Tuesday, April 9, 2019

12. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – Pharisee’s Condemn Christ

“Father forgive them for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).  

It is Easter time and it is that time we study the scripture anew.   

A number of years ago, driving home from work during Lent season, Chuck Swindoll was giving a blow by blow description of Christ’s suffering and death on the Cross.  It was a life changing experience to hear all that Christ physically, emotionally and mentally went through from the time the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill him, the Garden of Gethsemane to His asking forgiveness for us.  The piercing pain in my heart I had never experienced.  For the first time I really zeroed into the pain Jesus suffered, and tears flowed freely down my face.  Not only was I experiencing His pain, I realized a love for me (and all peoples) that humbled me prostrate before the Lord of my life.  I knew the story in scripture.  I had heard and read the scripture before, but this day, the Holy Spirit touched me and my knowing became incredible understanding in my heart of a love that goes beyond anything we know on this earth.

For the next week and a half as we approach Easter, we would like to share with you this scripture, all Christians for sure and many non-believers, have heard repeatedly throughout a life time.  Our prayer is that once again hearing this scripture, you will experience a new miracle, a new revelation in the inner depths that reveals new understanding where you are in your walk with the Lord.

After 400 years between the Old and New Testament Christ is born, “For God so loved the world . . . .” (John 3:16).  His Sermon on the Mount is a compilation of His moral teachings and Christians believe that Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:6).  He began His miracles when He turned water into wine, John 2:11.  Jesus continued to do greater and greater miracles and signs until that day the Chief Priests began to plot the death of Jesus. (John 11:45-53).  Their concern was, “If we let Him (Jesus) alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”  Caiaphas, the High Priest, said, “consider . . . is it not expedient for us that one man die for the people than a whole nation should perish and then from that day on, they plotted to put Jesus to death.”  That was their reasoning for killing Jesus, a Man that spoke peace and never fell short of the Glory of God

The Chief Priests became fearful in their hearts and in selfishness and greed they sought to prevent losing their prestige and position.  They feared the people would believe in Jesus as their Messiah.  The Gospel of Mark tells us they used trickery (deception) to put Jesus to death.  Their deception waited until after the Passover because they feared the reaction of the people (followers of Christ).

Let us ask you, were you ever placed in a position that someone premeditated to cause great harm to you by deception and lies?  You are innocent! Yet because of the evil in the heart of another, great pain, damage to your character comes to you.  Once a person speaks a lie, it is exceedingly difficult to prove truth.

We can stand on the same truth that Jesus Christ stood, His Heavenly Father.  Christ is sent into the world with a love beyond comprehension.  The Father had given Him a mission and the Father was with Him, through the power of the Holy Spirit, giving Him strength, courage, and assurance that He (Jesus) would finish the mission for which He was sent.  Jesus Glorified God, “I have glorified You (God) on the earth, I have finished the work which You have given Me to do”. (John 17:4) The High Priests may have lied, cheated with trickery and deception, and schemed until Christ was to hang on the Cross.  Truth prevailed in the resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God, that we may know life eternally.

Regardless of what man can do to us, in the truth of the cross our mission will be complete in the dignity and honor we have in our Lord Jesus Christ.  Let us Pray!!

Friday, April 5, 2019

11. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (6) Submission

17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  –Ephesians 3:17

All my life I felt I was a Christian, then came the day I submitted my life to Christ.  This submission did not come easy.  In reviewing my reactions to collateral damage in my life, I had come to the Garden of Gethsemane.  During that time God gave me a poem and named it, “God’s Video Tape.”  The words of this poem raged in my head, it would not go away.  For two days I cried and walked the floors . . . the poem raging in my head.  The pain I experienced during this time is indescribable.  It was intense.  On the third morning I sat down at my computer and began to write the words God was giving me.  The words flowed swiftly.  I wrote in paragraphs before I realized it was a poem.  I wrote the words exactly as I received them …. not changing a word.  When I had finished, I realized the message God was trying to give me.  We, as Christians, do not justify our actions by what others did to us.  We stay faithful to God our Father and submit in faith to His will.  Many years went by and I did not share this poem.  I felt it was too personal, too intimate.  Through the years, I began to understand the depth and meaning of this poem.  As I read my Bible through these years, I came across scripture for every line and verse God had given me.  I realized there are times when people all around me live a life of this poem.   I share my God given poem at the end of this Blog. 

After receiving this poem my life changed completely.  My reading of God’s Word became more focused and reading became study.  Then there was the day I honestly began to let go of self and seek only the Will of God.  In that time-frame I said, “Lord I will do anything and go anywhere you send me.  Just don’t send me to China.”  I submitted but not my ALL.  My walk in the Garden of Gethsemane did not end with the poem.  I struggled for several years relinquishing ALL to my God.  Then the day came when I experienced God’s view of submission.     AT that point in my life I confessed, “Lord, I will do anything and go anywhere you send me.  I will even go to China.” 

