Hear Me Lord, Finding Intimacy Again with God

“Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy” – Psalm 86:1

As days go by in our life here on earth so many times our focus gets fixed on something transient and passing. Daily cares of life, all the needs and desires of others in our lives, even our own ambitions, and goals sometimes cloud the vision for what really matters. Remember when you started to know the Lord, the day you bowed your knee and spoke with your Lord who redeemed you? Remember the awe in your heart for Him who died for you? How sitting at his feet for hours was easy? We all can drift from this intimate focus on the Lord, where our hearts desire was for Him to just hear us and answer. Where we had a poor and needy attitude of being poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3). If you have drifted from this goal, you can still put your main aim to know Jesus more intimately, He is waiting for you.

There is a wonderful contemporary song that captures some of the heart of being a friend with Jesus but still having great fear and awe in what He did for us, here are some of the lyrics: 

Wonderful, merciful Saviour
Precious Redeemer and Friend
Who would’ve thought that a Lamb could
Rescue the souls of men
Oh, You rescue the souls of men

Here in our weakness You find us
Falling before Your throne
Oh, we’re falling before Your throne

Today, set your heart back to the place where you first found Him. Not in just Bible reading, or in ministry endeavours or other Christian things, but in that place where you sat at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:39) for Him alone. One day we will bow at His feet in heaven in adoration. Let us also now be found at His feet in intimate worship and relationship.

Lord, I bow today before Your feet, I look to Your face and just long to hear words from Your mouth. Forgive me for being so distracted with other things. Precious Lord let me know You more intimately day after day until I see you soon. Amen.

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Not Forgetting God’s Mercy

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

As humans we are prone to forget many things. Everyone has walked out the home and realized at some point they forgot their keys to the car. Also in spiritual life we are prone to forget things that God speaks to us or does for us. When we are in a situation where we are hurt we are prone to react in a way that is not like how God treated us. When God forgives us, He forgets. When we forgive, we continue to talk about the problem or bring back peoples sins when it is convent for us. The Scripture passage does not tell us to be “angry” as God is angry, or to be judging as God will judge the motives of all men’s hearts one day (1 Corinthians 4:5). Rather it says for us to be “merciful.” 

Life affords us many opportunities to be merciful to others, though we have great reasons to accuse or condemn, God’s calling on our lives is to forgive and show mercy. The season of Lent is coming up in the Church calendar. This could perhaps be a time to think each day of how to be merciful to others in your life. We all need forgiveness and mercy daily from God, why not share that grace to others in your life? The prodigal son deserved only judgement for his foolish decisions but the character of God in the Father shows how mercy He is in embracing the son and rewarding him, though undeserving. When we celebrate Communion, when we daily pray “forgive us our trespasses” (Matthew 6:12) daily, let us feel God’s mercy and share that mercy with others. There are many ways to grow in Christ-likeness and mercy is one of them. Let us not forget mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).

Uttering No Slander Towards Others

Whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbour, and casts no slur on others. – Psalm 15:3

The psalmist David speaks of the type of person who can dwell near the Lord. When we speak against someone’s reputation this is never a light thing. One who God dwells near should have absolutely no slander in his lips or in the heart. We all judge others or form opinions in our minds of others, we must be quick to cast down thoughts that are not based on our personal experience of the individual. When we hear stories or third-party stories of another brother and sister in the Lord and then cast a judgment we err. It is even worse when we take part in slandering someone when we have never known or spoken with the actual individual being blamed. Even if a brother or sister has erred in a significant way this is not our job or right to slander them, rather we should seek to pray for them and show the love of God. If we are praying for our sister or brother we will not be able to sin against them, but when we are sinning against them we can never truly pray for them.

