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Matthew 22-23 (NIV) (Jan. 7, 2005 readings)
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

My comment, or question or concern (or whatever it is...) is that i read this passage and i wonder exactly what God meant when He inspired it to be written? If anyone reading this can give me some insight into this passage (or portion of scripture). Specifically, if a person wears corrective lenses, their eyes are not good; does this mean those who need to wear glasses, or contacts, are full of darkness? i really don't believe that is specifically what is meant here, but i truly would like to hear other's inspiration on this portion of scripture. This portion has bothered me for many years, as i wear corrective lenses, (didja guess?), and i thought i had put it to bed when i noticed that a lot of Pastors also wear glasses, but i am still not receiving the answer i need to put it “to bed” permanently. If God inspires you, please let me know.

God's Blessings,
karen

Try this translation:

Matthew 6:22-23 (The Message)

22"Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. 23If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dark cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!

-Hope this helps!

Karen,
Thanks for sharing your question. I know I struggled with that concept for a long time, but I now have an answer that has helped me -- perhaps it can give you some comfort also...

In Psalms, we hear that: "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." In John we are told that Jesus is the "Word" and we also know that he is the light of the world.

So... If Jesus (the "Word") and the Bible (the written word of God) are serving as our eyes -- our frame of reference to the world and to life, then our lives will be full of light. On the other hand, if our eyes are made up of tradition or a godless philosophy, then we will not have a true perspective on life (i.e. -- "darkness") Man's best efforts or wisdom is follishness to God -- which is another way to say "the light within is darkness".

That passage in Matthew has nothing to do with our physicall eyes, rather it has everything to do with our spiritual eyesight - do we have the light of God illuminating us, or do we join the blind who proclaim themselves to be wise, but fall into the pit? Walk with Jesus and keep up with reading the Bible and your spiritual eyesight will be startlingly clear!!

I really liked this part of Psalms from the Message today:

9 Close the book on Evil, GOD, but publish your
mandate for us.
You get us ready for life:
you probe for our soft spots,
you knock off our rough edges.
10 And I'm feeling so fit, so safe:
made right, kept right.
11 God in solemn honor does things right...

Praise God for His Great Salvation!
Mark

As spiritual human beings, we walk all day long with God. I wake in the morning and say prayers. Some mornings they include just my close family and extended family. Other days I spontaneously pray for the abused, our President/First Lady, friends in need etc. But, I start my day--everyday with prayer. I have done this since I was a child. I prayed for my grandchildren--in the womb--that they might know Christ as I know him. We pray before meals, sometimes silently. In the evening, I again pray. And, sometimes, it is a simple..."Thank you for this Day." My son says the Lord's Prayer before putting his children to bed. I gave my elderly mother the sign of the cross when I left her at the nursing home and said a prayer...not knowing if she might die before I came back. God blessed me, I was there with her when she died.

I think that once we accept Christ as our Savior, our lives take on a different tone. He is our Light. It makes life, even in a crisis, easier. Christians are not spared. We still deal with issues but we deal with a calmness because we have someone, something there that takes our burden and lightens it. It is our belief--in Christ.

It is a blessing to be reading the Bible and wanting to know more about Christ and to know others want to know more about Him.

God love you!
Bella

Yes!!! The Lord's Prayer is a model for our prayers. It begins with adoration of God(v.9), acknowledges subjection to His will(v10), asks for petitions of Him(vv11-13) and ends in praise(v13)

I do pray The Lord's Prayer into my prayers. And when I feel led I also pray Psalm 25, 26, 27, 40, 41, 42, 43, 45, 63, 65, 69, & 84 into my prayers. And other scripture as well.

You were asking how I (we) prayed. I would like to share this with you...I pray in this order...
(1) WORSHIP...praise God for what He has done and for who He is.
(2) Confession...admit your own sins and ask for forgiveness of your sins.
(3)Thankgiving... Thank God for what He has done in your life and what He has given to you.
(4)Intercession...Praying for others and their needs and wants to be met.
(5)Petition...Asking God to meet our own needs. Present all of your requests to God.

I have a certain place, secluded,(the same place like it says in the Bible "go to your closet") I go to pray erver day. I feel closer to God when I pray kneeling. I pray out loud with my eyes closed. I pray through the 5 steps I listed above and usually pray through a prayer list. I am honest and truthful about my feelings. I remind God of His promises. I take time for silence and listen for God and the Holy Spirit to talk to me.

