Monday, June 27, 2022

Prayer Week 25: Call to Obedience


We often view prayer as one way, like giving feedback on a website. We generally don’t expect a response, especially a personal one. If anything we get a “thank you, your opinion is important to us” or “we’re taking it under advisement.” Sadly, we view prayer as being about us. We do all the talking and if we do happen to listen, it’s for an answer to what we said. But how often do we listen for instructions, to hear a command for us to obey?

 

Ecclesiastes 8:5 New American Standard Bible 1995

He who keeps a royal command experiences no trouble, for a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure.

James 1:22 New American Standard Bible 1995

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

James 1:22 New American Standard Bible 1995

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

John 14:23 New American Standard Bible 1995

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.

Luke 11:28 New American Standard Bible 1995

But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

Exodus 19:5 New American Standard Bible 1995

Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;

Romans 10:17 New American Standard Bible 1995

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

 

We tend to view obeying God’s commands in an abstract sense. We think of it only in the realm of doing what the Bible says, some more leniently than others. The idea that God would personally tell us something He wants us to do is foreign. How can we know what God wants us to do if He doesn’t speak to us out loud? While there are times when He does actually speak to us audibly (I have experienced this,) more often it is through the nudging of the Spirit. It is not so much a structured sentence, but more of an idea or a picture accompanied by an urge to act. This could be as simple as taking someone a meal, or offering an invitation. God’s call is often not grandiose, but common and every day. The reason we don’t notice it every day is because we aren’t listening. In 1 Kings, God has a message for the prophet Elijah, yet He does not speak through the fire, storm or earthquake, but through the gentle whisper of the wind. It is not hard to hear if we are surrounded by noise, chaos and busyness.

 

There are two ways to make ourselves better adapt at hearing the voice of God. The first is to make being alone and quiet a regular practice. The other is to consciously make oneself more aware of God’s voice and presence. God is everywhere, but we are usually not aware of it. Part of this is being in constant communion with God, keeping the door of communication open by being mindful of Him. The other part is to be in God’s word. The more we know Him the better we will recognize His will and voice. The primary requisite to knowing God’s will and obeying His command is being open, a humble willingness to submit to Him. It does not matter how much God talks to us if we don’t listen, or how much we listen if we are not willing to obey.

 

This week as you pray, ask God to make you aware of Him. Invite Him to speak to you. Be willing to obey. Tell Him (truthfully) that you are willing to do whatever He commands. Express faith that you will know how and what to do when the time comes. Be ready and attentive every moment of every day.




 Prayer points taken from Praying Through Adversity by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.


Sunday, June 19, 2022

Prayer Week 24: Object of Delight


How does God feel about you? Likely it’s a question you’ve never asked yourself, or possibly never even thought about before. On the surface, songs like “Jesus Loves Me” and “ He’s Got the Whole World” pop into mind, and we might give them as a rote answer, but how deeply do we really believe it? Do we live as if it were true?

 

Isaiah 62:4-5 New American Standard Bible 1995

It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,”
Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”;
But you will be called, “My delight is in her,”
And your land, “Married”;
For the Lord delights in you,
And to Him your land will be married.
For as a young man marries a virgin,
So your sons will marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So your God will rejoice over you.

Isaiah 43:2, 4 New American Standard Bible 1995

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you…

Since you are precious in My sight,
Since you are honored and I love you,

I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life.

Psalm 37:23 New American Standard Bible 1995

The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.

Exodus 19:5 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition

Now therefore, if you will obey My voice in truth and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own peculiar possession and treasure from among and above all peoples; for all the earth is Mine.

 

God’s love for us is not for show, by compulsion or out of duty. He doesn’t have to love us because He is God or even because He made us. In fact, the opposite is true; He made us because He loves us, because He delights in us. His delight is not earned by anything we do. It is not even earned by how well we keep up our relationship with Him. He delights in us because we are His, because He loves us.

 

This week as you come to prayer, dwell on the fact that God delights in you, that He made you because of His delight in relationship with you. He takes pleasure in your presence. He delights in being alone with you as a beau delights in being alone with His sweetheart. Let His love for and joy in you fill you with peace.



