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Are You Doing The Small Things? Part 2

Are You Doing The Small Things? part 2

Psalm 112:

1 Praise the Lord!
How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands…
They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.

Does this describe you? How do you handle “bad news”? When you realize the last check you wrote will bounce. Or maybe when you’re called into your boss’s office after a day when you know you made a poor decision?  How about when you’ve had an ugly dispute with your spouse who brought up the “D” word and they were serious? Or when you receive an intimidating letter from the IRS?

Does the passage in Psalm 112 resemble you?

If it does, and bad news doesn’t phase you, then you have found the peace that truly passes all human understanding.

If this does not resemble you, and you cannot relate to it, then let’s discuss an additional “small thing” that is essential in bridging this gap from who you are now to this “gold standard” of a believer given in Psalm 112. This peace is not something one can get from reading self-help books. It cannot be found in a yoga class or a zen garden. While some methods, such as these, may provide temporary relief, they do not compare to the peace that only our Heavenly Father can provide.

Peace, of course, is a spiritual fruit:

Galatians 5: 22 There is no law against these things! But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

How is this fruit produced?

John 15: 5  “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

Isn’t this a fantastic verse? We’re actually told how spiritual fruit is produced. But wait, what does it really mean to “remain in Christ”?

How do we “remain in Christ”?

I think I know, and I am convinced that it is in these “small things”, exercised day after day, week in and week out, after many months and in some areas only after years can significant growth be seen.

Consider the oak tree, which begins as a humble acorn. It takes many years to grow to its full height and you wouldn’t want to sit around watching it grow. It would be like watching paint dry. But it grows, little by little and over time it becomes gigantic. It was designed that way and so are we.

In this microwave, drive-thru, cell phone and ATM culture we seem to want to go to church, pay for a fully grown “tree of spiritual growth” and bring it home.  That “tree of spiritual growth” starts at home, daily.

Here is my favorite Psalm that illustrates this growth:

Psalm 1
2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.

Do you see the connection to John 15? Last week the “simple thing” was reading the Word of God. Today it is prayer.

Prayer and Reading the Word go hand in hand.

They feed off each other. Reading His Word drove me to a greater, richer prayer life. God gave me a voracious appetite for reading the Word as a result of my sincere and diligent prayers. Prayer prepares my heart to receive His Word. The knowledge of Him, what He likes and dislikes have helped sharpen and enrich my prayers. Picture two vines growing together, intertwined as they continue to grow. This is how I see these two disciplines in my life. They are both maturing. I get more out of my Bible reading now than I did last year and my prayer life is more pervasive throughout my daily activities.

There are many different ways to pray and variations of it so I’d like to refer to a passage so that we are on the same page.

Matthew 6: 5 “ But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.

Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.

This is the type of prayer that matters most. Taking the time to be in His presence, seeking Him in prayer alone, can never be underestimated. But I know for myself it is what I lack the most.

How important is it?

Luke 10:  38 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.

41 But the Lord said to her,  There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!

Reading the Word and meeting him alone in prayer is sitting at the Lord’s feet. What does Jesus say?

“There is only one thing worth being concerned about.”

This makes it clear to me, from my understanding Jesus’ statement, that if there is ANYTHING that I do that is worth being concerned about from day to day is “Did I spend time at my Lord’s feet today?”. How do you read it?

When I meet with Him I usually like to get on my knees, in a prostrate position. I don’t know why, but I think this helps me meet Him with humility. This is my conviction, not to put it on anyone else, but this is what works for me. You could sit, lie face down, kneel at your bed, whatever you feel most comfortable for you. Not comfort in a physical sense, but comfort in a spiritual sense. Some days I am too tired and just lie on the bed and pray. This is not something to be dogmatic or legalistic about. God simply wants you to meet with Him and meeting with Him on a regular, consistent basis is essential for spiritual growth.

“…let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2c

I don’t necessarily know what I want to say to Him or ask of Him. There are times that I don’t have anything to say, but I feel a great desire to meet with Him anyway. I close my eyes, am still and take deep breaths. Slowing down and being still like this helps me to think and maybe prepare my words for Him. I usually start with “I praise your name”, or it’s never a bad idea to just start thanking Him and let the list go on for everything you have to be thankful for.

Psalm 50: 23  But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”

Once you start a dialog with Him pray whatever comes to mind and let it go.

Cast thy burden upon the LORD

Psalm 55: 22 Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

If you are anxious, tell Him. If you are scared, let Him know. If you don’t know how to solve a problem, ask for His help. Don’t be in a hurry to leave. Pretend that you are a six-year-old that had a bad day with the other kids on the playground.  As a young child, you run to your Father with all your needs, anxieties, questions, and strange feelings that you cannot express.

Unload on Him as any child would and make it a habit. After a while, after you begin doing this, the idea to pray will change from “I have to pray” to “I really desire to pray.” You will find that you will desire it more and more, rather than as an obligation. Then if you stop doing it for any reason, maybe when taking a vacation, you will miss it dearly and He will teach you just how important it really is to maintain your peace of mind.

