MAKE PRAYER YOUR LIFE

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”–Ephesians 6: 18 (NLT) 

How can anyone pray at all times? One way is to make quick, brief prayers your habitual response to every situation you meet throughout the day. Another way is to order life around God’s desires and teachings so that your very life becomes a prayer.

You don’t have to isolate yourself from other people and from daily work in order to pray constantly. You can make prayer your life and your life a prayer while living in a world that needs God’s powerful influence. We also should pray for all believers in Christ; so pray for the Christians you know and for the church around the world.    

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AN ENCOURAGEMENT FOR PRAYER

This week we focus on the study of Colossians Chapter four. Paul wrote this letter to the people of Colosse to combat errors in the church and to show that believers have everything they need in Christ. I will be sharing with you some selected notes from the Life Application Study Bible (NLT). Enjoy

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.“–Colossians 4 : 2 (NLT) 

Have you ever grown tired of praying for something or someone? Paul says we should “devote” ourselves to prayer and be “alert” in prayer. Our persistence is an expression of our faith that God answers our prayers.

Faith shouldn’t die if the answer comes slowly, for the delay may be God’s way of working His will in our life. When you feel tired of praying, know that God is present, always listening, always answering—maybe not in ways you had hoped, but in ways that He knows are best.   
 

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PAUL PRAYS FOR THE COLOSSIANS

This week we focus on the study of Colossians Chapter one. Paul wrote this letter to the people of Colosse to combat errors in the church and to show that believers have everything they need in Christ. I will be sharing with you some selected notes from the Life Application Study Bible (NLT). Enjoy

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honour and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” –Colossians 1:9-14(NLT)

Paul was exposing a heresy in the Colossian Church that was similar to Gnosticism. Gnosticism valued the accumulation of knowledge, but Paul pointed out that knowledge in itself is empty. To be worth anything, it must lead to a changed life and right living. His prayer for the Colossians has two dimensions:
That they might have complete knowledge of God’s will and have spiritual wisdom and understanding;
That their lives would produce every kind of good fruit, even as they learned to know God better and better
Knowledge is not merely to be accumulated; it should give us direction for living. Paul wanted the Colossians to be wise, but he also wanted them to use their knowledge. Knowledge of God is not a secret that only a few can discover; it is open to everyone. God wants us to learn more about Him, and also to put belief into practice by helping others.

Like Paul we can touch other lives by:
Asking God to help them know His will
Asking God to give them spiritual wisdom and understanding
Asking God to help them live in honor of Him
Asking God to give them strength for endurance and patience
Asking God to fill them with joy and thankfulness

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PRAYER PERSEVERANCE

Prayer Perseverance
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” — Proverbs 4:18

Prayerful perseverance is the path of the righteous. It is the route the righteous take during recessionary times. Economic downturns can tempt us to take a detour in our walk with Christ, or they can shed light on where God wants us to go. When you persevere in prayer, the voices of worry will eventually go mute, and your Master will guide you onto a productive path.

Recessions also force us to be creative and resourceful in our relationships. Consider reaching out to those who have helped you in the past but now need help. For example, spend time with those who are out of work, and help them find opportunities that match their calling. Most importantly, ask others how you can specifically pray for them. The Lord leads by the light of His love during dark days, so stay connected to Christ and people in prayer. This righteous resolve takes focus and hard work.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised (Hebrews 10:36). The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. This is why it is imperative you feed your spirit in persistent prayer. Stay engaged with God. The gleaming dawn of hope will rise on your shadowed circumstances. As you prayerfully walk with the Lord in the light, a holy security, a serene spirit shines forth from your countenance for all to see. Your humble and good works on earth bring glory to your Father in Heaven.

Prayerful perseverance increases the brightness of your light like the rising sun. So use recessionary days to heal the hurting, rescue the repentant, and comfort the broken. Dark days are opportunities for Christians to demonstrate their faith, compassion, and generosity. Therefore, prayerfully persevere for your soul’s sake, for God’s glory, and in service to others.
To Ponder: Where do I need to persevere in prayer, and whom can I specifically pray for in their dark night of the soul?
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GOD’S BLESSING OF BROKENNESS

Exodus 2:11-15

The Lord had a great calling in mind for Moses—to free more than 2,000,000 Israelites from Egyptian bondage. And the future liberator seemed qualified for the task. As Pharaoh’s adopted grandson, he would have had access to royal privilege, power, and education.

But Moses also had a strong independent spirit that could get in the way of his obedience to the Lord. God’s plan required a broken spirit that would follow Him and rest on His divine power.

A big mistake—killing an Egyptian for beating a slave (Ex. 2:11-12)—was Moses’ opportunity to learn this important lesson. Realizing the murder had been witnessed, he fled to the desert to escape Pharaoh’s wrath. It was there that he came to the end of himself.

