6: 50 Days of Pray – Time for a Change

In today’s western society identity is everything. How one self-identifies often defines who they are. The problem with this is we have come to the point where it has become socially unacceptable not to accept someone whose identity is just plain wrong. I am not really looking at getting into that issue today, but it has crept into our Christian family where many have identified themselves as believers, yet they live a life that does not. It becomes really hard for a believer to confront those who are living like this as we become ‘judgemental’ and not showing God’s love. But what does God’s word have to say about this?
 
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is good and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2
 
Paul tells us we need to stand out from the world, what exactly does that mean? Paul tells us a few verses in number 9-13. (14-21 expand even more feel free to look it up)
 
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfast in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, giving in hospitality.
 
Evil has created blurred lines where many have been fooled into dabbling and not even realizing they have. A good example is the abuse of substances, many feel that they are strong enough to make the choice to use these substances and quickly will go to scripture and fight that it is okay, yet we see in our society how these can easily be abused and destroy the body and mind. The problem with evil is that it is very similar to the tools it uses. The enemy makes it out as harmless and has no bearing on you if you choose it, yet it digs in and makes it very difficult to escape its grasps like an addict. Think about those caught up in pornography, it only started as looking at the magazines of your dad’s or your friend’s uncle. Yet as it pulled you in it became entangled in your life making it hard to go days without looking for the next porn hit.
 
What can we do to free ourselves from these addictive powers that are trying to lure us away from God? Reread what Paul told us to do. Continue in steadfast prayer, fervently seek the Lord. Look for mentors who can help you navigate this life and steer free of the evil that tries to hold you down. How can you help fellow believers who have fallen into an identity issue where they have come to the belief that what they are doing is okay yet in all appearances they are conforming to the patterns of this world? We need to be ready willing and able to confront them in love. This is where our love needs to be free of hypocrisy, even as Jesus told us to make sure that we check ourselves and help our brother in love. Taking the splinter out of our own eye. Remember Romans 13:11-14 tells us that we need to put on Christ, 13 says ‘Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.’
I pray today that we can change to become men and woman of Christ who are willing to call their brothers and sisters to charge. In love, hope and faith that they will come to a richer understanding of the relationship with God. Not to shame nor to chastise, but to build them up and bring them to a close walk with God.
 
Father, it burdens me when I see those who identify as believers and to be part of the family walking a life that is in contrast to the word. I pray that you will help us to show them in love that the life their living is contradictory to what they claim to stand for. This is no easy task Father, I ask for the Holy Spirits guidance in this. Help us to examine our lives as well so that they will have nothing to hold us to account for when we start this journey of redemption. It is time to change the way we show love to our brothers and sisters in you. We want them to grow in their relationship with you. Amen.
 
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5: 50 Days of Pray – Time for a Change

Do you remember when you first gave your heart to Jesus? You gave him it all even though you most likely did not know what that meant at the time. Maybe you followed him for a couple of years learning what He was all about, but one day it just felt like he left you, or something you heard made you question why you were even involved with him. You are not alone in this, almost all believers have this time in their lives. It was the same for the disciples.

 

“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting their nets into the sea; for they were fisherman. Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ The immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Matt 4:18-20

 

We see here the moment Peter and Andrew left their lively hood. The reason the word their is italicized I believe is to emphasise the fact that these men owned the nets, they were not just some workers who left their job owned by someone else. They left everything they owned behind to follow this man who, like most new believers, didn’t know a lot about. Over the next three years they learned much about who Jesus was, they say incredible miracles and were personally taught by Him. Peter even confessed Jesus to be the Son of God; “He said to them ’But who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’” Matt 16:15-16. So here we see that Peter knew who Jesus was and loved Him, yet when things got tough Peter like all the other disciples ran away from God. When Jesus was arrested in the garden we read that they fled and we hear nothing more from them until after the resurrection. We, however, hear of Peter who denies Jesus three times when asked if he knew or was an associate of Jesus.

 

As we read about what happened to Peter we see that he like many believers went back to his old way of living. He returned back to what he thought he knew which was fishing, defeated and wonder why he had wasted his last three years. Jesus found Peter here in John 21, I encourage you to read the full story. In this second experience Peter became a different man then He was the first time he met Jesus. His confidence and knowledge of Jesus had changed. He was ready to become the man who God was calling Him to be, he was ready to change.

 

So today Jesus wants to invite you to see Him for who he truly is. The resurrected saviour who love you no matter if you decide that you no longer believe in Him. He is calling you back to do amazing things, you are important to God. If God can change a fisherman into a founder of the church what does He have in store for you? I can tell you from experience that God has called me from serving my country to serving as a Pastor, and it is scary the amount of work involved in this transition yet each step forward I fell confident in the calling. Not everyone is called to this path but you are called to something. Have you taken the time to ask him what it is? If not lets change that and ask him today.

