Archive for March, 2011

Can’t Find God? Humble Yourself In Prayer Before Reading God’s Word & He’ll Find You

OK, so an effort of full disclosure, that post title might have been SLIGHTLY misleading…BUT…I still think it’s close enough to the heart of what I have to share with you today that I can “scrape by”.

Let me explain…

I’ve mentioned before how influential John Piper and the Desiring God ministry has been for me as God continues to transform my life to His likeness.  After reading the Piper classic, Desiring God, I came away with many things I’d like to implement, change and different ways of looking at the truth of the bible.  But shortly thereafter my kids got me one of the best gifts ever…his follow up book entitled When I Don’t Desire God.  From that book came one really practical suggestion that I still put into practice today.   It is a method of coming to the Word and communicating with Jesus every morning.

Simply put, I sometimes (more often than not) find when I come to the word of God, my heart, mind, spirit and soul are not aligned and positioned properly to concentrate, listen and receive what God may have for me.  In years past I would start my daily reading and prayer with a quick prayer for God to bless the time and impart His truth and wisdom to me and then just start reading.  I was lucky to get through the 10-15 second prayer without my mind wandering.  Let alone for it not to wander while I was reading and praying afterward.

Anyway, very soon I will be posting a method of reading scripture that has totally revolutionized my prayer life and daily time with God, but in the mean time, this is an awesome, quick and practical tip from the book When I Don’t Desire God by John Piper.  I hope you find it to be as powerful in your time with God as I have!

Isaiah 66:2 — But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

So if you’re having trouble finding God, humble yourself before reading God’s Word and He’s likely to find you!  I.O.U.S is one prayer that helps us to humble ourselves before reading God’s Word. You might consider printing it out and sticking it in your Bible.

Very practically what this means for the fight for joy is that every day we must not just go to the Word, but pray over the Word—indeed before we even get to the Word, lest he fail to come. I close this chapter with the way this works in my own experience.

Almost every day I pray early in the morning that God would give me desires for him and his Word, because the desires I ought to have are absent or weak. In fact, I follow the acronym myself that I have given to many people to help them fight for joy. The acronym is I O U S. It is very limited and focused. It’s not all we should pray for. But this book (and most of my life) is about the fight for joy. And that is what I O U S focuses on. Here’s the way I pray over the Word in my fight for joy.

I—(Incline!) The first thing my soul needs is an inclination toward God and his Word. Without that, nothing else will happen of any value in my life. I must want to know God and read his Word and draw near to him. Where does that “want to” come from? It comes from God. So Psalm 119:36 teaches us to pray, “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” Very simply we ask God to take our hearts, which are more inclined to breakfast and the newspaper, and change that inclination. We are asking that God create desires that are not there.

O—(Open!) Next I need to have the eyes of my heart opened so that when my inclination leads me to the Word, I see what is really there, and not just my own ideas. Who opens the eyes of the heart? God does. So Psalm 119:18 teaches us to pray, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” So many times we read the Bible and see nothing wonderful. Its reading does not produce joy. So what can we do? We can cry to God: “Open the eyes of my heart, O Lord, to see what it says about you as wonderful.”

U—(Unite!) Then I am concerned that my heart is badly fragmented. Parts of it are inclined, and parts of it are not. Parts see wonder, and parts say, “That’s not so wonderful.” What I long for is a united heart where all the parts say a joyful Yes! to what God reveals in his Word. Where does that wholeness and unity come from? It comes from God. So Psalm 86:11 teaches us to pray, “Unite my heart to fear your name.” Don’t stumble over the word fear when you thought we were seeking joy. The fear of the Lord is a joyful experience when you renounce all sin. A thunderstorm can be a trembling joy when you know you can’t be destroyed by lightning. “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to . . . the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name” (Neh. 1:11). “His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD” (Isa. 11:3). Therefore pray that God would unite your heart to joyfully fear the Lord.

S—(Satisfy!) What I really want from all this engagement with the Word of God and the work of his Spirit in answer to my prayers is for my heart to be satisfied with God and not with the world. Where does that satisfaction come from? It comes from God. So The Focus of Prayer in the Fight for Joy < 151 Psalm 90:14 teaches us to pray, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”

I O U S ADMITS GOD IS OUR ONLY HOPE FOR JOY

This acronym has served me well for years. This is frontline warfare for me.

Mark Driscoll Sermon on Hell – Sneak Peak

Questions about hell and a loving GodI’m a fan of Mark Driscoll.  Because he’s a fan of Jesus, the Bible and absolute truth!  🙂  Anyway, Mark Driscoll is halfway through sermon series on Luke.  This is no ordinary sermon series…he’s taking almost 3 years (106 weeks in all) and he’s over a year and a half in.  This coming Sunday he’ll be preaching, providentially I might add, on Luke 16: 19-31.  For those of you who aren’t familiar, I’m including that passage at the bottom of this post.  You should check that out and read that passage.

Why is this significant to me? Roughly 2 years ago Mark probably approached his elder board to run the idea of a 3 year sermon series 106 weeks in length on the book of Luke by them.  When he did that and they agreed to it, I’m fairly confident that he could not have known that Rob Bell would even be writing a book dealing with the topic of hell let alone what week it would be released and the controversy that would be swirling around it .

But God did!
Which is why the fact that he just happens to be dealing with this particular passage the week after the books release is so like God.  It’s like Him to just work things out that way.

Check out this preview of the sermon.

From the Mars Hill Church Blog (Mark Driscoll’s church not Rob Bell’s church of the same name):

The questions people ask about hell

In this passage, Jesus tells a story about a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus. It is a story Jesus uses to describe heaven and hell, one that uses powerful, even unsettling imagery. Heaven and hell are hugely important topics and do naturally raise a number of questions, and so Pastor Mark takes the second half of this sermon to answer some of the most common ones, including:

1. What is hell? What is it like?
2. Is it possible that people can deny God for their whole earthly lives, and have a second chance after death?
3. Why would God make people who are permanently his enemies? Why does God create certain people when he knows that their only future is to be tortured for all eternity?
4. Is hell temporary? Or are the souls of the damned destroyed?
5. Will everyone who doesn’t know Jesus go to hell? What if you’ve never heard of Jesus at all?

This sermon is an invitation, and it’s up to us to decide how we will each respond. And Jesus has made it abundantly clear what is at stake.

Read the full passage after the jump:

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers —so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”