Tag Archives: prayer

Bible Open to Book of Luke

Luke – Thematic Takeaways

So, after reading through the book of Luke for Advent, I decided to summarize what my initial takeaways were from my reading. I have worked to consolidate what I have found and to narrow them down as much as possible. Again, this is not intended to be an in-depth study of the book of Luke, but rather my initial thoughts on the book. The numbers in the parenthesis indicate the chapters from which the preceding takeaways came.

  1. Jesus’ resurrection is an actual physical/bodily resurrection. (24). What is more, it serves as a further confirmation that there is a resurrection of the dead. (20)
  2. The whole of the Old Testament, the law and the prophets, remains and points to Christ. (16 and 24)
  3. Jesus’ death and resurrection open the door of forgiveness to a sinful people separated from God. (13, 22, and 24) What is more, there is nothing so wrong that it cannot be forgiven and is never too late in this life to be forgiven. (23)
  4. The world that Jesus has sent us into is a dangerous place. (10 and 22) Even the most committed followers can succumb to fear, which should not surprise us as even Jesus expressed fear of what was to come. (22) But God can give us the strength to persevere when we ask him in prayer. (21 and 22)
  5. To reach people, we cannot hide but must be involved in people’s lives. (19)
  6. Following Christ means leaving things behind, taking up your cross, laying down your life, and holding him above all others. (9 and 14)
  7. Our actions are to help the neediest, including keeping others from stumbling, and restoring those who do stumble. (14 and 17)
  8. We need to regularly and continually bring things to God in prayer. We do this by letting go of the things of this world and bathing our lives in prayer. ( 6 and 18)
  9. It is always good to what is right, and it is more important than imposed rules. (6, 13, and 14)
  10. We need to come before God in humility and with the innocence of a child. (18) What is more, we need to serve others with this same humility, making ourselves the least important. (9, 21, and 22)
  11. Faith is the key to following Christ. Even in the smallest amount, it can accomplish much. (7 and 17) With faith, we can come before God. (18) With faith, we can trust in God. (11) And with faith in Christ, we can find forgiveness. (5)
  12. Christ will come at any time and without warning. (12 and 17) But there will be signs for which we are told to be watchful. (21)
  13. The mission of Jesus was and still is to reach the lost. (15) Jesus calls people and, in turn, uses those he has called to reach others. (5) Our role, as believers, is to share the gospel with those who will listen. (8) God will give us what we need to reach others. (10, 16 and 19)
  14. Salvation is for the true children of Abraham by faith, and they will come from all corners of the earth. (3 and 13)
  15. We are not to judge people based on their past but rather rejoice with them when they come to Christ. (15)
  16. There is a cost to following Christ, and if we are not willing to make the sacrifices, we are worthless to God. (14)
  17. The only real way to resist temptation is through God’s power, and Jesus demonstrated for us that this could be found in scripture. (4)
  18. God is faithful to his promises and will see them through to fruition. (1 and 2)
  19. Christ has promised that he will never leave us. (24)
  20. We are to be zealous for the righteousness of God. (19)
  21. Jesus is fully God, having power over everything, and fully man, having faced all that we face. (2, 4 and 8)
  22. We are called to treat others the way we want to be treated. To do this, we must recognize that our neighbors are anyone in need and base our actions on the teaching of Jesus. (6 and 10)
  23. We are called to be faithful to God’s calling and, therefore, must be wary of things that harm or walk with him and be prepared for the challenges that may stand in the way of our desire for heavenly things. (4 and 12)
  24. We need to meditate on the truths of Christ that have been revealed to us so that we can embrace them and make them a genuine part of our lives. (2)
Abrecht Curer - Praying Hands, 1508

Luke 18 – Coming Before God in Prayer

In chapter 18, Jesus begins with a parable of a Judge. He tells that there “was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man.” (v 2, NASB)  He also tells that there was a widow in the same city who repeatedly came to him asking for legal protection. The judge was initially resistant, but after several times he chose to give her what she wanted because she kept bothering him.  Jesus explains that the point of the parable is that if even a man like this judge would give a person what they asked for just to get rid of them, how much more with God, who is just and righteous, give people what they need when they ask. I think it is interesting that Jesus chooses to use a negative example to emphasize the goodness of God.

The next parable that Luke recounts, Jesus used to address people who believed that they were righteous. He tells the story of two men who went to the temple to pray. The first was a Pharisee, and the second was a tax collector. Jesus explains that the Pharisee prayed in such a way that seemed to emphasize how much better he was than others, specifically the tax collector. In other words, the image seems to imply that he is thankful that he does not need God to make him better.

