PRAYERS THAT MALFUNCTION

Where was God? His Word was dust; her prayer life shriveled up.

Adults in Peanuts animated cartoons are only heard by the unintelligible sounds of a muted trombone (“mwah-mwah-mwah”) That’s how Sandy’s family hears her. A believer. Sandy ardently wants to share Jesus with family, but whenever she does, they roll their eyes. Her prayers are not answered. Something is malfunctioning. “Mwah-mwah-mwah!”

GOD SEEMED FAR, FAR AWAY

Sandy shares her story: “This past year has been an ongoing crisis. My daughter had an accident and I ended up being the caregiver, 24/7, for both daughter and newborn grandson. Included was being a nanny-on-demand for other relatives. The pressure never let up. My car went caput. I lost all sense of independence and was at the mercy of others for transportation. In my exhaustion. In the mix was my ex-husband, a constant thorn in my flesh. God seemed far, far away.”

HER PRAYER LIFE SHRIVELED UP

Where was God? Sandy’s life consisted of a constant cycle of exhaustion and anger toward her family, her ex, and her non-helpful church family. The Word of God was dust; her prayer life shriveled up.

THE DESIGN OF PRAYER

Finally, after a year of anguish, God spoke in a way which she did not anticipate. In the midst of her rants regarding her ex, God reminded her of her own sins. Sandy had never forgiven her ex or asked for his forgiveness regarding her own livid behavior towards him. John Piper writes: “God answers prayers for people who believe in his Son and who love each other. Prayer has a specific design, and if you misuse it, it malfunctions. What is the design of prayer? Prayer is designed by God to be the effect of faith and the cause of love. If we try to pray when our aim is not to love, prayer malfunctions.”

PRAYER IS THE POWER TO LOVE

The Apostle John states in I John 3:18-24: We receive from Him whatever we ask, because we keep His commandments. John Piper explains: “Not because keeping his commandments earn answers to prayer, but because prayer is designed to give power in the path of obedience. Prayer is God’s way of making himself available for us when we are pouring ourselves out in love for others. Prayer is the power to love. Therefore, if we do not aim to love, we pray in vain.”

THE 10% RULE

Bitterness had to be knocked off Sandy’s throne. The dam of unconfessed sin broke as God let her glimpse what and who she is: a ragged daughter of God who refused to aim to love. It is said, “If you have confessed 90% of your sin to God but knowingly keep back that 10%, that 10% is the 100% of what is hindering your prayer life and relationship with God.” Sandy gave up the 10%. A miracle has occurred. Her loved ones no longer hear “mwah-mwah-mwah” when she both speaks and acts. Her prayer life has been revived.

THE WAY TO THE PRAYER ROOM OF GOD

Are you holding back any 10% in confession to both God and man? It is humbling to make things right, but untold beauty from God can be yours. “And whatever we ask, we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.  This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. Love is costly, but love paves the way to the Prayer Room of God.

Click for further great info on unanswered prayers.

KICK BUTT AND TAKE NAMES, JESUS’ WAY, OF COURSE

Why is stepping out in faith so hard sometimes? Even if you feel the nudging of Jesus, it’s just terrifying.

Why is stepping out in faith so hard sometimes? Even if you feel the nudging of Jesus, it’s just terrifying. If you are like me, stepping out in faith can be frightening. Whether stepping out in faith with your job or your new enterprise, it is hard, especially when you want to control every aspect of your life. I knew God was calling me to step out in faith to expand my small business and start selling at another store, but doing it was entirely different.

I STRUGGLED

I had a million ideas, questions, and concerns running through my head. Will I make my rent? Will people like my stuff and what happens if not a single one of my journals or stickers sells?

If I’m being 100 percent transparent, I struggled to see how everything would work with the new shop. I had faith, but the number of sales wasn’t that same at my other store. 

STEPPING OUT WHEN IT IS TERRIFYING

One day, as I struggled to figure out how everything would work out, one of my stickers sold. It’s one of my favorites, and it’s perfect to share with you today. The sticker reads, “Kick butt and take names, Jesus’ way, of course”. Translation: defeat someone or something decisively, but only by the power of Jesus. Stepping out in faith requires relying on God and not ourselves. It requires us to step out even when it is terrifying and we can’t see the road ahead.

