Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pray the Epaphras Prayer

Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis." Colossians 4:12-13

Lord Jesus, use this scriptural example to teach me how to pray for my own growth, the spiritual health of my family, as well as the followers of Christ in my ministry. By your Spirit, help me avoid status quo prayers that fixate on minor details or focus only on temporal solutions. Reveal to me how to pray as a servant of Christ Jesus. Strengthen me so that I am capable of wrestling (Greek: agonize) over eternal issues that impact others. And when I pray for them, may I entreat you on their ability to stand firm in the midst of their trial or trouble; may I petition you for their maturity under pressure; may I plead for their complete confidence in spite of stress or struggle. And, may I be known as one who works hard in prayer for those nearby and in other cities and nations.

Receive this prayer, Father, in the name of the One who prays continually for His Bride…Amen.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

When God Needs to Pray For You

When God Prays for You by Dr. Ray Pritchard

Ray Pritchard - photo
Romans 8:26-27

With this message we come to the final installment in the series called Adventures in Prayer. When we started I said that I wanted to encourage you about the boundless possibilities of prayer. It’s easy to feel guilty about our lack of prayer, and who among us would say that we pray as much as we ought? We all could pray more, and indeed we ought to pray more, but that has not been my burden because I don’t think that’s the way the New Testament approaches the subject. As I read the Bible it seems that the writers stress over and over that prayer is a gift and a privilege, not a heavy burden hanging over our heads. That’s why I’ve tried to stress the promises of prayer and to encourage you to jump in and start praying even if you don’t know all there is to know. All you have to do is ask, seek, and knock. It all starts right there.

But sometimes prayer isn’t so easy. There are moments in life for all of us when we can hardly pray at all. I have mentioned before about the birth of our first son. He was overdue in coming and after a long, hard night of labor there were some problems. The doctor came in about 5:15 AM and said, “We’re going to take that baby now.” It wasn’t a question, it was a statement of fact. As they rolled my wife away, I saw the fear on her face and felt so helpless. When she disappeared behind the door of the operating room, I bowed my head and tried to pray but no words would come out. That had never happened before. Always I could find words to frame my thoughts. But suddenly I could not pray. It was a combination of fatigue from the long hours at the hospital, shock from the doctor’s announcement, the look on my wife’s face, and the unspoken fear that something might happen to the baby or to her. Sitting alone in that confused, exhausted, frightened state I bowed my head and tried to pray. No words came out. Nothing. No thoughts even came to my mind. I could not think of any Bible verses. All I could do was to stammer out “O God…O God…O God…Lord Jesus, have mercy.”

A few minutes later (though it seemed like an hour) a nurse said, “You can come in now.” There was my wife in pain but still conscious, and there on the table was a brand-new baby boy. I knew that God had answered my prayers even though I couldn’t put the words together.

Looking back on that experience I learned something profound. The more something means to you, the harder it is to pray for it. The reason we can pray so easily for others is that we’re not that deeply invested in them. It’s relatively easy to say a brief prayer for people in Thailand or Botswana or Latvia. After all, you don’t know them personally and you’ll probably never meet them and you don’t have any personal investment in them. It is much different when you try to pray for those who are closest to you. The more you care, the harder it is to pray. When it comes to those things in life that really matter—your husband, your wife, your children, your loved ones—those things are hard to pray for because they are close to your heart.

It is precisely at this point that our text becomes so crucial.Romans 8:26-27 assures us that when we can’t pray the Holy Spirit prays for us. When we can’t find the words, the Holy Spirit speaks to the Father with groans that can’t be put in words. And when we aren’t sure how to pray, the Holy Spirit prays for us according to the will of God. This is a wonderful promise of God because as we go through life, we face many situations where we simply don’t know how to pray. In those moments we can be sure that God the Holy Spirit is praying for us.===>Click headline to access complete article . . .

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Are You Praying For a Map? a Compass? or ... ?

>>>Note: If you were lost in the jungle or forest, would you rather have a :
  • Map ... helpful if you know exactly where you are
  • Compass ... knowing the right direction is vital but seldom enough
  • Guide ... the guide knows where you are as well as true north
Rick Ezell's devotional is a good reminder of not what but who we should be asking for when we pray!

Something Better Than Guidance

By Rick Ezell

Though the Bible never uses the word guidance, it does speak of a Guide. We may seek guidance, but God provides something better-Himself.

God's guidance rests on two facts: One, the reality of God's plan for us. God has formed us for an "eternal purpose" (Eph. 3:11) (literally, a "plan of the ages" or "a plan for the fullness of time") "according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will" (Eph. 1:11).

The second fact is our ability to communicate with God. Since we are communicative animals, so our Maker is a communicative God. He made his will known to and through Old Testament prophets. He guided Jesus and Paul. Acts records several instances of detail guidance.