Remember that Jesus is humble, gentle and very patient.

He is not like some harsh taskmaster that likes scolding us. He has been good to me and I’m certain you’ll see that for yourself.

For those of you that are incessantly worrying about something right now, I want to give you an exercise that has helped me tremendously.

I’d like you to meditate on these two verses:

Philippians 4:  6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

God promises that if you meditate on this verse, storing it in memory, you will take on a new way of living. A way that is peaceful. This is what letting go is all about.

Fall into the arms of a great and loving God, the One who created you uniquely for His good purposes.

Will you join me at His feet?

 “Dear Father in heaven, you are so good to me. Thank you for calling me to know you on a more intimate level. Help me to remain in you and hold me tight. I need you now more than ever and I thank you in advance for leading me to a closer walk with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”



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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Does He Know You?

We all should know, as believers in Jesus that “It really doesn’t matter what you know, but who you know.” But does He know you?

Matthew 7:  21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

From this passage, we discover that doing the “works” or miracles of God can be grievously overrated, but knowing the Lord on a personal level cannot. This is where the organized church can go painfully wrong.

John 6:  28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”

29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

It’s about your relationship with Jesus

If the relationship of the seminary student and his/her God is not the foremost priority of an educational organization, (Christian school), then they will more than likely produce “workers” who are driven more by numbers, doing works and acts of service than learning how to become “true disciples”. If these workers, at the core, do not learn how to be a disciple themselves, how can they (or why would they) teach others to do the same? And if these students, who will be the next generation of Christian leaders are not going to be making disciples, who will?

1 Corinthians 13: 1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Therefore, I think the “true disciples” are those that truly know God and His son, Jesus Christ. They are disciples based on love, not based on works. As the passage above makes this point clear: Works, in and of themselves, do not count for anything.

He is after the friendship. That is His greatest desire.

His friends will do His works out of their love for Him and have great joy in doing so. This passage reinforces and gives clarity to the first:

John 15: 1 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

The “others”, those that might be mistaken as disciples, do works out of obligation.

John 14:  15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

This is why the “organized”, or should I say secularized church, has a rancid odor to so many because it is simply not bearing good fruit.

Beware of the leaven of modern-day teachers!

Matthew 7:  15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

My friends, I love the body of Christ. I cherish my brothers and sisters who love God and are fighting alongside me. But I have some major, foundational concerns with what the organized church has established today. I see pastors caring more about their church activities than promoting their congregation to pursue God in daily devotion with Bible reading, prayer, and fellowship. It is these fundamentals that will make a healthy church that will bear good fruit. A church like this will not diminish, but be alive and growing.

Matthew 28: 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Does it get any clearer than this?

The great excitement I receive from this knowledge is that it puts everyone on a level playing field and any can grow in Christ and pursue Him just as much as any other. Going to seminary or a Christian School does not necessarily get you any closer to God than what you can do without the schooling. If you seek God with all your heart, He will use you wherever you’re at and this will not require a degree of any kind.

Will you be His disciple?

“Dear God, have mercy on us. We’ve messed up as a church in so many ways and we need your help to know how to follow you even closer. Please open our hearts and encourage each of us to examine our own motives and plans. Thank you for your Word and how it convicts each of us, keeping us on your path. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Have you seen my testimony?

http://thebibleteam.com/about.asp

Photo by Premkumar Masilamani on Unsplash

 



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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Is There A Better Way To Pray?

Is There A Better Way To Pray?

Today I’d like to examine one of the greatest examples of prayer that we have in all of Scripture, and it’s very simple.

It is the prayer that Jesus prayed while in the garden of Gethsemane just after the last supper. To me, it is the perfect example of a surrendered prayer life. It is honest and He yielded to His Father’s will.

There is a lot to be learned from the words that were said that night, let’s take a look…

John 17: 1 After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you.

Jesus knew what was coming next. It was the event that finalized His work here on earth, the crucifixion. Most of us know that Jesus is God in the flesh, but in these passages, we also see that He was also human.

When He first arrives at the garden He becomes filled with grief:

Mark 14: 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Isn’t this interesting? The overwhelming events ahead must have been unbearable to think about.

As anyone that is faced with fears or grief should do, He prays:

35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Now it gets even more interesting.

Although He knows that He is to die and offer the atoning sacrifice for all mankind, He prays that the suffering be taken away from Him.

Hebrews 7: 27 Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins.

To me, when I began to understand that Jesus asked not to go through with it, it gave me much joy, mostly because I could relate to Jesus. Although He was perfect, He had this human element that we all share. So the next time we pray “I don’t want to go through with this.”, we can look back on this verse and feel OK, we’re in good company. He was faced with circumstances that He did not want to face. This is just being honest and transparent before His Father. Dare I say that this is the weakest moment of his ministry? But the prayer didn’t end there.

“Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

It was more important to Him to have His Father’s will done than His own. This was yielding to His Father’s will.

