Thursday, September 24, 2015



Prayer is communication with the loftiest of all beings.  Shouldn’t little ol’ me coming before the most significant and powerful being do something to me?  But so often as a measly human I point out to the Creator of All my measly problems with the world and life He has placed me in as if He didn’t know.  Then with anticipation that God Almighty will put a Band-Aid on my scrape I find I can get plum angry when He fails to do what I say when I tell Him to do it.  You know? 

You probably do.  That has to do with prayer that succeeds.  It succeeds in getting what I want, and if it doesn’t come through as I think it should.  Well, who needs that kind of God anyway?  I want an infinite concierge to handle all my requests in a timely manner.  All I am supposed to do is give Him my list and add an abracadabra, uh, no, I add the name of Jesus, and then there it is.  Prayer that succeeds.  But what if there is another approach to prayer?

Try this on for size.  Prayer that exceeds.  What is that?  Glad you asked.  This is an approach to God that sees Him as the wonderful, wise, loving, and powerful person He is.  Upon approaching Him there is no shortage of honor given Him.  It is seen as privilege not entitlement.  Then in the presence of the one true and living God which has been made possible by the works of the Lord Jesus Christ prayers can be made.  Think about how someone would approach complaining or requesting from the most influential person in a company or a country.  Would they point out the aches and pains of ordinary life?  Would there be a lengthy presentation of the details of unhappiness?  Would there be tattling on those who misbehave or possible treat you badly?  How ought a person approach the most important and most powerful person ever?  Consider the experience of Isaiah when in the Temple he saw the Lord high and lifted up and the angels calling out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.”  The Temple shook.  Isaiah was shaking too and said, “Woe, I am undone.”  He realized God at a whole new level.  That look at God caused an instantaneous evaluation of himself and he realized his powerlessness, his failings, his sin and his limited view of God.  Bam!   He was changed.  God cleansed him.  God trusted Isaiah to communicate His message to others. 

Prayer that exceeds sees God as He is.  And it includes an approach to life that is God-centered, Christ-centered, Holy Spirit empowered. 


There is great benefit for each of us as we center our lives in and on the Lord.  In a great story Jesus tells of banquet over in Luke 14.  This story is often used to illustrate the need to gather people into the church or evangelistic events, and though that is helpful that isn’t what Jesus says it is about.  It is about being centered.  Centered on Him.  Being His follower or His disciple.  Those who do stay centered on Him enjoy the banquet which is also living the abundant life or walking in the Kingdom of God.  Those who do not stay centered miss out on the banquet. Jesus says it this way: For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’” Luke 14:24 (NLT)

Not even the smallest taste…whoa, serious.  In the story Jesus tells of people being invited.  Supposedly friends or potential friends of his.  This is how they responded to the invitation to the banquet.  Excuses: (1) I just bought a field and I have to go inspect it, (2) I have just bought five pairs of oxen and I want to try them out, (3) I have a wife so there you go.  The Lord tells the story so that we can know these are not acceptable.  Those who were invited will not get even the smallest taste of what the Lord is offering.  And that’s not all. 

Next up in Luke:

A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:25-26 (NLT)

You can see how centered He is expecting His people to be.  People may say they are following Jesus, but if they are seeking to please other people then they aren’t.  This simple test a disciple of Jesus is more enamored with Him than anyone else.  The disciple listens to Him.  Satisfying one’s own desires are taken away.  Those who give into self-desires or to pleasing others will not get even the smallest taste of what the Lord is offering.  But the banquet is available for those who respond to the invitation.  The disciple who is centered on the Lord.  What has this got to do with prayer that exceeds? 

