Archive for November, 2010

How Important Is Early-Morning Prayer?

Early-Morning PrayerWhile reading the book, “When I Don’t Desire God” by John Piper, I came across a section that I thought of vital importance that I’d like to share on early-morning prayer.  Here’s what he says:

The example of Jesus and the testimony of lovers of Christ throughout
the centuries points us to early-morning prayer as decisively important.
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he [Jesus]
departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark
1:35). I commend the early morning as one crucial time for a disciplined,
regular meeting with God over the Word and prayer.
First, it signals to our conscience that this is of first importance in
the day. That witness from our action to our conscience has a joyful
effect on the Christian mind. Second, early-morning prayer strikes the
first blow in the battle of the day, instead of waiting till we are besieged
from all sides. Third, what we do daily and do early shapes the spirit of
our minds and brings us into a disposition of humility and trust that will
bear better fruit than anxiety or self-reliance. Fourth, since beginning the
day with the Word of God is crucial (as we saw in Chapter Eight), therefore
prayer is equally crucial since the Word will not open its best wonders
to us without prayer: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous
things out of your law” (Ps. 119:18). Fifth, it is uncanny how Satan can
use even good things to squeeze prayer out of our schedule if we miss
the early-morning hour. I have seen it again and again. If I say to myself,
“I will give some time to prayer later,” it generally does not happen.

I couldn’t agree more.  By the way, if you haven’t, READ THIS BOOK!  Yeah it’s that good.

Share your thoughts on early-morning prayer below…do you do it, if not, when and what works for you/what doesn’t.

Who Is This Wretched Man Living In A Non Continual Victory Over Sin?

I am a wretched man.  And earlier tonight I felt like a divided or conflicted man.  It’s a feeling I’ve felt before after realizing my sin, but tonight was like no other.  I knew I needed to write about it here and share what I believe God showed me.

I know that I’m saved by Grace and not by my filthy works.

Thank God for that.

I know also that Jesus came to earth in human form and “became sin”, without sinning so that I could be “credited” with His righteousness, without my doing anything righteous.

Again, thank God for that.

And in and through all that, I am comforted, challenged and encouraged by Romans 7:14-25 when I listen to Paul describe what I believe to be one of the great challenges of genuine followers of Christ.  And that is…how are we to respond to failures to triumph over the sin in our lives?

One of the reasons I made Live2Worship.net was to showcase the glory of God.  The tagline says it best…”it’s why we’re here”.  But another reason in the beginning was to share with the world, both believers and non-believers, what God is doing through, to and for me.

Tonight’s post is an outpouring of something I can’t contain.  My prayer is that it helps my readers deal with, think about and fight against the ongoing, ever-present sin in their lives.

In my continual battle to crush sin in my life, like all Christians I win some and lose some battles, realizing that Christ won the war by dying on the cross and raising from the dead.  But sometimes when I blow it, I’m shaken to my core, as I was tonight.

I began thinking about Paul’s words as I prayed asking God to forgive me and telling Him how broken I was about my condition and actions.  As I read the verses, a few things struck me that were significant, but one thing stood out.  And that is that this is clearly a man who LOVES God and dearly, deeply loves the LAW of God.  Non-believers can’t do that.  And the thing that became crystal clear to me is that there is a genuine, proper response that Christians should have to their sin.  And this passage is the model for that response.

Let me share 2 quotes from 2 Godly men that summarize this passage.

The first is J. I. Packer.  J. I. Packer wrote an article on this passage in 1999 and he has this to say about this passage:

Paul is not telling us that the life of the “wretched man” is as bad as it could be, only that it is not as good as it should be, and that because the man delights in the law and longs to keep it perfectly his continued inability to do so troubles him acutely. . . . The “wretched man” is Paul himself, spontaneously voicing his distress at not being a better Christian than he is, and all we know of Paul personally fits in with this supposition.

The next quote is John Piper paraphrasing the proper response laid out in these verses.  He says the Christian should say,

· I love the Law of God. Verse 22: “I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man.”

· I hate what I just did. Verse 15: “I am doing the very thing I hate.”

· Oh the wretchedness I feel in these times! I long for deliverance from this body that constantly threatens to kill me, and that I have to mortify day after day. Verse 24: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (see Romans 6:6; 8:10, 13).

Nobody should want to live this way. Or settle to live this way. That’s not the point. The point is, when you do live this way, this is the Christian response. No lying. No hypocrisy. No posing. No vaunted perfectionism. Lord, deliver us from a church like that – with its pasted smiles, and chipper superficiality, and blindness to our own failures, and consequent quickness to judge others. God give us the honesty and candor and humility of the apostle Paul.

This is encouragement for the person who loves God and His laws.  The Christian experience is not perfect, but it is real.  The enemy wants to lie to us and convince us when we fall that we’re cast out and useless to God or that He doesn’t love us anymore or that there’s a limit to His grace, mercy and love.

Rubbish.  Complete and total garbage.

Be distressed by your sin.  Do not make peace with it, but continue to fight with it deep within you.  For the rest of your life.  Understand your condition and fight the good fight until in that twinkling of an eye, you are changed.  Be encouraged by others who have fought the fight before you.  And most of all, by the living Word of God that transforms us, changes us, and brings us peace, hope and life.

Share your thoughts, struggles and encouragement below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.