Tag Archives: God is Love

Praise – Part 1


The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book and training series "Prayer School" For more information or to book a Prayer School training seminar write to the Matthew 5:5 Society here and subscribe to the blog for regular updates and release dates as they become available.
Prayer School – Part Three

hallowed be your name. [Matthew 6:9b]

Prayer is an act of worship.

The Lord’s Prayer is a praise sandwich.  It begins and ends in worship.

Here in the very first verse of the prayer, after acknowledging God’s position as head of the family we begin with praise.

When we pray we are in conversation with “Ultimate Reality”.  The personal deity that took on flesh and walked among us.  It would be disrespectful for us to begin a conversation with the creator of the universe, the most all powerful, God, Love incarnate without at least acknowledging that fact.

Praise, therefore is an essential part of prayer.

Jesus taught that when we pray we are to begin by addressing God as nothing less than our holy father.  God’s very name is holy and worthy of praise.

Dictionary.com defines holy, among other things as being “entitled to worship or veneration.”

Therefore, when we pray we must remember to praise God. After having worked through the rest of our prayer we will return to praise in chapter 8.  By that point our praise will have taken on deeper meaning and carry additional weight in the context of what we have just prayed but for now our praise is focused on the personal essence of God.

As I have already stated God is Love incarnate.  But this is a concept that I have found a lot of people have trouble articulating at first.  Therefore, to praise God we must work through what this means and how to address him.

Addressing the Person of Love

When you love someone, you want to be with them, you want to spend time with them and you want to converse with them.  Being in the presence of love should never feel awkward or forced.  Conversation among intimate partners is different.  It’s usually slower, quieter and less pointed than conversations with people who are not your partner.

While it may take time to develop this kind of a relationship with God, your prayer language should reflect this loving relationship.  Take your time with it, approach God like you would a loving life partner because in many ways that’s what He is.

Acceptance

God loves you just the way you are.  There is nothing we need to do to gain His approval.  Safe in the knowledge of our eternal acceptance we can approach God in complete security and submission.

Whenever I think of God’s acceptance of me I remember the parable of the Lost Son, [Luke 15;11-32].  God, the loving father, is so overjoyed at the presence of his lost son that he doesn’t even let him speak before showering him with full acceptance and love.

That’s what it means to be accepted by God.  All we have to do is receive it, we can’t add anything to what God has already done for us.  [Luke 12:29-34]

Thanksgiving

It’s human nature though to want to give something back.  In this case, the only thing God wants is your love and thanks in return.  The story of the bible is in many ways a story of mankind’s attempts to set up rules and rituals designed to curry favor from and give back to God.  But God wants none of it, he simply wants your love and your thanks. [Micah 6:8]

When we say, “hallowed by thy name”, we are coming to God in reverence, accepting his love and thanking him for every blessing that He is continually pouring out over us and the entire world.  The only appropriate response to all this blessing is praise and then to get down on our hands and knees and drink it up like a deer at an ever-flowing stream.  [Psalm 42:1]

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Cultivating Conscious Contact


Three Steps to Discerning the Will of God

When I first start working with clients, either one on one or in a group setting, one of the first questions I receive is something along the lines of, “How, exactly, does one discern the will of God?”

This is an understandable question given that my mission is to “teach people to live life to the fullest in complete submission to the will of God”.

I usually answer by asking how they would go about figuring out what anyone wants?  Apart from the obvious, simply asking, you would begin by cultivating a relationship with them.  You would spend time with them and get to know them.  Over time you would gradually begin to understand them on a level that would give you a reasonably accurate sense of the things they like.  It’s no different with God.

The mindfulness movement has been championing what some meditation experts have coined “cultivating conscious contact with the divine.”  While that’s not exactly the way I would describe it, I do believe that one of the best ways to begin a relationship with God is through meditation.

When you first begin to meditate for the purposes of developing a relationship with God there are three things you need to do.

1 – Become Still

God tends to speak in a gentle whisper.

