PRAYER, FAITH AND SLOT MACHINES


SLOT     A casino is an interesting place to learn about prayer. Walking around in the twilight darkness, you see basically three types of players. First, are the drifters. These folks drift from machine to machine, watching others play until they see multiple players have tried the same machine with no luck. Then they move in. They are looking for the quick, easy score with the least investment. They figure, after all that play, it will pay off big for them. Next, you’ll find the vacillators. These are the ones that the drifters follow most frequently. They will play on one machine for a short period of time, then move on to another, hoping that the other machine will pay out bigger and more often. Finally, you have the homesteaders. These rugged individuals sit down in front of one machine and play until they get tired. If they lose, they keep putting in more. They are not going to give up until they hit the jackpot. They may lose all they have, but they will never give up.
In the old days, before the electronic slot machine, a player would put in the coins he wanted to bet and pull the handle. He would watch the tumblers spin in unison and stop, one by one, bells would ring and lights would flash when a jackpot was won. Coins would come spitting out into the tray at the bottom. Instant gratification. He could keep playing, or place his winnings in paper buckets and take them to the cashier. Or, he would watch the tumblers spin in unison and stop, one by one, and nothing happened. He would either drift, vacillate, or homestead, depending on his personal inclination. Now, most of the machines are electronic, with few, or no, coins involved, no handle action and no waterfall of coins on payout. The machine tells him how many coins he’s won and, when he’s ready to leave, his payout is received in a bar coded receipt which he can redeem at an ATM. He can still win or lose in much the same way he always could, but now it is more private and involves less human contact.
People tend to treat faith and prayer in much the same way as going to a casino. They are initially “in it to win it.” They enter into prayer with their pockets full of faith. They believe that all things are possible. They pray expecting. Or, do they all. As in a casino, you have three groups of pray-ers. Drifters, vacillators and homesteaders.
Prayer drifters tend to watch for the newest, or latest and greatest, prayer and faith teachers to tell them how to get immediate results. They watch, they listen to CD’s and read all sorts of books, trying to gain the knowledge of just the right formula to make God do just what they want. If that person’s ideas don’t work right away, they write them off as a fraud and move on to the next. They drift from teacher to teacher, from evangelist to faith healer. They never find a shortage of new ideas to try but never stick with anything.
Prayer vacillators find some success in their efforts. These are the ones who have “faith of a mustard seed,” but like to spread their faith seed. They will pray about this or that for a while, in earnest and fully believing that God will answer their prayers. After a while, they decide that God has heard their prayers and He is working on it, so they move on to something else. They may, or may not, come back to it again because “God’s ways are higher than our ways,” and He knows what He is doing, so they no longer press the issue. “It will all work out in God’s timing and I have more pressing issues at the moment,” they say to themselves. When God does answer vacillators, they are pleasantly surprised but caught off guard none the less. Yes, they were praying in faith believing, but history had taught them no expectancy. Their prayers had been a pacifier to calm them in times of trouble.
Prayer homesteaders, or, as they are known in Christian circles, the intercessors, are those who are in it for the long haul. They are determined to make their voice heard by God. They will not rest until they are absolutely sure that God has heard, and responded, to their plea. They rarely pray for their own benefit, but for the health, finances, safety, peace or salvation of others. They are relentless and, most usually, tireless in their efforts. They ask, they seek the scriptures for answers, they knock on heaven’s door until the doors and windows of heaven are opened wide. The answer is not always what they expected, but it is an answer, which they believe is directly from God, and that is what they were praying for, believing for and expecting, so they are rarely, if ever, disappointed by prayer. With every answer comes more faith and expectancy.
Jesus spoke about this with his disciples when discussing prayer in Matthew 7:7-11:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Also in Luke 11:5-10:
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
We all have, or will, fit into one of these three categories at some time or another. We may begin as drifters, looking for the easy way to God, but as our relationship with Him grows, we will pass through vacillation and into homesteading. As we grow in our faith, we find it is less about what God can do for us, and more about what He has done. It is more about believing, knowing and trusting. It is more about Him and less about us.
There is, unfortunately, one other group of people. These are the ones who never enter the “casino.” They never take the chance to find out what faith in God and His grace are all about. They will always be waiting for some “Prize Patrol” to show up out of the blue and change their lives for no apparent reason, even if they never entered the sweepstakes.
© Simply Consider This, 2014.

