Pray. Day 43 of Lent. A Must.

Pray. Day 43 of Lent. A must.

Prayer Power

“Only when a man flounders beyond any grip of himself and cannot understand things does he really pray. Prayer is an interruption of personal ambition and no person who is busy ever has time to pray.” Oswald Chambers

Prayer is not part of the natural life. If you struggle to keep focused and prayer is work, hard work for you, that is because it is not natural, ordinary, worldly-minded way of doing life.

Bill Hybel say, “The holy spirit gave me a leading so direct that I couldn’t ignore it, argue against it or disobey it. The leading was to explore, study and practice prayer until I finally understood it. I obeyed that leading. I read 15-20 books on prayer. I studied almost every passage in scripture on prayer in the Bible. Then I did something absolutely radical: I prayed. . .The greatest thrill has been the qualitative difference in my relationship with God. . . I’ve gotten to know God a lot better since I started praying…God will reveal himself to you, breathing more of his life into your spirit… Through prayer God gives us peace. . . People are draw to prayer because they know that God’s power flows primarily to people who pray…and that changes circumstances and relationships…when we work, we work but when we pray, God works.”

Prayer is a practice. It’s a personal discipline, yes. But for some, it becomes not just a habit but a sacred addiction. As Brennan Manning says, “In a significant interior development you will move from a should pray to I must pray.” May that be your prayer today.

Teach us to pray, the disciples ask the Lord and His answer was the outline of the Lord’s prayer, which is really the disciple’s prayer from Luke 1:1-13. The passage is a way to form your own prayer, filling in your words as you move through the verses.

We should pray without ceasing, which means we have an ongoing spiritual conversation with God all day.  Especially at critical times. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7

“Worry means there is something over which we cannot have our own way and in reality is a personal irritation with God,” Chambers explained. Worrying it out in prayer does something to the inner spirit, it allows us to hand the burden over and trust that God is a reliable keeper of the problem as well as a keeper of the soul. We release it and accept the presence of His peace. And we keep thanking Him that He is there, no matter what is happening, God is here with us.

The missionary knows this as does the mother. We find the secret to quieting the soul in unsettling times is not indifference but the knowledge that God is present with us, that He loves us, and that He is aware of what is happening and will give us the grace in which to stand up under the present situation whether it be a martyr’s death or an infant’s colic.

Prayer doesn’t necessarily changes things as prayer changes us to handle things.

When we pray sometimes things remain the same but we begin to be changed.

Why Pray?

We need it. Prayer will change me.
Luke 11:1, Ps 107:13-28, Romans 8:26, James 1:5

We must do it. Prayer will change others.
Luke 18:1, Matthew 6:8, John 14:12-13, 1 John 5:14-16

We are empowered through it. Prayer will change circumstances.
John 15:7, Luke 11:9-13 James 5:16

FORGIVENESS. Day 5 of lent. The Gospel of Grace.

#FORGIVENESS. Day 5 of #lent.

forgiveness

A definition for forgiveness could be — giving up my right to hurt you, for hurting me. – Releasing your debt to me.

We forgive because we have been forgiven by God (Ephesians 4:32). We forgive in obedience to God (Matthew 6:14-15; Romans 12:18). We forgive so we won’t become bitter and defile those around us (Hebrews 12:14-15).
God is faithful to forgives us. 1 John 1:9
Robert Muller said, “To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love.” Today I connected God’s love to His forgiveness.  I rested in how much God loves me instead of how often I disappoint Him.
To lived loved we must be faithful to forgive our self as God has forgiven us.
This statement from Brennan Manning is one of my favorites

Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (see Revelation 7:9), I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last “trick”, whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school.

“But how?” we ask.

Then the voice says, “They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

There they are.

There we are – the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life’s tribulations, but through it all clung to faith.

My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.” ~Brennan Manning from the Ragamuffin Gospel

Fury. How do you imagine fury?

Fury. How do you imagine it?
It’s more than a movie or a book. It’s no myth.
God is furious in his longing for you. This active energy of saving us is His story of love in the story of your life.
Blessed are you sinner so beloved. He is jealous for you.
With great fury.

fury with how do you imagine it

How do you imagine Fury?

To David Ayer it is a Sherman tank that Brad Pitt’s character, Wardaddy, commands in the final push into the European Theatre during World War II in the movie Fury. “Outnumbered and outgunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.” Ayer imagines Fury as a war that never ends quietly.  So is fury that quality of honor and courage that is produced in battle?

