Monday, 11 October 2021

How Sitting Awhile With God Helps Me to Live Amazed

 


Here’s what I think I should do, God. Sounds, good? Okay, let’s go! Have you ever told God where you want to go and how you want to get there, then asked Him to bless it? Yeah, me too.

Walking with God is an interesting adventure. For me, it means actively living out my faith while being totally dependent on Him, yet sometimes, I get too focused on the walk. My walk. My plans. Sure, I convince myself, I’m doing it all for God, but if I don’t take the time to sit awhile with God first, I venture out in my own strength. And we all know where that leads.

Turns out, talking with God is the vital link to walking with Him. When I lean in close to listen to God, I hear Him more clearly. Then, He shows me when to march on, when to stand still and when to sit awhile and rest. And even more, He gives me everything I need to do exactly what He’s asking of me.

I’m amazed really at how patient He is. He never lets my hand go, listens to all my rambling, scattered thoughts, and gently but firmly guides me in the way that I should go.

Sometimes, it might mean marching on like a soldier at war to carry out the mission He has set for me. At other times, He calls me to stand still, shielding me with His body, while He fights for me.  And still, there are times when He simply whispers, “Let’s just sit a while.”

And just like that my focus shifts from service for Him to devotion to Him. I toss aside my plans, my ideas, and take the time to be still with Him, to listen for His voice.

When I sit awhile with God:

He reminds me of who He is in all His glory, and I bask in His light.

He receives me as I am, broken, weak, prone to wandering, and welcomes my open and honest confession.

He reaffirms my chief aim – to love Him with all my heart, soul, and mind, and to allow His love to flow through me.

He refills my gratitude, reminding me that all I am and all I have are gifts from His hand.

He renews my faith and helps me to step steadily towards the miracle I know is there, but I can’t yet see.

He reassures me that despite the chaos swirling around us, He is still sovereign and good; He has a plan, and He will provide.

He prepares me for the next phase of our journey and gives me the courage and boldness I need to move forward when He gives the word.

Yep, sitting awhile with my God fills me with peace, hope, and courage and helps me to live amazed every day. Who would have thought that sitting a while could be such a vital part of walking with God?





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What about you?

Have you taken some time lately to sit awhile with God? 

What is he calling you to do? 

March forward? Stand still? Or simply rest and wait for His word? 

Why not lean in close today and listen for His voice.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 ESV )

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If you need help scheduling some time to be still, my friend, Shaunelle Drake, invites you to SitAWhile while she plays inspirational piano music for you. I have enjoyed several sessions with Shaunelle while in the comfort of my home. If you long to pull away from the noise and sit awhile with God, I encourage you to visit Shaunelle's site to register for the next SitAWhile right HERE.  

May grace and peace be multiplied to you,

Carlie

Sunday, 5 September 2021

When God is the Only One Who Can Help


I read the passage through again and sighed. Oh, how I could relate.

Under attack? Check

Done all I could? Check

Defeat seems inevitable? Check

Sometimes, I tire of hearing my own prayers. Deliverance seems like a distant dream.

But then there is this:

Servant-child of the living God? Check

And therein lies my hope.

“On what do you rest this trust of yours?”

It was a question put to King Hezekiah of Judah while he was defying the King of Assyria. And it’s a question for us today.

It’s time for some good ole soul searching, my friend. The kind that makes us squirm and shift our gaze.  Uncomfortable yes, but in a good way so long as it makes us confront the idols we’ve placed right up there, next to God.

If I’m honest, my confidence doesn’t always rest in God alone. It’s scary and painful just to type that. Yet, the truth remains, sometimes, my trust is divided. And deep down I know, God is not pleased with divided trust.

So, as I wait for deliverance, I go back to King Hezekiah. Where did he place his confidence? What were the steps in his rescue? What is God telling me about Himself through this biblical account? And how can I respond?

Desperate and Distraught

‘This is what Hezekiah says: this day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them.’ (Isaiah 37:3bNIV)

Unfortunately, sometimes we have to come to the end of our rope before we are desperate enough to turn to God ALONE. When all our carefully researched and resourced steps, taken to guard against a threat, prove to be woefully insufficient, we recognize our dire need for God. Despite King Hezekiah’s vast preparations, He could see no way out. Unless God intervened, Jerusalem would, like the surrounding fortified cities, be reduced to a pile of stones.

