How Do You Start A Conversation With God?

pray-through-the-bibleLast week I asked you to imagine how your relationship grew with your best friend. You probably found that this special friendship was formed during hours and hours of talking.

I’m going to guess that at first your conversation was a little on the superficial side. You talked about “tame” topics like sports teams, or your job, or the city you lived in. But at some point you took a huge riskyou became vulnerable by sharing something really personal. Perhaps you shared a time that you got hurt, or something that makes you anxious, or maybe a big dream you carry around in your heart. But if that friend is still your friend, that means they treated what you shared reverently. They didn’t laugh at you, belittle your hurts or dreams, nor did they share with others what you said.

The relationships became deeper and more special because you now knew each other on a more intimate level.

Prayer is a conversation with a Friend. Of course that Friend is God, so some people wonder, “What do I talk to God about?” The simple answer is anything and everything!

Time and time again God calls us to come closer to Him (see Isaiah 55:1-3), to discuss with Him things we don’t understand (Jeremiah 33:3), or to be assured that He is intimately tuned in to what’s happening in our life (Psalm 139:17; 1 Peter 3:12).

How do we get there? A good place to start is with our Bible. Dwight Moody said:

“The two first and essential means of grace are the Word of God and Prayer. … If we read the Word and do not pray, we may become puffed up with knowledge, without the love that buildeth up. If we pray without reading the Word, we shall be ignorant of the mind and will of God, and become mystical and fanatical, and liable to be blown about by every wind of doctrine.”

Scripture was written to point us to Jesus. So we don’t read the Bible just to read it; we read it to get to know God.

We don’t want to know the Word of God; we want to know the God of the Word. 

A great place to start is in the book of the Psalms. Many of these were written as prayers, so it’s a good way to start our conversation with God. You can also search in the New Testament for all the places that biblical writers said, “I pray…” or “This is my prayer….”

I share a personal example of this in this video, especially if you want to fast forward to the 36:00 minute mark.

Don’t just read through the Bible this week—pray through the Bible. Use it as a means to have a conversation with the very Best Friend you could ever know!

I encourage you this week, as you think about this topic, to get together with an earthly friend and discuss these questions:

  1. How can I use my Bible as a “conversation starter” with God?
  2. How can I get into the regular practice of talking to God as a Friend?

Talking With Your Best Friend

john-14-16I would like for you to get a really clear picture in your mind of your best friend. This is someone you have opened your heart to, and they have opened their heart to you as well. This is the friend that encourages you when you’re down, but never when you’re on a self-destructive path. This is the companion that cries with you when something is broken, but who also challenges you to accept responsibility if you are the one who broke it.

Do you have that friend clearly in mind?

Now I’d like you to imagine if your interaction with your friend went something like this. Every day around 7 o’clock in the morning, you call your friend and say…

“Good morning! I’m so grateful you took my call. Listen, I’ve got a few things that I’d love for you to help me with today. I’ve been fighting a cold and I’d really like you to help me feel better. My Aunt Sally is in the hospital, and it would be great if you could stop in to see her. Also, that guy at work has really been on my nerves lately and so I need some insight on how to deal with that. It would so great if you could help me with all of this. If you do, I’ll be singing your praises to everyone I meet. Have a great day. Thanks!”

And then you hang up and never talk to your friend again until the next morning when the exact same scenario is repeated. How do you think your relationship would progress? Do you see your relationship getting deeper over time, or becoming more distant? I’m guessing that, like me, you don’t see a future in this relationship.

Sadly, this is how many people treat prayer! We come to God once a day with our list of concerns, ask Him for His help, then say “goodbye” and never think about Him again until the next day. Or until we find ourselves in desperate need.

But we forget: God never leaves us!

We also forget something even more vital—God wants us to talk with Him, and He wants to talk with us, as a friend to a friend.

Abraham was called a friend of God—Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend (James 2:23).

Moses, too, was also God’s friend—The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend (Exodus 33:11).

This isn’t something that was just for them, but it’s relationship that’s available for ALL of us—For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God (Romans 5:10-11).

From the moment we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit took up residence in our heart. Before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He promised us, “I will talk to the Father, and He’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:16).