 Prayer points taken from Praying Through Adversity by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Prayer Week 23: An Open Invitation


In our egocentric society we are inclined to believe, or at least behave, as if everything revolves around us. As contrary as this is to Christianity, many Christians live without even recognizing it, as if God and our faith are here for our benefit. One need look no further than the attitudes Christians have toward prayer and church attendance. We pray for what we want. We attend church to be filled and meet our needs. We even view salvation as something we chose, rather than something to which God first called us. We often forget, or never even knew, that faith and its practices are an invitation from God.

 

Isaiah 50:4 New American Standard Bible 1995
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.

Isaiah 55:1 New American Standard Bible 1995

“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.

1 Samuel 3:4 New American Standard Bible 1995

that the Lord called Samuel; and he said, “Here I am.”

Matthew 11:28-30 New American Standard Bible 1995

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

John 6:44 NASB1995

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

 

God first called us. We would not have sought or desired Him if He had not first called to us. Some would say that He only calls the few who will be saved, others that He calls everyone and only a few answer. I am not here to debate that. Regardless of the view point, the Bible is clear that we do not first choose God and He accepts us, but that we are here eta His invitation. If you are saved and have given your life to Christ it is because He drew you to Himself. He wanted you with Him.

This week in your prayer time, consider the fact that you are here at His invitation, not just in faith but also in prayer. He wants to meet with you. He longs for communion with you. As a good parent nurtures their child, or better as a loving husband seeks His wife’s heart and companionship, so God desires to have us draw near to Him and open our hearts to Him.

 

Above all, the purpose of prayer is communion with God. He has invited you to spend time alone with Him, like a date. It is not just so that you can do all the talking, but because He has something to teach and say to you for your benefit. How does that change the mood and climate of your prayer time? This week try to be conscious of God’s invitation to you and record what you observe.




 Prayer points taken from Praying Through Adversity by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.


Monday, June 6, 2022

Prayer Week 22: The Temple of God


We tend to equate worshipping God with church, and church with a specific building. In the Old Testament people had to go to a specific place to worship God because that was where He dwelt, but now it is different. However, we have trouble remembering that in the day to day. We tend to compartmentalize and only think of God in the place where we expect to find Him.

 

1 Corinthians 3:16 New American Standard Bible 1995

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

1 Corinthians 6:19 New American Standard Bible 1995

Or do you not know that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

2 Corinthians 6:16 New American Standard Bible 1995

Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God and they shall be My people.”

Ephesians 2:20-22 New American Standard Bible 1995

Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

 

Jesus came to earth to save us from sin. When He left, He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in us in His place. Before the time of Christ, the Spirit only came on certain people for a certain time. It was not a permanent or common place occurrence. Now, however, the Spirit indwells all believers from the time of salvation on. We no longer need to go to the temple to worship God or be in His presence because we are His temple. We can worship Him anytime, anywhere. Relationship with God is no longer compartmentalized. One of my favorite books is The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence and I would highly recommend it. He talks about practical ways to be more aware of God’s presence every day, something all believers desperately need.

 

This week, dwell on the fact that God dwells in you. He is always at home in you. You do not have to seek Him out or get His attention, you already have Him. Your body is His temple, His place of worship. Do you live like it?

 

In the Old Testament, worship engaged all the senses. Set aside some time this week when you pray to create that atmosphere. Go someplace quiet and beautiful. Light a fragrant candle. Play some worship music. Pray and worship God with every part of your being, let your whole self engage and be involved in it. Practice the presence of God.




 Prayer points taken from Praying Through Adversity by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.


Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Prayer Week 21: Anxiety, Control and Thanksgiving


Anxiety plagues many of us, some without even realizing it. I don’t sit around biting my nails over anything, but if I think about it there are a few things stewing on the back burner that I try not to think about. However, stuffing or ignoring them is no more successful than endlessly worrying about them. It doesn’t make us less anxious about them, nor does it solve the problem in any way. It just makes us less aware of them. What do we do with the things that cause concern?

