Dirty Shoes

I Can’t Make You— Kick the Dirt Off of Your Shoes

Story of first disciples

Jesus will not make you follow him.  So what makes you think you should MAKE others follow you?

Many of us get frustrated with relationships where people who you think should listen to you for their own good, simply do not.  This can be friends, kids, co-workers…. Mannn even my dogs don’t listen some of the time.  One of the beautiful things about being human is our ability to choose.  Unfortunately sometimes with that ability people can and do chose not do as you would wish, even when it is for their own good.  There is nothing like watching someone you love make a wrong decision once, twice and multiple times and not be able to convince or move them to make a better choice.

I would say the disciples made a good choice in deciding to follow Jesus.  But as we see in Jesus’ recruiting of the first disciples, He did not force them, cajole, butter them up, or strong arm them.

Luke 5 tells us that One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,[a] the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

This is how Jesus called His first disciples/ followers.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

Simon was like… we worked all night doing just what you are telling us to do and nothing happened……….(exhale)…. ok…. But just because you said so, we can/ I will.

Jesus can bless you anywhere, anytime, but sometimes He requires us to participate.  He told Simon to put down the nets.  Which though it is something as a fisherman he did on a regular basis, he was not going to do that at this moment.  Fisherman usually worked early morning and late at night.  This had to have been during the day as Jesus was out on the water speaking to a crowd.  This is not conventionally great fishing time, but Jesus said… set up to catch the fish I am bringing to you.  Despite it not making sense to do the same wrong thing over again they followed Christ’s command and dropped the nets.

The only reason He dropped the nets was because Jesus told him.  Because Jesus says so, is enough.  Despite it being the wrong time of the day, despite them having just had a terrible experience in not being able to catch any fish, they chose to follow Jesus’order.

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

Nothing changed from the night before, except they had a word from the Lord.  Sometimes, you may be doing the right thing, but it may just not be the right time.  But when he directs you,  but just as Simon drop the nets when told by the Lord to do so you can have a boat sinking score by doing what the Lord tells you and when.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Not only can and will God bless what you have been doing if you are obedient, but He may change your focus.  He says here, “Don’t be afraid which is written in Scripture 365 times, one for each day of the year.

He told Abraham Genesis 15:1 – After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.’

He told Moses Numbers 21:34 – The Lord said to Moses, ‘Do not be afraid of him, for I have delivered him into your hands,

Through Samuel he told David I Samuel 12:20 – Do no be afraid,’ Samuel replied. ‘You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.’

  1. Jesus said Matthew 10:31 – So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
  2. Paul wrote in Hebrews Hebrews 13:6 – So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’
  3. In Revelation God says, Revelation 1:17 Do not be afraid.I am the First and the Last.’

The message is pretty simple.  Though it is not one of the explicit commands of Exodus, it is stated enough for me to reckon that we are not to be afraid.  What each of these fear not quotes has in common is that God is saying when you are with me, nothing can conquer against you.  So

 

As Jesus is telling this to Simon do not fear, you will now be a fisher of men He was telling him that it may not always appear the way you want it, be comfortable, but If the Lord says go… Do not be afraid.

Simon became the first of Jesus’ closest disciples and went on to change the world.

Simon who is also known as Peter went from fishing in open water to walking on it (Matthew 14:28-33).  He gave an arousing speech at Pentecost which resulted in 3000 souls being saved. (Acts 2:14-41).  Peter means “stone” in Greek, while Cephas is “stone” in Aramaic.  Cephas was a “pillar” of the church (Galatians 2:9) who was one apart of Jesus’ inner circle and witnessed miracles that other apostles did not.  He

As one of the three disciples who was closest to Jesus.  He got to witness miracles and moments the other apostles weren’t privy to, including:

Jesus told Him what to do and he followed. Though his life was not that of the rich and famous, Peter lived a full life as a result.  He could have responded with I don’t know how, I don’t have the time, I’ve got to get in shape, get my bills in order, get my family in line, my husband or wife on board.  I have to get time off of work or put it out on Facebook and see what the consensus is…… Nope.  He pulled the boats ashore and followed.

(example of people acting fast)

Jesus spoke of His power.  He demonstrated His power and told him to follow him.  Peter complied.

