Asyougo

AsyougoA little habit started for me as a kid. I’d put things on the bottom steps of the stairway, so I’d be sure to see them and grab them as I went upstairs to my bedroom. After awhile, everyone in our family had his or her own “step.” I called these asyougos: as you go upstairs, please take these with you. The principle was pretty simple, as I would naturally see these things going about my regular route.

Jesus had a similar idea for His followers: Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation (Mark 16:15). The verb tense and definition of the word go literally means that Jesus said, “Asyougo into all the world, preach the Good News.

In fact this is exactly how Jesus lived His life. As He went about His normal life, His life intersected with people who needed Good News (check out Mark 10:17, 46; Luke 8:4, 42; 17:11; and John 9:1 as examples).

Peter summed up all of Christ’s life like this: God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him (Acts 10:38).

Jesus lived an asyougo lifestyle, He called us to do the same, and He empowered us to live our asyougo lifestyle with the same power He had (Matthew 28:18-19; Acts 1:8).

Here’s the big idea—We don’t need to go anywhere special to find people who need Good News…

  • asyougo to school, you will attend class with them
  • asyougo to work, you will work alongside them
  • asyougo to the grocery store, you will interact with them
  • asyougo to do yard work, you will talk over the backyard fence with them
  • asyougo out to eat, you will sit next to them

People who need the life-changing, disease-healing, sin-forgiving power of Jesus are all around you. ASYOUGO share the Good News of Jesus Christ with them!

4 Thoughts To Help Prayer Become A Daily Habit

ImportunityI have shared several strategies about prayer throughout January (you can read them here, here, here, and here). One danger in putting these steps into practice in our life in what I call one-and-done. We do it once and think we’ve done all we need to do.

Scientists tell us at a minimum it takes 21 days in a row to make a habit. Jesus went even farther than that in talking about prayer in Matthew 7:7. When we look at the three aspects of the verbs ask, seek, and knock in this verse, it would be better stated like this—

You need to keep on asking, and keep on seeking, and keep on knocking. This is not good advice or a helpful suggestion, but it is vital for your spiritual life. So after you have asked, sought, and knocked, then do it again, and again, and again.

Matthew Henry said it this way: “Here is a precept in three words to the same purport, Ask, Seek, Knock; that is, in one word, ‘Pray; pray often; pray with sincerity and seriousness; pray, and pray again; make conscience of prayer, and be constant in it; make a business of prayer, and be earnest in it.’”

In the English language the dictionary has a word for this: importunity = being urgent and persistent, sometimes annoyingly so!

I believe importunity requires these four characteristics:

  1. Trust. Remember Jesus taught us to pray Our Father. We have to come to Him again and again and again trusting that He loves us, that He alone is the Source of our help, and that He wants to help us (Matthew 6:8). We also have to trust that our Father wants to give us the very best (Matthew 7:7-11).
  2. Perseverance. I love the story of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-5. This determined lady kept coming back again and again. Henry Ward Beecher said, “The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is, that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.”
  3. Creativity. One of my favorite New Testament stories is about a mother who is not only as persistent as the widow in Luke 18, but she is creative in her prayer as well (Mark 7:24-30). This lady bantered with Jesus in a way that I believe caused Christ to throw back His head and laugh! This is not bargaining with God, as Oswald Chambers wrote, “Repetition in intercessory importunity is not bargaining, but the joyous insistence of prayer.”
  4. Action. Paul was looking for an open door to preach the Gospel, but he didn’t sit still while he waited for God to say “yes” (Acts 16:6-10).

Keep these in mind as you make importunity a key part of your prayer life. And check out the full video of my message on importunity in prayer here—

Confession: I Struggle With Being An Atheist

ITLWYou see, I love my day to be highly organized. I like to get to all my meetings on time, and then have them run smoothly and efficiently. I like to setup my To Do list, and then methodically check off each item as I go through my day. I like to be in charge of my day.

I am an atheist.

I’m the one calling the shots. I set my agenda. I determine my day. I decide who to see and what project to accept.