The tax collector, on the other hand, prays in an entirely different fashion. He is unwilling to lift his face to God and was saying, “was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’” (v 13) Jesus explains that it is the tax collector, not the Pharisee, who is justified in his prayer because he came before God with humility.

In one of those abrupt transitions between accounts, Luke begins to tell about people bringing their children to him. He tells us that there were so many that the disciples started to discourage them and turn them away. Jesus promptly corrected this, telling them to allow the children to come. He says to “not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’ (v 16) Jesus is telling them that these children are not a bother, but are an example of how we should be when we approach God. We enter the kingdom of God through the innocence of a child.

Continuing with the question of entering the kingdom of God, Luke gives the account of a rich young ruler who asked Jesus what he needed to do to get into heaven. Jesus tells the ruler that he knows what the commandments say. When the ruler says that he has kept all of these Jesus ups the ante by saying, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (v 22)

This, however, proves one step too many for the young ruler. He was very, very rich, and loved his possessions. To give things up, was too much of a challenge. Jesus sadly points out that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (v 25)  I think this is something we all see far too often in the world today, and sometimes in our own lives.  Our love for money can be overpowering. As a result, those around him asked who could be saved.  Jesus answers by pointing out that “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” (v 27)

Peter’s response to this is to point out that they, the disciples, had given up everything to follow Jesus. His underlying question seems to be, what does this mean for us? Will we receive eternal life? Jesus’ response is that those who have given things up will receive much more “at this time and in the age to come.” (v 30)

Jesus then took them aside and told them that they were going to Jerusalem. He told them that there he would be handed over to the Romans to be beaten and put to death. But he also told them that he would rise again on the third day. But even though it was spelled out to them, they could not understand it. The meaning had been hidden from them.

Finally, Luke closes the chapter by telling of Jesus and his disciples traveling to Jericho. On the way, they were met by a blind man who asks Jesus to heal him. Jesus tells him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” (v 42)

My takeaways from this chapter are: 1) We need to regularly and continually bring things to God in prayer. 2) We need to come before God with humility. 3) We need to come before God with the innocence of a child. 4) We need to come to God by letting go of the things of this world. And 5) we need to come before God with faith.

Josef August Untersberger - Christ on the Mount of Olives

Luke 11 – Looking to the Lord

Chapter 11 begins with a different version of one of the most well-known passages of scripture. We start by finding Jesus in a very familiar setting, praying. This time his disciples happen to be with him, and as he finishes, they ask him to teach them how to pray. Jesus complies with their request and tells them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. ‘Give us each day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’” (Vv 2 – 4, NASB)

Here we find what appears to be an abbreviated form of the Lord’s prayer from Matthew 6. In this case, he goes on to expand on the reason for praying to God. Jesus points out that if you persistently ask a friend for something, you will eventually get it even if your friend first said no. If this happens with fallen people, how much more with our Good Heavenly Father give us what we need. From here, he makes the image even more clear by pointing out that earthly, evil, fathers give their son’s good gifts, how much more our Good Heavenly Father. This is why he says, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (v 9)

Next, we find Jesus casting out a demon. While some were amazed at this, others accused Jesus of being in cahoots with the demons, claiming that it is by the power of Beelzebub that he is doing these things. Jesus quickly points out the flaw in their logic when he says, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a house divided against itself falls.” (v 17) [A lot of people would mistakenly attribute this to Abraham Lincoln, but the fact is that Lincoln knew his scriptures and was quoting Jesus.] In case they missed the point, Jesus explains it to them. He says, “If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?” (v 18) Jesus then points out to them that if they are wrong, then they are missing that the kingdom of God is upon them.

Jesus then talks about evil spirits leaving a person, and if they are allowed to return, they come back with more, and things are even worse. As he was telling this, a woman yelled out, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” (v 27) Jesus corrects her, again seeming to emphasize that it is not blood relationships that define blessing, but those who obey the Word of God when he says, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” (v 28)

Jesus then addresses the need that people of his day seemed to have for a sign. His point is that those who insist on receiving signs are going to be disappointed.  He tells them that “no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.” (Vv 29 – 30) We have to ask what is the sign of Jonah. Looking back in retrospect, it seems that the sign the Jesus is referring to is most likely the three days in the belly of the fish. This is the one thing that truly stands out about Jonah’s life. We would most likely correlate this to the life of Christ as Christ is 3 days in the grave (the belly of the earth) before the resurrection. This sign is there for all those who would see.