———————

But even Jesus could not get everyone on board.

Some time later after Jesus had been out doing what He does, healing the sick, spreading the Good news of the coming Kingdom of God.  Being miraculous, He had been rousing crowds all over Galilee and was on His way to Jerusalem….. when

 

 

Mark 10

17 …., a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Anytime an adult is running towards something they must really want it.  It was not a casual stroll, he really wanted to talk to Jesus and find out what he needed to do for eternal life.

He thought it was something to achieve, something to ascertain like the other reward worthy efforts of his life.  He was looking to secure/possess a life that did not end. What he was asking for was far greater than he understood.  The term in the New Testament used for “eternal” is aiónios.  This term does not focus on the future per se, but rather on the quality of the era it relates to. It is not an appendage, an add-on to life after you die.  Thus believers live in “eternal /aiṓnios life” right now, experiencing this quality of God’s life now as a present possession.  In fact, eternal life is not really associated with day, months or years at all.  It is independent of time. It is not just a gift independent of time.  It is a gift from God.  Regaining what was lost in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life.

What the man thought he was asking to receive in the future was a gift that required him to drop his nets today.  And in response, like many of Jesus’ responses, Christ focused the man before He gave him a response.  He replied:

18 “Why do you call me good?”  “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’[a]

He says only God is truly good.  He centers the man’s request on God, a preface to what is to come.  But hey, you must follow the commandments and the man replies, 20 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

This man was stuck on what he had done.  Jesus was focused on the man getting to know Him.  Just as he indicated in his first response, the God is the only truly good one.  You will get to know good by following me.  The implication here is that Jesus is God.

Jesus was saying to the man…Look I really am fond of you, you seem like a well intended guy.  Glad you are following the commandment, but look here, the one thing you need to do is let go of the worldly stuff and follow me.  Follow me.  No matter how much good stuff you do or how much bad stuff you refrain from doing, you only get eternal life by following me.

So Jesus offered this man eternity.  Something no one else can offer. The moment he decided to follow Christ the man would receive it.  The most valuable thing in the world, a forever relationship in the glow of God, the peace to have joy in the midst of anything. He simply said come…. follow me.

22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Unlike Peter, the rich man treasured his things his material more than what Jesus offered, more than the eternal life he requested.  Jesus explicitly offered this man the treasures of heaven and the nameless man rejected Him.

There are so many messages in this:

  1. People chose what is in front of them not what they can’t see. (immature)
  2. If Jesus could not convince this man to follow him, we should know that not everyone is going to follow you.
  3. No matter what you do, some people are going to make the wrong choices.
  4. Holding on to your things can cause you to miss more valuable things.
  5. Whats more important your things or your relationships.
  6. Feeling or fellowship?

What I want you to take away today is that your role is to share Christ.  Share the good news that Jesus lived, was crucified and rose so that we can have aiónios — eternal life, but we have to follow him.

We have been blessed with an array of talents that allow us to minister this message in a gambit of ways, but we cannot make anyone follow him.  As we see here, Jesus said, these are the keys to the kingdom and my man turned him down.  If Jesus did not make everyone he encountered while in His presence, we cannot make folks follow Him.

If Jesus did not make everyone follow Him even after being in His presence, what makes you think everyone will follow you.  Don’t be mad or dejected when you get rejected.  Do the best you can and keep it moving.  Continue to put the gifts and talents to work that God have been given.

This message should take the pressure off.  One of the questions any minister of the gospel has after each delivery is was it effective.  Whether you are a singer, preacher, teacher dancer, poet, or minister in another capacity we are always praying that the word we deliver moves the listeners and that someone is moved to pull in their boat and follow.

We can only shine God’s glory, preach His word, but we cannot make people follow. Jesus commissioned His disciples and sent them off two at a time.  He warned them of those who will reject them.

In Mark 10 it states that Jesus told them to go out and preach the gospel of the kingdom of heaven which is at hand.  He told them to preach and to get to work, [e]Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.  He then told them what Spiderman has adopted as his mantra.  Of whom much is given, much is required.  He told them without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. J

 

Jesus went on to tell them to look for worth people to stay with and if they are worthy  keep. Pray for them, seek their peace and happiness by prayer, teaching, stay with them, and impart to them the blessings of the gospel. But…… but if they turn out not to be worthy, if they are not willing to receive you, that is okay.  What you tried to give them but they do not receive, you can benefit from.