When you think of your situation, the one for which you have been praying for deliverance, is God the ONLY way out?  Or do you still have some cards hiding in your back pocket?

Humbly Seek Godly Counsel and Prayer

Coming face to face with their stark inability to defend themselves against the superpower Assyria, King Hezekiah did what any godly king would do, he humbled himself before the living God whose limitless power ALONE was able to deliver them. Tearing his clothes and wearing sackcloth, Hezekiah went into the temple of the Lord and sent messengers to the prophet Isaiah asking for prayer. What about you?  Are you in this battle alone? Or have you reached out to the family of God requesting prayer?  

Spread it All Out Before the Lord

But it is in King Hezekiah’s prayer and what follows after, that I find the most hope. Having received a written threat from the King of Assyria openly insulting God and His ability to deliver them, Hezekiah went before the Lord and spread it out before Him.  

Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.  Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.

 ‘It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands.  They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands.  Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the only God.’ (Isaiah37: 14-20 NIV)

Here is my shortened, highlighted version:

You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth, hear, see, deliver us, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.  

Oh, I have so much to learn from this prayer. Who am I praying to? The One who made heaven and earth. Does he hear and see? He sure does. Can He deliver us? Without a doubt.

Wait for His Deliverance

So, when I’m desperate, distraught by the seemingly insurmountable problems I’m faced with, I can do like King Hezekiah, I can humble myself before the living God, seek godly counsel and prayer, and spread out the details before the Lord. Then I wait, for surely, He will answer.

And when I read the words: ‘Because you have prayed to me . . . this is the word the Lord has spoken', I feel God whispering to me, ‘keep praying, I’m hearing and I’m seeing, don’t give up, have faith, trust that your deliverance will come’.  


Such words of hope and assurance!

Yet, if I’m honest, sometimes I wish my deliverance was like King Hezekiah’s. Quick and overtly miraculous. A vast army wiped out in an instant, the retreat of the boastful Assyrian King, clearly the hand of God at work. But my deliverance has not been quick. In fact, though I often see glimmers of hope, the threat remains very real.  

But the more I lean into God and His Word, I’m reminded, that sometimes the rescue takes time and often it can be scary. I mean, just think of the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea. What do you think it felt like crossing over the seabed with walls of water towering on either side? Not the most comfortable feeling, I imagine. So, yes, I keep praying, assured that God hears and sees and is both willing and able to bring deliverance. And most of all, I’m learning more and more to trust His timing. When deliverance comes, it will be clear; it is entirely by the hand of the LORD, and He ALONE is God.

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What about you?

In what area of your life are you desperate for God’s deliverance?

For a fresh burst of hope and assurance that God hears, sees, and saves read the full account of King Hezekiah’s response to the Assyrian threat in 2 Kings 18 & 19 or Isaiah 36 & 37.

God’s Word is indeed alive and active, and useful for equipping us for the good work of persevering in prayer.

 

May grace and peace be multiplied to you,

Carlie
 

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Do You Believe in the Providence of God?

 


To say that I’m amazed is a gross understatement.

I’ve been chosen for an assignment, grand in both scope and impact, and on my own, I’m not even slightly qualified for it.

Many days I tremble and shake under the magnitude of its responsibility, yet I keep pondering the profound privilege that it is, and so I keep coming back.

How could I say no?

I have been invited to link arms with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and allow His goodwill to penetrate every aspect of my life, the lives of my family and friends, indeed of the whole world simply through my faith-filled prayers and child-like trust in His providence.

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Welcome to the last post in the series The Five B's of Living, Breathing, Beautiful Prayer. In this post, we’ll discuss phase four – Beseech Him and phase five – Be Open to the Spirit’s Leading. You can catch up on the previous posts in the series, by clicking on the links below:

Living, Breathing, Beautiful Prayer series

Phase 1: Behold your God – Marvelling at the Wonder of God

Phase 2: Bless His Holy Name – Why Blessing God is Absolutely Good for You

Phase 3 – Bow Before Him – How to Get Real & Embrace the Gift of Apologising to God

Bonus post – Three Key Steps to Claiming Victory in Life’s Battles

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What do you ask God for?

