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From General to Bond-Servant

WALKING THE NARROW WAY

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Finally…

Different people have prayed for years for this one thing. I’ve prayed on and off for a while for it. And God finally answered our prayers through laying the idea on a teen’s heart and he has spearheaded the entire venture.

24/7 prayer.

For one week my church will be crying out to God for revival in our own lives, in our families, in our church, in our city, and in our nation. Most of your reading this are part of this exciting week and have signed up for a 30 minute or hour time slot, so that at least one person in our church is praying every minute of the day.

I’m thrilled to see what God will do in us as we seek Him this week, how He may continue the 24/7 prayer afterwards, and the prayers that He will answer. I know this is a big step for a lot of you though. I’m still learning how to stay focused for long periods of prayer by myself, but what I have learned I would like to pass on to you. Whether you are part of this 24/7 prayer initiative or you just want to start setting more time aside in your life for intercession, I hope that these ideas and tips bless and help you.

Don’t Get Relaxed:

If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t get the exact amount of sleep you need every night and naps are a luxury you don’t get often. Our culture, with its addiction to media, has also trained our minds to have short attention spans and not be able to focus on one thing for very long. Because of those two things, don’t get relaxed when you are going to pray for a long time. Recliners and beds are not the best place for this type of prayer (unless you physically have to).

Get up, walk around your house, walk around your neighborhood (or around your work building if you’re praying during your lunch break), kneel by your bed. But don’t lay back and think that you’ll be immune to the sweet, sweet call of sleep while praying. The disciples kept falling asleep during some of the hardest hours of Jesus’ life and His question to them was “could you not stay awake to pray for one hour?” Don’t be like them and lay down to pray. Realize that there is an intense battle going on for whatever God has put on your heart to pray for and that though our spirit is willing, our flesh is weak.

Have Faith:

James 1: 6-8 says that “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

We are now heirs of the promise and co-heirs with Christ. All the promises of God are amen in Christ for us (2 Cor 1:20). But we must have faith and not doubt if we want our prayers answered. If you feel you are doubting, read the promises of God in His Word out loud (Rom 10:17). Tell your spirit that you refuse to doubt, just as David spoke to his soul in Psalm 43:5.

And most importantly, ask God to pour out His grace on you and fill you with faith. Ask Him to give you His heart for what you are interceding about. We may get weary about praying through something for the umpteenth time, but God never does. Ask Him for His passion, will, fire, and desperation to fill you as you pray. Then be prepared for your heart to change as you pray .

Be Prepared:

Memorizing scripture is great for intercessory prayer because God loves to be reminded of His promises. Praying through a verse or passage is an easy way to know what is on God’s heart and so pray according to His will. If you don’t have many verses memorized yet, then find a few that speak specifically to what you are praying about and write them down on note cards. I find this helpful, even if I have memorized the verse, so that I can remember and pray through every Word.

Praying through scripture is one of the best ways that I have found to stay focused during prayer. It gives me a guideline to pray for, opens my heart to pray for more than I would come up with on my own, and fills me with faith as I pray. Spend a few extra minutes to get prepared before spending time in prayer and you will notice a big difference.

At the end I have some of the scriptures that I will be praying through during this week of 24/7 prayer. Use any for your own prayer time that you wish or find some others that God shows you!

Example of Praying Through Scripture:

Matthew 9: 37-38

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

Lord, You promise that the harvest is plentiful. I don’t see it right now,
but You promised and You cannot lie. I hold You to Your promise.
Open my eyes and the eyes of the church to see the harvest. Help
us to walk in faith that the harvest is here and that You have prepared
their hearts for the gospel. Lead us to the people who You have prepared,
God, and that are white for harvest, and anoint us to bring them into
Your Kingdom.

God, send out workers for this harvest! Burden my heart more for the
lost. Burden the hearts of the people in the church for the lost.
Burden the hearts of those I work with, that are Christians, for the lost.
Spur us on Lord! Show us the times that we can be sharing the gospel.
Give us ALL boldness to share the gospel and to pray for people.
Help us to draw people out to lead them to a knowledge of the truth.
Pour out repentance. Give us no rest and help us to give You no rest
until You bring in the harvest.

Jesus, remove anything in me, anything in us, that would keep us from
putting Your Kingdom and Your righteousness first. Remove the dross
from our lives so that we can be ready vessels for Your use. Remove
addictions and idols, especially the idol of self, from us so that we seek
and depend on You above everything else. Glorify Yourself in us!
Bring Your Kingdom here!