THE STORY OF RUTH

Someone who could not see the road ahead was freshly widowed Ruth in the Bible. She stepped out in faith, left the town she knew, and went to an unknown location. Ruth told her mother-in-law: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” (Ruth 1:16) 

Ruth decided she would follow God and travel to the unknown. The trip carried her to Bethlehem, her mother-in-law’s hometown. Ruth trusted, believing the Lord would provide, and He did. Because of her faithfulness, Ruth met her husband, Boaz. This remarkable man is noted in Jesus’s lineage.

RUTH’S DECISION

Sometimes, we don’t see in the beginning how our faithfulness will play out. Ruth didn’t either. She didn’t know how choosing to follow Jesus and leaving her town would end, but she did it anyway. Ruth followed my sticker, she “kicked butt and took names, Jesus’ way, of course”. You can step out in faith. It’s a choice.

For an inspiring testimony of active faith listen to an interview with Gracia Burnham   

WHY GO TO CHURCH?

Church used to be so wonderful for her until the conflicts began.

Becky’s nights were sleepless. Joy was a distant memory. Church used to be so wonderful for her until the conflicts began. She was wounded by both staff and members, but at the same time she also let fly her own sharp verbal arrows. And so, she withdrew from her church family, from corporate worship. Now she only watches church online in the loneliness of her living room. She has drawn away and is a distant spectator.

JESUS KEPT SHOWING UP

As I listened to her story, I thought of all the times Jesus kept showing up on the Sabbath in the synagogue to worship. Rarely was He well received. In his home town they chased Him out and attempted to push Him off a cliff. Yet week after week, Jesus kept honoring God and His command for corporate worship. Corporate means: “formed into a unified body of individuals”. This is the unified body of individuals who worship the true and living God.

NO EXEMPTIONS GIVEN

God doesn’t give exemptions in the fine print of the Bible. It does not say, “Stay home because Mrs. Smith is such a hypocrite. Pastor Smith has been known to occasionally be too blunt. Elder Smith has treated you unfairly. For all these reasons, ditch church.” Jesus rubbed shoulders with some of the worst of the worst in the Temple: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the scribes. The vast majority treated Him unfairly. They didn’t know God; they were just religious. Yet Jesus kept worshipping corporately and obeying God because He loved God. It is a privilege to be able to worship together.

IDENTIFY YOUR FEELINGS

For Becky, some excellent advice would be “turn your focus away from the people involved and the church itself and identify the root cause of your pain, turmoil, and disillusionment. Honestly identify what you are feeling. If you are like most people, here are some possibilities: anger, sorrow, disappointment, rejection, hurt, jealousy, vulnerability, fear, rebellion, pride, shame, embarrassment, or loss.

WHAT IS CAUSING YOUR PAIN?

Find out what is at the core of your hurt—not what someone said or did to you, but what is really causing your pain? Then search the Scriptures to discover what God says about it. Take a Bible concordance and look up each word and read, think, pray, and apply the verse. For example, you may think that you are angry when in reality you feel rejected. What does God say about rejection? He says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5); “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3); and, “Surely I am with you always” Matthew 28:20).” (GotQuestions.org)

THE COMMAND

Note the privilege of worship and the command in Hebrews 10:19-25. We need to: “hold on to the hope that we profess without the slightest hesitation—for he is utterly dependable—and let us think of one another and how we can encourage each other to love and do good deeds. And let us not hold aloof from our church meetings, as some do. Let us do all we can to help one another’s faith, and this the more earnestly as we see the final day drawing ever nearer.

Becky, draw near!!!

For further thought, click to listen to the story of Melody Green

LOVE LIKE AN EXPERT

Clueless unsaved John didn’t understand what real love meant. He was powerless.

I love watching “The Great British Bakeoff”. Twelve amateur bakers compete against each other to win the title of Greatest British Baker. Each round displays the bakers’ skills as they create roulades, fondant fancies, pavlovas, etc. I watch in wonder. Usually, I don’t understand the vocabulary or the method of what they are doing but I love their skill. Even if I obtained a great copy of their recipes, I could not master them. I am simply clueless (sadly, my family will agree) as a baker. Appreciating a skill set and being able to do it are two different things.

