Prayer is an essential part of a believers spiritual life, which also affects every area of our everyday lives. This is such an important part of our walk with the Lord, I wanted to list a few of the benefits that happen when we pray. I will also post a list of resources at the end of the post which will provide some inspiration.
E.M. Bounds was a passionate man of prayer. His passion is perhaps best expressed in this quote that he gives from William Wilberforce, a man of political action and great fruitfulness.
This perpetual hurry of business and company ruins me in soul if not in body. More solitude and earlier hours! I suspect I have been allotting habitually too little time to religious exercises, as private devotion and religious meditation, Scripture-reading, etc.
Hence I am lean and cold and hard. I had better allot two hours or an hour and a half daily. I have been keeping too late hours, and hence have had but a hurried half hour in a morning to myself.
Surely the experience of all good men confirms the proposition that without a due measure of private devotions the soul will grow lean. But all may be done through prayer — almighty prayer, I am ready to say — and why not? For that it is almighty is only through the gracious ordination of the God of love and truth. O then, pray, pray, pray!
Quoted in Power Through Prayer, Location 734.
My prayer is that you will be inspired to communicate with your heavenly Father on a consistent basis. Make prayer your priority everyday, and your relationship will be enriched and life fulfilled.
Power Through Prayer by E.M. Bounds~ http://amzn.to/1ZFn6ty
The Complete Collection of EM Bounds on Prayer~ http://amzn.to/1ZFnfxk
The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears By Mark Batterson~ http://amzn.to/1ZFnkAT
Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson~ http://amzn.to/1R2BMl2
The Circle Maker Prayer Journal By Mark Batterson~ http://amzn.to/1R2BZEO
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God By Timothy Keller http://amzn.to/1R2CwXw
My prayer for you as we approach 2016, is that you passionately pursue God and discover that He has passionately been pursuing you. May He grant to you, the mysteries of His will and desire for your life. May He show His lovingkindness toward you in order to reveal His loving care for you. and may He bless you with supernatural faith, hope, and peace as you enter a new season.
God has great plans for your life! Trust in Him with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and He will lead and guide you in unexpected ways, toward a fulfilled and purposeful life! Have a great 2016!
Currently, my family and I are on a journey of sorts. We have an annual tradition of going to Branson between Christmas and New Years. It has been something that we have done for several years and it seems that we look forward to it more each year. The lights, shows, music, atmosphere, and of course the turkey legs at Silver Dollar City are just a few of the things we love to be a part of.
However, the chance to get away with “just us” is what we look forward to the most. We don’t have many opportunities to be able to travel as a family since we are often separated by schedules, jobs, and school. Having this time together is something that we cherish and we look forward to just being a family and enjoying each others company.
This year as we travelled to Branson, we came in the midst of a strong winter storm that brought heavy rain, sleet, snow, and high winds to the state of Oklahoma. Driving east, we hurriedly tried to out run the frozen precipitation, but encountered the challenge of driving through the high winds and heavy rain.
By the time we reached our destination, my body was worn out from the tension of keeping the vehicle on the road and out of danger from other drivers. To say the least, getting to our destination was not a relaxing venture.
The journey of life can have many challenges along the way which test our resolve to face the difficulties that are thrown at us. These challenges can come from outside, when we deal with the encounters we have with other people. But I find that the biggest challenge that most of us face is inside our minds and hearts. Winning the battle in the six inches between our ears is the toughest challenge.
Have you ever thought, “I just can’t seem to live the Christian life the way I know I should?” “I’m frustrated with how I operate in my daily walk with the Lord!” “I don’t have spiritual victory or a sense of accomplishment in my life!” or “I struggle with the simplest forms of obedience, and I feel like I am constantly defeated!”
The good news is that you are not alone in feeling this way. The bad news is that we often remedy these symptoms of our Christian walk with the wrong medicine. Too often we apply the remedy of a new church, a new pastor, new friends, a new spiritual experience, or a new worship experience. We get prayed for, get prophesied over, and pray for a miracle that will change the weak state of our christian walk, only to be frustrated with the results.