Prayer can get bogged down in the stuff that makes up our lives.  For example a person who has just bought a field and can’t stop thinking about it or asking God to provide for it somehow.  It could be a new house or job, but it takes over.  It might be getting oxen or a car or a project that fills the mind and time.  It could be getting married which is a good and noble relationship, but when it takes center stage it means not even tasting the smallest bite of the Lord’s banquet.  What about family relationships?  Jesus says you must hate everyone else by comparison to Him.  Here is the bog.  Jesus is not central.  God’s concerns are not central.  What becomes the center is my life, my family, my activities, my things.  What does my prayer look like?  It is all about my family, my activities, and my things.  Oh yeah, and there is my life too.  Let’s take a look at that one.  My life is made up of my thoughts, feelings, needs, urges, body, finances, circumstances, relationships…you get the idea.  If I keep those as central what will my prayers be about?  If you have a prayer journal take a look at it and see what you pray about.  Are you keenly aware of every ache and pain?  Do you have days when people are giving you the emotional support you desire?  Compare with this. 

I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 (NLT)

Quite a list.  Does Paul complain about it?  No.  Does Paul focus on these things? No.  Why do it?  He is centered on God and His concerns.  Paul explains. 

Perhaps you think we’re saying these things just to defend ourselves. No, we tell you this as Christ’s servants, and with God as our witness. Everything we do, dear friends, is to strengthen you. 2 Corinthians 12:19 (NLT)

Paul isn’t finding excuses not to show up at the banquet.  He is fully involved.  Paul isn’t using relationships or even his own life as an excuse, but is centered on the Lord and His work.  Paul’s goal is to strengthen the Corinthians in their faith.  The result for Paul is tasting of the Lord’s banquet in this life and the one to come. 

What does Paul pray for? 

We pray to God that you will not do what is wrong by refusing our correction. I hope we won’t need to demonstrate our authority when we arrive. Do the right thing before we come—even if that makes it look like we have failed to demonstrate our authority. For we cannot oppose the truth, but must always stand for the truth. We are glad to seem weak if it helps show that you are actually strong. We pray that you will become mature. 2 Corinthians 13:7-9 (NLT)

Do you see the focus Paul has in his prayer?  He isn’t concerned their feelings will be hurt, but he does want them to accept the correction and do the right thing.  He is interested in them becoming mature in Christ. 

Prayer that exceeds is centered on God and His purposes. 


There is more in the prayer that exceeds.  Let me present a portion of Ephesians 3 for your examination.  See if the focus lifts the believer higher.  Watch for words like purpose and plan to gather an idea of what God is up to.  Is suffering mentioned, and, if so, does it become the center of prayers prayed?  Does this prayer indicate that there is more than the average church goer experiences?  Read through it and see if you would like your regular prayers to succeed or if you would like prayers that exceed. 

God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 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.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:10-21 (NLT)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


The Problem of Untruth

Maybe you have run across this quote by Winston Churchill regarding Russia:

Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

Being roughly translated that means it’s hard to figure out.  Why would that be?  The Communist government operating under Stalin was not all that helpful in providing the truth.  The term disinformation came from 1950s Russia in which false information was spread to promote one thing or one group and destroy another.  Lies.  It is a problem. 

Consider the plight of Christians following the burning of Rome in 65 AD.  Emperor Nero decided the Christians were a weird bunch and it would be good to blame them for the fire.  He had the lies spread like wild fire and Christians were killed as a result. 

Another instance is the focus on the Jewish people of Europe as the cause of the depression and hardships in Germany following World War 1.  Hitler spread the cancerous lie and it caught on.  It cost the lives of six million Jews. 

These words found in the Book of Jeremiah speak of the problem of lies that has existed for centuries:

They all fool and defraud each other; no one tells the truth. With practiced tongues they tell lies; they wear themselves out with all their sinning. They pile lie upon lie and utterly refuse to acknowledge me,” says the LORD. Jeremiah 9:5-6 (NLT)

These who refuse to acknowledge the Lord are identified as lying.  And not just a little nicety toward another human to spare their feelings, but out and out deception at the cost of defrauding another.  They pile lie upon lie.  With practiced tongues they tell lies.  This flows from the inner person.  This is the character of the people. 

How can a trusting person have a real relationship with someone who doesn’t tell the truth? 