 

Father, Peter is a beautiful example of your love and grace. He could have been easily dismissed for his actions yet you used him to build the early church. We cannot ignore that you use people to do amazing things if they would only submit to you and trust that your ways are much better then our ideas. I pray that if anyone reading this today asks for the direction that you will guide them to your plan for them. I know it may not be the full plan but get them started on a journey where they feel purpose and hope. Use your people to reach the lost, Holy Spirit provide us with the wisdom that only comes from you. We trust you, God, that you are in control so it is time for a change where your faithful step up to their callings. Use us. Amen

4: 50 Days of Pray – Time for a Change

“I was pretty angry towards God and pretty bitter towards his world. How could a loving God blind me? Why? Anyway, [he said] God’s plan is like a beautiful tapestry, and the tragedy of being human is that we only get to see it from the back, with all the ragged threads and the muddy colours. We only get a hint at the true beauty of what would be revealed if we could see the whole pattern on the other side as God does.” (Daredevil, S3E15, Matt Murdock)

 

How many would read this and understand the feeling? Maybe you’re not blind as the character in the show, but you lost a child, parent, or a host of other things that cannot be explained.

 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

Isaiah 55:8

 

I have been looking into the problem of evil in this world for my schooling and it is startling how many people will run into this wall and easily walk away from God. I have this thought that in this day and age we have so much information that one might think that we would be able to answer life’s questions, yet we have so many people focusing on disproving God’s existence that the information is so muddled that it is hard to know the truth anymore. That’s the issue with lies, when you peel off a layer there is another right there that has to be disproven. What makes it even more difficult is we have been neglecting to teach and discipline our fellow believes on what truth is so that when the lies come, they can protect themselves from them. But they get distracted and many falls to them. This responsibility is not the Pastors, he or she has an hour each week to instil wisdom and truth. The adage goes it takes a community to raise a child, well it takes a church family to raise up strong believers. If we want to see the next generation avoiding the pitfalls that have plagued believers for years, then we need to teach them the truth.

 

Here is the problem, how can we teach what many of us just do not know? If we do not know how to defend our faith basics and just use ‘because the bible says so’ we will fall flat. It takes a motivated person to take some time studying what the Bible and solid Christian scholars use to defend the faith. We have a plethora of solid teachers who have been sharing their knowledge through books, talks online and teachings. C.S. Lewis, James Taylor, William Lane Craig and many others have worked to defend the faith against others who want to tear it down. We need foundations, Jesus reminded us of that himself when he told us to build our house on a foundation so when the winds and storms come, we will not fall.

 

Can you answer any of these three questions that might shake a believer’s faith?

  • Why would a God who is all loving let bad things happen to good people?
  • Wasn’t the bible written long after the events after years of storytelling? How do we know it wasn’t written in that Jesus was resurrected and it never really happened?
  • Why follow Christianity, don’t all religions end up in the same place?

 

Small groups of believers who meet weekly and work through these types of foundational truths, investing the time will become the leaders of tomorrow. The church needs to change from just one man or a small segment of the church doing all the work. If we follow Jesus example, he trained up a group of people and sent them out to do the work. It took a few years but when it was all said and done, they were ready to lead and became the first generation of Christian leaders.  In those preparation years, we see them making mistakes, misunderstanding what they were being taught, and more. Yet what the learned and the experience made them so much stronger.

 

It is time for a change.

 

Father, we need to build our foundations. Many have been swept away by little theories and questions when they couldn’t get the answers they needed. The church family needs to be ready to help answer the questions or even better prepare them to defend against them before they happen. Give us the fortitude to start preparing believers for this, Holy Spirit give us the wisdom to mentor our brothers and sisters in the faith. We pray for a revival in the hearts of believers to defend their faith, with knowledge and love. Use us God to reach the lost all around us. Amen

3: 50 Days of Pray – Time for a Change

In the journey to change it is time to recognize who we are in Christ. Are observers of the faith, watching and hoping someone else will do something? Are we senders expecting others to do the work while we throw money at them, so we can feel like we have contributed? Are we bench warmers hoping one day to be called into the forefront, but until we get the audible call we just sit and wait? No, we are called to be much stronger than that, we are called to be so much more than that. We are called to be ambassadors of our faith.

 

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as through, God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ behalf, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20

 

Ambassadors do not sit idly by and expect someone else to do the work. They do the work, they put in the hours the effort and the preparation. Jesus gave us the job description himself;

 

“As you go, preach, saying ‘the kingdom of God is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:7-8

 

This isn’t just a suggestion, Jesus was not giving this as a one of speech to the disciples, he said it again in Matthew 20:18-20. We are to reach out to this world as if this world is not our home. Ambassadors belong somewhere else, as believers in Jesus and those who have a relationship with God we no longer are citizens of the earth but are citizens of heaven living on earth. As such we need to be reaching those who are still clinging to the hope this world offers. So as ambassadors we had better start learning where our strength comes and start applying it in our lives.