That’s kind of like if you go buy someone a cold water after a workout, but they refuse it, you can keep it and be nourished yourself.  That which others reject becomes thereby a greater blessing to you.  Not only that, once you have been rejected, leave their residence, and make sure to shake the dust off your feet.  You are responsible to your neighbor but not responsible for your neighbor.  We are to love them, which requires us to share with them, but there comes a time when we must move on from them.  Shaking off the dust equates to washing your hands of a situation.  You cannot make folks do right.  We are to try, but as we see here, sometimes when rejected, we are to move on to the next town.

Peace

 

 

 

Truth v Lies

Truth Hurts. Lies Kill.

 

Truth v Lies

Truth is required before we can have trust.  We must trust to have true peace.  Therefore without truth we cannot have true peace.

Something unusually happened the other day.  A Kentucky Republican said from the senate floor, “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people.  The mob was fed lies. That Kentucky Republican was Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate Republicans.  This will unfortunately be debated on Fox News, CNN and other outlets as to whether he should have, why did he and why now is he stating this.  Our playing with the treatment of the truth as a side story instead of a standard is sign of a corroded society.

Let’s be honest.  Four years ago the term fake news was not a apart of our lexicon.  Though in the 13th Century BC, Ramseses the Great spread falsehoods and propaganda detailing the Battle of Kadesh as a rousing victory.  They painted the walls of the temples with scenes depicting their triumph over the Hittites.  However, the treaty between the two nations, Egypt and the Hittites indicates that it was in fact a stalemate.  That was 3500 years ago.  So fake news is not new news.

However, fake news has become so intrinsic in our broadcasts that the integrity of news has been shattered.  There are two causes for this dismantling.  1. As was the case of Ramseses, our leaders have continued providing narratives and details that cheat or outright offend the truth.  2.  News reporting can be simply a recitation of the facts of past or forthcoming event.  i.e. The KC Chiefs won the Superbowl in 2020 which is a factual statement reported as news.  The K.C. Chiefs won the Superbowl because the NFL wants to crown Patrick Mahomes the new prince of Football.  That is an editorial or opinion piece which may or may not be true, but for some reading this title and if presented as news, it will be accepted as truth whether it is or not.  This creates opportunity for some fiction to be sprinkled in with some non-fiction when broadcasting the news.  Remember, something cannot be completely true if it contains a little bit of lying.

Because of the numerous news outlets that dispute one another and many who do not let the falsity of a scintillating story stop it from putting it out, trust in them has diminished.  This distrust is not isolated to the press.  Our opinion of politicians who are notorious for self-aggrandizing tangos with the truth has majorly dwindled as well. (that goes for Dems and Reps.).

Besides the fact that truthfulness is a character of God which we should emulate for society to be civil, God mandates truth telling.  (though shall not lie.) The story of Ananias and Sapphira emphasizes God’s hatred for lying and the outcome.  Ananias and Sapphira were a married couple who sold their land and gave some of the proceeds to the disciples. They lied, telling Peter that it was all the money when in fact they had held some back for themselves. When Peter confronted them, they died. Though immediate death seems like a very harsh punishment for lying, it shows us how much God hates dishonesty.

As we transition the executive branch of the federal government, we are suffering the consequences of a national lack of trust in governance.  On one side you have those who believe Donald Trump’s unsupported posturing that the election in November is choc full of fraud and that he won it.  People who believe him now do not trust the House of Representatives, the Senate leaders McConnell and Schumer, the Supreme Court and anyone who says otherwise.   On the other side you have those who do not trust the former administration, Fox news, most Republican federal officials and anyone who believes Trump’s election narrative.  You also have factions who do not know what to believe and/or do not believe any of the cocktail of news stories broadcast, printed, and disseminated.

 “A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is a traitor.”  Prov 14:25

Lies may comfort or make others feel good, it may fuel the power one needs to sustain a movement, but the temporary satisfaction or jolt can result in great catastrophe.   The outcome of our societal lack of trust in our elected officials on a large scale manifested in what we saw on January 6th –anger and mob violence sparked and spread by lies.   The outcome of this lack of trust is the continued tension across racial, geographic, religious, political, and generational strata.

