Great Daily Prayers – Part 1

As I read the works and thoughts of great men of God from years past, one of the things that I look for is how did they pray? If prayer is communion and conversation with God, then I want to know how great men of God have prayed. What was their relationship with God like. How did they talk with him and relate to him? Occasionally, I will come across a prayer that impacts me so much, that I record it and periodically pull it out and pray it as it expresses the cry of my heart. These become daily prayers for me. Not that I pray them every single day. But they are recurring prayers in my walk with God at appropriate times in my life.

Over the next couple of days, I'm going to share three of the most recent prayers that have been added to my list of Great Daily Prayers. These three come from Thomas a'Kempis the great 15th century monk. I am sharing these now because they are short, very practical, and applicable during specific times. As time goes on, I will probably share some others. Who knows, maybe you can use them like I do. Be warned: some days they are more difficult to pray than others. And I have found that the days that they are most difficult to pray are the days that I should pray them most.

This on is great when trying to discern my desire vs. God's desire:

Lord, if this is pleasing to you, let it be so.
Lord if it is to your honor, in your name let it be done.
Lord, if you see it is good and beneficial to me, then grant that I may use this to your honor.
But if you know it will be harmful to me and not beneficial to the health of my soul, take away any desire for it from me.

About Journey Students

We believe that students are a part of the church. They are not the church of tomorrow, they are the church of today. As such, we do not believe that students should be largely segregated from the rest of the church. At Journey we do not have a “youth church” or a “youth group.” What we do have is a Student Ministry which seeks to provide adequate and appropriate environments for our students to help them follow Jesus. 

We do recognize that students have a particular set of needs and interests that we have a responsibility to meet with the understanding that contextualization is necessary with every generation and every culture. But we are not a separate entity simply owned and operated by Journey Church. We are Journey Church, and our vision, mission, and goals are the same. We want to help people follow Jesus. The strategy is connect, grow, & serve. So as a Student Ministry we seek to provide adequate and appropriate environments for our students to connect, grow, and serve.

About Journey Church

For-blog

For more information visit takeajourney.org

What kind of church is Journey Church?
Journey Church is an independent non-denominational church. Our body of
believers is diverse and comes from many denominations and backgrounds.
Journey does partner with denominations, groups, and organizations that
offer vital help in assisting us to accomplish our mission. For
example, we partner with the Southern Baptist Convention for the
purposes of world missions. We also partner with the Willow Creek
Association and the Fellowship Church Network in the area of leadership
development.

What are we all about at Journey Church?
Our mission is to help people follow Jesus. We define a follower of Jesus as someone who gets to know Him and responds.

What can I expect at Journey?
You can expect a
group of people that will love you and welcome you for who you are. You
will see all different types of people from all different walks of life
looking to move forward in their journey with Christ. You will find
worship that is alive and relevant, teaching that is helpful and
inspiring, and an environment where you can come as you are and be
accepted for who you are. In short, you will find a place where you can
be comfortable just being you.

The Lion and The Lamb

See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.
Then
I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain.
Revelation 5:5, 6

In reading the devotions of Jonathan Edwards this morning I was suddenly struck with the simultaneous majesty and abject humbles of Jesus. As you read through this, take time to pause and reflect on the excellency of Christ.

    We see that Christ is in the text compared to both (the Lion and the Lamb), because the diverse excellencies of both wonderfully meet in him.

    There do meet in Jesus Christ infinite highness and infinite condescension. Christ as he is God, is infinitely great and high above all. He is higher than the kings of the earth: for he is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is higher than the heavens, and higher than the highest angels of heaven. He is so high that he is infinitely above any need, above our reach that we cannot be profitable to him, and above our conceptions that we cannot comprehend him.
    Christ is the creator and great possessor of heaven and earth: he is sovereign Lord of all; he rules over the whole universe, and doth whatsoever pleaseth him; his knowledge is without bound; his wisdom is perfect, and what none can circumvent; his power is infinite, and none can resist him; his riches are immense and inexhaustible; his majesty infinitely awful.

