Are You Awake?

Could you not watch with Me for one hour?
taken from Matthew 26:40

Can you hear the disappointment in Jesus’ voice as He asked His disciples this question?

We will begin with an overview of the complete passage found in Matthew 26:36-46. These verses record what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane before Jesus’ arrest.

Jesus knew what was ahead. He needed to pray and desired the prayers of the disciples. He took His disciples to His favorite place of prayer. Some disciples stayed at one location. (verse 32) Peter, James and John went a little further. (verse 34) Jesus continued even further. (verse 35) I suggest that these garden spots not only refer to physical locations but also to spiritual depth. Symbolically, Jesus went the furthermost into the garden and was the closest to God in prayer.

Although it was late in the evening, Jesus was wide awake! He prayed. “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (verse 39) Then He prayed some more. My Father, if this cup cannot pass unless I drink it, may Your will be done.” (verse 42). Three times He returned to Peter, James and John. Each time they were asleep. Oops! Finally, Jesus said in verse 45, “Are you still sleeping and resting?” Jesus desired His disciples’ prayer support, but they failed Him.

In The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson writes, “The disciples let Jesus down when He needed them most. It didn’t just hurt Jesus; Jesus knew it would hurt them as well.” Soon Peter denied Jesus three times. Batterson adds, “I wounder if Peter would have denied Jesus if he had been praying instead of sleeping? Maybe he failed the test three times because he hadn’t done his prayer homework. We see those three denials as three temptations, but maybe they were three opportunities to get it right. While I can’t prove it, I think Peter would have passed the test if he had prayed through. But he didn’t.”

In verse 41, Jesus gave Peter a warning, “Watch and pray so that you will not enter into temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Peter did not follow Jesus’ advice. Today, we should hear these words spoken to us. Do we fulfill Jesus’ command? Do we pray? Do we listen more to our spirit or our flesh?

Have you ever fallen asleep while praying? I have to admit this happens to me. Going to sleep at night talking with Jesus is not bad. Falling asleep when interceding for a specific need is bad.

For me, talking with Jesus about my day is a relaxing way to fall asleep. I do not mean it as an insult. I do not fall asleep because I am bored talking with Him. I fall asleep praying because I leave my concerns and problems with Him. I rest in His presence.

I consider it a privilege when people ask me to pray for them. I take their requests seriously. Praying for their needs is not a time to fall asleep. This is intercession time. This is spiritual warfare. This is a serious sacred responsibility.

The disciples failed to stay wide awake and pray. I have failed to stay awake while praying. Does that mean that the disciples and I are failures?

Certainly not! It is true that Peter had trouble praying with Jesus on the night of His arrest. However, Jesus seized the opportunity to teach Peter the importance of prayer. Jesus still had plans for him. In John 21, Jesus tells Peter to feed His sheep. Acts 2 records Peter’s anointed sermon at Pentecost. Peter needed to know the power of prayer. And, he needed to know how and when to pray.

Jesus has plans for us. We must be wide awake pray-ers to accomplish these plans. Staying awake to pray can have an additional meaning. We are to stay awake to the things that require prayer in today’s world. We must be alert to who and what we are to pray for. Colossians 4:2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

In Romans 12:12, we are told to be faithful in prayer. I Thessalonians 5:17 says we are to pray without ceasing.

In Colossians 4:2, we are exhorted to devote ourselves to prayer. The prayer of the upright pleases God according to Proverbs 15:8. We would be wise to remember the words of James 5:16, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

I like the Message translation of I Peter 4:7, “Stay wide awake in prayer.

I do not want to hear Jesus ask me, “Could you not watch with Me for one hour? I do not want to disappoint Him. How about you?

A Snowy Scene

While sitting at my desk, I gaze out the window. I see a snowy landscape. It is a snow globe in action. Huge snowflakes are descending. Each flake unique. Each with a special message.

It is a winter wonderland. As I watch the descending snowflakes, I wonder what God is thinking.

Then I hear His gentle whisper. The Lord says, “Look and see – really see Me. See what I am revealing to you. I am speaking through snowflakes.”