And why wouldn't God want to communicate his plan to us? We are his children. If human parents have a responsibility to give their children guidance in matters where ignorance and incapacity would spell danger, we should not doubt that in the family of God the same applies. He has given us his Word, the Bible, which in my opinion contains 95% of his will for our lives. He has left us the indwelling presence of his Holy Spirit to prompt and direct our lives. He seeks his glory in our lives, and he is glorified in us when we obey his will.

Yet many of us struggle to understand and discern God's guidance for our lives. We ask questions like: Should I marry or not? Should I marry this person or not? Should we have another child? Should I join this church or that one? Which profession should I follow? What job should I take? Is my present line of work the one to stay in? Herein lies the major distortion of knowing and doing God's will. Does
God lead and direct in these areas? Yes. Does he come out and overtly tell us what to do? Rarely.

So how does God guide us? What does God's guidance look like? Let me give you a few clarifying statements.

God's guidance concerns itself more with our steps than our overall journey. Meaning, if we are taking the right steps, the journey will take care of itself.

God's guidance is more preoccupied with the present than with the future. God dwells in eternity; he is not bound by time. If we become preoccupied with the future journey, we may miss the present step.

God's guidance has less to do with geography and more to do with morality. His supreme plan for you and me is to be like his son (Rom. 8:29). He can accomplish that plan whether you are living in Montreal or Miami, working for Lucent or Lipton. In other words, it is better we make a mistake about geography than about the morality.

God's guidance is more interested in our character than our comfort. God's goal always has been to perfect us spiritually, not to pamper us physically. Americans read the Bible with distorted lenses. We read "over" the suffering, persecution, toil, and pain that most believers in the Bible endured. Too often we equate God's will with success and comfort, and think we are outside God's will when we are faced with failure and pain.

God's guidance is not insider information. Often, we want to know beforehand which step will lead to money, happiness, and success. Let me give you a test. Do you really want God's guidance? Then, how often do you seek God's guidance when you are not facing trouble or a difficult decision?

God's guidance is that we pursue the Guide more than guidance. In seeking God, his plan will be revealed.

If the step is more critical than the journey, and the present is of greater consequence than the future, and the Guide more essential than the guidance, what is needed? We need to know the right step to take. We need to know what we must do in the present. We need to know the Guide. God does not guide us magically; he guides us relationally. Therefore, the Bible must be studied, so we may become acquainted with the ways and thoughts of God. God's aim is that we become his companions that walk with him. He already knows us. Now he wants us to understand and know him. The more we understand him, the more real the relationship, and the more likely we are to keep in step with him, in the direction he is taking us.

Copyright 2005 Rick Ezell

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Deep-Rooted; They Way of Transformation

NPPNote: This new book delivers 52 prayer-provoking chapters (1-3 pages in length) that will enable even the busiest of pastors to take a break for contemplation and prayer ...

book cover

Come. Accept Joshua Choonmin Kang's invitation to walk slowly, paying attention to God's work in you and around you, to walk intentionally, using spiritual disciplines to develop Christlike character, to walk purposefully, experiencing deeper grace and vision. There are fifty-two brief readings, ideal for weekly sabbath reflection or daily devotional use. They point to the path of peace in the midst of life's turmoil, to hope in the midst of brokenness, where you'll become "like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither" (Ps 1:3). It's the path to becoming deep-rooted in Christ.

Visit Pastor Kang's websites at www.joshuakang.org and www.deeprootedinchrist.com or ===>Click headline to access publisher's webiste for this book . . .

Table of Contents & Book Excerpts »
Reviews & Endorsements »
Features & Benefits »

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Praying through the ABCs

The ABCs of a New Year
by Greg Asimakoupoulos

Ask the Lord to bless your future.
Be assured that’s his desire.
Cast your cares upon your Father.
Don’t despair.
Entertain hopes
For the new year.
Give no heed to old regrets.
Have a daily time to hear from God in prayer.

If you doubt what he is saying,
Just compare it with his Word.
Kings and prophets (even shepherds) found him true.
Let the Bible give you courage.
Meditate on what you read.
Never underestimate what God can do.

Own your fears, but keep on trusting.
Persevere and don’t give up.
Quit the rat race so that you can catch your breath.
Risk rejection.
Share your struggles.
Take some time for fun each day.
Understand it’s wrong to work yourself to death.

Vent your stress by exercising.
Worship weekly with God’s friends.
X out guilt that tends to steal your sense of peace.
Yesterdays have no more power, thanks to what the Lord has done.
Zero in on what he offers. . . . life’s new lease!

===>Click headline to access more Stressbusters by Greg . . .

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Nine Prayer Points for a Spiritual Checkup

A Believer's To-Be ListSteps to a fresh start with God
by Philip Yancey

When I turned 50, I had a complete physical checkup. Doctors poked, prodded, x-rayed, and even cut open parts of my body to assess and repair the damage I had done. At the same time, I scheduled a spiritual checkup, too. I went on a silent retreat led by a wise spiritual director.

