TAKING GOD FOR GRANTED!

As I sit here this morning I worry about we who call ourselves Christian taking God for granted. We do so in many ways with one example being our prayer life. For a moment I am not talking to those who continue to live in their sin with little if any regard for confession.

My concern is with those who God desires to hear from most especially. Those who have confessed of their sins and come in faith to Christ. Often we are the ones who continue to pray (if at all) in a mundane fashion often not thinking what we say. As believers we need to make prayer powerful in our lives. Doing so requires we be repentant first and then follow the 5 point teaching on prayer that I recently was made aware of.

It begins with our praying being intense. We know God wants us to ask of Him our needs (Matthew 7:7-11) but if we truly feel a need it must be more than just casual. For to many prayer is so routine we often don’t think on the words we speak.

Prayer also must be ongoing. In Acts 12:5 the word prayer is as a verb implying continued activity. Our prayers over a concern should not be just a time or two for a short period of time and merely empty repetition (Matthew 6:7). Keep a prayer journal and pray constantly over your prayer list until God provides an answer.

We also are to pray to God through Christ. In our day of political correctness I often hear prayers end with the words “I pray in the name of Christ”. Truthfully there is no other name in which to pray (John 14:6).

God desires also that our prayers be specific and not vague in nature. In Acts 12:5 the Messianic Jewish community made specific prayer for Peter’s release from prison. James 4:2-3 clearly tells us we receive not because we ask not. God is interested in the details of our lives. Pray accordingly.

Finally our prayer should be communal as Acts 12:5 shows. Private prayer is important but when spoken by a community of believers it is all the more effective. If as you read this you find yourself to be a Christian believer then it is time we stop TAKING GOD FOR GRANTED.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Prayers prayed properly produce.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Acts 12:5 “Importance of constant prayer by the church”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen me to pray as You would have me pray.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How are you taking God for granted?
  2. Are we praying as God would expect us to?
  3. For who should you be praying today?
  4. How should we share the power of prayer with a secular world?

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MOTHER-IN-LAWS NEED JESUS TOO!

In the life of Christ we find so much to learn that it is virtually impossible to look at it in one lifetime. Today we take one aspect of His ministry discussed in Mark 1:29-34 referred to as the “two miracles”. In the first we see that Jesus after a time of teaching in Capernaum went to the house of Peter His disciple where He is told of Peter’s mother-in-law. Sick with a burning fever she received healing from Jesus and immediately began to serve them.

This text to me has several spiritual lessons from which we can learn. The first lesson is that we often overlook that disciples were married including Peter. The spouses were a part of the entourage that traveled with Christ as we read in Luke 8:1-3. For me it is fascinating to imagine how the Christian movement first began and the power that was seen in that wherever He went He did good and many were witnesses. Imagine today that we would live in that manner. Waking up each morning and doing good wherever we go.

For those who feel limited in this regard the opportunity to do good comes in the words of verse 30. Here we see that it was through the request of others that Peter’s family was helped. How easy it would be for us to begin prayer teams among our circle of acquaintances. We could even connect those prayer teams to others and share the power of prayer.

We also see in this example of healing that when the healing comes from God it is quick and complete. A recent movie I attended entitled “Miracles from Heaven” exemplified this. When a miracle happens in your life no matter the size share it with others. It is one way we can witness to the wonders of God’s grace to others. We must never forget that our Savior showed his authority over all illness and demons during His journey on earth and that power still comes to us today. Truth be told it is not just MOTHER-IN-LAWS THAT NEED JESUS but all of us as well.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Miracles are meant to show God’s meaningful love.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Mark 1:29-34 “Christ’s power over illness and demons displayed”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I be a vessel to show others your healing love.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is the significance for the church of Peter’s marriage?
  2. Do you believe in the power of healing through prayer?
  3. Are you in a prayer group for the healing of all brought before you?
  4. Have you been witness to miraculous events?

YOUR MOST IMPORTANT CONTACT!

As we go through life we become acquainted with various individuals who may be of help to us later on. Likewise we can serve in that role on occasion for others as well. How society is linked together is truly amazing and understanding this makes for a more fluid way of living. It is how we connect to or approach people. In the world of faith there is only one who has the ability to intercede for us with the Messiah and that is Jesus Christ (John 14:6). When we pray “in the name of Jesus” it is then that God will receive us and our salvation is at hand (Hebrews 7:25).

