keep coming

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Prayer as a religious ritual is difficult to maintain.

It requires constant self-motivation. But if prayer is your opportunity to talk to the God you love, then you will keep coming back.

In writing to Christians who were suffering because of their faith in Jesus, the apostle Peter reminds them of why they are holding strong, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him” (1 Peter 1:8). They were able to keep going because of their love for Jesus. This generation of Christians had never met Jesus, but that did not hinder their love.

In Psalm 27, King David says the one thing he desires is to dwell with the Lord forever. This is the kind of longing that drives a consistent prayer life.

“If prayer is your opportunity to talk to the God you love,
then you will keep coming back.”

Prayer for prayer’s sake rings hollow because it is hollow. But if prayer is our connection to the God we love but have never seen, then prayer becomes natural, conversational, and non-negotiable.

Conversation is inherent in relationship. Since prayer is what we label our conversations with God, prayer is inherent in our relationship with God. It’s probably not too much to say that if there is no prayer, then there is no relationship with God. The converse is also true: If there is no relationship with God, there will be no prayer.

Prayer begins when we follow our impulse to talk with God. Prayer becomes habitual in our lives when we foster those impulses, when our relationship with God becomes fully conversational.

Prayer will only be a burden when your longing to speak with God disappears.

“One thing I ask from the LORD,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life
.”

Psalm 27
(song rendition by Shane & Shane)

 

Devotional by Echo Prayer (via YouVersion).

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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se taire

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Pour le chrétien qui cherche à imiter Dieu et à l’honorer en toute chose, une des façons de s’examiner et mesurer notre sagesse est d’observer nos paroles et la manière don’t on s’exprime.

Ce n’est pas toujours chose facile mais la bible nous assure que si nous demandons la sagesse, l’esprit de Dieu en nous et Sa parole peuvent nous guider dans ce domaine. Ne pas jurer, ne pas utiliser le nom du Seigneur en vain, ne pas dire de gros mots, etc.

Or, que cela soit en privé (avec nos proches et collègues) ou bien en public (dans la rue ou bien sur les médias sociaux et l’internet en général), nous avons une fâcheuse tendance à parfois “trop” en dire.

La qualité de nos mots est importante, mais la quantité aussi !

La sagesse se manifeste en partie par le contrôle de soi. Et dans le domaine de la parole, il suffit parfois simplement de savoir quand se taire. Parce-que ce que nous ne disons pas peut avoir autant, voire plus, d’importance et d’impact que ce que l’on dit.

Prenons quelques exemples :

Une amie qui vient de perdre un enfant, le fils du voisin à qui l’on vient de trouver un cancer, une personne qui a commenté de manière agressive sur un de nos posts Facebook, le vieil oncle et ses blagues de mauvais goûts, ou bien le collègue de travail qui souffre de dépression. “Que dire dans ces moments ?” est bien souvent la première question que l’on se pose. Faut-il essayer de réconforter même si l’on n’a jamais vécu la même chose, faut-il encourager et donner des conseils trouvés vite fait sur internet, faut-il ignorer ou bien faut-il reprendre, faut-il proposer une solution ?

Et si l’on se demandait aussi, ou plutôt, si se contenter d’écouter, de se taire ou de n’en dire que peu, ne serait pas mieux ?

La bible nous enseigne que:

Avec beaucoup de paroles,
les offenses ne manquent pas ;

celui qui retient ses lèvres
est un homme de bon sens.

(Proverbes 10.9)

En gros, au moins on en dit au moins on risque d’en dire trop et de blesser quelqu’un, d’exagérer la vérité, de juger trop vite, de créer des mal-entendus, d’empirer une dispute, de se rendre ridicule et de regretter ensuite nos paroles.

Celui qui se retient de parler possède la connaissance ;
l’esprit calme et intelligent.

Même l’imbécile, quand il se tait, passe pour un sage ;
celui qui tient ses lèvres fermées est intelligent.

(Proverbes 17.27-28)

La langue est un tout petit organe qui, s’il n’est pas dompté, a le pouvoir de faire beaucoup de mal autour de nous. C’est une étincelle qui peut brûler une forêt entière.

Bien évidemment, cela ne veut pas dire qu’il faut toujours se taire.

Je parle ici de contrôle de soi, une chose que peu d’entre nous (y compris moi-même) sont capables de montrer dans beaucoup de situations. On veut se défendre, défendre quelqu’un, prouver son opinion, on manque de tempérance et nous vexons vite, on veut se sentir utile à la personne sans se demander si peut être ce dont elle a besoin c’est une oreille attentive et pas un sermon.

Bien sûr il y a la liberté d’expression, que beaucoup de personnes utilisent comme prétexte, “Mais j’ai bien le droit de m’exprimer !”. Certes, mais la liberté de s’exprimer ne vous épargne pas des conséquences de vos paroles, ni de l’effet qu’elles peuvent avoir sur les autres. Maintes fois j’ai regretté une parole et du m’excuser et demander pardon à la personne concernée.

Tel, qui bavarde à la lègère,
blesse comme une épée ;
la langue des sages guérit.

(Proverbes 12.18)

Après, cette idée de contrôle de soi dans la manière dont on parle peut paraître superficielle. Ne devrais-je pas me concentrer sur mes pensées et motivations ? Tout à fait. Nos paroles révèlent ce qui est dans nos cœurs. Si on parle tout le temps de soi, d’argent, de nos problèmes, il y a certainement des choses à confesser à Dieu en ce qui concerne vos priorités dans la vie et votre perception de Dieu : est-ce vous au volant ou bien Lui ? Prenez-vous les promesses de Jésus au sérieux ?