Do you pray for health, safety, and maybe even a little wealth? Do you seek His help and guidance in your relationships? What about spiritual blessings? Which ones do you seek? And are your prayers centered mainly on your immediate circle or do you pray in ever-widening circles, even touching the whole world?

I remember a time when I was confused about what I could ask God for. I didn’t want to be selfish or misguided in my prayers by asking with the wrong motives or for the wrong things, so often my prayers would be some variation of ‘Your will be done’. Though it had the appearance of piety, looking back I see that my prayer life was shallow and immature. At the time though, my heart’s desire was pure: I simply wanted to pray within the will of God. But there was a problem.

I am not God. Never was. Never will be.

The good thing is -  He’s not asking me to be.  He simply asks me to believe in His providence and in His willingness to unfold certain events or aspects of His will in a direct answer to prayer.

What is meant by the Providence of God?

‘The almighty everywhere present power of God, whereby, as it were by His hand, He still upholds heaven and earth, with all creatures; and so governs them, that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, all things, come not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.’ ~ The HeidelbergCatechism (1563)

Understanding the providence of God helps me to accept His answers to prayer whether they are no, yes, or not yet. I can be confident ‘that He will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul; and further, that whatever evil He sends upon me in this vale of tears He will turn to my good; for He is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing also, being a faithful Father.’ ~ Heidelberg Catechism (1563)

I often tell my children, ‘You know I only want what’s best for you, right?’ I believe my words and actions have proven it so many times, that they have come to accept it as truth. They have been blessed with many good gifts from me. Nonetheless, sometimes, when they hear those words, they wince, sensing that whatever it is they are currently asking for is probably going to be denied. Yet, somehow, hearing me speak those words softens the blow because they’re convinced that I truly have their best interest at heart. Even if the best doesn’t feel good at the moment.

‘If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him.’ (Matthew 7:11 ESV)

Turns out I don’t have to worry, like I used to, about what to pray for and how to pray, because: 

1) God always answers what is best. I can be honest with Him and bring to Him my desires and even when I don't understand, I can rest assured that His answer is for my good and His glory, and 

2) God graciously shows me how in His Word. He has given me His whole Word for direction and even more specifically He has set an example for me in the Lord’s Prayer. In fact, the closer I walk with Him, the more He guides me into the very prayers that I should pray.

Do you see why I am amazed?

What about you? 

Do you live amazed at the goodness, majesty, and mercy of God?

Have you fully embraced the privilege and power of prayer?

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The Live Amazed Intercessory Prayer Journal which follows the prayer pattern set by our Lord was designed to help us take full advantage of the privilege of prayer. It has helped me to pray more specifically and intentionally for a wider range of persons, needs and places all while drawing me near to God in worship and thankfulness. 


To accompany my prayer journal and to help usher me into a time of worship, I compiled a YouTube playlist called Songs of Prayer. As I listen to these songs, I am able to behold the majesty of God, bless His Holy Name, bow before Him in reverence, respect, and repentance, beseech Him for all things necessary for soul and body while remaining open to His Spirit’s leading. It is always a time of sweet fellowship with my Father. 

I pray that you find this series on prayer helpful and that the Songs of Prayer playlist will help to enrich your worship experience as you persevere in and enjoy the gift of Living, Breathing, Beautiful prayer.

May grace and peace be multiplied to you,

Carlie

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Complimentary resources and links: 

Live Amazed Intercessory Prayer Journal.

Download here

 




Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Three Key Steps to Claiming Victory in Life's Battles

'I'm living out the victory, doesn't mean I won't feel the heat' ~ Jordan St. Cyr (Fires) ~

It has been a rough couple of years, and I can't think of anyone who remains unscathed from the struggles. As war-torn and battle-weary as we are, sometimes we forget who we are and what we have been given. And in the forgetting, fear and stress creep in and the wearing down begins. We feel discouraged by the string of punches life throws at us and inept to come up with a fight strategy, much less execute it. We may even resign ourselves to accept: “This is how it’ll always be, down for the count.”

But, my friend, getting used to defeat is not for us. Sure, it will pop its ugly head in from time to time and may even throw us a sucker punch and knock us straight out. In fact, as believers, I think it’s almost inevitable that we experience these seasons in our lives. Times when we feel especially attacked as we try to honour God in our lives, or we struggle to overcome a repetitive sin that we just can't seem to conquer. Yet we don’t stay down, we get back up, jabbing and blocking blows as we move forward.

