Thoughts About Prayer

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So, the other day I was thinking about prayer. About how many people pray to God and always expect Him to say yes. About how when he doesn’t say yes right away they think He’s not listening to them. Yet, the truth is that God is always listening. He hears every prayer, all the words you say or think in your prayers. All the words that you don’t know how to express or can’t think of, but instead you just pray your emotions to Him, because God’s listening and He knows what you are trying to tell Him. Some might say, “If God is always listening, then why doesn’t answer sometimes?” The answer to that, I feel, is that He still answers your prayers just not like you want Him too. Sometimes, God is going to say, “No,” to your requests, and so the reason that they didn’t happen isn’t because God didn’t listen, but because He knows what is best and said, “No.” The other reason could possibly be that God is just taking some time before saying, “Yes.” As I said before, God knows what is best, which means God knows when it’s the best time to say, “Yes,” to your prayer. He might think you need to wait a little while before you are ready for the thing you asked for to happen, or He might just think that the timing isn’t right. Maybe, He thinks that you need to think on your request more, maybe it’s something you prayed but don’t really want, and when He allows your request to finally be approved, He’s giving you a chance to make a decision as to whether you still want to go down that route or not. I feel, that most of the time, we automatically expect that God will comply with our prayer requests, but we don’t have any authority whatsoever to expect that. We are the ones who are supposed to comply with Him after all. We, especially those of us in America or other technologically advanced countries, have become used to immediate gratification or satisfaction. We want to know something? Well, there’s a plethora of search engines that can help you, and the majority of us can access that information straight from our cell phones (which the majority of us, at least for Americans, have cell phones).  If we want something to happen, we go try and make it happen, whether it’s good for us or not.  The expectations of getting what we want right here and now, and having gotten used to immediate gratification, can cause our patience to ebb away. That way of thinking is becoming, increasingly, the norm for countries like the U.S.A. So it’s important to remember that everything is on God’s time, in God’s hands, and even though there’s things God will decline or wait on to answer, doesn’t mean He’s not listening. He’s always there, and He does say yes to requests too, just not always to every request. God hears our prayers, and God listens to our prayers. It’s our job to listen to God’s responses, and if we don’t get an immediate “Yes” or “No,” then it is our job to wait for God’s answer. So when you next pray, remember God is listening, and He will decide with unrivaled wisdom what His response will be.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 says: 11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” ~NIV

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Sometimes, When I Look Out At The World

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Sometimes, When I Look Out At The World, by Caitlin Krueger

 

Sometimes, when I look out at the world,

It’s as if I am seeing everything

Through the end of a telescope,

It seems so distant, exotic.

 

Sometimes, when I look out at the world,

It’s as if I’m in a boat atop of the water,

On a pond without ripples

And everyone else, are all of the fish just below the surface.

 

Sometimes, when I look out at the world,

It’s like I’m inside of an invisible box, like a mime,

Unable to talk to anyone,

It seems I’m unable to express myself.

 

Yet, sometimes, when I look out at the world,

I see the beauty God created,

I see people who are friendlier than first perceived,

And I’m able to break through the barriers that trapped me.

 

I wrote this poem because I was reflecting back on a time in my life, when I felt like I was secluded and withdrawn, yet because of my faith in the Lord; I was able to overcome the barriers that were becoming a shell for me. I realized that if I stopped hiding the personality that God had given me, it would be fine, and that by letting go of my old reservations would allow me to follow God’s guidance easier. 

Death Makes a Person Think

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The other week, one of my future step-grandparents passed away. I didn’t know him that well yet, but it was still a little sad for me. Then it hit me, the important questions I wanted to know. Was he someone who believed in Jesus? Was he saved? If he wasn’t then that makes his death one hundred percent more sad than it previously was.

It would become more sad if he hadn’t believed in Christ as savior and repented his sins, because he can’t go to Heaven then. Even though he was a very nice man, it won’t mean anything if he isn’t saved. If he is though, then he’s received forgiveness, and already at peace. Then he is with the Lord, and no longer has to suffer the cancer he had to live with (which would make his death a lot less sad).

I asked my mom if she could find out if he was saved or not, and she said she would. She told me after asking, that he was a believer of Jesus Christ and that he’d come to know him towards the end, even though he hadn’t know the Lord his whole life. This gave me joy because that meant he is going to Heaven if he’s saved.

My thoughts didn’t end there though. My next thought was in regards to Heaven and Hell in general. Often, I think people talk about these places with a vague understanding and distance. The Bible gives us some descriptions of Heaven and Hell, but I feel like that is probably just scratching the surface of a human’s ability to describe and understand these places, concerning what we really know about them. I also feel like a lot of people don’t tend to think, every single person will end up in one of these two places. What is an eternity in one of them really going to be like?

Well, I’m not saying that I can in anyways adequately describe what they’ll be like, but from my perceptions of it all, I do feel that while we are in either of these places, we will have our attention focused on something else entirely. The places themselves aren’t what are significant. The significance of Heaven isn’t the decor or eternal and overwhelming joy, but the fact that we will be in the Lord’s presence without any barriers to hinder us. I can’t possibly grasp the full picture or imagine what it’ll really be like to actually be before God, before Jesus. Yet, I’m pretty sure that my attention won’t be capable of straying from the Lord when I’m finally there.

