A ‘HOUSE’ UNDER CONSTRUCTION

JobNo22-TurnerDebden-Digi-03 If we have accepted the Lord as our savior God says that we belong to Him.  A synonym for belong is ‘to have a home, to have a rightful place’ and the origin of the word belong comes from ‘to reach’.  God reaches out to us and Jesus says “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.  My father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him”.  (John 14:23)

It is God and the person who lives in a house that makes it a home and I love the way CS Lewis describes the way God changes our ‘house’ because He wants to make it a fit place for Him to call home!

Imagine yourself as a living house.  God comes in to rebuild that house.  At first, perhaps you can understand what He is doing.  He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.  But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense.  What on earth is  He up to?  The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.  You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage;  but He is building a palace.  He intends to come and live in it Himself”.

Photo courtesy of Google

THE LORD’S PRAYER – WITH A DIFFERENCE!

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Dallas Willard was once asked how he prayed.  He answered that he prayed the Our Father every morning before his feet hit the ground. I can just imagine Satan’s reaction whenever Dallas Willard put his feet on the ground in the morning.  It must have been something like this “Oh hell!  He is getting up – take cover!”

Prayer and faith go together.  You cannot have the one without the other.

In Biblical terms prayer is a personal communication or request addressed to God and faith is a strong or unshakeable belief in God without proof or evidence.

“Prayer is a necessity to man – it is a universal phenomenon; but while not exclusively Christian, it is most real in Christianity because the Christian life is a life of fellowship with God.  In Bilbical religion the relationship between God and man is genuinely interpersonal. Prayer is essentially communion;  God desires man’s fellowship, and man needs the friendship of God.1

What follows is an example of how Dallas Willard prayed the Our Father.  I am writing this from memory and have added a few of my own personal thoughts – this is basically a guideline of  how he prayed.  You can add your own relevant requests, praise, thanks-giving to the basic outline.  You can also spend a lot more time on each section!

Our Father

My God, my Dad, my Lord, my Pappa, my Father

whom art in Heaven

You are high above the earth. You are all seeing. You are omniscient.  You know all about me and yet you still love me

hallowed be Thy name

You are majestic and wonderful. I praise your Holy name. Your name is powerful and mighty.

your kingdom come

Lord, please fill me with your Holy Spirit. May I be your hands and your feet here on earth.  May people see your Kingdom in me.

your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven

I pray Lord that I, together with all other Believers, will be able to love others in a way that will ensureYour will being done here on earth through us.

Give us this day our daily bread

Thank you Lord for the abundance that you shower upon me.  For the home I live in – let me not take it for granted.  Let me share my abundance with others. Make me aware of the needs of those around me.

and forgive us our trespasses

Lord, please forgive me for not living a life of love.  For wanting my own way.  For judging others.  For repeatedly doing what I know is wrong in your sight.

as we forgive those who trespass against us

I need your help to forgive those who have hurt me.  Who have made me feel that I am not worthy.  Who judge and criticize me.  Help me Lord, to be able to forgive myself for the wrong I have done.

Lead us not into temptation

Please help me to be satisfied with what I have.  To be thankful for all I have.

but deliver us from evil

Lord, please break the chains that bind me.  Break the habit of me feeling worthless, angry, inferior, proud, judgmental.  Deliver me from addictions – be it alcohol, drugs, pornography, eating disorders. 

For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever

Thank you Lord that nothing can ever befall me that you are not aware of.  That no matter what happens you have already prepared a way out – help me to trust, grant me more faith to know that you are all powerful.  I glorify your mighty name.  I praise you.

Amen

So be it.  I go into this day with my hope and my faith firmly placed in You, my God, my Lord, my Saviour.

May each one of us be the kind of person that when our feet touch the ground in the morning, Satan says “Oh hell, they are up.  Take cover!”

1.  The  Handy Bible Dictionary & Concordance

Photograph courtesy of the internet.

IF ANYONE IS LOOKING FOR ME, I AM ON THE UPPER ROAD!

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I’m going by the upper road, for that still holds the sun

I’m climbing through night’s pastures where the starry rivers run;

If you should think to seek me in my old dark abode,

You’ll find this writing on the door,

“She’s on the Upper Road.” (selected)

We sit and weep in vain, while the voice of the Almighty tells us to never stop moving upward and onward. (Streams in the Desert)”

God is in Heaven and all is well with my world. I am walking on the Upper Road and before I turn to the right or the left I will stop and listen for God’s voice, saying “This is the way; walk in it”. (Isaiah 30:21)

Tomorrow I will continue my journey upward in the knowledge that it is through the trials, the hardships, the pain, the disappointments, the joy, the happiness, the blessings – that it is through all these things I am growing into a woman God can be proud of and rejoice over.

It is because of my past – the good past and the not so good past – that I have searched my soul and assessed my character and realized that I needed to change. I have more empathy towards others and judge far less. I am able to forgive easier (especially myself), I am able to write about His faithfulness. I am able to love deeper because the hurt and pain have somehow shaped me into a more caring person.