BUT

    Christ is one of infinite condescension. None are so low or inferior, but Christ's condescension is sufficient to take a gracious notice of them.
    His condescension is great enough to become their friend. It is great enough to become their companion, to unite their souls to him in spiritual marriage. It is great enough to take their nature upon him, to become one of them, that he may be one with them. Yea, it is great enough to abase himself yet lower for them, even to expose himself to shame and spitting; yea, to yield up himself to an ignominious death for them. And what act of condescension can be conceived of greater?

How do I even respond to such a one as this? This morning silence was my only response. Then humility. Then worship.

Driving Home from Work

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Yes. I'm blogging from my car. Yes. I am driving. I had to drive to the
other side of Raleigh to pick up a key that I need first thing
tomorrow. It was going to be brought to me but that didn't work out.
That's why it is now after six and I'm running late for dinner. I'm
definitely hittin' up a Starbucks drive thru. Thank God for youth
parents who decide to bless you with a Starbucks gift card. God is good! And so is coffee… But God is better than coffee.

Journey Fusion – Guest Blogger: Kelly Via


Tonight we had an incredible worship night at Journey. It was called Fusion, and it was for families – adults and children – to come together for a night of worship. Cana has been looking forward to it all day, and she went to bed wanting more. The evening began with a station-to-station (shop to shop) event, where parents went with their children to 'booth' like events, played games, and received prizes. Then, all the shops closed down and it was time for the large-group worship time. It was packed out with families; there was a lot of excitement going on!! We sang songs, danced, played games, learned about determination, sang more songs – and had a great night together worshiping Jesus as a group of parents and children. It was a unique event that I think we should do more of!! I can't wait for the next one!

About Smooth

One-Line Bio

Smooth
is a follower of Jesus and a Pastor at Journey Church in
Raleigh, NC. He and his wife Kelly have three girls, Cana, Kayil and Karis.

Biography

Smooth
and Kelly came to Journey in February of 2007. They had been looking
for a church family that they could believe in and invest their lives
in, and realized they had finally found it when they found Journey.
Needless to say they were excited to begin a new level of involvement
as Smooth joined the pastoral staff in November of 2007.
Smooth has some degrees you probably don’t care about, and hopes to one
day hold a Ph.D. in Christian Ethics (which you probably also don’t
care about). Smooth and Kelly have three girls Cana, Kayil, and Karis consider raising a genuine Jesus-loving family their top calling in
life.

Interests

Following
Jesus, theology, philosophy, ethics, church history, studying
Scripture, my family, being a great husband and dad, Jeeps, music, and
probably a lot of other things I can’t think of right now.

“The Wonderful Effects of Divine Love”

In my devotions this morning, I came across this prayer of Thomas a'Kempis, a 15th century monk. He  was a part of The Brethren of the Common Life, a community that was founded to counter the lukewarmness that had developed in the faith of the Roman Catholic Church. It was in this context that he wrote The Imitation of Christ, a literary masterpiece with wonderful insights into spiritual life and the human condition. The portion from which I am quoting comes from chapter 5 of book 3 entitled "The Wonderful Effects of Divine Love."

Ah, Lord God, holy lover of my soul, when you come into my heart everything within me rejoices.
You are my glory and the exultation of my heart–my hope and refuge in the day of trouble.
But because my love is still weak and my virtue imperfect, I need to be strengthened and comforted by you–visit me often, therefore, and teach me with holy discipline.
Free me from evil passions and cleanse my heart of all improper affections, so that being inwardly healed and thoroughly cleansed, I will be fit to love, courageous to suffer, and steady to persevere.