Just as the Lord is the center of attention and significance in Heaven, the lack of God in Hell will be the real significance there. More than that lake of fire (which one who doesn’t believe gets thrown into along with Satan), more than any negative thing that may result from being in Hell, the worst part will be separation from God. A person living without God and salvation, is spiritually dead, but God’s presence is still possible to be felt in the world around us. In Hell, not even the possibility of  sensing the Lord’s presence around them can ever occur again. They’ll be eternally apart from God from that point on, and that in itself will be an unexpected, unbearable anguish for the unbelievers who nevertheless have to bear it. There will be no escape from this anguish, since there won’t be any possible way of finding Jesus once there. After going there, that separation will be the uttermost torment for unsaved sinners.

Maybe you’re wondering what I’m getting at? I’m getting at the fact of these two destinations are the only two possible destinations for anyone. This ought to sadden someone who is a believer in Christ. I’m not saying that we all need to become “evangelists,” but that we who already are saved, should at the very least try to reach out to those who are lost around us, who God has placed into our lives, and who we may be able to reach in our own styles or ways. I just suggest, that we Christians at least attempt to speak about Christ to those we are nudged towards, and to do so with gentleness and respect, as 1 Peter 15 says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” so that we can better reach those who aren’t yet saved.

(These thoughts came to me after the death of that good man, and I felt inspired to write them on here. These are the perceptions and thoughts that I’ve been thinking over, for a few days now.)

Spin-Out Parallel

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(This parallel came to me the same day that I had this spin-out, it made me think about how it can relate to people who haven’t yet come to know Christ, as well as people believe in Christ but are nervous to share about Him.)

One day, on my way to college, it was pretty slick out. It had snowed a lot the night before. I was driving on a five-lane main road, when I had to stop at a red light (while going down a hill). As I was slowing down my spun-out, and I found myself facing the now-oncoming traffic, which had previously been behind me. The first thirty seconds all that I noticed was that I was scared I’d be hit, or wouldn’t be able to turn around.

Then I looked around me again, and saw that there was a narrow driveway to the right of my car if I backed up about four feet. So I did just that, and entered the driveway God had provided. As I was trying to use this path, in an effort to turn myself around, I got a little stuck a couple of times, but in the end was able to use the route God had provided for me. I felt that God had definitely helped me out in this situation and rescued me from a possibly fatal accident. I went away from the situation knowing that God will continue to be with me no matter how tricky the situation may seem.

As I looked back at this situation later the same day, I realized that this spin-out could be considered a parallel for people who don’t believe in Jesus Christ, and also a parallel for those who feel they should share the Gospel with others but are fearful of possible outcomes.

I found this near accident to parallel pretty well with the lives of unbelievers and with what Jesus has done for all of us. The moment when I found myself turned around, facing fears and dangers, blind to that driveway; is like those who don’t yet know Christ. They face fears, dangers, and find themselves turned all around (meaning they’re living the opposite of how they’re meant to be).At first, that’s all they see too.  Yet, if they are willing to pause and look around, they’ll see Jesus offers a solution they didn’t see before (just like with that originally un-spotted driveway). The reason for their blindness to His solution can be summed up in, 2 Corinthians 4:4  which says, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”They don’t have to stay stuck facing the wrong way. They are able to take a step back and make a decision to take that narrow path, which includes the promise of salvation. It’s important for them to know, that this narrow path isn’t easy once they decided to take it, there’s bumps and such in the road. They might get stuck a couple of times, but Jesus is there and He guides everyone trying to follow him (just as I was sticking a few times trying to turn around, yet God still helped me to get through). 

Once I’d gone and turned my car around, I felt joy, and was aware of the Lord’s presence even though the situation had been sticky for a little while. I knew that the Lord will always be there to help me through, whether the road is smooth or full of potholes. Just as unbelievers can find out after they become believers. If they’re willing to trust in Jesus, and to believe that He can save them from a death caused by their sins, then they are rescued and free! This salvation is confirmed for us through the verses of John 3:16-17, ” “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

As this story paralleled to unbelievers being able to become saved, so also it can be applied to Christians as well. Christians know what they are saved from and are grateful for that, but most unbelievers don’t know about it. There are Christians who want to share Christ’s Gospel with others, but are too nervous to do so. My fear of those oncoming cars parallels with the fears many Christians have when they are being confronted with the opportunity to share the Gospel. The many cars represents the different fears or excuses that we come up with for holding back. We are encouraged to share the Gospel, in 2 Timothy 1:6-7 where it says, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Furthermore, we know that there’s nothing we really need to fear when we remebmer Hebrews 13:6, “So we can confidently say,“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear;what can man do to me?” Yet, God always provides an opportunity, and will give us boldness to speak if we allow Him to lead us down the narrow path, to accept what He’s enabling us to do. Jesus tells us it won’t be easy, but He’s gone through what we have, and is with us through it all. The Holy Spirit guides us, like how after a few attempts I was able to make it out of that driveway and along the road, going in the right direction. Likewise, the opportunity will come along, and although those we attempt to share the Gospel with may argue with us, or be resistant, in the end the only thing we can do for them is leave Christ’s message with them. It’ll be up to them whether to accept Christ and his salvation or not, we are just asked to introduce them to Him.

We can walk with those who are close to us, or whom we know, that are trying to get to know Jesus and His message. We can drive down that road with them part of the way, but they need to make the decision of whether to turn off the road onto a new road, or keep going down the road in the same fashion they’ve been going the whole way.  If we don’t know them very well, then at least we spoke to them about Christ and they have a chance to become saved. Knowing this, we really don’t have a good reason not to share the Gospel with others, but we let fears of persecution or scrutiny, as well as excuses like what if they don’t listen or I say the wrong thing, get in the way. It’s a personal decision.

This is a final encouragement and confirmation for you to consider, which I found, it is Romans 8:13-17 “3 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[f] of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”