This submission was not my twelve-year-old confession of faith.  It was not the years I was confident that I was a faithful Christian.  This was the adult, mature Charlsey who gave her life to Christ Jesus in total submission.  At long last I realized through the eyes of my heart what Christ Jesus wanted me to understand.  In the core of my being, I experienced His love in my Garden of Gethsemane!

When I had written the poem as God gave me the words, in an audible voice, God said: “you be faithful to Me; I’ll take care of the rest.”  I read over the poem and began to realize whatever happens in life, collateral damage, choices, mistakes, errors of heart, self-will; we must meet our God in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He calls us to submit to His Will, teachings, and grow in His character.  We must confess and repent of our own falling short (sin).  We cannot live in justification, blaming others; “I wouldn’t have done that IF……”  We cannot continue to excuse self as my little two-year-old daughter once said over a broken toy, “Kitty Tom did it.”  We are responsible for our own actions and no one can do our own submission.  We close with Ephesians 4:1-3.  We claim this scripture with our God given passion.

This is submission!  Have you walked your Garden Gethsemane?

God's Video Tape

God played the videotape
Of the life I've lived on earth.
The things I've said the choices made,
In all their height and girth.
As I watch I ache inside
Because I failed Him so.
The things I see, the pain I've caused
Was not my heart's intent.
My faith is real I love Him so;
It was love I really meant.

I found fault, I complained, I judged,
Anger I displayed.
Frustration grew, sin came in
In sinfulness I swayed.
I lost sight of the love I meant;
The pain grows mightily.
What others do or say
Free choice is theirs to make.
Now I know I cannot judge
God will undertake.

The video plays on, my tears freely flow.
My soul is bleeding too.
He takes my hand and talks to me;
A sweet voice soft and true.
I see the light around His face
And comfort fills within.
He wipes my tears and tells to me
A truth we all should know.                                    
"I shed your tears, I bled for you
I cleanse you white as snow".

I humbly bow before my Lord
As the video tape plays on.
He wants me to see the future;
He wants me to know the dawn.
"Your path is different now
Your eyes are set on Me".
"Your Love is with your heart's intent;
Goodness fills your soul".

Forgiveness in His eyes I see;
Forgiveness is my goal.
Because he cried and bled for me
And love is my intent.
Forgiveness must begin with me
And dwell with me
The reason He was sent.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

10. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree (5) Submission

But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  –Romans 5:8

We have left out a great deal regarding the Passion of Christ, but the message is this; I quote Warren Mueller, The Passion of Christ Bible Study.  His words so express our feelings and passion for Christ.
“The life of Christ has set a pattern for living a passionate life for Him.  Believers in Jesus experience a spiritual birth that results in the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3; 1 Corinthians 6:19) therefore, believers have everything needed to live a passionate life for Christ.  Why then are there so few passionate Christians?  I believe the answer lies in the fact that, so few Christians follow the pattern of Christ’s life[1].” 

Christ totally submitted to the Will of the Father.  Nothing less is asked of us.

I believe our submission begins with understanding in the heart of how much God loves us.  “Christ’s love for us is not dependent on a quality in us that makes us lovable.  He loves because He is love regardless of our strengths or weaknesses.”[2]

We submit to that love.

Once I was told I was too passionate [for the Lord], the words from one I loved and respected, pierced me deeply.  I was devastated.   I was in a state of quandary.  Can one be too passionate for Christ?  God is good and when you seek Him, you will find Him.   I feel God led me to a sermon written by Steve Saint.  Steve Saint is the son of Nate Saint.  Nate Saint, a pilot, served with Jim Elliott and three others as missionaries in Ecuador on the Pacific side of the Andes. These men were attempting to evangelize the Waodani people in the jungles of Ecuador.  In 1956 during one excursion the Waodani Indians killed these missionaries.

I began to read and as I read this sermon by Steve Saint my heart quicken.  Steve Saint had searched his heart and felt he did not have the passion needed to bring the story of his dad and the other missionaries to the world.  He prayed, “Lord give me passion.”  Reading these words my breath came in sharp gasps; and I lifted my voice to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and humbly thanked HIM for my passion.

Steve Saint portrayed his dad, Nate Saint, Jim Elliott, and the other missionaries in the movie, “End of the Spear.” 

We have had several years to think about our passion for Christ Jesus.  Does it not grow when we begin to relinquish self and submit to our Heavenly Father?

