No Asterisks

This past Christmas I was quite surprised to receive a package in the mail. It was something I ordered as a Christmas gift for my wife. 

Sort of. 

It was actually half of what I thought I ordered. I went back online and discovered some “fine print” that I hadn’t really noticed earlier. 

You’ve probably experienced that too—asterisksfine print … footnotes … hidden fees … “limits and exclusions may apply” are all so frustrating!

Unfortunately, we get so used to these things that we begin to—consciously or subconsciously—plug them into places where they don’t actually belong. So even when Jesus Himself says something that sounds wonderful like, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20), we want to insert an asterisk. 

Or when He says, “And I will do whatever you ask in My name so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it” (John 14:13-14), we think we’re supposed to ask, “What’s the catch?” 

Christians are inserting asterisks where they don’t belong and, as a result, are praying timid prayers. 

Why do we pray this way? Perhaps we are…

  1. …fearful of being too bold. But in telling us how to pray, Jesus says God rewards our bold “shameless persistence” in prayer. 

I tell you, although he will not get up and supply him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his shameless persistence and insistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you, ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you. (Luke 11:8-9 AMP) 

  1. …unsure that God hears us, cares for us, or even wants to answer us. But the Bible is quite clear that all of these things are true: He hears us, cares for us, and does want to give us what He has promised (1 John 5:14-15; Romans 8:32; Romans 4:20-21).  
  1. …ignorant of what/how to pray. T.M. Moore reminds us, “God has given us three great helps to assist us in our prayers. His Spirit groans for us; His Word guides us; and His Son governs and intercedes for us.” 
  1. …not looking for God’s answer. David said that after praying, he expectantly watched for God’s answer (Psalm 5:3). Indeed, the Aramaic word for prayer means “to set a trap.” 

“He is the God of limitless resources—the only limit comes from us. Our requests, our thoughts, and our prayers are too small, and our expectations are too low. God is trying to raise our vision to a higher level, call us to have greater expectations, and thereby bring us to greater appropriation. Shall we continue living in a way that mocks His will and denies His Word?” —A.B. Simpson 

Why are you hesitating to ask God for even a tiny amount when such vast resources are available? What would happen if you started to pray more boldly? What if you began to make mountain-moving requests? I dare you to try! 

Stop looking for the asterisks and start taking God at His word!

Join me next week as we continue our series on Boldly Praying, looking at some bold pray-ers in the Bible.

Boldly Praying

As a general rule, God would like us to pray much more boldly than we typically do. 

Jesus told us that we could pray mountain-moving prayers! But C.S. Lewis rightly observed, “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak.” 

This Sunday we begin a new series of messages called Boldly Praying, in which we are going to consider how we can replace our weak prayers with bold prayers. We’ll be looking at the requests of four bold pray-ers that we meet in the pages of Scripture, and each one of them will teach us a new aspect of bold praying. 

Join us either in person or on Facebook Live. 

12 Quotes From “Love Like That”

Dr. Les Parrott dives into the loving life of Jesus and takes us with him to discover the five was Jesus loved. Check out my full book review by clicking here, and then enjoy some of the quotes I especially liked. 

“The great hindrance to true enjoyment is our willingness to settle for pitiful pleasures.” 

“What keeps us from being mindful? I can answer this question with one word: agendas. … Every one of us has the capacity to set aside our self-interest, temporarily. We have the ability at any time to press the pause button on what we want. … That’s the moment we become mindful.” 

“Loving like Jesus is not efficient. It takes time away from our own agenda-driven pace.” 

“Jesus was shockingly accessible to anyone who felt undesirable or unwanted—lepers, Gentiles, tax collectors, the poor and persecuted, pagans and sinners. He wasn’t like other ‘holy men’ in Judea. His fellow rabbis operated on the principles of exclusion and isolation.” 

“If you want to love like Jesus, you can’t limit your love to people who deserve it.” 

“God is happy to give unconditional acceptance and unmerited grace to all who will receive it.” 

“We can’t give grace to others when we are aren’t receiving it ourselves. When we’re busy earning acceptance from God, we start to think everyone else should earn it too. Judgmentalism creeps in. Self-righteousness appears. … When we aren’t cognizant of God’s unconditional acceptance in our own lives, we can’t give it to others.” 