Then throughout the day I take time for spontaneous praying.

I hope this helps.

God Bless,

BJ Hewitt

Genesis 16-18:15

"Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" (Luke 9:24). This is what keeps coming to my mind as I read through these three chapters. Given a promise by God that her husband would have descendents Sarai takes matters into her own hands and provides a surrogate mother and co-wife to her husband, Hagar, an Egyptian servant more than likely picked up in Egypt.

This little sidetrack, is not so little and the fall-out from Ishamel’s birth fuels to this day the Mid-East conflict in Israel.

Oh the problems we create when we try to work out God’s promises in our own strength we create little Ishamels through out our lives. The promise we received is not voided; however that which we work out and produced in our own strength will always be in conflict with the promise.

Sarai had more than likely entered menopause and reasoned that she was unable to produce a child. Abram didn’t put up too much of a protest when it was suggested he sleep with Hagor. In all reasonable logic Sarai was just too old at seventy-seven or six to conceive a “thought” much less a child (meant that as a joke). But the God we serve, I serve is a God over dead things and brings them back to life, He is a God of resurrection bring back to life dead marriages, relationships, careers and every dead thing one can think of. In fact there is no doubt that God is in the midst of a lifeless situation when we find that after giving up all hope, when we’ve buried the problem in the tomb and it has been dead for so long that it just stinks and God comes by and says, “Move the stone” and that dead thing comes out living and breathing, we know that it wasn’t man that brought it back it had to be God.

It is also so very easy to do “something” for God then it is to wait for Him to do something for us. The promise was given. God said it and that settled it. Ishamel wasn’t a promise fulfilled, he was the natural byproduct of a sexual union, no miracle needed no divine intervention. Sarai, with her dead womb needed and with Abraham being 100 years needed a miracle and they got one. Only God!

Matthew 6:1-24

Doing things for people, giving gifts, helping out. The natural man wants to be recognized for “gifting” and helping others. Yet here Jesus is saying to be an undercover do-gooder, do for folks just because then keep your mouth shut about the doing. I think that this incognito doing of good deeds is God telling us to be like Him. As his children, those born of the Spirit, should imitate their Father who gives gifts to us each and every single day whether we acknowledge the gifts or not. There is also something else Jesus is asking us to do, or not do. When we imitate our Father in doing good, the focus should be on just doing it, and not on “crowing” about what we’ve done. In other words we are to “keep our mouths shut”
Psalm 7:1-17

In this Psalm David states that he will never pray to anyone but God. At first glance in seems that maybe this statement may be just a literary device to flesh out this Psalm, but I begin to really think about what prayer is. It is communicating with God, which should be two ways, speaking and listening and there should be more listening than speaking. But why would David make the statement about praying only to God. We can rightly conclude that he is talking about not praying to other gods, but it can also mean not praying to friends, family and relatives. I can count on my fingers and toes as well as digits that belong to others, the multitude of times that I gone to others to voice my needs instead of going to God. It seems God is the last resort instead of the first. When a problem comes up we speed dial our family and friends instead of getting on our knees to God, o my!


Proverbs 2:1-5

The writer of Proverbs continues his argument for acquiring Wisdom. He makes note that Wisdom cannot be obtained haphazardly it must be mined and hunted down. Why is this? Probably because if it just dropped out of the sky, we would not value it as we should. What price am I willing to pay to get Wisdom? Both Wisdom and the consequences of foolish choices cost; however Wisdom is an investment with wonderful returns and foolishness is a debt with a one hundred percent interest rate and a nasty payment schedule.

PRAYER is huge! It amazes me that we have the opportunity to talk to God at any moment of any day and yet I know I personally do not treasure this as I should.

Working at a camp, I remember being encouraged to bring God into the situation whenever possible-ie. pray with and for people and situations at that moment when you can, instead of saying- I'll pray for you, and praying later. I have been extremely blessed by the intentionality of friends and Gods words when people have prayed with me, many times outside of church and church things.

When I am purposely having a time of prayer, I pray in the following order- similar to one listed above... simply because its easy to remember and it starts with focusing on how God is amazing.

