Praying In Jesus’s Name

“To pray in Jesus’ name means to come to God in prayer consciously trusting in Christ for our salvation and acceptance and not relying on our own credibility or record. It is, essentially, to reground our relationship with God in the saving work of Jesus over and over again.”~~Timothy Keller

Good morning. It is Sunday, August 23, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from dictionary.com, is quiddity. Although one might think so, this word has nothing to do with Harry Potter. This noun means 1. “the quality that makes a thing what it is; the essential nature of a thing,” or 2. “a trifling nicety of subtle distinction, as in argument.”

Today is Ride the Wind Day. This could involve anything from skydiving to parasailing to making paper airplanes. Or maybe just watching an airplane.

Yesterday turned out okay. We got the grocery shopping done in good time, wolfed down some Sonic for lunch, and headed to church. Our prayer and worship gatherings were good, and Jacob’s message had to do with paying attention to how God is trying to “break into our lives.” It was a brief message, but well-focused.

Today, we are going to Mineral Wells, to go to church with my mother. We haven’t done this in a very long time. The last time we went to church with her was back when my dad was able to go, so it’s been several years. We will meet her at the church, because she will be going to Sunday School with her friends. Rachel and Justin plan to meet us for lunch. We are really looking forward to a good day, as we celebrate Justin’s and Stephanie’s birthday (which was on the same day, Wednesday).

On this date in 1305, William Wallace was hung, and drawn and quartered, by Edward I, for high treason. In 1784, western North Carolina (now part of Tennessee) declared itself an independent state, named Franklin. It was never accepted as part of the U.S., and only lasted four years. In 1904, the automobile tire chain was patented. I assume this is the one made for driving on ice. On this date in 1927, Sacco and Vanzetti were executed, presumably for crimes they did not commit. Woody Guthrie wrote a song about them.

Today’s birthdays include King Louis XVI of France, Ernst Krenek (Austrian composer), Gene Kelly (American dancer/actor), Vera Miles (American actress), Mark Russell (American comedian), Sonny Jurgensen (American football player), Barbara Eden (American actress), Rayfield Wright (American football player), Keith Moon (English musician, The Who), Rick Springfield (Australian singer/actor), Shelley Long (American actress), Julio Franco (Dominican baseball player), River Phoenix (American actor), Jay Mohr (American actor/comedian), and Christian Beranek (American graphic novel writer).

Julio Franco is a professional baseball player who turns 57 today. He was born the same year as I was, and is still playing professional baseball, although in Japan, not the U.S. He is a player/manager for the Ishikawa Million Stars. Here is a clip of a grand slam he hit as a pinch-hitter in 2005, when he was 46. He became the oldest player to hit a grand slam home run with this hit.

William Wallace, Luis Ponce de Leon, Increase Mather, Rudolph Valentino, Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Nicola Sacco, Oscar Hammerstein II, Hoot Gibson, Shamu, Hoyt Wilhelm, Bobby Bonds, and Maynard Ferguson are among notable deaths on this date.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Today’s Psalm, from Heart Aflame, is Psalm 97:1-6.

The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around.
His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.

“When God draws near to men in mercy, and they fail to welcome him with proper reverence and respect, this implies impiety of a very aggravated description. The Psalmist intimates that those who should despise God in the person of his only-begotten Son, will feel in due time and certainly the awful weight of his majesty.” (p 236)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

After giving us four rules for prayer, John Calvin gives us a fifth “rule.” The fifth rule is “the rule of grace.” Basically, what Calvin says is that we must not think that God will reject our prayers if we do not follow the other four rules rigidly. Likewise, following a set of rules does not make our prayers worthy to be heard. “Nothing we formulate or do can qualify us for access to God. Only grace can do that.” In fact, it is only when we realize that we cannot keep the rules, and recognize that we need God’s mercy, that we “become people who begin to keep the rules.” It is very similar to the purpose for the Old Testament Law. “The rules do not earn or merit God’s attention but rather align our prayers with who God is–the God of free grace–and thereby unite him more and more.”

Timothy Keller uses the example of flipping a light switch to turn on the light. The switch, itself, provides no power. But it does connect the power to the light bulb. “In the same way, our prayers have no virtue to procure us access to the Father. Christ has done that.” However, our prayers can connect us to him. If we pray without humility or without confidence and hope, we block the sense of God’s presence. These errors “are failures to pray in Jesus’ name.”

What does it mean to pray in the name of Jesus? Many people see it as a magic formula, that if we tack on the literal words, “In Jesus’s name” at the end of every prayer, then God will automatically answer our prayers. But praying in Jesus’s name “is not a magic formula. We must not think it means that only if we literally enunciate the words ‘in Jesus’ name’ will our prayers be answered.” God has been known to even answer the prayers of people who don’t have faith in Christ. “To pray in Jesus’ name means to come to God in prayer consciously trusting in Christ for our salvation and acceptance and not relying on our own credibility or record. It is, essentially, to reground our relationship with God in the saving work of Jesus over and over again.”

Father, as I ponder what it means to pray in the name of Jesus, I pray that your Spirit would remind me, over and over again, of my relationship with you through Christ, and that, any time I pray, if I am connected rightly to you, then I am praying in Jesus’s name! But help me to remember the “rules.” I must come to you in humility, in joyful fear, with confidence and hope, and submissive trust, praying at all times, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I must be accepting of whatever your will is, in all cases. My prayers must be grounded in these things. However, over-riding all of these, my prayer must also be grounded in grace, having the confidence that you will hear me, even if I forget to have confidence, and knowing that the Holy Spirit is interceding for me, in moanings that cannot be uttered.