While experiences may help us for a time, we often find ourselves falling into the the same patterns which keep us defeated. Why? Because too often we are singularly focused on what God can give us. If he could give us a new experience, environment, or empowerment, then I could free myself from who I am now.
While God is able to do so much for us…salvation, deliverance, wisdom, direction, peace, strength, provision, etc…the problem lies not in what God can do for us, but what we are willing to give to him. While He provides everything that we need to live the Christian life, we can never fully realize those blessings without fully giving ourselves to Him. It’s not about trying to get from God as much as we can, which makes us happy, it’s about what we give to Him, which bring true joy.
Today, we have a plethora of opportunities to learn and receive from God all of His benefits. We have various churches, seminars, conferences, revivals, and books which provide practical, emotional and spiritual help. The key to receiving true happiness and freedom in life, is to give all that you are and all that you have to God. It is only then that you truly become who He has designed, created, and planned for you to be.
Romans 12:1–2 (ESV) — 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
In preparing for a message that I will be preaching this coming Wednesday night, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you concerning triumph and suffering. I am looking forward to sharing with our congregation, a message of hope that will encourage people who are struggling. God has something special planned for you!
We don’t often associate triumph with suffering. In fact, they are considered to be on opposite sides of the spectrum. One is considered the highest of highs, while the other is considered the lowest of lows. Yet Scripture teaches us that there is triumph in suffering! I know what your thinking…”How?” Let me tell you… But first, let’s talk about suffering.
Suffering is not a popular subject to talk about especially in the arena of Christianity. In a day and age when the blessings of God are spoken of more than suffering for the faith, it’s no wonder that many people are surprised and become deeply discouraged when suffering comes. Especially when it is unjust and unfounded suffering at the hands of others. Yet Jesus said that we should expect that persecutions and trials will come to believers for and in spite of their faith.
How do we handle suffering when we have been abandoned, persecuted, or belittled in our faith? Christ’s perfect example of suffering unjustly and through that, accomplishing the glorious saving purpose of God, should give believers hope and confidence for the triumph of God’s purpose in the midst of their own suffering. God in his providence, is always accomplishing his eternal will and plan, even in spite of the times of suffering and the times of joy.
Through the cross, Jesus showed us his ability to triumph over sin, to proclaim the victorious message, to give a complete salvation, and show his supremacy over all things. Because of his triumph on the cross, we have a victory that is freely given to us and a hope that will last eternal.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 2 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)
(Excerpts from a message that I will share at Tecumseh First Assembly of God on March 18, 2015)
Joshua is one of my favorite people in scripture. His leadership after the death of Moses, is an inspiration to everyone who leads, especially those who have followed a long-term leader. Yet, I also find that Joshua had times when he buckled under the weight of defeat. Joshua 7 is one of those times.
Joshua has led the nation of Israel through two major victories in which God came through on their behalf. They were miraculously able to cross the flooded Jordan river and defeat the mighty city of Jericho. Yet when they met defeat at Ai, Joshua was quick to place blame. Where did he place the blame? Not on Israel, but on God himself!
Listen to what he says, “Alas, O Lord God, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan!” Joshua 7:7 (ESV)
Isn’t that just like human nature. Whenever things begin to disintegrate in our lives, we begin to look around for someone to take the fall. “It surely isn’t our fault, it has to be God’s!”
Joshua failed to remember what God had done for His people in bringing them out of Egypt.
Now after one defeat … Joshua blames God.
The key to living a life of victory is to think about, and be thankful for, all that God has done for us. He loved us so much that He gave His Son for us and through His sacrifice, He offers us salvation by faith and receives us when we come to Him. On top of this incredible gift, He is intricately involved in our lives, consistently loving, caring, protecting, blessing, and disciplining.
Instead of blaming God for our defeats, take time to go to Him and listen to His direction for your life. The Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face?” Joshua 7:10 (ESV) He then explained to Joshua the reason behind the defeat and how he was to proceed in his leadership.