Finally, we once again find Jesus invited to dinner. This time it is a Pharisee that invites him. The Pharisee finds himself surprised by Jesus’ failure to wash before eating. Jesus points out that the Pharisees worry about the appearance, but fail to concern themselves what is on the inside. He then proceeds to give a series of warnings to the Pharisees, and then to the lawyers who were present.

The woes are: 1) concerning themselves with tithing and other rules rather than love and justice, 2) a love of power and respect, 3) being dead inside like concealed tombs, 4) placing undue burdens on others, yet avoiding the burdens themselves, 5) implicitly and explicitly approving of the sins of others, 6) hindering others from entering, while not entering themselves. In the end, the scribes and Pharisees began to plot how to trap him in what he says.

My takeaways from this chapter are: 1) to bring our request before the Lord, 2) do not look for signs, rather trust in the Lord with faith, and 3) worry about living a Godly life from within and do not worry about outward appearances and what others are doing.

We Gather Together

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

Words and Music by Adrianus Valerius, 1597


For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
Matthew 18:20

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Hebrews 10:25

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37 – 39


Among my most cherished memories from growing up are family gatherings. Be it Thanksgiving, Christmas, a wedding or whatever, there are few times in my life that stand-up in comparison.

Now I don’t come from the largest family I know, but on the other hand, I certainly don’t come from a small one either. I remember getting together at my Grandparents house for Thanksgiving. We would have two full size tables set, when it came time to eat we would gather around, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents and sometimes second and third cousins, great aunts, great uncles, even great grandparents. Yes, we were a very close family and still are. To this day, my closest and dearest friends are family.

The added gift to our family is that we were believers. As a result the ties that bound us together went beyond blood, and into our very spirit. As we would gather around the table, my grandfather would lead us in prayer. While he was a simple man, his prayers stand out as some of the most heartfelt I have ever heard. Genuine, moving and from the heart.

So he would pray thanking God for our being together. Thanking Him for the blessings he had bestowed on us. And praying that God would continue to bless us. This is the theme found in Adrianus Valerius’s hymn/prayer, “We Gather Together.”

The first line we see is, “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing.” Valerius reminds us that we have been called to gather together, for this is where we will see the power of God manifested. Jesus told us in Matthew 20:18 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” In addition, the writer of Hebrews instructs us in 10:25 to “not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.” Gathering together is foundational to what it means to be a believer.

But as we come together, we each come from our own unique struggles. This prayer now turns to remind us that God will not leave us. It reads, “The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing. Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.” Alone, we begin to feel worn down with attacks that may come, but as we gather together we are refreshed and reminded that God is there with us. We can therefore cease from distressing for He is, “Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining.”

But not only is God with us, in Him we can know victory. Valerius calls Him, “Thou Leader Triumphant.” Our “Leader Triumphant” then shares that victory with us so that we are, as Paul says, “More than conquerors.” (Romans 8:37)

God has called us together to worship Him, to refresh our souls and to build up one another. Let us not forsake coming together, rather may we join our hearts as one, praying for His blessings, thanking Him that He will not leave us and declaring His praise to all who will hear. And so we pray, Lord “Thy name be ever praised.”



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Not A Mite Would I Withhold

Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days;
let them flow in endless praise,
let them flow in endless praise.

Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
swift and beautiful for thee,
swift and beautiful for thee.

Take my voice and let me sing
always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from thee,
filled with messages from thee.

Take my silver and my gold;
not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
every power as thou shalt choose,
every power as thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it thine;
it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart it is thine own;
it shall be thy royal throne,
it shall be thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
at thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be
ever, only, all for thee,
ever, only, all for thee.

Words by Frances R. Havergal, 1874
Music by Henri A. C. Malan, 1827


I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.
Leviticus 11:44

A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”
“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.
Luke 18:18 – 23

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
Mark 12:41 – 44

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Romans 12:1

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17



When I was young I was a member of the the 4-H organization. Now for those who are unfamiliar with 4-H, it is largest youth development organization in the United state, with focuses on citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering, and technology programs.

We would have regular meeting which always began with formal opening ceremonies. One of the items that was part of these ceremonies was reciting the 4-H pledge. It goes:

“I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world.”