Father, I pray for this day. I pray for safe travel for us, as well as for Rachel and Justin. I pray for some good worship as we meet with my mother for church, this morning. I lift up her pastor, Nathan, that you will speak the Gospel strongly through him, this morning, and that you would open the ears of all who are in attendance at First Baptist Church in Mineral Wells, that they would hear the truth of the Gospel this morning. May our visit today be full of your grace.

May we be satisfied in you, that you may be glorified in us.

May our prayers truly be in Jesus’s name, exemplifying humility, trust, confidence, hope, and grace.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Law of the Spirit

Good morning. It is Saturday, August 23, 2014.

Today is Valentino Day, commemorating the death of Rudolph Valentino.

With one more Friday gone, Christi only has four more 6:30 AM conference calls before she begins her new job with the U.S. Congress. Oops. Bowling Congress, that is. 😀 We’re very excited about this new job. The way she has described the people she will be working with, it sounds like it’s going to be perfect for her. Plus, you know, BOWLING!! I’ll remind you again, we met in a Friday night bowling league, almost thirty years ago. (It may have already been thirty years. This December 7 will be the thirtieth anniversary of our first date!

This evening, we have our weekly prayer gathering and worship service. Tomorrow, we will travel to Mineral Wells to visit with Grandma and Grandpa, and cap off our celebration of Stephanie’s twenty-first birthday week.

(Source: This Day In History)

It was on this date in 2006 that Austrian teenager Natascha Kampusch escaped the house of the man who had abducted her ten years earlier. He had kept her imprisoned in his house for ten years, and she finally escaped when he walked away to answer a phone call while she was vacuuming his car. She ran to a neighbor’s house, who called the police. The abductor, Wolfgang Priklopil, later committed suicide by jumping in front of a train.

Today’s birthdays include River Phoenix, Gene Kelly, Barbara Eden, Rick Springfield, Keith Moon, Shelley Long, Jay Mohr, Vera Miles, Nicole Bobek, Sonny Jurgensen, Mark Russell, Ernst Krenek, Tex Williams, Julio Franco, and Christian Beranek.

Julio Franco is a baseball player who turns 56 today. He has played with the Texas Rangers, and, at the age of 49, became the oldest position player in the history of MLB. His Wikipedia page says he was signed as a DH for the Fort Worth Cats in May of this year, but I don’t see his name on the current roster.

Here is a You Tube clip of a grand slam he hit in 2005, making him the oldest player to ever hit a grand slam home run.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

(From The Divine Hours)

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

Psalm 95:2-3
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
Psalm 67:1
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!
My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.

Psalm 119:18-20
. . . but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
Psalm 147:11

Today’s Gospel reading

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Matthew 5:5

There is a common misunderstanding about this particular statement that Jesus made. “Meek” and “weak” are not the same thing. The Reformation Study Bible notes suggest that this Beatitude may have been based on Psalm 37:11, which says, But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. Once again, the thought here is about spiritual things, “an attitude of humility and submission to God.” Our example for meekness is Christ, himself. It might also be useful to point out that the constant usage of the word “blessed” in these statements seems to mean “happy.” So, we would be “happy” if we could exemplify all of the characteristics of the Beatitudes, which, of course, goes 180 degrees against the natural order of the world. If we are “meek,” we are also, according to Matthew Henry, “gentle towards all men.” Mr. Henry also defines meekness as being able to “bear provocation without being inflamed by it;” being either completely silent, or returning “a soft answer;” being able to show displeasure without being indecent about it; being “cool when others are hot.” The meek one would rather “forgive twenty injuries than revenge one.”

I wonder how many of us (self included) are able to accomplish these? I am constantly reminded of the words that God spoke in Luke 9:35. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Law and Grace.”

Paul tells us that the law has become “an occasion of sin. It tells man not to covet, but it leaves him helpless in avoiding covetousness.” This is why we cannot live by the law! “Rules and regulations provide sinful man with just another opportunity to sin.” The Catholic law says, “Do not eat meat on Good Friday.” However, it gives no power to “push the hamburger away.”

Are we, then, who live without the law, free to sin? Paul is very emphatic about this. In Galatians 5:13, he says, Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

So how do we live, then? How do we determine right from wrong? What shapes our behavior, if not the “law?” Paul’s answer is that the “law of the Spirit giving life has replaced the old law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2 says, For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. And in Romans 6:14, this law of the Spirit is identified with grace. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:8

Father, I pray for this law of the Spirit to be alive and active in me. I have recognized that trying to follow the “law” is unfruitful, as all it does is tell me what is wrong, without giving me any power to avoid doing that which is wrong. Your Spirit not only gives me this new “law,” but also gives me the power to live by it. It is truly a mystery, that I have not fully comprehended (nor do I expect to be able to), Christ in me, the hope of glory! Flesh is death, but the Spirit gives life. May I truly live in this life every day, while maintaining a meekness about me that mirrors Jesus Christ. May I be “gentle towards all men.” May I be able to bear provocation without lashing back. May I be the one who stays cool when all around me are heating up.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

I pray for this day. May we be successful and safe in getting our chores done today. May you prepare our hearts to worship you this evening. I pray for safe travel to Mineral Wells tomorrow, and that we will have a good time with Grandma and Grandpa to celebrate birthdays.

Romans_8-2

May we all consider ourselves free from the law, living under grace by the power of the Spirit.

Grace and peace, friends.