“If you want to love like Jesus, you can’t shy away from what you know is right and true. You can’t remain silent just to go unnoticed. Loving like Jesus is not for the chickenhearted. It requires a fierce commitment to being authentic. It requires a bold commitment to being a truth-teller. … No one accused Jesus of being a pushover—or winsome.” 

“Self-giving is selfishness in reverse. It is not concerned with benefits, and it expects nothing in return. … It comes down to motive. You can be a giver and still expect something in return. … True self-giving is offering the best of who you are to others, and it comes with no strings attached.” 

“The long and short of it is that we love like Jesus when we allow Jesus to love through us. It’s not about our effort. We are not trying to imitate Jesus. It’s an inside job. It’s about being a channel for His love.” 

“Loving like Jesus isn’t achieved as much as it is received.” 

“The word intuition comes from the Latin word intueri, which is roughly translated as meaning ‘to contemplate.’ You see, our intuition stems from what we are considering, what we are sensitive to or attuned to do. … So, if you want to hear from God, you’ve got to slow down enough to clear your head and be attuned to His Spirit. That’s when the sacred gift of God’s whisper is heard—when you become accustomed to His voice.” 

I’ll be sharing more quotes from Love Like That soon, so stay tuned! Updatenew quotes are posted here.

10 Quotes From “Longing For A Changed World”

Longing For A Changed World will help you (re)establish a prayer focus that could be the beginning of the next great revival! You can check out my full book review here, and then enjoy some of the quotes that especially caught my attention.

“Our age, severed from its Biblical moorings, is neglecting history’s lessons.”

“Another characteristic of today’s Church is a lack of prayer. Instead of communing and listening to God, lifting our needs and concerns to the Lord, we rely on our own abilities and in technology to compensate for any inadequacy we may have. Thus armed, we are confident in taking on the challenges of our day, even those spiritual in nature.”

“True revival impacts all aspects of life, even to the concerns of the last, the least, and the lost. A people who uphold justice and righteousness and seeks to alleviate the plight of the poor and needy, are a people truly gripped with revival. For when we are consumed with God’s holiness and how blessed we are by His grace, we are compelled to take this Gospel to all aspects of our culture.”

“Our propensity is to focus on being doers—to be on the battlefield, sword in hand, fighting for the Kingdom and for righteousness. But as in the battle with the Amalekites, battles are won by God’s people lifting up their arms to the Lord.”

“I have been more focused on what I wanted to say in my prayer than on Whom I am approaching in prayer. This often leads to prayer that amounts to a tallying-up of my wants, without proper regard for the One into Whose presence I have come.”

“Our prayers as a whole, and prayers for revival, should reflect our poverty and powerlessness before a God who is forgiving and gracious.”

“Pray for boldness in the church—boldness to proclaim God’s Word and to firmly stand on it. Pray for boldness to confront sin yet boldness accompanied with humility as the church is aware (painfully aware) of its own sinfulness. And pray for boldness to present Christ as the Way and the Truth.”

“Praying expectantly requires us to pray to God in line with His Word and His promises. Thus a decline in biblical literacy has resulted in our prayer life wavering as well.”

“Our pleas for revival will go unheeded until we stand up for God’s Word, forsake the idols of our age, shake off the trappings of our secular and materialistic age, and embrace God’s truth.”

“As we pray for revival—for changed lives, renewed churches, and a transformed culture—our tendency might be to enlist the charismatic, the eloquent, and those who project confidence and success, traits that so readily appeal to us. But God’s manner of bringing revival has often been through ordinary people who endure affliction, hardship, and suffering, much as he did with Paul and Timothy and the Apostles.”

I’ll be sharing more resourced and thoughts from this book soon, so stay tuned!

Godly Leaders Must Do Hard Things

“Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it” (Ezra 10:4).

Leaders have to do hard things. The responsibility is theirs, and the team is imploring their leader to take the responsibility to lead!

Ezra had to deal with a difficult issue. The issue was intermarriage between the Israelites and pagan nations. To complicate matters, Ezra discovered that “the hand of the leaders and rulers had been foremost in this trespass” (Ezra 9:2). I would guess these leaders had committed the sin of commission (intermarrying themselves or allowing their children to do so), and of omission (not speaking out against trespassers).