Focus on Him and let Him help you overcome the defeats in life. If you take time to remember all that God has done in your life so far, and listen for what He is doing now and in the future of your life, I believe you will find out that there are more victories than you realize. Living a life of humble thankfulness is the key to facing life’s challenges with confidence!
Happy New Year!
As I begin a new year, I typically take time to review my previous year and examine where I am in several areas of my life. My relationships with God, family and friends, often top the list in my examination. But I also look at my ministry, leadership positions, and opportunity that I have had the past year, to see if I have been a good steward of what I have been given, by God, to do.
Each of us must take time to evaluate where we are spiritually, relationally, physically, financially, and so on, to discover how we can improve, in order to be all that God would have us to be. In fact, I would say that this evaluation needs to happen more often than once a year. Consistently monitoring where I am in the various aspects of my life, is an important part of living life to the fullest.
If you find it a challenge to make resolutions and keep them, let me give you 5 things that I would encourage you to pursue in 2015.
1. Fall in love with God: Every one of us has a unique opportunity to fall in love with a God who is madly in love with us. His desire to have relationship with you is so vast, that He has provided everything necessary to be close to Him. The Word, prayer, worship, service, and giving, all provide that opportunity to draw close in your relationship with Him. Do what it takes to fall deeper in love with God and He will become the center of your life!
2. Hold relationships closer: Family and friends are the spice of life and provide you with the tangible support you need to enjoy life. These relationships should never be taken for granted, but cherished as the gifts that they are. Take time to encourage others and you will find that it will be reciprocated, many times over.
3. Look for opportunity: Everyone has opportunities that are within reach. The difference between those who seize opportunities and those who don’t, is the ability (and guts) to look for and take hold of what could be. Don’t let excuses keep you from exploring opportunity. Life is too short, to not be an adventure.
4. Make a difference: Life can easily become inward focused to the point that depression, discouragement, and loneliness can become the norm for your life. When we begin to look at the needs of others around us, it gives us a balanced perspective on our life challenges. When we look outside of ourselves, and look for ways to make a difference in someone else’s life, it makes a huge difference in ours.
5. Go for it: It is so easy to have the mentality that everything in life will come to us if we simply stay in one place long enough. In the church world we call that waiting on God, but I often wonder if God is not waiting on us to move! Yet the fear of failure is so powerful, that many will be content to do nothing. Take a risk, learn from failure, move forward and seize opportunity. Go for it!
Blessings on your 2015,
Luke 1:30 (ESV) — 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
I love this passage of scripture because it reveals what is happening in Mary’s heart. Mary, while living life, enjoying the journey, and making plans for the future, had her life interrupted by an angel declaring the plans that God had for her life. I can only imagine what would be racing through Mary’s mind as she tried to process all that the angel was telling her. Fear would begin to creep in as she began to realize the implications on her life, personally and publicly.
While fear can creep into our lives, most of the time it comes crashing in through the interruptions and challenges of life. Things that we have not planned, which interrupt the flow of life, can cause fear to set in and when it does, can be life controlling. Yet, the angel tells Mary to not be afraid. I have often asked myself, how would Mary have dealt with her fear? Did she have relapses of fear in the days that followed this encounter?
As you ponder these questions, I want to encourage you with several thoughts. First of all, God knows and cares about your fears. The angel didn’t scold Mary for her fear, rather he encouraged her to not be afraid. God will provide the encouragement we need to simply trust in Him with the interruptions and challenges of life. In your moment of fear, remember that the God who created the heavens and earth is the one who created you. Who can take care of your life and the circumstances that surround you, better than Him?
This season, cast all your fears upon Him because He cares for you. Trust that He will do good in your life and you will see the blessing of having faith in Him.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11.25 (ESV)
I have a lot of great memories of my childhood and often think back to those experiences which shaped my life and helped guide and direct my decisions and character as an adult. These influences have come from many different sources, my parents, grandparents, teachers, pastors, employers, and friends. I am so grateful for all those who were willing to make an investment of their time, energy, love, compassion, wisdom and understanding.
