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Daily Encounters

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Ever since I was teenager, I have had the same morning ritual. I get out of bed, brush my teeth, and then I walk into the kitchen to get my cup of coffee. There is just something about that first sip. The smell as I bring the cup up to my mouth…the taste of it’s deep rich flavor. For me, it’s as good physically as it is emotionally. 

We all have daily rituals. Some we probably don’t even think about much. We just kind of do them. Something or someone at some point, influenced us to develop a habit, something internal, that then became external. 

I think we would agree that our inner life influences our external attitudes and that our habits shape us. Participating in prayer and fasting is a great way to open our Spirit to listen for the voice of God, learn from the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and fall deeper in love with Jesus. 

I admit, juggling between work, family, taking care of our home, our bills, being active in our community and church…it can all be disorienting at times. This is all the more reason to maintain a disciplined daily encounter with God. 

In Paul’s closing remarks to the Thessalonians, he says:

Rejoice Always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Did you notice the words “always”, “continually”, and “all”? He was telling us that these are everyday, all the time things that we need to be doing. 

Rejoice Always

Rejoice always” means to be full of joy over and again. Joy doesn’t come from our circumstances, but rather from the realization of our blessings. That reminds me of that old hymn we used to sing when I was growing up – count your blessings, name them one by one. 

Seeing God everyday means that I need to shift my perspective to focus on the blessing and not the circumstances and to remember the words of Nehemiah, “The joy of the Lord is my strength!”

Pray Continually

Paul also tells us that we need to pray continually. Martin Luther once said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Prayer puts breath in the lungs of our relationship with God. Prayer is the opportunity to share our needs, our desires, our emotions to God AND it also makes room for God to speak to us if we will stop and listen. 

The Lord came to Jeremiah and said, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). 

Life is though, we have to call on Him. We have to pray.

Give Thanks

Finally Paul told us to, “give thanks in all circumstances.” This is about having an attitude of gratitude. It’s a constant state of appreciation and awareness to not take for granted the benefits that has given us. Again, it’s a paradigm shift. 

Here is what I’ve come to learn; if I want to see God in my everyday moments of life, then I need to build the habit of spending time with Him by rejoicing always, praying continually, and giving thanks in all my circumstances.

I know we pray about a lot of things. In fact, I challenge you to make a pray list for everyday of the week. Maybe Monday’s you pray for job, co-workers, on the job safety etc. Tuesday maybe is when you can pray for local and national things like our political leaders, social justice, community issues, jobs, etc. You get the idea.

But make sure you leave a time to pray about about and for yourself. Don’t wait for a personal crisis to pray over yourself. Pray bold prayers of blessing  and preventative prayers of protection.

Do you remember the prayer of Jabez from 1 Chronicles 4:10? It was a seemingly selfish prayer, but guess what? God answered it!

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel,

Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

1 Chronicles 4:10

He was desperate when he prayed.

Bless me – fill me with strength, makes my life fulfilling, full of purpose, happy

Enlarge my territory – boarders or my coast, he’s talking about commerce and influence, capacity to lead and possess more

Let you hand be with me – God’s hand leads, protects, and strengthens…he knows that he can’t do these things on his own…He needs God’s hand

Keep me from harm – from evil, from sin, and my enemies

Keep me from pain – he was born out of pain but he was not destined to live in it.

His name Jabez means “to grieve” in Hebrew, “born in pain.” Following ancient belief that a person’s name represents their character, there may have been the fear that negative consequences would follow him in life. Although not listed with his four brothers in verse 7, verse 9 points out that he was more honorable than his brothers. 

Smack dap in the middle of these chapters of genealogies, the author – probably Ezra the priest – made a point to record this prayer – a selfish prayer. To turn possible disaster into blessing. The power of God revealed in answered prayer, can overcome the liabilities and perceived limitations of our past and present.

This is why we rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances. 

Let’s Pray

 Heavenly Father, we come to you today in our desire to build a habit of having daily encounters with you. We want to see you in the everyday rhythms of our life. Today I choose to rejoice, to count my blessings, and be full of joy over and over. I chose to pray continually over all of my circumstances and situations of life, knowing that you hear and answer my prayers. I choose to have an attitude of gratitude – a constant state of appreciation for all you’ve done for me and in confidence I know you’ll be with me everyday.

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