NO EXPERT AT LOVE

I John 3:11-18 was written by someone who previously was no expert at love. Clueless unsaved John didn’t understand what real love meant. He was powerless. Ray Stedman observes about John: “This is not his nature at all. He and his brother James earned from Jesus the title, “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17), because they were constantly wanting to blast back at those who opposed them. It was John and James who came to the Lord when a village refused to have them come in and said, “Shall we not call fire down from heaven upon them?” Luke 9:54). It was John and James who were constantly quarreling with the other disciples. The temperament of this man, John, was not one of naturally showing love.” John’s life was upended by the resurrected Christ. Overnight, he was given the power to love.

TEMPERS AND FISTS WERE FLYING

It is important to note the recipients of this epistle were having a problem with love. John’s readers were going through a time of church schism. Tempers were flaring and fists may very well have been flying.  In the midst of this, John describes the distinguishing mark of the genuine believers versus the false teachers that were invading the flock: love. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 

“ME LOVE”

Before Christ, John only knew what Stedman describes as “me love”, a love of himself. “The love we show as non-Christians is really a love of ourselves. We love our children because they are extensions of us. Our life is related to our father or mother so we love them. We love our relatives (presumably) because they are ours. Of course, we love our dog, our cat, our horse. We love the friends who please us, we love those who help us. Love is always directed to those who do something to, or for, or receive from us. Therefore, what we really love is the projection of ourselves in others. Thus, human love is self-centered.”

A PERSON WHO HAS NO LOVE IS DEAD

John challenges us to display the kind of love that is often uncomfortable, humbling, and puts obedience to Christ above any type of pride. It shows the stark contrast between believers and people who are spiritually dead. If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. (1 John 3:14 NLT) No genuine Christ follower is allowed to be clueless and powerless in displaying sacrificial love.

DON’T BE CLUELESS

John poses the question: are you genuinely saved? He doesn’t ask if you are a nice, kind, or a moral person. He challenges us to lay it all on the line: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”  Only through relationship with Christ can we win the championship of loving other brothers and sisters in Christ such that we “lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Don’t be clueless. John learned to be an expert lover and we can do the same.

Click to read the astonishing love testimony of Jacob Deshazer

NOURISHED, LIKE THE BABY BIRDS

We may become weak and weary in our faith. Without spiritual nourishment we fade away.

Spring is my favorite time of the year. The first flowers peek through the ground and new buds form on the trees. I know the world around me is coming back to life. In anticipation, I look forward to the warming temperatures after the cold and often dreary winter. The robins get busy digging for worms. The air is filled with the enchanting melodies of the songbirds. My hearts sings along with them.

Many spring seasons we have been hosts to a nest of robins atop the light fixture outside our patio door. It’s a great spot; under the porch roof and high enough for protection from danger. This year was no different. Mother robin wasted no time in building a sturdy nest in which to lay her eggs. We saw her come and go. She often sat on the porch railing to make sure the coast was clear. Soon we could hear the tiny chirps of the hatchlings.

HEADS POP UP, MOUTHS WIDE

If they are alone in the nest, the sound of our door opening quickly prompts their tiny heads to pop up, their mouths wide open. They know that their mama is returning to the nest with food. Without it they will grow weak and die. They trust her for their nourishment to grow and develop.

WEAK AND WEARY IN THE FAITH

In the same way, we need food and nourishment, but even more important is our necessity for the spiritual food that helps us grow and thrive in our relationship with God. Without it, we become weak and weary in our faith. Spiritual nourishment comes from the God’s Word.

INVITATION TO RELATIONSHIP

The Bible is God’s invitation to a relationship with Him. It is inerrant and the final authority on all matters of faith; our guide for living in a way that honors God. He offers this food abundantly and available to us at any time. We need only to open our hearts and minds to receive it. We are commanded to drink it in. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.” (1 Peter 2:2). In Deuteronomy chapter 8 we read that God fed the Israelites with manna, “that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord”(v3).