He not only prayed this prayer once but three times:

Matthew 26:  42 Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.”

44 So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again.

So like any child, He kept asking. (Practicing what He’s preached) He might’ve wanted to ask more, but time had run out, the “lynch mob” had arrived, led by Judas Iscariot (evil villain).

It’s in Luke we read that “an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened Him”:

Luke 22: 41 He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. 44He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.

Notice also in verse 44 we read that He was in such agony that we sweat drops of blood!

When the mob does show up, after these prayers, we see a different Jesus. After Peter slashed off the ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave, Jesus had these words to say:

Matthew 26: 52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? 54 But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”

This is significant.

This is why the “Thy will be done” is so important. Jesus knew that if He would not have prayed for the Father’s will, and asked for protection, it would not have pleased His Father and Jesus would have none of that.

John 5: 19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.

Just like anything, “Thy will be done” comes off the tongue real easy, but it is not easy for me to pray it like I mean it.

A hypothetical situation

For practical application, let’s read about Tom and his wife Barb (fictional characters)…

A hard-working, God-fearing man, Tom, makes a mistake at the office. Not just any mistake, but a doozy. He loses a huge account for the company he works for because of this mistake. He knows that the company will review the situation and hold a disciplinary meeting that could result in the loss of his job.

Tom is quite concerned at this point and is surprised that he’d even commit a mistake like that to begin with. So he prays “Lord, please help me keep my job, the idea of being fired is unbearable.” The Lord, being the generous God that He is, has the company find favor with Tom and they decide to keep him. Praise God, that is wonderful!

But what if God had other plans in mind? Here’s an alternative ending. Suppose Tom had prayed this prayer “Lord, anything is possible for you, can you help me keep my job? Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” The next day Tom gets fired. He’s gone. He gets the boot. He’s sacked. He’s absolutely miserable.

The next day and in the days to come, he has more time to read his Bible, spend time with his wife, Barb, and he starts to see things from a different perspective. “I’m not so tense, he says to himself”. Weeks go by and he actually grows closer to God and to Barb. Yes, there is a financial strain and some humiliation (which is good), but his relationships are better off.

He’s already better off, God already worked out a plan that is better for Tom. Even if Tom gets a job that doesn’t pay as well perhaps he won’t have the tension or the long hours, he’s found that it is more valuable to him to spend more time with God and with his wife. Maybe God has a better job in mind that will pay him more and have fewer hours.

You can see where I’m going with this and this can play out in many ways. Most of the time it is difficult to know the will of God, but I think we need to give Him a chance in our lives just to show how great He is rather than keeping control over it ourselves.

We serve a God who knows everything about our future.

Of course, Tom wants to keep his job, that’s all he knows and few people like the “unknown”. Perhaps it is God’s will for him to keep his job. God gave him the job and he’s got great friends there. If it’s God’s will to keep the job and he keeps it, then Tom will give God all the praise and thank God from the rooftops for His mercy and grace.

Suppose God has other plans. How is Tom to know what’s best for him? Does he know the future and can he figure out where he should be to maximize his potential and glorify God?

So if it is God’s will for Tom to be fired, doesn’t God know what’s best for him? Doesn’t God care more about their marriage than they do? (absolutely)

Remember Job? God not only knew what Job would have to endure but gave Satan permission to humble him, stripping everything away from him. Job had no idea why it happened and suffered greatly while experiencing tremendous loss. Little did he know at the time that God had it all planned out. At the end of the story, he was awarded twice what was lost and became a better man of God than before. What an amazing God!

Here are a couple passages that provide food for thought:

Isaiah 29:
16 How foolish can you be?
He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay!
Should the created thing say of the one who made it,
“He didn’t make me”?
Does a jar ever say,
“The potter who made me is stupid”?

Isaiah 55: 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Will you give God the chance to do what He wants with you?

“Dear Lord, You are my maker, why is it so easy for me to forget that? You are good, loving and only have what’s in my best interests. Please change my heart so that I will follow you more closely. You are the one that gives me life. Thank you for all that you’ve done in my life thus far, but I want things to change between me and you. I want your will to be done from now on, Lord. I plan on changing my prayer and allowing you to have your way with my life because I believe that you can do a better job with it than I can. It’s scary sometimes when I think about what might happen in the future but I will trust in you, thank you Father! In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash



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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Why Should I Be Worried?

Why Should I Be Worried?

I don’t know about you, but I have more than a few things to worry about. Some big, some small. Some short term, some long term. A few things I have some control over and others that I have no control over. On top of that, I receive emails filled with details about additional things to worry about as if I should join the sender in their concern. There are a lot of things to worry about.

Can you relate?

If I choose to, I could worry about my car falling apart, my yard that needs mowing, a project that is really late, bills that are behind, the lack of money that is coming in and the fact that I have no health care. Oh, but that’s not all. I could also worry about my office that is a mess, or that many people, friends of mine, who struggle with little income and worse circumstances than I. While I’m at it I could also worry about our state and federal governments and everything else that is madness in the world.