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MORE THAN A CASUAL MEETING


handsI want more than a casual meeting
More than a how-do-you-do
More than once or twice in a season
For this will never do

Not quite sure how it all starts
To get to where I want
But this one thing I do know
I have a willing heart

To be intimately familiar
With all you are and do
Only way, one could achieve that
Is with spending time with you

What is your favorite color
Why is the grass green
And why did you make
The weeping willow trees

To know what makes you laugh
To listen to your wisdom
Above all those who are wise
To understand the reason
Of why you gave your life

Yes, my desire is to know you
I understand what is required of me
To give all my life to Jesus
The One who set me free

My heart, Oh Lord
Desperately hungers after you
I need more than a casual meeting
I need more than a how-do-you-do
For when I’m in Your Presence
Nothing less, will ever do

 

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

 

BLESSED BEYOND MEASURE


jesusBlessed beyond measure, grace beyond belief
Because of my Savior’s, unchanging love for me
I am His beloved, and He is mine
Today, forever, to the end of time

He is always present, even in the midst of storms
Calms all my fears, no longer am I forlorn
For He holds my future, what have I to fear
As He pulls me closer, He whispers in my ear
Child do you not know, how much you mean to me
You are the very reason, I gave my life on Calvary

Precious are these moments, when it’s just You and me
Alone in the quiet stillness of perfect harmony
Oh how I love Him, nothing can compare
Giving all my life to Jesus, with none of it to spare
Just to walk beside Him, while in this life I am
Trusting and believing in the Great I AM

Blessed beyond measure, grace beyond belief
All because of Jesus unchanging love for me
I am His beloved and He is mine
Today and forever, to the end of time

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

SO WE MIGHT KNOW WHAT IS IN OUR HEARTS


alone2Chronicles 33: 31** A little disclaimer here…in this particular time in my life, this verse was brought to my attention for the reason of personal revelation.  I do realize this verse can mean different things and can be used other than this explanation.**

I love the Old Testament.  It gives us so many lessons in humanity.  It also shows us the goodness, mercy, tenderness, anger, judgment and the very heart of God toward His creation.

I was reading in 2Chronicles 33 about Hezekiah, who was a righteous king, and toward the end of his reign there was a passage that jumped out at me.
Ever have that happen?  You will just be reading along, and WHAM,  a verse jumps out at you.  There is usually a reason for that, by the way.  It is to get your attention, to teach you…it’s like the Holy Spirit saying WHOA..I want to you pay attention.  Stop and think about this….and so I did.

The verse was 2Chronicles 33:31
“And so in the matter of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon who were sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God left him (Hezekiah) to himself to try him, that He might know all that was in his heart.”

Just before that verse it states, “And Hezekiah prospered in all his works.”   So he was doing pretty good, this Hezekiah fellow was.  Pretty good.  So good in fact that there were ambassadors from other countries who came to check it out.  And Hezekiah showed them everything.  Not particularly smart on his part, according to Isaiah, and He told him about it, too.  Anyway, the thing that impressed me was the last part of the verse…..God left him (Hezekiah) to himself to try him, that he might know all that was in his (Hezekiah’s) heart.

Hmm…so God tried him?  Interesting.  Do you think it was so God would know what was in Hezekiah’s heart?  To figure out what he might do placed in this situation?  God knows the end from the beginning…so I don’t think it was to enlighten God on the character of Hezekiah, or to find out exactly what was in his heart.   God already knew that.  So why would God take a step back, so to speak?  Why would He leave him to himself?

As I was thinking about this passage, there was a reason the Holy Spirit had me at a “WHOA, camp here a moment,” moment.  It was because for several days, weeks I had been feeling disconnected so to speak.  Odd, a hard feeling to explain.  Not that I had left my beliefs, strayed away from God, or anything like that.  It just seemed that there was no connection.   My faith was still in my Savior, I hadn’t gone away from Jesus…it seems He was gone from me.

Now, I hear people say. “If you can’t feel God then it must be your fault.  Because God never leaves us…so you must be the one that moved.”  Well….I have a problem with that statement.  And here is the reason why.  God left Job…oh yes He did.  Job was never out of God’s sight, but He did leave him alone to find out what he was made of….and what was in his heart.  Just like He did with Hezekiah.  And God will do the same with us.  As He did with me.  I never left God’s sight, but God did back away – to let me see what was in my heart, and what would I do in this time of not “feeling” God’s closeness.  Would I chose to trust in Him, would I chose to believe in His Word?  Would I continue to be faithful and walk in His ways…even though I couldn’t “feel” His presence?  God left me to myself.