 

Philippians 4:6-7 New American Standard Bible 1995

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 6:31-33 New American Standard Bible 1995

Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

1 Peter 5:6-7 New American Standard Bible 1995

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 New American Standard Bible 1995

in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

Worry is a destructive thing. It steals our joy and peace without accomplishing anything good. It may make us feel like we are very caring about whatever it is that concerns us, but in truth it means that we are trying to be in control, rather than trusting the One who truly is in control. We worry because there is a problem that we can’t fix, but we aren’t willing to take it to the One who can. Ultimately it is selfish and fearful, but God has not given us a spirit of fear. That means that anxiety is not of God but of the enemy, so it is something we should fight just like we do every other temptation.

 

The question then is how do we fight it. Prayer is the first step. We need to take what is bothering us to God. We need to talk to Him about the problem and then trust Him to take care of it. We need to put it in His hands and then leave it there without trying to take it back from Him. Practically speaking, that means that every time we are tempted to worry about it, we make ourselves give it back to God or remind ourselves that He has it and it is not our problem any more. He is far better at dealing with it than we are anyway.

 

The next step is just as vital, but often overlooked: thanksgiving. This part seems counterintuitive. If something is bothering us, causing us to worry, there probably isn’t much to be thankful for, yet we are commanded to give thanks in it. However, the very fact that it is contrary means that is the very thing we need to make us not worry. We need the opposite of worry and that is thanksgiving. We need to thank God for that issue because that is where God has us and if we trust Him He will make good come from it. We can also be thankful for what God will do through it, ways that we can already see His hand working.

 

In your prayer time this week, write down everything that is making you anxious, big and small. Thank God for these things because He has a plan and will bring about good from them. Then ask Him to help you see what He is doing in them already and to be aware of His hand throughout the situation. Give the situation to God and leave it in His hands, resting in the knowledge that He is sovereign, all knowing and completely good. If this is hard for you, ask God to help you trust Him, to give you a peaceful, grateful heart. Going through this process will build your faith and trust in God, as well as building a spirit of peace and joy within you.





 Prayer points taken from Praying Through Adversity by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.


Monday, May 23, 2022

Prayer Week 20: The Art of Listening


In our culture, we talk a lot. There is so much information coming at us, and we are so adept at expressing our opinions, we often forget that there is more than that. Prayer often becomes a one way telecom where we speak freely to God and then hang up the phone. We don’t usually give Him a chance to get a word in edge wise. Even when we study the Bible, it becomes information only and we don’t allow the time and peace to really let it speak to us and soak into our hearts.

 

1 Samuel 3:10 New American Standard Bible 1995

Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”

Proverbs 13:1 New American Standard Bible 1995

A wise son accepts his father’s discipline,
But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

Matthew 7:24-27 New American Standard Bible 1995

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.

 

To listen means more than just to hear with our ears. It means to give heed to, pay attention to, to listen so as to obey. It is an act of submission and respect, and comes from a teachable spirit. We only “give ear” to those whom we already respect and deem as wise and worth following. God needs to have that topmost rank in our hearts. His Word should have the highest authority in our hearts and lives.

 

However, in order for God’s word to reach us we have to listen. We have to be still and quiet enough to hear His voice. He is not in the thunder or the great wind, but in the gentle whisper. Only those who really want to hear, and focus intently on listening, will catch what He says.

 

Listening to God’s voice is the most important skill in prayer. What we say is not nearly as important as what God says to us, so when we pray, while it is good to talk to God, it is more important that we listen. This week during your prayer time, cultivate a heart that listens. Listen for Him in His Word, in your quiet time, in life’s circumstances, and what others say. Write down what you believe He is saying to you.

 

 

 

I apologize for this coming out late, I am having computer problems. I will be fairly quiet on here until I get them worked out.




