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How nice of you to drop in and visit my page. It's actually not really about myself, but about the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a place you can come, should you find time, and find encouragement and free resources for spiritual growth. I pray you will be blessed and provoked to follow on to know the Lord intimately yourself. Seek HIM and HIS Face for HE alone is WORTHY!! He alone is lovely! Most of what is written on this blog is written by myself, during my study time with the Lord unless otherwise stated. If it's otherwise, the author's name will be included.

God is our refuge, a very present help in trouble. Psa 46:1


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Saturday, September 25, 2010

When It's Hard to Pray

We know we need to pray, we know as children of God, in whom His Holy Spirit lives that we must maintain communication with the Source of our Life. We must know Him as our Father, who is in Heaven, who is on the throne of all power. We understand that Joh_17:3 tells us that is eternal life-knowing Him, being and staying connected to Him through His Son, through the Holy Spirit. Eternal life is having an unbroken connection, a very personal relationship with our Father, understanding and being aware of Him, in close communication with Him. We must accept and believe that He loves us, gave His Son to die for us so we could have access to His Presence. It was HE who reached down with mighty hands and a hurting, longing heart, and rent the veil in the temple from the top to the bottom in half, opening the way for us to enter in, through and by the blood of His Son. When you consider that, what does that say about how badly God wants us to come to Him? Why is this the number one area in our Christian life in which we encounter the most opposition? It's vital that we understand this.

For the Christian who truly loves the Lord, who wants to serve Him, desires Him enough to try to read His Word, seeks understanding of it, and tries to live a holy life, according to what they read in His Word, sometimes, prayer can come hard. That human nature at times can cause us to err, to fail or miss God, even be tempted into doing something we know is wrong.

Eve was deceived into disobeying God, but Adam sinned with knowledge. He chose to join her in her disobedience, choosing the woman over God. He was faced with a choice here, it was either her or God, because she had broken the command, she would be separated. It was her or God. He did not want to give her up, so he joined her. Immediately their eyes were opened and they became aware of themselves, their condition, that they were naked and upon becoming self aware, their immediate reaction is shame and fear. I'm naked! I have no covering! I've disobeyed God and sinned! That knowledge of evil causes fear and shame in them and then instinct demands self preservation so they hide from God when they hear Him coming. They know He's good, and now they aren't, so they hide. No wonder God did not want them to eat of this tree of knowledge of good and evil. He knew the sorrow that would result from such knowledge. God comes, walking in the garden. Adam, His son, isn't waiting for Him, he's hiding from Him. He has withdrawn from fellowship with God. The Lord knows this, and He calls out to Adam. He's crying out for His son, and that cry was one of pain. Have you ever gone looking for your child, especially when you have found evidence they have done something wrong, and they hid from you? Doesn't it hurt your heart to think that your own child is too afraid to face you? How much worse did God feel? Adam! Where are you? He cries out. Separation causes pain on both sides. Adam and Eve saw their nakedness and were afraid. It was the first time they became self-aware and the result was fear, dread, shame and produced an instinct to hide from God. Self awareness isn't all its cracked up to be, folks. It's the beginning of sorrow in the human life. Because of their sin, they were cast out of the garden of Eden, which was symbolic of the presence of God. He didn't stop dealing with them, but they couldn't come to Him like they did before. There was a separation now. They weren't like Him anymore. They no longer had His nature, they lost His image or likeness. But praise God, He already had a plan for man to regain that lost access to Himself. He sent His Son to reveal to us the Father. He came to destroy the works of the devil and set us free from the dominion of sin and Satan. He came to pay a heavy price for humanity's sin. He came to open the way back into the presence of God.

When you love God but you fail God due to adversity, temptation, and you hide from Him, you avoid Him and become weighed down with guilt, shame, and pain, and you continue in that condition, it can lead to a hard coldness that will begin to creep into your own heart. That is the danger. So, what can you do? The devil wants you to buy the lie that God is mad at you, finished with you because you sinned against light and grace. He'll thunder at your mind accusations. All around you people are going to hell but you don't care, you won't even pray for them like you know you are supposed to. You don't have enough power with God to help anybody! Oh, how these accusations can hurt because they can carry some truth. But what does God's Word tell us? He knew the lies we would have to fight. He had truth written and preserved for centuries for us that we could flee for refuge to His promises as an anchor for our soul.

Psa 34:18 The LORD is near unto them that are of a broken heart; and saves such as be of a contrite spirit.

You may have lost your courage, you may feel there is nothing left, that all hope is lost, it's all been destroyed, crushed to dust. But when you are there, and you cry to Him, He will draw near to you. I always thought that word 'contrite' meant to be sorry. But here, in Psa_34:18, it translates from the Hebrew as one who is crushed into the dust, destroyed, one who is broken or bruised in spirit. A contrite heart is one whose natural pride and self sufficiency has been destroyed, humbled by the conscious awareness of its guilt, and disanulled of any notion of its own goodness. Jer_17:9 warns us the human heart is desperately wicked, deceitful above all things and who can know it? It's polluted, crooked and incurably sick with sin. No human remedy can cure it.

When you realize this, you must understand it is the mercy of God to show you this truth about your own heart. When He does, it can cause despair. You might think all hope is lost of being saved, your enemy is whispering you have tried, and failed, you just can't make it, so quit, you remember that nothing is too hard for God. When you have no hope, HE is your only Hope. This is when He can do the most in and through you. It's hard to pray when you come to this point. What do you say to an almighty, Holy God, when you see your own wickedness? You wonder how can this be? I've been washed by the blood, I belong to God, I've been taught by God, I don't just rely on preachers to teach me, I go to the Book myself. I take it to my knees. I meditate on His Word, I pray and ask for understanding. HOW can there still be such wickedness in my heart after all that? Even though you love Him, you are born again, you love His Word, you must go through a purification process. It is painful to go through the fire. It's in the fire that all the impurities are brought to the surface so they can be removed. He must allow us to be pressed and squeezed so we can see what comes up out of our heart that is unlike Him and we can repent of that we didn't even know was there so He can cleanse it.