In 1 Kings 19, God appears to the prophet Elijah.  Elijah is meditating in a cave in the mountains.  First a great and powerful wind rips through the rocks.  Then an earthquake shakes the mountain.  After that a fire starts among some brush and burns out of control.  Finally, after all that noise and violence had passed Elijah heard God speaking softly to him from outside the cave.

Elijah never would have heard God had he gone out and fought back against the natural world’s violence.  He remained quite and when things calmed down he could finally hear God.  No matter what is happening around us, the way to hear God is to remain still and allow the violence of the world to wash over us and past us.  Some meditation experts say we must become like water to the world.  Then and only then will we hear God’s gentle whisper.

After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. [1 Kings 19:12,13]

 

2 – Trust Your Instincts

In Psalm 46 God commands us to be still and know that he is God.

That kind of knowledge is instinctual and is achieved by trusting that God is who he says he is.  Again, Elijah never would have heard God if he hadn’t known what to listen for.  You cannot establish a relationship if you are constantly doubting what you are hearing.  It starts by simply acknowledging that God is God.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” [Psalm 46:10]

 

3 – Double Check

Once you start to hear God speak it’s vitally important that you test what he is saying against what he has said to others.  God will never go against his nature and nor will he ever encourage anyone to do so.

Read the scriptures, get to know the God of Moses, Elijah and Jesus.  God’s essence is love.  And love is expressed in a community of like minded believers.  Begin to tell others what God is saying to you and listen for their feedback, if you have misunderstood him he will speak to you again directly and through the words of a trusted friend.

In 1 John 4 we learn that God draws us into community and relationship both with himself and others for the express purpose of speaking to us all.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. [1 John 4:12]

It is by following these three steps for cultivating a relationship with God, that you can begin to learn and understand his will in every situation.

Has God ever spoken to you?  What were you doing when you heard his voice?  How did you know it was Him?  Tell me about it in the comments below…

 

L C Sheil writes regularly about, spirituality, life and business coaching.  He is the founder and director of The Matthew 5:5 Society (formerly The Meekonomics Project) where he coaches ministry and business leaders to Live Life to the Fullest in Complete Submission to the Will of God. 

Mr. Sheil has authored two books and is available for public speaking and one on one coaching in the areas of work life balance,  finding and living your core values  and financial literacy.  Write to The Matthew 5:5 Society here for more information or follow L C Sheil on twitter and instagram.  

 

Don’t You Just Love a Good Symphony?


10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” [Psalm 46:10a]

The view from my back deck 0615 this morning

A funny thing has happened to me over the last few days.

Well, not all that funny if you know me well.  You see, I’ve been craving silence.

Sometimes it seems as though I need silence like other people need air.  It feeds me and fills me with a kind of strength and peace that is simply unattainable any other way.  In the silence I hear God.

Don’t get me wrong, God doesn’t speak to me audibly like some other worldly and disembodied voice from upon high.  He doesn’t make bold pronouncements like “build an ark” or “let my people go”.  I’ve often lamented that I wish he would speak to me that way, the way he spoke to Moses through the burning bush or how he woke a young Samuel from a deep sleep.  But then again that would likely be terrifying so I guess I’ll pass.

No, God speaks to me in those thoughts that come in the quiet moments of the day.  He brings to mind people to pray for and reach out to, he plants the seeds of action and progress for my life, ministry and business but more often than not he just says:  “hey there – I’m here with you, I’m on your side, I’ve got this, relax I love you.”

Some days I tend to be a bit of a striver.  I run hard after things, like an athlete going for gold.  I remember the first time I read 1 Corinthians 9:24, I said; “Yup that’s me, I want to be that guy.”

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. [1 Corinthians 9:24, 25]

I work hard, sometimes too hard.

In my business we use a personality matrix to help us understand ourselves better so that we can direct our efforts toward the kind of prospects that respond best to our personal styles.  I’m sure you’ve seen similar things in whatever business you spend your time in.  They’ve been a staple of popular management psychology for at least the last 30 years.  The one we use the most breaks people down into 4 categories; analytical, driver, amiable and expressive.

