We are weaponless and vulnerable without prayer. Being in prayer mode throughout the day strengthens our resolve and our relationship with Our Lord.
~ Lisa Blair
Prayer is needed at all times. It catalyzes, activates, everything that happens in life. It empowers us to persevere in difficulty, exude hope in all situations, and reside in a state of patience despite the prevailing circumstances.
It causes us to supplant blaming God, and reviling others for our current conditions with peace. It provides hope (in eternal life), enduring faith, and rest in knowing God is with us and will see us through this walk, called life.
It is crucial that we develop (our) practice of continual, persistent prayer. This means throughout the day, in good moments and uncomfortable times. Prayer can be as simple as calling on Christ, a single sentence or a long(er) dialogue. You can do it standing, sitting, on your knees, or prone on the floor. Your eyes can be open or closed. Your hands can be 🙏🏽 pressed together, or open.
Our God is good and receives us as we are in the moment, pleased that we invited Him into our heart.
We are called to rejoice in the Lord. And , have hope which is founded on faith, and faith on the Divinity of God.
Why do we struggle to live what we believe is enough, until we reach rough terrain, or old age and realize, God is our strength and relying on self is futile?
~ Lisa Blair
God created a headstrong people and gave us free-will. Free-will is the option to choose to live a carnal life or a Godly life. God does not stand in our way, but instead allows us to make the decision to choose Him, and live a Godly, eternal life, or flail about on our own, destined to rot in hell.
As we hunger for true life, we begin to understand that only God can provide the comfort we seek. Once we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, the comfort and strength we seek come through the Holy Spirit, who instantaneously takes up residence in us, and becomes our inner man.
It’s mind-boggling to think that even as Christians, who have surrendered our lives to Christ, still find it difficult to be obedient and dependent upon Him. If you are, or were, like me and so many others, we were raised to be independent, to forge ahead relying on our own decision-making abilities, and take the bull by the horns.
Hearts and Bodies Fail, Death is Inevitable
The truth is, our bodies and minds fail us time and time again. At some point, we become exhausted, and we search for strength and realize we must rely on God, who is our eternal strength. There is no other, especially self that can release the fear, and the weakness felt when our bodies and minds fail, in life and death.
2 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. Psalms 18:2 KJV
God is our Rock, in Him, and only Him, do we have strength. When we realize He has given us options, we also realize free-will truly means surrender and not persevering on our own. It means relying on His strength to see us through.
Again, I emphasize, free-will has two sides. God wants us to choose to either accept Him as our Lord and Savior, thus being in relationship with Him and being insured of eternal life/salvation, or remain where we are in sin moving forward blindly.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9 ESV
When we fully and completely surrender, there is clarity in understanding that it is attached to obedience and dependency upon God’s Word. What seems confusing to many is that surrender is two prong and relies on total obedience and dependence upon Him. It does not mean we should enter into a catatonic state and wait for God to move us like a chess piece, it means to go to Him in prayer and ask for guidance while planning. It means learning his Word through reading the Bible and strengthening your relationship with Him. Once we begin to move down His path, we understand that we should not stray to the left or the right but to listen to His quiet, strong voice and allow Him to inform our decision-making.
God’s Will and His Way
Quite often, His plans for our lives are different than ours. How many of you have had wealth, prestige, and career opportunities that in your carnal world were exciting and clearly placed you on the path of success? Likewise, how many of you also heard God’s quiet voice saying, ‘stay with me, this is not your path’? God is the source of our happiness, not wealth, not public acclaim, not the clamor of friends, but relationship with Him. Knowing God is your strength is knowing that He alone is your supreme joy and that He is your friend and portion, now and forever.
If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. John 7:17 ESV
Only God can give strength and comfort in the present and on our deathbed. Our flesh will always fail, but God is the strength of our soul and gifts us with eternal salvation. In health and in weakness, we should always attempt to persevere to walk in His Will and His Way, not our own. Without God, our life is only a self-inflicted burden without direction or cause. Without God in life and in death, we remain orphans, naked-without His covering, unprotected, and subject to eternal death. We remain portionless forever.
