Our thinking about prayer, whether right or wrong, is based on our own mental conception of it. The correct concept is to think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts. Our blood flows and our breathing continues “without ceasing”; we are not even conscious of it, but it never stops. And we are not always conscious of Jesus keeping us in perfect oneness with God, but if we are obeying Him, He always is. Prayer is not an exercise, it is the life of the saint. Beware of anything that stops the offering up of prayer. “Pray without ceasing . . .”— maintain the childlike habit of offering up prayer in your heart to God all the time. Jesus never mentioned unanswered prayer. He had the unlimited certainty of knowing that prayer is always answered. Do we have through the Spirit of God that inexpressible certainty that Jesus had about prayer, or do we think of the times when it seemed that God did not answer our prayer? Jesus said, “. . . everyone who asks receives . . .” (Matthew 7:8). Yet we say, “But . . . , but . . . .” God answers prayer in the best way— not just sometimes, but every time. However, the evidence of the answer in the area we want it may not always immediately follow. Do we expect God to answer prayer? The danger we have is that we want to water down what Jesus said to make it mean something that aligns with our common sense. But if it were only common sense, what He said would not even be worthwhile. The things Jesus taught about prayer are supernatural truths He reveals to us.
From: Through The Bible
1 Samuel 28:5-7 (NIV) 5When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart.6He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets.7Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.” “There is one in Endor,” they said.
When man becomes unrepentant and justifies his flesh, he will abandon his standards to get what he wants. To the very end, Saul remained unrepentant and proud. Faced with a united army of the Philistines, and having banished David and his men, he began to fear the outcome of the approaching battle. In fear for his physical life, he inquired of God, but God wouldn’t answer him.
It is interesting to note the usual ways in which the LORD did speak to him in the past. Dreams are one way in which the LORD communicates with us then and now. When we don’t have the exact instruction in God’s word, the LORD may reveal His direction in a dream. The Urim is believed to have been stones in the breastplate of the High Priest that would glow in answer to yes or no questions. Finally, the prophets are listed. A prophet would have a word from the LORD for Saul as Samuel had done in the past.
Saul had become the enemy of the LORD by disobedience and pride. He went against the Word of God in calling on a witch to bring up the spirit of Samuel. When we know we are out of God’s will and that God is silent toward us, desperate people will try forbidden means to see the future. If God does not tell you, it is better for you not to know. Do not try to find out the secrets of God through mystical means. It only compounds the sin of rebellion against God. If you are not hearing from God, search out the issues in your heart that must change.
Remember: If you aren’t hearing God’s instruction, the problem may be in your own heart.
John 1:14-16 (NIV) 14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'” 16From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.
The Logos became flesh. (see May 24 evening) That is the greatest of all miracles. If you can accept that miracle, then all others naturally follow. If you can’t, then you have no hope of ever being right with a holy and just God. This is the truth upon which the Bible hinges. The eternal reality of God became a human being. The last half of that first sentence means He pitched His tent among us. The worship of God that Moses established was done in a tent. There the glory of God resided. Then the glory of God moved to the temple that Solomon built. Eventually the glory and presence of God left that temple because of the peoples’ rebellion against God. In the passage for today, the glory of God returned to the tent, but this time it was the tent of a human body.
The first tent of worship was built under the direction of the Holy Spirit. This tent was also, as the Holy Spirit came upon Mary. When we see the life of Jesus, we see the glory of God. The Jews thought of the glory as a shining light or illuminated cloud. Glory is a life entirely yielded to God. It is a life filled with grace and truth. We can see the glory of God in every action and statement of Jesus.
John the Baptist came to tell the world that the Messiah was coming. Though John was born and began his ministry before that of Jesus’, Jesus eternally existed in the Father. He is the I Am and lives in the eternal now.
It is the super-abounding grace of the Eternal One that brings blessing after blessing into our lives. It was this same wonderful grace that led to the incarnation, display of glory, death and resurrection of Jesus. Do you see your life being filled with one blessing after another? It is! Open your eyes to this grace that we so often take for granted, and bless the Lord.
