If You Will Ask

If [web]Prayer is powerful. Ask anyone who has ever had answer from God in prayer, and they will quickly tell you just how valuable and powerful that prayer was to them.

With that in mind here’s a simple question: why don’t we pray more? It seems like prayer is often the thing we turn to when everything else we have tried has failed. Or we pray after we have messed something up, instead of before we attempted it.

The Bible says this—

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (1 John 5:14, emphasis added)

Notice that key qualifier: IF we will ask there is an incredible confidence in God’s answer. 

Prayer should be first and continual. That’s why l like beginning each year with a renewed emphasis on prayer. This Sunday is part one in our series If You Will Ask, where we will be exploring the mind-blowing things God gives to His children who ask Him … things like insight, patience, power and initiative.

Please join me at 10:30am this Sunday as we begin our reinvigorating look at the power of prayer.

The 13th Resolution (book review)

The 13th ResolutionAlthough The 13th Resolution was originally written by Charles Sheldon in 1928, it’s an excellent book to read (or re-read) if you are thinking about making New Year’s resolutions.

This book is short, but Sheldon’s writing quickly endears the Blaisdell family to us. We get to listen in as Mr. Blaisdell is reading his list of resolutions to his family. Some of the resolutions pertain just to him, and some involve the entire family. We then get to see a brief glimpse as these resolutions are put into effect in their first couple of days, but quickly the story jumps to the family gathering on New Year’s Day one year later. We hear the Blaisdells telling what changed over the past year, what resolutions stuck, and what resolutions flopped, but we are left to fill in the details of how that transpired.

You can read this book aloud to your family in less time that it would take to watch a sitcom on TV, and then see what sort of discussion it sparks in your home. Very enjoyable!

It’s Good When God Says, “No, Never, Certainly Not!”

No!My friend, God is fully aware of the situation you are facing. He knows what is happening in your life. Here’s the good news—the great news: you are not going down, but you are going through!

“What does God want from you in your difficult time? He wants you to believe His Word—His promises! He wants you to fully trust that He is with you in your struggle. It does not matter if all hell is coming at you, His presence will never be taken from you, even in the midst of your fears and tears. No dart of the devil—no powerful attack against you—will destroy you. Your Father already has a plan of deliverance in place. God is waiting for you to cling to Him in blind trust. He wants you to be able to face all your ferocious temptations, and say, ‘I may not understand this but I know my Lord will not forsake me. I am trusting Him to see me through!’ … God is saying, ‘You’re not going down. I am with you through all of this! If you will just seek My face and trust Me, I will bring you through—because I am always with you!’” —David Wilkerson

In Hebrews 13:5 God says, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

But in English this isn’t quite strong enough. In this short phrase the Greek language uses five negatives. Let me try to state God’s words as they are literally written—

I will never, certainly not, by no means ever loosen My grip on you, and I will never, certainly not, by no means ever leave you behind, nor leave you helpless, nor leave you abandoned. 

Commenting on this verse, Charles Spurgeon wrote—

“This priceless Scripture does not promise us exemption from trouble, but it does secure us against desertion. We may be called to traverse strange ways, but we shall always have our Lord’s company, assistance, and provision. … Come, my heart; if God says He will never leave you nor forsake you, be much in prayer for grace that you may never leave the Lord, nor even for a moment forsake His ways.”

Oh my, what a word of hope! God has not abandoned you, friend. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that He is close to the brokenhearted and the beat-up. He will never, certainly not, by no means ever leave you, so don’t leave Him but cling even more tightly to His unshakable promise!

No Self-Made Men

I get so tired of people calling themselves “a self-made man.” There is no such thing! It is equally as distasteful when pastors pat themselves on the back talking about “the ministry I have built.”

Dick Brogden

Dick Brogden

Here are important words to remember—

“Wherever we go in ministry and mission, we either benefit from the labor of others or we contribute to the future benefit of those that will follow. If we see fruit, we can be assured that it is not solely due to our dedication or vision but because others went ahead of us and did the hard work. Often prayer accomplishes this hard work. Regularly those on the ground preceding us did this hard work.” (Dick Brogden)

And this—

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:5-9)

What do you think?

Year-End Review (2013 Edition)

Year-End ReviewThe Apostle Peter wrote this to the church—

I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live. (2 Peter 1:12-13)

On the last Sunday of each calendar year I like to take time to remind myself and our congregation about what God has taught us in the year that has just past. This is not only healthy for us to remember together, but it is also beneficial for us to be able to step forward into the new year in unity.