As 4-Hers seek to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills of youth, they pledge the 4-Hes (Head, Heart, Hands, Health) to that Goal. It is basically an abbreviated way of saying they are going to “give it their all.” In a similar way, Francez Havergal in her hymn, “Take My Life and Let It Be” lays out an “all in” commitment to following Christ.

The hymn begins by saying, “Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee.” To be consecrated is to be set aside and dedicated for a sacred purpose. The call in the hymn is to set aside our very lives as dedicated to God’s purpose. This should draw our minds to Leviticus 11:40 where we read ,”I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.”

So Havergal begins to list piece by piece our commitment to following Christ. But it is not just our commitment to give these things to serve Christ, but our prayer that He will make use of them.

As we sing through this hymn, the line that stick with me is “Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.” This is not because it is a financial commitment, the fact is that the others are commitments of my very body and being which are for more profound and desired by God. (Micah 6) What strikes me is the phrase, “Not a mite would I withhold.” We are to be all in.

I am drawn to the images of two of Jesus encounters. In Luke 18:18 – 23 Jesus speaks with a rich man who was unable to give up all he had to follow and instead walks away. In Mark 12:41 – 44 Jesus observes a poor woman put two coins in the offering and tells His disciples that she had given more than anyone else, because she gave all she had.

We are called to give everything, our money, our body and our minds to serving Christ, but it is not something to be taken lightly. We are to be consecrated, set aside, dedicated. So when we realize the magnitude of the prayer of consecration we can join with others and say, “Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for thee.”



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Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Words by Dallan Forgaill, 8th Century (though some date it to the 6th Century)
Music by Irish Folk Melody


“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”
Deuteronomy 6:4 – 9

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
Proverbs 3:5 – 7

We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority.
1 Thessalonians 2:6


What does it take to become good at something?  Well there’s repetition.  We’ve all heard the old saying, “practice makes perfect.”  That is actually half-true, my high school band teacher used to correct it to be “perfect practice makes perfect.”  After all, if you practice the wrong thing, then you your simply going to get better at doing it wrong. In either case, what we see is that repetition allows us to make thing more automatic.

So maybe the key to getting better at something is to understand the theory behind what you are doing?  If you want to become better at basketball, simply randomly throwing the ball toward the basket may allow you to make it part of the time, but when you start to understand the arch of the ball and the angles off the back board, then you can begin to see how every movement impacts the shot. Armed with this knowledge, you will begin to modify your movements to improve your shots.

So repetition plays a role in getting better at something and understanding the theory behind the activity can help improve your performance.  I can think of a third means of getting better and that is necessity.  Think about learning a new language.  You can study the theory behind a language.  How does it work? What are the rules? And you can memorize the words through repetition.  But it you want to learn to speak a language naturally, then immersion is the way to go.  When you are dropped in a situation that the only way to communicate is to learn the language, then you are driven out of necessity to learn it.

Repetition, theory and necessity, these three things are key to becoming better at something.  To simplify it, I am left with one word, focus.  You see when I have a singular focus, then everything I do begins to be centered around what I want to improve in.  Singular focus begins to give us purpose and direction in all that we do.  This is the clear message behind the ancient prayer we know as “Be Thou My Vision.”

Forgaill writes, “Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art. Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.”  Look at that again, “By day or by night, waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.”  As we hear these words we are reminded of the Shema, a central prayer of Judaism found in Deuteronomy 6:4 – 9.  Verse 6 – 9 read, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” Our focus is to be on God at all times, in all that we do.

When we can place our focus on God we begin to realize that others things are not important.  Forgaill writes, “Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise, Thou mine Inheritance, now and always: Thou and Thou only, first in my heart, High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.”  A truth that the Apostle Paul understood.  In 1 Thessalonians 2:6 he writes, “We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else.”  If our focus is on God, then we are not distracted by the opinions of others.  Our actions are not determined by a concern of what others will think, but what God has called us to.

When we have a singular focus on God and his will for our lives, then we will grow in our relationship with Him.  We will become more Christ like each day.  As we grow, we join in the conclusion of this hymn, “High King of Heaven, my victory won, May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun! Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.”



Read more about “Be Thou My Vision.”

Take It To The Lord In Prayer

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer.
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

Words by Joseph Scriven, 1855
Music by Charles Converse, 1868


One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
John 15:13 – 15

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6 – 7


Remember back in elementary school, when you would take a field trip to a museum, a park or anywhere else? We were always told the rules of behavior; “Don’t run”, “Obey the signs”, Listen to the adults” and most importantly, “use the buddy system.”