The word “devil,” in Greek is diabolos, which can be translated as, “to divide,” “to separate,” or more literally, “to throw against.” A war is a state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state.  Based on the 800% increase in militia membership growth and the numerous shows of force nationally one could say that we are at war, and if we are not, there are quite a few folks out there preparing like we are.  This is in part because an insistence of some to tell and others clinging to– lies. Lies like the Jews are orchestrating a white genocide by promoting reproduction by people of different races.  Lies like all immigrants are rapists and criminals.  Lies like all Black run countries are s***holes.  Belief in these untruths give some the rationale they need to count non-whites as inferior and treat them accordingly, whether it be by law or violence.

 

Jesus desires unity.  I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one”. (John 17:20-22) So those who create division and separation in the body of Christ are not of Christ. 

 

Though there are real differences in the body, these differences do not mandate division.   The Church is required to overcome our societal attraction to tribalism and strengthen the body of Christ as the communion for all members. 

We all know the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes.  The emperor’s new clothes is  about a vain emperor who gets exposed before his subjects. Two swindlers arrive at the capital city of an emperor who spends lavishly on clothing at the expense of state matters. Posing as weavers, they offer to make him magnificent clothes that are invisible to those who are stupid or incompetent. The emperor hires them, and they stage setting up looms and go to work. A succession of officials, and then the emperor himself, visit them to check their progress. Each sees that the looms are empty but pretends otherwise to avoid being thought a fool. Finally, the weavers report that the emperor’s suit is finished. They mime dressing him and he sets off in a procession before the whole city. The townsfolk uncomfortably go along with the pretense, not wanting to appear inept or stupid, until a child blurts out that the emperor is wearing nothing at all. The people then realize that everyone has been fooled. Although startled, the emperor continues the procession, walking more proudly than ever. He doubled down.

Are you one of the people who just went along with the Emperor, by buying into the lie and acting as though he wore clothes despite the backlash you may experience.  Or are you confident enough, obedient enough, honest enough, faithful enough, to not just stand for the truth, but call out lies.

The world is filled with lies and deception.  Jesus warned His disciples to be aware of deception (Matthew 24:4). The church is the target of the devil. Satan is the father of lies, and it is in his nature to deceive and divide.  We as followers of Christ are supposed to be aware of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Paul addressed the issue of lies among believers because it became a problem in the early church. Ephesians 4:25 “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”   In 1 John 2:21 John wrote: “…not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.” We should not be involved with anything that is not of the truth. As believers in Christ, we are to speak the truth in love and to expose all the works of evil.

God is light, totally absent of darkness.  As His children, made in His image we are called to be children of the light. 1 John 1:6 says: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Truth is light; therefore we are to walk in truth.

It is easy to say that racism is wrong, sexism is wrong, violence is wrong when it is comfortable and popular to say such.  However, Jesus taught and showed us that those who tell the truth will be persecuted, just as He was.  We must pray for the wisdom to always discern the truth and strength to act on it even in the midst of persecution.  If we do so, the chokehold of dishonesty that taints society and the church can be dampened and the light of the Lord that we reflect shall shine.

If only the body of Christ would stand unified, just imagine.  If only we the body of the church stood up.  Artists use your talent to articulate the truth.  Listeners require truth be told in what you consume.  If people did not buy into lies that are pervasive in our nation, we would not have had an attack on our capital, five people would be alive, and we would not have a threat of subsequent unfortunate events.  Be aware.  Be Honest.  Be Loving.

 

 

Can Violence bring Victory?

 

Peace cannot be achieved through violence it can only be attained through understanding.  I pray heavenly Father that the darkest days of this recent election opposition are behind us and that we have an increase in peace.

What Made the Wisemen Wise

Prayer is Like Bacon

 

Prayer is like Bacon 

I remember as a child, I fought quite a bit.  I did not stay in trouble, I did well in school and all, but it was a bi-annual thing, I fought just about 2 times per year from the time I was in the first grade until about 5th grade.  One fight in particular comes to mind because it happened on the last day of school before easter.  this day, I got into some words with this kid Lorenzo earlier in the day, I don’t remember about what but he threatened to jump me after school.  Now a threat of getting beat up was not particularly rare so I did not pay it any mind until I was face down in snow getting hit by him and his brother after they ambushed me on my walk home. 