The Lord shows me that each snowflake can represent one of His PROMISES. A promise of salvation. A promise of healing. A promise of restoration. A promise of provision.

Hebrews 10:23 encourages us, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.Romans 4:21 tells us that God has the power to do what He has promised.

For me, fresh snow portrays the promise of God’s new mercy every morning. Lamentations 3:23 NLT says, “Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.Freshly fallen snow covers up the grungy old slush that previously littered the ground.

Our lamp post appears to be wearing a hat of snow. Maybe symbolic of the promise of a crown of righteousness. II Timothy 4:8 NLT says, “And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing.

A tree extends its barren branches to receive new snowflakes. I raise my hands in praise to the Lord. I see snow hanging on tree branches. The branches remind me of how I can cling to God’s promises. My empty hands are ready to receive promises fulfilled and prayers answered.

Perhaps snowflakes also represent answers to PRAYERS. I John 5:14 declares, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.Psalm 102:17 says, “He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; He will not despise their plea.

James 1:17 tells us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Answers to our prayers are God’s perfect gifts.

Everything appears peaceful. Is each snowflake a particle of PEACE floating down from our Heavenly Father? Another snowy gift. Jesus says in John 14:27 NLT, I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Colossians 3:15 instructs, Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.Philippians 4:7 informs, And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 29:11 says, “The LORD blesses His people with peace.What a blessing revealed in snowflakes!

In Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster writes about the disciplines of silence and solitude. I experience both this morning. The silence of the snowy atmosphere encourages me to spend time in solitude. I wait quietly to hear the Holy Spirit speak.

Suddenly, two deer appear. They leave footprints in the snow. Initially, I am disappointed that the snow blanket is disturbed. Then I hear a whisper in my ear, “Follow My footprints. They are providing you a blueprint.” Maybe it is more of a “whiteprint” than a blueprint today! Jesus says in John 12:26, “Whoever serves Me must follow Me.

Deuteronomy 13:4 says, “It is the LORD your God you must follow, and Him you must revere. Keep His commands and obey Him; serve Him and hold fast to Him.

Snowflakes are piling up everywhere! I look out another window and observe the scene on our deck. There are multiple mounds of the white stuff. Snowflakes are not selective about where they land. The same can be said regarding promises, prayers and peace. There is a purity within God’s promises. He offers provision through answered prayers. Particles of peace descend upon all.

What a lovely landscape I observe as I look out the window! Like the falling snowflakes, supernatural messages descend to me. It is wonderful to spend time with the Lord in a winter wonderland.

The Heart of Valentine’s Day

In a few days we will be celebrating Valentine’s Day. A day symbolized by a heart. A day to celebrate love. A day to express feelings of the heart. Hearts can be blessed by an outpouring of love. Hearts can be broken by love withheld. Human love can be unpredictable. It can be positive at one moment and negative at the next.

God’s love is different. Here the words of God’s heart to your heart in Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” This is unconditional love!

Today we are thinking of the heart as our loving organ. With our heart, we sense love and share love. This intangible organ may need some repair to be all God designed it to be. Let’s take time to explore scripture relating to the heart while celebrating a special day about love.

Condition of the heart.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23
If we need to guard our hearts, there must be potential for our hearts to waver in the wrong direction.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:21
The heart reveals what we value.

Commandments for the heart.

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5
A challenging commandment first given in the Old Testament.

Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
Mark 12:29-31
When asked which commandment was the greatest, Jesus responded with 2 commandments relating to the heart and love.

I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands.
Psalm 119:10
May this be our response to God’s commands.

Correction for the heart.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9
Watch out! There is both good and bad potential within our hearts.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22
Although a cheerful heart may be what we desire, it may not always be what we feel.

Do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness.
Hebrews 3:8
The hearts of the Israelites were hardened when they rebelled against God. We must be careful! If it happened to them, it can happen to us. Heed this warning.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV
If God finds hardness in our hearts, He does not condemn us. He promises to soften hearts. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18
The Lord does not leave us with hardened or broken hearts.

