But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. Psalm 38:15 ESV
God answers prayer. I love the certainty of that promise.
But our opening scripture also reveals another truth: We often have to wait for that answer.
The waiting frustrates most of us. In this world of instant gratification, often God’s movement seems a bit slow. But what if it isn’t God that’s keeping you from your answer?
Today we will glimpse two prayers from a gatekeeper, a man whose prayers released God’s deliverance on this earth. You’ve probably heard of him. His name is Daniel.
Our friend Daniel is most famous for having survived a den of lions, but that’s not what we’ll be talking about today. Today we’ll see how he served the people of God as a watchman, discerning God’s Word and releasing His will through prayer.
In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. Daniel 9:2
Daniel lived in Babylon, the result of Israel being carried off into captivity because sin had removed God’s covering of protection. Jeremiah had warned them in advance of their exile, declaring they would serve the king of Babylon for 70 years.
Daniel realized those 70 years were coming to a close and it was time for God to deliver His people once more. So, he put on his party hat and waited to see God move.
Well, not exactly. He did precisely what Elijah did last week when God had revealed His will. He prayed.
Then I turned my face […]
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:17-18 ESV
My world looks and feels a little different these days.
My family and I just returned from a week in Jeremie, Haiti where we served alongside Haiti Bible Mission over our boys’ Thanksgiving break.
I have never witnessed such a glaring contrast in my surroundings. Nestled amid God’s glorious display of some of the best He has given us— amazing turquoise seas, lush jungle landscapes and rolling green mountains—bare feet walked dusty roads littered with trash, and half dressed children played in the streets, hungry for both food and attention.
My heart broke for them.
But then again, I had prayed before I ever boarded that plane to cross the sea that God would pierce my heart and open my eyes to see the people of Haiti like He sees them.
I had asked for it, and still it caught me by surprise.
The first time we stepped out of the truck and began walking down the street along the poverty stricken waterfront, a wave of emotion swept over me with such force, I had to ask God to strengthen me to keep on walking without tears.
Oh, how He loves them! My heart swelled with compassion. His compassion.
Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? James 2:5
God sees those people the same way He sees you and me. He […]
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4 ESV
A smile lurks at the corners of my eyes when I ponder our opening scripture.
As a child I memorized Psalm 100 in song, an upbeat chorus proclaiming the truths of the verses and then breaking into a refrain. “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, thank you, Jesus…Praise God… Thank you, Jesus…”
I still can’t read the words without inserting them into the tune. I guess there’s something to be said about the power of a melody. After almost 40 years, I can still remember the whole Psalm.
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
Granted, Psalm 100 only has five verses. But when I learned them, I was only six.
Still, just knowing the words won’t do anything for me if I don’t understand them and live by them. So what does Psalm 100 really teach us?
Let’s take a few moments to read it together, pondering its truths. After all, it bears the subtitle A Psalm for Giving Thanks and tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It may help us shift our gratitude in the right direction.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Oh, how I love the Word of God! My soul yearns for truth and my heart swells when […]
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25 (ESV)
What a beautiful promise found in our opening scripture! Does it comfort you to know that Jesus is able to save you to the uttermost? He’s not a halfway God. He offers complete salvation.
But notice that there’s a condition to becoming a beneficiary of that salvation. He is able to save those who draw near to God through Him.
Within this phrase we find why so many believers miss experiencing the bounty of Christ’s salvation in the day to day. We don’t draw near. Instead, we often keep ourselves at a great distance from God, allowing jobs, relationships, even hobbies to separate us from the God who wants us near. Then we wonder where He is when we have an emergency.
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.” Proverbs 1:22-23
What an amazing promise from an amazing God! He longs to pour Himself out and make His desires known so that we can live His very best for us.
But what happens when we refuse to draw near to hear?
“Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity…” Proverbs 1:24-26
Chilling words from a God of grace. Do they surprise you? There’s more.
Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord. Proverbs 8:33-35 (ESV)
I think we forget that our most important role as followers of Christ is listening.
Well, let me rephrase that. We do a lot of listening. We just don’t recognize our need to quiet ourselves and listen to Jesus.
We seek His favor. We seek the abundant life He offers. But we usually ignore the means.
Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord.
Listening to Jesus is how you will find your way into His abundant life and favor.
You’ve probably heard Jesus described as the Good Shepherd. He actually gave Himself the name in John 10:11, just before He revealed what He had come to earth to do.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Let’s take a look at how Jesus describes His relationship with His sheep.
“But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:2-5
Verse 5 always pierces my heart. For many of us, Jesus’ voice is the stranger we never […]
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10:12
Last week we looked at the power of forgiveness. Christ’s blood poured out from a cross at Calvary so you and I could escape the destructive power of sin. The promise of the cross doesn’t just pardon sin’s penalty, dear one. It conquers the present compulsion for sin in our day-to-day lives.
Beloved, you and I have been empowered by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us to live driven by Christ’s love rather than sin’s hate. We’ve been given a new nature—Christ’s nature—and that nature offers the power to dramatically change our present circumstances. When walking in that nature, we enjoy the beautiful fruit the Spirit provides.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you love to live each day feeling your heart swell with love and bubble over with joy? Wouldn’t you love the peace of God to wash away your anxiety and worry? Don’t you long to find yourself empowered to patience instead of blowing up at the people you love?
Unfortunately, that isn’t where most of us live. Instead, we far more readily suffer the fruit of the flesh, spending much of our days tied up in knots, feeling frustrated, angry, depressed, and overcome by the circumstances we find ourselves in. Our families end up baring the brunt of our misery.
What are we missing? Perhaps Matthew 6:14-15 will shed some light on the root of our struggle.
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Powerful words. Jesus said if […]