Category Archives: Devos

Is it possible that more prayer could strengthen our faith and help reduce our frustration in serving the Lord?

FrustrationFrustration! You try to do something… You believe it’s possible… You’ve got reasonable skills… You do some research (you even “Google” a solution and do a search on “YouTube” to get instructions on how to do it… You try everything they tell you and experience one failure after another! Frustration! It happened to me this week, “iPhone” problem… I did all of the above… none of it worked… no insurance plan purchased for my phone… I know what I’m going to have to do… take it to the iPhone store, pay a fee and have a technician fix it… $$$ (or purchase a new phone) Did I say “frustration?”
I read an account in Mark’s gospel with some serious “frustration” overtones this morning (Mark 9:14-29)…
A father with a demon possessed son brought him to Jesus’ disciples, pleading for help! The father testified that his son had an evil spirit that made him mute – it would seize the boy, throw him down, he would foam at the mouth, grind his teeth and become rigid. The evil spirit had repeatedly cast the boy into the fire, tried to drown him, and repeatedly tried to destroy him. He brought his son to the disciples asking for help (and they had been given authority to cast out demons). They tried everything they knew to do and the young man was still not delivered!
Frustrated father! Frustrated disciples!
Here’s what the father told Jesus… “I brought him to your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, and they were not able!” Frustration!
Later the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” Frustration!
When Jesus heard the story, I think I hear just an edge of frustration in what He said… You see what you think… “Jesus asked the disciples, ‘What are you arguing about? … [They were arguing with the religious leaders about why the boy had not been delivered.] Jesus answered them, ‘Oh faithless generation! How long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring to boy to Me.’” Frustration?
The father cried out, “If you can anything, have compassion on us and help us!” And Jesus said to him “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes!” The father, realizing his lack of faith, authentically admitted, “I believe! Help my unbelief!” Frustration!
Then Jesus acted decisively! The Bible says, “He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You mute and deaf Spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again!” And the demon violently came out, but the boy was instantly healed!
Later when the disciples asked Jesus privately why they had been unable to cast the demon out, Jesus replied, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer [and some ancient manuscripts add the words, “and fasting”].
Now I’ve got a question, based upon Jesus’ response to His disciples… Is it possible… just possible, that some of our “frustration,” fruitlessness, and faithlessness in ministry is tied to our prayerlessness? Is it just possible that our faith would be stronger and more effective, when it comes to seeing God display his mighty, miraculous power in our world, if we gave ourselves more to prayer (and less to conferences and workshops that simply teach ministry technique)? Just wondering. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting down honest, Biblically informed training… I’m just observing, that according to Jesus, the effectiveness of my ministry could be improved a great deal by more prayer! I don’t know about you – I’m going to prioritize prayer!

It is the Lord’s blessing that makes all the difference in the world!

The Lord's hands blessingAaron, the High Priest in Israel was commanded to bless God’s people with these words…

“The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you! The Lord lift up His countenance upon you [i.e. look upon you with favor] and give you peace!” (Numbers 6:24-26)

A wonderful blessing! You may have heard a pastor in church utter this blessing over the congregation at the close of a service as a “benediction.” But this morning during my time of “coffee with the Lord” it occurred to me that Aaron in the Old Testament, and a pastor in a church service are only agents for the Lord… Ultimately I want God to be the one who lays His mighty, loving hands upon my head and speaks these words and activates the blessing over my life! Isn’t that what you want? His blessing, not a man’s, is what makes all the difference in the world!

Dealing with the pain of betrayal

BetrayedOne of the most difficult things to handle graciously in life is betrayal. Someone we looked upon as a friend or confidant turned on us and, violated our trust and acted the enemy. Sometimes the betrayal comes from a colleague or business partner. It’s especially difficult when it’s a family member or spouse that betrays us. Believe it or not, betrayal can even come from a fellow Christian – a dear “brother” or “sister” – whose ethics should militate against them ever being the source of betrayal. Sometimes those who have been betrayed never recover from the experience!

When it happens to us it stings – it makes us angry… even furious! We want to retaliate! The pain we feel may even gush out into our prayers… In fact, there are even Psalms in the Bible that are referred to as “Imprecatory Psalms” (see parts of Psalm 12, 35, 58, 59, 69, 70, 83, 109, 137 and 140)! In fact, in my Bible reading yesterday and this morning two Psalms express in strong language the pain of betrayal and a cry for vindication (Psalms 54 and55)!

“Oh God, save me, by Your Name, and vindicate me by Your might! Oh God, hear my prayer give ear to the words of mouth! … Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not Yourself from my plea for mercy! Attend to me, and answer me! … For it is not an enemy who taunts me – then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me – then I could hide from him! But it is you, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend! We used to take sweet counsel together; with God’s house we walked in the throng! … My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant. His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords!” (From Psalm 54-55) Betrayal!

And I would say it is better to vent your deep pain and anguish because of betrayal to the Lord in prayer rather than spread the poison of your anger to others.

But there is a better way, a higher standard, and a profound grace, that a Christ follower can find! It was expressed and exemplified by our Savior, Jesus Christ. He reached out to his betrayer, Judas, with an opportunity for forgiveness and grace. To those He came to redeem, but who instead nailed Him to a cross He prayed, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do!” (Luke 23:34) Steven, an early follower of Christ, followed His gracious example and fell to his knees as he was being stoned crying out, “Lord do not hold this sin against them!” (Acts 7:60) His example and our Lord’s so deeply impacted Saul, later to become Apostle Paul, that he later urged fellow Christians who would suffer severe persecution and betrayal, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them… Beloved, never avenge yourselves but leave it to the wrath of God… If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty give him something to drink… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good!” (From Romans 12:14-21)

Oh Lord, I cry out to You… help me to live that way! Help me to follow Your example and the example of Your followers who down through the centuries have extended forgiveness for betrayal and love for persecution! Help me never to “be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good!”

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