Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Breath Prayers from the New Testament

Breath prayers are prayers that can be prayed in one breath and are easily repeated as we carry them with us throughout the day. They enable us to lift up our hearts before God frequently and practice his presence continually.

These breath prayers are from the New Testament. Some are just plain, even desperate, short prayers of which God answered promptly! (Notice the exclamation points!) In other words, the length of our prayer is less crucial as long as the answer from heaven comes! Others are lifetime prayers, reverberating the largest concerns of Christ’s kingdom.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. (The prayer of the disciples in Matthew 6:9.)

Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).

Just say the word, and my servant will be healed. (The prayer of the centurion in Matthew 8:8.)

Save us! (The prayer of the disciples in Matthew 8:25.)

Have mercy on us! (The prayer of the blind men in Matthew 9:27.)

Lord, help me! (The prayer of a desperate woman in Matthew 15:25.)

Peace, be still! (The prayer of Jesus in Mark 4:39).

I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! (The prayer of a desperate man in Mark 9:24.)

May it be to me as you have said. (The prayer of Mary in Luke 1:38.)

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. (The prayer of Mary in Luke 1:46-47.)

Lord, teach us to pray. (The prayer of the disciples in Luke 11:1.)

Increase our faith! (The prayer of the disciples in Luke 17:5.)

God, have mercy on me, a sinner. (The prayer of the tax collector in Luke 18:13.)

Father, forgive them. (The prayer of Jesus in Luke 23:34.)

My Lord and my God! (The prayer of Thomas in John 20:28.)

What shall I do, Lord? (The prayer of Paul in Acts 22:10.)

Abba, Father (The prayer of all believers in Romans 8:15 & Galatians 4:6.)

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. (The prayer of the four living creatures Revelation 4:8.)

Come, Lord Jesus. (The prayer of John in Revelation 22:20.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Breath Prayers from the Old Testament

Breath prayers are prayers that can be prayed in one breath and are easily repeated as we carry them with us throughout the day. They enable us to lift up our hearts before God frequently and practice his presence continually.

These breath prayers are from the Old Testament. Many of these scriptural prayers include further petitions to God. Yet these short prayers so listed express the essence of those praying.

Here I am. (The prayer of Abraham in Genesis 22:1,11, Jacob in Genesis 31:11; 46:2, and Moses in Exodus 3:4.)

Give me success today. (The prayer of Eliezer in Genesis 24:12.)

Bless me. (The prayer of Jacob in Genesis 32:26.)

Go with us. (The prayer of Moses in Exodus 33:15.)

Show me your glory. (The prayer of Moses in Exodus 33:18.)

Give me a sign. (The prayer of Gideon in Judges 6:17.)

Remember me. (The prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:11.)

Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. (The prayer of Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:9-10.)

I have sinned. (The prayer of David in 2 Samuel 12:13.)

Answer me. (The prayer of Elijah in 1 Kings 18:37.)

Deliver us. (The prayer of Hezekiah in 2 Kings 19:19.)

Enlarge my territory! (The prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:10.)

Give me wisdom. (The prayer of Solomon in 2 Chronicles 1:10.)

Help us. (The prayer of Asa in 2 Chronicles 14:11.)

Grant me favor. (The prayer of Nehemiah in Nehemiah 1:11.)

Strengthen my hands. (The prayer of Nehemiah in Nehemiah 6:9.)

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory. (The prayer of the seraphs in Isaiah 6:3.)

Send me! (The prayer of Isaiah in Isaiah 6:8.)

Monday, August 23, 2010

5 Days with John Dickson: Day 5 – Talking About Talking

When John Dickson begins to talk about talking about Christ in his book, The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission, he makes it feel normal and natural.

It seems that when we put on the witnessing hat, we feel awkward and freeze up. He suggests, however, we overcome a sense of inferiority about our Christian faith that often keeps us quiet about proclaiming the gospel.

And, even as we talk freely and naturally about God, prayer, church, the Bible, faith, Jesus, and so on with other Christians, “we decide to allow our faith to rise back to the surface where it belongs” with those who don’t know Christ (page 182).

In so doing, we allow God-talk – brief, casual, passing references to the faith – into our everyday conversations. These are not designed primarily to initiate conversations about Christianity, but to be part of a relaxed and natural Christian. He further illustrates, in the Appendix, how we can retell the stories recorded in the Gospels for answering contemporary questions.

“Each of us should speak of Jesus as our personalities, abilities and opportunities allow,” Dickson says, “confident that, as we do, God’s Spirit will work through us” (page 148).

This is a welcome message for us non-evangelistic type Christians. Plus, as he says throughout his book, we are further promoting the gospel with more than our lips.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

5 Days with John Dickson: Day 4 – Jesus Friend of Sinners

I never tire hearing about Jesus as the friend of sinners. There’s something fundamentally attractive about that designation.