My friends, all that I’ve listed here are genuinely a part of my reality.

Now I know that many of you have even longer lists than I. Some of you might be tempted to say “big deal, you think you’ve got problems, take a look at my list!” What I find fascinating is that I know people with long lists with poor circumstances that worry less than people with shorter lists and seemingly smaller issues.

Lessons I’ve learned

With this knowledge I draw these conclusions:

    1. Our worries and concerns are relative and in no way can be compared with someone else’s. People that live an “easier life” should not be put down or their problems minimized because they don’t “compare” to mine. Who am I to judge?
    2. It really is a choice to worry, but harder for some to break. I’ve been told by people that their mother worried so it became a learned habit for them, or even maybe a genetic trait, I don’t know.
    3. Some people can hide it well and some people wear it on their sleeve. Appearances can be deceiving, people don’t always “have it altogether” as you may think.
    4. Everyone’s worried about something, in various degrees. Everyone also has something to be thankful for. (Read Psalm 103)

What amazes me is that I can be out doing anything and can be in a cheerful mood when I suddenly have a worrisome thought enter my mind. If I ruminate (Beth’s word, not mine) on these thoughts without considering the sovereignty of God and His plans and purposes for my life then I’m left hopeless. It is that simple. Without God, there is no hope. If I fail to acknowledge my Creator then my cheerful mood quickly turns to despair.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Nothing substitutes our time spent with God

This is just one reason why it is essential to spend time with God daily in prayer, His Word, and spiritually charged fellowship regularly if we want any hope of having a joyful life regardless of the circumstances.

I think worry or fear is the absence of or lack of faith. Is God truly sovereign? Is He in control? Does He want what’s best for me?

Based on this passage from Psalm 112 I think the measure that someone worries is an indicator of how well they know their God, personally and/or intellectually.

Psalm 112:
1 Praise the Lord!
How joyful are those who fear the Lord
and delight in obeying his commands.

 6 Such people will not be overcome by evil.
Those who are righteous will be long remembered.
 7 They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.
8 They are confident and fearless
and can face their foes triumphantly.

This passage in 1 John says it well:

1 John 4:16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

ALL things work together…

One thing that I’ve found is that God allows us to experience “rough spots” so that we learn to depend on Him more (which is what He desires most):

Romans 8: 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

And He stretches and matures us through the process:

Romans 5: 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Knowing this should excite us and then we can really shout with joy.

It tells us that there really is a purpose and that we’ll be better witnesses on the other end.

“Hard times”, when allowing God to work with us (remaining submissive), yields patience, compassion, joy, understanding, and perseverance. There are things you learn through difficulties that you simply cannot learn otherwise. Do you remember the book of Job?

Job was blameless from the beginning.

Job 1: 8 Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”

He naturally went through a great period of despair. When God finally reveals Himself to Job He sets Job straight by making it abundantly clear that He is God and Job is not. What I think is really cool is how God showcased His creation to illustrate just how great He is. This humbled Job. It was this great experience with the Almighty and the revelation of things “far too wonderful” for him that led to his repentance and, after praying for His friends, concluded His test.

Job 42: 1 Then Job replied to the Lord:
2 “I know that you can do anything,
and no one can stop you.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’
It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
things far too wonderful for me.
4 You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!
I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.’
5 I had only heard about you before,
but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
6 I take back everything I said,
and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

One significant lesson to learn from Job is that being blameless is not enough.

If that is all you are seeking, you will miss out on Life Himself. What God desires most is for us to continually get to know and understand Him more which will only perfect our love and admiration for Him. This is why the greatest commandment is to “love God…” and not “Don’t sin and be blameless”. After all, it is our love for Him that ultimately gives us the power and desire to do good.

Here are some lessons from Job that will lead you to peace:

  1. Don’t count on advice or sympathy from ignorant friends, but pray for them.
  2. Spend time with people that know God personally more than you do. Usually, they are the older ones (not necessarily as in Job) at church that always seem to be full of joy.
  3. Continually strive to know God, both intellectually and personally (Bible reading, prayer, journaling to name a few activities).
  4. Do whatever it takes and pray that you stay humble and meek, keeping your heart soft.

I’m not at all suggesting that if you continue seeking God that you’ll ever be worry-free, for even Jesus was distressed in the garden of Gethsemane. What I am saying is that listening to and following these words will greatly reduce your worry, giving you peace, improving your witness and moving you towards godliness rather than bitterness.

These are great passages to memorize:

Philippians 4: 4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 6:  31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

If God, the Creator of all things seen and unseen, is for us, what do we have to worry about?

“Dear God, Let all that I am praise your name!, Thank you for teaching me so many things. My hope is in you and you alone, for you do not disappoint. Continue to lead me in your Truth so that I may grow in knowledge and understanding. Help me to know you better so that I can lean on you in dark times. You are awesome Lord and I thank you for loving me to begin with. Your loving mercies endure forever. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Take comfort from these closing words…

Job 23:
8 I go east, but he is not there.
I go west, but I cannot find him.
9 I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden.
I look to the south, but he is concealed.
10 But he knows where I am going.
And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.