There was a guy that Jesus talked about who did the exact same thing. This guy thought to himself and talked to himself all about his plans. Seriously, in just three verses he says me/I/my a dozen times (Luke 12:17-19)!

But God said, “You fool!” The word for fool means without mind. He didn’t mind his mind. He thought the thoughts he wanted to think, without ever consulting anyone else. Not even God.

Jesus made prayer a priority every day (Mark 1:35). What do you think He prayed? Do you think He said, “Here’s what I’m going to do today, and I want You to bless it, Father”? No way!

When Jesus taught us to pray He said, Your kingdom come, Your will be done” (Matthew 6:9-13). Not only did Jesus pray this way, He lived this way too. He didn’t do a single thing unless His Father directed Him to do it (John 6:38), and He didn’t say a single word unless His Father directed Him to say it (John 12:49).

The problem is not going into my prayer closet to meet with God in the morning, the problem is thinking I can leave God in the closet as I go about my day! That is atheism!

The Apostle James gave us this sound counsel: Instead of making my plans all on my own, I should say, “If the Lord wills, this is what I will do today” (James 4:13-17). And wise King Solomon said I shouldn’t lean on my own thoughts when planning my days, but lean onto God, and then watch to see how He will direct my life in the right way (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I’ve begun writing I.T.L.W. on the top of my daily calendar. It’s my reminder to say, “If The Lord Wills” this is what I will do today. And if something else comes up, I quickly acknowledge that God is directing my path where He needs me to go.

Your Kingdom come means my kingdom has to go. Your will be done means my agenda takes a distant second.

If you’re feeling stressed about your schedule, that should be your reminder to pray: “God, what do you want to have done here.” Silence the atheistic thoughts that sound like, “I have to get my list done.” Stop and pray right there on the spot.

Here’s the full video of my message on this topic—

We will be continuing our series called Practical Prayer this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in Cedar Springs, please come be our guest. Or you can tune into our live broadcast via Periscope.

The Power Of Confession

God restoresGod wants to meet with us. He loves hearing our voice and talking to us. We can come into His presence at anytime, with anything and everything that’s on our heart, and know for sure that He is waiting to hear from us.

But there is one thing that can short-circuit this intimate relationship. And if we don’t deal with this one thing quickly, it could lead to disastrous results.

This one thing is unconfessed sin.

Adam and Eve sinned, and started a downward slide that we continue in today. First, they tried to cover up their sin (Genesis 3:7). Think about this for a moment. They made clothes out of fig leaves. What happens to leaves when are detached from their vine? Yep, they die and shrivel up!

Next, they tried to hide from God (Genesis 3:8-10). Really? You can hide from God?! That’s sort of like a toddler covering her eyes and thinking since she can’t see daddy, he can’t see her either.

Then they made excuses for their sin (Genesis 3:11-13). Of course, they said, we would have never sinned on our own. She made me do it! The devil made me do it!

None of this worked. Instead it kept them in fear of God’s presence!! 

A beautiful prayer of confession of his sin is David’s prayer in Psalm 51. Notice this:

  • He was assured of God’s unfailing love and His great compassion (v. 1).
  • He confessed his sin without excuse. Five times in verses 1-3 he says my transgression, my sin, my iniquity.
  • He let God restore him (vv. 7-12)

It works so much better when God does the restoring! Instead of the fig leaves which were dying, God Himself made clothes for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). This was a foreshadowing of the of way God will clothe all men and women who confess their sin, and place their faith in Christ’s work on Calvary (Ephesians 5:26-27).

Don’t let unconfessed sin keep you from God’s presence! Quickly confess your sin, and let God clothe you in the righteousness of Jesus.

We’ll be continuing our look at Practical Prayer this Sunday, and I hope you can join me. If you cannot join us in person, check out our live broadcast on Periscope.

Expectation Or Superstition?

Safe placeWhat good is it to pray if we don’t expect to receive anything from God? Isn’t that just making “prayer” a superstition? Instead, the Bible tells us that we can have “a remarkable degree of confidence” that when we take something to God in prayer, we can expect something great (1 John 5:14-15)!