Once we have been freed, we are not to return to the servitude of our sin nature, our carnal man framed in lust, ego, material gains, and all that aligns with the evil one’s motives to destroy us and separate us from a Godly life.
Maintaining freedom from sin is a daily struggle; it is easy to slip back into our old ways like Peter who later became Christ’s (primary)Apostle. The beauty is that Jesus has freed us and; we have been given the gift of sanctification and redemption.
Not to sound preachy, but we must remain alert and operate in clarity to overcome the old shackles of sin and continue to live by God’s Will and His Way.
When we find ourselves falling prey to temptation, we must immediately self-correct. It is easier to do if the act or thought requires significant input, but much more difficult if it is subtle.
The new decade allows us to walk down the path of obedience, especially during this time of global uncertainty. We must always stay alert. We are Gods’ children. We have been freed by the Son. We are free from our shackles of sin.
Christ renamed several of His disciples to give them a new identity, demonstrating their new creature in Christ. While our names may not have changed, we, like Peter, battle the old man-the natural man, while maturing into the new man. The process is worth examining.
Christians, as with the case of most people today, question who we are. We know we are new creatures in Christ, but that does not magically eliminate our carnal or natural being. This is only the beginning of our evolution. Before being saved, our values are variables that change depending upon conditions and circumstances. We are comparable to chameleons.
This Post is a short study on the evolutionary growth of Peter, who was born Simon Peter, the natural man, and transformed into Peter, the new man. It highlights his struggles, weaknesses, strengths, as well as his growth. Examining Peter’s life should give any believer hope. Simon Peter evolved into Peter over time, it was not miraculous, or immediate, it was an expansive timeline. Our evolutionary process may take as long or longer than Peters took. The important things to note are: have hope, stay in prayer, and allow God to direct your path, always examining if it is the old man operating or the new man of God moving forward.
The Evolution of Simon Peter
Peter’s birth name was Simon Peter. He was outspoken, strong-willed, and impulsive. He was a husband, father of two, and a partner in a thriving fishery; he was a fisherman. It could be said, his life was full. He knew himself as Simon Peter, the man, was a practicing Jew and followed the Law of Moses. Was he content with his natural self? We do not know. Was he seeking his real self? Who knows. Did he innately know he would one day leave everything, to follow Christ, and become his real self, Simon Peter, probably not? Do we know who we really are in God’s eyes, or the plans He has for us, probably not?
Simon Peter didn’t stand out. He was an uneducated Jew, Acts 3:13. He was a Hebrew, a follower of The Mosaic Law, like most. However, despite his failings and his strengths, the Lord chose to mold Simon Peter into whom He created him to become – Peter, a member of Christ’s inner circle of disciples. As time progressed and Peter accepted Christ as His Lord, Peter walked, learned, and loved Christ. He was a witness to miracles and wonders. But, despite his first-hand knowledge and witness to these events, Simon Peter continued to resurface. The transformed Peter, (Christ, gave him the new name indicating he was a follower and believer), became a new man but remained brash and impulsive. He was the person that stepped out of the boat and onto the surface of the sea to walk to Jesus.
~It was Simon Peter, not Peter, who looked down as he was walking on water (a sign and wonder), lost faith, and began to sink, Matthew 14:28-30.
~It was Simon Peter who calls us to serve but stayed seated and did not join Christ when he washed the disciples’ feet, 1 Peter 5:2.
~It was Simon Peter that told the believers to stay clear-minded and have self-control at all times to pray, 1 Peter 4:7.
~It was Simon Peter who rebuked Christ for speaking of his death, Matthew 16:22.
~It was Simon Peter who fell asleep while Jesus was praying and sweating blood, 1 Peter 2:13.