 

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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
How Do We Trust? part 2

How Do We Trust? part 2

Psalm 103: 13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14 For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.

When I was six years old and my dad threw me way up in the air, it was fun, exciting, and a time of joy. I trusted him. Not once did I doubt that he would catch me. It was a sure thing. It’s what he did, toss me into the air… and pull me down. I relied on him and never thought twice about it. He was my dad and I was his boy.

What was it that led me to trust him? First of all, he was the only dad I ever knew. I had six years as his child to know him enough. Second, he never gave me a reason not to. I was just learning how to be a kid and he was big enough, strong enough, and responsible enough to handle all my needs. He was there for me and made me feel safe. As a six-year-old boy, I was at total peace in his arms. The same arms that were able to crush the boogeyman in the closet, by the way.

Can our trust in God be like this? I think so and I think He desires that more than anything.

1 Chronicles 28:  9 “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.10 So take this seriously. …

Reading this makes me think that God intends for us to know Him more intimately than most people know their dads today. The key words here are “learn to know”.

How do we learn to know anybody? Time, attention and persistence

But who has time for relationships anymore? Could it be that the single most important activity we should be participating in has taken the lowest priority?

Jesus models for us the appropriate use of time when it comes to “spending time with His Father”:

Luke 5: 16 But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.

Mark 6:  45 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. 46 After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.

It appears in these last two verses that Jesus made a concerted effort to be alone with the Father, it was very important to Him.

If His own son needed to spend time with God, how much more do we need it?

Spending time with God alone is a learned habit and is developed over time. Alone time with God is not a natural activity. It is especially unusual for the newly awakened. For those fortunate enough to learn this discipline as a child or young adult, they’ve been greatly blessed with spiritual leadership in the home or church.

If you think you should spend more time with God, let’s discuss how you can overcome it. I can’t think of something more worthy of striving for, there’s only one thing worth being concerned about:

Luke 10:  39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

If it’s the case that you are not finding the time to spend with God, then everything you are finding time for is more important than God. Yes, you may have a schedule, but where is God in that schedule? The time you spend throughout the week and day to day is an indicator of the priorities that you have set. It’s that simple.

Try telling your wife that you have only five minutes to spend with her and that it will have to come after the 11 o’clock news, brushing your teeth, and before setting the alarm for the next morning.

If this sounds familiar to you, I don’t think you are alone. These five minutes was a goal I used to have and at the time I was happy to do just that. I’d still fall asleep trying to pray.

I know that God wants this time with you more than anything else you do. I am convinced that if you took the total time that you take on your Sabbath day from getting ready for church service to getting out of your church clothes and divided that time by seven to be spent each day, He would rather you spend that time alone with Him than corporately with others. Please don’t use this as an excuse not to go to church! By all means, keep it up. Just know that God values your alone time with Him more than He does as part of a group, although both are important.

For those of you that desire a better relationship with God and seek the abundant life that Jesus promises, allow me to make a suggestion.

    1. Schedule time with God during your peak hours. A time during the day that you are most alert. Set aside at least 5 minutes and adjust accordingly.
    2. Devise a plan to read the Bible. Say you wish to read the book of Romans, one chapter a day, that’s great, but what will you read after that?
    3. Know that God is present and believe that He is with you.
    4. Pray whatever is on your mind. (This is the time to give your worries to Him.)

(Click here to create a reading plan: http://www.thebibleteam.com/PlanMaker.asp)

If this plan is followed consistently over time and you take it seriously, then I am certain that you will grow and this will turn into 10-15 minutes and even more as you develop this most sacred discipline.

Psalm 105: 4 Search for the Lord and for his strength;
continually seek him.

Are you taking Him seriously?

“O God, thank you for opening my eyes to see that you desire more time with me. Lord I pray that I can be more persistent and diligent in seeking you. Thank you in advance for drawing me closer to you and leading me along your path. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed?

How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed? part 5

Over the last four posts, we’ve been discussing the transformation process. The theme, in the form of a question, has been: “How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed?”.

Have you been asking yourself this question? God will transform you if you offer yourself to Him. Consider this key passage:

Romans 12: 1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

If your definition of worship is limited to singing and praising God, let me suggest that you study these verses carefully. God deserves our worship, doesn’t He?

What does it mean to you to “give your bodies to God”? I must confess that this is a tough verse for me. What it means to me is to allow Him to totally take over my life. He wants me to yield my time, my activities, my attitude, what I eat, what I drink, who I spend time with, what I consume with my eyes, my ears, and even what I think about!

Consider this verse:

1 Corinthians 6: 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

That is what a “living sacrifice” is all about.

This means we can sing and worship in church all we want, but unless we are yielding our lives to Him with a soft heart, it is only lip service.

Can you relate to the following verse at all? Would you say it applies to many sitting in our pews today?