La tromperie est dans le cœur
de ceux qui trament le mal ;

la joie est pour ceux qui font des
projets de paix.

Proverbes 12.20

Donc oui, qualité avant quantité. Si l’on n’examine pas nos cœurs et nos pensées, ce travail de contrôle de soi peut paraître très religieux et contraignant, voire inutile. Mais c’est là un travail personnel, entre vous et Dieu, et un projet à long-terme ! On ne devient pas sage du jour au lendemain !

Ce que je suggère à mes frères et sœurs dans la foi qui ont du mal à (pardonnez-moi l’expression) “la boucler”, continuez de demander à Dieu de travailler vos cœurs, de vous sanctifier, et en attendant essayez de vous maîtriser. Comme le dit l’expression populaire, “Roulez votre langue sept fois dans votre bouche”, et vous éviterez de grosses boulettes.

Que Dieu vous bénisse, et fasse de vous et vos paroles des bénédictions.

-s

 

 

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

shallow nonsense

photoforblogpost nonsense

“It is shallow nonsense to say that God forgives us because He is love. “
~

Bang. Another thought-provoking read as I like them by Mr Oswald Chambers. The man never minced his words and I appreciate his candor when it comes to dispelling any funny thoughts or interpretations of certain biblical essentials.

Now before your foreheads become crowded with too many lines, let me clarify something. I singled out this quote because it caught my attention and challenged me to think more deeply about God’s character and who He is. I hope this post helps you do that too. Chambers does not say that love is not involved in God’s forgiveness process. Of course God is love and of course forgiveness is an expression of His love. However, there are easy mistakes we ought not to make when using those two words together.

“So what’s he saying?” Here’s my understanding of the devotional, which you can read in full here (search for November 19) in all its context.

God cannot just forgive us “like that” by snapping His fingers just because we asked nicely. Chambers explains that in fact, it would be against God’s justice to forgive us, because we are unforgivable due to the depths of our sinful nature. We have grieved Him in too many ways since we first rebelled against Him in the garden of Eden.

“Unforgivable, you say? Yikes. Is there no hope then?”
Of course there is. But before we get into that, there is something that needs to be said. God’s forgiving act towards us did not and cannot happen *just* out of love.  And it isn’t enough to just call on God’s love for forgiveness to be granted. Of course love is important. As I said earlier, God is love, but God is also holy and pure. It would go against his very nature and his hatred of sin and evil to just forgive us like that without excercising justice and punishment for above mentioned sin and evil. This is actually good news! Why is this good news? Because it shows us that God does care about evil and sin, and that He cannot let them  go unpunished, for that too would go against His very nature (and God cannot deny who He is; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” Book of 2 Timothy chapter 2, verse 13).

This dispells thus any funny modern ideas that:
a) “God doesn’t care about all the evil going on in the world”, and
b) “Because God is love, He forgives everyone”.
Nope. Not how it works.  Our nature is so corrupted that we basically need a new one in order to be forgiven. We need a complete change of heart, mind and spirit. This is the only way to make us holy and pure again so we can be found innocent instead of guilty.

“Ok, so we’re doomed, great… can you get to the hope bit now?”  This is where Jesus’s sacrifice on the Cross and God’s most violent act of mercy towards us come into play. Once we have been made aware or ‘convincted’ that we have sinned against a holy God (Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.” Book of Psalms 51:4), and recognise that we are unforgivable, that our sin must be found and pronounced guilty first and be punished, that we need to be completely renewed, and how helpless we are in the face of our intolerably great iniquity, then and only then can we look at the Cross of Christ and see the hope that it gives–and how great God’s love is.

“So God needed Jesus to die on the Cross to show His love?”
No. That’s the thing. God did not need to provide a way for us to be made new and find forgiveness. He chose to! That’s called grace – it’s underserved, it cannot be earned. God sent sinless, holy (and willing!) Jesus to die for the sinful, unholy ones (us, basically) and to take the punishment that our sin and evil deeds deserve. It’s shocking. It’s brutal. It’s mind-boggling. It’s heart-wrenching. It’s incomprehensible. It may seem cruel. But it is the only place where God’s conscience can be satisfied. It’s grace at its best–the most amazing display of God’s love towards us, inviting us to “Come to the Cross, give it all to Jesus and you will be forgiven. Then go and sin no more.”

Can you see the difference now? That God doesn’t forgive just out of love but that he forgives us on the basis of what Jesus did on the Cross? And this is how God has shown his love towards us – in providing for a way, in providing for Jesus to be our substitute. It is by coming to Him, by confessing our sins to Jesus and asking Him to make us whole again that we can be forgiven.

That’s what the bible teaches anyway and why the  word “gospel” means “good news”.

Now, I realise this is not a popular thing to write about: telling people that they are too gross and sinful inside to deserve any kind of love or forgiveness from God. That our problems need to first be dealt on the spiritual and depths-of-your-heart levels. I know because I was (and sometimes still am) like that. As humans we are very proud and don’t like being told that something is wrong with us or that we need any help–especially not from God.

“Ugh, let me just get on with my life!”
Fair enough. But I’d be a hypocrite if I claimed to love Jesus and know the way to eternal life and did not at least try to share this great hope in which I believe. You have your own opinions and may disagree. That’s alright. I hope this was at least educational. However, if you were touched and feel this is something you want to explore deeper, then feel free to contact me and ask any questions you might have.

Be blessed, dear reader.
And til the next post.