We Are All Beggars

We are all beggars…

These were the reported last words of Martin Luther.  It is how he defined his life and journey as a monk, reformer and follower of Christ.  This is no more evident than in his first mass he performed as a monk, even then we see how he perceived himself in the presence of the Mighty God. Here is an excerpt from Martin Luther’s biography “Here I Stand” 

The day began with the chiming of the cloister bells and the chanting of the Psalm, “O sing unto the Lord a new song.”  Luther took his place before  the altar and began to recite the introductory portion of the mass until he came to the words, “we offer unto thee, the living,  the true, the eternal God.” He related afterward;  “At these words I was utterly stupefied     and terror stricken. I thought to myself,  ‘With what tongue shall I address such Majesty,  seeing that all men ought to tremble in the presence of of even an earthly prince? Who am I, that I should lift up mine eye or raise my hands to the divine Majesty?  The angels surround him. At his nod the earth trembles.  And shall I, a miserable little pygmy, say ‘I want this , I ask for that’?  For I am dust and ashes and full of sin and I am speaking to the  living, eternal and the true God.*

I get it, so many times I’ve asked, “Are you sure Lord that’s it’s me you want to lead these people in your ways?”  I imagine Jesus and an angel standing at the rail in heaven, they are looking down on me and the angel asks, “So what’s your plan ‘B’?”, Jesus smiles and says, “There is no plan ‘B’, he’s it, he is exactly who I choose to be my heart and hands.”  It is an awesome feeling to know that God has chosen me to minister to his people; his word, his means of grace and his amazing love.  Like Martin Luther, I am overwhelmed and if I had a statement like Luther’s that defined my life and journey it would be; “I am just a man who fell in love with Jesus and kept getting promoted.”  The whole core of my relationship is my love and relationship with God.  Even though I have been trained, have years of experience and have been blessed with the opportunity to disciple and pastor, I still don’t define my self as a “minister”.  I am a follower of Christ and He lets me look like a minister every now and then.  I cherish and take very seriously this task he has allowed me to take on in my life.
 

So what I want to share with you is not theology or great wisdom but a journey.  This is the result of a lifetime of a love relationship with God and a passion to be able to share with others seeking the same.   My heart, my goal is that you won’t come away with “the party line” but that YOU will DISCOVER  your own journey and path as you seek the Lord and his heart… “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3

Where do we start?  We start with God and his love for you.

“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. Then you will call upon me and  come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11-13.

Notice that in this verse God begins with his plans and purpose for our lives.  He is not absent nor is he far off, he is very aware of our situation and he also gives us a remedy. It doesn’t immediately remove our problems but gives us a starting point: “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me…” (v. 12).  Our first response to God and solving our issues in life are to connect with God.  I know that most of us ask “why”, but we very seldom, if ever, get an answer.  The real question we need to be asking is, “what do I do now?”  Prayer is God’s invitation for us to share our heart with him, “… and I will listen to you.”  Ok, take a moment and feel bad that you don’t know how or what to pray, welcome to the world of most folks.  Now that we’ve felt bad, let’s get over it and discover how and what we should pray.

What I’m about to share with you show I have MY moment with God.  I hope that you will take this and make it your own, adding your own “flavor” and spirit.

Praise

I begin my time with God with a praise song, specifically one that prepares my heart and spirit.  For me, I love the song, “Lord Prepare Me to be a Sanctuary”.  I sing until my mind is cleared from all the stuff that clutters my spirit and mind.  You know what I mean: you are singing the words but your mind is still going nuts over “stuff” and what you need to do or get done.  Singing helps me focus on what I’m trying to do… enter the presence of God.

The Lord’s Prayer/The Creed/ The 10 Commandments

Martin Luther said that we didn’t need to be theologians to be able to come to God, understand him and what he has for us.  He believed that if we had the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed and the 10 Commandments and meditated on them in the morning and night, then we would understand the Lord, his will for us and grow in our faith.  I begin my time by saying these aloud, yes, aloud.  The spoken confession is important to God.  The Bible puts a lot of stock in the spoken word.

A.C.T.S.I.

This is my favorite part of my prayer time every day.  This is where I get to come before God and share my heart and my needs.

A. – Adoration

For some reason we have a hard time articulating our adoration of God into words. I begin this prayer time with a song of adoration, “I Love You Lord”  helps get me focused.  Then I spend time finishing the sentence, “What I love about you Lord is….”  There is no time limit.

C. – Confession

This is the part that makes me feel real bad but I know that if I am to enter into his presence and receive the forgiveness I seek, I have to travel this path.  The sweet thing is that when we confess we receive his promise, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9.  Confession, along with the rest of our prayer time, is not “wishing and hoping” but us turning to God, his love, mercy and grace, along with how he has revealed his heart in scripture and the lives of his people (then and now), and his promises in scripture. “If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we also will reign with him.  If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”  2 Timothy 2:11-13.  The nature and very heart of God is that he is faithful to his word and to his children who are drawn to him, it is not what he does, it is who he is.  

So what do we confess?  When we come to God we seek to restore two different aspects of our lives.  First, our relationship with and to God.  We confess those thoughts, actions and attitudes that separate us from God.  Second, the thoughts, actions and attitudes that separate us from one another.

T. – Thanksgiving

It is so important that we keep an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness before the Lord.  That even in the midst of struggle and hardship we are able, out of faith, to praise God and be thankful, not for what we see, but for what we know. Sometimes we have to be thankful for things and circumstances when we don’t see it or know it yet. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests before God”. Philippians 4:6.

   

S. – Supplication

All this means is that we bring our needs before God.  It doesn’t mean that he is Santa Clause but he still wants to hear it. We trust that his ways are not our ways. “May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise.”  Ps 119:70.

I. – Intercession

We have the opportunity to “stand in the gap” for those who cannot speak for themselves.  I’m not sure if there are specific requirements but if it is a burden on your heart and you want to bring it to God, I’ll go with that.  There is the story in Mark 9:14-29 about a boy possessed by an evil spirit.  The disciples were unable to deliver the boy so they brought him to Jesus.  Listen to the father’s heart as he intercedes for his son, “…Everything is possible for one who believes. Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief’”.  The demon is cast out and the disciples ask, “why could we not drive it out?”  Jesus replied, “this kind can come out only by prayer.” 

Now the question I want to ask is, “Who was the one praying?” We know it wasn’t the disciples.  Was it Jesus?  Maybe.  I believe it was the prayers of a father motivated by his love for his son. But that is just my opinion..

Having a quiet time, devotional, whatever you call it, is an important part of my day. Remember that not every time will be a mountain top experience.  Like meeting with any friend, your time will become a sweet, meaningful moment.   There will also be times that it feels like God looks inside you and “reads your mail”.   I also take the time to read a devotional for the day. Find one that speaks to you, there’s a bunch. My time with God is different every time and has it’s own flavor.  I look forward to this time how God is going to speak to me. I hope you find the same.

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