But, how do we do it? How do we remember who we are and claim the victory we have been given? Lean in close, and let me share with you what I've been learning. 

Stay Watchful

It starts with keeping our eyes open. My son always teases me that I’m not spatially aware. I may bump into people on the street, for example, because, according to him, I’m not aware of my surroundings. Well, knocking into some poor unsuspecting stranger is mild compared to what can happen when I remain spiritually unaware of what’s going on around me.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.(ESV) ~ 1 Peter 5:8-9 ~

You see, we must not forget about the battle. Ongoing, even now, in a realm that we can’t see. It’s fierce, and it’s real.  When I remember this, I’m not surprised by the left hook striking from the corner, in fact, I’m expecting it, and I’m ready. It’s true sometimes, I get distracted, and that left hook sends me reeling, but the blow reminds me. It reminds me of where I am and who I’m fighting.

Most of all it reminds me whose side I’m on - the Victor’s side. He has chosen me, and He fights for me. Remembering gets me back on my feet and steels me for the fight. It makes all the difference.

Suit up and Fight 

First I remain watchful, and second, I fight. 

But I’m not alone in the fight. There is Someone in the ring with me and He offers me His armour empowering me with strength, wisdom, and discernment. I cannot lose.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. ~ Ephesians 6: 10-13 ~

In my battle against sin, I must remember this. For example, in my last post: How to Get Real & Embrace the Gift of Apologising to God, we talked about the gifts of confession and forgiveness. Being both deeply sorrowful for our sin and deeply thankful for God's grace, we get to come to Him just as we are and enjoy the sweetness of renewed fellowship with Him. But as I reflected on how often I return to God with the same sin, I found this article from Pastor John Piper which challenged my fight strategy, or lack thereof. 

First, there is confession that, at one level, is expressing guilt and sorrow for sinning, but underneath there is the quiet assumption that this sin is going to happen again, probably before the week is out.

In other words, this kind of confession is very superficial. It’s a cloak for fatalism about your besetting sins. You feel bad about them, but you have surrendered to their inevitability. That’s one kind of confession.

The other kind of confession is that you express guilt and sorrow for sinning, just like with the first kind, but your hatred of the sin is so real that you have every intention as you confess of making war on that sin tonight, this weekend. You aim, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to defeat it. You are going to seek out whatever ways are going to help you put this sin to death. You are going to rob it of its power. That’s the plan — no hypocrisy. Now, those are the two ways of confessing sin. (desiringgod.org interview)

And just like God knew I would, I saw my error. I was looking for grace, receiving grace, but not expecting victory. I was not actively making war on my sin, but rather I was living defeated, accepting my inability to overcome. But didn’t God tell me that He has given me everything I need to overcome sin?

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. ~ 2 Peter 1: 3-4 ~


 

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. ~ 2 Cor. 10:3-5 ~



No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ~ 1 Cor 10:13 ~


What I need is to start living like I believe in victory. To fight like I can taste it. To block the fiery darts and wield my gifted sword. To live convinced that God is indeed ‘greater than he who is in the world’ and equips me, even me, to overcome. (Romans 8:37



Taste the Victory

Finally, step three: I need to celebrate. I’m on the winning side, after all. No droopy shoulders, or head hanging low, just look at these passages from Scripture, we have a lot to celebrate. 


For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me. ~ Psalm 18:39 ~

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? ~ Romans 8:31 ~

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. ~ Psalm 3:3-4 ~

 

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me. ~ Psalm 23:4 ~

 

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Cor 15:57 ~ 

Guaranteed victory! Isn’t that something to sing and shout about? In my thanks, in my fight,  and in my life, I can celebrate who God is, what He has done for me, and what He continues to do. And in the celebrating, miraculously, my weakness is replaced with His strength, and I hear the ding of the victory bell. Maybe I should do a little dance or perhaps shout from the rooftop: "Victory is mine!"

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What about you?

How are you battling right now?

Are you getting used to defeat? Or do you believe in victory?

Fight on, my friend, we may be battle-weary, but we can be victorious.

God has chosen us for victory, let’s be vigilant, let’s live and fight like we believe it, and let’s celebrate what God has already won for us.