ACTS- acronym

ADORATION...
CONFESSION...
THANKSGIVING...
SUPPLICATION... specific help, requests, etc... you may want to look up a better definition

Enjoy the journey...

Mike, in your email you asked for recommendations of books on prayer. I have some suggestions - the list below contains only books that I have *read* and that I *recommend*. I have many more books on prayer in my "To Be Read" pile, but these are the ones that I've cared enough to write Amazon reviews for over the past few years:

The Art of Prayer: A Simple Guide by Timothy Jones
When The Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer by Jan Johnson
Fresh Wind Fresh Fire (and all his others) by Jim Cymbala
Prayer That Works by Jill Briscoe
The Prayer of Jesus by Hank Hanegraaf
PrayerWalk by Janet Holm McHenry
Praying the Scriptures by Evan Howard
Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels

The next 3 books are outstanding in encouraging us to spend time alone with the Lord, including sections on prayer. Written by women for women, but I know men have benefited from these books, especially Nancy DeMoss' book.

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver
A Place of Quiet Rest: Finding Intimacy With God Through a Daily Devotional Life by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
The Contemplative Mom: Restoring Rich Relationship With God in the Midst of Motherhood by Ann Kroeker

Right now I'm reading another book on prayer by Timothy Jones "The Prayer's Apprentice". I also have "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home" by Richard Foster. I think this one is a bit heavier and more challenging than the others I've mentioned. Another excellent book covering many areas of the inner life of a Christian is "The Divine Conspiracy" by Dallas Willard, but I haven't read that one yet. I also just started "Ordering Your Private World" by Gordon MacDonald. Many of these books encourage keeping a journal, which I would HIGHLY recommend doing!

Happy reading everyone, and I wish everyone God's blessings on their Bible reading and prayer in 2005!!

Prayer is a lifeline. I have enjoyed reading the comments about prayer.

I began listening to an audio book by James Finley called Christian Meditation: Entering the Mind of Christ last year and started a daily practice of meditation as a result. This is a very different kind of prayer for me, namely a time of being still before the Lord and being present to the Triune God . . . listening and anticipating moments of knowing without trying to figure anything out or even trying to figure out who God is.

If you are in a place of longing to know God's love and acceptance of you because of the work of Christ, I highly recommend the practice of Christian Meditation. I also recommend staying firmly rooted in the Word of God (Holy Spcripture) and engaging fully in the body of Christ (corporate worship, prayer, community).

I have been pondering the Lord's Prayer and seeing how the ACTS model flows from the prayer of Jesus. I have not read it yet but have heard about a good prayer jounal by Leanne Payne that connects a daily practice of prayer to the Lord's Prayer.

Book Recommendation -
Prayer Odyssey: A Journey to Effective Prayer by Dave Earley has 31 flavors of prayer for you to enjoy. I really like the way Dave Earley provides a sample of different ways to pray.

The Lords Prayer -
I try to say this everyday. I say it slowly and try to mediate over each section. Our Father (God is Our or everyones Father - how should I treat others if I keep this in mind). That is an example of how I try to reflect on what is being said. This is Jesus' example of how to pray so I thought it was a good place to start.

I appreciate everyones insights.

A powerful book that has impacted my prayer life is "Let Prayer Change Your Life" by Becky Tirabassi. The author shares how she made a decision to prayer "1" hour a day, 17 years ago and shares the miracles and blessings for having made that commitment to the Lord. She also offers in her book, the tools needed to help you get started and stay organized and committed to doing the same. It is life changing to say the least. She also highly promotes reading through the One Year Bible every year, which she incorporates into her one hour a day. You can learn more about the book and her ministry at www.changeyourlifedaily.com
Blessings to all you faithful readers of God's Word!
Shirley

My small group is reading and discussing the book "Bridal Intercession: Authority in Prayer through Intimacy with Jesus" by Gary Wiens. Gary has been a part of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.

The quote on the back of the book describes it best:
"Rather than seeing prayer as an issue-oriented, anxiety-based exercise that produces fatigue, Gary Weins presents prayer as a joyful and romantic communion between the Lover and the HIs beloved. The approach is thoroughly bibilical, utilizing the stories of God's relationship with His people as the foundation for the contemporary call to intercessory prayer."

In particular, his chapter on Esther opened a whole new door in my heart concerning prayer.

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