I learned some things in that place….not that I ever want to be there again.  It was really yucky…and I, at one point, was quite whiny…and then the Holy Spirit showed me this passage of scripture.  And it clicked.  “OH,” I said to myself….oh, indeed.  The eyes of my understanding were  enlightened.  It was there in that place that my heart was revealed to me…so I would know all of what was in it.  Some times we may think we got it all goin’ on.  Nothing wrong with me, I’m lovin’ on Jesus, reading my Bible, singin’ my little come to Jesus choruses….but.  With all that, what we really need to know is; what is all that is in our heart?  Caught up in doing all the right things, praying all the right things….going through the motions.  What is all that is in our hearts?
And God will leave us to our selves to find that out.

It is a real “eye” opener.  I had some things there, not gonna lie.  Some I needed to give over to God, some I needed to ask forgiveness for, some things I didn’t even realized.  All because God left me to myself to know all that is in my heart.  There will be times when God will leave you to yourself. You will never be out of His sight, but He will leave you to yourself.  Just like a parent who will watch over a child to see how they will figure something out, how they will react or not in a particular situation….how much they have learned.  Never out of sight, just stepping back to watch and see if the practical application of knowledge takes over.  Or to let the child find out that there are still some things that the parent needs to teach them…even though the child may think he knows it and has it all under control.

God does that to us…well, maybe not to you.  But He did to me, and you know what? Even though it was a difficult, unpleasant time to walk through…I pray Father, if that is what it takes to show me what is in my heart, if that’s what it takes to make me more like You.  Show me my heart and all that is within it.

So I can say as David did,
“Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right, persevering,
and steadfast spirit within me.”
Psalm 51:10

MY ROBE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS


robeThe Robe of Righteousness is given and it carries an aroma. It is the sweet aroma of the Savior which lingers on this beautiful cloak of covering.  Not worthy to wear this robe, it was taken and place upon my shoulders as a precious gift of love – as it was placed on me I couldn’t help  to inhale the aroma of the robe.   Shutting my eyes, all my senses were heightened.  Intoxicated, I began to melt into it’s fragrance.  Suddenly swept away, all I knew before was gone– the shame, fear, all the wrongs of times past.  Peace, such peace, forgiveness and warmth like I have never experienced in my lifetime flooded my soul. So completely caught up in it’s essence, nothing else existed.   Then softly interrupting this intimate moment, came a still small voice saying….
“Walk with this robe draped around you, walk in confidence that you are valued, loved and now belong to your Beloved.”

Oh how I cherished that moment.

As I wore this beautiful gift, this precious Robe of Righteousness, every day began with seeking the secrets of Life in my Beloved’s presence.  The robe always kept the sweet aroma.  As time went on, although I still wore this beautiful robe given to me by my Beloved, something changed. Something was missing. The sweet aroma began to fade.  Little by little the sweet fragrance began to turn sour.  My beautiful robe was soiled. Trying to bring the fragrance back, I began working harder in the things the Father had given me to do, thinking it would surely bring back the missing fragrant aroma of Christ.  All the good deeds, and the money given, everything I tried wasn’t working…the robe was still soiled.

Why and how can this be? I still wore the robe draped around me.  Never did I betray my beliefs of how it came to be there.  But no longer did the aroma, the sweet fragrant essence of the robe, linger.  It was gone.  Disappointed, disillusioned, and weary I began to seek the Giver of this once beautiful treasure, this Robe of Righteousness.  Sitting quietly, waiting, anticipating His presence, conviction of my heart began to overwhelm me and tears of brokenness began to roll uncontrollably down my face.
Instantly there was an awakening, the reason for the absence of the fragrance.  The eyes of my understanding were opened.  The sweetness of the aroma was the residue of the Savior’s presence.  Daily as I came to sit quietly before Him, to share my heart and listen to His and learn of Him, it was in those moments where His presence lingered on this beautiful Robe of Righteousness given to me – His fragrance, the sweet fragrant residue of Jesus settled upon this robe.  The robe would be freshened with His essence, His very presence.   And if the robe was to keep this sweet aroma,  I must spend time in His presence daily.  For by missing just once, the sweet aroma of my Beloved would fade.

Falling on my face I cried out, “Oh, Father forgive me…this beautiful Robe of Righteousness I have unintentionally soiled…a loving gift taken for granted, without attention nor respect.  A great price was paid for this beautiful robe, a price I could not pay. A price which was paid with your dear Son’s life.”
My soul wept bitterly.