 

May grace and peace be multiplied to you,

Carlie

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This post was a bonus designed to embolden us for spiritual battle. We'll continue with phase four of the Five B's of Living, Breathing, Beautiful Prayer in my next post. If you don't want to miss it, go ahead and subscribe to my blog, that way it'll be sent directly to your inbox when it's published. As a gift, you'll get a free printable of my Live Amazed Intercessory Prayer Journal which outlines all the phases and helps us to pray at all times.  

 

 


Friday, 30 April 2021

How to Get Real & Embrace the Gift of Apologising to God

 'If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.' ~1 John 1:9 (ESV)


Okay, I’ve put it off long enough. Stalling, polishing excuses, justifying my delay. But it’s time.

Time to talk about my sin. To look it squarely in the face and accept it for what is, the whole low-down, dirty shame of it.

Did I pique your interest?

Yeah, I know. It’s always easier, albeit slightly uncomfortable, to hear about the sins of others. Some, you feel sorry for, and may even whisper a prayer for, others you may judge . . . secretly. But the real discomfort, the kind that makes you want to crawl out of your skin and hide, comes when you have to address your own sin.

Welcome to phase three of my series -  The Five B’s of Living, Breathing, Beautiful Prayer: Bow before the LORD. Missed the first two posts? You can read Phase one here and Phase two here. Phase one is all about beholding God by recognizing who we are praying to - the Creator, Ruler, and Sustainer of the universe who mercifully desires a relationship with us. Phase two discussed why blessing God is absolutely good for us and just how we go about doing that. Now, here in phase three, we’ll look at coming clean before God and the astonishing gift when tears of sorrow and whispers of thanks meet together in confession.

But don’t let the phases fool you, this is not a list to follow in a prescribed order, but rather an encouragement to develop the heart posture that embraces a lifestyle of prayer in every circumstance, in other words to help us ‘pray without ceasing’ according to God’s will for us.

So, let’s get back to the issue of my sin and the reason it’s sometimes hard for me to talk about it with God. You see, sometimes, the real me doesn’t meet with the real God. Rather, I conjure up an image of Him much more like me than He really is. For example, If I were Him, I would be fed up with hearing how many times I was sorry for speaking harshly or unkindly or acting in an unloving way. After the 100th time, I would be out of both patience and mercy. With a God like that, it’s no wonder I would shy away or hide behind a veil of excuses, especially when I’m coming before Him with the 200th transgression.  With His mercy exhausted, I would be destined for His judgment, rightly deserved judgment, I might add. With the veiled me coming before my imagined God, I would sit wallowing in the pit of my sin, ashamed, embarrassed, paralyzed by fear, unable to move forward.

But thankfully, my God is not like me.

Please don’t misunderstand me. God takes sin SERIOUSLY. If you’re ever in doubt about the gravity of sin start with the book of Leviticus, in all its gory, bloody, fiery, animal-sacrificing seriousness. Just imagining the scene of the sin offerings is enough to make me feel physically ill. The sights, the sounds, the smells, but most of all the gnawing belief that I would keep messing up and never be able to get in or stay in a right relationship with God. Yes, sin is serious, and I could never get out from under it on my own.

But thankfully, God made a Way for me.

And this is why I can be real. This is why I can lift my eyes from the slough of my sin and stare into the sacrificial, debt-paying, life-giving love of God. By giving His perfect life for my blemished one, Jesus Christ offered (once and for all) the bloody sacrifice for my sin that I could not pay. With His blood sprinkled on me, I am now able to approach God guilt-free and call Him Father, accepting His forgiveness and His power to live for Him. It’s a beautiful exchange.  



This is why I don’t need to come before God pretending my sin is not there or it’s not as bad as it is. The truth is, I am worse than I think I am. God knows it and deep down I know it. But because of this beautiful exchange, I can come just as I am, with all of my sins. I can be deeply sorrowful and genuinely repentant for my sin and overjoyed by the love of God all at the same time.

But enough about me. 

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What about you? 

Do you talk about your sin with God? Is it easy for you to be real or do you struggle to acknowledge the cost of continual sin in your life? Do you confess some but not others? Perhaps worried that they are just too bad. My prayer is that you would grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ’ and that this knowledge will drive you to your knees confessing your sin before God and accepting His gift of forgiveness. The sweetness of this restored relationship is almost indescribable. 