SAVOR EVERY BITE

Like dining at a fine food restaurant, we are to savor every bite, taking our time to enjoy it. We are to “chew” on it, to meditate and consider how we can apply it to our lives. We need to relish God’s word, making it a part of us as it strengthens and sustains us.

In the last several days, our baby birds left the nest, but we’ve discovered that there are 4 new eggs in the nest waiting to hatch. I’ll once again be able to see tiny heads pop up with mouths wide open, eagerly awaiting some food.

Are you seeking daily spiritual nourishment, enthusiastically anticipating your food from God’s Word? Is your heart and mind wide open, ready to take in and apply the truths He reveals to you? Without it, believers grow weak and cannot grow. God wants you to grow! Dig in and be nourished!

NICE, BUT “OF THE DEVIL”

Religion is the death knell for the Mrs. Krebs’ of the world.

I John 3:4-10 is a difficult passage of Scripture for me. It’s personal and hard to observe very nice people (by our human standards) and lump them into John’s summary: “The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.”  What about “Mrs. Krebs”, the church “saint”? (Name withheld to protect the non-innocent) Whenever the church puts out a plea for help in the kitchen, she is there. If they need a Sunday School teacher, she responds. No matter if they are toddlers or teens, she has a lesson and a pocket full of M&M’s that meets the needs of any age. Mrs. Krebs serves, regardless.

WHAT IS A SAINT?

I call her a “saint” using the Google definition: “a very virtuous, kind, or patient person”. Mrs. Krebs possesses all three of these qualities. However, the Bible defines “saints” as a group of people set apart for the Lord and His kingdom.  That’s what holiness is: being set apart for God alone.

THE METRIC FOR KNOWING GOD

Growing up in the church, I met a lot of people who love to go to church and participate in all the activities that are offered: Sunday worship, youth activities, baptisms, weddings, and yes, even funerals. We smile and serve year after year, but none of these things are the metric for evaluating an actual relationship with God. That’s the important part: saints have a genuine relationship with God and are set apart for Him alone.

THE “CULTURAL CHRISTIAN”

Mrs. Krebs is what is termed as a “cultural Christian”. John says, “No one who lives in him, keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him, or known him?” (I John 3:6).  Mrs. Krebs does good things, but doesn’t know Christ. In secret, she sins and just shrugs it off. People may like a church, grow up in a church, and have an affinity for everything that the church approves of, but they may only be what are called “cultural Christians”. They don’t know Christ or have the heart of Christ. They just have religion; not a relationship.

THE UNSAVED CHRISTIAN

Dean Inserra has written a book called “The Unsaved Christian”. He says, “Like their New Testament counterparts from Matthew 7, they know religion, but they don’t realize that their religion is the very thing from which they need to be saved. I tried to imagine the faces of those calling “Lord, Lord”, when Jesus told them, that they won’t be going to heaven. Their religious resumes were something to admire, yet Jesus wasn’t impressed–He was outraged. Rather than calling them good people, He called them lawbreakers.”

RELIGION IS THE DEATH KNELL

John’s warning is in the present tense. The phrase “continues to sin” refers to a habitual action of defiance and rebellion. People who become Christians will sin, but they will not live as they once did because they know Him. At the moment of belief, His divine seed is implanted in their lives. God’s new life gives both the desire and the power to live a holy life; a life set apart for Christ. We may serve in a lot of wonderful ways like Mrs. Krebs, but religion is the death knell for the Mrs. Krebs’ of the world. She doesn’t have a personal relationship with Christ.

So how do you measure up? Does God define you as a cultural Christian or a genuine Christian? Has the work of Christ alone both saved and preserved you? Has God implanted in you His holiness plus a desire to serve a life dedicated by love for Him? Does “set apart for Him alone” describe your life? Maybe you need to have a talk with Him.

HOW TO THRIVE

As time has passed, I came to know that there’s no way to dig in, grit teeth, and white-knuckle my way through this sorrow and grief, waiting for the time to be up.