Like I said, fist fights were not uncommon but they gave me a fat lip and it was the last day of school before easter.  As I got up from the pile of snow I was upset that I had gotten jumped but all I could think about was my parents being mad with me because my face was jacked up before easter.  This was back in the day when we would be dressed out.  My grandmother had already bought my suit at Christmas, haircut was already on tap, shoes were new, pictures were going to be in full effect and of all of the days of the year to look like I had been fighting this was not it. 

So I got home and once I saw the damage I tried to fix it up. But despite my pretend skills and having played the game operation, I could not reverse the damage of my swollen busted lip,  just imagine an eight year old trying to hide a busted lip.  Toilet tissue, blood, soap, rubbing alcohol….. it was a mini surgical center in my bathroom in an attempt to address my face before my parents got home. 

After I resigned my self to not being able to fix my face, I know running away was not an option, so I figured that hiding was an option.  I could hide in the hallway closet until after Easter.  Now this was likely Thursday because we did not have school on Good Friday, so I figured I could hideout there for the next three days and by that time my lip would have healed as well. 

It was not uncommon for my sister and I to hide in the house from my parents. Sometimes my father would look for us sometimes he would not, but from what I remember, on this day, my father came home I hid, I just remember that several hours later I woke up and my mom was home and I was asleep in the closet and kind of figured out that my plan to hide all weekend was not going to work. So I emerged from my top secret hiding place in the hallway closet.  Now this is was not a huge house, we were in a three bed two bathroom apartment, maybe 1000 sq feet.  So I am sure they either knew or had an idea where I was.  But I came out and sustained the scolding I got for getting in a fight, for getting beat up and getting my face messed up.  But Easter went on as scheduled.

Almost forty years later when I think back, I wonder what was I hiding for.  I was hiding like most people when they don’t want to face someone because they have done something wrong, don’t want to hear what they have to say are ashamed and don’t want to face the consequences or a combination of these. 

Prayer is like Bacon

The first instance of hiding is recorded in the Bible in Gen 3:8.

God Created man in His Own image.  The moon reflects the light of the sun to the earth to illuminate the darkness of night.  It would be just a large dull rock if it did not reflect the sun. When the moon does not reflect the sun’s light, our Earthly nights are the darkest. 

We best reflect  God who’s image we were created in when we reflect His light.  We best shine His light when we seek him out to be in His presence. Seeking Him out to be in His presence is prayer.  

In Gen 3: 8 Adam and Eve heard God walking towards them in the Garden of Eden,  instead of seeking to be in His presence, they tried to hide.

Now this is interesting because God is omnipresent, (He is everywhere). So because he is everywhere, he was where they were, could see where they were and what they were doing. I don’t know whether he took on a physical form, whether it was the just His voice, lightning or thunder, but they were familiar with the sound of God.   Before they had sinned, if they heard the voice of the Lord God coming toward them, they would have run to meet him; but now God was  a terror to them, annnnnndddddd they lost some trust in one another….

Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, then gave the fruit to Adam who also ate it.  Once they ate of the fruit, their eyes were opened. But not in the way they thought…. They were expecting to be equal to God … they gained knowledge, and it was not what they were hoping for. They now understood many things, not just the good and the beautiful that their life under God’s instruction afforded them, but evil as well.  They knew and could choose evil.


Genesis 2:25 tells us pointedly that before their sin, disobeying God Adam and Eve were both naked and unashamed. They were truly innocent, so their nudity was sinless and free of shame. Now, instantly, they were aware and ashamed. Though they’d never worn clothes before, the knowledge of evil created a fearful urge to cover themselves, to hide from each other, to mistrust the other person’s motives and thoughts, and to protect themselves.   This is what God warned them for, and wanted to protect them from, but they chose their own path.  And this was part of the consequence,  a compulsion to Hide from God and from each other.

First, They were ashamed, So They hid.  Like me hiding in a closet in a small house, they hid in the garden amongst the trees.  Two grown people, hiding dressed in fig leaves, hiding.  Just like my parents knew I was in the house God knew where they were, but He asked, Where are you?