Isaiah 29:
13 And so the Lord says,
“These people say they are mine.
They honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
And their worship of me
is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.

I can certainly relate to singing hymns of praise and walking out of church feeling far from God. I’ve had a hard heart before and that’s not a good place to be.

Of course, transformation cannot begin unless we have a soft heart. The very fact that you are reading this message would lead me to believe that you are open to change and that your heart is not hard. The key now is to make yourself available to God and pursue Him with all you’ve got.

Be careful that you don’t end up like so many incapacitated and powerless believers described in this way:

Luke 8: 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.

Wouldn’t you rather be described like this?

15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.

So while your heart is soft, follow through with the rest of it. “hear God’s Word” (read the Bible), cling to it (meditate on what you read), and be patient, the harvest in your life will come. All the while we can plead to God in prayer to change our hearts. I have first-hand knowledge that He likes to answer these types of prayers.

In order to be successful with a continual habit of reading the Word, it is highly recommended to associate and fellowship with others who do the same. In order to be successful at anything, it is required that you run with those seeking the same results. If you are not currently spending time with the likes of those seeking a closer walk with God, consider the Bible Team calls where some of them congregate on the phone.

As you continue to expose yourself to His Word, seeking Him in prayer and getting to know other like-minded saints you will be staying in good soil and spiritual growth will happen, He’s promised.

Always consider what God truly desires:

Hosea 6:
6 I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.

What better way to know Him that to read the Book He personally wrote?

We started this message with Romans 12: 1-2 which happens to be a very popular passage. Now let’s read the next three verses:

Romans 12: 3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

Do you realize that your personal faith and relationship with God has a tremendous impact on the lives around you? People are watching you, believers and non-believers alike. We all have a responsibility to each other and we, by default, either encourage or discourage others with our daily choices.

I urge you to take the time to meditate on what I’ve compiled here and I’ll close with this:

Philippians 4: 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

How bad do you want to be transformed?

Pray this prayer (I couldn’t have written it better myself.) 🙂

Psalm 119:
33 Teach me your decrees, O Lord;
I will keep them to the end.
34 Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
35 Make me walk along the path of your commands,
for that is where my happiness is found.
36 Give me an eagerness for your laws
rather than a love for money!
37 Turn my eyes from worthless things,
and give me life through your word.
38 Reassure me of your promise,
made to those who fear you.
39 Help me abandon my shameful ways;
for your regulations are good.
40 I long to obey your commandments!
Renew my life with your goodness.

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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed?

How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed? part 4

Over the last three parts of “How bad do you want to be transformed?”, we discussed Bible reading and prayer for the purposes of being transformed. To me, these are essential for steady growth and formation. But they are not enough.

There is a third essential element to complete the trilogy.

You may be able to guess what this element is, I’ve mentioned it more than a few times in my posts… you got it! Fellowship

 The Bible reading and prayer I’ve discussed are individual events. Fellowship is where we can share what we’ve learned and combine all three elements. Besides, if all our Christian activity is done in a vacuum, how can we know whether or not we are on a good path, much less learn solid doctrine?

 Proverbs 16: 
25 There is a path before each person that seems right,
but it ends in death.

The personal and private knowledge from reading and praying is then shared and used to teach, learn and correct our theology.

Colossians 3: 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

Let’s define fellowship for the purpose of this message.

There may be many thoughts that come to mind regarding fellowship. You might think of fellowship dinners, socials or simply hanging out with friends.

The fellowship I wish to discuss is a deliberate meeting among a very small group (2-6) of like-minded believers that meet with regularity.

Acts 2: 42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

Note that this says “All the believers”.

Fellowship is for everybody.

The purpose of this very small group will be to get to know more about God and each other. They will have Bibles in hand, prepared to talk about what they’ve been reading. This is not a formal gathering by all means but the intent to draw closer to God will be a serious one.

I believe this is the ideal fellowship that any seeker that desires growth should be participating in.

It is in these meetings that their lives are shared and personal issues are discussed. The Bible and common spiritual sense will be used to lovingly counsel one another.

Proverbs 27: 17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

Such a group I believe should be constrained to one gender. Simply due to the more delicate nature that the conversation could lead to.

Hebrews 10: 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Be careful who you hang around with

Consider your current circle of “believing” friends. Do you have friends that enjoy talking about the Bible? It is my guess that if a person doesn’t favor discussing God’s Word in a Christian setting then there’s a good chance that they are not reading it. It is a human tendency not to discuss something that one is not engaged in. Especially when they might be embarrassed by their unfamiliarity.

So if you have Church friends that are more interested in discussing politics, sports or the latest movies than the Word of God that is a pretty good indicator that they are not suitable for the fellowship we’ve been discussing.

2 Corinthians 6: 14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?

I know this verse pertains to unbelievers, but should also apply to the lukewarm.

This may be the greatest reason for fellowship:

Matthew 18: 20 For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Are you meeting on a regular business?

