Get Wise

“Asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will
through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
 (Colossians 1:9)

Reflections:
We are told by Paul that in everything we should present our requests to God. (Philippians 4:6) However prayer should also include our praying for the things that God wants. Some of these are set out for us in the Lord’s Prayer where we can join our desires to those of God.

Now Paul turns his attentions to our individual and corporate growth and maturity – praying that God will fill is with the knowledge of His will – obviously in all things – through our growth in spiritual wisdom and understanding. This comes through the work and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit within us as well as through our growth in knowledge and understanding as we walk with God along the path that He has set for us. The more we know of God and His ways, and the more we get to know Him personally, the deeper will be our understanding of His will and ways in our life situation.

Because we can trust that He is the God of Love we can trust His will and His ways for us. They are designed to draw us closer to Him and into a deeper and more fulfilling relationship.

  • “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)

The purpose of this prayer of Pauls is not only to bless us but to enable us to more readily and purposefully fulfil the will of God both for us and through us.

  • “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” (Colossians 1:10-12)

Response:
We are called to make Paul’s prayer for the Colossians our own prayer for ourselves and our Christian community.

Prayer:

Lord fill me with the knowledge of Your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that I may live a life worthy of You in every way. Amen.

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Home Awaits

“I will set out and go back to my father and say to him:
 Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you”
(Luke 15:18)

 

Reflection:
We may call Jesus Saviour and Lord but that does not mean that all areas of our lives are in submission to Him. This becomes a process that takes place over time as we journey with Him. We may be aware of some of these areas whilst others may appear on the way and take us by surprise. As long as they remain independent they will hinder our life with the Lord and prevent us from enjoying the fullness of the life that He has for us.

The prodigal son’s whole life had imploded on him and this is what eventually brought him to his senses. In his spiritual shame and isolation he did the only thing left open to him – he went home. There to his astonishment and delight he was welcomed, embraced and celebrated. The healing had begun.

When we realise that there are parts of our own lives that are distant from the Lord the most important response is for us to pick them up and take them back to God. This is where they belong and this is where the healing and restoration can happen. The longer we try and cope or fix them by ourselves the more difficult it may become.  As we take them to God we meet His love, His acceptance of us, His embracing and supporting arms, and His strength and help.

It might happen that in parts of our lives we keep wandering off again – pursuing some pleasure or giving in to some weakness. If this is the case and as soon as we are aware of it we need to go back with it to the Lord and ask Him for His forgiveness, healing and strength. Keep going home until you never leave again. This is not an invitation to become casual in our life with the Lord but an acknowledgement that some battles are harder and longer than others, for a whole variety of reasons.

Your home is in the Lord. Your forgiveness and healing is in the Lord. Your life and fulfilment is in the Lord. Bring all of yourself to Him all of the time – He will never reject you.

And now realise too that you are surrounded by people whose lives, or a part of whose lives, are distant from God. Some of them will feel isolated from Him whilst others will have no sense of Him at all. Inside each one of them somewhere is a lonely son or daughter who also needs love and encouragement as well as help. It might be that you are their only link at this time. Ask God to point out to you the one/s He wishes to reach and start by holding them faithfully in your prayers – asking for God’s light and blessing in their lives.

Response:
Have I any desert areas? Take them to the Lord now.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I come to You as I am and ask You particularly to forgive, heal and set me free in these  areas of my life ……  Please accept them and bring them under Your Lordship and authority, for Your glory.  Amen.

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Listen for Him

“Let me hear of Your loving kindness in the morning,
for in You I put my trust”
(Psalm 143:8)

Reflection:
On Monday I went for blood tests for a condition that had all the possibilities of turning out to be very nasty. The results were due the next day but were delayed until Wednesday morning. On Tuesday night whilst praying these words from the psalm reached out to me in a special way,

“Let me hear of Your loving kindness in the morning,
for in You I put my trust”

They seemed to reach into my spirit where I embraced them and held on to them. In the morning, despite the occasional twinge of anxiety from which I chose to turn away, they remained with me. And eventually the news came that there was in all probability no condition that could not treated with medicines. Praise God indeed – or with a bit more enthusiasm, “Yay God!”

It is so special when God gives us a word, speaking into our situations. It underlines the importance of being close to Him, open to Him and in conversation with Him. This God of everlasting love is concerned about us as individuals and so often has a word for us of ‘strength, encouragement and comfort.’ (1 Corinthians 14:3) And the word that we have in Scripture is still a living word which He uses to speak to us and into our situations today.

Response:
Involve God in conversation about Your affairs and read His word expectantly.

Prayer:

Help me to be open to You Lord, to be alive to the possibility of Your speaking to me and to hear You when You do. Amen.

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(Photo: (c) Catherine Bondonno)

God’s Revelation

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the glorious Father,
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,
so that you may know him better”
(Ephesians 1:17)

 

Reflection:
Paul has been talking about our new life in Jesus Christ. He refers to our not being with Christ but, far more intimately, ‘in Christ.’ This expression and variations on it occur 164 times in his letters.

To be in Christ is to become a part of His life and living right where we are, how we are and who we are, at this moment in time – and to continue in that Way. It is to be personally and vitally united to Christ – as branches are to the vine and members to the body. It is to come to know the Lord Jesus as a personal and living reality – and to know that in some mysterious and spiritual way He lives within us. ‘It is this personal relationship with Christ that is the distinctive mark of His authentic followers’ (Stott)

Paul now reveals that a part of his prayers is that God will “give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” This immediately gives us the insight that is should be a part of our own prayers as well. Note that he is not praying that we will know more about God – as in the accumulation of knowledge – but that we will get to know Him more and more as the Person that He is and in so doing deepen our relationship with Him as well as our knowledge of Him.

