Zacharias, Mary, the shepherds saw the angels,
the magi and Joseph only had dreams,
but they all received their message and obeyed.
Matthew 1:20, 2:12, 2:13, 2:19
What phrase do all these verses have in common?
God chooses to speak to people differently. He spoke directly to some people, through prophets, through angels, and through dreams to others in the Old Testament, but every believer in Christ now has the advantage of the Holy Spirit in them. The Lord promised that the Spirit would convict, comfort, guide, and teach us. Many of us also have access to the complete scriptures! If we seek Him and quiet our hearts, we will hear Him.
- Some Christians do not seem to hear the Lord, but what they are hearing may be conviction and they are choosing to ignore Him. Others cannot hear because their lives are too full of business and distractions. Still others have heard from Him, but are impatient to hear something new.
- Does God seem quiet or distant? If you have confessed all known sin, been still before the Lord, read His word, and He still doesn’t seem to be saying anything, think back to the last thing You know He told you to do. What was the last clear message you are certain came from Him? Continue following those instructions until He tells you otherwise.
- If you would say, He has never spoken to me; first be sure that you know Christ as your Savior. Then, ask Him to speak to speak to you. Keep asking and seeking and He will answer.
- There was a season in college when I was so busy, I felt like I was barely surviving. Every deadline and decision felt urgent. I was so overbooked, I didn’t have time to seek the Lord, and I had no idea which of the things I was involved in were His will. In desperation I told the Lord, “if You’ll get me out off this mess I’ve created, I promise I’ll seek You first before I do anything. I will totally empty my schedule and only say ‘yes’ to the things You tell me to do. And, if You will make it clear that it is You, I will do anything You ask.” He did, and I am (to the best of my ability).
- The self-guided is no comparison to the Spirit led life. There are no “obligations” except to obey the Lord. At times, I have forgotten to seek the Lord, and it is usually my prayer life, then my home, then my health, my parenting, and finally my marriage that suffers. But, just as when I called on the Lord to get me out of my mess in college, He has always pulled me up out of my muck and set my feet on a rock again when I returned to seeking Him first.
- (Feeling swamped or anxious? Read Matthew 6:25-34. And, if this reference is familiar, look it up in an unfamiliar translation and ask the Lord to speak to You anew.)
Pharaoh, Haman, Herod, Nero, Hitler,… fearful, wicked, power-hungery, mad-men seeking their own kingdoms. Throughout History wicken men have persecuted God’s people out of fear or jealousy.
- Who was troubled and why? (verse 3)
- Who did Herod gather together and why? (verse 4)
- Verse 16 says, Herod was “enraged”. Why?
Herod put to death “all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under according to the time which he had ascertained from the magi.” (verse 16)
Like the baby boys killed in Egypt, the plot to kill all the Jews in Persia, the Christians and Jews persecuted by the Romans, or the 6 million Jews starved and tortured by the Nazis; when Herod put to death the babies in the area surrounding Bethlehem the beautiful children’s Bible story became scarred with the incomprehensibly horrific reality of the sinful state of this fallen world.
The need for a Savior is desperate and Satan goes to extreme measures attempting to thwart God’s plan. The only voice of sanity in this dark, cold, cruel world is the Truth of God; it is the light that shines hope and sense into the madness.
It seems appropriate that as I write about a world that doesn’t make sense, my daughter is watching Alice in Wonderland. Alice goes from wonder to frustration again and again because she is trying to reason with the nonsense. I know in the end Alice will wake and find it all a silly dream, but my daughter is riding the roller-coaster with Alice, trying to make sense of a it all.
There is nothing funny about a world that calls “evil good, and good evil”, that trades “darkness for light, and light for darkness”, that is “wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:20-21). But, this is what happens even to God’s people when they stop seeking God first and begin seeking their own way. Only God, whose ways are higher and knows the end of the story, can turn a nightmare into a dream. He can rescue us and direct us, even warn us in our sleep, when our hearts are set on Him.
Resting, praying, reading, seeking, (obeying any of God’s instructions for that matter) goes against our better judgement when we’re busy making our own way through this crazy world, but nothing compares to the fruitful, peaceful, eternally significant life of trusting in the LORD, not leaning on our own understanding, and acknowledging Him. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Do you feel overwhelmed when you look the madness of our world. Don’t despair.
My greatest weapon as a prayer warrior, apart from quoting scripture which we will talk about tomorrow, is the knowing God’s character. When I am distraught, I bring my concern to the Lord, praying my way through a memorized list of attributes.
I began with these four, which are easy to remember:
Omniscient – He know everything.
Omnipotnet – He is all powerful.
Omnipresent – He is everywhere.
and Sovereign – He is in complete control of everything.
(An example prayer is at the end of this post, beneath the Evening Meditation.)
Here are 12 attributes from my list:
- Copy this list of attributes, and the four mentioned above, into your journal.
- Include at least one attribute of God for each of your TOP 12 concerns as you pray today.
Hallelujah – Barlow Girl
O Holy Night – Nat King Cole
Pie Jesu (Mercy, Jesus) – by Andrew Lloyd Webber
An Example Prayer Focusing On God’s Attributes:
I praise You, Lord, for who You are. You are here, knowing the words I will say before I speak. You are Omniscient and understand all the details of this situation. Though I may be surprised or overwhelmed, You are not. You know me with all my limitations and weaknesses, and You know how this will turn out to both bring You glory and strengthen my faith. I trust Your wisdom which is beyond mine; so give me Your perspective and Your wisdom. Help me to become aware of the aspects I am over-looking and to know how to proceed.
I know that You are Omnipotent and are capable of equipping me for any task. You could accomplish this without my help, but since it is clear that You want me to persevere and face this, I thank You for providing everything that I need. I trust You to either move the obstacles or help me over them. Nothing is too difficult for You, and in Christ I can do anything You call me to do. I am comforted to know Your limitless power is available to me, and You will never leave me to handle this in my own strength.
I am in awe that You are Omnipresent and can manage the universe and still be here with me. I confess, this challenge feels too big for me, but You are in me and I have nothing to fear. I am thankful that even at this moment, You are also with all the people involved in this issue, and I pray that You will work in their hearts as well to bring about Your will in their lives.
Because You are Sovereign and nothing is beyond Your control, I accept that You have placed me here in this situation. You will work this for my good, and I delight to know that You will be glorified through this, as that is both of our desires. Amen.
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