tripping down stairs, retired for the night.

As soon as the beams of the bright morning sun
put the darkness to flight, and the stars one by one,
Four little blue eyes out of sleep opened wide,
And at the same moment the presents espied;
Then out of their beds they sprang with a bound,
And the very gifts prayed for were all of them found.
They laughed and they cried, in their innocent glee,
And shouted for papa to come quickly see
What presents old Santa Claus brought in the night
(Just the things that they wanted,) and left before light:
“And now,” added Annie, in a voice soft and low,
“You’ll believe there’s a ‘Santa Claus’, papa, I know”;
While dear little Willie climbed up on his knee,
Determined no secret between them should be,
And told him in soft whispers how Annie had said
That their dear, blessed mamma, so long ago dead,
Used to kneel down by the side of her chair,
img_0851And that God up in heaven had answered her prayer.
“Den we dot up and prayed dust as well as we tould,
And Dod answered our prayers: now wasn’t He dood?”
“I should say that He was, if He sent you all these,
And knew just what presents my children would please.
(Well, well, let him think so, the dear little elf,
‘Twould be cruel to tell him I did it myself.”)

Blind father! Who caused your stern heart to relent,
And the hasty words spoken so soon to repent?
‘Twas the Being who bade you steal softly upstairs,
And made you his agent to answer their prayers.

-Sophia P. Snow (c) 1884

Table Scraps – “thank you” (2015)

IMG_0904With the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at some words or phrases we use in conjunction with family gatherings.  For my first table scrap, I chose the words “thank you.”

It would be interesting to count the number of times the expression was used on a given occasion. Would we be pleased at the number of times the words were used, or surprised by its misuse?  Some table conversation:

“…Can somebody pass me the potatoes?”

“Here you go, Timmy,” aunt Sandy replies.

“What do you say, Timmy?”

“M-o-m,” Timmy whined. “Okay, okay – thank you.”

“…I was at Sears the other day and they had this display of perfume samples on the counter. You know, the ones in that sultry commercial with the race-car driver. Well, I snatched up some of those freebies, thank you very much…”

“…Our neighbor must not be doing well. He never made it outside this year to rake up his leaves. The boys and I went over to get his leaves under control. His _____ leaves keep blowing in our yard. You would think the least he could do is come outside to say thank you.”

Saying, “thank you” implies you are grateful for receiving something. Our thanks are directed towards someone besides ourselves, hence the word “you.” As a child I was reminded at every turn to say, “thank you.” After a while it became a habit and now I do it many times without even thinking. For many of us it has become more of a reflex, like having your knee tapped by a rubber hammer at the doctor’s office.

I am a person who believes in prayer and prays constantly for God’s blessing.  Sometimes thank-youit’s for help, healing, protection, understanding, wisdom, mercy… (the list is long and never-ending). How many times have I forgotten to simply say, “thank you” when even the smallest prayer is answered?

The next time you use the words “thank you” consider the following:

  • Have I considered what it may have cost someone, in time, money or inconvenience to satisfy my need, want, or desire?
  • How appreciative am I really?
  • Why exactly am I thankful?
  • Does my expression of thankfulness compel me to act differently?
  • Has my thankfulness changed me somehow, making me less selfish or cynical?
  • Are there more things in my life that I should be thankful for?
  • Who else should I be thanking?
  • While being thankful, have I ever lingered in a moment of gratitude? If so, has it made me see life as being more precious somehow?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

A Wiseman Observes

Ecclesiastes, in effect, is the veiled memoir of Solomon. The first two chapters record what he experienced in life from a human, earthly perspective “under the sun.” He found everything in life to be meaningless unless a person sought to change their perspective to include a heavenly, eternal one.  Ecclesiastes three, four and five offer insight into what Solomon observed. I covered his observations the life above man, the life within man and the life ahead of man in my previous post, God Orders Time.  Solomon concludes his observations in chapters four and five, discussing the life that surrounds man.

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Concerning Oppression (4:1) Oppression is very troubling to Solomon. He notices the tears of the oppressed and calls oppression a great evil

  • Dead are better off than oppressed and unborn better still.
  • God condemns abuse of power (Exodus 22:21, 23:9, Ps 62:10)
  • Godly people must refrain from oppressing others and seek justice for them (Isaiah 1:17; Micah 6:8; Matthew 23:23)

Concerning Toil and Achievement (4:4) These are called meaningless (in light of the certainty of death for every person under the sun).

  • Envy and jealousy motivate the work of overachievers, it drives them to out do others. They seek to be admired or envied by others. Erwin Lutzer calls envy “rebellion against God’s plan.”
  • Love is the opposite of envy, it rejoices in the success of others.
  • Laziness – the opposite of the extreme of the drive to out do others. The motivation of laziness is pleasure.
  • Both extremes (striving and laziness) amount to meaninglessness at death.
  • The one who isolates him or her self from relationships is also scorned.

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Concerning Relationships: two people are better than one (4:9)

  • At work, two people striving together offer more strength, creativity, talents, energy, etc.
  • When walking together, you will walk farther and avoid pitfalls
  • Watching out for one another helps us cope with attacks. These attacks don’t have to be physical, they can also be spiritual, emotional or financial.

