Saturday, January 26, 2008
PRAYERS FOR DIFFICULT TIMES
Let me give you two specific examples of how do we pray at the most difficult times. In the life of King Hezekiah in 2 Kings 20:1-5, “In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, "This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover." Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, "Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: "Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, 'This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you.” (NIV)
In the above example, you could notice that Prophet Isaiah told the king that he will die. However, the response of the king was not of panic but to pray according to his right standing in God. He humbled himself by directly praying to God and Him alone. No one else was involved, just him and God. Therefore, this must be the pattern of how we must respond in any life and death situation. No words of men must have the final say. Let God be the final say of what should happen in our lives. But you need to be sure that your standing with God merits His attention. Only those who have a clean hands and pure heart are what the Lord hears. We need to make sure of this in our lives.
The next example is Paul’s prayer in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (NIV)
Whoa! What Paul was suffering was to keep him from being conceited. So in other words, his suffering was for his own good! Paul’s response to his suffering was to pray to God and seek his healing or relief from it yet God spoke to him and gave him encouragement not healing. Instead of healing, God gave Paul his grace to sustain him in all his sufferings. After he fully understood God’s plan, he began to have a different view of life and towards his suffering. He began to become filled with delight that although he was in that state yet he was glad that God was with him all the way through it. You see, for Paul nothing was more important than God’s grace and presence even at the worst of times. He does not mind them as long as God’s abiding grace sustains him. That is why Paul declared the most profound statement that anybody could declare in the midst of difficult times: “…Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.”
The two major lessons we could glean from these prayers that are applicable to us today: In Hezekiah’s prayer, God heard his prayer with a humble plea and gave him an extension of fifteen years; in Paul’s prayer, God heard his prayer and gave him his grace for each day he lives. But the most important lesson is this: God hears and God answers accordingly to our individual circumstances. Therefore, let us always keep our eyes totally focus on God’s plan for your life not on what you are going through at the moment. Be reminded that as long as you have breath no matter how faint, they could still reach God’s ears when you pray from a humble heart and a believing heart.
Let’s talk again!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
There was one morning time that I was preparing breakfast for my children. I prepared fried eggs for my daughter with white rice. While she was eating, I suggested having ketchup for additional flavor and taste. I commented that it looks boring and encouraged her to try it with her meal and she replied, “I do not like to take risks!” I was not surprised with her answer because she really does not want to but at that moment gave me an opportunity to teach her some important principles of life especially taking risks. Then both I and my son began to give her some examples of why it was important to take risks. Her brother asks while she was drinking her orange juice “How do you know that that juice is not poisoned?” She just listened while I added another illustration of taking risks like riding airplane. Altogether, I told her that taking risk even simply adding ketchup is part of our life.
Believe it or not, people were made to take risks. What sustains and motivates us in continuing to eat prepared foods without fear is the application of faith to the men and women who prepared them with the best possible care in regards to what they do whether at home or another place. That morning with my children was a memorable one for me because I provided them with a clear view of looking at life’s risks without fear. I added that life’s risk will be more exciting when mixed with faith solidly focused on God who takes care of all His people especially those who put their trust on Him. As Ambrose Redmoon said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." How very true!
No one should be afraid of taking risks. This is what many have done in the past. They took risks when others did not. Look at the marvelous inventions we enjoy today that provided us with many possibilities that made life easy for the majority of people if not all. One of my favorites is Thomas Edison who invented electric light and how he endured those electric shocks every time he tested them. When asked about the secret of his success, he told them, “99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.” It was truly a hard work yet he has a clear view of what he wanted to do and accomplished. If those inventors listened to themselves having a hard time and discouragement from other people, we might still be using candles to light our homes now?
The Apostle James provided a very clear perspective of our life found in James 4:14, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (NIV) Simply said, “Life is short” therefore, we must have a clear view of our life. The greatest example of it is Jesus Christ. Jesus came from heaven to earth to become like us. He lived only for 33 ½ years to complete his mission and destiny. He has a very clear picture of what he will accomplish. He began it when He was born and destined to die on the cross as the Scriptures have prophesied. Everything that He does in His life was to fulfill this purpose and we all know that he did! He completed God’s plan for humanity. But it was all due to a clear view of life.
As the New Year comes, what do you look forward to? How would you characterize the coming New Year? Would it be the same as last year? Well, it all boils down to your perspective. But the main concern is this: from what perspective will you look at it from? I believe that one thing this is clear to remember by heart as what the Apostle Paul declared in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
To have a clear view of life is to look at someone higher than all of us combined. God holds the prize we are all longing to have in this life and the next life. I encourage you to anchor everything about your life in His Son Jesus and you will see clearer. If the Apostle Paul did, why can’t you?
Let’s talk again!