This knowing God better and knowing more of Him comes not through study alone but through God’s revelation of Himself to us. Elsewhere Paul would write that

  • You … may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18)
  • “God (will) fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9)
  • “your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight” (Philippians 1:9)

 Adolphe Monod wrote that “Philosophy taking man for its centre says know thyself; only the inspired word which proceeds from God has been able to say know God.” That is both our calling and God’s desire for us. He wishes us to have and to enjoy a personal and deepening relationship with Him – both now and throughout eternity. And it is only through coming to know God as our Creator and Redeemer that we have any possibility of really coming to know ourselves – both as we are and as He intends us to be.

Response:
Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you – and look out for Him in His Word and in your prayer life and living.

Prayer:

Father God, please bless me with Your Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know You better. And please help me to be aware of Your reaching out to me, to recognise it and treasure it. as You draw me into a more meaningful relationship with you. Amen.

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Hope that lives

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened
in order that you may know
the hope to which he has called you”
(Ephesians 1:18)

Reflection:
God has called us to something and for something which is rich and varied. These are not merely words written on a page but promises from God for us to know, and in which to believe and place our hope and expectation. For above everything God calls us to Himself in and through the reality of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit – who are real gifts from this real God to us as real people in a real and fallen world.

We are called, for example,

  • “to belong to Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:6)
  • “into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9)
  • to be saints” (Romans 1:7)
  • “to be holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16)
  • “to be free” (Galatians 5:13)
  • “to peace” (Colossians 3:15)
  • “out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9)

In fact we are called to an altogether new life in which we know, love, obey and serve Christ , enjoy fellowship with Him and with each other, and look beyond our present suffering to the glory which will one day be revealed. This is the hope to which God has called us. Paul prays that our eyes will be opened to know it.

Again if it was important enough for Paul to pray for on our behalf then it should form a part of our own prayers as well. We ask the Lord to turn these words from information into a transformation within us – from wishful thinking into a living hope and faith. We can with assurance pray,

Lord,
Enlighten the eyes of my heart
so that I may know
the Hope
to which
You have called me

Response:
Write this into your prayer diary and make it also a regular and ongoing prayer.

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More Please!

“For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice;
and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings”
(Hosea 6:6 KJV)

Reflection:
 Martin Lloyd-Jones put it like this – ‘Our supreme need is to know God.’ He was clearly not referring to a mere nodding acquaintance but, in view of the intimacy inferred in the word ‘know’, to know God well, to know Him deeply, to know Him truly, to know Him as He is revealed in His Word and, supremely, in and through Jesus Christ. For the Christ Himself said,

“Now this is eternal life:
that they may know you, the only true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent”
(John 17:3)

Although there is much in creation and in Scripture that can tell us about God the true and personal knowledge of God comes only through revelation. It is only through the witness of the Holy Spirit within us that we receive the full knowledge of the reality and intimacy of our own relationship with the Father – and with His Son and the Holy Spirit Himself.

In his great letter to the Ephesians Paul recognises this and gives us the basis and framework for our own prayers through the prayers that He prayed for us. With slight adjustment we may pray for ourselves as follows:

Almighty God and Glorious Father,
Give me by Your grace
the Spirit of wisdom and revelation
so that I may know You better.

It really needs to be our heart’s prayer every day – for the closer we get to God, the more we begin to identify and find the reality of His glory and love, and the closer we will long to get to Him.

Response:
Write it at the top of your prayer list. Breathe it in and out as you go through the day. Thank Him for the knowledge of Him that you already have.

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Priority 101

“I urge, then, first of all,
that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving
be made for everyone
— for kings and all those in authority,
that we may live peaceful and quiet lives
in all godliness and holiness.”

(Timothy 2:1-2)

Reflection:
Whatever the reason for the world being in the state that it is, there is an enormous burden of responsibility resting upon the shoulders of the present national leaders. From global warming to fragile economies to internal unrest and ongoing wars, coupled with a seeming deterioration in honesty and integrity, nothing appears to be simple. For better or for worse these are the men and women who will influence the lives of millions over the next few years.

It is no wonder that Paul calls us to prayer, and to pray specifically for ‘all those in authority. The reason is simple, so that we all ‘may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.’ We know what they need – God’s help and direction, whether they are aware of it or not. Solomon prayed for wisdom so that he might govern and lead God’s people properly. His prayer pleased God who not only gave him such wisdom but many other blessings as well.

It is easy to bemoan the current state of affairs and to criticize the people in power. But, whether that criticism is justified or not, it will not change anything. Prayer might.

God has invited and instructed us to pray. The epistles call upon us to pray. Prayer asks God to be involved and to bring His will and wisdom to bear. Prayer tells God, and reminds us, that we need Him. Scripture records many instances where God has heard and responded to the prayers of His people. The world really needs it now – particularly as God seems to have been increasingly side-lined.

As Christians we are called to pray, and to pray intentionally that God’s will is done. We must not stop until it is.

Response:
Focus on some key leaders in your nation and church and pray for them every day – morning, noon and night. Pray that God will guide and lead them. Pray that they become believers. Ask others to join you.

Prayer:

Father, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven – in me, in my church, and in the leaders in our land. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

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