May grace and peace be multiplied to you,

Carlie

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Next up is phase four of the Five B's of Living, Breathing, Beautiful Prayer. If you don't want to miss it, go ahead and subscribe to my blog, that way it'll be sent directly to your inbox when it's published. As a bonus, you'll get a free printable of my Live Amazed Intercessory Prayer Journal which outlines all the phases and helps us to be intentional in our prayer time. 

 

Friday, 5 March 2021

Why Blessing God is Absolutely Good for You

Do you ever have days when you just don't know what to say to God? Perhaps no matter how you try, you just can't seem to pin your thoughts down. Or maybe, the weight of your circumstances bears so heavily on you, that you'd rather not talk about them, not even to God. Whether distracted or disturbed, sometimes, we just can't find the words. 

On days like that, I choose to bless God. 

How does one bless God, you ask. Well, it all starts with remembering. Remembering who God is and all that He has done.

But there's a problem:

‘Memory is very treacherous about the best things; by a strange perversity, engendered by the fall, it treasures up the refuse of the past and permits priceless treasures to lie neglected, it is tenacious of grievances and holds benefits all too loosely.’ ~Treasury of David

Given the 'strange perversity' of my memory, if I'm not intentional, I will neglect countless blessings granted to me as a child of God, allowing them to sit in the corner of my mind gathering dust while I cling to the 'refuse of the past'. 

It takes effort to remember the good, especially when the brokenness of this world is clouding our view.  Yet, God knew the good in store for us when we take the time to remember and to bless His Holy name. 

Welcome to Phase Two of The Five B's of Living, Breathing, Beautiful Prayer - Bless the LordDon't let the phases confuse you, living. breathing, beautiful prayer is not a formula of words, but more a posture of the heart that becomes a lifestyle. In my last blog post, I shared Phase One - Behold your God where we pause to recognize who we are praying to. If you missed it, you can get caught up here and be sure to download my free printable - Beholding the Majesty of God.  


To bless God is more than to praise Him; it is to praise Him with affection and gratitude, not only in our prayers but in our very lives. To acknowledge Him as the 'only fountain of being and happiness from which all good ever flows'. It is to call your whole being 'to arise to praiseful gratitude for God's justifying, redeeming, and renewing grace.’ (Bible Hub)  

Blessing God is to remember with heartfelt thanks all that He has done for you, both in the spiritual and physical realms. If you keep a journal or diary, a simple look back through its pages can remind you of the wondrous ways God has worked in your life. Sometimes, a photo album, or the memories that pop up on Facebook even, can spur you to celebrate the goodness of God. But when life feels hard and our souls are downcast, sometimes we need a little help to bless God. And God has provided just the help we need in his Word. If ever you need a nudge remembering all that God has done for you, look to David's poem in Psalm 103. 

Reading through Psalm 103 is like an energy boost for the soul, a reminder of the many benefits we get to enjoy as children of God. Let's look at a few of the reasons our souls can rejoice in the Lord:

God forgives all our sins, then He lavishes us with steadfast and abundant love and mercy. He satisfies us with good things and works righteousness and justice for the oppressed. Thankfully, He does not deal with us according to our sins but is compassionate toward us who fear Him, knowing our frame, remembering that we are dust. God's love for us is everlasting.

So, when your prayers feel like dust, open your Bible to Psalm 103, meditate on the word of God and recount His blessings to you. And as your praise rises, messy and muddled as it may seem, a miracle will unfold. Hope will enter in. 

For as we attempt to bless God, God blesses us. God in His mercy, takes our meager offerings of praise and infuses our hearts with life-giving hope. And my friend, given the state of the world today, I can't think of anything better for you right now, than a good, solid dose of hope rightly placed in the God of hope. 

Hope - the very essence of our lives - that which causes us to keep stepping forward in faith, believing, no rather, knowing that no matter how dreary life may appear when we walk with God, all is well. 

So, as it turns out, blessing God is not only the perfect prayer starter but it also miraculously transcends our prayer closets and steeps our lives in hope. It is, by God's mercy, absolutely good for you.  

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What about you?

Are you in need of a fresh outpouring of hope today?
When was the last time you took the time to count all your blessings? 
Naming them one by one? 
How does blessing God permeate all aspects of your life?