The key in life is intercessory prayer. Prayer secures healing and we are to pray for one another “in the name of the Lord” as James 5:14-16 tells us. Intercessory prayer can also avert judgment and was used in this fashion in Numbers 14:11-21. Today I believe we as a nation need once more to pray to avert the judgment that should be ours for often casting God aside in our lives. To me 2 Chronicles 7:14 cries out that we need to humble ourselves in prayer. Only when we again realize this will restoration, deliverance and blessings be ours. In fact the restoration I believe will be to a greater state than it ever was as we see an example of in Job 42:8-10.

Today, I fear, we live in an age of self-righteousness such as was the case with Israel spoken of in Romans 10:1-4. Paul understood this in writing to the Romans and clearly stated (vs. 4) that Christ is the way to a life of righteousness and salvation for Christ alone is YOUR MOST IMPORTANT CONTACT.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Intercession is inspired when Christ is the one who intercedes.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Lord be my intercessor always.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord be my intercessor always.

  1. Do you always pray “in the name of Jesus”?
  2. Who do you know in this life you would consider an intercessor?
  3. How have we cast God aside as a nation?
  4. Is it time for our nation to again humble itself as 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us?

 

HOW FAR DOES YOUR FAITH REACH?

In an ongoing effort to occasionally bring you one of the life events of Christ as told in our Gospels I want to share with you the story that I believe will bring us to a better understanding of our faith. When considering this I had thoughts of healing events that we hear about past and present where individuals in the Christian community have someone ill brought to them or they go their bedside and through the miracle of healing the person is made well. That event is brought to light in John 4:46-54 when a nobleman walks 16 miles to find Jesus and ask Him to return to his hometown in order to help his son who is seriously ill.

Jesus let it be known that His physical presence was not necessary for the healing to happen and that even faith as a grain of mustard seed would be sufficient to help his son through the father’s asking for help. This miracle was the second that the writer of the Gospel of John choose to show the deity of Christ and in the miracle we find several spiritual lessons.

First we see that Christ is able to perform long distance healing. That seems obvious to all of us who believe in Him but it underscores for me the importance of prayer whether it be ours alone or through a prayer circle or others we ask for support through avenues such as facebook or our churches. God hears our prayers and will heal though his physical presence may not be at our side.

I believe there are some other lessons we can take away from this true story which are that stature in life does not make a difference in the healing event. In this instance it was a man of higher stature yet Christ desires all who show faith Him find healing even if we come at the last minute as was done in this example.

Jesus desires that we have faith and that our faith grow in strength even if it is through the healing event of someone else. Today we need to ask ourselves HOW FAR DOES OUR FAITH GO?

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Fundamental to our life must be a faith shown in following our Savior.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: John 4:46-54 “A story of faith”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I believe in Your power to heal no matter the circumstance.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Have you witnessed a miracle?
  2. How strong is your faith when a miracle is needed?
  3. What miracles can occur that are not visible to the naked eye?
  4. Do you keep a prayer journal in praying for others?

JUST ASK!

Tis the season to ask. Parents are asking children and vice versa what they want for Christmas and during the year perhaps a birthday gift as well. We seem to be building families and governments around the idea of just asking rather than giving. In fact both ideas are Scripturally sound and today we will look at the asking part a little deeper.

In God’s Word we are told to ask in prayer of Him and that is based on first of all the foreknowledge that God knows what we have need of (Matthew 6:8). In our asking we don’t need to make great lists but simply let God know that you understand He will provide and then pray the prayer he taught us in Matthew 6:9-13.

We must also understand God’s willingness to give not necessarily as we believe we should receive but as God feels is good and necessary for us. The greatest gift Christ speaks of in Luke 11:13 which is the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit we can freely receive and when He is welcomed into our lives to stay permanently then gifts and understanding of gifts seem to come in rapid fire order.

It is as John 16:23-24 tells us that he wants us to ask in His name with the full power of the Holy Spirit driving our request. Prayer asked in this fashion and with this understanding will be fulfilled that as Christ tells us “our joy may be full”.

The key is we must abide in Him and He in us (John 15:7) and that means the Holy Spirit must be ever present in our lives 24/7. If that is the situation then all we have to do is JUST ASK.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The Holy Spirit is the engine that will drive us where we need to go.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: John 15:7 “Asking in prayer requires we abide in Christ”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord overwhelm me with Your Spirit.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Have you asked the Holy Spirit into your life?
  2. If you have how has your life changed?
  3. When you ask for something what is the motivating spirit?
  4. When should we ask of God what our needs are?

 

THE LIFE OF A CHRISTIAN!

