Imagine for a moment that you are on a hike one Saturday afternoon . . .You are hiking in a meadow and you begin to walk through a grove of trees. As you begin to clear the trees, you suddenly notice that right there, in front of you, is a very large and beautiful lake. The lake is so large that you cannot see the shore on the other side.
After looking at this beautiful lake, you realize that you are hot; and a swim in this lake would be quite refreshing. You take off your shoes and begin to walk into the water. As you put your feet in the water, you realize that the water is only ankle deep. That’s right, no matter how far out you go into the water, it is only ankle deep!!! All this beautiful water, and it’s only ankle deep.
This ankle-deep lake is a picture of too many people’s relationship with the Lord – a mile wide, but an inch deep; plenty of surface, but no depth. Shallow; looks great on the outside, but not much content on the inside.
In our busyness, we can neglect some important aspects of following Jesus, which would help us to know Him better, to understand Him better, and to deepen our relationship with Him. These aspects of following Jesus are usually not screaming for our attention; therefore, they are often overlooked in the hectic pace at which most of us live. While not an exhaustive list, these relationship attributes are offered to encourage you to go deeper with the Lord.
The first is Bible reading and reflection -- Taking the time each day to read through portions of the Bible and thinking about what it says about God, about my relationships, and about those situations I am facing in my life.
Henri Nouwen, who knew how to go deep with God, writes of three relationship attributes which are important for the spiritual life: solitude, silence, and intercessory prayer. How often are you alone? Solitude can be scary, but it is awesome in deepening your relationship with the Lord. Silence is even more difficult because most of us have trained ourselves to have the radio or the TV on all the time, but silence sharpens our ability to hear what the Lord is saying to us. Intercessory prayer is simply praying for the needs of other people. Most of us have no problem praying for our own needs, but asking God to release His power in the lives of others is often abandoned. Build these attributes into your life, and you will be amazed at what happens to your own relationship to God.
One other thing which I believe is essential in going deeper with the Lord is becoming a part of some small group which gathers regularly for the purpose of fellowship, prayer, and Bible study. Having others who really know you and whom you really know, creates a place for the Lord to speak a fresh Word into your life in ways you won’t allow yourself to receive by other means. Participating in a small group will take you deeper in your relationship with the Lord.
Going deeper with the Lord takes effort our part, but our efforts, in this life focus, will always produce results. Are you satisfied with ankle deep or are you going to go into the deep?? As Jesus says to John in Revelation 21:6, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.”Dr. Foley Beach is the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America (Canada, US, and Mexico).
Am I Ready to Pray? (Bude, Cornwall, UK)
INTRODUCTIOIN -- Prayer is: 1) spending time with God – acknowledging God’s presence in all our lives’ activities; and 2) conversation with God – listening to and talking with God. Prayer reflects on our relationship with God. Why don’t we pray. The Apostle James, in James 4:2-3, provides a perspective regarding Prayer Life: “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions."
SUNDAY MESSAGE – In James 4:3, we are told: “You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”. As followers of Jesus, we are given the awesome privilege of being able to come before God, the Creator of the Universe, in our prayers. We are given a multitude of alternatives for our prayers that include prayers of "petition" (praying for one's own needs) and prayers of "intercession" (praying for the needs of others). God wants prayers of "petition" from us -- all our needs and concerns should be brought to Him in prayer because He loves and cares for us. However, God want us to, also, focus on others and their needs (intercession) -- physical and spiritual. "Intercessory prayer” is fundamental to deepening our prayer life and our personal relationship with God.
However, we often enter into our prayers unprepared – there is sin in our lives, or our prayers are all about “us”; and we seek “our will” and not “God’s will”. Therefore, we need to learn to “pray rightly”.
To “pray rightly”, we need to consider: “1) Am I “clean” before the Lord – have I confessed the known sins in my life that I have not repented? 2) Am I in “communion with others” – are there people with whom I am not at peace? 3) Am I “confident in God’s Word” – do I believe God’s promises are true? 4) Am I “committed to God’s will” – am I committed to act on and obey God’s answer to my prayers even though His answer is not my desire? 5) Am I “centered in the Holy Spirit” – am I focused and tuned in on the Lord, filtering out the “noise of the world”? and 6) Am I “concerned for God’s Glory” – the ultimate purpose of our prayers is uplifting and glorifying God’s name?”.
Additionally, in both our worship and our prayers: “Are we expecting to encounter God?”.
Remember, Jesus taught us that: 1) God is more ready to answer prayer than we are ready to pray; and 2) we must be persistent in our prayers until we have an answer.
Pray specific prayers, in the Holy Spirit and in Scripture, for ourselves and for others -- be persistent.
TODAY’S AFFIRMATION: I affirm that because of what God has done for me in His Son, Jesus, I AM RIGHTEOUS IN GOD’S EYES. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21).
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SCRIPTURE REFERENCE (ESV): James 4:3; Isaiah 59:1-2; 1 John 1:8; Matthew 5:23-24 Matthew 6:14; 1 Peter 3:7; Luke 11:9-13; Jeremiah 33:3; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:7; Hebrews 11:6; 1 Peter 5:7; 1 John 5:14; Psalms 37:4; John 14:23; James 1:5; Romans 8:26-27; John 14:26. (Click the blue below to read the full Bible text for these scripture references in BOLD.).All Sermons by Archbishop Foley Beach