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May grace and peace be multiplied to you,
Carlie

We'll continue with the third phase of our Five B's of Living, Breathing, Beautiful prayer in the next blog post. In the meantime, you can download a free copy of my Live Amazed Intercessory Prayer Journal which outlines all the phases and helps us make the most of the sweet privilege of prayer. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Marvelling at the Wonder of God

 


I stumble up the stairs in desperate need of help. Falling at His feet, I gaze longingly at His face. Just as the cry starts to spill from my heart, I remember—this is the King. I must be careful with the way I approach Him. I quickly rehearse the formula in my head, being mindful not to skip a step. I have to get this right; my request is far too important.

Has this ever happened to you? Like me, do you get tripped up in your prayers because you’re convinced you need the right words or the right order of approach? No doubt this lie has kept us more than once from the sweet intimacy God offers us.

But I’m finding a better way, a living, breathing, beautiful way of drawing near to God, and surprise, surprise, it has more to do with the posture of my heart than a formula of words.

If like me you’re tired of believing the lie and you are hungry for a genuine, authentic relationship with God, then you’ll be relieved and excited about what I’m about to share.

The Five B’s of Living, Breathing, Beautiful Prayer

Sounds like a formula? Don’t worry, it isn’t. It’s more like a lifestyle. Read on and I’ll explain.

Phase one - Behold Your God!

‘Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.’ Hebrews 11:6b (ESV)

This is foundational, yet beholding your God encompasses much more.

Consider who He is: 

“You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.” ~Nehemiah9:6 

‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.’ ~ Jeremiah 32:17

When I close my eyes and bow my head to pray in the early morning hours or shoot an arrow prayer upward during a busy or harrowing day, I pause to remind myself exactly Who I’m talking to. I fix my mind on God as revealed in His word and His world and my perspective shifts. I remember!

Sometimes, I think of His omnipresence, His outside-ness and above-ness of time and space, and it comforts me that He is with my loved ones all over the world, all at once. Or I might ponder the power-pack of His omnipotence and steadfast love, as I bow in thanksgiving that He is as good as He is powerful. Imagine if He was a powerful and wicked God? Oh, the grace that He bestows on us.

God’s Word is filled with evidence of His out-of-this-world, amazing attributes: love, merciful, long-suffering, fore-knowing, omniscient, eternal, immutable, omnipresent, omnipotent, good, infinite, incomprehensible, sovereign. (See the handy chart I’ve added for you.) I love to choose just one or two to focus on as I come before Him. With Bible in hand, I can choose to remember just who God is and praise Him for how He has revealed His character to me.

Download a copy HERE


I know that God is:  

All-powerful, that nothing is too hard for Him because I’ve seen Him work in my life and the lives of my loved ones. 

All-good, because He treats me much better than I deserve and has promised that all things will work together for my good and His glory. 

All-merciful, because He cares for my lost loved ones even more than I do and accepts me, the chief of all sinners, as His child. 

The list goes on.

When I focus on God and His revealed attributes I am awestruck by His majesty and power and humbled by His goodness and mercy.

But most of all, I am amazed that He would invite me to draw near to Him.

I mean, it’s a mystery I can even approach His throne. But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ I have been granted access. Bold, confident access! (Hebrews 4:16) I need not fear or worry, because the King of this universe desires a relationship with me, in fact, He calls me His child.

‘For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” ~ Romans 8: 15

Let that sink in for a bit. God, the Creator of all things seen and unseen, has told me that I can call Him ‘Daddy’!

And it’s not just me, He offers the same to you! Doesn’t that just blow your mind? What an awesome God we serve!

So no, I don’t need to be plagued by the need for legalistic formalities. When I remember who God is and who He says I am to Him, I don’t need to hesitate. I can toss off the duty, doubts, and distractions and run right up those stairs straight into my Father’s arms.

It’s my first step in embracing living, breathing, beautiful prayer exactly as my heart longs for.

 

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What about you?

Do you sometimes wonder if you’re doing prayer right? 

Does duty interfere with your enjoyment of God? 

When was the last time you paused just to marvel at the wonder of God?

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We’ll continue with the second phase of our Five B’s of Living, Breathing, Beautiful prayer in the next blog post.  In the meantime, you can download a free copy of my Live Amazed Intercessory Prayer Calendar which outlines all the phases and helps us make the most of the sweet privilege of prayer. 




May grace and peace be multiplied to you,
Carlie