We tell children not to take candy offered by a stranger who may be trying to lure them into their car for some horrible reason.  Children want to trust and like candy so they may not recognize the danger and believe the lie.  Families are often taught to keep family secrets.  Not just the location of the checkbook or the password to the bank account, but the twisted kind of secrets.  The lying parents want to project an image of a loving family with honor and integrity when in reality children are abused and the parent’s extreme fighting creates tremors every night. Lies.  Pretending.  Untrue. Nobody can help the family who lies. 

God’s Perspective on Liars

God is the standard of truth.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  It was Satan’s twist on the truth that provides us with a recorded lie.  All the way back to the beginning of the book of Genesis.  Remember this clever conversation.  Satan shows up and enters into friendly chat with Eve.  They get around to what God’s been saying.  She says they can’t eat of one tree because if they do God says they will die.  So Satan offers an answer which calls God a liar and then he offers a lie in place of the truth.  “You won’t die.”  Our first parents went with the lie.  God hasn’t been real affirming of lying ever since.  Look at this in the book of the Law:

You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. Leviticus 19:11 (NASB)

Don’t do it people!  He wanted better for His people.  Don’t rip off each other in stuff or emotions or in conversation.  Be real.  Be trustworthy.  Sounds good, right?

Another perspective from the book of wisdom:

The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth. Proverbs 12:22 (NLT)

From that verse it is hard to imagine who will be closer to the Lord or one of His favorites, isn’t it?    It seems better to be one He delights in.  And as people go God’s way they grow in agreement with His way of thinking.  As this verse shows. 

The godly hate lies; the wicked cause shame and disgrace. Proverbs 13:5 (NLT)

The godly (those going with God and living His way) hate lies.  Why?  You know, destruction, delusions, death.  The wicked cause shame and disgrace?  Really, how?  They lie.  They reject God.  If you haven’t experienced it yourself you have seen it in the news about someone’s lies being exposed and then the shame and disgrace that follows.  Bernie Madoff looked like an amazing finance guy until his $68.5 Billion scheme was uncovered and then shame and disgrace followed.  It can happen to us or those around us if we don’t deal in truth. 

What is behind the lies?  You are aware of the desire to protect ourselves and sometimes to promote ourselves which is part of the motivation.  But the evil lies intended to deceive and harm others is the dark work of the enemy.  Jesus nails it with this. 

For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44 (NLT)

Jesus identifies the devil as an influence.  His words are heart wrenching when He calls them “children of your father the devil.”  How awful to be identified that way.  How much better to be called the children of God or the children of light, but children of the devil is awful. 

What is the future for liars? 

Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.  Revelation 22:15 (NLT)

Revelation 22 offers us a picture of God’s goodness and desire for people to come enjoy life with Him.  The gates are open to those who want God and what He offers, but outside the city are those who choose their own way.  Included outside are those who love to live a lie.  Not much of a future.  God is offering more. 

God’s True Offer

Dealing in lies can become an addiction.  The practice of lying gets to be routine.  Lies upon lies.  And for the liar what once was known to be a lie to deceive others after a while becomes believed as the truth and that liar is not only a deceiver but is now deluded.  The deluded people among us pass on lies as truth.  They could pass a polygraph declaring it true because now they believe the lie as well.  Ugly.  God offers a way out.  It is a true offer. 

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:8-9 (NLT)

Simple.  Turn to Him.  Own the sin.  Admit it to God.  Turn it over to Jesus.  Let it be nailed to the cross of Christ.  Take Him at His truthful word that He will forgive and cleanse. 

Breaking the habit of lying may take some practice.  Seeking God and living God’s way in truth and giving up some old ways of doing things. 

Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Colossians 3:9 (NLT)

Recognizing the old habits have to go helps, but also adding some new habits helps. 

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:29-32 (NLT)

Observing the language we use, the emotions, motives, and purposes can help break old habits and make way for new ones.  Being kind and saying things that are good and helpful is a great start for those who once were liars and children of the devil. There is hope in Christ in breaking free of all kinds of evil.  There is a life full and abundant available in Him.  If you know someone stuck in the web of lying point them to Jesus.  Point them to truth. 

