Re: Verse reading – Psalm 24:1-6; Ephesians 5:1-16 (day three)
“Wake up, sleeper.”  As a sleeping person knows life only in a dream instead of as it actually is, so a person untaught by Jesus Christ knows only fleeting images of good and love and beauty, and not those things as they actually are.  Consider the words of C.S. Lewis: “Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

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Re: Verse reading – Psalm 24:1-6; Ephesians 5:1-16 (day two)
But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.

Just having returned from the land of the midnight sun, I certainly have a new appreciation for light. If you have ever spent time in the far north where you get 16, 18, 20 or more hours of sunlight a day, it changes you. I saw a child’s birthday party happening in a city park…at 9:45 at night!! But there it made sense. The sun was up, and you wanted to be out and in it. I couldn’t believe the amount of energy I had at 11:00 PM, simply because there was light.

When things are visible and seen they have energy from the light that shines on them. This is the same for us. When Jesus’ light shines on us, the darkness is driven away and we are made visible. Be in the light!

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Purity – The road less traveled

Re: Verse reading – Psalm 24:1-6; Ephesians 5:1-16 (day one) 
“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”–Jesus (Matthew 7:14)

In Ephesians 4 and 5, the Bible gives moral instructions.  Spiritual requirements. These two chapters (with other portions of God’s word) point to a path of purity from sin and issue a call for every believer to walk this path in obedience and blessing.  Many subjects are addressed.  Honesty–v 25.  Anger–v 26.  Stealing–v 28.  Hurtful language–v 29.  Sexual immorality–5:3ff.  All component parts of the “new life” that God gives us in Christ by the Spirit, and all difficult to teach in an age of moral ambiguity.  Many in this generation resist this teaching as “legalistic” or ”rule-focused”.  I imagine the same was true in Paul’s day.  More to say as the week comes.  “Two roads diverged in a narrow wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”–Robert Frost

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A glorious death

RE Verse reading–Luke 11:1-13; Luke 18:1-8 (day seven)
“Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones who CRY to him day and night?” (18:7)  “And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down on the ground.” (Luke 22:44)  Prayer, for Jesus, was a kind of death.  Painful.  Physically exhausting.  It will be the same for us, I believe.  A death to impatience as we wait on God, a death to pride as we depend on His power, a death to dishonesty as we openly confess our sins.  I labor, sometimes, under the false expectation that the spiritual life should be convenient and easy, accessible even to the most casually interested applicant.  It was not so for Jesus and unlikely to be so for those of us who love Him and want to share His Spirit. Easy?  No.  Powerful?  Yes.  ”It is in dying that we are born to eternal life”–St. Francis

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Acceptance and assertion

RE Verse reading–Luke 11:1-13; Luke 18:1-8 (day six) 
“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they always pray and not give up.“  (18:1)  It is not an easy balance to find.  When do I ACCEPT God’s will, resign myself to things I cannot control, and when do I ASSERT my needs, persevere and not give up?  The answer lies in the ability of the Father to communicate with my spirit.  As Jesus prayed in the garden He gradually “knew” that the cross was the Father’s will.  With the story of the widow, however, Jesus made clear that sometimes persistence is required and that the believer will hear the Spirit whispering, “do not give up, keep going.”  Neither posture is correct in every situation.  Sometimes  I accept an answer I do not want, and other times I continue to press with the confidence that an answer will eventually come.  Only God can help me know which path is right.

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Asking the Right Question

Re: Verse reading – Luke 11:1-13; 18:1-8 (Day Five)  Luke 11:1 It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.”

Of all the questions the disciples could have asked, they chose prayer as the topic of this request.  Why not miracles?  Why not wisdom?  Why not prophesy or the future?  The disciples made the connection between the life of Jesus (power, peace, wisdom, hope, and joy) and the discipline of prayer that He faithfully demonstrated.  They saw in the Savior, a life they wanted to imitate.  They believed that this kind of approach to prayer was both possible and beneficial.  Do we?

Richard Foster says, “Prayer catapults us onto the frontier of spiritual life.  Of all the Spiritual Disciplines, prayer is the most central because it ushers us into perpetual communion with the Father.”

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Re: Verse reading – Luke 11:1-13; 18:1-8 (Day Three)
“Lord, teach us to pray.”  It’s not uncommon for evangelicals to think that the best kind of prayer consists of spontaneous, off-the-cuff, stream-of-consciousness language.  While speaking to God in a moment of unstructured outpouring is often a good and necessary practice for a Christian, this passage helps us to see that a studied, carefully planned approach to prayer can also help.  A person would do well to contemplate and to pray the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalms, the composed prayers of devout disciples of Jesus Christ through the centuries of Christianity.  As for the concern about reciting “rote prayers”, two observations: First, rote learning is actually a good way to become accustomed to ways of speaking (including prayer); and second, any prayer—spontaneous or not—will be as sincere or as distracted as the person praying it.

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Persistence Pays

Re: Verse reading – Luke 11:1-13; 18:1-8 (day two) If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?

Even in our flawed state we know how to treat someone who is persistent in their requests. If this is the case for us, how much more will this be true for the Father when he hears us consistently pray as we should. He has given us the pattern, and commanded us to follow. Won’t you?

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Squeaky wheels

Re: Verse reading – Luke 11:1-13; 18:1-8 (day one) 
“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.”  (18:1)
[Sorry for the late post. Yesterday was a full, happy day at FBCSA.]  Jesus believed it.  Squeaky wheels get grease.  People who pray get answers.  Significant effort is required.  Maybe, that is why the Lord knew he needed to encourage us not to give up.  Sometimes when I don’t talk to Holly, don’t tell her what I feel or want, it is because I don’t know, myself.  It is an attempt to avoid the emotionally taxing exercise of listening to my own soul, being honest with myself and with her.  Talk is easy.  Truth is hard.  Same with God. Is it possible to live without prayer?  Yes.  It is possible to do so and experience what He promised?  NO.  “Come let us reason” says the Lord.  Talk!  Be honest!  The squeaky wheel . . .

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Saul’s heart and mine

Re: Verse reading – 1 Samuel 15:1-35 (day seven) 
” ‘But I did obey the Lord,’ Saul said.”  (v 20) I have been thinking this week of Abraham, how FULLY he obeyed God.  Even to the point of sacrificing his own son.  See Genesis 22.  I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been, but need to do so because obedience to God doesn’t allow me to “lean on my own understanding” and omit the rest.  I have Saul’ heart.  (Apart from the grace of God his heart is ALL that I would have.)  My tendency is to propose a new definition for obedience.  Doing “mostly” what God requires and rationalizing the rest, being self-deceived that partial obedience is enough.  That’s what I do.  What Saul did.  It does not work.  Ever.  What God wants, requires, deserves is the full surrender of my will, a deep change in my heart.  I suspect Saul looked back with regret.  Unless I take different steps, I will too.

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