The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me . . .to heal the brokenhearted. . ..”
Luke 4:18 NKJV
Jesus proclaims that healing hearts is part of His ministry.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Psalm 139:23
Asking God to search our hearts is a good starting point to truly know our heart’s condition.

Consecration of the heart.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me.
John 14:1
There is hope for our hardened and broken hearts.

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
Romans 10:9-10
Salvation is the most important heart issue.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11
Knowing and following God’s Word is the best way to keep our hearts pure.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Matthew 5:8
A wonderful promise!

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14
May this be our life goal!

The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7
Peace is the gift God places in our hearts. It is available on Valentine’s Day and every day!

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.
Psalm 9:1-2
What a wonderful aspiration for Valentine’s Day and every day!

 

 

 

 

A Trinity Quilt

Previously, I shared about the beautiful human quilt God is creating.  (see post for January 29) As I continued to mediate upon the craft of quilting, another possible spiritual quilt came to mind. Last week, I described God as the Master Quilter. This week, I envision God being the quilt. How about a Trinity quilt?

Like most quilts, I visualize the Trinity quilt having three layers. One layer is God the Father. Another layer is God the Son. The third layer is God the Holy Spirit. I think of the hymn Holy, Holy Holy by Reginald Heber. The last line of the first verse declares, “God in three persons, blessed Trinity.”

Genesis 1:26 is the first scripture that reveals there could be such a thing as a Trinity quilt. “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.’” The pronoun “us” reveals the triune nature of God. Then, in His image, He created mankind with a spirit, soul and body.

Matthew 10:16-17 says, “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’” God the Father reveals Jesus as His Son and the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus. The perfect picture of a Trinity quilt!

Let’s take time to examine in depth each layer of our quilt.

Here are a few verses that highlight God as Father.

One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all
Ephesians 4:6
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the
Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name,
Matthew 6:9
(Jesus’ words when teaching the disciples how to pray.)

We move on to a few verses denoting Jesus as the Son of God.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in
Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16
For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son
also to have life in
Himself.
John 5:26
And I will do whatever you ask in My name,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
John 14:13
(Jesus’ role as God’s Son.)
He (Jesus) is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
Colossians 1:17

The Holy Spirit is described in the following verses.

And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter,
that He may abide with you for ever.
John 14:16 KJV
(Words spoken by Jesus)
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name,
will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I
(Jesus) have said to you.
John 14:26
He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Titus 3:6 NLT

More scriptures help develop a symbolic Trinity quilt. The following reveal a few possible quilt qualities.

Psalm 91:4 says, “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” In earlier days, feathers were often used as the batting to add warmth to a quilt.

In Exodus 12, we read about the Israelites placing the blood of a lamb on the door frames of their homes so the death angel would pass over their dwellings. Hebrews 9 tells how much more powerful is the blood of Jesus Christ. Today, we can plead of blood of Jesus over our lives. We can be covered by the blood of Jesus just as we can be covered by a quilt. In both instances, we receive protection.

In John 14 and 16, various translations use different words to describe the Holy Spirit. The Old King James Version refers to the Holy Spirit as the Comforter. A comforter is another term for a quilt.

I particularly like Jesus’ words in John 15:26 as a description of the Trinity quilt. “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, He will testify about Me.

We are still in the middle of winter. Cuddling under a cozy quilt is very inviting. However, no matter what the weather, we can abide under the warmth and protection of the Trinity quilt. Scripture encourages us to do so.

I believe I Peter 1:2 offers us this unique quilt.  “Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

II Corinthians 13:14 invites us to curl up under the quilt of the Trinity by saying, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

However, we are to do more than huddle under this quilt. Matthew 28:19 encourages us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

When we nestle under the Trinity quilt, something special happens. Spiritually, we become one with God. Beth Moore describes it by saying, “when the will of the Father and the will of the child converge as one, the cloudy pillar of God’s glory settles on her shoulders like a down comforter.”

May you be enfolded in the Trinity quilt!