I am especially drawn to follow this "friend of sinners" by reading John Dickson’s
The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission (chapter 3).

He points out that in first-century Palestinian culture, sharing food and drink with people meant identifying with them and, in a sense, endorsing them. You can see how this put off the so-called “pious” religious leaders. How could Jesus socially interact with these sinners!

Yet Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. His friendship with them was a tangible sign of God’s welcoming grace. So his questionable dining habits not only went against the cultural and religious systems, but were an illustration of the very fellowship with sinners God so eagerly desires.

I like that, Mr. Dickson! I feel welcomed before God! When I talk to Jesus, I don’t feel uncomfortable with some “salvation cringe”. And I think I can follow his model.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

5 Days with John Dickson: Day 3 – What is the Gospel?

If I were to ask you, “What is the gospel?” how would you explain that message of Christian faith?

We are in need today of rediscovering the robust and revolutionary good news message and mission of the gospel. But what is the gospel?

In an admittingly content-driven chapter, John Dickson in his new book,
The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission, details his answer.

Before reading him, I would say the message of the gospel is that:

• Christ came to forgive our sins and reconcile us with God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
• Christ came to destroy the power of Satan and deliver people from bondage (Colossians 2:15).
• Christ came to change hearts of stone to hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).
• Christ came to treat people with compassion and justice as God’s loved creation (Matthew 12:18-20).
• Christ came to invite and summon followers to become the new people of God (1 Corinthians 1:2).

What Dickson adds is that a narrative account of Jesus’ birth, miracles, teaching, sacrificial death, and resurrection are included in the core content of the gospel. Not that we share all these aspects every time we share the gospel. But “the gospel message is not a set of theological ideas that can be detached from the events that gave these ideas definitive expression” (page 127).

Thus the gospel includes:

• both a narrative account of Jesus
and theological content
• both Jesus’ words and deeds
and an explanation of their significance to our salvation
• both the broad events of Jesus’ life
and an explanation the doctrine of salvation

Then, to be sure, “the gospel . . . is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

5 Days with John Dickson: Day 2 – A Multifaceted Witness

I’ve read other books by evangelists who try to teach me how to be a better evangelist. And I do aim to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5). But, frankly, I don’t have the gift of evangelism. Even after serving as a pastor for more than 25 years, honestly, on a scale of 1-10, my verbal witnessing skills are about a 3.

John Dickson, in his new book,
The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission, takes the pressure off us non-evangelistic type Christians. While many evangelists are prone to project their giftedness upon others, they just make most of us feel more guilty and inadequate.

I listen to what the expert evangelists say and how they say it. I model their techniques. I follow their patterns. I use their scripts. But I just can’t make it work for me. It’s not smooth, nor is it effective. I keep searching for the right combination to unlock spiritual results.

Dickson, however, underscores how evangelism takes place in its many forms – by nudging people closer to Christ – being a friend of sinners, praying for their needs, giving our money, doing good deeds in the name of Christ, living a light-shining Christian life, declaring God’s praise in community, and, yes, when appropriate, adding our words.

• Through your prayers, you demonstrate God’s power.
• Through your giving, you release God’s blessing.
• Through your lifestyle, you display God’s beauty.
• Through your actions, you show God’s love.
• Through your worship, you declare God’s nature.
• Through your words, you tell others God’s truth.

These dynamic multifaceted means produce a synergistic witness for expressing Christ to others. Use all, Dickson says, with intentionality.

So maybe after hearing his message, I don’t have to be so hard on my own “evangelist” rating. I still may not be a 10, but from God’s perspective my ways for witness are broader than I might think and probably more effective than I credit myself.

Monday, August 16, 2010

5 Days with John Dickson: Day 1 – With and Without the Gift of Evangelism

As any missions-minded Christian would understand, evangelism begins not with the Great Commission in Matthew 28, but is deeply rooted in the Old Testament.

When God called Abraham, God’s promise of spiritual blessing was universal. Why? Because God wanted “all peoples on earth” to be blessed through Abraham (Genesis 12:3).

When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, God dried up the waters so they could walk over on dry land. Why? “So that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful” (Joshua 4:23-24).

When young David announced to Goliath that he would be slain, he also declared that an Israelite victory over the Philistines would take place. Why? So that “the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel” (1 Samuel 17:46).

When Solomon dedicated the Temple, he prayed that when foreigners from distant lands who do not belong to God’s people Israel would hear of God’s great name and his mighty hand and his outstretched arm – that they too would pray to the true God and come to know God. Why? So “that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other” (1 Kings 8:41-43, 59-60).

Israel was called to be a light to the nations (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6). Jonah was called to be a witness to one nation, the godless Nineveh. The whole Bible is a missionary book, because our God is a missionary God.

