Our Cross-Shaped Calling

In Hebrews chapter five, we find a striking picture of how Jesus developed in His calling through humility. Read these words:

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears…and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered. (Hebrews 5:7-8)

If Jesus needed to ‘learn obedience’ from what He suffered, how much more do we need to learn obedience from our sufferings? If we want to become like Him in every way, then we must enter His school of obedience through suffering. Suffering is not something to be avoided, but something to be embraced as God gives us grace to learn through it. Jesus calls us into an active life of developing discipleship, not Read More »

How Long and the Sense of God’s Absence

The prophet Habakkuk begins his conversation with God around the question, “how long?” That question is one we all voice from time to time. It is our question in the midst of times of trouble, but also humanity’s cry in the apparent absence of God. Habakkuk raises his voice to God, “How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you…but you do not save?” (Habakkuk 2:2).

Many times our own “how long?” is a cry for God to act when we sense that He is not at work. We wonder if God is absent from our suffering. As the troubles of our world and our personal lives boil around us, we may begin to ponder questions like these: “where is God?”; “what is going on here?”; “does God even care?”

In these times we may resonate with the German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, who turned his own straining soul in search of God with these words:Read More »

An Overview of Fasting

This weekend in my message “The Real Gospel” at Eastbrook Church, I mentioned how fasting can be a helpful spiritual practice to fight against turning the liberty of the gospel into libertinism to sin.

I want to refer to a series of posts on fasting that I wrote a number of years back as a resource for understanding fasting in general, certain specific aspects of fasting, biblical backgrounds on fasting, and a few other practical helps on the topic. I hope this is helpful as you utilize fasting to say ‘no’ to yourself and ‘yes’ to God.

What Are You Thankful For?

thankful

Giving thanks and showing gratitude to God is an act of worship. This is why we read in Psalm 106:1, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

But it is not just for the material goods or obvious blessings that we are to be thankful. In fact, the Apostle Paul, writing to a fledgling church in Philippi while he is imprisoned, urges the believers toward thanksgiving in the face of worry. He writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Even more strongly, in another letter, Paul calls Christians to give thanks as part of fulfilling the will of God: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

So, as part of your worship this Thanksgiving holiday, why not share some of the things you thankful for?

Listening to God in Prayer

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I spoke from Genesis 18:16-33 about the prayer of faith in a message entitled “Praying in the Midst of Promises and Problems.” One of the five types of prayer that I mentioned from that passage was the prayer of listening to God. One aspect of this passage from Abraham’s story in Genesis is that God reveals His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah.

When we pray, we often voice our needs to God but one important aspect of faith-filled prayer is listening to God. Listening to God enables us to enter into agreement with God and His purposes.

But one question all of us ask is: how do we listen to God?

davidpicDavid Bryant, a leader in prayer movements and prolific author on the topic of prayer, speaks to this in his book With Concerts of Prayer. In that book, Bryant encourages us to listen to God in four specific ways (page 200). I shared these in my message this past weekend and wanted to post them here so people could return to them:

  1. Study the Scriptures – Familiarize yourself with the mind, heart, and character of God through His inspired word. This is the foundation stone and basis for our life of prayer. When we listen to God in Scripture, what we pray for, the way we pray, and our expectations of the answers to prayer are brought into alignment with God.
  2. Be aware of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in your life – All who come to Jesus Christ by faith are now temples of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us and strengthens us for daily life with God. Because of this, we need to grow in awareness and responsiveness to the Holy Spirit’s activity in our lives. As we listen to the Holy Spirit in us, we begin to grow in awareness of how God is at work, which inspires our prayers.
  3. Learn what God is doing in the world today – Some of the most powerful movements of God happening today, are happening off the radar and in unexpected ways. When we pay attention to what God is doing around the world, it shapes not only how we live, but also how we pray. It lifts us into a greater awareness of what God is doing and how we can talk to Him about it.
  4. Talk to others about what you want to say to God – It is common to pray with others, but it is important to also talk to others about what we want to talk to God about. When we share our approach and thoughts about prayer with others, we also enter into a listening relationship that leads us closer to the heart of God with others.

A necessary tool for the journey of faith is a prayer that agrees with God through listening to His plans for all situations.