In Matthew 11, it starts with John the Baptist being in prison, and he's having second thoughts. He's in a very dark and hard place. He's had visitors, his disciples have come to Herod's prison to see him. They bring news of all the things Jesus is teaching and the miracles He is working. John knew that he, his ministry, must decrease so Jesus could increase. He was the forerunner to Christ. He had been in the wilderness, taught by the Holy Spirit, a voice for God. Now, he's suffering, in isolation, unable to do anything. He is in a very unpleasant place, enduring hardship, second guessing himself and what he thought he knew. He's now, in his suffering, unsure of the Truth he was so sure of before. When they come to Jesus with John's questions, He understands what John is going through. How well He knows human nature. He understands the temptation to become angry, resentful under such hard trials. He understands how human nature will often cause a person in their suffering adversity and anguish to begin to distrust and desert the One he ought to trust and obey. He sends John a message, confirming the truth he already knew, with one addition, 'blessed is he who shall not be offended in Me.' That right there shows Jesus well understood the great temptation John was battling. He tells us the same thing in our trials. Don't be offended in Me. Cast not away your confidence. Flee for the refuge of your soul to the promises of God.

Mat 11:28 Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

He invites and welcomes us to come close to Him. Follow Him. He asks those who are exhausted, burdened down with grief, worries, those who carry a heavy load, come. He says if you're heavy laden, He will give you rest. In the Greek that means those who are weighed down with trying to carry the load of burdensome religious precepts added to God's Word by the religious in leadership, He says Come, He will give you rest. He will lift that load off you. He wants those who are suffering from spiritual anxiety, overburdened with religious ceremony to come. You've worked hard, you've tried your best to please God and failed miserably. Men's traditions in religion have been taught as commandments and it's hard, impossible to live up to. He says come to Him. He acknowledges the fact you've worked hard, carried a heavy load. He says come, and He will refresh you, come to Him and He will give you rest. He will cause you to cease from your labor, to be still and know He is God. You have been weighed down with a load you weren't meant to carry. Pleasing God isn't found in the keeping of men's religious traditions. It's found in resting in faith in the completed work of His Son. Abiding in His Son, not being moved away from the hope that is found only in the message His Son brought, confident in the price His Son paid, the blood for our sins. There's nothing we can add to that or bring to that but our faith. We must believe it. God says those who come to Him must believe that He is, and that He's a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Mat 27:45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

Mat 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Barclay's NT commentary says this of these words:

It is suggested that in that moment the weight of the world's sin fell upon the heart and the being of Jesus; that that was the moment when he who knew no sin was made sin for us (2Cor 5:21); and that the penalty which he bore for us was the inevitable separation from God which sin brings. No man may say that that is not true; but, if it is, it is a mystery which we can only state and at which we can only wonder. It seems to me that Jesus would not be Jesus unless he had plumbed the uttermost depths of human experience. In human experience, as life goes on and as bitter tragedy enters into it, there come times when we feel that God has forgotten us; when we are immersed in a situation beyond our understanding and feel bereft even of God. It seems to me that that is what happened to Jesus here. We have seen in the garden that Jesus knew only that he had to go on, because to go on was God's will, and he must accept what even he could not fully understand. Here we see Jesus plumbing the uttermost depths of the human situation, so that there might be no place that we might go where he has not been before.

It would have been a terrible thing if Jesus had died with a cry like that upon his lips--but he did not. The narrative goes on to tell us that, when he shouted with a great shout, he gave up his spirit. That great shout left its mark upon men's minds. It is in every one of the gospels (Matt 27:50; Mk 15:37; Lk 23:46). But there is one gospel which goes further. John tells us that Jesus died with a shout: "It is finished" (Jn 19:30). It is finished is in English three words; but in Greek it is one--Tetelestai ()--as it would also be in Aramaic. And tetelestai () is the victor's shout; it is the cry of the man who has completed his task; it is the cry of the man who has won through the struggle; it is the cry of the man who has come out of the dark into the glory of the light, and who has grasped the crown. So, then, Jesus died a victor with a shout of triumph on his lips.

Here is the precious thing. Jesus passed through the uttermost abyss, and then the light broke. If we too cling to God, even when there seems to be no God, desperately and invincibly clutching the remnants of our faith, quite certainly the dawn will break and we will win through. The victor is the man who refuses to believe that God has forgotten him, even when every fiber of his being feels that he is forsaken. The victor is the man who will never let go his faith, even when he feels that its last grounds are gone. The victor is the man who has been beaten to the depths and still holds on to God, for that is what Jesus did.

Jesus, for the first time, felt that feeling of being lost, separated from His Father, because the sin of the world fell on Him and sin does separate us from God. The pain of that separation brought a gut wrenching cry to His lips. He lost the awareness of the presence of His Father. He knew His Father for the first time had to turn His head and look away from Him for He couldn't look on sin. He felt what it was like to be estranged from His Father as we were in our sins, and it was a torment to Him. In life we suffer, and there are times during our darkest hours we feel abandoned by God. We hear the enemy whispering similar accusations to our minds. God's left you. God's through with you. He isn't going to help you. The devil is a liar. All he can do is lie, he totally slanders God's character, trying his best to overthrow our faith. When we are in a storm and nothing makes sense anymore, we feel lost and undone, with no sense of direction, unable to hear God's voice, unable to feel God's presence, we can't give up our faith in Him.

Complete Notes on this are Here.

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