Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Return to Prayer

Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV) After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
 
Many of us were taught to pray this way as children. We knelt beside our beds, clasped our little hands under our chins, closed our eyes, and recited these words of Jesus Christ faithfully at bedtime. Then somewhere along the way, we stopped. We began to use prayer as a magic wand to try and move God to give us something, if we continued to pray at all.
We get in public and pray these grand, verbose prayers filled with tired clich├ęs, vivid imagery, and abundant alliteration.  Our hearts, however, haven’t knelt in prayer in years.  We wait for a special retreat or New Year’s Eve service to earnestly come before the Almighty God in humble submission.  We vow to spend more time in prayer……………..every year.  We are constant and consistent in prayer when our lives are falling apart, but struggle to find the time when things are going well.
The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17).  If there were ever a time to pray without ceasing, it is now.  We, as Christians, need to get back into the practice of spending quality time in prayer daily.  The world is headed straight to hell, and we aren’t even praying as we ought. 2 Chronicles 7:14 gives us a recipe for our afflictions that begins with humbling ourselves in prayer: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (KJV)
 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Just to Encourage You

Philippians 1:6 (NASB)  For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

We don’t have to wait until we have it all together.  We don’t have to hang our heads in shame because we aren’t perfect.  We are all works in progress.  Jesus Christ has begun to work in all of us who have accepted Him as our savior.  He already knows that we can’t succeed in our own strength.

No matter where you are in your Christian walk (even if you are crawling), you have everything you need in order to be what God wants you to be.  The seeds were planted when you surrendered your life to Christ.  The good work began with that decision, and as the ground is cultivated, the seeds get watered, and the weeds get plucked up, you will grow in Christ.

If your heart is willing, you will mature in your walk with the Lord.  As the good work grows, the bad habits drop.  As you hunger and thirst after righteousness, the desire for things of this world will dissipate.  Don’t get discouraged when you find yourself slipping backwards into carnality.  We all have our struggles.  God has the perfect solution: repent, ask for forgiveness, seek His guidance in getting back on the straight and narrow.

Above all, don’t compare your Christian journey with anyone else’s.  What you need may not be what the next person needs.  Share your testimony of what God did for you, but don’t make it a road map for someone else.  The same good work Christ began in you, He began in them as well.  It doesn’t matter if you got saved yesterday or 30 years ago, Christ is still perfecting the good work in all of us.  Let’s encourage one another wherever we may be on this journey.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Confess and PRAY!

James 5:16 (NKJV)  Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Are you in need of a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual healing? Share it with a trusted prayer partner. We are supposed to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), so let’s start sharing the load with our fellow Christian brothers and sisters. We all know that no one is perfect, so stop pretending that you have it all together sometimes.
Confess, so we can pray, and just maybe you will get your mind off of your problem long enough to pray for mine. If we are praying for one another, we won’t have time to hate each other. It’s really hard to backstab someone you’re earnestly praying for. If the body of Christ would operate as Jesus Christ intended, we would grow together and develop a closer sense of community.

We can do so much more together. We can impact the world in greater ways together. We can send more demons to flight together. We can be so much more effective in the work of the Kingdom together. There is definitely strength in numbers. The devil is picking us apart one by one, one leader at a time, one church at a time. If we would confess and pray for one another, we would have more solidarity and oneness of purpose, no matter what the gates of hell throw at us.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

There is ONE Leader

Matthew 23:10-12 (NASB) Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

I have heard this text taught and preached many, many times. Yet we continue to put our church leaders ahead of Christ. We are all about Jesus Christ in our conversation, but by our actions, Bishop Do-Right is the authority on all spiritual matters and whom we seek to please.

Respecting leadership is right and necessary. Obeying those that have rule over us is obedience to Christ. I am not speaking against decency and order. I am speaking against giving a man a place in your life that should be reserved for Jesus Christ and Him alone. If the Right Reverend Pimpalicious requires something of you that Jesus Christ Himself taught against, that “leader” has put himself in a place he has no business occupying in your life.

There is plenty of blame to go around about how we’ve gotten to this place in the church. Like politics in America, only the self-serving climb the ladders to find secular success. Behind all these so-called leaders are people supporting them, patronizing them, and lifting them up, trying to secure cabinet positions in their regimes. I also need to clarify that I am not speaking against mega-churches or mega-church pastors. This has nothing to do with church size, ministry offerings, number of campuses, number of books written, speaking engagements, being part of Oprah’s Life Class series, or any such thing. This is about the heart of man.

The pastor of a small church can be just as guilty of exalting himself as the pastor of a large church. The bishop of a huge jurisdiction with billions of dollars can be just as humble as the bishop of a small third-world nation with nothing. Evaluate your own heart, your own motivations. Do you want to serve the people of God, or do you want them to serve you? Are you interested in growing the Kingdom of God or your own personal kingdom? God already knows, so be honest with yourself.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Surrender!

Psalm 55:22 (ESV)
Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.


Sometimes you just get weary of life. It feels like your world is closing in on you, and there is no one to turn to. Everything is going wrong at the same time, and the places you used to find peace are full of turmoil. We all go through these trying times. It’s hard to admit that we are crumbling on the inside. Our pride forces us to smile through the hurt, the pain, the disappointment, and to pretend everything is okay.

When we are alone in the dark, the reality that we have failed overwhelms us. It is in these times of unrest that we must look to Jesus and unload our burdens on Him. We are imperfect people with a perfect Savior. He never told us to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. YOU ARE NOT SUPERMAN/WOMAN! Get over yourself and run to Jesus. Deflate that puffed up chest, let those tears fall, and collapse in the arms of the Lord.

He will sustain you; He cares for you. You will get through the rough patches because He will carry you through. God will not forsake you in your weakness. It is in times of weakness that we can fully recognize His strength. It is in times of brokenness that we discover just how much God loves us.
 
1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.