Reaching out, tenderly with such warmth, the Creator touched my brokenness and breathed life into me once again.  Oh, nothing can describe the peace, acceptance and forgiveness so warmly felt.  As I basked in the warmth that radiated from Him, I noticed a familiar aroma began to fill the air. Sweet was the fragrance, the sweet aroma of my Beloved.  As I left the secret place where we have met so many times before, the robe draped around my shoulders once again carried His sweet fragrance. Closing my eyes I smiled, still surrounded in His presence, realizing this moment was a lesson well learned.
My beautiful Robe of Righteousness, this precious gift of Christ, can only retain it’s fragrance by continually, daily, being in His presence.

Jesus, may I become so addicted to the sweet aroma of your presence, that I desperately long for the moment when it is just you and me.

I am my Beloved’s and He is mine.

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

WHEN I THINK OF YOU


gloryWhen I think of You and who You are
How You’ve touched my indebted heart
Desperately seeking to see Your face
To behold the beauty of your grace
Holy Spirit come like a soft breeze
Calm my soul to it set free

Soaring upward my soul disappears
Surrounded by Your Presence
Melting all my fears
Your smile invites me before your throne
Where it’s just You and me alone

Oh Your beauty, no words can describe
Together with mercy
Your love does not hide
With majestic splendor
Glory shines from Your face
Illuminating the wonders of this place
Burning so deep is Your passionate desire
I am overwhelmed by Your Holy Fire
Foreign to many but known to the few
Is the secret place where all is made newglory 2

Grace is the sound that I hear
Grace is the Life that is spoken here
Grace is where Your dwelling begins
You Almighty One, who is without end

How much You love
Will we ever understand
How You Oh God, treasure man
You whisper our names in the night
Calling our souls to come take flight
As a lover yearns for his love
You oh God, desire us

When I think of You and who You are
How can I not give You
All of my heart

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

SELF HELP


Everyone likes to compare their muscles to Jam...

God wants us to be the best we can be.  He has given us His word on it. In fact, it is through His word and the Holy Spirit that we can be what He wants us to be. And what He wants us to be is the best example to others that we possibly can, so that through our example, others will want to know more about Him.
There is a lot of pop-culture psychology out there.  We have had Montel, Oprah and Jerry, not to mention Dr. Phil.  We can fix just about anything about ourselves- from a bad relationship with a dysfunctional family, to bad health, upgrade in lifestyle, to making amends with a dead loved one– just by watching TV in the afternoon.  If that isn’t enough, we can stay up late and learn how, for a fee, to change our hair amount, muscle tone, attitude, income level and lifestyle.  We can take it off or put it on.  Make it better or shrink it. Add income or decrease our interest rates.  We can learn how to sleep better and find out why we feel like sleeping all the time.  In other words, if we turn on the TV day or night, we can solve all our problems for 4, no wait, only 3 easy payments of 39.95.
All of these things are out there promising a better life or to make you feel better about yourself.  There is nothing wrong with building your body or trying to increase your income.  But after it is all said and done, are you really any happier?
Our society has been training people for years to believe that they must think and believe what everyone else believes, or thinks, or does, in order to be accepted.  Self esteem has over ridden moral values.  Self service has replaced self sacrifice. We must do what feels good and be proud to be whom, or what we have become.  After all, we are the greatest people who ever walked upright and connected words into sentences.  We are amazing.  If we don’t believe that about ourselves, we can buy some program and learn how to believe it.
One thing missing in all of the pop-psychology hoop-lah is God. There is nothing wrong with taking pride in what we do as long as the pride we display does not give way to arrogance.
James 4:1-3:  “What causes quarrels among you?  Don’t you know they come from desires that battle within you?  You want something but don’t get it.  You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want.  You Quarrel and fight.  You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you do ask, you do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
Throughout history this has been the case.  Man is always trying to be better, faster, stronger, mightier than the gods, and all they had to do was look to the Word to find what this will lead to.  “Let’s build a tower and be as great as God.”  That only led to confusion and chaos.
I’m not saying that no one should try to improve themselves.  We can all be better in some way or another. But let us remember our source and our strength lies in our creator.  If we try to do it all on our own then we are our own creator–along with whatever self-help source we use.  If we rely on God, Yehovah, Adonai, Elohim, to help us, then recognize and appreciate all he has given us and done for us, it will make the “problems” of hair loss and belly fat seem a little less important.  He already paid the price in one anguishing payment and we don’t even have to pay shipping and handling.