Like Moses, we’re all born with a tendency toward selfishness and stubbornness and want things done our way. But God gives us opportunities to bring every area of our life to Him in submission.

Though few will be given a task on the scale of Moses’, the Father has a calling in mind for each believer. Whether His plan is that we raise a godly family, reach out to a neighbor, or run a business with integrity and consideration, He wants us to do so in His power. To prepare us for this work, He sometimes uses brokenness. That wouldn’t be our chosen method, but God knows hardship is sometimes necessary to strip us of our selfish ways.

Do you want to achieve what God has planned for you to do? In humility, ask Him to bring any brokenness that He deems necessary.

Bible in One Year: Luke 4-5

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SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries

SACRIFICE

‘You will have treasure in heaven.’
Mark 10:21 NIV

As Christians, we’re called to live sacrificially. To live as Jesus lived, we need to be selfless and kingdom-focused, which means we can’t be obsessed with popularity, possessions, or power. We’re blessed when we ‘walk uprightly.’ The Bible says: ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth…Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God’ (Matthew 5:4;7-8 NIV). God’s kingdom can seem upside down to us, but that’s because the world expects us to value materialistic things, success, and fame. These things won’t actually help us feel fulfilled. The key to feeling fulfilled in life is self-denial, but we don’t like the idea of denying ourselves something we want. And it’s really tough to do if we live in luxury.

The Bible tells us about an encounter that Jesus had with a rich young ruler. The ruler asked Jesus: ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus listed the commandments, and the ruler said that he followed them all. But the next thing Jesus said the ruler had to do, did not go down too well. ‘“Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth’ (Mark 10:12-22 NIV). We can be like that ruler. We want to follow Jesus, but when it comes to giving up the life we have now, we just don’t want to. We often try to live sacrificially, but only to the point where it’s still comfortable for us. Let’s remember that our treasure is in heaven, and be prepared to live sacrificially for God’s kingdom.

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SOURCE: Culled from Word for you

ARE YOU PASSING ON GOD’S BLESSINGS?

“God blesses those who are kind to the poor. He helps them out of their troubles. He protects them and keeps them alive; he publicly honors them and destroys the power of their enemies” (Psalm 41:1-2 TLB).

Some people are like reservoirs. They collect God’s blessings but then hoard them.
Other people are like a straw. They say, “God, help other people through me.”

A critical spiritual lesson is that God gives you far more blessings when you’re a straw than when you’re a reservoir.

If you want God to bless you, bless others—particularly the most vulnerable in our society.

The Bible says, “God blesses those who are kind to the poor. He helps them out of their troubles. He protects them and keeps them alive; he publicly honors them and destroys the power of their enemies” (Psalm 41:1-2 TLB).

God makes many amazing promises to those who give to the poor, but here’s one of my favorites. The Bible says in Proverbs 19:17, “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—and he will repay you!” (NLT).

God considers it a loan to him every time you give to the poor. It’s not a gift; it’s a loan.

And God promises that he will always pay you back.

 

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SOURCE: Culled from Daily Hope with Rick Warren

SAVED BY GRACE

Ephesians 1:3-14

In Christian circles, we often hear people talk about grace, but do we understand what it means? Scripture uses this word in reference to God’s goodness and kindness, which is freely extended to those who are utterly undeserving—and that includes all of us.

God’s grace is the means of our salvation through Christ and the basis by which He sees us. By grace, we are …

Declared righteous. All of our guilt and shame have been removed, and Christ’s righteousness is credited to us as our own (2 Corinthians 5:21). Now we can live boldly for Jesus no matter who we once were.

Part of God’s family. A spiritual adoption has taken place so that we might become children of God and call Him Father (Eph. 1:5). Although the world may see us as insignificant, we should remember we’re children of the King.

Made co-heirs with Christ. Our inheritance is guaranteed and kept for us in heaven (1 Peter 1:4). We’ve been set free from the lure of materialism because we’re rich in the only way that matters (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Given new life. When we trust in the Savior, we are born again and receive a fresh start (2 Corinthians 5:17). The seal of this new life is the indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit, who transforms us into the image of Christ and guarantees our future resurrection (Eph. 1:13-14).

Freed from the power of sin, Satan, and self. Grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and live righteously in obedience to God (Titus 2:11-12).

From the beginning of salvation to our eternal future in heaven, we are covered by God’s unending grace.

Bible in One Year: John 17-19
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SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries

THE CONSEQUENCES OF IMPATIENCE

Luke 15:11-21
How serious is a lack of patience? We generally write it off as inconsequential. It’s often seen as a weakness rather than a sin—after all, it’s not as bad as adultery, theft, or murder. But have you ever considered what your impatience reveals about your attitude toward God?