Scriptures I’m Praying This Week:

Acts 4: 29-31

Colossians 3: 1-4

Isaiah 55 (whole chapter)

John 17: 21-23

Matthew 9: 37-38

Psalm 63

Songs for Worship:

Breathe On Us

Build Your Kingdom Here

Spirit Break Out

Here’s My Heart Lord

From the Inside Out

Too many others to name…

Other Resources:

Wrestling Prayer (book on prayer)

Hunger for God (book on fasting)

Some awesome blogs on prayer

Helps to Holiness by Samuel Brengle (Chapter 18)

 

Happy Praying!

One Gift You Might Be Using Wrong

Life would be so much easier without it.

I’ve said it and I’ve heard other people say it. It’s true. If God had created us not having a sex-drive until we got married, life would be far less complicated.

Fornication? Gone. Lust before marriage? Gone. Most porn issues? Gone. Babies out of wedlock? Gone.

Easy Peasy.

BUT, maybe our Creator God knows something we don’t. Since His foolishness is wiser than man’s wisdom (1 Cor 1:15), maybe His ways are best. He did create sex and romance after all. And He created us with a sex-drive. He didn’t have to. He could have made humans’ procreation unenjoyable and the only reason to do it to extend the human race. He had a reason for creating it though and as His servants, our job is to search the scripture for it and live by it.

The truth is that God didn’t give us a sex-drive for ourselves. He gave it to us for our spouses and to glorify Him. Just as our bodies are not own, since we have been bought at a price (1 Cor 6:19-20), so our sex-drive is not our own. All of our being belongs to the Lord at the moment of our conversion, but our body and sex-drive also belong to our spouse. Whether you currently have a spouse or not.

1 Corinthians 7: 3 – 4 says that: “The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” (NASB)

If my sex-drive is not for me, but for someone else, that means that any use of it that is selfish in nature is sin. Selfishness and our sex-drive (and therefore selfishness and sex) should have NOTHING to do with one another.

This is big. Don’t miss it.

This means that purity is not just not having pre-marital sex, not looking at porn, and not lusting. It means that purity is also not looking forward to the day (if you’re single) that you will be satisfied sexually, because your sex-life as a married person will be about satisfying someone else. It’s not that you won’t be satisfied, but it won’t and shouldn’t be your goal.

God’s kingdom is an upside down kingdom. The first shall last. The last shall first. The greatest among you should be a servant. And so on. This applies here also. God is our shepherd and provider. In His Kingdom we never have to fight for our fulfillment or satisfaction, it’s a by-product of loving Him and living a poured-out life.

One day, when I’m married, I won’t need to worry about being satisfied sexually, I will only have to worry about my spouse and about glorifying God. In the meantime, my worry doesn’t have to be on myself either. I don’t have to be worried about feeling lonely, or my physical desires, or anything. If I keep my heart and mind on Christ, He will take care of me. And He will provide a way out from every temptation.

All the sudden we can see that the issue with lust and porn is that they are inherently selfish. It is all about gratifying ourselves and not the one person we are supposed to spend the rest of our life with. Selfishness is addictive, just like any other “self” sin (i.e. self-pity and self-righteousness).

And addictions can only be broken by the Lord: when we are found In Jesus and have surrendered everything to Him.

Walking in freedom has to start with repentance (sorrow over sin, confessing it to the Lord, and turning from it). But if we don’t realize that the main sin we are repenting of is selfishness, how will we be able to truly repent?

I know this is an awkward topic.

I’m sorry.

…. But not really.

Jesus wants more for you though than you wearing a purity ring and being “technically” a virgin on your wedding day. He wants more for you than you repenting for not being a virgin and living the rest of your days by cold showers and snapping a rubber band on your wrist. He wants more for you than you just having an average sex-life with your spouse.

Whatever your current circumstance, Jesus wants more for you. He offers more to you. As you pour out your life to Him, He will fill you more and more so that there is less and less room for self.

Singleness can be filled with poured-out living for Him. Not just getting by, but living the abundant life He came here to give you. It can be filled with ministry, scripture memorization and study, learning helpful skills, and serving your family (talking to men and women here). Things that you might not have as much time for if you were married and had a family. It can be filled with thoughts, attitudes, and actions that will honor your future spouse, no matter when they come.

Marriage can be filled with poured-out living for Him and your husband or wife. The abundant life is available to you here too. You can learn how to truly put other people ahead of yourself (in the bedroom and out). To look to the interests of other’s instead of your own (Phil 2:4). To rejoice in serving, even when not notice or appreciated. To grow in your marriage being a symbol of Christ and the Church – which is an amazing testimony to the world!