~It was Simon Peter who slipped back into the Law and suggested they erect three tabernacles, one for each—Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, clustering Jesus with the Old Testament prophets, Matthew 17:4.
~It was Simon Peter who grew angry drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest, John 18:10.
~It was Simon Peter who swore that he would never forsake the Lord, even if everyone else did, and you know the story, he denied Christ three times when he was arrested, Matthew 26:70-74.
~It was Simon Peter who fled when Christ was hung on the cross and hid in fear, 1 Peter 5:1.
How often do we capitulate under challenging times and employ our old values and behavior like Peter? Usually, the conversion is so indistinct we are there before we were aware of slipping. At that moment, we become blind to who we are in Christ, we regress to our old man. Thank God for redemption because we can repent and once again take on the behaviors of Christ who knows our true selves and is molding us to become more like Him.
Despite Peter’s shortcomings, Jesus continued to affirm Peter as the “Rock,” Matthew 16:18-19 and promised him that he, Peter, would become instrumental in establishing Jesus’ Church. After Christs’ resurrection, he named Peter as the one who needed to hear the good news, Matthew 16:7. Jesus made a point of forgiving and restoring Simon Peter to accept and regain his new name, Peter, and recommissioned him as Christ’s’ Apostle, and high priest, John 21,6, 15-17; Hebrews 3:1.
Even after being restored, Peter, who preached on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2, was present when the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit, Acts 8, and was summoned to the home of Roman centurion Cornelius, Acts 10, initially resisted following the instructions to go to Cornelius’ home. Simon Peter struggled with the transformation of his old man to the new man – Peter. We are no different, there is a raging battle between our old man and new.
Peter, the new man, who was not wrought with doubt and fear, ultimately obeyed and went to Cornelius’ home. If Peter had not gone to his home, we might not have witnessed Cornelius receiving the Holy Spirit, Acts 10. Only God knows why he is directing our path. Seemingly at this point, the new man, Peter, should be steadfast. However, that is not the case.
When Peter, the new man, went to Antioch to fellowship with the Gentiles, all was good until the Jews appeared. However, when the legalistic Jews, of which he was as Simon Peter, arrived, he sought to appease them and separated himself from the believing Gentiles, Galatians 2:11-14. Paul admonished him for being a hypocrite. None of us can merge our old man and the new man. We are either one or the other. The battle will continue through this life, but when the old man surfaces, we must repent and pick up our cross in the new man.
Jesus forgives our unfaithfulness. He sees us as He intends us to be, not who we may currently be or were in our pre-redemptive life. Jesus knows our birth/carnal name and receives us as his own, the new man. In today’s times, He may not actually rename us, but he does give us a new life.
Jesus was patient with Peter through his disobedience, arrogance, fear, and denial. Peter was a fisherman and became a fisher of men, who matured into one of the Lord’s most dedicated apostles. He is known as one of the most well-known disciples and was instrumental in establishing the church in Samaria, Act 8. He brought the gospel to the Gentiles, Acts 10-11. He preached the sermon at Pentecost, where three thousand believers received the Holy Spirit, Acts 3.
The point is, God is patient and will wait until he can change you. If He does not give up on us, neither should we give up on ourselves. He created us to do His work. To paraphrase the scripture, God has plans for us that will prosper us and not destroy us. God, is patient and monitors us as we evolve into the person He envisioned. God knows our challenges, our setbacks, and our victories.
As we mature in the Word and obey God, our story will unfold just as Peters did. Was Peter perfect? No, absolutely not. Were there moments when the natural man won out? Yes. We were born into sin, we all fall short of the glory of God. None of us is perfect; only Jesus is perfect. God could have created us as automatons. He chose to create us in His likeness and instilled us with his own will and desires. Why, because God wants a relationship with us. He sacrificed His only Son to save us from sin. He knows we are a work in progress, He created us to desire His will and not our own, and that is all God requires that we surrender, depend on Him and be obedient to the Word. He wants us to evolve from our natural man to our new man.
