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“There is a growing conviction everywhere, and especially among thoughtful people, that unless revival comes, other forces will take the field, that will sink us still deeper into the mire of humanism and materialism.”

~ Duncan Campbell

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“All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers”

~ Acts 1.14

Pastor Steve Gaines wrote in his book, Pray Like It Matters

Acts 4:31 says, “And when they prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” God shook them physically and spiritually. I believe that our churches today could use a good spiritual “shaking.” The early Christians prayed, God shook them by filling them with the His Spirit, and then he shook the world as they witnessed boldly for Christ.

God ministered to through them to perform mighty miracles. There was no way to they were going to keep silent. They had “seen and heard” too much from their Lord. Their lives had been radically changed. It all began with prayer! Perhaps if we would pray as they did, we too would be “shaken.” We just might “see and hear” more from the Lord then we do presently (p.24).

We are in desperate need of your power and your fresh touch in our lives and in our churches. We have not nearly prayed enough. Not have we loved you as we should.

Please forgive us and cleanse us.

May revival come to us!

In Jesus Precious and Holy Name!

Amen 

DEVOTIONAL FOR JUNE 17, 2014

“This is the man to whom I will look, he that is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)

The first mark of the upright heart is that it trembles at the Word of the Lord.

Isaiah 66 deals with the problem of some who worship in a way that pleases God and some who worship in a way that doesn’t. Verse 3 describes the wicked who bring their sacrifices: “He who slaughters an ox is like him who kills a man; and he who sacrifices a lamb, like him who breaks a dog’s neck.” Their sacrifices are an abomination to God — on a par with murder. Why?

In verse 4 God explains: “When I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not listen.” Their sacrifices were abominations to God because the people were deaf to his voice. But what about those whose prayers God heard? God says in verse 2, “This is the man to whom I will look, he that is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”

I conclude from this that the first mark of the upright, whose prayers are a delight to God, is that they tremble at God’s Word. These are the people to whom the Lord will look.

For the rest of the post…

June 9, 2014 by 

header_pray

Recently someone told me they had decided to quit asking God for things more than once. “He’s heard me. He knows what I want. I don’t want to keep bugging him. So I’ll ask him once then just keep thanking him that he’s going to answer my prayer. But I’m not going to keep asking over and over for the same thing.”

God is definitely blessed by our thankfulness. And considering all he’s done for us in Christ, it’s only right that we overflow with thanks to him. In Colossians 2:7 Paul tells us to walk in Christ “rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Psalm 100:4 tells us

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

Someone once said that as we are “entering” God’s gates and courts, we should do so with thanks and praise, before we start asking him for things. Although I don’t believe Scripture requires us to thank God before making requests, in general I try to thank him before I lay my petitions before him. Usually my morning devotions consist of some Bible intake first, then thanking God for things – often writing them down in a journal, then bringing my requests. It is so good to remind myself that God has already blessed me in a myriad of ways. I believe thankfulness expresses humility and is a good reminder that all I have is a gift from him.

But God also wants us to ask him for things. Even if we ask him again and again. He told the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18 to encourage us that we “ought always to pray and not lose heart.” He tells us in 1 Thess 5:17:

pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

The Psalms are filled with people crying out to God again and again, like in Psalm 88:

Every day I call upon you, O LORD;
I spread out my hands to you. (9)

But I, O LORD, cry to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you. (13)

God tells us to practice the rhythm of thanksgiving and prayer. Psalm 50 tells us:

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

God says give me a sacrifice of thanks. Perform your vows to me – promises made when in trouble that if God delivered them, they’d praise and thank him. Then God says, call upon me in the day of trouble – bring your needs to me. Then I will deliver me and you shall glorify me with even more thanks and praise.

This is the rhythm of thanks and petition: Offer thanks, call upon me, I answer, you thank me again.

For the rest of the post…

God has given us gifts called time and prayer that coincide within our lives. Prayer is intended to be an ongoing conversation, personally and/or corporately, with God- at all times and in all places. Yet often, prayer is treated like it functions on a light switch; being turned on, then off, then on again as we have needs. Then off again when things seem under control and we can manage things going forward.