In Greek and Roman mythology, the Furies were female spirits of justice and vengeance who punished their victims by driving them mad. These angry ones appeared as storm clouds or swarms of insects when the three foul-smelling sisters weren’t dressed as hags. They pursued people who had murdered family members, their fury besot to banish injustice. Perhaps in another story they preyed on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It’s this character that famously informs us in his guilty unrest that, “Life’s … a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” But Faulkner took that ‘nothing’ line and made it into something. He said in his speech upon being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for “The Sound and the Fury” that people must write about things that come from the heart, “universal truths.” Otherwise they signify nothing. So fury is then, something telling to be penned into story and sang in a ballad.

It was Rich Mullins in his song The Love of God, who first had me meditating on the fact that Fury could be linked to love when he sang of the ‘wideness in God’s mercy.’ And recently David Crowder sang the words, “He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy,” Yes. Oh. How He Loves us. So. Oh…

God is Furious.
That’s how I imagine my Lord. And when I ascribe that attribute to God most people will immediately misunderstand me to be saying God is extremely angry. You link fury to wrath which evokes fear of a coming punishment because deep down we sinners all know we deserve judgment. So a God of fury has made you frown and shake your head. It’s definitely not the attribute you would lift your hands up and rehearse with awed applause in worship. “God you are furious!”

Instead you would choose another attribute from the list He has given to describe Himself. You would humbly whisper, “God is God.” Meditate on, “God is Spirit.” Teach, “God is Light.” Believe, “God is Love.” And then confess, “God is a Consuming Fire, a jealous God.”
And from that very revelation we discover the meaning of Furious morphs. The mere emotion becomes a visual.

We imagine fire.
And you’re back to fear, equating fire to heat, something that could hurt you, and the spiritual are thinking consuming fire-ah, the suffering of the sanctification process when the dross is removed, and others are just hell-bent on imaging fury with punishment.
Read on. I pray.
Begin to imagine energy instead of anger. “The fury of a gathering storm,” is how the Oxford Dictionary of Current English discusses the energy displayed in a natural phenomenon or in someone’s actions.

See this furious God as a gathering storm of energy and action. A marvelous, mysterious, endless energy. A holy pursuing wind. With no beginning and no ending yet intentional in direction. Just step out and face a storm. Feel its strength as it passes over you and moves. Sense its power. Be in awe and humbly understand your human frailty. Realize perhaps that’s why a storm moves in, to give us an occasional object lesson ‘to cease striving and know that I am God.’ A furious active living God who is endlessly pursuing us with a gathering storm of energy. Energy that is enormous in vitality and strength in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus is furious.
And I’m not referring to the two times he turned over tables and drove the self-righteous out of the Temple with whips. Christ is a gathering storm of energy and action. Watch him move to heal the leper. Hear him woo the woman at the well. Taste his wine and eat his bread given to you. Feel him lifting your face up to live forgiven. He engages every sense in His pursuit of us. Isn’t there even a smell of home, and it is named heaven when we come to know Christ.

Rich Mullins sang about
“the reckless raging fury that they call the love of God.”
Reckless? You question.
How reckless for the Creator to give us free will.
Raging? You wonder.
What can separate us from the love of God.
Fury? You understand.
Is not what you imagined it to be.

Love? This kind of furious energetic love is foolish.
“L’amour de Dieu est folie!”
Brennan Manning used to cheer, “The love of God is folly.”
Foolish this fury, to love so much you would die for those who hate you. To the world it is foolishness, not to us Paul preached. This kind of love is powerful. This kind of furious love is enormous enough to take on the wrath of God we fear and bear it in his divine human body upon a cross that there might be atonement. Reconciliation. Union.

God is Furious in His longing for union with us. God longs to love. Seeks. Pursues. It was G.K. Chesterton who first described “the furious love of God” in Christ. This love by its nature seeks union. Father. Son. Holy Spirit. A trinity of three in one. United. To love. With a jealous longing. A furious energy and action in direct opposition to all evil.

Oh? You’ve nodded. Agreed, because I’m back in your comfort zone of linking fury to anger, you’re afraid—of punishment and judgment. And it’s safer to stand with the crowd far from the thundering mountain top of Sinai and tell ‘Moses’ to go on up and hear what God would say. Because that gathering storm of energy and action is scary after all. Smart people don’t face a storm for an object lesson, they take shelter and pray. They obey. All the time.

