It all begins with the ASK

Thoughts on Matthew 7:7-12 and then a couple of questions for you.

In the midst of your discourse on life, you give assurance of answered prayer; ask, seek, knock.

Ask, given; seek, find; knock, opened. The parabolic father gives only good to his child, he would never harm the one he loves; the perfect Father will do so to an even greater degree.

Let’s start with the ask. This is where it begins, determining what I want or need. What do I want to ask of God? Or taken from a different angle, what is it that God wishes to give me and is waiting for me to ask it of him? Now that’s a good question.

I go back to the Psalm I read this morning (138:7,8) to see what exchange took place between you and David, what did he ask for? What did you give him? Strength of soul, preservation of his life in the midst of trouble, deliverance from his enemies, fulfillment of his purpose. Is this a model of what I should ask for? of what you want to give me?

All right, Lord, I’ll do the ask.

I call on you to be with me in this moment, let your presence astound me, assure and encourage me. You are with me, your strength is mine. Your Holy Spirit is the rebar in the foundation of my life. Thank you.

Let’s look at the trouble I walk through. First and foremost I thank you that the troubles I walk through are so minor; they are troubles of my soul, the texture of fine sand. Unchecked they could clog the machinery of my heart and need to be dealt with, but I have food, water, health, safety. So many of your loved ones don’t. My heart is grateful for your kindness toward me, and I pray that I will not forget the ones that need your kindness to be given them through me.

There is good news and bad news about the trouble I walk through. The bad news is that the troubles are not going away. The good news is you will keep me safe as I walk through them. My sand-y, gritty troubles revolve around choosing obedience and trust rather than indulging my appetite and consumerism. Face it Debby, these will always taunt you, tease you, lure you. Jesus you are the guardrails that boundary my day’s path, holding on to you as I walk will preserve my life. Thank you.

Some enemies, though, you intend to remove from the landscape of my soul, to deal with once and for all. Thank you for that deliverance – I have no fear of death, I am assured of love, I am a treasure you have redeemed, I am a arrow in your quiver. Thank you. I ask: continue this deliverance from the remaining enemies that populate my world.

I never read The Purpose Driven Life. My apologies to Rick Warren, I’m sure if I had read it I would have found it useful for the Kingdom’s sake. But I resisted it because I wanted a life driven by the Spirit, not by a purpose. I still want my life to be more consumed with being rather than doing, so my doing is born of my being. Yet your word suggests you have a purpose for me and you are determined to fulfill it.

I am compelled to ask, “What is your purpose for me?” Ah…you remind me of my mission statement. “I wake up every morning eager to hear your voice of love and then to share it with the world we so love through my writing, my words, my acts and my relationships.” This is the desire of my heart, given me from your heart. You will fulfill this purpose. Thank you.

Interesting, embedded in the asking, is the seeking and the action required of me to cooperate with grace. The good is given generously, is found by my seeking heart and empowered by trust and obedience.

Thank you and amen.

You know these thoughts come from my morning prayer journal. I hope they are helpful for you as you pursue God’s heart. Will you let the Spirit guide you in your prayer as I was: What do you ask of God, or better yet, what does God want you to ask? What are the troubles you walk through? From what has God delivered you? What purpose is God fulfilling in you today? It all begins with the Ask. 

With you on the journey,

Debby

sin and fear

Even in the midst of a heartfelt and earnest confession, the enemy of your soul will try to turn your attention away from God’s face and onto your own unworthiness. Keep your eyes on Jesus, not on your faults.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/110358988″>MM 10/29/14 sin and fear</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/debbybellingham”>Debby Bellingham</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Worship as a spectator sport

Isaiah 29:9-16

Worship that pleases God requires your whole person to be involved.

All too often we show up on Sunday mornings because it’s our habit, or we have obligations to fulfill, or our spouse expects it of us. Our bodies are in the sanctuary, but our minds, hearts and spirits are far, far away. We repeat the words of scripture, we sing the songs, we politely listen to the sermon and we depart. We showed up, but we weren’t present to the wonder of worship.

Annie Dillard, in her book Teaching a Stone to Talk hits the nail on the head.

On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.

God issues a warning that should be heeded –  Worshipping with only your lips and words without your heart being involved causes the voice of God to be quieted.

During the worship service, don’t just hear the words, listen to the voice of God. Expect to be shown some wonder of God’s majesty; don’t tune out when prayers are offered from the front of the sanctuary, let your spirit connect with the Holy Spirit as the prayers rise up as incense into God’s presence.  Jesus is here, ready to meet you. He says “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” Listen with your heart.

Answer this question honestly, Why do you go to church? How will your worship experience be different if you draw near to God with your heart? Do you find the church service boring? Try praying for the singers as they lead, for the preacher as the word is shared. Get involved with the service. Worship is not meant to be a spectator sport.