When we demonstrate an inability to tolerate delay, we are telling the Lord, “I don’t trust Your timing; mine is better.” Can you see the seriousness of this attitude? Impatience is a display of pride because we are elevating our understanding above that of our all-knowing God.
The prodigal son’s journey toward disaster began with impatience. He wanted his inheritance immediately and was unwilling to wait. After taking matters into his own hands, he faced the following consequences:
He brought sorrow on his family. Likewise, our impatience hurts those we love.
He left the security of home. When we run ahead of God, we often leave behind the voices of reason and wisdom in our life.
He found himself in ruin. God’s blessing accompanies our obedience, so we stand to lose a great deal when we ignore His timing.
He felt unworthy. We don’t experience fellowship with the Lord when impatience keeps us outside of His will.

Although the prodigal son was welcomed home, he could never regain the inheritance he’d lost. We, too, must often live with painful consequences as a result of jumping ahead of God. Let’s remember it’s better to wait patiently until the Lord moves us forward.
Bible in One Year: Acts 10-1

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SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries

WHY WOULD YOU LET THIS HAPPEN, GOD?

“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.” 1 Kings 19:3a (NIV)

There are three filters of truth through which I process life events:

  1. God is good.
  2. God is good to me.
  3. God is good at being God.

This is my starting place when looking at circumstances both wonderful and hurtful. These truths help me consider good things God might be doing, even with realities that don’t feel at all good. They bring me back to the goodness of God as the starting place for my continued trust in Him. These truths help settle my runaway fears and chaotic emotions when feelings beg me to question, Why would you let this happen, God?!

I’m not saying this is easy. I’ve had some really heartbreaking things happen in my life over the past couple of years. I had so many ideas of how my life should go, including notions of what a good God would and would not allow into my life.

I said I trusted God, but in reality, I think I trusted in the plan I thought God should follow. And when my life took shocking turns so far from my expectations, my soul shook. My peace evaporated. And everything in me wanted to run and hide and stop trusting God.

This is where we find Elijah in 1 Kings 19. If you’ve never read 1 Kings 18, I highly recommend it. It’s a chapter where we see God use Elijah to prove to the nation of Israel that He’s the one true God in a miraculous and powerful way. Elijah must have been on a high, seeing God do what he expected God to do. And in essence, Elijah looked good himself as the “prophet who won the showdown at Mount Carmel.”

But oh, how quickly things can change. How quickly Elijah’s absolute trust in God evaporates with one death threat from Queen Jezebel. First Kings 19:3a tells us, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.”

The events taking place in 1 Kings 18 and then 1 Kings 19 are both spectacular and sobering. Spectacular as we see the Lord magnificently prove His supremacy and might to all of Israel. Sobering in that, in spite of God’s tremendous showing of power, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel are not overthrown, and Elijah ends up running for his life into hiding.

Why was Elijah fearful and in despair? I have a feeling his desperation came from the same soul-shaking place I mentioned earlier — unmet expectations. Elijah probably assumed Ahab and Jezebel’s unholy reign would come to an end after the mighty feat of the Lord. Yet, that was not the outcome, and in that place of unfulfilled expectation, fear ultimately crumbled faith.

Even though Elijah experienced the miracle on Mount Carmel, he still succumbs to the fear of persecution. Elijah flees into the wilderness, exposing the truth that even a great prophet like Elijah is still human and falls terribly short in terms of both faith and affection for the Lord.

Even so, the Lord deals graciously and gently with Elijah — drawing him close with a whisper and giving him instructions of what to do next.

God doesn’t fix things the way Elijah thinks they should be fixed, but He does lead him. And isn’t it interesting the Lord leads him back through the wilderness? (1 Kings 19:15) After all, that’s often where God takes His people to teach them His perspective that blooms into deeper faith.

The Lord gives Elijah a second chance to face the same struggles before he ran and hid, except this time with right perspective and faith.

Elijah sees God’s plan is good — even if it isn’t the way Elijah would have written it himself. And the same is true for us. God’s plans don’t have to match our plans for them to still be good.

What can we personally take away from studying these events in Elijah’s life?

Perspective is the key to trusting God. And so often the clarity we need to see things from God’s perspective happens in the wilderness experiences we all wish we could avoid.

Maybe the three truth-filters which helped me can help you in whatever life circumstances that seem unfair, unreasonable or hurtful beyond what you can bear. Let God whisper His truth that He is good. He is good to you. And He is good at being God.

Father God, I’m so thankful You don’t condemn me for my fears. Instead, You have given me the gift of Your perspective-shifting, lie-sifting, head-lifting Truth. Help me use Your Word to preach truth to my own soul when I start to doubt Your goodness. Teach me how to use it as the powerful and effective weapon it is when the enemy tries to convince me I have been forgotten and forsaken. Let it remind me that You see me, You love me, and I am safe — both in Your hands and in Your plans. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:

Psalm 56:3-4, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise — in God I trust and am not afraid.” (NIV)

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SOURCE: Culled from Proverbs 31 Ministries