Solomon talks about the matter of time in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 14:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

What about time to pray? In verse 7, Solomon mentions there’s time to be silent and a time to speak. So, does that mean we can shut off prayer? No it doesn’t. Prayer (communicating with God) is intended to be an ongoing two-way conversation within our personal relationship with Him. That means we share with God what’s on our hearts, AND we stop so we can listen to His reply. Listening to God will help us consider which season of time we’re in- and/or how He’d have us respond within that given season! Listening to God also can inspire worship- something He’s worthy of receiving at all times and in all places as well!

Paul, in encouraging all kinds of prayer, states the matter this way:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

Rejoice, pray, and give thanks- always, continually, and in all circumstances. All, means everything, or without exception. Continually, means without ceasing or stopping. Many Christians believe prayer is the most powerful and active gift God has given us. If that’s true, why are we as Christians so quick to stop praying once we begin?

Prioritizing Prayer

“Our devotions are not measured by the clock, but time is of the essence. The ability to wait, and stay, and press belongs essentially to our intercourse with God.”  ― E.M. Bounds, Power Through Pray

Often, like young children called to the dinner table while playing games with friends, we set our hearts on other things that can have an immediacy or importance in the moment, but are secondary to what matters most. Children don’t see the bigger picture that parents do. Children quickly sit down and eat with hopes they’ll return to their friends and continue the game, but often find their parents want to keep them at the table longer than they desire. There’s friction, squabbling, and sometimes some tension as the children wrestle to get their way. But for their greater good, the parents keep them at the table until the meal, and conversation, is finished.

Often, when God calls us into a time of focused prayer (maintaining our ongoing prayer mindset of speaking and listening with Him, but pressing further into Him still), it may seem to come at an inconvenient time to us. We may be focused on our schedule, a task, some form of entertainment, or something else entirely. The matter we’re involved in wrestles to take precedent over what/whom God is calling us to be in prayer for in the moment.

We immediately face some choices.

1. Will I immediately press into God in prayer about this, or will I make Him wait?

2. Will I neglect or pass on praying altogether in favor of what I’m doing currently?

3. If I press further into God about this, will I remain with and in Him until He declares it settled, or will I just give God a few seconds or minutes, then hurry back to what I am doing?

Prayer often changes us more than what/whom we pray for! How we answer these questions will determine how much we’ll permit God to change us as we pray. It will also affect how we see God answer that burden He invited us to be in prayer for. Make no mistake, He will accomplish His will fully- whether we obediently pray in that moment or not! How much we’re allowed to see and experience of that answer may directly relate to the decision we make and time we invest.

Is it any surprise that our adversary would do all he could to keep us from using the most powerful weapon God’s given us in spiritual warfare? A bumper sticker was recently seen that read, “If Satan can’t make you immoral, he’ll make you busy.”

Busyness is an adversary to prayer- and keeps many Christians from utilizing their most important and powerful weapon! Busyness also hinders many from growing in deeper relationship with God through prayer and the reading of Scripture. How busy are you? How much time with God are you losing each day because other priorities take precedent over communication and communion with Him?

For the rest of the article…

The Prayer Life Of an Above Average Leader


Prayer Life of a Great LeaderI’ve never considered being called average a compliment.  I think it means you’re just as close to the bottom as on top.  I don’t believe that God meant for you to be average.  I don’t think God meant for you to live a so-so or bland, mediocre life.  As a leader, I don’t think God intends for you to be an average leader.  I believe that every human being was designed for excellence, that you’re not one in a million, you’re one in five billion and as the book In Search of Excellencestates, “The average person desires to be excellent in many different ways.”  There is no one else like you in the universe.

As Pastors and Christian leaders, one of the key elements in our pursuit of being an above average leader is having an above average prayer life. I want to share some big lessons from the life of Jabez about the prayer life of an above average leader.

Jabez is a man who literally stood out in a crowd.  There isn’t much written about him in the Bible.  In 1 Chronicles 4, you find a couple of sentences about him in the middle of a bunch of genealogies.  In the middle of 600 names God singles out one man for special recognition.  He stands above average.  He’s like a redwood tree in a forest of Bonzai’s.

1 Chronicles 4:9-10 it says, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.  His mother had named him Jabez saying, `I gave birth to him in pain.’  Jabez cries out to God, `O God, that You would bless me and enlarge my territory and keep me from harm so that I would be free from pain.’  And God granted his request.” 