[1] Warren Mueller, The Passion of Christ Bible Study
[2] Lloyd John Ogilvie, Ret. Chaplain, the United States Senate, “The Call to Unity in Christ’s Body”.

Monday, March 18, 2019

9. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree - (4) Submission

Paul says, 5You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  6Though he was God, [Or Being in the form of God] he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  7Instead, he gave up his divine privileges [Greek he emptied himself] he took the humble position of a slave [Or the form of a slave] and was born as a human being.  When he appeared in human form, 8he humbled himself in obedience [submission] to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  -- Philippians 2:5-8

In human nature it is not an easy act to surrender ourselves.  We struggle in our attempts to hold on to self, to maintain our iron will, to do and live as we want.  Charles Stanley, in essence, made a statement like this, we do not read God’s Word for the truth, but we read His Word to say what we want it to say.  The Word becomes a source to justify our life style not the life God intended us to live.  It is not an easy choice to submit our life to God’s Will and it will continue to be a struggle until that day of total submission as Christ submitted in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Our day of submission is our Gethsemane!

F.T. Pickett, Professor, Christian Life School of Theology, Author and Teacher, says: “Joy is derived from the confidence that the price of dying to our will holds the inevitable certainty of eventually realizing the triumph of HIS [will]”.

Richard J. Foster writes, “All of the luminaries in Scripture struggled as well:  Abraham as he relinquished his son, Isaac; Moses as he relinquished his understanding of how the deliverer of Israel should function; David as he relinquished the son given to him by Bathsheba; Mary as she relinquished control over her future; Paul as he relinquished his desire to be free of a debilitating ‘thorn in the flesh’”.  In the end each one submitted to God’s Will and they were blessed!

I quote Pastor James Merritt, “there are only three men in the History of the Old Testament who God did not reprimand.  They were Joseph, Daniel and Jonathan.”  Why?  They followed God’s commandments in total submission.

This does not mean they did not go through trials and suffering in their life, but it means despite the trials, they were in total submission to our God and Father.  In so doing they Glorified God.

To surrender self in total submission is the crucifixion of self.  Paul understood this perfectly in Galatians2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

In the crucifixion of self, we gain complete submission to Christ Jesus and the Will of the Father.  We are set free to pray, to act and to serve “where He (God) is already at work”.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

8. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (3) Submission

Teach me to do Your will [so that I may please You], For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.  Psalm143:10

Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest says, “Our Lord never dictated demands to His Father, and neither are we to make demands on God.  We are here to submit to His will so that He may work through us what He wants.”

Our intimacy with God grows in and through our prayers. As we give ourselves in submission to Him and His ways, we release our will so that His design and purpose can accomplish His Will in and through us here on earth as in Heaven.

Blackaby and King, convey this message, “Knowing God does not come through a program, a study, or a method.  Knowing God comes through a relationship with a Person.  This is an intimate love relationship with God. Through this relationship, God reveals Himself, His purposes, and His ways; and He invites you to join Him where He is already at work.[1]  Also they say:  We must give up our own plans, desires, and aspirations and be willing to make God’s desires and plans for our lives our own”.  This happens in and through prayer and our submission to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We claim His Word and we see in our heart how much God loves us.  There is no greater place to discover true submission to our Heavenly Father than in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46 ).

I would like for you to close your eyes and image Christ, the Son of God, in the Garden of Gethsemane as He began to be troubled and deeply distressed and exceedingly sorrowful. (Mark 14:33-34) Christ being in agony continued to pray more earnestly until His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22:44) He continued to ask His Abba that this cup of destruction be removed from Him.  His human nature really wanted this sacrifice to pass away…. His heart was saying is there not some other way for the sins of this world to be healed…..that I would not have to suffer and die the shameful agony of sin.  Jesus, the one life lived in perfection, abhorred to be identified with sin, gross selfish sin.  Far greater than all the physical pain He was to suffer, the separation from His Father was incomprehensible.  The answer to His request was a resounding no.  Andrew Murray writes, “For our sins, He suffered beneath the burden of that unanswered prayer.”[2]  In view of this understanding, is it not incredible that we allow our faith to be daunted when our prayers are not answered in the timing and way that we think they should?!

Christ yielded to the Will of the Father.  His submission was complete.  Not My will, but your will be done (Luke 22:42).  Richard J. Foster writes, “Here we have the complete laying down of human will.”  “Here we have the perfect flowing into the will of the Father.”  “In the school of Gethsemane, we learn that ‘my will, my way, my good’ must yield to higher authority.”[3]

Christ exemplified complete and true submission.  God allowed His Son to carry the burden of sin in the world and save us from destruction.  We can be reborn, regenerated in reconciliation that we become a new being (Ephesians 2:10).  We are offered the opportunity to receive Christ as our Savior and receive the promise of eternal life.  It is in our submission that God can truly use us.  The purpose and intent of the mission we have been given is fulfilled in the laying down of our human will.  In this act of surrender, we are His and He is the Lord of our Life.