Polycarp bishop of Smyrna says, “Not quickly crediting an evil report against any one, not severe in judgment, as knowing that we are all under a debt of sin. If then we entreat the Lord to forgive us, we ought also ourselves to forgive; for we are before the eyes of our Lord and God.” Though we know the theology that God is ever-present seeing all things, we usually act as if God cannot see. When we talk about others, ruin someone’s name, write words that accuse we do not realize all of these words are in the sight of God. Our Lord even said that every single small word we utter or write will be held for account in the last day (Matthew 12:36). In the passage we are looking at the last statement is of significance. In Hebrew the words for “casts no slur” essentially gives us a word picture of someone picking up an object to throw at someone. Here we have words being spoken to others in reproach and scorn. The word “slur” in hebrew gives the sense of something that is despised. One who is a child of God cannot carry such hate in their heart no matter even if evil was done to them. When we speak about others in such ways we end up hurting ourselves spiritually and the Lord does not dwell near us. When we judge others like this we end up judging our Lord who became sin for that individual. We end up speaking against him as a despised thing. All humans are made in the image of God and when we sin against them we in a sense sin against God. David in his confession of sin against other humans realized that the sin was against God (Psalm 51:4). Let us do not wrong to our neighbour even to those who have hurt us.

Stay with me, Lord (a prayer by Padre Pio)

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.

Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak
and I need Your strength,
that I may not fall so often.

Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life,
and without You, I am without fervor.

Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light,
and without You, I am in darkness.

Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will.

Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear Your voice
and follow You.

Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You
very much, and always be in Your company.

Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You.

Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is,
I want it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of love.

Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close, and life passes;
death, judgment, eternity approaches. It is necessary to renew my strength,
so that I will not stop along the way and for that, I need You.

It is getting late and death approaches,
I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows.
O how I need You, my Jesus, in this night of exile!

Stay with me tonight, Jesus, in life with all it’s dangers. I need You.

Let me recognize You as Your disciples did at the breaking of the bread,
so that the Eucharistic Communion be the Light which disperses the darkness,
the force which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart.

Stay with me, Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to You,
if not by communion, at least by grace and love.

Stay with me, Jesus, I do not ask for divine consolation, because I do not merit it,
but the gift of Your Presence, oh yes, I ask this of You!

Stay with me, Lord, for it is You alone I look for, Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit, because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more.

With a firm love, I will love You with all my heart while on earth
and continue to love You perfectly during all eternity. Amen

I Am The Vine by St. Cyril of Alexandria

St. Cyril expounds of the passage of Scripture John 15:5 speaking of the union of the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit. A rich and powerful exposition from the Bishop of Alexandria, Egypt in AD 400. He is known for the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus where he defended the “inseparable unity” of the Divine and human nature of Christ. Read now his exposition:

The Lord calls himself the vine and those united to him branches (John 15:5) in order to teach us how much we shall benefit from our union with him, and how important it is for us to remain in his love. By receiving the Holy Spirit, who is the bond of union between us and Christ our Savior, those who are joined to him, as branches are to a vine, share in his own nature.

On the part of those who come to the vine, their union with him depends upon a deliberate act of the will; on his part, the union is effected by grace. Because we had good will, we made the act of faith that brought us to Christ, and received from him the dignity of adoptive sonship that made us his own kinsmen, according to the words of Saint Paul: He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.

The prophet Isaiah calls Christ the foundation, because it is upon him that we as living and spiritual stones are built into a holy priesthood to be a dwelling place for God in the Spirit. Upon no other foundation than Christ can this temple be built. Here Christ is teaching the same truth by calling himself the vine, since the vine is the parent of its branches, and provides their nourishment.

From Christ and in Christ, we have been reborn through the Spirit in order to bear the fruit of life; not the fruit of our old, sinful life but the fruit of a new life founded upon our faith in him and our love for him. Like branches growing from a vine, we now draw our life from Christ, and we cling to his holy commandment in order to preserve this life. Eager to safeguard the blessing of our noble birth, we are careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, and who makes us aware of God’s presence in us.

Let the wisdom of John teach us how we live in Christ and Christ lives in us: The proof that we are living in him and he is living in us is that he has given us a share in his Spirit. Just as the trunk of the vine gives its own natural properties to each of its branches, so, by bestowing on them the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, the only-begotten Son of the Father, gives Christians a certain kinship with himself and with God the Father because they have been united to him by faith and determination to do his will in all things. He helps them to grow in love and reverence for God, and teaches them to discern right from wrong and to act with integrity.