Amazing! Astounding! Mind-blowing! But totally true—Prayer is conversation with a Friend!

How would your day go differently if you kept up a conversation with your Best Friend all day long? How much more wisdom do you think you would receive? How many mistakes could you avoid if He was telling you which way to go and what to say?

You don’t have to live with the “what ifs.” He IS your constant Companion, your most loyal Friend, your wisest Counselor. All you have to do is keep the lines of conversation open!

Application questions:

  1. How can I know God wants to be my Friend?
  2. Have I been introduced to God?
  3. How can I make the time to deepen my friendship with God?
  4. What does it mean to me to have God as my Friend?

Rick Warren On What Mercy Means

rick-warren“Mercy means…

…being patient with people’s quirks (James 3:17)

…helping anyone around you who is hurting (Proverbs 3:27)

…giving people a second chance (Ephesians 4:31-32)

…doing good to those who hurt you (Luke 6:35-36)

…being kind to those who offend you (Jude 22-23)

…building bridges of love to the unpopular (premeditated mercy) (Matthew 9:13)

…valuing relationships over rules (Romans 13:10)” —Rick Warren

Thursdays With Oswald—What “Religious” Things Perplex You?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

What “Religious” Things Perplex You? 

     If we are perplexed over the question of sanctification, or about the baptism of the Holy Ghost, we ourselves are the reason why we are bothered. God has written a Book, and the phrases “sanctification” and the “baptism of the Holy Ghost” are His, not man’s; why do we not go to Him about it? 

     We are the reason why we do not go; we dare not go. If we honestly ask God to baptize us with the Holy Ghost and fire, anything that happens is His answer, and some appalling things happen. If we accept the revelation that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, are we prepared to ask God to fulfill the purpose of the Holy Ghost in our body? If we are, watch the consequences—that friendship must go, that book, that association, everyone of them must decay off like a lightning flash. 

     If anyone has a difficulty in getting through to God, it is never God who is to blame. We can get through to Him as soon we want to, there is nothing simpler.

From The Psychology Of Redemption

I believe Chambers’ line of reasoning goes like this:

  • God has revealed His full will in the inspired words of Scripture.
  • The same Holy Spirit Who inspired the Bible can illuminate our hearts.
  • We don’t have insight because we either don’t ask for it [James 1:5], or we don’t really want to hear the truth [James 4:3].
  • Asking for help while posturing ourselves to obey will quickly bring clarity—“Jesus Christ’s life must work through our flesh, and that is where we have to obey. So many go into raptures over God’s supernatural salvation, over the wonderful fact that God saves us by His sovereign grace (and we cannot do that too much), but they forget that now He expects us to get ourselves into trim to obey Him” (Oswald Chambers).

6 Quotes From “Light & Truth—The Lesser Epistles”

Light & Truth The Lesser EpistlesHoratius Bonar’s insights on the Scriptures are amazing! So far I’ve read and reviewed three of the four commentaries he has prepared on the New Testament (you can read those reviews here, here and here). These are a few quotes from the third book on the epistles Galatians through Jude. Any reference in brackets is the passage from the Bible on which Bonar is commenting.

“It is a busy, lighthearted, laughing, pleasure-seeking world. But sin is here, and pain is here, and broken hearts are here, and weeping is here, and death is here, and the grave is here. Oh! in spite of all its laughter and vanity, it is an evil world. And the great proof of its evil is, that it cost the death of the Son of God to deliver you from it. … Give yourselves to Him Who came to deliver you from it, and Who stretches out His hands to you all day long, asking you to allow Him to deliver you. He yearns over you; and with sincere earnestness proffers to you His love, His friendship, His great salvation. Consent, O man, consent! His desire is to bless, and not to curse; to save, and not to destroy.” [Galatians 1:4]

“There never have been two gospels. There is not an Old Testament gospel and a New Testament Gospel. There is not one gospel for the Jew, and another for the Gentile, one gospel for the first century, and another for the nineteenth. It is but one gospel, as there is but one Cross and one Savior. Many ages, but one gospel; many sinners, but one gospel; many prophets and apostles, but one gospel. As our earth has had but one sun, so it has had but one gospel. Nor does it need more; that one is sufficient.” [Galatians 1:6-9]

“As the earth without rain or sunshine turns to barrenness, so is it with the Church or soul without the Spirit. … The age thinks it can do without the Spirit. Let the Church watch against this blasphemy. Let her keep hold of the Lord’s promise, the promise of the Father. Let her prize the gift; long for more of it. Let every saint seek more of it. Let our cry be continually: More of the Holy Spirit; more of His fullness; more of His gifts and graces!”