God knew the answer already.

We have all been in this situation where we know the answer to a question and ask someone for an answer. It might be for entrapment, it might be for them to explain, it might be so that they can hear themselves speak. In this case it was God’s invitation to Adam to talk to him.

God asked, where are you, Adam responded, in v 10, I heard you in the garden, I was naked so I hid.

Adam, did not answer God’s question.  He did what people often do, they say what they think best suits them instead of answering the question at hand. But God knowing where they were did not push that any further. He did not say, where are you again.  He like an adept attorney on cross asked the next question to get to His point. 

God said, in v 11, who told you that you are naked?   Remember the only characters in the story up to this point are Adam, Eve, the Serpent and God.  Don’t you think God knew the answer to this question?  

Then he went right to the crux of this chapter, and asked did you eat from the tree I told you not to? Again, he already knew, and again Adam did one of those shuffles and tried to pass the buck.  He was probably looking down, sweating, stuttering, doing all of the things nervous people do…

Adam never answered who told them that they were naked, but did blame God and Eve for him eating the fruit. 

In verse 12 He said the woman you put here with me, gave me fruit from the tree.  And I ate it.   So it’s yawls fault.  (pointing)

This is the first recorded dialogue between Adam and God between mankind and God.  Adam was living with the consequences of His actions He was ashamed, then tried to cover himself with fig leaves, then hid and denied culpability when God came looking and questioning .. …

Adam did not realize Prayer is like Bacon

God is always looking for us. ….. He is always looking for us to address HIM.  He knows where we are, He knows what we are doing. But He wants us to talk to Him, to listen to him, to communicate with him to commune with him…., this is  prayer. 

Prayer is spending time with God, having a conversation with God.   It may consist of adoration, or an expression of our sense of God’s glorious perfections, confession of our sins, supplication (requests) for mercy and forgiveness, intercession for blessings on others, and thanksgiving, or an expression of gratitude to God for his mercies and benefits, it can even be complaints. It may be unrehearsed, written or printed.

It is only through prayer that one can move from knowing about God to knowing God personally.  You can and should read the Bible and talk with other people, but you only get to KNOW God personally through prayer. 

prayer is always available to us. Nothing can keep us from approaching God in prayer except our own choices (Psalm 139:7; Romans 8:38-39).

(SLOW)Very broadly stated, prayer is acknowledging God’s presence and responding. 

His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.  I would sing it if I had that talent.  This Is a famous Gospel lyric deduced from scripture.  Psalm 32:8

    When I kept silent about my sin, my [b]body wasted away
Through my [c]groaning all day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My [d]vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. [e]Selah.
I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”;
And You forgave the [f]guilt of my sin. Selah.
Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You [g]in a time when You may be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with [h]songs of deliverance. Selah.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you.

Matthew

I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.  while he kept silent, his bones wasted away.  But when he talked with God, God relieved the burden of the sins that were keeping him down.  Verse 8 states God is watching and guiding.

We see in the Garden that God has His eyes on His people. They sense His presence and they talk to Him, despite their shame, despite their sin.  His eyes were on them. His eyes are on you….

God is paying attention to you.  He is watching you,  He is seeking you. He attends to you. 

Prayer is like Bacon.

Prayer is not a giving God information He does not know. But It is an act of humility.

Prayer requires us to admit that perhaps we don’t quite know it all, despite the expectations of society, we do not have it all together.

In the garden, once they sinned, They tried to go about their business without God, and whether their ridiculous leaves did the job or not, they did not cover them like the skins God provided. (a foreshadowing of Jesus sacrifice to cover our sins) 

They thought they were doing something, with some leaves, I can’t help but think of Rush Hour 2 where Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker were running down the highway with garbage can lids to cover themselves after they got robbed and stripped. Their leaves may have worked for a minute, but it took God to truly cover them to truly resolve their shame, solve their problem, give them peace. 

God sought Adam. Adam hid, but did come out.   God seeks us. Regardless of our sin or situation, we must seek him.  In seeking Him, we are covered.  There are a multitude of reasons to pray, but we pray as a means of seeking Him.  When we seek him, we can hear his direction, we get covering, we are protected.