Don’t Mess With My Family

In Exodus 20:12, God commands that we honor our Fathers and our Mothers. He commands the same thing again in Deuteronomy 5:16. Again, Jesus repeats the same command several times in the New Testament gospels. Most of the time we teach our kids that this passage is teaching that they are to obey their parents. Well, that's certainly part of it, but there is much much more to this command than simple obedience. The word that Jesus uses for "honor" is the Greek word tima, which means to estimate or value at a certain price, to deem or hold worthy; to honor.

Here's the deal. Yes, it is certainly implied here that by virtue of being parents, children should respect them. But the literal meaning of the word is to "estimate or value at a certain price." The image is of someone musing over something, studying it, learning about it, and then deciding how much that object is worth to him. I think too often we have taught this passage to mean that regardless if your parents are morally corrupt, obstinate in their relationships with God, and otherwise complete imbeciles, you still need to respect them, obey them, and honor them. This becomes difficult for kids who have emotionally, spiritually, or physically abusive parents. This passage makes much more sense to me now that I understand the word tima. Study your parents. Observe the fruits of the Spirit in their lives. Remember all that they have done for you. Observe their character. Kids know their parents' true character more than anyone else. And then see how highly you should esteem them and honor them. What value would you place on them? For most of us, we will probably realize that we have not valued them enough. Unfortunately, like a young man I was talking with yesterday, many parents will be weighed in the balance and found wanting. My heart went out to him, because I do not know what that is like. For an hour we compared and contrasted his parents with mine. How blessed I am!

This is probably why I get so defensive when someone tries to mess with my family. Just this past week, a man whom I respect attempted to call my dad's charater into question. Sorry, not gunna happen. Now, my dad doesn't need me to defend him. He himself stayed quiet on the issue (as he always does) prefering for God and God alone to be his judge. But I couldn't let it slide. I was angry, and I believe I was justified in my anger. I had a few choice words with this man, and demanded that he give my dad an apology. Later, he backed down a little and apologized. And I was left to process through what had conspired. I was examining myself, trying to understand why I get so heated so quickly about stuff like that. This morning, I finally understood. It's because I honor my dad in the true sense of the word: tima. I have been with him through the years, lived with him, traveled with him, and have seen his true character. My dad is a man of God, and I hope to one day be half the man that he is. So Dad, it's an honor to honor you. I love you.

Secret Faults

Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults."
Psalm 19:12

This morning I was reminded of my need to ask for the Holy Spirit to illuminate my heart and mind everyday. Let me explain. Every time I come to the Lord in prayer, I already know some of my faults that I need to address with him. Things that I’ve done and mistakes that I’ve made since we last spoke (just 5 minutes before). But reading this verse this morning, I realized for the first time that the psalmist is not talking about sins that he has kept hidden from others but sins that he himself is not aware of.
Jonathan Edwards the great theologian said, "By secret faults, the Psalmist means those which are secret to himself, those sins which were in him or which he was guilty of, and yet was not aware of." How is this possible? How does one commit sins of which he is unaware? Edwards further explains the fact that "many persons live in ways which are displeasing to God, and yet are not sensible of it, may arise from the deceitful nature of sin. Sin always carries a degree of darkness with it; and the more it prevails, the more it darkens and deludes the mind."
So here’s how it works, we do something that displeases God. Yes, we know it displeases God, but it’s just once, right!? Unfortunately, along with that sin comes a certain degree of darknesss that, in turn, darkens and deludes our minds. The longer we live in rebellion, the less we realize that our actions are even displeasing to God, until one day we have a complete blind spot regarding this particular sin. So we go about our merry way, assuming that we are good with God, not even realizing that we are offensive to him.
So how do we remove the blind spot? It requires the work of the Holy Spirit to illuminate our hearts and minds. In another place the Psalmist prayed "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." I challenge you to pray this prayer everyday. Ask the Holy Spirit to search you and know your heart and reveal to you any offensive way. Then, simply wait. Wait for him to speak to you. He will speak, and he will show you things that displease him that never even thought about. And when you deal with those things everyday, you will find yourself growing closer to Jesus than you ever thought possible.