Category Archives: Devotional
The book of James gives us some great truths about prayer.
- PRAYER WORKS! James 1:5
- Prayer works WHEN IT’S TRIED. James 4:2
- Prayer works when it’s tried WITH RIGHT MOTIVES. James 4:3
- Prayer works when done IN COMMUNITY. James 5:13-16
James also tells us about the power of prayer:
1. We can BE STRONG and ACCOMPLISH MORE through prayer. This is how the words “powerful in its effect” in James 5:16 can also be translated. Strength and accomplishment.
2. James puts one condition on prayers power: “The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” James 5:16. To gain full advantage in prayer, one must be RIGHT with God. This points to the need of a RELATIONSHIP with God through Christ. This is how we gain RIGHTEOUSNESS (see 2 Corinthians 5:21 and 1 Peter 3:18). Goodness is the best we can do, but RIGHTEOUSNESS is needed to get to heaven and to know all the blessings of life IN CHRIST, including a powerful, strong prayer life.
3. Prayer Requires Intentionality, Commitment, and Faith. James gives an example of the power of prayer from the life of Elijah. Elijah’s prayer actually changed weather patterns (James 5:17-18)! It’s a lesson in the endless possibilities of dependence upon God. As Jesus said it, “with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
James says that Elijah prayed fervently or earnestly. This word proseuche is rich with meaning. Here are some ways that its definition and usage can be applied:
- pros means near of toward – prayer brings nearness to God
- seuche means vow or commitment – prayer is bringing our hearts near or toward God. Prayer should bring with it a heart of surrender and sacrifice and a commitment that says we are serious about our relationship, dependence, and usefulness to God.
- proseuche also denoted a real place. The word was used by Jews who lived in a city without a synagogue to mark a place for prayer gatherings. It also was used to describe an altar where people brought gifts prior to prayer and worship. Of course Jesus, encouraged or commanded the use of a prayer closet (Matthew 6:6).
Is your heart RIGHT with God? Do you have a PLACE for prayer? Do you believe in prayers power? Are you ready to give your heart to God? Then get after it, and expect to experience the powerful effects of prayer!
Beyond black eyed peas and cabbage, what can you do this year to guarantee…
- An endless source of strength
- Productive, fruitful work and life
- Resilience when pressure builds
- Success and prosperity
These things are promised to the person who delights in God’s word (Psalm 1:2).
1 How happy is the one who does not
walk in the advice of the wicked
or stand in the pathway with sinners
or sit in the company of mockers!
2 Instead, HIS DELIGHT IS IN THE LORD’S INSTRUCTION,
and he meditates on it day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams (ENDLESS SOURCE OF STRENGTH)
that bears its fruit in its season (PRODUCTIVE, FRUITFUL WORK AND LIFE)
and whose leaf does not wither. (RESILIENCE WHEN PRESSURE BUILDS)
Whatever he does prospers. (SUCCESS AND PROSPERITY).
Psalm 1:1-3 CSB
Delight means to see it as pleasurable or have a desire for it. Spending time in God’s Word can make an impact in your life. Make a plan and experience the strength, fruitfulness, resilience, and success that only God’s wisdom can bring.
Wrapping up the 3rd Quarter of the Year this weekend. 92 more days of 2017! Good time to assess ourselves spiritually. A good 4th quarter will probably make those January resolutions a little easier. Ha!
Our church strategizes around Five Catalyst for Spiritual Growth. They are also good tools for assessing our spiritual lives. These came out of a personal investigation of things I’ve heard Spiritual Giants Say. Pray or journal through these questions.
2. Personal Devotional Habits – Am I spending time being fed and filled by Jesus through His Word and prayer? Take an on ramp to this catalyst HERE.
3. Engaging in Ministry – Am I using my gifts with radical generosity or holding on to / burying what God has given me? Christianity and Church only make sense through the lens of service.
