Thursday, September 21, 2017

From Strength to Strength...Our Father Part One


“And it came to pass, that as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”  Luke 11:1
Dear Friends,

If you’re anything like me, you’ve known the Lord’s prayer from childhood.  It is perhaps the best known prayer among Christians, as it is simple and comforting.  In fact it is so familiar, there may even be times when you find yourself saying those beautiful words almost “casually” … only half thinking of what they mean.  

Again, I’m speaking from personal experience.  However, there was a point in my life when I came face to face with the deep theology and power in those words spoken by Jesus on the Mount of Beatitudes.  In the next few blogs I would like to just stay with those words and allow you time to soak in their depth.   Are you ready?  Let us begin.

Jesus said: When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do; for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.   Be not therefore like unto them; for your Father knoweth what ye have need of, before ye ask Him.  After this manner therefore, pray ye:  Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name.”  Matthew 6:7-9

Our Father which art in heaven… 
I’m writing this in September of 2017 and so far this month there have been four major hurricanes,… three of which have wreaked havoc upon the United States of America.  Because of our advanced technology we have been able to sit in our comfortable homes and watch satellite images of a whirlwind so large that it encompassed the entire state of Florida in its approach.  We cried and prayed for all those in its path as we watched in disbelief.  Yet, this whirlwind does not even come close to displaying the magnificent, powerful transcendency of God in heaven…who is also our Father.   The word Jesus used was Abba,… our Daddy.  

Hallowed be thy name…
We speak this next phrase in our western culture, not realizing the privilege of approaching Him as Daddy.  The Hebrews of Jesus’ day (and throughout the Old Testament) were in such awe and fear of our transcendent Creator, that they never, NEVER spoke His Name.  They referred to YHWH as Ha Shem,  “the Name.” Yet amazingly, with these words Jesus opened for us the portal of relationship without lessening the holiness of His Father’s Name.   
Dear Friends, as you meditate on these two verses in the days ahead, please pause also to embrace another time when God Himself used the word hallowed: 
“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day. Wherefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”  Exodus 20:11
Be blessed, ​

Thursday, September 7, 2017

From Strength to Strength...Just Abide in My Love

Greetings Dear Friends, 

As I write this today, the air has turned a tad crisp and the trees are definitely starting to change colors. In my neighborhood the sounds of school buses depositing their treasured passengers back home have now replaced the distinct sounds of summer.  Gratefully, I can rejoice in the fact that my windows can be open and the curtains billowing in the fall breeze. As thankful as I am for air conditioning in the heat, I can honestly say that I’m loving this!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I love… and about my love for the Lord. 

Since writing the last blog, I’ve become so aware of the state of my soul and have asked myself:
  • Is the flame of my first love for Him still burning as it was at first? 
  • Is my spiritual vessel still filled to overflowing? 
  • Am I desiring to draw near to Him even in the midst of the busiest of days?
  • And during my darkest hours, do I KNOW He is near even when He is silent? 
  • What keeps me going?  Is it still Him?  Is He central?

I’ve also been thinking about His love for me. 

“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches … As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.   John 15:3-10

But Lord, what about my first love?  How do I know it’s still first?

The following story called “The Little Fish” from the Indian Jesuit, Anthony de Mello, is a little parable about the awareness of God’s abiding love:

“Excuse me”, said an ocean fish.  “You are older than I, so can you tell me where to find
this thing they call the ocean?’
 “The ocean,” said the older fish “is the thing you are in now.”
“Oh, this?  But this is water.  What I’m seeking is the ocean,” said the disappointed fish as he swam away to search elsewhere.
“Stop searching, little fish, says de Mello.
“There isn’t anything to look for.  All you have to do is look.”

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.  This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you” John 15:11-12.

Thank You, Lord Jesus.  Thank You.