Are you meeting with a few people on a regular basis for the purpose of getting to know God more and each other? What better way is there to practice the two greatest commandments? This should be the heart of the Christian lifestyle. Finding and sharing with others that are serious about God will push you and encourage you to be a better follower of God.

Matthew 22: 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

What else could be more important?

Will you share with others?

“Dear God, Thank you for all the friends you’ve placed in my life. Will you please help me find those friends that are serious about getting to know you? I desperately need fellowship, that’s how you made me. Help me get connected with others so that we can get to know you better and serve each other with companionship. Thank you in advance for transforming me into a new creation that will bring glory to you. In Jesus name, amen.”

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed?

How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed? part 3

In the last two parts of “How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed?” we’ve discussed reading the Word and Prayer in an effort to be transformed.

I thought we’d spend a little more time in prayer. In my next post, I’ll discuss fellowship.

As simple as prayer seems, I’ve often pondered prayer in many different ways. There are a lot of aspects to it. For example, The Lord’s prayer has a lot of components to it. Then there’s individual prayer and corporate prayer. There’s private prayer and what I call “conversational” prayer. Being the analytical type of person that I am, I used to spend much time in thought about all this. Call me crazy. 🙂

Bible Driven Prayer

I’ve always liked the idea of integrating prayer with Bible Reading. I think this is not only very practical but maximizes the reading and is ideal for transformation.

1 Samuel 12:  14 “Now if you fear and worship the Lord and listen to his voice, and if you do not rebel against the Lord’s commands, then both you and your king will show that you recognize the Lord as your God. 15 But if you rebel against the Lord’s commands and refuse to listen to him, then his hand will be as heavy upon you as it was upon your ancestors.

Do you take this personally? I sure do.

“O Lord, help me know what it means to fear you. Help me to listen to your voice so that I might follow your commands. When I start to rebel, please pull me back. Hold me tight, Lord.”

 Job 31

 1 “I made a covenant with my eyes
not to look with lust at a young woman.
2 For what has God above chosen for us?
What is our inheritance from the Almighty on high?
3 Isn’t it calamity for the wicked
and misfortune for those who do evil?
4 Doesn’t he see everything I do
and every step I take?

“God, some days lust is a real problem for me. I know that you see all that I do, please help me to focus more on what you desire and not what my flesh wants.”

Revelation 3:  15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! 17 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.

“Lord, may it never be said that I am lukewarm. Please help me to stay passionate for you and never lose my zeal. Thank you for the inspiration that you give me!”

Another great idea is praying the prayers found in the Bible. The Psalms are ideal for this. Psalm 139 for example, is a great prayer to pray, yet too long for this message.

Conversational Prayer

There are plenty of verses that we can look at that are instructional regarding prayer so I thought I’d pick out a few to discuss:

1 Thessalonians 5: 17 Never stop praying.

When we go about our day I think God loves it when we consider Him in all that we do. This might result in these types of prayers:

“Lord, please keep us safe on the freeway today.”

“God, help me as I lift this heavy object.”

“God, give me the words to say as I discuss the terms of the contract today.”

“Thank you, Jesus, or working that problem out for me today!”

And for those of you living with or spending time with “difficult people”, this may be an appropriate prayer:

Luke 23: 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

Private Prayer

Of all the ways and types of prayer, I believe this is the most important to be diligent at. I think this is where our power comes from.

Jesus modeled this for us, although He was in great demand:

Luke 5:16 But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.

It is in these verses that Jesus gives us basic instructions for private prayer:

Matthew 6 5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
7 “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. 8 Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!

For me I’ve felt the urge to pray in various places and, if I’m alone, I will get on my knees. Some days, although I desire communion with Him, I don’t have anything specific to say. So I’ll just kneel there, in silence, or I’ll just praise Him. Eventually, I’ll have something to say or to discuss.

Sometimes it’s quick, like when I get out of bed and have a busy day and I need to get going. However, I like to spend an undetermined amount of time, each day, on my knees with Him. To me, this and Bible reading are the best ways for me to “remain” or “abide in Him”.

Last, but not least, I don’t want to leave out what may be the most important type of prayer, which is intercessory prayer. This can mean the difference between life and death.

Read how Samuel understood this responsibility:

1 Samuel 12:  23 “As for me, I will certainly not sin against the Lord by ending my prayers for you. And I will continue to teach you what is good and right.

Read how God really felt about the golden calf that Aaron created, and how he lived on:

Deuteronomy 9: 20 The Lord was so angry with Aaron that he wanted to destroy him, too. But I prayed for Aaron, and the Lord spared him.

I hope these ideas inspire you in your walk with God. Thank you for taking the time to read this most important message!

Will you join me in prayer?

“God I praise your name! Thank you for the opportunity to write about you and your wonderful ways. You’ve taught me so much and I am excited about what you are doing in me. Please help me to stay on your path. Lead me as I live my life in a way that brings glory to you. In Jesus precious name, amen”

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed? part 2

How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed? part 2

In my last post, “How Bad Do You Want To Be Transformed? part 1”, we discussed the absolute necessity of reading the Truth on a daily, if not regular, basis.