Many years ago, before my husband Frank and I were married, we sought God’s wisdom and direction. There was an important decision that could change our lives. Frank commented that he thought he knew how long the Lord was going to take before He answered. He also said he was not going to share that info with me. Frank knew that I would just be waiting for the time to be up instead of seeking the Lord’s will and spiritually growing while in this difficult place of seeking.

I DIG IN AND GRIT MY TEETH

It was like a gut-punch of truth. Frank understands that I like to know the plan, work the plan, and achieve the goal. I have a tremendous ability to dig in, grit teeth, and white-knuckle my way through challenges.

NEARLY THREE YEARS

It’s been nearly three years since my adult son, Anthony, suddenly went to Heaven. Since that day, I have been exiled to the deepest, darkest portion of the Valley of Death’s Shadow. Initially, I had to talk myself through each breath, then each moment. Just do the next thing. Eventually, I’d mark that I had made it through another day, week, month, and year. One year closer to leaving the pain of this life behind and seeing Anthony again.

NOT JUST SURVIVE, BUT THRIVE?

As time has passed, I came to know that there’s no way to dig in, grit teeth, and white-knuckle my way through this sorrow and grief, waiting for the time to be up. I will carry this loss for the rest of my life. I pray for wisdom on how to keep moving forward but I’m not strong enough. So how do I do this when I know that God wants me to not just survive but thrive?

YOU WILL PROSPER

God, in His gentleness, reminded me of the exiles. The Jewish people were exiled to Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar and had been removed from their families and lives they had known. Living in this foreign land, everything was different from their previous lives in Israel. They mourned the loss of life as they had known it, longing for return to their true home. Yet in this place of captivity, the Lord told them through the prophet Jeremiah, “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:5-7)

HOW TO LIVE

This same passage declares God’s good plans for the people’s hope and future. He promises to bring the exiles back to their home one day. Until then, God commands the people to call on Him and pray. God guarantees to listen and be found. He will be with them, even in this place (Jeremiah 29:10-14). He tells them how to live: not to just survive, but to thrive.

I WANT TO THRIVE

Like the Israelites, I no longer have the family and life I had before. I long for my true home: Heaven. Fully, I feel the grief and loss. Although I am not yet able to dance on the grave of my sorrows, I daily do my best to fully surrender to the Lord, call on Him, and pray for increase and prosperity in my new land. I don’t want to just survive. I want to thrive.

Where do you find yourself today? Why not follow Jeremiah’s instructions and continue to call on God and pray as you wait? Seek peace and prosperity in whatever place you find yourself, trusting with hope in God’s plan for your future. Endeavor to not just survive but thrive until the Lord’s promise to take us home is fulfilled.

LET HIM SETTLE IN

Lord, you have been a guest, and I have been the host. From now on I am going to be the servant.

I didn’t know my grandmother very well. During my childhood, we visited her Sunday afternoon. She was a rather stern woman who enjoyed boxing matches on TV and ruled her household with an iron fist. My relationship with Grandma was superficial. When she died there was not a great hole in my life because the relationship never existed. I did not have an abiding relationship with Grandma. It contrasts with the “remain in Him” phrase in this passage because it means “abide in Him”. I did not abide with Grandma.

MAKING A PERMANENT HOME

“Abiding” in I John 2:28-3:3 is the idea of settling in; making a permanent home. To dwell with Jesus does not mean occasionally stopping by for coffee. It is not superficial, but a constantly deepening and vital relationship with Jesus Christ. Read what Jesus said about “abiding”: If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23) David Guzik writes: “There are two Greek words to convey the idea of “to live in”; one has the idea of living in a place as a stranger, and the other has the idea of settling down in a place to make it one’s permanent home. The beautiful doxology in Ephesians 3:14-19 uses the word “dwell”, the ancient Greek word for a permanent home. This indicates Jesus wants to settle down in our hearts, not just make a brief Sunday visit. Jesus is ready to park the U-Haul truck and unload his complete household into our hearts.