If we don’t look back to remember where we’ve come from, it will be very hard for us to remember where we are going and why we are going there. And as an added bonus for those who weren’t with us for all of 2013, you will get caught up to speed with everyone else.

Please join me at 10:30am this Sunday as we not only review 2013, but we get a glimpse of what God wants to do in us and through us in 2014.

The Morning Star

John 3-17This is part three of a 3-part series called The Star Of CHRISTmas. I was going to deliver this message at Calvary Assembly of God yesterday morning, but due to the terrible weather, we had to cancel our services. I hope this message will be a blessing to you. Please leave me some feedback in the comments section below.

Merry Christmas!

Thursdays With Oswald—Solitude

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Oswald Chambers

Solitude 

     Solitude with God repairs the damage done by the fret and noise and clamor of the world. … The disaster of shallowness ultimately follows the spiritual life that takes not the shining way upon the Mount of God. Power from on high has the Highest as its source, and the solitudes of the Highest must never be departed from, else that power will cease. 

From Christian Disciplines 

We live in a go, go faster, then go some more world. Everything is urgency and immediacy. It is vital for Christians to find times of solitude to tune out the clamor and tune in to God’s Voice.

The prophet Elijah was one who learned that God was not in the noise, but in the still, small Voice (see 1 Kings 19:1-13). Are we quieting ourselves enough to hear His Voice? If we don’t, we run the risk of spiritual burnout, just as Elijah experienced. Find Make some time for solitude this week.

24 Quotes from “Andrew Murray’s Daily Reader”

Andrew Murray Daily ReaderOver the course of the last year in reading Andrew Murray’s Daily Reader, I literally took down over 40 pages of Murray’s quotes! The quotes I have listed below are not my favorites, but just some of the quotes from the first few pages of my notes. You can read my book review of this truly amazing devotional book by clicking here.

“The true practice of Christianity strives toward having the character of Christ so formed in us that in our most common activities His temper and disposition will be displayed.”

“May this high privilege awaken your desire for relationship with God, to dwell in sweet fellowship with Him and He with you. May it become impossible for you to be satisfied with anything less.”

“The power to believe a promise depends entirely on our faith in the one who promises. It is only when we enjoy a personal loving relationship with God Himself that our whole being is opened up to the mighty influence of His holy presence and the capacity will be developed in us for believing that He gives whatever we ask.” 

“Sin consists in nothing but this, that man determined to be something and would not allow God to be everything.”

“Even as believers we often make it our first aim to find out who we are, what we desire, what pleases us and makes us happy. Then we bring in God in the second place to secure this happiness.” 

“Nothing except constant fellowship with God can teach you as His child to hate sin as God hates it. Nothing but the close fellowship of the living Christ can make it possible for you to understand what sin is and to detest it. Without this deeper understanding of sin, we cannot truly appropriate the victory that Christ made possible for us.”

“To pray constantly only for ourselves is a mark of failure in prayer. It is in intercession for others that our faith and love and perseverance will be stirred up and that the power of the Spirit will be found to equip us for bringing salvation to people.” 

“Here is God’s provision for our holiness, God’s response to our question ‘How can we be holy?’ When we hear the call ‘Be holy, even as I am holy,’ it seems as if there is, and ever must be, a great gulf between the holiness of God and that of humankind. But in Christ is the bridge that spans the gulf—or better, His fullness has filled it up.”

“To worship is our highest privilege. We were created for fellowship with God: of that fellowship, worship is the most sublime expression. All the disciplines of the Christian life—meditation and prayer, love and faith, surrender and obedience—culminate in worship. Recognizing what God is in His holiness, His glory, and His love; realizing what I am as a sinful creature and as the Father’s redeemed child, in worship I gather up my whole being and present myself to my God. I offer Him the adoration and the glory that is due Him. The truest, fullest, and nearest approach to God is worship.”

“We are in such a habit of evaluating God and His work in us by what we feel that it is very likely that on some occasions we will be discouraged because we do not feel any special blessing. Above everything, when you wait on God, do so in the spirit of hope. It is God in His glory, His power, and His love who is longing to bless you.”

“I would like to convince every believer that Jesus loves you; He does not wish to be separated from you for a moment. He cannot bear it. No mother has delighted more in the baby in her arms than does Christ delight in you. He wants both intimate and unceasing fellowship with you. Receive it, dear believer, and say, ‘If it is possible, God helping me, I must have this filling of the Holy Spirit so that I may know and sense the presence of Jesus always dwelling in my heart.’” 