The sky is the limit here. But only when we view our sex-drive with thankfulness. It is God’s opportunity to get rid of selfishness in you. It is His opportunity to teach you to depend on Him more. And it is His opportunity shine through you.

Love to all you singles and marrieds.

Baptized in Butterflies

“Baptized in butterflies…”
“Uh, what did you just sing?”
“That’s what it sounds like to me,” She scrutinized the piano music in front of her and flipped the page. “Oh, it’s ‘baptized in blood and fire!’”
Cue laughter.

Scene?
Worship practice a few years ago, while we were about to learn a new song.

Person that misunderstood the song lyrics?
She’ll remain nameless.

But hint: she has been one of my best friends for over 11 years and we claim that we are twins, separated at birth (our mothers just never realized).

“Baptized in butterflies” has remained a hilarious inside joke between all of us on the worship team. And that song has turned into one of my church’s (and my own) favorite songs. The lyrics are so powerful and full of truth.

As we are about to celebrate Good Friday tomorrow and Resurrection Sunday in three days, I wanted to share this song with you all. If you haven’t heard it before, enjoy! If you have heard the song before, I hope that some of my comments and questions will help you meditate on the greatness of Jesus and His resurrection in new ways (video linked at the bottom).

This may be a pretty long post. But meditating on God’s grace deserves a little time, don’t you agree?

 
“Beneath The Waters (I Will Rise)”

[Verse 1]
This is my revelation
Christ Jesus crucified
Salvation through repentance
At the cross on which He died

Do you ever think about how Jesus was a real person’s name? A person who was fully God and fully man. And that Christ was a title, meaning the Anointed One (read Isaiah 61 and Luke 4:16-21)? He was the long awaited Messiah. And that Christ Jesus died. He didn’t pass out from pain. He died.

He took on all of our sins… ALL. And then paid the penalty for them on the cross. Such horrendous filth was on Him that the Father had to turn His face away.

Is that old news to you? Or is it a fresh revelation every time? If this precious news is faded and worn out to you, which can so easily happen, please ask God to make it new again this Holy Week.

[Verse 2]
Now hear my absolution
Forgiveness for my sin
And I sink beneath the waters
That Christ was buried in

We finally have a way out from going to hell. Our sin against an infinite God is considered an infinite offense and deserves infinite punishment. But we have a way out.

Salvation is through repentance, as we fall upon the cross and turn away from our sin. God forgives us and wipes our records clean. But please realize that you can’t walk away from sin in your own strength. You must be IN Christ and walk in His grace and strength.

What are the waters that Christ was buried in? Romans 6:3-4 and Colossians 2:12 say that we have been baptized (sunk beneath the waters) in Christ and that that baptism is a baptism of death. Just as Christ was crucified, we are called to allow God to crucify our sinful nature. You can’t crucify yourself, a 2nd party must do it for you.

If you are holding on to old patterns and strangleholds of sin or worldliness, allow God to crucify them. As you remember Christ dying on the cross, ask God to crucify anything left in you that is not of Him. Yes, it’s painful… but don’t worry, Holy Week doesn’t end in death…

[Chorus]
I will rise, I will rise
As Christ was raised to life
Now in Him, now in Him
I live

Christ rose from the dead! Literally. He.Rose.From.The.Dead. He paid the punishment for our sin on the cross and then 3 days later He defeated sin and death, once and for all, by rising from the dead. There was an earthquake. The soldiers fell to the ground in fear. His grave clothes were empty. Over 200 people saw Him over the next 40 days.

There was no mistake. He wasn’t dead anymore.

“Having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. Colossians 2:12 (NASB)

We are IN Jesus, if we are Christians. That means we are baptized into His death (though ours is not physical like His). But it also means that we are baptized into His LIFE. We live now. We are raised in Him. We were dead and now are alive. We are partakers of eternal life, as we know Christ deeper and deeper until that one beautiful day that we get to see Him face to face. Hallelujah!

Are you about to jump out of your skin with thankfulness yet? If not, wait for the verse three. I promise you will be then.

[Verse 3]
I stand a new creation
Baptized in blood and fire
No fear of condemnation
By faith I’m justified

We have been crucified with Christ and raised to new life in Him. We are a new creation, the old is gone and the new has come (2 Cor 5:17). We stand new before our heavenly Father. We can now have the relationship with Him that He created us for and has been longing for since creation.

We are baptized in butterflies. Or blood and fire. However you want to interpret the song.