TRUE COMMITMENT MEANS ABIDING

Allowing Christ to abide is the only way to discover His power to love people through us. In this broken world, Christ’s love is what people long to see. “Many people say they will have nothing to do with Christianity because of all the hypocrites. You see, if there were not some expectation Christians should be different, you couldn’t charge them with being hypocritical. You really wouldn’t go to a nightclub and discover the people at the next table weren’t overtly friendly, didn’t invite you to their home… If you discover one of them was sleeping with a prostitute, would you start talking about hypocrisy? No, no, no, no. In fact, in most of the religions of the world, there is no tie between morals and ethics on the one hand and religious commitment on the other.” (written by Don Carson) True commitment means abiding.

THIS IS A STRANGE LOVE

We aren’t talking about the type of love in Hallmark cards, little emojis, or “likes” on Facebook.  This quality of love goes into the trenches, pursues the unlovable, and spends a great deal of time on its knees. It doesn’t sacrifice so that it will look good or concern itself with “what will people think”. This is a strange love; the same sacrificial love by which Jesus gave His life for us. See how great a love the Father has given us, that we would be called children of God; and in fact we are. For this reason the world does not know us: because it did not know Him.” The world didn’t know what to make of Jesus. It certainly doesn’t know what to make of us when we begin abiding in Him and loving others to the point of being willing to give our lives for them. 

GIVE HIM THE KEYS

What is your relationship with Christ? In “My Heart-Christ’s Home”, Robert Boyd Munger writes: “I saw it in a minute and dropping to my knees, I said, “Lord, you have been a guest, and I have been the host. From now on I am going to be the servant. You are going to be the Lord.” Give Him the keys. Let Him abide. Permit Him to move in, rearrange, and makeover your entire inner life. Say, “Go at it Jesus. I can’t live the Christian life without You!” 

Click link to read “My Heart – Christ’s Home” – you won’t regret it.

YOU HAVE NOT PASSED THIS WAY BEFORE

Did you ever realize that God rarely ever tells His children the details of the future?

In 1988 our family moved to Illinois so my husband could go to seminary. Homesickness conquered my heart. “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayers were not cutting it.  What kind of spiritual life sustains you in crisis? Afterall, weren’t we “doing God’s work”? At the time, I didn’t realize God would do whatever He wanted, regardless of our personal plans. We had given God permission to do bring pain into our lives.

THE SURPRISES

We experienced lots of surprises. The sale of our house was supposed to carry us through most of Bill’s education. The funds only lasted the first year. Our new home was in Zion, IL and it certainly was not the Zion associated with heaven. We had given away our church home, our close ties with family and friends, and the confidence we had from prior ministries. Pastor Bill now worked as Janitor Bill. Teacher Jacqui who had excelled at working with young children found herself way out of her league teaching middle school and high school students. Our two sons had to build an entirely new world of friends. Life was hard.

DANIEL PRAYED, NO MATTER WHAT

Did you ever realize that God rarely ever tells His children the details of the future? Daniel and his friends knew that God would eventually bring exiled their people back to Israel, but God neglected to tell them that lions, a furnace, and tests would abound. One thing that especially pops out when one reads the Book of Daniel – Daniel prayed, no matter what.

A PRAYER LIFE THAT GREW

The reward for my struggles, in 1988-1991 amidst all the pain, was a prayer life that exponentially expanded into rich and deep conversations with God.  There was nowhere else to turn.  I began, out of desperation, to really focus on my relationship with God.  5 AM marked the time when I commenced going for long walks in the dark, crying out to God and asking for His guidance.  I felt liked the Israelites when they had to trust God as they walked across the Jordan. God commented, “you have not passed this way before.” 

A TIME TO MOVE FORWARD

So, in all the pain you may currently be going through, are you consciously keeping your eyes on God with the expectation that He will direct you since “you have not passed this way before”?  This may involve life changes such as intentionally spending more time talking to God and less time complaining to others about what is happening.  More actions carried out with the courage and wisdom of Jesus and less behaviors determined by your fears.  This is not the time for cookie cutter prayers, this is the time to move forward, deeper into the Christ Who knows “you have not passed this way before.” 