The Bible is replete with sinners who received salvation after leading destructive lives. I also find it interesting that these examples clearly exemplify God’s expectations for all believers. No excuses, God laid the foundation demonstrated in Peter’s character study. Now it is time to become who we really are; we are His workmanship, ever-changing in His likeness. This leads back to – only God knows the real you and through prayer and obedience we will learn who we are in Christ.
Images – Google Images. LAB Photos
Resources – Who is Peter in the Bible? GotQuestions.org; Bible.com; Peter: A Case Study in Character, KenBoa.org; Peter, studyandobey.com
The earth is ours, a gift from God. Are we good caretakers?The responsibility is ours to accept. God’s footprint is our carbon footprint.
~ Lisa Blair
Your Footprint Leads To You
Many years ago I read a story about a teenager that burglarized a store very early in the morning and while he was rummaging through this small town store a snow storm began to drop thick snow on the ground. When the teenager left the store he walked home. The police followed his footprints, in the snow, directly to his home.
We are in the midst of a snow storm. Our disregard for earths environment has resulted in catastrophic changes to the earth. Some debate that climate change is a natural event and there is truth to that statement, however, industry created a byproduct, pollution. Pollution is equivalent to the snow storm, and the footprint is the decay it causes, leading directly back to us.
As Christians, we must examine these climatic chances through two lenses, the natural and the spiritual. Our natural lens focuses on the need to produce low cost goods, at low overhead production. Our spiritual lens focuses on the responsibility God gave us eons ago in the Garden of Eden.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” ~ Genesis 2:15 NIV
Many hikers feel that leaving footprints behind them causes damage to the trails. In an effort to leave the earth as they found it, for others to benefit from its pristine view, they sweep directly behind them to eliminate their footprint. We can take a lesson from the hikers. It is time to correct how we impact the earth individually by recycling what we can, eliminating the use of plastics, and sweeping behind us wherever we can.
We Are Caretakers
This morning during prayer, climate and the disregard for God’s earth entered my thoughts in prayer. My conversation with God resulted in an understanding of our responsibility for God’s footprint, leading back to Adam and Eve. God created the earth for us, with the expectation that we would care for the planet.
To put it bluntly, we fell short and mankind was expelled from Eden. [This is not the full reason, but pertinent to this post.] The short story is – we failed. But God is a God of second chances.
The battle between good and evil has prevailed throughout time, carnality vs spirituality. One seeking to get the most for the least, the other attempting to preserve the garden.
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. ~ John 3:17 ESV
As children of God, the Holy Spirit dwells in us. It is through this relationship that we know and feel the responsibility to protect the earth. It is time to wake up and receive His daily mercies leading us to protect the earth God gave us.
My new mantra —
“God’s Footprint is my carbon footprint.”
If each of us go into prayer to seek guidance, we can change our footprint. God uses us to instruct and direct needed changes. There is an old saying, ‘it is never over until God says it is over.’ Our actions will either exacerbate current conditions, or begin to reverse them. Plastic islands are a byproduct we can eliminate, which will help revive the oceans. Air pollution, caused by particulates from industry and individual use can be exchanged for less destructive products, allowing us to better protect our ozone layer, or throwing things away with reckless abandon, litter can be mitigated, or better yet eradicated. We can become earths caretakers as God planned.
Jesus humbled himself to the point of death to give us life. We should be able and willing to humble ourselves and, honestly, repent for our sins (stating what they are or were) and start anew (fresh). It is never too late, God forgives us when we repent, allowing us to move-on shackle free. Christ gave us the opportunity to rise above who we (presently) are. It is time to change our home location, we are in this world, but not of this world.
Go to a quiet place and speak to God, ask Him to forgive you. You choose the place. It could be in the midst of a train station, bar, standing on the corner in busy traffic. Just still yourself and pray. He will receive you wherever you are at the moment.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Note: This study is focused on the green pastures, still waters and our restoration.)