4. Building Catalytic Relationships – Am I involved in any relationships that encourage, challenge, and hold me accountable? Why Bother with Relationships?
5. Experiencing God’s Providential Care – Am I depending on God and graciously receiving help from others as I experience trials? Are my eyes open to how I can be the body of Christ to others experiencing hardships?
God desires for you to grow. Spiritual growth is not automatic. These catalysts reflect the tools we have for spiritual growth. Praying that this fall you will “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
Living On Mission is a lifestyle, not just an event. I overheard two great stories recently that impressed this truth on me once again.
“I’ll not charge you the impound fee on your car if you go to church with me this Sunday.”
A Tow Truck Driver said this to a young man who was drug addicted and being arrested. That young man went to church and began a journey toward Christ that now, years later, has him planting a new church in Louisiana.
Thank God for On Mission Tow Truck Drivers!
“I’m not worried about the van. Just glad you are ok.”
A small church worked hard and bought a brand new van. A drunk driver ran off the road, hit and totaled the van. The Pastor of the church approached the young driver with forgiveness, concern, and prayer. That started that young man on a journey toward Christ that now, years later, has him planting a new church in Louisiana.
Thank God for On Mission small church Pastors!
Generosity, Forgiveness, Concern, Prayerfulness, Inviting. These should all be rhythms of life for the on mission Christian. Small acts of obedience in the moment, may seem insignificant, BUT KEEP WATCHING! Years from now, they may turn into somebody saying, “It all started when…”
“I was all the time tugging and carrying water. But now I have a river that carries me.”
“But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
Jesus, John 4:14 NLT – http://bible.com/116/jhn.4.14.nlt
- Constantly feeling the tension of the ropes reminds us of our great need for his strength.
- Finding ourselves thirsty, reminds us to give up on anything that promises refreshment.
- Spring up, O well within. Carry me.
We’re hearing a lot about FOMO these days or Fear Of Missing Out. Evidently Social Media is leading us to be consumed with what others are doing, instead of what we are doing. Studies show that up to 75% of young adults experience this. Oxford has even added this acronym to its English dictionary. Definition:
Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.
Evangelical Christians of old suffered from another form of this, but it actually has added benefit to your life and the life of others. Try FOOMO. Fear Of OTHERS Missing Out. Specifically, the fear of others missing out on the promises of God in Christ.
“I could almost wish to be cursed and cut off from the Messiah for the benefit of my brothers, my own flesh and blood.” Romans 9:3
“because we know the fear of the Lord, we seek to persuade people.” 2 Corinthians 5:11
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4
“We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, striving with all His energy working powerfully within me.” Colossians 1:28-2
What if we were consumed with the fear that friends, relatives, associates, neighbors were separated from God and it was up to us to help them bridge that gap. This is the anxiety that leads to obedience to God’s commission for our lives and the salvation and spiritual maturity of others.
Experts say FOMO is driven by what we give attention to. Giving too much attention to social media = mis-allocating attention. Let’s try giving more attention to the needs of others and especially their need to connect with Christ this week.
Turn off Social Media and get started by doing one of these this week:
- Invite a friend to church this weekend.
- Get to know a new neighbor.
- Spend focused time in prayer for your Friends, Relatives, Associates Neighbors to know God.
- Volunteer at local schools or neighborhood centers.
- Start a Bible Study or book club in your home and invite those who are far from God.
- Share your faith journey with someone over coffee or lunch.
- Give away a copy of the Bible or a book that’s helped you grow.
- Look for a project that you and your family could do to bless someone to need.
- Don’t go alone. Invite someone along that might could use a listening ear or time away from their routine today.
“through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus”
“those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ”
“There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus”
Galatians 3:26-28 (CSB)
Relationship, so we’re loved and accepted.
Divine Presence, for when we need help that’s beyond ourselves.
Family, so that we’re never alone or abandoned
Thank you Father, for making us sons and daughters, for giving us the promise of your presence, and for making us part of your great family. Let us live that others may know you, feel your presence, and desire to become a part of your great kingdom.