LISTEN WITH AN UNDIVIDED HEART

Ruth Haley Barton in “Sacred Rhythms” writes: “As long as we continue to reduce prayer to occasional piety we keep running away from the mystery of God’s jealous love.” I wanted to run away from this painful love.  Barton continues: “let God’s creative love touch the most hidden places of your being and …to listen with attentive, undivided heart to the inner movement of the Spirit of Jesus, even when that Spirit was leads to places you would rather not go.”  In the dark at 5 AM I began to let God pry my fingers off those things I had previously treasured.  I began to beg God for what He wanted to transpire in my life, as hard and painful as it was.  The floor had been ripped out, the roof blown off. God wanted to build my life in a new closer way. 

I CAME TO THE CROSS

Barton continues: “We come to Him with empty hands and empty heart, having no agenda.  Half the time we don’t even know what we need; we just come with a sense of our own spiritual poverty.”  I just dumped all of it, every awful shaming moment of it all, and came to the cross with bended knee.  It was in the dark in Illinois that I learned to let God do whatever He wanted, no matter the future. I had “not passed this way before.” 

DON’T BE A SITTING DUCK

You don’t need additional Scriptures; you need to begin taking seriously what you already have.

Have you heard the commercial claiming if you ingest their fruit & vegetable supplements you will “feel better than you have had in years”? Regardless of your existing diet, “you are not receiving sufficient nutrients for optimal health”. By consuming their products, you will obtain the ticket golden for longevity. Bottom line is: YOU NEED MORE for these last hours. They have you pegged as a sitting duck.

DO WE HAVE EVERYTHING WE NEED?

In I John 2:18-27, John gives a warning for believers who think they need MORE. He warns of teachers who tell believable lies. “Even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.” Satan aims to get believers off track and useless for the Kingdom. John Piper summarizes the claims of the antichrists’: “We have the Spirit and can tell you some crucial information that you have been missing about Christ.” Their goal is to want us to think that we don’t have everything we need for these days.

WHAT WE HAVE BEEN GRANTED

The Apostle Peter writes: “For His (Christ’s) divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust.” (II Peter 1:3-4) Note the verb tense: “has granted”. This action has already taken place. Everything you need is offered by God Himself. When people have no theological depth and have not submitted to Christ working in their lives, they are sitting ducks for the antichrists. Do you know what a sitting duck is? Someone or something very easy for an enemy to shoot or attack.

EASY PICKINGS FOR FALSE TEACHERS

During the 1,000 years, before the Protestant Reformation, average men and women had very little clue as to what the Bible said. They were sitting ducks. Without copies of Scripture in their own languages, the people had to totally rely on their local priest to tell them what they should or should not believe. They were easy pickings for false teachers.

God brought to the scene a man by the name of William Tyndale. Tyndale translated the Bible into English so that common people could read the words of God. When a bounty was put on Tyndale’s head, God brought another man, John Rogers, who rescued Tyndale’s translation. Rogers further edited it so that we could eventually have the Book we today may carelessly disregard.

DANGEROUS WORDS

Why were both Tyndale and Rogers murdered? Because they put “dangerous” words into the hands of everyday people. They didn’t give people new words of God; they gave them something ancient which could powerfully change their lives since it was now available in their own language.

TAKE SERIOUSLY WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE

Your Bible has the words of God. The Apostle John refers to “anointing”. Ray Stedman explains, this as “an illumination of the mind and the heart, and a deep persuasion from the Holy Spirit. It involves intense powers of persuasion, it is a compelling thing, but it is not an impartation of knowledge. It is not a case of the Holy Spirit giving information which is not recorded in the Bible; it is a taking of the Scriptures and confirming them.” You don’t need additional Scriptures; you need to begin taking seriously what you already have.

DON’T BE A SITTING DUCK

As for the bestselling supplement’s claims for additional health benefits? Their ads changed when lawsuits popped up. The website’s disclaimer currently states that the product “isn’t intended to treat or cure any diseases.” In contrast, God’s Word treats and cures our diseased hearts. Don’t be a sitting duck. We don’t need extra revelations by teachers who claim new and additional words from God. Regularly ingest what’s already graciously been given by God Himself. Pull down that ancient Book and begin reading it today!

For extra encouragement read about Tyndale and Rogers.