John Dickson in his new book, The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission, pushes evangelism back even further to the most basic doctrine of Genesis 1:1 – there is one God. “If there is one Lord to whom all people belong and owe their allegiance, the people of that Lord must promote this reality everywhere” (page 31, 35, 115).

Our mission is evangelism. And John tells us how to get it done with, and especially without, the gift of evangelism.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit, grant me to know you in your fullness:

  • the ocean of your love
  • the wellspring of your joy
  • the river of your peace
  • the quiet waters of your patience
  • the streams of your kindness
  • the floods of your goodness
  • the waves of your faithfulness
  • the dew of your gentleness
  • the channel of your self-control

Against such things there is no limit.

Copyright David John Smith, July 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

God's Logo

When Jesus was asked, "What is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" Jesus requested to see a denarius, and then asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?" When they replied, "Caesar’s," he then said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s." (See Matthew 22:17-21.)

Think of all the logos you carry – the marks, the symbols that you belong. You might wear a clothing logo, or the logo of your school, or the logo of your favorite sports team.

Companies, institutions, organizations want you to say that you belong to them. They want you to be proud that you have been marked by them.

Yet when you look in the mirror and see the real you fully, you see the imprimatur of God.

God’s portrait, God’s image, God’s inscription, God’s picture, God’s logo is stamped upon your very being! You have been marked by God.

The coin? Whose portrait, whose inscription is imprinted on it? Caesar’s. It belongs to him. Give it back to him.

You? Whose portrait, whose inscription is imprinted on you? God’s. You belong to God. Give yourself back to him.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Let God Love You

We all have experienced feeling unwanted, unloved, rejected.

As a child, you were called some derogatory names. As a teenager, you were the last one chosen for sports teams. As an adult, you were bypassed in job promotions.

You and I have struggled with rejection.

Starting kindergarten in September at age four didn't help me -- I didn't turn five until Decemer 24 -- so I was always the youngest in school while growing up. And I never did turn out very big and tall either. LOL! So I was always the smallest kid in the classroom too (all except for one kid that had a rare disease and he got lots of attention because of that!).

Only in college did a friend point out that I was "small but powerful like a stick of dynamite!" That helped!

Being around others who are richer, smarter, more athletic, more popular can make us feel rejected and undesireable and alone.

The good news is this: Jesus understands. "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not" (Isaiah 53:3). He was "the stone the builders rejected" (Matthew 21:42).

Jesus knows what rejection feels like -- to be overlooked, to be mistreated, to be disdained. He comes alongside us to stand with us in our pains, heal our inner wounds, and transform our very souls.

And the Lord Jesus will work powerfully within us by his Holy Spirit and through the Word of God.

  • Our feelings of rejection are dismantled by his consistent and unfailing acceptance of us as those created in the image of God.
  • The lies we have told ourselves are dismissed by the truth of who we really are in Christ.
  • The false accusations and constant belittling from the tempter are silenced by the overcoming authority Christ gives to us.

I am loved by God, accepted by Christ, welcomed by the Holy Spirit. I am a new creation Christ. So are you.

Let God love you. Receive his embrace. Stand in his enabling.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Veteran Leaders have War Wounds

I had a seredipitous lunch recently with a pastor who told me how God told him two decades ago that his church would change. He then described to me in a panoramic way how God changed his church.

I walked away from that conversation with a new appreciation for the word "veteran". Normally when I think of the word "veteran", I think of a former member of the armed services or an old soldier of long service.

But "veteran" is also a person of long experience in some occupation or skill. The overlap in definition, however, is striking.

This pastor described his "war wounds". He showed me his "scars" and his "medals of honor". He described the "horrors of battle" and the "price of victory". He detailed the "heavy losses" as well as the "fantastic gains".

Such are all veteran leaders in the kingdom of God. A price to be paid. A world to be won. A triumph to be celebrated.

What do your "war wounds" look like? Describe to me your "scars". What does the "victory" look like?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Take Courage

I love this verse where the apostle Paul mentors his protege Timothy about courage. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:7).

Paul tells Timothy that whenever he looks inside himself and sees timidity, that timidity didn’t come from God. Rather, what originates from God is power, love, and self-discipline.

God gives you the enabling by the Word and the Spirit that you may have power – that you may have strength of character and be bold in exercising the authority Christ delegated to you.

God gives you the enabling by the Word and the Spirit that you may have love – that you may love everyone with God’s kind of love and be able to love even the unlovely.

God gives you the enabling by the Word and the Spirit that you may have self-discipline – that you may exercise mastery in a situation because you have first mastered yourself. You know when to say yes and when to say no, and you rise to the challenge and do it or choose not to do it.

When you look inside at your response to a difficult situation and see timidity, that’s when you claim God’s power and love, and that’s when you exercise self-discipline.

The courageous may not live forever in this life, but the timid don’t live at all! Take courage and hang onto God!