row-of-vending-machines

Ephesians 6

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.

If we are close friends with someone, one of the key things we do is communicate with each other. Best is when we talk together live, face-to-face.

In the past, if you were separated by distance, you might also send letters back and forth. Later, some of us remember that even if you could call on a phone, you would still write, because long distance was so expensive. For example, when I first moved to California, a 30 minute call to my parents would be about 10 bucks. That would be about $25 today. Quite a bit of money and the problem was, I would always have to call! Come on dad, get those fingers dialing!

 

Today, things have certainly changed. There really isn’t long distance per say, as a cell call to a neighbor or across country is the same.With my dad, I’m still the one who always has to call, by the way! But communicating today with a close friend is still best live, and face-to-face. Next would come video chat, like Face Time, unless you are your pajamas, followed by speaking on the phone, texting, sending pictures or snap chats back and forth, and such. From texting on down we might call what we are doing, “Checking in.” But, whatever the communication method, to be dear friends with someone involves a lot of it. Again, by far the best connections we make are live and face-to-face. Speaking with each other most intimately is being present with each other and the communicating is a two-way street.

It’s the same with our communication with God. Being close to God means communicating with him, which is almost always a two-way street. In our ongoing friendship with God we tell him what is on our hearts and learn to perceive what he is saying to us.

We call this prayer. Prayer is communicating with God in our ongoing friendship together. Checking in on how things are going in our work together. We tell God what’s on our hearts and learn to perceive what he is saying to us.

When we think of prayer as continuing our dear friendship together we get a clearer picture of why prayer is so vital.

It is that last part, what he is saying to us, that may be a challenge. Two things can get in the way.

1.When we pray, we may not be treating it like a two-way street. We may be all talk, no listen.

2.If we do listen, we treat God like he is some sort of vending machine for advice. Or we might try to listen to what he has to say to us through reading the Bible, but we treat the Bible like a crystal ball.

Prayer is a different experience when  we think of it as continuing our dear friendship together. Then we get a clearer picture on why prayer is so vital. If you are going to be close friends with someone one of the key things you do is communicate with each other. You talk together and you think about how the other person is doing, they are on your mind. And you spend time together.

You might notice the more you are in an ongoing prayer relationship with God the more “coincidences” happen, which makes it seem like prayer works. This reminds me of what famous golfer Ben Hogan once said. ‘Golf is a game of luck, the more I practice, the luckier I get.’

With prayer it is more about growing our friendship and learning to rest in his goodness and his love. Pray is more than getting God to do stuff and wanting him to make decisions for us. But, the more we spend time with our dear friend, it does appear the “luckier” we get.

ME

Pray and pray and pray…

Friday, February 5

Gratitude

Spend five minutes focusing on a couple of things you appreciate and thank God for them.

Word

Revelation 2:17

To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.

Content

Most of our labels have to go. But not all of them.

Yes, labels hurt others when we use them and we are hurt by labels. 

Starting from childhood. 

Stupid. Ugly. Mean. Bad.

And as we grow, our labels get more sophisticated.

I think of two recent adult labels we use:

Alien.

Radical.

Funny, these labels can be used against Jesus.

He is an alien who escapes to Egypt for political asylum from his homeland.

Jesus is a radical who is advocating the overthrow of many of the laws of the state and religion. 

But, here’s the thing:

Jesus is asking us to dig deeper.

Jesus is not about his label, he is about his presence. Emmanuel- God with us.

Jesus came to be close to us and he has given us new labels. Here is what the Bible says Jesus thinks about us. His labels.

Chosen 

Beloved

Royalty

Dearly loved

Forgiven

New Creation

Friend

And God has one more label left for you. One more name. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what my own name will be for eternity. But my label is waiting.

Revelation 2:17.

In the meantime know you are precious and you are worthy. God is with you now and will be forever.

Me 

Carry a white stone with you throughout the week. Touch it occasionally. What might God be saying to you at these times. Ask him.