Sing: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me. Bless His holy name!
by Upper Room Administrator on Saturday, May 24, 2014
I was the youngest of three children. Like many of their time, my folks had to delay marriage until after World War II—or in their case even later, following Dad’s return from Japan where he served as part of the Allied occupation forces. My parents were married in June 1948, and (as Dad was known to remark) nine months and fifteen minutes later their first daughter was born. Bill made his appearance 22 months after his older sister, and I brought up the end of the parade about a year and a half after Bill. Raising three children who were so close in age must have been challenging, though surviving the rigors of World War II had probably been good training. As the youngest I sometimes felt at a disadvantage, often running to Mom for sympathy, carrying with me tales of things a devious older sibling had done to injure me. In many cases I felt victimized, though truth be told I felt a certain satisfaction with the act of tattling in and of itself. My mother’s answer was always the same: “Don’t worry about what they are doing; worry about what you are doing.” At the time, this message didn’t make sense to me. If I noticed that I was doing something wrong, I certainly wouldn’t run to Mom to announce it! Only years later did I figure out that she was urging me not to judge my own goodness in comparison to others that I knew had missed the mark, but to consider what I might do to improve my own behavior (which you have probably guessed was not flawless). As a Christian I have come to realize that whenever we prayerfully participate in such self-examination, we realize we fall far short if we are using God’s standards of perfection—the only true measure—as our gauge. The more we look at God’s perfect Law and the perfection shown in the life of his Son, the more we see the helplessness of our situation. Thousands of years ago, King David reflected on this. “You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.” (Psalm 5: 5-6, NIV). As a young friend of mine sometimes says when faced with his own guilt, “Oh-oh. I’m dead meat.” Thankfully, God, full of grace, does not leave us there. David’s song of praise goes on to say, “But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple.” (vs. 7) Being better than our siblings, our neighbors, an our co-workers doesn’t allow us to enter God’s presence. The Apostle Paul counted his background and numerous worthy accomplishments to be rubbish in the quest for attaining God’s favor. (See Phil. 3:4-8.) It is only God’s mercy through the sacrifice of Christ that allows us that privilege. And that is “good news” indeed! – Lisa Stackpole
by Upper Room Administrator on Monday, May 26, 2014
During the last two weeks, my writing and exercise routines were disrupted, but for a very good reason: the marriage of our oldest daughter. The honey-do list for chores around our home was extensive and my time away from work was spent trying to reduce that list! For me writing really comes down to self-discipline and taking the time to develop an idea. Our local newspaper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, runs a Faith and Values column each Saturday. Anyone can submit a column for consideration to be published in the paper. After several unsuccessful attempts, three of my submissions were published in February, March, and April. I took three timely topics: the Super Bowl, the NCAA basketball tournament, and the opening of baseball season, and developed a spiritual thread in each one. Additionally, in Richmond Christians Who Write, I submitted a proposal for our group to write and develop our own Advent devotional booklet to be ready for Christmas 2014. Another member and I worked to compile the requirements and timeline, and we are optimistic about the opportunity this will give both seasoned writers and the non-published writers an outlet to showcase their skills. I’m also approaching the final phases of getting a second book for children ready to publish for the upcoming Christmas season. Careful reading and editing are taking place along with coordinating the illustrations with the artist so that the drawings support the telling of the story. Finally, my devotional in this edition of The Upper Room represents an unexpected challenge that really knocked my wife’s family off their feet. Even at this writing today, we still wonder what triggered this tragic loss. It only serves to illustrate that we can appear to be fine on the outside, but inside a person can be tangled in an emotional turmoil that is filled with a deep darkness. I’m guessing that darkness holds no opening for any light of hope. With time, and the assistance of family, friends, and the strength of their faith our family has adjusted to the loss of a daughter, sister, wife, mother, and friend. – Bill Pike