While each day ahead can be seen as an unwritten page that I write with my life, that is only from our perspective here on earth. The Psalmist says that “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Even though God has already seen each story, chapter, page, and word, it has been fun to write out each page these past two years and share them here on my blog. I haven’t really given much thought about whether I will continue these daily pages or not, and if I do whether I will keep a similar format. That’s a decision for tomorrow. 🙂
Today began early as I had a lot to get done. When I arrived at church, the lot had been plowed and we had only received a dusting of snow after I had cleared the walks last night, so my outside work didn’t take long. I did fire up the snowblower to make easy work of clearing the walkways that had been filled in by the snowplow and then ran it down the walks to remove the little bit of snow that was there. Once the outside work was done, I headed inside to do a little more prep in the prayer station areas and spend time with God going over the sermon. The sermon I shared during our morning worship gathering was titled, “Praying for OPEN Eyes”. As has become my custom, I used a word from the title as my outline and today that word was OPEN. Here are the main points we considered:
- Praying for Observant eyes: Perhaps the most obvious point of praying for open eyes is to use them for the purpose they were designed — observing things. Sometimes we are so sure of ourselves that we don’t pay attention to the way things really are. In John 4, Jesus states that the disciples are saying it is four months until harvest yet He tells them to open their eyes and look, the field is ripe for harvest. How often do we miss our part in the spiritual harvest because we do not have eyes that are open to seeing it? God wants us to lift our eyes up to observe the people around us and see them as He sees them, not writing any of them off as unreachable.
- Praying for Purposeful eyes: In the midst of a world filled with trouble, it is important that we pray for eyes that seek God’s purpose in all things. In John 9, Jesus encounters a blind man and His disciples ask, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” The response of Jesus was neither sinned, the purpose of this was so that the work of God could be displayed in his life. We often need God to open our eyes to see His purpose — both when things are going well and when they are not. Our apparent victories really aren’t about us becoming successful in the world’s eyes any more than our heartaches are about us becoming failures. When are eyes are opened to seeing His purpose in our own life, then we are more likely to see His purpose working in the lives of others even when our first reaction may be that somehow they are responsible for their own “bad luck”.
- Praying for Expectant eyes: I’m afraid that there are times when our prayer life is pretty shallow because we don’t really expect God to answer. We’ve prayed so many selfish and demanding prayers that haven’t turned out the way we wanted so we either quit praying or we pray very generically. In the first chapter or Acts, we read of Jesus ascending into heaven with the disciples left looking into the sky — I’m sure wondering what they would do now. An angel appears and asks why they are sitting there looking into the sky. At first glance that may seem like a silly question, but not if you pay attention to the instructions that Jesus had given just before ascending. The instructions were that they were to be His witnesses in Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world — hard to do that sitting on a mountain top. They were to live with eyes expecting the return of Christ, but that expectation was one that compelled them to share the good news of Jesus everywhere they went. Our eyes also ought to be filled with the expectation that Jesus is returning and we would do well to be found faithful in doing the work He has given to us.
- Praying for Needy eyes: When I put this sermon outline together, this was a strange sermon point to me. God promises to supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory, why would I pray to be needy? But as I spent time with God in His Word, it became clear that this was about recognizing our great need to have our eyes opened and healed. In Revelation, the church of Laodicea was given the message that they were lukewarm yet they thought they had it all. In a lot of ways it sounds like the American church as they are told they think they are rich and have acquired great wealth and don’t need a thing. But God says they need to have their eyes opened to see how poor they are and how naked and wretched they are so they would seek Him for true wealth and pure garments and salve to bring healing to their needy eyes. When we pray for a recognition of our own neediness, we find ourselves on equal footing with everyone else who is also in need of the healing salve that only Jesus can provide.
After the church service, I finished up the rest of the details for the New Year’s Eve Watch & Pray vigil that began at 1:00 PM. The rest of the day has been spent greeting people as they come in to pray and making sure they have the resources and instruction they need and desire to have. I did get a break early in the evening to get some dinner, and while others are praying I sat down to eat my meal and write today’s page. Today’s photo is one I took a little while ago of what is probably my favorite “station” in the prayer room setup. It is an area to spend time with God in examining ourselves as we sit at the foot of the cross. In a short while, I will lead a concert of prayer to close out the current year and bring in the new one and with that I say goodbye 2017 as I write the final words of today’s page.