“Strength for the race is needed, hourly strength, superhuman strength; for it is no earthly race, but something lofty, supernatural, divine. Forgetting the supernatural source of strength, we betake ourselves to the internal or the simply external. And so we weary. For only God can supply the power which keeps us running. By Him only shall we run, and not be weary.” [Galatians 5:7]

“‘To Him who is able’—He is the Mighty One, the mighty God, the Lord God Almighty. Hear how this word ‘able’ is used. ‘He is able to subdue all things unto Himself’ (Philippians 3:21). ‘He is able to help them that are tempted’ (Hebrews 2:18). ‘He is able to save to the uttermost’ (Hebrews 7: 25). ‘He is able to keep us from falling’ (Jude 24). It is with the mighty God that we have to do; mightier than ourselves or our foes; mightier than earth or hell; omnipotent.” [Ephesians 3:20]

“Are you expecting the Lord? Are you living in this expectation? Is it a deep-seated, abiding, cherished hope? Is it a hope that tells upon your character, your life, your daily actings in public or private, your opinions, your whole man? Does it quicken you? Does it purify you? Does it keep you separate from the world? Does it keep you calm in the midst of earth’s most exciting events, or most untoward changes? Does it give you a new view of history as well as prophecy? … Let your expectation of the Lord’s coming be a calm and healthy one; not one that excites, but one that tranquilizes; not one that unfits for duty, but one that nerves you more firmly for it; not one that paralyzes exertion, but one that invigorates you for it; not one that makes you indifferent to present duty, but one that makes you doubly in earnest about everything that your hand findeth to do; not one that stops liberality, and prayer, and work, but one that increases all these a hundred fold; not one that dwells exclusively on the future’s dark side—the judgments that are at hand—but one that realizes the glory and the joy of Messiah’s approaching victory and triumphant reign.” [Philippians 3:20]

6 Quotes On Mourning From “The Blessing Of Humility”

The Blessing Of HumilityAs I stated in my review of Jerry Bridges’ book The Blessing Of Humility, reading through these thoughts slowly—Beatitude by Beatitude—would bring about the most life-changing impact. In that spirit, I will be sharing some noteworthy quotes one Beatitude at a time. Here are some quotes on blessed are those who mourn (Matthew 5:4)…

“The word that Jesus used in this Beatitude is the strongest word in the Greek language for mourning. It is the word for Jacob’s morning over what he thought was the death of Joseph (Genesis 37:35). … Jesus uses this word to show the intensity of mourning He blesses here. He is, however, actually talking about mourning not over death but over our sin.”

“To be ‘poor in spirit’ is to be convicted of one’s sin, whereas to ‘mourn’ is to be contrite for it.” —John Blanchard

“King David committed two sins: first adultery, and then (essentially) murder to try to cover up his adultery. God sent the prophet Nathan to confront him, and in his skillful accusation of David, Nathan twice used the word despised (2 Samuel 12:7-11). First, David despised the Word of the Lord—that is, he despised the law of God (verse 9). In so doing, he also despised the Person of God (verse 10). Why is this true? Despising the law of God is not only an expression of rebellion. It is also a despising of His very character, since His law is a reflection of His character. This is true not only of such heinous sins as adultery and murder, but also of our more refined sins: pride, selfishness, gossip, and the like. So let us pray that God will indeed allow us to see our sin as rebellion against the rule of God—a despising of God’s law and even of His character.”

“Failure to see our sin as primarily against God is, I believe, the reason we experience so little heartfelt grief over it. … But be it ever so small in our own eyes, whenever we sin we also break God’s law. And Scripture says, ‘Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it’ (James 2:10). God’s law is seamless, one complete whole. So when we break any of it, we break the whole law.”