I have witnessed that He is a God who still performs miracles, that He is a God with the most wonderful sense of humor. I am able to be more open and honest with others. AND it is because of this past that I am able to look forward to the future with joy and hope and courage because my future is encompassed by Him.

Today, I just want to thank God for me and for you!

STRUGGLING TO BE A BUTTERFLY!

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I often think that my life and my walk with God is very similar to a caterpillar’s life!

A butterfly will lay its’ eggs on the leaf of a plant.  The egg will hatch and a caterpillar will crawl out. I have often had to ‘crawl’ out of certain circumstances in my life that have not been good for me! The caterpillar is very small so it starts to eat and eat.  It immediately starts to grow and expand.  (When I accepted Jesus as my Saviour I ‘devoured’ the Bible and grew spiritually.) Once the caterpillar is fully grown it forms a cocoon.  Inside this cocoon the caterpillar is undergoing a transformation known as metamorphosis.  Metamorphosis means to change your form and your character.

In Ephesians 4:23 it states that as believers we are to “…put off your old self …. be made new in the attitude of your minds, and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness “

Just as the caterpillar changes inside the cocoon we also need to change and become more Christ like.

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Once the change is complete a beautiful butterfly emerges from the cocoon.  The butterfly then gets to fly and glorify God in its beauty.

I’m sort of still stuck in the ‘struggling to get out of the cocoon’ stage but every now and again I see glimpses of the creative, loving person God created me to be and it gives me hope that one day I will fly free in His love without any guilt, fear, doubts, failure or pain.

When the butterfly emerges from the cocoon it has to struggle to push its way out of the cocoon.  As it struggles the fluid is pushed out of its body and into its wings.  Without the struggle, the butterfly’s wings would not develop enough to enable it to fly.  It needs this struggle to strengthen its wings in order to fly and live free.

If I had not struggled with depression, marriage, raising children, addictions and a long list of other things I would not be the person I am today.  It is in the struggles that I have grown the most, have learnt more about who I am and what I am capable of and have developed empathy for others who struggle as I do.  It is also during my times of struggling that I have been closest to God because it is during these times that I actively seek His face and His comfort and His guidance.

My prayer  is, that as we struggle, we will develop stronger wings ……

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“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will”.  Romans 12:2

STRUGGLING WITH GOD!

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I often struggle with God.  I was reading this morning about Jacob’s struggle with God, and a feeling of immense empathy rose up inside me for Jacob.  I identify fully with him.  Been there, done that and sometimes still find myself struggling with God!  Jacob’s story goes like this:

“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.  When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.  Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”  But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  The man asked him, “What is your name?”  “Jacob,” he answered.  Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”  Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”  But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?”  Then he blessed him there.

So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”  (Genesis 32:24 – 30)

There were five main things that struck me about this story.  The first was the fact that we are allowed to struggle with God but there will be consequences if we continue the struggle indefinitely and do not stop to listen to what God has to say to us.  Jacob’s hip was put out of joint.

The second was that we need to take the time to be alone with God.  The third thing was that even though there may be consequences for our struggles, if we cling to God, He will bless us.

J.R. Miller says it like this “Jacob won the victory and the blessing here not by wrestling but by clinging.  His hip was out of joint and he could struggle no longer, but he would not let go.  Unable to wrestle further, he locked his arms around the neck of his mysterious opponent, helplessly resting all his weight upon him, until he won at last.  We too will not win the victory in prayer (or actions) until we cease our struggling.  We must give up our own will and throw our arms around our Father’s neck in clinging faith. What wins blessings and victories is the strength of clinging faith.”

The fourth thing was that we often ask God who He is when we are going through a difficult time.  Why do we do that when we know that God has promised to be with us through all our trials and struggles. In Joshua 1: 5 God clearly states “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.

The fifth thing was “what if God has already given me a ‘new’ name?”

When I was born my parents named me Noelene Grace.  Quite a few years ago my husband and I were having a serious argument and during the course of the argument he said this “I am not surprised that one of the names your parents gave you was Grace.  They obviously had insight into the fact that you would need a lot of it in your life time! You are in dire need of being able to exercise grace!”  Loathe as I was to admit it, there was a lot of truth in what he said at that time.

What if , when God thinks about me, He thinks of me as Grace?

Grace is the quality of being pleasing. It is speaking and behaving in a way that is intended to impress and attract people. Grace embodies favour and goodwill.  Grace is realizing that something is right and proper and willingly doing what is asked of us.

Isn’t Grace what we are all called to be as Believers.  Acts 1:8 says “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses …to the ends of the earth” and Romans 8:29 states “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, Jesus”.  Jesus embodied the word Grace.

Grace is the free and unmerited gift and favour of God shown towards man.

With God’s grace at work in our lives we can be witnesses of His love here on earth.

“Blessings come not by wrestling but by clinging to Him in faith”  –  J.R. Miller