You know how in the movies, when someone is being looked for and they decided to go meet whoever it is that is looking for them so they go to their HQ and when they go, they get frisked for any weapons, then sit and speak with the BOSS.  In many of these movies while they are in the presence of the BOSS they are safe.  Prayer places us in the presence of the BOSS. While in the presence of the BOSS we are safe. 

 IT is usually the ones who are running from the Boss that get in serious trouble when they get caught.  Don’t run.  Even Adam and Eve in their shame, came out of hiding, surrendered and talked with God. 

At the most difficult moment in history, where Jesus The one moment where Jesus was separated from God, Jesus screamed out “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” That is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” why have you forsaken me.  He did not say why am I in pain…. Why is this happening.  He was in such physical anguish because God was not seeking him and the weight of the worlds sins were on him.  If in His time of despair a pain a burden like nothing anyone has ever experienced, Jesus screamed out for God’s presence among the entire universe of options, don’t you think seeking God who is looking for us to walk with Him might be wise.  And we don’t even have to scream.   

There are 367 references to prayer in the NIV version of the Bible.  We are told to pray about everything without ceasing.  In other words we should be talking with God about everything all of the time as Jesu directed:

Whether it is for there to be heaven on earth

Whether it is to know his will

Whether it is for your food, finances, friends or family

Whether it is for forgiveness …. Forgiveness for what you have said, or done (you need a pardon)

Whether it is for the strength to forgive those who have done you wrong

Whether it is to keep you from eating of the tree of knowledge, delivering us from what we are not supposed to do.

God wants you to pray

It was in this conversation in the Garden that God cursed the serpent who he said would be beneath all other animals, would crawl on His belly, be the enemy of the woman, and would be crushed the offspring of woman.

This was hope, this was grace…. This was the first sign from God to Adam and Eve that they that they had a fruitful future.  God said that their offspring would smite the serpent.  By talking with God they learned that they would have children who would get back at the Devil. 

God cursed both Adam and Eve.  Though He had given them permission to eat of the tree of life in Gen 2, God now took away Adam’s access to the tree of life.  

In our quick incomplete understanding of God, without prayer and spending time with God we might reduce that this is a punishment.  But remember, In the Garden before they had eaten of the tree of knowledge, they were not aware of, exposed to, conduits of and victims of sin.  Now they were.  This fallen state is exponentially miserable compared to life in God’s presence, which they had experienced in the Garden.

Therefore, the prospects of living forever seemed great while they were without sin, but once they experienced something less than God’s glory, the prospects of living forever in this fallen state, was comparably appalling. 

The sentence of eventual death, was a punishment inflicted for man’s good, intended, while exposing him to temporal death, to preserve him from eternal death. As it is in death that man can again be in God’s presence as they were in the Garden.

Prayer is like Bacon

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Just like the quality of our communication determines the quality of any relationship. You can’t be in a relationship with someone and never talk to them, can you?  God is always watching and waiting on us to talk with Him. Through prayer, our communication with God we experience relationship with God. The quality of our prayer life determines the quality of our relationship with God.

Communing with God gets our hearts right in order that our wills are in line with God’s will. Once our will is in line with God’s, we can be sure that whatever we ask of Him will be given to us because we will always be asking for what is in His will. 

Of course there are times when we ask for other things, and then we cannot be sure how he will answer; for our prayers may not be according to his will. Our prayers do not change God’s will or challenge his control; but they draw us into loving fellowship with him in his rule.

God could just rule from on high, but  he has chosen to govern the world in fellowship with Christ’s people.  He wants to know where you are.  He wants you to participate in your governance. There is nothing more true in the study of God.  The thrust of God’s communication with mankind since Adam and  Eve has always been relational. That’s why He wants us to pray. 

Are you putting on fig leaves and hiding in the trees or are you talking with God?

If you have never really prayed, I urge you to give it a try. After all, the Bible tells us that your prayers will be met with God’s delight (Proverbs 15:8, Psalm 149:4). The act of prayer leads to the patience, protection, peace, and perseverance we all so desperately need. 

I am a vegetarian and even I know that bacon makes everything taste better. 

Like Bacon,  prayer makes everything better.