Out of those two obscure verses, we learn that there are three secrets to his life as an above average leader. What can we learn from Jabez?

You Need a Great Ambition

Jabez didn’t want to be ordinary.  He wanted to excel and grow.  In other words, he was a person of vision and dreams.  He wanted something special and something great from his life.  Most of all, he wanted God’s blessing in his life.

A lot of people never achieve the leadership level that they could achieve in life because they just drift through life with no ambition, no master plan, no real purpose, no dream that pulls them along.  It’s what I call haphazard living.  You’ve got to have a dream if you’re going to be a great leader.  And in looking at Jabez’ prayer life we’ll find that his prayers actually came out of his dreams.  When you stop dreaming, you start dying.  If you have no goals, you have no growth.  You were designed by God for great dreams.

You Need a Growing Faith

Jabez had a deep trust and belief in God.  It is obvious from his prayer that he recognized that the source of his blessing was the Lord.  It reminds me of William Carey who said, “Expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.”  In these two verses, we notice a couple of things about Jabez. If you’re going to live above average, you first need a great ambition and second, you need a growing faith.

For the rest of the article…

What Happens When the Church Prays?

Brooklyn Tabernacle's Jim Cymbala: Do we really believe God can draw anyone to Himself? . Image Info:

Brooklyn Tabernacle’s Jim Cymbala: Do we really believe God can draw anyone to Himself?

Have you ever considered the implications of Christ’s startling words when He tells His disciples in John 15:5 “Apart from Me you can do nothing”? Are we really so spiritually helpless that nothing can be accomplished without God?

My wife, Carol, and I made that discovery in the autumn of 1971 when the little inner-city New York church I was pastoring was struggling to keep the lights on. Carol and I had frankly admitted to each other that unless God broke through, the Brooklyn Tabernacle was doomed. We couldn’t finesse it along. We couldn’t organize, market and program our way out. The embarrassing truth was that sometimes I didn’t even want to show up for the service. And our weekly Tuesday night prayer meetings were sparsely attended and less than powerful.

We had to have a visitation of the Holy Spirit, or bust.

I remember praying, “Lord, I have no idea how to be a successful pastor. I haven’t been trained. All I know is that Carol and I are working in the middle of New York City, with people dying on every side, overdosing from heroin, consumed by materialism. If the Gospel is so powerful … .” I couldn’t finish the sentence.

Quietly but forcefully, I sensed God speaking: If you and your wife will lead My people to pray and call upon My name, you will never lack for something fresh to preach. I will supply all the money that’s needed, both for the church and for your family, and you will never have a building large enough to contain the crowds I will send in response.

I knew I had heard from God, even though I hadn’t experienced some strange vision, nothing sensational or peculiar. God was simply focusing on the only answer to our situation—or anybody else’s for that matter.

The next Sunday, I came back to the church and told the tiny congregation, “I really feel that I’ve heard from God about our church’s future. From this day on, the prayer meeting will be the barometer of our church. … If we call upon the Lord, He has promised in His Word to answer, to bring the unsaved to Himself, to pour out His Spirit among us. If we don’t call upon the Lord, He has promised nothing. No matter what I preach or what we claim to believe in our heads, the future will depend upon our times of prayer.”

In the weeks that followed, answers to prayer became noticeable. Unsaved relatives and total strangers began to show up. There were junkies, prostitutes and homosexuals. But lost lawyers, business types and bus drivers turned to the Lord there, too. We started to think of ourselves as a “Holy Ghost emergency room” where people in spiritual trauma could be rescued.

I knew that a lot of churches gave lip service to the idea that God can do anything. But we needed to have real faith that anyone who walked in, regardless of his or her problems, could become a trophy of God’s grace.

Breakthrough Prayer

The story of our church’s growing dependence on Christ is such a vivid reminder to me of how God uses praying believers to draw the lost to Himself.

For the rest of the article…

Something happens when churches pray. Something happened in the Book of Acts when the local met to pray. When we pray, we lay hold of the very throne of God. When we pray, God can give us boldness, love, power and grace. When we pray, God can expand the witness of the church. When we pray, God works!

Warren W. WiersbeSomething Happens When Churches Pray15.

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