You remember the buddy system. You were paired up with one or two other people, and you always had to be together no matter where you went. The plan was to make sure that no one got lost or left behind. It’s a good plan and can be used throughout our lives. It’s always good to have someone else to share our load.

Even in the Bible we see the buddy system. In Ecclesiastes 4:9 – 12 we read, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.”

This is the idea behind the old hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” We all need a friend to turn to and Proverbs 18:24 tells us that “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Now what exactly does “closer than a brother mean?” Think about it. It is not unusual for people to put on a face for people to see. They share what they want to be seen. But a brother, or family in general, sees the real us. They see us when we let our mask down. They know our real strengths and weaknesses.

Yes family knows the real us, and there is something about that which gives us peace. We don’t feel the need to put on a happy face when things are bad. We don’t have to live in fear that people will see our failings and turn away. Family loves you as you are.

So who is this friend that is closer than a brother? It is the Lord Himself. Jesus remind us of this in John 15:15 when he says, “I have called you friends.” Jesus is the friend closer than a brother. Jesus is the closest friend to all believers. He is the friend we can be ourselves with. He is the friend we can share our joys and our sorrows with. He is the friend who knows the real us and accepts us. As Scriven writes, “Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.”

This is the gift that God has given to those who turn to Him. In Scriven’s words, “What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!” We bring whatever we are facing, whatever we are going through to God in prayer. And what is the result of bringing things to Him? It may not always be the answer we are looking for, but it brings us a sense of peace. By trusting things to God, we can find a peace that is beyond our understanding. A peace that comes from knowing everything is in God’s hands.

In Philippians 4:6 – 7 Paul tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Sharing our prayers with the Lord gives us this peace. But when we fail to bring our problems to God in prayer, we give up the opportunity to experience this peace. Scriven puts it this way, “O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”

Believers have been given a wonderful gift. The opportunity to allow Jesus to share, and even carry our burdens. The buddy system works. Jesus is there to help us carry on and make sure we are not left behind. “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”(Hebrews 13:5)

Because of this, I find great peace as I sing the words, “Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.”



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God, Give Us Men!

Recently I have been contemplating the poem “God, give us men!” by Josiah Gilbert Holland.

GOD, give us men! A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office can not buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor; men who will not lie;
Men who can stand before a demagogue
And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!
Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty, and in private thinking;
For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,
Their large professions and their little deeds,
Mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps,
Wrong rules the land and waiting Justice sleeps.

It is election year, and that means everywhere you turn there are people telling you what this country needs and who is the person to give it. The “who” I will not say at this time. The what is leadership. The what is a servants heart. The what is “Men.”

What do I mean by “Men.” I intend no sexist implications in the use of my words. Rather I use the term “men” as juxtaposed to mice. These truths apply to all human kind. So what are “Men?” They are those who will stand for what is right, even if it means standing alone. They are those who are not for sale or out for their own gain. They are those who possess their own convictions and are not swayed by public opinion. They are those who place the needs of others ahead of their own. They are those of integrity, who live their life the same in the public eye and their private refuge.

It is a sorry thing, when we look at the world around us and question if such men exist. But before we look to the world, we need to look in the mirror. How do we live our lives? Are we seeking our own, or are we standing for what is right? Do we go with the crowd, or do we follow our convictions? Are we the same when we are alone as we are when with others? How can we expect to find what we are looking for in the world, when we cannot find it in ourselves? Where do we find these “men”? They must come from us.

But we human beings are a selfish lot. It is our nature to seek our own. It is our nature to follow the easy path and simply fit in. If this is the case, then how do we find the “men” our country needs. How do we find the “men” that Holland calls for?

Holland has said it from the very beginning: “GOD, give us men!” It is God alone who can raise up men from such selfish, lazy people. Alone, we are lost, but with God, as the apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:13, we can say “I can do all things through Him who give me strength.”

Who are these “men?” They are men of God. A fact not lost on the founding fathers. John Adams said, “Our Constitution was designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” It is through God alone that we can set ourselves to the side and seek what is best for others.

I must agree with the words of John Adams, and have often said that the entire success of a democratic republic is based on Philippians 2:4 ” Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Only when people place others before themselves can democracy work. When “men” begin to look first to themselves, if not only to thenselves, democracy will fail.

So in my prayer that I cry out is for God to raise up “men”. Men of God, who seek not their own interest, but the interest others. Men whose strength is found in God alone. Men who humbly follow God wherever He may lead.

GOD, give us men!