Even when we stop thinking about “God things” God never stops thinking about us. Last Friday, I did take a break from my Lenten disciplines and watched a few “March Madness” NCAA men’s basketball games. I was happy that Duke lost, but sad that UMASS did not win. I usually fill out three brackets but, this year did not fill out any for the first time in about six years. I found out that it was less stressful watching the games without a bracket because I didn’t feel the need to flip channels every ten minutes. While watching Mercer verses Duke and Tennessee verses UMASS, two TV commercials for LOWE’S Home Improvement Store caught my attention. It was almost like God said to me, “This is what Lent is all about.”
The two commercials had a person finishing two different home improvement projects. One finished putting up a ceiling fan, and the other was putting up new ceramic tiles in his shower. You can guess what happens next. It was almost too painful to watch. When the person finishes tightening the last screw in the ceiling fan, he goes to the wall switch and turns on the ceiling fan. It does one rotation and crashes down on a glass coffee table. We see more shattering glass when the fan comes flying out a picture window. In another commercial, a person is carefully placing the last ceramic tile on the shower wall and it falls and shatters in the shower tub. Before anyone thinks that he just needs to put more adhesive on that one tile, one by one, the tiles come crashing down and breaking, then a whole bunch crash down and break and finally, the last tile hanging comes crashing down into the pile of rubble in the shower tub. There is no talking in these to commercials. They both end with a written tagline: “Need help? LOWES – Never Stop Improving”. During this special time of year, God is telling Christians everywhere, almost the same thing, but in a slightly different order: “LENT – Never Stop Improving. Need Help?” I know that I cannot “improve” myself without the Lord‘s help. All I have to do is admit that I need God’s help and ask Him for help and He will Do “IT”.
At times, I need help in knowing how to pray, even when I use the acronym C.A.S.T. and I know that in prayer I “CAST all [my] anxieties on [Jesus] because He cares for [me]” (I Peter 5:7). I am so thankful that “…the Holy Spirit helps [me] in [my] weakness. [I] do not know what [I] ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for [me] with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches [my] heart knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints [me, a follower of Christ] in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26b-27). I am exceedingly thankful that “Christ Jesus, Who died – more than that, Who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for [me]” (Romans 8:34b). Finally, I am thankful for God’s Word which helps me to pray, especially the Bible’s Book of Prayer – The Psalms. As I have been doing throughout this paragraph, as I read the Scriptures, especially the Psalms, I can personalize them and pray them to the Lord.
READ AND PRAY:
C= Confession (continued from Parts II, III and IV): “Blessed is [she] whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sin the LORD does not count against [her] and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long…Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ and He forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:1-3, 5). As I pray this Psalm, the Holy Spirit reveals the sins I need to confess and ask God for His forgiveness. Also I need to know, “[God] does not treat [me] as [my] sins deserve or repays [me] according to my iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those [like me] who fear [honor] Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed [my] transgressions from [me]” (Psalm 103:10-12). One of the hardest things to do is to forgive myself. But, if I don’t forgive myself, I am saying that Jesus’ dying on the cross for my sins was not enough and I don’t want to say that. If God doesn’t “fill out a bracket” to keep “score of my wins and losses”, who am I to “keep score” and keep feeling guilty for the sins God already forgave me for? (Other Psalms of Confession: 6, 38, 51, 143)
A= Adoration (continued from Part IV): Prayers of Adoration are prayers of praise and worship for Who God is. Worship is giving God His worth, praising His Holy Name and acknowledging His attributes. God is All-Knowing and All-Powerful (Psalm 147:5); God is everywhere (Psalm 139:7-7-14); God is unchanging (Psalm 90:1-2, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8); God is Holy [Pure and Blameless] (Psalm 99:9); God is Righteous [shows no favoritism in His dealings with mankind] (Psalm 116:5; 129:4; 145:17); God is in charge of everything (Psalm 103:19-22); God is Love (Psalm 103:17 and Psalm 136); God is Merciful (Psalm 103:8); God is the Triune God (Genesis 1:1,26; Psalm 51:11 and 103:26 and Psalm 110); just to name a few of His attributes. (Other Psalms of Adoration: 8, 33, 95-100, 109, 118. I am sure there are others.) (See whatchristianswanttoknow.com.)
One of my favorite Psalms of Adoration is:
“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth!
You have set Your Glory above the heavens.
From the lips of children and infants You have ordained praise
because of Your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
the moon and the stars which You have set in place,
what is man that You are mindful of him,
the son of man that You care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of Your hands;
You put everything under his feet:
all the flocks and herds, and beasts of the fields,
the birds of the air and the fish of the sea,
all swim the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth!”
Dear Father God, You have taken all my “broken brackets” and shattered dreams and given me Your Love which endures forever, Your grace which makes me free and Your forgiveness through the broken body and shed blood of Jesus, my Lord and Savior. Thank You Jesus for washing all my sins away. Thank You Jesus for dying on the cross for me and for rising from the dead, so that I will also rise again on the last day. Thank You for Your forgiveness. I am forever grateful for the Cross of Christ. Dear Holy Spirit, help me to forgive others as Jesus has forgiven me. I pray for those who have not embraced Your Love yet. Please Father, make Yourself known to them. To know You is to love You. You are an AWESOME GOD and I love You and I want to serve You forever in Your Kingdom. I want to love others as You love me! Please forgive me for the times I don’t love as You love. Your love is unconditional and free. Thank you so much for listening to my prayer. In the Precious Name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
“Now to the King eternal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen (I Timothy 1:17).