Friday, November 11, 2011

Food for Thought - 4

Today's food for thought...from a sampler eBook (for just one month instead of for the whole year) that I picked up free from Amazon.com.

"Lord, give me I pray:
A remembering heart for the things that have happened;
An attentive heart to what I have heard;
A forgiving heart for what has hurt;
A grateful heart for what has blessed;
A brave heart for what may be required;
An open heart to all that may come;
A trusting heart to go forth with You
A loving heart for You and all Your creation;
A longing heart for the reconciliation of all things;
A willing heart to say “Yes” to what You will."
LEIGHTON FORD, American evangelist/spiritual mentor (1926–present day)
Bjorklund, Kurt (2011-08-16). Prayers for Today Sampler: A Yearlong Journey of Contemplative Prayer (Kindle Locations 569-574). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.


"Lord, give me I pray:"

I already discussed the title "Lord" in my last blog (Food for Thought - 3). Please remember that prayer is not just asking God for things for ourselves. That is only one small portion of what our prayers should be. (If you are interested in learning more about prayer, check out my cousin Kevin's ministry, blog, and book here.) Rather than being a complete prayer, this would simply be part of a larger prayer. By asking God for things for ourselves, we are confessing our need of his help. He is our source and the only one who can truly meet our needs and give us what we need. It does not matter who signs our paycheck, God is our source. Sometimes we forget that. Sometimes we only ask God to meet the large, pressing needs that we have now, but God wants to help is in the smaller things as well. Lord, help me to realize that you are my source and will supply all my needs.

"A remembering heart for the things that have happened;"

Remember how God told the Israelites to continue retelling all God did for them? That is because he knew that they would forget them if they stopped telling about them. And their children, their children's children, and their children's children's children, from generation to generation, needed to remember what God had done for their ancestors. When we hear what God has done in the past, it gives us faith to believe that He can do something similar for us in the future. It is very important for us to remember what God has done for us so that we can encourage the people around us with what God did in our lives. When Denise and I had a miscarriage (our only pregnancy) on Easter Sunday 1992, we found encouragement through the many friends who shared from their similar experiences. Lord, help me to remember.

"An attentive heart to what I have heard;"

Are you guilty of listening but not really hearing what someone is telling you? I am. But we would never do that to God, would we? I do not know about you, but I have. Do I pay attention when I read my Bible every day so that I am actually "hearing" what God is saying to me? When I am at church, do I listen attentively to what is being preached, or am I thinking about our plans after church is done? Throughout the day, God may speak to us in various ways. Are we listening? Lord, help me to be attentive to hear what you want to say to me.

"A forgiving heart for what has hurt;"

You do not have to go very far in life before you are hurt by someone. How we handle that hurt affects us. If we forgive, then we are free to move on. But if we hold on to the hurt, we limit God's ability to work in our life. The Lord's Prayer includes the phrase "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." If I cananot forgive someone (including myself), it begins to color everything I see around me and can affect my relationships with everyone, especially my family. Lack of forgivess leads to hate, bitterness, and anger. It is like drinking poison and expecting it to hurt the other person. It is also like holding broken glass in your hand, the tighter you sqeeze your hand, the more the glass cuts and hurts you. The other person may or may not know what they did to hurt you. But you are, as we tell our daughters, responsible for your behavior. Lord, help me to forgive like you forgave.

"A grateful heart for what has blessed;"

November is when we celebrate Thanksgiving in America. Many of my friends are daily posting something on Facebook that they are thankful for. It is interesting to read or to hear what people are grateful for. Sometimes I agree right away and, other times, I realize that I never quite thought of it that way before. It is important to develop an attitude of gratitude. We are truly blessed. Remember the "glad game" from the movie "Pollyanna"? Before he died, her Dad taught her to always look for something to be glad for in every circumstance. Even now, as we are in Moldova waiting for documents to apply for our visa, I am grateful for God's blessing and help. Lord, help me to be more grateful for whatever circumstance I find myself in.

"A brave heart for what may be required;"

There are times in life that we face difficult circumstances or situations that require courage. Remember the cowardly lion in "The Wizard of Oz"? He was not brave, though he pretended to be. When we are afraid, we need to find someone that we tell them about those fears. In doing so, we will find courage to face our fears. It does not matter what we have ahead. Maybe you face a meeting with someone or a test for school or work. Maybe there is sickness in the family or you are facing death or are in the valley after a death in the family. Maybe you face a significant job change or there are changes in the family. Joshua 1:9 was one of my Mother's favorite verses and she believed it to the last day of her life. "This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (NLT) Lord, help me to be courageous in your strength for what I am going through now or will go through in the future.

"An open heart to all that may come;"

When God asks us to do something, how do we respond? Do we say, "Yes, Lord!"? I must admit that sometimes I answer God just like my kids answer me. "Why?" "Just a minute." "Do I have to?" "Not now, Lord." Or I act like I did not hear him. We should respond as a servant, doing what the master asks of us. Remember that Paul was a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are certainly no better than Paul. Only God has the perfect plan and purpose for our lives. Sometimes we think that it is just the big things that we need to be open to. But it is usually the little things that trip us up because they get in the way of our own daily plans. Lord, help me to be open to what you have for me.

"A trusting heart to go forth with You"

If God calls us, He is going to go with us. Remember Joshua 1:9 that I referenced above. "The Lord your God is with you wherever you go." When Denise and I decided to follow God's call to missions, we both knew that without His help, we would surely fail. At the same time, I had learned to trust God and knew that He would go with us. You know what? He has done just that. He is always faithful. Lord, help me to always trust you.

"A loving heart for You and all Your creation;"

Until I learn to love like God loves, I have more to learn about love. Jesus gave His life because of His great love for us. Do you realize that people around you (not just in Ukraine or, as a Ukrainian woman said to me, "I thought that missionaries only went to Africa") are dying without knowing Jesus as their personal savior? What are you doing about it? People in your circle of influence need to hear it from you. If God speaks to your heart, you need to give to those who are doing something to reach those people that you cannot reach (like our family). There are needs all over the world. Remember that showing someone love is a great way to share God's love with them. Lord, help me to love like you love.

"A longing heart for the reconciliation of all things;"

There are many things in today's world that need to be reconciled, or brought back together, but I am going to focus on just one thing. We all need to be reconciled to God. That is why God sent His Son Jesus to earth. He lived a perfect life and paid the price to ransom (buy us back) from our sin so that we can be made right with God. This was not just provided to a few people, but is a free give that is available to everyone. Lord, help me to long to see people in my life reconciled to you.

"A willing heart to say “Yes” to what You will."

This is the bottom line. I can remember what God has done for me. I can be attentive to what God speaks to me. I can forgive the hurts of my past. I can be grateful for everything I have and everything that God has done for me. I can be brave enough to do what God calls me to. I can be open to what God has for me. I can trust that God will be with me. I can love the people around me. I can even long to see them reconciled to God. But if I am not willing, all those things are meaningless. We need to say "I am willing to be, to do, or to go - whatever you ask." I love the phrase of the song "Yes, Lord" recorded by "The National Christian Choir" several years ago - "Yes is the answer, what's your question gonna be?" Lord, help me to be willing to do what you ask.

How about you? Do you, like me, need God's help in these areas? Maybe we do not get the help we need because we have not asked.

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