Prayer is co-operation with God. It is the purest exercise of the faculties God has given us—an exercise that links these faculties with the Maker to work out the intentions He had in mind in their creation. Prayer is aligning ourselves with the purposes of God…
Prayer is commitment. We don’t merely co-operate with God with certain things held back within… We, the total person, co-operate. This means that co-operation equals commitment. Prayer means that the total you is praying… Your whole being reaches out to God, and God … reaches down to you…
Prayer is communion. Prayer is a means, but often it is an end in itself… There are times when your own wants and the needs of others drop away and you want just to look on His face and tell Him how much you love Him…
Prayer is commission. Out of the quietness with God, power is generated that turns the spiritual machinery of the world. When you pray, you begin to feel the sense of being sent, that the divine compulsion is upon you.
Good encouragement here from Tony Evans, for when the Family Devotion just seems like a lot of commotion. Parents, keep showing up!
There were times when our four kids would be acting up around the table while I was trying to lead devotions, and it would irritate me. They would be talking out of turn, or one would be pouting. It just seemed like a lot of commotion rather than devotion! I admit there were even times when I called it quits and told everyone to go to their rooms because they weren’t paying attention or they were being disrespectful. But more times than not, I stuck it out, and then, at a later point, I would be surprised how one child or another would bring up something I thought for sure no one had heard during the devotions at the table simply due to the noise. They were listening— even when it didn’t look like they were listening. Those were the moments God used to remind me to hang in there when I would want to walk away from the table early and call it a night. I would remember that it was my responsibility to train these children to the best of my ability— imperfectly but consistently. I was called to show up and do my part, leaving the hard work of getting the truth into their hearts to God.
Excerpted from Raising Kingdom Kids by Tony Evans
One of my all time favorite books that I try to read at least every other year or so is Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China in the mid to late 1800’s. The book is a biography written by his children that details his work establishing the China Inland Mission which is still in operation today.
What’s the secret? The secret lies in his deep devotional life and trust in God to provide as a rule of life. As he stated:
Drawing for every need temporal or spiritual, upon “the fathomless wealth of Christ.”
This of course influenced his view on debt and spending which he saw as contradictory to a life of faith in God to provide:
To borrow money implied to my mind a contradiction of Scripture – a confession that God had withheld some good thing, and a determination to get for ourselves what he had not given.
Debt is now being called a national disaster. So many start out their careers burdened with tens of thousands of dollars. We drive and possess much that we don’t completely own. The thought of living without or waiting on God is foreign to our generation. What if we trusted God to know and provide what we needed? Think about these questions:
- Are you burdened with debt? Maybe you need to get on a plan to get rid of it and began living in freedom. Our family has found Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace materials to be helpful in this regard.
- Do you feel a sense of entitlement to have that leads you to consider buying what you can’t afford? Try getting on a budget that allows you to live on what you actually make and set priorities for what you need and want. You might be surprised how richly God has blessed you and how satisfied you might be in Him, without a hunger for more stuff. Our family uses YNAB or You Need A Budget to track expenses and set our monthly budget. Also check out EveryDollar.com.
- Would you love to give and live generously, but you can’t because of things you have (too many debt payments) or things you want? God promises to provide for the sacrificial, regular, cheerful giver. God directs us to store up treasure in heaven, not on earth. Giving and living simply are great tools in this regard.
It takes discipline to try to live with generosity and without debt, credit cards, overspending today. But it’s worth it. Check out a few other Hudson Taylor quotes on money that challenge me to live simply and generously with complete faith in God:
- “My experience was that the less I spent on myself and the more I gave to others, the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become.”
- “We can afford to have as little as the Lord chooses to give.”
- “God’s work, done in God’s way, will never lack God’s supplies.”
- Once when told the bank account was down to $.87 he said, “We have $.87 and all the promises of God.”