 Prayer points taken from Praying Through Adversity by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Devotions: Depth of Knowledge

 

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

Romans 11:33 New American Standard Bible 1995

 

Can anyone know God’s mind? Can we understand all that He does or plans? Job and Paul both pondered these questions and came up empty. If God could be fully known and understood then He would not be greater than man. God knows everything that is, ever has and ever will happen, and He can use that knowledge to plan and orchestrate the future of every living being for all of eternity for our good and His glory. His knowledge and wisdom are unfathomable. We can but sit at the brink and ponder the depths, but we would be lost to transverse them. The Gospel itself, the great plan of salvation for mankind, is laden with mystery. How and why the God of the universe would save His enemies, would create beings that He knew would betray Him and inevitably fail, who can say? We can begin to know and understand in part the how and why of God’s ways, but we are arrogant and foolish to think that we can do so fully. It is not simply a ploy to pass off anything of faith we do not understand as “too far above man’s knowledge.” Of course we should strive to know and understand as much as we can, and that will be different for all according our own abilities and God’s allowance, but there will come a time for all of us when we reach the end of the realm of our finite minds. Contrary to the Age of Enlightenment, we cannot know or understand everything. It is just not humanly possible. That is what separates us from God, and I believe that is why they came up with that idea in the first place. The “Enlightened” wanted to remove God and claim that man could reach perfection on his own. They did not want to humble themselves before a mightier being. However, that is the only viable response to God’s true nature: humble awe and worship. We can only trust His infinite wisdom relying on His perfect love and goodness. We know that He is both good and just, loving and merciful. He will do what is best, and we need to trust Him with what we cannot understand.

How do you respond to God’s wisdom? How do His unsearchable ways inspire you? Do they draw you to your knees in worship, or make you rebel in prideful resistance? Ask God to help you trust the fullness of His wisdom. Ask Him to help you see His goodness paired with justice so that you can trust His judgment. Ask Him to help you entrust Him with what you do not understand.

 

 

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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Devotions: Invisible Work

 

Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.

Ecclesiastes 11:5 New American Standard Bible 1995

 

The creation and formation of life is a great wonder, and still a mystery even in this modern age of science and technology. We may know what happens when a baby is formed in a mother’s womb, but we still don’t really know how. It is a great miracle, how life comes from something inanimate, how a group of cells multiplies and turns into a living being. The wind also is a great mystery. We know now that it is moving air particles which are too small to see with the naked eye. We also know relatively what causes those air particles to move, but how those invisible, miniscule particles can have such power and force is a marvel. We had two small tornadoes a couple weeks ago. Living west of the Rockies, this is very uncommon for us. Watching the videos, they really didn’t seem to amount to much, but the damage they caused was still quite amazing. In the same way that these things are marvelous and mysterious, so is the work of God. He does so much that we cannot see, or that we see but cannot understand, or that we understand but is still miraculous. In the same way that plants start from a dead seed, and slowly in the depths of the earth come to life and grow where we cannot see them so that they eventually produce fruit, so God works in the human heart, one that seems dead and beyond hope, to bring a person to life. We cannot see the work God is doing, especially in another person. Like the wind, we can only see the affects of it, but not the wind/change itself. And often, like a baby growing in the womb or seeds germinating, it takes a long time before we realize anything is happening. Often we give up hope before God is finished. It can seem so pointless, useless to wait when it seems impossible, but God is the king of the impossible. He thrives in doing what we think is beyond hope. That is why we should never give up on God. We don’t realize that is what we are doing, but when we give up on a relationship, on waiting for a person to change, we are ultimately giving up on God. I’ve seen so many marriages fail because one person gave up, not only on their spouse, but on God’s ability and willingness to work in them. I’ve learned that it is never foolish to wait on God, especially if we know we are where God wants us. We are there for a reason, and He is always working. He will not abandon His plan or leave something undone. He is faithful to do what He has said.

Do you trust God? Do you believe that He is working even when you can’t see it? Are you willing to wait for God to work? Ask God to help you trust Him, to believe that He can and will do the impossible. Ask Him to help you see His hand and give you the patience and perseverance to wait. Waiting on God is not fruitless; it grows in us qualities that can be gained in no other way. Submit to His work in you, while you wait for Him to work in others.

 

 

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Monday, May 16, 2022

Prayer Week 19: Practice of the Presence


Life is busy. There is so much in the physical world to distract us, vying for our attention. It is so easy to live as if that is all there is, to only focus on and heed the physical world, forgetting the spiritual. I mean really, how can we know God is here when we can’t see or feel Him?