Each morning I glance at the news for just a few seconds (literally) and then turn away disappointed in the ways of the world. To regain a sense of balance I immediately wrap myself in the comfort of God’s Word. Knowing again as Scripture tells us that we are “in the world and not of the world”. God gave us a wonderful place to live but ever since original sin we have done all we can to mess it up and to a large extent that is the fault of Christians.

I say this because Christians have chosen to drink milk and nothing more. Paul points this out in 1 Corinthians 3:2 with the example of the Corinthian church not being able to receive something more solid like meat. For me it is like the 4 levels of faith with the first level being to have a personal relationship with Christ. This happens at baptism but then some go on (though sadly for many this is as far as their faith journey takes them) and get to know the person of Christ. Those are Christians you will see on Sunday mornings or who bring their children to learn about Jesus in Sunday School. This group is still on milk with an occasional morsel of meat they often find hard to swallow.

Step three in faith are perhaps 5% of a congregation who desire solid food and therefore seek the deep truth of Scripture through personal and group Bible Study and from that group you may find the ultimate ‘Prayer Warriors’ who desire to live God’s Purpose. This person will fulfill 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and “pray without ceasing”. They will have the ‘war rooms’ I spoke of before to battle satan in their corner of the world.

Prayer to be 24/7 must be understood from the perspective of unintentional time (how you live your daily life) to the intentional prayer beginning with meal and bedtime prayers and the most intense which are the prayers of the ‘prayer warriors’.

Society today needs more than bottle fed Christians. Society needs and God commands that we all become ‘prayer warriors’. Satan start running your days are numbered.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Milk is the beginning of Christian might until meat is consumed.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 3:2 “milk or solid food”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I seek the meat of Your Word.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How and when did Christianity loose the battle for the world’s soul?
  2. Why do most Christians desire only ‘milk’?
  3. What happens when Christians start eating ‘meat’?
  4. Are you a 24/7 prayer warrior?

GOD ANSWERS PRAYER

In a good relationship there is two way communication where the expectation always exists of both parties hearing and responding whenever necessary or appropriate to one another. When either side no longer communicates or listens problems inevitably follow. It is for that reason I am a Christian. I have a God who is active in my life and as I am discovering He wants me to know of His presence and interest in my life in various ways. This is in contrast to those who uphold nature, false gods of stone and all other false gods who are unable to interact in the same way.

For me what is important is that my God hears and answers my petitions in a manner that helps me grow closer to Him. That answer may not always be the answer my human nature desires but after a period of time understanding comes along if we keep the ears of our hearts open. Many examples of this exist in God’s Word such as Hannahs plea for children in 1 Samuel 1 which went unanswered for a long period of time until much later in life. All things happen according to God’s time table.

What is important is that we never stop praying or communicating with God. If done by faith and in the name of Jesus our prayers will be heard. Christ Himself in Matthew 7:7-8 assures us of that. When we pray in this manner having first asked of God for forgiveness (1 John 1:9) and wisdom (James 1:5) then we will receive and understand God’s responses. What is key is that we always remember GOD ANSWERS PRAYER.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Prayer is a partnership with God that helps build a perfect relationship.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 1 Samuel 1:20 “Hannahs delayed answer to prayer”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for hearing my petitions.

1. How does God interact with your life?

2. How do you pray?

3. Have you ever had delayed answer to prayer?

4. What kind of relationship do you have with God/

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ONE NATION UNDER GOD

Recently I did one of the unthinkables by expressing my support (at least at this point in time) for an individual seeking the office of our nations presidency. Almost immediately a person I consider a friend pointed out to me the shortcomings they felt this individual had and their words reminded me of a comment I had made a few days earlier on facebook of how upsetting it is to me to see our world so divided. It is no longer just family feuds made famous by the media some years back that we now face, but feuds in virtually every aspect of life. Being civil, desiring a common good, and upholding our national motto to be ONE NATION UNDER GOD seems gone forever.

Part of the answer to this problem lies in the need for we as individuals and as a nation to learn humility. In 1952 we began what is now referred to as the National Day of Prayer which was intended to show our humility as a united nation before God seeking His wisdom in the decisions we make. An excellent example for those leading this event or speaking at it would be King Solomon who in dedicating his temple to God prayed to God to hear the voices of His people and forgive them (2 Chronicles 6:21). That is the prayer we all need to make again today no matter our position in life.