“Discovering the New Testament standard of commitment is not an easy matter. Our preconceived opinions blind us; our surroundings will exercise a powerful influence. Unless there is a sincere desire to truly know the entire will of God, and a prayerful dependence on the Holy Spirit’s teaching, we will search in vain.”

“If you would be full of the Spirit, be full of the Word. … Just as the Scriptures were spoken and written down as men were moved by the Spirit of God, it is only by the Spirit of God that they can be fully understood.” 

“Our waiting on God can have no higher goal than to have His light shine on us and in us and through us all day.”

“May our daily lives be the bright and blessed proof that a hidden power dwells within, preparing us for the glory to be revealed. May our abiding in Christ the Glorified One be our strength to live to the glory of the Father, our enabling to share in the glory of the Son.” 

“Take every opportunity to humble yourself before God and man. Accept with gratitude everything that God allows from within or without, from friend or enemy, in nature or in grace, to remind you of your need for humbling and to help you in it. Reckon humility to be the mother-virtue, your very first duty before God, the one perpetual safeguard of the soul, and set your heart upon it as the source of all blessing. The promise is divine and sure: He that humbles himself shall be exalted.”

“Love for God and love for our neighbor are inseparable; prayer from a heart that is not right with God or that cannot get along with others can have no real effect. Faith and love are interdependent.”

“In the annoyances of daily life, we must be careful not to excuse a hasty temper, sharp words, or rash judgment by saying that we meant no harm, that we did not hold the anger long, or that it is too much to ask of our human nature not to behave in such a manner. Instead, we must seek to forgive as God in Christ has forgiven us, diffusing anger and judgment.”

“God has called us to live a life in the supernatural. Allow your devotional time each day to be as the open gate of heaven through which light and power stream into your waiting heart and from which you go out to walk with God all day.”

“Every soul is worth more than the world and nothing less than the price paid for it by Christ’s blood. Each is within reach of the power that can be tapped through intercession. We have no concept of the magnitude of the work to be done by God’s intercessors or we would cry out to God for an outpouring of the Spirit of intercession.”

“Prayer and the Word are inseparably linked; power in the use of either depends upon the presence of the other. The Word gives you a subject for prayer. It shows you the path of prayer, telling you how God would have you come. It gives you the power for prayer—courage in the assurance that you will be heard. And it brings you the answer to prayer as it teaches what God will do for you. On the other hand, prayer prepares your heart to receive the Word from God himself, to receive spiritual understanding from the Spirit, and to build faith that participates in its mighty working.” 

“God’s purpose was to bring us back to Himself as our Creator, in whose fellowship and glory our happiness can alone be found. God could attain His purposes and satisfy the love of His own heart only by bringing us into complete union with Christ, so that in Him we can be as near to God as Christ is. Oh, the mystery of the love of God!”

“The knowledge of God’s Father-love is the first and simplest—but also the last and highest—lesson in the school of prayer. It is in personal relationship to the living God and fellowship with Him that prayer begins.” 

“As one of His redeemed ones you are His delight, and all His desire is to you, with the longing of a love that is stronger than death, and which many waters cannot quench. His heart yearns for you, seeking your fellowship and your love. If it were needed, He would die again to possess you. As the Father loved the Son, and could not live without Him—this is how Jesus loves you. His life is bound up in yours; you are to Him inexpressibly more indispensable and precious than you can ever know.”

A Truly White Christmas

White as snow

Why did Jesus come to earth, to be born as a baby, to live a sinless life, to die on our Cross in our place, to be raised to life again three days later?

So that we could all have a WHITE Christmas! 

Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18)

Andrew Murray Daily Reader (book review)

Andrew Murray Daily ReaderI’m fascinated by the insights of Andrew Murray! He has such a God-given, Holy Spirit-anointed way of seeing such practical applications in all sorts of biblical passages. The Andrew Murray Daily Reader is a great way to sample his insightful works.

This is designed as a year-long devotional book, with each day giving a verse or two from the Bible along with Andrew Murray’s superb insights and practical insights to that verse. Each day’s writing comes from one of the dozens of books that Andrew Murray wrote in his lifetime.

Each day’s reading will only take you a few minutes to complete, but the insights will have you thinking all day long. Since each day includes a notation of which of Murray’s books the devotional thought came from, I quickly discovered which books I wanted to read in their entirety.

Whether you are already an admirer of Andrew Murray’s works, or whether you’ve never read anything from him before, this is a wonderfully insightful book.

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