In those days of solitude, I pondered what I needed to change to keep my soul in shape. The more I listened, the longer grew the list. Here is a mere sampling, a portion of a spiritual action plan for my next 50 years.
  • Question your doubts as much as your faith. By personality, or perhaps as a reaction to a fundamentalist past, I brood on doubts and experience faith in occasional flashes. Isn't it about time for me to reverse the pattern?
  • Do not attempt this journey alone. Like many Protestants, I easily assume the posture of one person alone with God, a stance that more and more I see as unbiblical. The Old Testament tells the story of the people of God; Jesus' parables unveil the kingdom; the epistles went primarily to communities of faith. We have little guidance on how to live as a follower alone because God never intended it.
  • Allow the good—natural beauty, your health, encouraging words—to penetrate as deeply as the bad. Why does it take about 17 encouraging letters from readers to overcome the effect of one that is caustic and critical? If I awoke every morning, and fell asleep each night, bathed in a sense of gratitude and not self-doubt, the in-between hours would doubtless take on a different cast.
  • For your own sake, simplify. Eliminate whatever distracts you from God. Toss catalogs, junk mail, and book club notices in the trash. If I ever get the nerve, my television set should probably land there as well.
  • Find what Eric Liddell found: something that allows you to feel God's pleasure. When the sprinter's sister worried that his participation in the Olympics might derail his missionary career, Eric responded, "God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure." What makes me feel God's pleasure? I must identify it, and then run.
  • Always "err," as God does, on the side of freedom, mercy, and compassion. I continue to marvel at the humility of a sovereign God who descends to live inside us, his flawed creatures. "Quench not the Spirit," Paul says in one place, and in another "grieve not the holy Spirit of God." In so many words, the God of all power asks us not to hurt him. Do I show that same humble, noncoercive attitude toward people of whom I disapprove?
  • Don't be ashamed. "I am not ashamed of the gospel," Paul told the Romans. Why do I speak in generalities when strangers ask me what I do for a living and then try to pin down what kind of books I write? Why do I mention the secular schools I attended before the Christian ones?
  • Remember, those Christians who peeve you so much—God chose them too. For some reason, I find it much easier to show grace and acceptance toward immoral unbelievers than toward uptight, judgmental Christians. Which, of course, turns me into a different kind of uptight, judgmental Christian.
  • Forgive, daily, those who caused the wounds that keep you from wholeness. Increasingly, I find God uses our wounds in his service. By harboring blame for those who caused them, I slow the act of redemption that can bring healing.

My spiritual checkup offers one clear advantage over my physical checkup. No matter what I do my body will continue to deteriorate, but, spiritually I can look forward to growth and renewed vigor as long as I listen and then act on what I hear God saying.

Condensed from Christianity Today (4/3/00), © 2000 Philip Yancey. Used by permission. A Christian Reader original article. Copyright © 2001 by the author or Christianity Today International/Today's Christian magazine (formerly Christian Reader).Click here for reprint information.===>Click headline for original website . . .

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Followed by Signs & Wonders & Riots, or Coffee?



1992-DECEMBER 28 - JOURNAL ENTRY~ As I anticipate the year of 1992, I am reminded of what a friend told me last September. “Bob, you need return to the Acts 6:4 directive. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.” Stott speaks to this priority in his book, “Between Two Worlds.”

“If we are to establish the ministry of the Word and prayer as our priority it would involve for most of us a radical restructuring of our programs and time tables including a considerable delegation of other responsibility to lay leaders. But it would express a truly New Testament conviction about the essential nature of the pastorate.”

2008-JANUARY 2 - REFLECTION~ As I stand on the threshold of 2008, 16 years later, a similar need grips my heart. Two very disturbing and disquieting quotations capture my heart. The first C.S. Lewis-

“…It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us We are like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are too easily pleased!”

The second is Ben Patterson in his attention getting book, Deepening Your Conversation With God (Learning to Love to Pray). “We can fill our bellies with things other than mere drink, sex and ambition. They could be mere work or entertainment. Or mere church. It happens when we let the routines of church attendance and religious activities crowd out living and longing for the kingdom and glory of God….Endless meetings and gatherings and committees and programs can dull our appetite for God. (without thinking) we begin to expect less of Him and end up being satisfied with that.. Why was it that wherever Paul went people rioted, but wherever we meet, they serve coffee?”

SAYING YES TO GOD- marilyn and bob yawberg- Vol. IX #1

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More, Better, or Again?

Prayers of . . .

Knowing Christ, more and more.

Being like Christ, better and better.

Serving Christ, again and again.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Begin 2008 with a Covenant Prayer


I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
Put me to doing; put me to suffering;
Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
Exalted for you, or brought low for you;

Let me be full, let me be empty;
Let me have all things, let me have nothing;
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You are mine and I am yours. So be it.

And the covenant made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.

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