The 23rd Psalm says that God will make you lie down in green pastures, and lead you to still waters. He does this because He wants to restore our souls and guides us in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Why does our Father look out for us day and night, week after week, year after year until we leave this earth? He is our parent. He sees our weaknesses as well as our strengths. We watches us run to and fro all day long, every day. When we are still, our minds are still racing. When we sleep, we seldom experience REM sleep (deep sleep). Our thoughts are in constant flux. God sees us and knows that it is different to nurture a relationship with us if we cannot be still and focused for more than a moment. He seeks us in the quiet space, a place of peace.
Jesus is our Shepard, He keeps us from want. He protects us and restores us when we feel empty and lost. The beauty is that Jesus is here for us when we experience success, and love life, as well as when we are in the valley.
When you read then phrase green pastures, what do you envision? My green pasture has green trees surrounding it, and flowers all around. The grass is green and tall enough to blow in the breeze. There is quiet, yet the sound of nature, the breeze, birds chirping, and bees buzzing permeates the pasture. It is a peaceful place. The sun shines down on it, and when you lay in the grass, you feel it’s warm rays and the coolness of the soft grass.
The Lord’s pasture is not myopically designed, it can exist in rural communities and in urban environments. The pastures blanket all parts of the world. In other instances, people may define a pasture to fit their setting. Parks equate to green space and are rightfully fields, reminiscent of pastures; you see these people laying in the grass in parks. Green space exists as part of oases in some parts of the world as well as mountainous plateaus. We can define our own pasture, as the place the Lord instructs us to experience calm. But why must we lay down or envision ourselves laying down you may ask because it is part of Gods prescription for us to unwind, slow down, and experience Him. This is a place where He restores our soul and gives us fresh air to breathe in and exhale to slow our heartbeat and gentle anxieties. It is a place of peace, where time is not the governor of your next move.
Jesus also leads us beside still waters. Still, waters can be interpreted as a pond, a lake, or a tributary, and when I was young, a flooded part of the park after rainfall or melting snow, part of the seasonal change. We are led to still waters that are, like pastures, defined by the terrain around us. When I experience still waters, my mind clears and the activity of the day cease to exist, it refreshes me. It is a place to escape our normal daily activities. It’s the place you hear birds chirping, small animals drinking at the water’s edge, and is the most comfortable environment we can lavish in and recognize that God created it for our benefit.
As adults, we are (generally) not afforded the time during the day to visit a pasture or still waters, we are, however, provided with the image of both. During breaks at work, or home in the midst of chores, we are able to escape in prayer and meditation, imagine laying in our pasture/field/green space, near still waters, exhaling and spending time with our Lord as he restores our soul.
The scripture continues with, He restores my soul. It is during these restoration moments that we can discard the chaotic energy and listen for our Lord’s voice. It is the time when we can hold a conversation that would translate into more than 140 characters. As our soul is restored, we become stronger and intentionally more dependent upon our Lord. It is through these experiences that we begin to understand that we cannot go it alone and be present with the Lord. Relationship success is determined in part by proximity. Our soul is restored when we are in close relationship with the Lord, only He can heal our soul. It is our responsibility to maintain and cherish the relationship. God is always waiting for us to call upon and spend time with Him. Through His righteousness, we are saved. through His righteousness, we receive the benefit of dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.
Images – Psalm 23, Dust Off the Bible; B. Blair; LAB Photos Scripture – BibleStudyTools.com Resources – Psalm 23, Hayford’s Bible Handbook; The Twenty-third Psalm, Charles L. Allen; Nelson’s Quick Reference, Bible Commentary, Warren Wiersbe
I am a Christian, a retired teacher, a mother and a grandmother. I love to read and I love the Lord Jesus Christ! Unless otherwise specified ,all visual illustrations are from the YOU VERSION APP of the Bible.