 

Luke 12:31 New American Standard Bible 1995

But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

Zephaniah 3:17 New American Standard Bible 1995

The Lord your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

Haggai 2:5 New American Standard Bible 1995

‘As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!’
Zechariah 2:10-11 New American Standard Bible 1995

"Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” declares the Lord. “Many nations will join themselves to the Lord in that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you."

Luke 17:20-21 New American Standard Bible 1995

Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

 

Whether we are aware of it or not, God is in our midst. He is in our hearts and all around us. He is omnipresent, everywhere always at once. In a sense, He is like the air; filling up every empty space on earth. Yet He is even more places than that. He not only knows everything but He sees everything. He is always with us.

 

I remember my bible study leader in high school telling me a story about a couple who used to sit as close together as possible when they drove somewhere, but gradually they grew apart. Eventually, she was sitting on one end of the bench seat, and he at the other with his arm on the door. She lamented the time when they used to sit close with his arm around her. He responded, “I never moved.” It is the same with God. If He feels distant it is because we have ceased to become aware of Him. He is always as close as ever, but we often forget that. We let the world distract us and we lose awareness of His presence.

 

We need to cultivate an awareness of His presence. We need to remind ourselves that He is always there, and look for it always. When we are in a check out line, driving in the car, sweeping, mopping, etc., those are all times when we can seek His kingdom and presence. We can and should always talk to God, as if He were right there, because He is. Prayer is the ground work for this awareness. This week, ask God to make you more aware of Him and call attention to kingdom moments. This will not only brighten your day, chase away loneliness and give purpose and meaning to menial chores, but it will also change those irritating moments in life into opportunities to fellowship with God. It will also help transform your heart, your attitude and the way you react in those situations.



 Prayer points taken from Praying Through Adversity by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Devotions: Christ-like Conduct

 

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:32 New American Standard Bible 1995

 

This should seem like a given as far as conduct toward believers, but unfortunately it is a message as needed now as it was then. Even among those who share the faith, sin gets in the way. We choose self over others and let our old nature rule our actions. We forget what a privilege it is to be part of this family of believers and view ourselves above others. We forget what we would be without the love of Christ and what we have been forgiven. It is important to always remember what Christ has done for us, what He has forgiven, how He loves us, and how He treats us. That will help give us perspective in how we treat others. We need to be kind because that is love. It doesn’t matter how we are treated, we are always to respond in kindness. We need to be tender-hearted. Hard-heartedness is a sign of the old self before salvation. God said He would remove our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh when we believe in Him. If we are hard-hearted toward others it shows that we are not acting in the newness of the Spirit. We are commanded to have a heart of compassion for others, this phrase referred to the seat of emotions in Hebrew culture. Being cold, unsympathetic and unemotional is not godly, nor is it kind. We also need to forgive. We have been forgiven so much, more than I believe we will ever know on this earth at least. How could we demand that others repay us when we have been forgiven so much? Are we better than God? It is so easy to justify our unforgiveness, “you don’t know what they did,” “they’re not even sorry.” Yet Jesus forgave us before we wanted forgiveness. He died before we were born so that He could forgive us. The Bible says if we don’t forgive we won’t be forgiven. Unforgiveness is one of the greatest forms of pride and injustice, for we won’t do what the God of the universe did for us and commanded that we do. I know it can be hard, especially when the pain goes deep, but it is necessary, not for them but for us. The whole purpose of forgiveness is not to free them from responsibility, but to free us from bondage to what they did to us. God is judge and He will deal with what happened. It is not our place to do that for Him. Holding onto what happened will only destroy us. The enemy uses it to destroy so many Christians and families by making us think we should withhold it, when he knows that is all he needs to keep us bound. Christ forgave those who crucified Him, how can we do any less?

How do you treat others, especially believers? What are you holding onto? What is the status of your heart toward certain people? Is it Christ-like? Ask God to help heal the wounds. Ask Him to give you a love for others like He has, to see them as He does. Ask Him to help you let go of the past and be delivered from the pain and bondage.

 

 

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