No we don’t.  We sin. It’s a serious problem. And sin makes us hide. We’re in the cover-up business, I can tell by your designer label.    No, not Michael Kors, I’m talking about Pride or Shame. You’re wearing one or the other. Transparent people are criticized a lot by the way. And judged, another thing we never do, to anyone’s face. We just gossip. A lot. Check your iPhone if you don’t believe me. Or your Facebook. Is everyone’s life really that perfect. Opps, I’m judging. Where were we? Gossiping, yes. And God says He hates gossiping. So we’re also hiding. Yes, sinners hide.

And this furious God asks, “Why are you hiding?”

The proud answer behind their religious masks, “I am not hiding.”  Shame answers with a rebellious tone, “You know why I’m hiding.”

And God steps closer. Holding out a nail scared hand with His invitation. “My beloved, I long for you to know me. Come then my beloved, my lovely one, come, to know me.”

But we’re so busy. Believing. What we think we know. That God might love us but he doesn’t like us. In fact, He might hate us, because we’re doing that thing, you know, that he hates. You are a gossip, remember? See, we get distracted so easily.

And deceived by the counterfeits. Disillusioned by our religion and destroyed in the crucible that is meant to show us that failure isn’t final, it’s just a test to show us what we don’t know about ourselves yet. We’re not as strong as we think we are—another Rich Mullins’ quote. And we’re more loved by God than we could ever imagine.

J.I. Packer said it this way, “What matters supremely is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it- the fact that He knows me. There is tremendous relief in knowing that His love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst of me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me.”

God loves the worst of us. And He is jealous over us. With great Fury. He is provoked from his goodness to love His people and hate our sins, pursuing us with astounding means.  Pursuing us with this marvelous, mysterious, endless jealous energy until the great wrath that was against our sin turns ultimately upon its enemy in judgment.

Motivated by love, this energy and action of God’s furious love is in a battle against our enemy. Satan our ancient foe is also furious.  And very jealous of us. His rage is a fevered poison, a cruel venom of destructive lust. A counterfeit. For the jealousy of the devil is evil, to hate people and love their sins. To deceive, divide, destroy. To imprison with addictions and cause indifference with our habits. To make us want what we don’t need and need what we already have. Yes, universally we all want to be loved and we already are. God loves us. So our mind is a battleground.

And God is furious. Consumed with your salvation. He has come. Settled the sin problem just as He said He would. Given you a choice. To believe. You are known. The very worst about you is known by God. And you are still loved. Engraved into the palm of His hands and never out of God’s mind. And Love hates anything that would come against His beloved. He hates your pride. Your cover up. Your rebellious shame that won’t believe you are forgiven. He hates sin, and we should be afraid because God will judge it with the fierceness of His wrath.

Wrath is what Jesus saves us from. He doesn’t coddle the ragamuffins and say, “It’s alright sinner. Grace to you, I know you’re trying.” The ragamuffin knows the cost paid for the prodigal. He knows that fire is hot and God’s wrath is certain. Jesus sanctifying work isn’t weak or wishy washy. God is holy and He hates sin. Like a father hates a rattlesnake that threatens the safety and life of his child, He crushes its head to protect us. Christ loathes any evil that would pull people down to a godless eternity and it is this furious love for us that prompts God to hate sin with such a vengeance. The furious love of God longs for us to understand this truth. Sin separates us from God. And God in His fury sent Jesus to reconcile us back to Him. Atonement. Union. Peace. A battle fought and won. And the wooing of the Spirit says worship now.
God is furious in His love for you.

Oh.
Yes.
God is furious. How do you imagine it now?
Oh.
Yes.
With every sense.
Fury. It’s more than a movie or a book.
It’s no myth. It’s His story of love in the story of your life.
Blessed are you sinner so beloved. He is jealous for you.
With great fury.

fury is coming

The FURY Series by J.L. Kelly.
An Intense Epic Where Two Worlds Collide.
Despite the power of evil, FURY is coming. The great collision of opposing forces is made personal in this gripping story of the battlefield where both faith and courage must take their stand. And hope, the very fragrance that comes from the crucible of suffering, gives strength when God allows the unimaginable to happen or calls us to obey without exception.
The Fury Series is the parable of the counterfeit and the crucible.
Sometimes it takes a fire to remove the dross and sometimes it takes a war to make us understand peace.
Evil has held us all, but God is furious, pursuing us with great FURY in this gripping love story of rescue and redemption.
For those who long to break free.
For those who need to be reminded we weren’t created and saved just to survive.
For those in the battle who need to be encouraged by the Spirit’s victorious power.
For those who wait that long to know God remembers them.
The FURY Series is an intense and original perspective about the furious love of God.

FURY book one Available November 2014