A quote from Dr. David Jeremiah, “A friend is a treasure; two friends a treasure house.” Guard your friendships like you would a vast treasure. Friendship are eternal whereas possessions are temporal.

There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 NLT

Concerning Relationships, Popularity and Power (4:13)

  • Life is about people needing people. Choose relationships over fame or power.
  • Solomon offers the example of a poor wise youth rising to the office of king, was he thinking of his father King David? If so, was the foolish king who wouldn’t heed a warning King Saul? That would make the youth, the king’s successor, Solomon himself.

And how does a man benefit if he gains the whole world and loses his soul in the process. Mark 8:36 NLT

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Concerning Worship (5:1)

William Barrick offers this comment on the first seven verses of Ecclesiastes chapter five. “Each person must anticipate his or her encounter with the eternal God beyond the sun.”

Solomon looks at our encounter with God, in worship, making vows and fearing (revering) Him.

  • How does your private worship apart from church compare to your public worship in God’s house?
  • Are we listening? To “listen” to God’s word carries the implication that we will obey it.
  • Is your offering to God “a sacrifice of fools?” That is does you outward display (your offering) run contrary to your inward convictions? The word “fool” in this case means one who is dull and obstinate (it’s a chosen outlook not a mental illness or malady).
  • Biblical prayer does not seek to manipulate God. You have probably heard the expression, “prayer changes things.” If you subscribe to that belief, you must consider also that prayer changes “us.”
  • With regard to vows, God takes his commitments to us very seriously, we need to do the same with Him.
  • Does God use “storms” in our lives to awaken us? People make vows during times of upheaval and uncertainty, but few keep them.
  • An unkept vow is equivalent to mocking God.
  • Fearing God does not equate to being afraid of him. God desires that we approach Him and walk with him. Fearing God equates to being in awe of His mighty power, revering Him has supremely holy, and being wiling to respond to that awesomeness and holiness by setting oneself apart from wrongdoing and evil, to be wholly devoted to Him.

…for it is not where we worship that counts, but how we worship—is our worship spiritual and real? Do we have the Holy Spirit’s help? For God is Spirit, and we must have his help to worship as we should… John 4:21-24 NLT

Concerning Justice (5:8)

Solomon says politicians or kings oppressing the poor shouldn’t surprise us. Russian author, Alekandr Solzhenitsyn said, “the line dividing good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through the human heart.

  • Exploitation filters down from official to official and there seems to be no end to it. It comes from the inherent evil that resides within us.
  • New Testament teaching – rulers are supposed to be extensions of the hand of God on earth (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17)
  • Dr. David Jeremiah offers this advice on God’s grace and governing – trust God. He is sovereign. Pray for officials. Be an excellent citizen. Take a stand for God when government defies him. Don’t expect utopia from any earthly system of government ruled by man.

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Concerning Wealth (5:10-20)

Do you find it true that whenever life goes awry the first thing we look for is a financial remedy?

Dr. David Jeremiah’s “5 things we should know about Money”

  • The more you have, the more you want (v10)
  • The more you have, the more you spend (v11)
  • The more you have, the more you worry (v12)
  • The more you have, the more you lose (v13, 14)
  • The more you have, the more you will leave behind (v14-17)

Dr. Jeremiah’s “2 Things we need to know about God” (v18-20)

  • Our ability to earn money is a gift from God. There is no such thing as a self-made man or woman. What God gives, he can take away (Job 1:21). If we see the money we have as God given, we are more likely to experience contentment and be grateful.
  • Our ability to enjoy money is a gift from God. Money and possessions aren’t evil if we don’t allow them to enslave us. Yes, we can even find enjoyment in giving some of it away.

When you die you cant take wealth with you. There is no own where God is concerned, only a loan because possessions (including money) don’t transcend eternity.

Annie and Willie’s Prayer

IMG_0561Twas the eve before Christmas. “Good night,” had been said,
And Annie and Willie had crept into bed;
There were tears on their pillows and tears in their eyes,
And each little bosom was heaving with sighs,
For tonight their stern father’s command had been given
That they should retire precisely at seven
Instead of at eight – for they troubled him more
With questions unheard of than ever before:
He had told them he thought this delusion a sin,
No such creature as “Santa Claus” ever had been.
And he hoped after this, he should never more hear
How he scrembled down chimneys with presents each year.
And this was the reason the two little heads
So restlessly tossed on their soft, downy beds.

Eight, nine, and the clock on the steeple tolled ten,
Not a word has been spoken by either till then,
When Willie’s sad face from the blanket did peep,
And whispered, “Dear Annie, is ‘ou fast as’eep?”
“Why, no, brother Willie,” A sweet voice replies,
“I’ve long tried in vain, but I can’t shut my eyes,
For somehow it makes me so sorry because
Dear papa has said there is no ‘Santa Claus.’
Now we know there is, and it can’t be denied,
For he came every year before mamma died;
But, then, I’ve been thinking that she used to pray,
And God would hear everything mamma would say,
And maybe she asked him to send Santa Claus here
With that sackful of presents he brought every year.”
“Well, why tan’t we p’ay dest as mamma did den,
And ask Dod to send him with p’esents aden?”
Four little bare feet bounded out on the floor,
And four little knees the soft carpet pressed,
And two tiny hands were clasped close to each breast.
“Now, Willie, you know we must firmly believe
That the presents we ask for we’re sure to receive;
You must wait very still till I say the “Amen,”
And by that you will know that your turn has come then.”