Friday, September 4, 2015


Prophets of Horror and Hope

God communicates with people.  He makes Himself known by what He has made.  Everyone can see it in the skies day and night.  Everyone can see it in the Creation around them.  He makes Himself known in the inner person as well.  A sense of right and wrong, of just and unjust and of the sense that there is more…better…eternal.  God has placed eternity in their hearts the book of Ecclesiastes tells us. 

There are times when the communication is of judgment.  Judgment from God and the horrors to come.  God often speaks through prophets to make known judgment is coming.  And also with the judgment there is hope.  Hope of repentance which brings people around to God and His ways.  Hope of better life ahead by going God’s way. 

At church we are in a series of messages from the book of the Prophet Jeremiah.  He was given the responsibility of warning God’s people in Judah of God’s judgment.  Horrible things were spoken of and were approaching.  The leaders of the land both political and religious were offended by Jeremiah’s words.  They and many of the people had rejected God and His ways.  They had turned to evil and called it good.  Tough times were coming.  Babylon’s terribly powerful army was on its way.  And it is in the pages of Jeremiah that we find 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Horror and hope were part of the story when Abraham was met by the Lord.  The Lord was on His way to deal with Sodom and Gomorrah.  Having had a conversation with Abraham in Genesis 18 about things concerning Abraham and Sarah He began to leave and said: “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” Abraham is told by the Lord that judgment was coming.  Abraham intervened (prayed) for the people and negotiated down to 10 righteous being enough to keep the Lord from destroying the cities.  There weren’t enough righteous.  The cities were destroyed.  But the family of righteous Lot was delivered out of the city. 

God communicates in various ways and often through signs and messengers.  Scripture says: Indeed, the Sovereign LORD never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets. Amos 3:7 (NLT) The plans may be of horror or hope.  The purpose of God is to point people to Himself so that they may glorify Him and enjoy the abundant life He desires for them.  But as you know not everyone wants to have anything to do with Him.  So what is coming for those in our day?

Signs of God’s Judgment and Grace

The year 2015.  Seismic in terms of significance.  September and October are historically significant and may be prophetically as well.  Why? 

The Jewish system plays a part here.  In the time arrangement there were Sabbaths each week.  So every seventh day was important for God’s people.  Every seventh year was a sabbatical year.  The land is to be left without planting and the people are to rest (trust) in the Lord.  Even the finances are effected.  People who have loaned money are to forgive the debts.  And then the seven years seven times becomes another kind of Sabbath and is called the year of Jubilee.  This is what it says in Leviticus 25:8-13 on the year of Jubilee:

“In addition, you must count off seven Sabbath years, seven sets of seven years, adding up to forty-nine years in all. Then on the Day of Atonement in the fiftieth year, blow the ram’s horn loud and long throughout the land. Set this year apart as holy, a time to proclaim freedom throughout the land for all who live there. It will be a jubilee year for you, when each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors and return to your own clan. This fiftieth year will be a jubilee for you. During that year you must not plant your fields or store away any of the crops that grow on their own, and don’t gather the grapes from your unpruned vines. It will be a jubilee year for you, and you must keep it holy. But you may eat whatever the land produces on its own. In the Year of Jubilee each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors.”

A lot to take in, right?  And you may ask, “What has that got to do with me?”  Hmmm…   Let’s see.  Back in the day.  Jeremiah pointed out that the people of Judah would go into exile for 70 years.  During those years they would not be on the land doing as they had in the past.  We understand why from this passage:

So the message of the LORD spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled. The land finally enjoyed its Sabbath rest, lying desolate until the seventy years were fulfilled, just as the prophet had said. 2 Chronicles 36:21 (NLT)

God’s people didn’t think all these rules God gave them made sense so they didn’t keep them.  God collected.  Have you noticed God’s instructions being unreasonable and tough to keep up with?  Is there something God has said to you that you have decided isn’t all that important?  It makes me think.  It makes me ask God to search me and know me and show me anything that is amiss. 

Remember this isn’t God being harsh this is God trying to take people to an abundant life and they don’t want His way of getting there. 