Our prayer closet should be the safest place for us to express ourselves. You might have a close friend with whom you can “be yourself.” You can pour everything out to your friend, knowing that they will still love you. And yet, even with that really close, true-blue friend there are still times you hold back.

God doesn’t want that from us.

Check out David’s prayer closet. He had no problems telling God how he felt about the bad guys who were after him (Psalm 56:5-7; 57:3; 58:6-8; 59:13). Here’s the important thing to note: David poured out these words only in God’s presence. We don’t read anywhere in the Bible where David yelled these words at his enemies, or even shared these thoughts with his close friends.

Instead David said, “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8). Pouring out your heart to anyone else can sound like gossiping, picking a fight, or whining!

When David got it all out in God’s presence, he experienced two really cool things:

  1. His swirling, angry thoughts were quietedfor God alone my soul waits in silence.
  2. He came away with an expectation of God’s helpmy soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.

What about you? Are you being honest in prayer? Are you pouring out all of your hurts and doubts and frustrations to your Heavenly Father? Do you expect Him to answer you?

Here’s how you can tell if you aren’t praying with total honesty … you will walk out of your prayer closet still in turmoil. When you truly unload your heart in God’s presence, He will give you a peace that is so beyond anything you could have worked up yourself (Philippians 4:6-7).

Check this out…

Join me next Sunday as we continue our look at Practical Prayer.

4 Practical Prayer Tips From Jesus

T.M. Moore on prayerOne of the best ways to learn how to pray is not to read about prayer. It’s not even to listen to other people pray. The best way to learn how to pray is … to pray! 

Can you imagine a baby thinking to herself, “I’m not going to start talking until I’ve got the English language nearly mastered. I need to brush up on my vocabulary, and have a few tongue-twisters handy, and then I’ll start talking.” Of course not!

Babies learn to talk by … talking! Well, perhaps they learn by babbling first. But ask any parent, and then we tell you that those first da-da, ma-ma, ba-ba sounds are like music in their ears! It’s the same way with our Heavenly Father. He’s not waiting for you to be a prayer expert (whatever that is!) before you start talking with Him. Even if your attempt at pray sounds like a baby’s babbling to you, they are sweet sounds to our loving Heavenly Father.

One verse about Jesus gives us four practical prayer tips to help us practice praying—Mark 1:35. Check this out:

1. early in the morning. This speaks to me of priority. I want to talk with God before I talk with anyone else, before I make my plans for the day, before I have any major decisions to make. Practical application: Go to bed on time.

2. Jesus got up. A physical change of position to make sure He was alert. Practical application: Don’t try to pray laying in bed, but find a posture where you are most alert; maybe even go for a walk while you pray.

3. left the house … went to a solitary place. He left the familiar, and left any distractions behind. Some translations of Matthew 6:6 say we should go into our prayer closet. Practical applications: Find a place that’s just for prayer, then eliminate the distractions (i.e. turn off your phone, etc.).

4. He prayed. This Greek word is used 87 times in the New Testament and it means … PRAY. There’s nothing wrong with reading the Bible, or listening to worship music, but make these activities separate from prayer. Practical applications: My mind can wander when I’m praying unless I’m intentional about staying focused. So I keep a list of things I want to pray about, and I keep a blank piece of paper ready for things that come to my mind. Both of these things keep me focused.

How about you—Can you make prayer a priority? Can you find a place and posture that will help you pray? What can you do to stay focused while you’re praying?

Remember: the best way to learn how to pray is to pray. Get started today! Your Father is waiting to hear your sweet voice!

I’ll be continuing our series on Practical Prayer this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in Cedar Springs, I’d love to have you join us. Otherwise, you can tune in to our live broadcast via Periscope.

2015 Year-End Review

Theme for 2016The last Sunday of each year I take some time with our church family to look back to review what we’ve learned. Then we look forward to a theme God is impressing on us for the new year. Check it out here—

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