Holy Spirit Aha's

personal insights and lessons God is teaching me

What About Unanswered Prayer?

Everybody wonders at times about unanswered prayer. It’s not uncommon to ask why it is that God never seems to answer some prayers. One could make a Biblical case that certain prayers prayed with wrong motives, lack of faith, unforgiveness, unconfessed sin, and/or not according to God’s etc. will invariably be hindered or delayed in receiving an acceptable answer. But beyond such discernable reasons there yet remains a mystery as to why some prayers are not answered. When faced with the perplexity of unexplainable causes for our prayers remaining unanswered we can easily become discouraged and disheartened in our praying.

As I have grappled with the unanswered prayers in my life I have found hope and comfort in reminding myself of three fundamental truths. These truths have to do with the fatherly nature of God, the seed nature of prayer, and the importance of keeping an eternal perspective. Whenever I have acknowledged and chosen to meditate upon these truths, the Holy Spirit invariably begins to blow upon the embers of my discouraged heart and once again fan into the flame my passion to persist in prayer. With that great benefit in mind, I offer them here for your consideration with the expectation that they will encourage you the way they never cease to encourage me.

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What can the righteous do?

When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? Psalm 11:3 NIV

I don’t know about you, but I find this to be very unsettling and thought provoking question. It comes in the context of a prophetic Psalm that was penned by David, but inspired by the Holy Spirit, describing the very days in which we are now living. It refers to a crisis situation where the moral foundations upon which a society or a nation has been built are being systematically overthrown and destroyed.

The scenario which Psalm 11 describes is one in which demonic forces of darkness are launching wicked and violent attacks specifically targeting God’s people and the righteous ways of God they represent. Does that sound familiar? Any God fearing person who has any awareness whatsoever of what is going on in their community, the nation and the world cannot help but acknowledge that we are presently under such concerted assaults. As a consequence, we can certainly identify with Lot who while living in Sodom and Gomorrah experienced his righteous soul being vexed daily by “the lawless deeds he saw and heard” (2 Peter 2:8 ESV).

What then should the righteous do when confronted with such unsettling, perplexing, and ruinous circumstances that threaten our very existence? Right at the outset in verse one David suggests that we have two alternatives, either take refuge in the Lord or flee to the mountains for safety. He offers the idea of fleeing with the phrase “How then can you say to me: ‘Flee like a bird to your mountain?’” It is obvious, from the way he says this that fleeing to “your” mountain, wherever or whatever that may be, is not a viable option.

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The Joys of Childlike Creativity

“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14 (NIV)

Children have a lot to teach us about kingdom ways and the joys of being a child of the Heavenly Father. I am relearning some of these valuable lessons simply by being on vacation with two of my little grandchildren. My wife Susan and I are on a Caribbean getaway sharing a condo near a beach with our oldest daughter and her family. Sophie (6) and Greta (3) like all children have boundless energy and active imaginations. What has been fascinating to me is their tireless delight in creativity and play.

It is no exaggeration to say that every waking minute is taken up with some industrious engagement either in creating something or game playing. Their creativity is channeled through many different activities including drawing, coloring, writing, singing, dancing and acting out imaginary scenarios, all of which others are invited to enjoy, critique, applaud and/or participate.

They have an amazing capacity to churn out works of art with great rapidity, ushering from a free flow of ideas that are uninhibited by over thinking and self-critical judgments. One typical day Sophie drew and colored several beach scenes, wrote a story entitled “The Three Ants” akin to the three bears tale and joined Greta in opening an art gallery and spa to which all of us were invited. We also played tag in the pool between numerous games of Uno, Skip-Bo, and Mexican Dominoes. In the evening Greta orchestrated a show in which she performed and then assigned each adult an instrument to play as she conducted.

There is something to be said for the renewing and energizing power of playful, creative pursuits in life. My joy in watching and participating in my grandchildren’s creativity reminds me of how God must feel when He sees us as His children utilizing the creative gifts He has given us. I am convinced that an integral aspect of ruling and reigning with Christ Jesus is conceiving, designing and/or generating new things for God’s glory.

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When the plowman overtakes the reaper

At first reading, this verse is hard to comprehend and even a bit confusing. It is like a brain teaser. It compares two different metaphors for fruitfulness, growing grain and growing grapes, while at the same time intermixing references to all four of the agricultural seasons: plowing, planting, reaping and treading/threshing.

Right away it is puzzling to consider the picture of a plowman overtaking a reaper. One tends to think it would be the other way around since the normal sequence of events has the reaper following the plowman.

The second analogy of the grape treader overtaking the planter seems more sequentially reasonable but one cannot help but wonder how that can be and what it could mean? Pause and think about it. And then to add even more confusion, the prophet Amos throws in one last sentence that seems to bypass the agricultural seasons altogether by stating simply that wine is going to flow directly from the hills. Are you confused yet? Good, now let’s look at this promise more carefully.

To begin with it needs to be said that this is one of the most remarkable promises ever given regarding God’s ability to release blessing and abundance. It forecasts an era of fruitfulness that can only be explained as miraculous because it overrides the natural law. If there is one promise to claim in the Bible and pray that it will come to pass in your lifetime this is it.

This amazing promise of fruitfulness has two aspects.

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Putting Life in Perspective

I don’t know how many times I have heard people marvel at how they got to where they are, relating how one thing led to another and they “just ended up” in a given life’s work, irrespective of some intentional concerted effort on their part. As a result it can be difficult, even in looking back, to connect the dots and discover some over arching theme that ties everything together.

This verse offers a hopeful perspective in terms of ascribing meaning and purpose to the seemingly haphazard unfolding of our lives. It conveys that there is a creator God, personally interested and actively engaged in arranging the pieces of our lives into a masterful work of art. The Greek word translated as masterpiece here is poiema (poy’-ay-mah) from which we get our English word poem.

What this verse says in effect is that God takes everyone who has entered into a faith relationship with Him through His Son Christ Jesus and crafts an artistic composition from the experiences of their lives. Because of each person’s uniqueness that poiema composition and its resultant message can be as diverse as any creative form, be it poetry, prose, music or the visual arts.

What then is the poiema of your life? What sense have you made of your meaning and purpose? Ironically our own poiemas are not always readily discernible because we are too close to them. It is like trying to see the forest for the trees. Usually it requires an outside perspective and help from God to fully comprehend, accept and appreciate our poiema.

Sometimes we want to make something of our life that is different from what God is intending to make of it. When our poiema is different than Gods we can become frustrated and discouraged because things are not turning out the way we planned. That is why we need a revelation of God’s poiema. Poiemas are more caught than taught. When we finally see it, sometimes we need to wrestle with it for a while to come to a point of yielding our poiema to His and finding a place of acceptance, appreciation and full cooperation with His poiema.

I can fully identify with the poiema struggles of which I write. Although many unregenerate dreams and plans I had as a young man went by the wayside when God intervened in my life, the ensuing years left me at times wondering what if. What if I had pursued such and such a job or moved to such and such a place? You know how that scenario goes, it leads to a poiema crisis and prescription for internal strife and confusion.

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