As divided a people we are I still hold out hope for a nation to be united under God and leaders who will boldly declare that they will strive to accomplish this unity while humbly seeking God’s wisdom and forgiveness. If that does not occur then I still will feel as if I am a part of ONE NATION UNDER GOD but that nation has no boundaries for it is made of believers in our Lord and Savior from across the world in all continents. A nation of individuals who through their separate lives follow the Scriptures and seek God daily.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Every nation should feel a need to be near God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Chronicles 6:21 “importance of prayer”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I pray for healing for our nation and its people.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. What has brought us to the point of divisiveness we now seem to be in?

2. How can we again become ONE NATION UNDER GOD if it is even possible?

3. Is humility,prayer and forgiveness still in us as a people?

4. What are you doing to build this unified nation under God?

HOW DEEP DOES YOUR SIN RUN?

Mankind’s nature seems to be one of lawlessness unless he or she take on a new nature. It is the reason we have so many laws and take on more every year. Truth is there is only one Lawgiver and one Book of Law that when followed or obeyed will assist us in being the type of people and society we desire.

Yet while there is iniquity (sin or lawlessness) we should understand how God wants we who believe to relate to it and that begins in Psalm 25:11 by our being told to pray to be forgiven of our sin or iniquity for Christ’s sake as it was His death on the cross that made forgiveness possible. If we do that we can be assured of forgiveness (Ps. 32:5) but we have to declare it (Ps. 38:18 and Nehemiah 9:2) being in anguish or convicted of it within our very being. It can not be approached from a superficial standpoint where your heart and conscience are not both committed to it and proclamation is made.

Within the prayer of confession it is important that we ask that we be freed from our sin forever after. With the conviction of the Holy Spirit and God at our side we will have the strength to follow through on this desire. Our Lord promised us this that if we reach out to Him with sincere confession desiring forgiveness sin will no longer touch us again unless we desire it (Ps. 125:3). It is our free will that allows us to choose the depth of our sin or whether it enter back into our lives.

It is important to know that sin separates us from a perfect God and that separation results in death both physical and spiritual (Isaiah 59:2) so today it is time to begin your journey with God as Paul shared in 2 Timothy 2:19. If we call ourselves Christian God desires we depart from iniquity in order that OUR SIN DOES NOT RUN DEEP.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Iniquity has an influence on our future immortality.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 32:5 “assurance of our iniquity being forgiven”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Thank you Lord for Your forgiveness.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. Do you pray daily for forgiveness for Christ Jesus sake?

2. How deep does your sin run?

3. Is it possible to pray in a way that forgiveness is not received?

4. What gives a person the strength to stay away from sin?

 

A NATION CLOSE TO GOD

With each new day, I see a country (United States of America) that I believe has lost its mooring and is drifting aimlessly on a sea of confusion. At one time I believe we truly had the potential to become ‘One Nation Under God’ but that seems today to be hanging on a fine thread.

The people with proper direction and leadership could again become such a nation. In that regard it seems we are in search of that which is outside of ourselves to find such a place and so we look to drugs for a ‘spiritual high’, the ecstasy of winning, getting drunk on power and any number of other ways none of which completely satisfy much less unite us.

God gave us the answer in Psalm 145:18 which is to call upon Him in truth. No more lies, twisted words or phrases but instead heartfelt prayer asking for forgiveness after some serious introspection regarding our faults. When that happens I believe we can say the words Moses spoke in Deut. 4:7 that we can be a great nation and call upon Him (God) and know He will answer.

It begins with having a pure heart (Psalm 66:18-19). A politically correct society, filled with a people who not unlike sheep follow what is deemed correct by the ‘elite’ without thinking, will not achieve a pure heart. One reason is we have left our founding principles of being a Christian nation. Evidence for this is in our founding documents and carved on our monuments extensively. Despite our current presidents claim that we are not a Christian nation we certainly were founded as one. Christ will honor us if we return to Him (John 14:13). Imagine receiving whatever we ask which is Christ’s wish seen in Matthew 21:22.

As a nation if we want to be a people and A NATION CLOSE TO GOD it is time we pray and do so with true remorse for what we have done, seeking forgiveness and then once more asking that we become ‘One nation under God’ according to His will (1 John 5:14).

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Prayer is power when we pledge ourselves to please God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 145:18 “bringing God near to us”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord forgive us our sins and unite us in Your will.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. How do people seek ‘spiritual highs’ in our culture?

2. What must be done to remove iniquity from our nations heart?

3. What evidence is there that we are meant to be a Christian nation?

4. Is there hope for our nation?

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