“Dear Jesus, look down on my brother and me,
And grant us the favor we are asking of thee.
I want a wax dolly, a teaset, and ring,
And an ebony workbox that shuts with a spring.
Bless papa, dear Jesus, and cause him to see
That Santa Claus loves us as much as does he;
Don’t let him get fretful and angry again
At dear brother Willie and Annie. Amen.”
“Please, Desus, ‘et Santa Taus tum down tonight,
And b’ing us some p’esents before it is light;
I want he should div’ me a nice ‘ittle s’ed,
With bright shinin’ ‘unners, and all painted red;
A box full of tandy, a book, and a toy.
Amen, and then, Desus, I’ll be a dood boy.”

Their prayers being ended, they raised up their heads,
With hearts light and cheerful, again sought their beds.
They were lost soon in slumber, both peaceful and deep,
And with fairies in dreamland were roaming in sleep.

Eight, nine, and the little French clock had struck ten,
Ere the father had thought of his children again:
He seems now to hear Annie’s half-suppressed sighs,
And to see the big tears stand in Willie’s blue eyes.
“I was harsh with my darlings,” he mentally said,
“And should not have sent them so early to bed;
But then I was troubled, my feelings found vent,
For bankstock today has gone down ten percent.
But of course they’ve forgotten their troubles ere this,
And that I denied then their thrice-asked-for kiss:
But, just to make sure, I’ll go up to their door,
For I never spoke harsh to my darlings before.”
So saying, he softly ascended the stairs,img_0849
And arrived at the door to hear both of their prayers;
His Annie’s “Bless papa” drew forth the big tears,
And Willie’s grave promise fell sweet on his ears.
“Strange – strange – I’d forgotten,” said he with a sigh,
“How I longed when a child to have Christmas draw nigh.”
“I’ll atone for my harshness,” he inwardly said,

“By answering their prayers ere I sleep in my bed.”
Then he turned to the stairs and softly went down,
Threw off velvet slippers and silk dressing gown,
Donned hat, coat, and boots, and was out in the street,
A millionaire facing the cold, driving sleet!

Nor stopped he until he had bought everything
From the box full of candy to the tiny gold ring;
Indeed, he kept adding so much to his store,
That the various presents outnumbered a score.
Then homeward he turned. With his holiday load,
With Aunt Mary’s help, in the nursery was stowed.
Miss Dolly was seated beneath a pine tree,
By the side of a table spread out for her tea;
A workbox well fitted in the center was laid,
And on it the ring for which Annie had prayed,
A soldier in uniform stood by a sled,
“With bright shining runners, and all painted red.”
There were balls, dogs, and horses, books pleasing to see,
And birds of all colors were perched in the tree!

While Santa Claus, laughing, stood up in the top,
As if getting ready more presents to drop.
And as the fond father the picture surveyed,
He thought for his trouble he had amply been paid,
And he said to himself, as he brushed off a tear,
“I’m happier tonight than I’ve been for a year;
I’ve enjoyed more pure pleasure than every before;
What care I if bank stock falls ten percent more!
Hereafter I’ll make it a rule, I believe,
To have Santa Claus visit us each Christmas Eve.”
So thinking, he gently extinguished the light,
And, tripping down stairs, retired for the night.

As soon as the beams of the bright morning sun
put the darkness to flight, and the stars one by one,
Four little blue eyes out of sleep opened wide,
And at the same moment the presents espied;
Then out of their beds they sprang with a bound,
And the very gifts prayed for were all of them found.
They laughed and they cried, in their innocent glee,
And shouted for papa to come quickly see
What presents old Santa Claus brought in the night
(Just the things that they wanted,) and left before light:
“And now,” added Annie, in a voice soft and low,
“You’ll believe there’s a ‘Santa Claus’, papa, I know”;
While dear little Willie climbed up on his knee,
Determined no secret between them should be,
And told him in soft whispers how Annie had said
That their dear, blessed mamma, so long ago dead,
Used to kneel down by the side of her chair,
img_0851And that God up in heaven had answered her prayer.
“Den we dot up and prayed dust as well as we tould,
And Dod answered our prayers: now wasn’t He dood?”
“I should say that He was, if He sent you all these,
And knew just what presents my children would please.
(Well, well, let him think so, the dear little elf,
‘Twould be cruel to tell him I did it myself.”)

Blind father! Who caused your stern heart to relent,
And the hasty words spoken so soon to repent?
‘Twas the Being who bade you steal softly upstairs,
And made you his agent to answer their prayers.

-Sophia P. Snow (c) 1884