But those “who trembled at the words of the God of Israel” were greatly grieved at this national sin (v. 4).

Ezra’s first response was a good one: he fasted and prayed, confessing the sins of the people and identifying himself with them (notice the use of “we” in his prayer). Ezra knew there was a window of opportunity for revival that was about to close, so he must act quickly (vv. 5-15).

Prayer is a great start, but after prayer there must be action: “Arise … and do it”!

I am sure looking transgressors in the eye—especially those who were leading men and women in the community—and calling out their sin wasn’t an easy thing nor a pleasant thing for Ezra to do, but it had to be done.

A mark of a godly leader is one who does the hard good things that must be done.

Ezra doing the hard good thing opened the door for God’s blessing to fall on the people. This is still true for godly leaders today.

My prayer—Lord, strengthen me to “arise and do it” when the hard good things must be done.

This is Part 2 in my series on godly leadership. To read my other posts, please click here.

8 Quotes From “Born After Midnight”

A.W. Tozer’s writings are nearly five decades old, but they still ring with prophetic truth for this generation. Check out my book review of Born After Midnight by clicking here. Below are a few of the quotes from this book.

“It may be said without qualification that every man is as holy and as full of the Spirit as he wants to be. He may not be as full as he wishes he were, but he is most certainly as full as he wants to be. … The problem is not to persuade God to fill us, but to want God sufficiently to permit Him to do so.”

“In of book of Acts, faith was for each believer a beginning, not an end; it was a journey, not a bed in which to lie while waiting for the day of our Lord’s triumph. Believing was not a once-done act; it was more than an act, it was an attitude of heart and mind that inspired and enabled the believer to take up his cross and follow the Lamb whithersoever He went.”

“I am afraid we modern Christians are long on talk and short on conduct. … Our Lord and His apostles were long on deeds. The Gospels depict a Man walking in power, ‘who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him’ (Acts 10:38). The moral relation between words and deeds appears quite plainly in the life and teachings of Christ; He did before He spoke, and all the doing gave validity to the speaking.”

“We settle for words in religion because deeds are too costly. It is easier to pray, ‘Lord, help me to carry my cross daily’ than to pick up the cross and carry it.”

“‘Whoever will be great among you, let him be your minister,’ said our Lord (Matthew 20:26), and from these words, we may properly conclude (and the context strongly supports the conclusion) that there is nothing wrong with the desire to be great provided (1) we seek the right kind of greatness; (2) we allow God to decide what is greatness; (3) we are willing to pay the full price that greatness demands; and (4) we are content to wait for the judgment of God to settle the whole matter of who is great at last.”

“God may allow his servant to succeed when He has disciplined him to a point where he does not need to succeed to be happy. The man who is elated by success and cast down by failure is still a carnal man. … God will allow His servant to succeed when he has learned that success does not make him dearer to God nor more valuable in the total scheme of things.”

“While we cannot determine circumstances, we can determine our reaction to them. And there is where the battle is to be fought and the victory won.”

“To ‘accept the universe’ does not mean that we are to accept evil conditions as inevitable and make no effort to improve them. So to teach would be to cancel the plain teaching of the Scriptures on that point. Where a situation is contrary to the will of God, and there are clear promises concerning it in the Scriptures, it is our privilege and obligation to pray and labor to bring about change.”

More quotes from this book are coming soon…

Pour It Out!

“We can simply pour from the fullness of our heart the burdens of our spirit and the sorrow that seems to crush us. We can know that God hears, loves, understands, receives, and separates from our prayer everything that is in error, imperfect, or wrong. And then He presents the remainder, along with the incense of the great High Priest, before His throne on high.

“We may be assured that our prayer is heard, accepted, and answered in Christ’s name. … Do we truly know the power of our supernatural weapon of prayer? Do we dare to use it with the authority of a faith that not only asks but also commands? God baptizes us with holy boldness and divine confidence, for He is looking not for great people but for people who will dare to prove the greatness of their God!” —A.B. Simpson

[see Romans 8:26-27; Psalm 141:2; Revelation 5:8, 8:3-4]

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