This week I’d like to impress upon you the absolute necessity of prayer. Reading and prayer go together like a hand in a glove. It’s prayer that keeps the heart soft so that the Truth of the Word of God can seep in. The Word inspires and encourages us to be in constant prayer.

Without prayer and an open dialog with the Teacher, reading the Word will not yield any fruit. Those that are not seeking may read the Word but unless their hearts are turned toward God they will continue to have “ears that cannot hear” and “eyes that cannot see”.

Prayer is faith in practice.

Hebrews 11: 1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

The problem I’ve always had with prayer is that I could not see God. The idea (from a secular perspective) of conversing with an invisible being was always difficult for me. I think I prayed only because I did believe in God and I was always told that prayer works. This means that I did not have a personal conviction about prayer and I did not have much of a relationship with God. What this translated to was I prayed typically when things were going wrong and they were superficial at best.

Perhaps you don’t have much of a habit for prayer now and your prayers are short and superficial. Perhaps you just want to enrich your prayer life. Let’s see what we can do to change that…

Just like reading, prayer started out as a habit for me, something I made myself do. I knew I wanted to read the Bible regularly and that started me thinking more about God and how He operates. So one prayer that I think God was delighted to hear was “Lord, I want to know you more. As I read your Word please reveal yourself to me.” I still pray this prayer and He keeps answering. It’s a wonderful thing to stay hungry for God. This is one way to keep fresh and deepen the relationship. So what started out as a habit, praying because I knew I needed to, developed into a lifestyle. “I should probably pray” turned into “I can’t wait to pray”.

We were two worlds apart, God and I. He was in His realm and I was in mine. I did what I did and He did what He did. Little did I realize that He really wanted me to get to know Him more. Now I know that He’s always been interested in me and that He really has my best interests in mind. So my prayer life brought us closer together and now we’re working together, He and I.

James 4: 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

Another great thing about reading the Bible is all the wonderful prayers that the godly men and women prayed. There is a lot to be learned from the prayers already prayed and had tremendous results.

Would you like results? Consider this:

James 5: 16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

The keywords here are “righteous person” and “prayed earnestly“. Doesn’t this give you hope?

If you persist in this transformation process that I am laying out in these messages I am convinced that God will lead you to the abundant life that He’s promised. He will hear your prayers and your life will change dramatically.

Psalm 105: 4 Search for the LORD and for his strength;
continually seek him.

Will you pray with me?

“Dear Lord, Thank you for calling me into this most incredible relationship. I was a wreck and now I have hope. You’ve led me in ways that amaze me. Nothing compares to you, my Lord. Thank you for your Word that allows me to get to know you better. Thank you for being there when I call on your name. Please lead me down your path. Change my heart, help me to see people from your perspective and love them as you do. In Jesus precious name, amen”

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash



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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Do You Know What To Say When You Pray?

Do You Know What To Say When You Pray? Loving God, part XIV

I confess that this is my weakest discipline. “Lord, help me pray”

The Bible is great for giving us examples of prayer. I’d like to review some prayers where the petitioners actually complain to the Lord.

Abram:

Genesis 15: 2 But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. 3 You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.”

Remember this, when Abram was still waiting on a son that God promised him? He struggled with disbelief and spoke openly and honest to God.

A weak moment for Moses

Did you ever get frustrated and ask God “why” questions? Check this out:

Moses:

Exodus 5:  22 Then Moses went back to the Lord and protested, “Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? 23 Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!”

He sounds pretty frustrated at this point, doesn’t he! Have you ever protested to God?

Have you ever asked these questions? I know I have.

Gideon:

Judges 6: 13 “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”

I just wanted to share these moments of doubt and frustration from a few of the greatest figures in the Bible. Their faith was tested and they endured challenging moments. They didn’t know what was going on, but what mattered most is that they took their issues to God, the One that delivered each of them from their pain.

Let’s be honest with God and open up to Him

Here’s an honest prayer from a man after God’s heart, King David…

Psalm 142: I cry out to the Lord;
    I plead for the Lord’s mercy.
I pour out my complaints before him
    and tell him all my troubles.
When I am overwhelmed,
    you alone know the way I should turn.

Despite all these examples, sometimes I come before God and I have no idea what to say. Sometimes I’m not even sure what I’m feeling. But I know that it is OK to just sit quietly before God. You really don’t have to say anything, just sit in silence. If you sit long enough words will start to come out and the conversation will start, just give it a chance.

“Oh Heavenly Father, you are the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. You are the Creator of heaven and earth, things seen and unseen. I long for a closer relationship with you. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to approach you, I don’t always have the words to say, but I know you hear my prayers and you do listen to me. Thank you for loving me in such a way that I can run to you in my times of need, for you are my Rock and my place of refuge. I know that you are there for me. Please help me rely on you more so that I will pray more often. As your Son said, ‘For apart from Me you can do nothing’.  In Jesus Name, Amen”



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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or "Bible Time" come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God's Word.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.