The reason for telling you all this is on the Jewish calendar significant dates are coming.  On September 13th, Elul 29 on the Jewish calendar, the year ends.  In recent times it has been the date of financial crashes and the beginning of rocky economic times.  Occasionally significant shifts have occurred on the 7th year of which this is one.  September 14-15 is Rosh Hashanah the Jewish New Year followed by the Day of Atonement on the 23rd.  The 4th of the Blood Moon Tetrads takes place on September 28th.  This Jewish New Year is a Year of Jubilee.  Whew. 

For information on the dates check out Jonathon Cahn’s book Harbinger or go to YouTube and you will find lots by him.  Glenn brought him up so I checked out what was going on.  Interesting discovery of information on Cahn’s part.  He is raising awareness, but not saying collapse is certain.  His interest is people turning to the Lord.  These dates may reveal something cosmic in the world politically or with Israel or with the economy or it may be more of a spiritual revelation as the spiritual battle continues.  We will see soon. 

Seeking the Lord and living His way is the best life anyway, and by doing that judgment does not fall on us.  Now that doesn’t mean the fallout from the judgment of others doesn’t affect us.  It certainly does.  But it could serve as a reminder to keep seeking the Lord and to point others to Him as well. 

Think about those people in the church in Corinth in the first century.  Paul has given them the Good News.  They have life in Jesus.  They know the true God.  They have the opportunity to live God’s way with springs of living water bubbling up in them.  However some of them are weak, sick and some have died because they didn’t honor the Lord and did their own thing their own way.  Judgment met them personally, but it affected their family and friends too. 

As modern Christians we often see any ailment as a physical manifestation of a physical problem. Well, sometimes we allow for emotional issues like stress to have its part in these things.  Doctor Luke who accompanied Paul on these mission trips would certainly be able to tell Paul whether these people were ailing or dying because of germs or judgment.  Our local, national and global issues may not always be the result of physical or political causes either. 

There are signs of judgment and signs of grace.  God shows up in times of trying circumstances.  We turn to God in a more feverish way when circumstances are impossibly hard.  God is waiting.  Like the father in the prodigal son story, God is waiting and welcoming.  There is grace. 

God’s Warnings

God is a communicator.  God is creative.  The Book of Job says it well: For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. Job 33:14 (NLT)   God warns His people.  And God is warning all who will listen.  God uses the sun, moon, planets and stars to let people know things are happening.  He will move leaders and nations to accomplish His purposes.  The weather is His to control.  The movement of the earth and the oceans can be used to send a message.  Economies can change as His command. 

Through it all He can pour out blessings or judgment.  And He gives warnings through His people as well.  Someone God sends may well speak into your life a message God has laid on their heart and you will know it when it comes if you are open to Him.  God’s messenger may be one who gives warning for a larger group or a nation.  He is still in the business of providing warnings. 

A Response to God

Keep watch.  Be aware of the war.  Walk with Him.  Pray. 

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)

Humility is important.  Really.  Recognizing He is God.  He is God.  Listen to Him.  Draw near to Him.  Get into the Scriptures and find out what He is about, what He is up to, what He has for you.  

My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the LORD, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word. Isaiah 66:2 (NLT)

How are you doing in trembling at His word?  Are you in Bible study where you study the Bible?  Are you faithful to discover what He has to say and then do it? 

The battle in which the enemy wants to destroy you, your family, the church and the nation is not just on a physical plane. 

We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT)

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12 (NLT)

If you are equipped then fight on.  Be strong!  If you are hesitant, then get equipped.  Be ready.  Then fight. 

Are tough times coming for you?  If you are walking with Jesus, then, absolutely, yes. 

Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12 (NLT)

Whether the various signs in the heavens and on the earth below are God’s warnings of a cataclysmic shift in this world I don’t know.  I want to be aware.  And I want you to be aware and watch.  But however this unfolds God is still in the heavens and He is still working His plan and for us we have the golden opportunity each day to walk with Him, to serve Him, to get to know Him better.  Be encouraged by these words by Paul:

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT)

 Randy Huddleston