As I read Proverbs 11.25 this morning, I couldn’t help thinking of these individuals. One common characteristic of those who have made the efforts to be an investor of blessings into my life, seemed to have the blessing of God resting on their life. In other words, they seemed to walk in the favor of the Lord as they made deposits of blessing into someone else’s life. This isn’t be accident. In fact, God has promised to return the favor in our lives when we take the initiative to be a blessing!
It is my prayer, that I would be a blessing to my family, congregation, friends, and community. That I spend my life investing in others. That they are enriched because of my involvement in their lives.
May we live our lives as an investor of God’s blessings, by sowing into the hearts and lives of others.
“When a movement develops around a dominant personality,” wrote J. Oswald Sanders, “the real test of the quality of his leadership is the manner in which that work survives the crisis of his removal.… If he is to discharge his trust fully he will devote time to training younger men to succeed and perhaps even supersede him” (Spiritual Leadership, rev. ed. [Chicago: Moody Press, 1980], 210, 217).
When I read this quote this morning, it struck a cord with me. I have been asking the question of my ministry and the legacy that I will leave to the next generation. In the evaluation of my life and ministry can I say that I am doing what is possible to enable the next generation the opportunity to fulfill their call and change the world or am I standing in the way of their opportunity?
In order to be an effective leader, we must vigilant and purposeful in passing on the reigns of leadership to the next generation of world changers. Moses had to hand over the leadership of Israel to Joshua, David made sure that Solomon was set up for leadership and greatness in the kingdom. Even Jesus spent his earthly ministry, training the men who would carry the mantel of spiritual leadership beyond His earthly life. The disciples then, would be enablers of future church leaders such a Paul who passed his ministry on to Timothy.
This same pattern as been duplicated for the most part, throughout the history of the church. To pass on to the next generation, the torch of leadership so that the effectiveness of the ministry would continue to have life and vitality. The pattern of mentorship, enabling, and releasing the next generation into leadership must be a priority in the church of today.
I realize that in my life, I have a short window of opportunity to be able to make a difference in the world. The Bible calls my life “a vapor,” it’s here today and gone tomorrow. Therefore, if I am going to make a difference that surpasses my lifespan, I will have to make an investment that pays dividends beyond my years. The only viable way of doing that, is to pour into the life of the next generation and help them become the leaders God intended for them to be.
Someday, I am going to have to leave my place of position in order to pass on to the next generation leader the opportunity to make their mark in ministry. It will be my responsibility to not overextend my stay and limit the opportunity of the next generation leader. It will also be my responsibility to champion, celebrate and support them with a sincere heart.
How can this be accomplished? Here are a few suggestions.
What are some additional ways that we can champion the next generation? Let me know! I would love to hear your insight!
Champion the next generation leader and see your legacy extend well beyond your life!
More than 130 years ago, a group of twenty distinguished Americans met in the Astor House in New York City during the presidency of Millard Fillmore. Among the dinner guests was Secretary of State Daniel Webster, who had been unusually quiet. In an effort to engage him in conversation, a colleague asked, “Mr. Webster, will you tell me what was the most important thought you ever had?” Following a brief silence, he confidently replied, “The most serious thought that ever occupied my mind was that of my individual responsibility to God.”
1 Thessalonians 4:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
Pastor Paul was giving the Thessalonians the encouragement needed to help them take the steps necessary to develop their faith and relationship with God. His heart for the Thessalonians is clear. He didn’t browbeat them, demand, or demean them in their level of faith, rather he challenged them to take what they know and apply it to their continuous spiritual growth. This is a great example of a pastor’s heart toward those they lead into greater spiritual maturity. A heart of kindness, gentleness, and humility, while at the same time, challenging the core of their spiritual comfort zone.
As we study this passage of scripture, we must also take the words of Paul seriously. We must be growing in our relationship with God and developing our faith in Him. If we are not, this challenge is meant to move you forward in establishing the disciplines of faith. Take what you know, study what you don’t, and pray. God will help move your spiritual life from a place of stagnation, to a place of vitality and life.
Purpose to become spiritually extraordinary and excel in your faith. You will not be disappointed!
Your turn: What helps you keep your relationship with God fresh and maturing?