Finding Fulfillment in God Alone

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” – Psalm 42:2

Life is full of needs. Emotional needs, physical needs, purpose and goals. We are constantly needing to find a sense of fulfillment in life in what we do, who we are and our surroundings. God made humankind with this inner void of needing companionship, comfort and communion. Jesus did not desire this as he shared with people that He would comfort them and give them rest of souls (Matthew 11:29). Jesus knew of the inward thirst of the human soul and put Himself as the giver of the solution (John 4:14). Though the world offers hundreds of solutions to the deep needs of mankind, only God truly fulfills all these needs. As Christians when we are honest with ourselves we realize that many times we have sought fulfillment in places other then God alone. At at time of knowing this Israel forsook God and sought their fulfillment and purpose in other things and God chastised them that these were “broken cisterns” that would not hold water (Jeremiah 2:13). How is it with you today? Have you been seeking pleasure and fulfillment apart from God and His ways? The greater tragedy is we can even be around the things of God and even serving Him but missing that fulfillment and living waters He promised.

St. Augustine prayed this ancient prayer for the Holy Spirit to fill his longing soul: “Oh come, Thou refreshment of them that languish and faint. Come, Thou Star and Guide of them that sail in the tempestuous sea of the world; Thou only Haven of the tossed and shipwrecked. Come, Thou Glory and Crown of the living, and only Safeguard of the dying. Come, Holy Spirit, in much mercy, and make me fit to receive Thee—Amen.”

The Psalmist David asks the question “When can I go and meet with God?” Is that your desire today? Are you longing to be with Him. Spend time in His presence, which ultimately is our greatest privilege on this earth. Have other things clouded your view and desire to be with the One who was pierced for your transgressions? God desires that we come to Him. Jesus says, “Come unto Me.” (Matthew 11:28). Are you weary? Come to Him. Are you tired? Come to Him. Have you spent your time and energies on lesser things? Come to Him. When we choose to simply sit at His feet and listen, He is pleased. If you are fainting or thirsting today, it is a clear sign that you need Him. God meet with God and find that life and joy in His presence that the world can never give.

Having The Right Berean Attitude

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. – Acts 17:11

In modern evangelical circles the Bereans are esteemed as model believers that all should follow, and yes there are great attributes to them but also there are implications taken from them that are untrue. Firstly they were jews, meaning they were religious jews but not believing Christians. Yet Paul the Apostle states they had “noble character” meaning they had a sense of them that they were deep thinkers before coming to quick conclusions on a matter. They were willing to give others the benefit of the doubt. Secondly, we see that they gladly received the message, meaning they were teachable, willing to learn and adjust their own beliefs. They were not so dogmatic to think that they were perfect or not needing correction or perfecting of their thinking of the Scriptures. When they heard reasonable words shared from the truth of Scriptures they eagerly sought these out to see if they really were Scriptural and true. They were not defensive but rather looking to learn and grow in their relationship and walk with God. They were also diligent in that every day they looked to see if the things Paul was sharing was true. They did not just give up or judge Paul but were willing to listen to the other side of the story and not come to quick conclusions. What a wonderful picture of a people who in the end mostly “embraced” the gospel message, they certainly were “noble” and the Lord honoured that.

The Bereans did not spend hours looking for gaps and mistakes in Paul’s and Silas’s teachings but looked to see what was true of what they were saying. Modern believers who esteem Bereans think of these things in a different way. They look to diligently check things with the Bible so they can accuse and criticize another person or ministry. Most people are usually have their mind made up someone is wrong and therefore go ahead and simply look for ways to attack another’s character, calling and ministry. Such ministries are known as discernment ministries or even heresy hunters. Most of those who follow the ways of these “type” of Bereans are joyless, critical in spirit, bitter or even angry. Many believe they can take down the ministry they are accusing and feel they are doing God’s work just like the early Bereans. If you desire to have life and peace, stay with the Word of God and stay away from those who make it their life’s work to criticize and accuse others. Follow the example of the true Bereans who were happy and joyfully to rejoice in truth when it was shared and be willing to grow in our understanding of the Lord.