“Is mourning over sin just for those first coming to Christ? No, Jesus’ words are in the present active tense. We could literally translate them as ‘blessed are those who continue to mourn.’ He is pronouncing a blessing on those whose attitude toward their sin is characterized by mourning. One mark of a growing Christian, then, is a growing sense of his or her sin, and an attitude of mourning over it.”

“So mourning over our sin is truly a display of humility in action. We cannot be proud and mourn over sin at the same time. We cannot be judgmental toward other believers, or even toward unbelievers, if we are truly contrite and brokenhearted over our own sin.”

I just shared quotes on blessed are the poor in spirit. Quotes on the next Beatitude will be posted soon. Stay tuned…

7 Quotes From “Hope … The Best Of All Things”

HopeJoni Eareckson Tada knows what it is to battle darkness and depression. And she also know the power of hope in those dark places. Hope … The Best Of All Things is an encouraging book for anyone going through a difficult place (please check out my book review here).

Here are some of the quotes from Hope which especially stood out to me.

“People are angry; cynicism and despair are on the rise, and the nightly news reminds us we are only one terrorist plot away from another national nightmare. Oh, how we need to grasp the soul-settling hope found in the pages of God’s Word—not only grasp it, but allow the hope of God to fill and overflow our hearts, transforming us into people who are confident and at peace with themselves, their God, and their circumstances.”

“For me, suffering is still that jackhammer breaking apart my rocks of resistance every day. It’s still the chisel that God is using to chip away at my self-sufficiency and my self-motivation and my self-consumption. Suffering is still that sheepdog snapping and barking at my heels, driving me down the road to Calvary where otherwise I do not want to go. My human nature, my flesh, does not want to endure hardship like a good soldier (2 Timothy 2:3) or follow Christ’s example (1 Peter 2:21) or welcome a trial as friend. No, my flesh does not want to rejoice in suffering (Romans 5:3) or be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15). But it is at Calvary, at the Cross, where I meet suffering on God’s terms.”

“Do you know who the truly handicapped people are? They are the ones—and many of them are Christians—who hear the alarm clock go off at seven-thirty in the morning, throw back the covers, jump out of bed, take a quick shower, choke down breakfast, and zoom out the front door. They do all this on automatic pilot without stopping once to acknowledge their Creator, their great God Who gives them life and strength each day. Christian, if you live that way, do you know that James 4:6 says God opposes you? ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”

“Take up your cross daily and follow the Lord Jesus (Luke 9:23). I must qualify that statement. Please know that when I take up my cross every day I am not talking about my wheelchair. My wheelchair is not my cross to bear. Neither is your cane or walker your cross. Neither is your dead-end job or your irksome in-laws. Your cross to bear is not your migraine headaches, not your sinus infection, not your stiff joints. That is not your cross to bear. My cross is not my wheelchair; it is my attitude. Your cross is your attitude about your dead-end job and your in-laws. It is your attitude about your aches and pains. Any complaints, any grumblings, any disputings or murmurings, any anxieties, any worries, any resentments or anything that hints of a raging torrent of bitterness—these are the things God calls me to die to daily.”

“You see, we are to God the fragrance of Christ. The world can’t see Jesus endure suffering with grace because He’s not here on earth, but you and I are. And we can fill up in our flesh what is lacking in His afflictions (Colossians 1:24), and in so doing become that sweet fragrance, that perfume, that aroma of Christ to God.”

“God mandates that we go out into the streets and the alleys and the highways and the byways. He mandates that we find the poor, the blind, the disabled, and the lame, and help them get busy living, because misery might love company, but joy craves a crowd. And the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit crave a crowd of joy, joy spilling over and splashing and filling the hearts of thirsty people in this world who are absolutely dehydrated from a lack of hope.”

“The hope we wait for is our only hope, the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). It is Jesus for Whom we have prevailed through all of this suffering, and, oh, for the sweetness of melding one heart into His in that intimacy that is so precious. … Our hope is for the Desire of the nations. Our hope is the Healer of broken hearts, the Friend of sinners, the God of all encouragement, the Father of all comfort, the Lord of all hope. And it is my prayer that the eyes of your heart might be enlightened so that you might know this hope to which He has called you.”

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