[1] Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King, Experiencing God:  Knowing and Doing the Will of God
[2] As quoted from Richard J. Foster’s book, “Prayer:  Finding the Heart’s True Home”
[3] “Prayer:  Finding the Heart’s True Home”, Richard J. Foster

Thursday, February 28, 2019

7. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (2) Submission

But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  --Romans 5:8 (AMP)

We are speaking about submission!  Jesus is our example of true submission – “not My will but Your will” (Luke 22:42).  We share with you the agony Jesus suffered in submitting to the Father for our sins.  Jesus did this to free us from sin so that we might have eternal life with our Heavenly Abba.

 “As He [Jesus] slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists excruciating pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain -- the nails in the wrist are putting pressure on the median nerves. As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.  At this point, as the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by his arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, he is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences recorded”.  “With one last surge of strength, he once again presses His torn feet against the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters His seventh and last cry, "Father! Into thy hands I commit my spirit.”[1]

Why do we share these brutal details; because, the relinquishment of self is so important in our walk of faith.  We must experience the Garden of Gethsemane.  Many times in our prayer life, we want God to do our will.  We pray for what we want to happen dictating to God our wishes regarding our surrounding circumstances.  If He would only do as we request, things would be much better.  In our selfish pursuit to have control over the situations in life, we feel certain that what we want would be best and did not Jesus promise all we have to do is ask in His Name (John 14:13).  There are many scriptures in learning God’s Will.  God is sovereign that means he determines everything in His purpose the ultimate outcome of Who God is.    Until we understand scripture, we will never understand the effective prayer.

However, rather than asking in God’s Will, we want to dictate the changes according to our will.  Somewhere along the line of our thinking we did not absorb or take to our heart God’s Word in Isaiah55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, . . . . ”.  Somewhere we have not connected to this truth.  Or maybe we didn’t get the truth in I Corinthians 1:25. John 3:30 tells us: 30 He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease.

This is submission giving up self to be more like Jesus.  Jesus, (fully human; and fully divine), gave His will to the Father’s Will in the Garden of Gethsemane.  In your Garden of Gethsemane are you willing to submit your will to our Father’s Will?  This is effective prayer.  I must decrease so that Jesus will increase!

[1] Dr. C. Truman Davis, “A Physician's View of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ”.

Monday, February 25, 2019

6. Growing in Prayer – The Learning Tree – (1) Submission

So submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you.  –James 4:7 (AMP)

“I, the Lord, search and examine the mind, I test the heart, to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.  --Jeremiah 17:10

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”  - Tolstoy

As strange as it may seem, most folks give lip service in our churches.  We say the sermon is good and we forget it before we reach home.  We use prayer as a transition in worship service.  We name prayer an invocation or benediction.  We have relegated prayer to a moment’s pause through our day.   Prayer is a battle; prayer is work!  Our Lord prayed until his sweat was like drops of blood (hematohidrosis) (Luke 22:44). Prayer is a pressing part of our Christian faith.  Without prayer we are doomed in the greatest battle ever fought.  Prayer is the battle against the “schemes and the strategies and deceits of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).  12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places (Ephesians 6:12).  If you do not believe we are in a Battle, just listen to the T.V. News Casts.  PRAYER IS LIFE! 

Who IS the person of prayer?  Before all prayer we should be willing to total submission to our God and King.  When we learn to pray in God’s character, we begin the journey to become more like His Son, Jesus Christ.  We believe as we grow in the character of Jesus, our prayers grow as well.  When we submit, we begin to pray God’s Will rather than our will.  As we discover the love God has for us, we begin to love others in that same love. In submission our thoughts become less selfish and more giving.  We grow in sanctification as we grow more intimately with our Lord and as our branches cling to the Vine (John 15:1-8).

Submission is not easy.  It is probably one of the most difficult acts that we do in our Christian walk in sanctification.  Submitting our personal will to the will of the Father, Abba, our God is a relinquishment of self.  Richard J. Foster in his book, Prayer:  Finding the Heart’s True Home, describes this as the “the School of Gethsemane.” 

When one realizes, we mean really realizes, the love God has for us as individuals, as a person created by God, a life with a purpose, with the power of the Holy Spirit we submit to God’s Will and not our will.  Our prayers become effective and powerful.  God’s love is profound; it is overwhelming.