But really, we have been baptized in Christ’s blood and the Spirit’s fire. Christ’s blood justifies us. We stand before God clean and with no condemnation. The Spirit’s fire is cleansing and sanctifying us.

When the devil tries to condemn us, we can now shut him up. We have no fear of condemnation, because our salvation does not rest on our fickle selves but on the majesty, grace, and power of our Creator Jesus! And He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8).

Rejoice, my friend, in this new life.
Be thankful for God’s grace.
Marvel at the cross and resurrection.

[Bridge]
I rise as You are risen
Declare Your rule and reign
My life confess Your Lordship
And glorify Your Name

Does your life declare Christ’s Lordship? Does your mouth declare His Lordship? If not, why not? You are a new creation. You are not bound by sin any longer.

Your Word it stands eternal
Your Kingdom knows no end
Your praise goes on forever
And on and on again
 
Oh what a great God we serve! Do you ever forget? Remind yourself. Read the Word, that stands eternal, and allow it to remind you. We serve an everlasting God who deserves everlasting praise.
 
No power can stand against You
No curse assault Your throne
No one can steal Your glory
For it is Yours alone
 
Have you tried to steal glory and praise that was rightfully God’s? Repent and give it back to Him. If you are wallowing in sin, defeat, and gloom, maybe you need a fresh reminder that God has defeated sin and death and that NOTHING can stand against Him. His grace is truly, sincerely, and irrevocably, sufficient for you (2 Cor 12:9).
 
I stand to sing Your praises
I stand to testify
For I was dead in my sin
 
[Chorus]
I will rise, I will rise
As Christ was raised to life
Now in Him, now in Him
I live

Praise God this week! Praise Him for His death. Praise Him for His life. Praise Him for rescuing you. Praise Him that you don’t have to struggle with fear anymore. Praise Him for sitting you with Jesus at the right hand of the throne of God. Praise Him for giving you every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Praise Him because He is worthy! Praise Him with all that is within you! Praise His Holy Name!

Have more than a happy Easter everyone, have a glorious Easter as you celebrate our risen Savior.

If You Don’t Have This One Thing, You Don’t Have Anything

Mountain
I got the magazine in the mail almost a year ago.

It’s one of those huge things that your alma mater sends you to remind you of what a good time you had at college and make you feel like you should donate money.

I did have a wonderful experience in college. Thank you, alma mater. But I didn’t like the theme of the magazine. In fact, I got so worked up that I thought through an entire blog I was going to write about it. But the magazine promptly got hidden under piles in my room and it wasn’t until just now that I unearthed it.

What was the theme?

The meaning of life.

What is the meaning of life? Obviously, they presuppose, no one can know for sure. However, they claim, you can create meaning in your life. Here are some of the examples that people wrote about: Freeing prisoners from life sentences, providing education, showing love, being grateful for every day, doing good in this world, leaving the earth better than how we found it, showing compassion and serving others. Many good things, but still empty to me.

I refuse to believe that no one can know the meaning of life. I refuse to believe that those things are all there is to live for. Am I too picky? Do I want too much? Am I unrealistic? I almost started asking myself those questions.

But before I could, a verse popped into my head. Oh how I love God’s Word hidden in my heart. I love that one of the purposes of the Holy Spirit is to bring those verses to my mind when I need them most. The verse put my heart at rest and my mind at ease.

How could a single verse do that? Can a single verse tell us the meaning of life? I believe the answer is yes!

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17: 3, NASB).

What else could be the meaning of life except for having eternal life? And how do we have eternal life? This verse tells us. By knowing Jesus!

What I love about this verse, though, is all the hidden depth of the Greek language in the little word “know.” Know here is not a noun. It is not a list of facts. It’s a verb! (I can tell how excited you are.) I’ve hated grammar since I was a child, but this verb thrills me to pieces.

“Know” being a verb means that it is saying eternal life is the action of knowing God. A verb makes this word relational and experiential. We are getting to know a person, not just a list of facts.

That is why Jesus came to earth. To die for our sins, to rise from the dead, and to bring us to reconciliation with the Father so that we can know Him! He gave us His Word so that we can know Him. He longs to spend time with us so that we can know Him. He wants us to experience life, so that we can know Him.

I beg you, don’t miss this. If you are serving God or reading the Bible, and it isn’t all about knowing a person, you will end up wasting so much time not experiencing eternal life. I can say with confidence that I do know the meaning of life, because my Creator God told me. And that is to KNOW Jesus.

Love you brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

This blog was first published on finishwellcon.com

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