Through a series of question and response tests you can place yourself on a quadrant diagram in one of the four areas and presto, this is who you are and how you work best.  Problem is that every time I do one of these tests, if I take my time and am honest with myself I land so close to the middle of the diagram that they tell me I must not have been honest.  Apparently nobody can be so balanced in their responses as to be nearly equal in all four traits.  Except me that is, but I digress.

On days when I tend to be a striver, (I prefer the term to driver because to my mind it better depicts a goal that you are reaching for, I’m pretty sure you can be a driver and still lack direction.) I sometimes run off ahead of God.  And when I get ahead of God things start to fall apart, deals fall through, relationships get strained and I start to crave silence so I can stop for a minute and listen to God.

That’s how I’ve been feeling lately so I tried for some quite time yesterday.  Saturdays are usually a good day to unplug from the world and sit in silence for a while but there were too many things to do, too many errands to run and too many people to visit.  I started to feel myself getting angry so I calmed myself down by resolving to get up early this morning and sit in the silence.

I began with some deep breathing exercises and an “Our Father.”  And then it happened.  The birds started it.  Not just one or two but a veritable symphony!

I was annoyed, how’s a guy supposed to hear God with all this damn chirping?  But that wasn’t all; a car with a bad muffler started up in the distance, then my neighbor’s air conditioner kicked in, a dog started barking and an airplane took off.  Did I mention I live just a few kilometers from the airport?

But just as I was about to get really upset and give up in frustration I heard it.  God whispering to me through the noise; “Don’t you just love a good symphony?”

I took another deep breath and started over; “Our Father, who art in heaven… listen to the symphony of praise your creation has brought this fine morning!

Hallowed be thy name….”

Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 25 years. His latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Gets Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough” is available on Amazon.com.

He can be reached at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

 

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Standing Under


About fifteen years ago my wife and I took a vacation to St. Louis, Missouri. We were living in London, Ontario at the time and I was working shift work in a call centre. When we transitioned off of the night shift we were usually given 3 days off to rest and reset before we were asked to come in on a day shift. But by some fluke of scheduling it so happened that I was given 5 days off.

We were newly married at the time and hadn’t yet taken a honeymoon so with this extra time we decided to pack up the car and see how far we could get and what we could see. Well my wife is big Little House on the Prairie fan and she had always wanted to see Laura Ingalls Wilder’s house in Mansfield Missouri. That’s only about a 10 hour drive from London so I being the good husband that I am, agreed. On our way down we stopped and stayed for a day in St. Louis and went to the Gateway Arch.

gatewayarch

The Gateway Arch is a massive steel structure that serves as a monument to all the American pioneers who passed through St. Louis on their way to open up the west. St. Louis was the last chance to stock up on supplies before heading out in to the frontier. Once you crossed the Mississippi river at St. Louis, you were on your own.

As I stood under the Gateway Arch and looked up at this incredible mass of steel and glass rising into the sky I remember thinking to myself, “I sure hope the engineers knew what they were doing when they built this.” That is of course a ludicrous thought considering that the Gateway Arch has stood on that spot for over 50 years. I certainly didn’t need to understand the math or the physical construction work that went into the structure to confidently stand under it. All I really needed to do was submit to the idea that someone else did.

I was recently reminded of the fact that at least in part that is what the word “understand” means; to stand under and submit to knowledge that you may not fully grasp. Understanding therefore is an act of submission to truth, not dominance over it and you can understand something without knowing exactly how it works.

That’s how it is with God.

I understand God, in that I stand under Him. I submit to Him. I know that God is Love and that my life must reflect that love back on the world. I submit to that fact and that command, even when I don’t fully grasp it. I know it to be true even if I don’t know how it works.

That may sound nonsensical to you. But if you’re being honest I bet there are a number of “facts” that you stand under without understanding them in the traditional sense. Each and every one of us live every day in submission to something that we don’t fully grasp. We base our understanding on evidence and observation not on knowledge of how things work together to achieve the result.

What are some truths that you are submitted to? What do you stand under in your life?