 

We need to be reminded that God made the plan, Jesus fulfilled the plan and the Holy Spirit gives us the power to live within the plan. We often forget about the power the Holy Spirit has for us. We think God and Jesus and leave the breath of God as some sort of lower part of Him. But it isn’t like that, Jesus himself understood who the Holy Spirit was and how important he would be for the believers as they traversed in this world. In Jon 12: 15-18 hear Jesus promise about the Holy Spirit;

 

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray to the Father and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever- the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in You. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

 

What a promise we have that we are not alone in this mission. Yet I know personally I feel overwhelmed and afraid at times to share my faith. Why is this, why if I have the Holy Spirit empowering me am I afraid and timid? I believe it is because I don’t spend enough time talking to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We pray and ask and ask, yet there are times we just need to embrace and listen. Work through the situations with God and let Him show us the truth. We need to trust that the Holy Spirit has our back, He will help us in our faithfulness. What is it going to take for you to stand up and be an ambassador for the kingdom of heaven?

 

Father, for far too long have I been sitting hoping others will rise up and reach the lost in my place. I can’t expect others to learn about you from just seeing me being good but they need to hear the hope I have in you. There are lots of good people in this world who they can follow, but they will lead them down paths that lead to nowhere. Holy Spirit gives me strength and wisdom to step out of my fear and into the role you are leading me into. Use me to be the man of God you need me to be. Let me be a strong witness to my friends, neighbours and family. Amen

16: 50 Days Freed

There are those around us in bondage to sin who feel that what they have done forfeits any chance of redemption. Freedom is a dream that is for the righteous and you could imagine what they have done. How could God even look their way? They let this eat them up and fester to the point of bitterness, becoming a way of living, angry at God for His double standard which doesn’t exist created by them to ease the guilt of what they have done.
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:12-16
Paul, formerly Saul, was in every modern term a radical extremist. Before his acceptance of Christ, Saul hunted believers with the intent of stoning them if they would not recant their newfound faith. Judge, jury and executioner, he was ready at all cost to wipe out this new belief system that was changing the way people experienced God. I am sure if you had the ability to talk to any believers back then they would know who Saul of Tarsus was. Saul was locked in his bondage of sin and religious dogma, he had been brought up with the law being the only thing he knew.
One day unlike any other for Saul, he was heading to Damascus to seek and confront believers there. What happened on that journey can only be described as divine intervention. Jesus himself met Saul on the road and gave him an ultimatum. But the choice He gave Saul was one to one to discover who He really is. Jesus didn’t provide a choose me or die approach. He simply asked Saul ‘why are you killing my family’. Saul then asked Him who he was in which Jesus told him ‘go into the city and I’ll show you’. Then to drive the point home so Saul wouldn’t dismiss this as a daydream, Jesus struck him blind. This made Saul realize that he must then rely on this Jesus if he ever wanted to see again. Was this a trick of Jesus to coheres Saul to accept him? I don’t think so, it was more of a way for Saul to realize how truly blind he was to what he was doing and what he was missing out of.
Summing it up Saul meets a believer who Jesus had prepared for Saul’s visit. Although scared that Saul might arrest him he obeys none the less. Saul is healed and receives the freedom that Jesus offered, changing his name to Paul as an outward sign of his change. Paul knew he didn’t deserve the love of Jesus. His action towards believers could be what some call unforgivable sins. But Jesus doesn’t have a list of sins that He doesn’t forgive. He doesn’t have a list of unforgiveable people. No matter what we have done we have a loving God who sent His Son to give us grace.
Today are you living a life where you feel that Jesus could never forgive you for what you have done? Paul described himself as beyond redemption, yet Jesus met him where he was on his journey and showed him grace. You may be on your journey, doing things that are separating you from God. Jesus wants to meet you on the road and show you who He is. He may not be audible like He was with Saul, yet He may be speaking through someone who is inviting you to join them at church or ALPHA. You may think those moments are odd and irrelevant, but they are moments where Jesus is asking you ‘why are you running from me?’. He loves you, even if you don’t love Him. He died so that you can experience freedom in Him. You don’t have to live this life any longer in bondage to the sin that will lead you to an eternity separated from God. Will you take some time today to pray ‘Okay Jesus, show me yourself’?
Father, if we want to experience freedom we must accept the sacrifice Jesus made for us. I pray for those who feel that what they have done cannot be redeemed. I pray that hey will come to the moment where you show them that your love is bigger than their sin. Meet them right where they are at. Send someone into their lives to be a witness of Jesus love to them, let them see you for who you are even today. Use your children to share your love with all who need freedom. Amen

Day 29: 50 Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church: Tunisia

Today we pray for Tunisia. Looking at just 17 years back when the number of Christians would have been listed in the hundreds, this is an improvement for this nation. Yet extremists target those converting and making a stand for Christ.

 

 

For more information, Open Doors USA has some details. They estimate just under 23,500 Christians in the population of 11.5 million people.

 

Please pray with me and add your prayers in the comments.

 

Father, we pray Tunisia. Holy Spirit move among your people in this nation, give them strength and wisdom to reach their families and neighbors. Give them boldness to reach out in places they would have never thought reachable. We pray that government officials will experience your love. That extremists will encounter you in real ways and through dreams and visions, ones so vivid that they have no valid alternative but to convert as a result. Work throughout this country blessing the land and its people. Amen

 

 

Day 27: 50 Days Of Passion

‘I remember it like it was yesterday, the minister had his altar call and before I knew it I was at the altar, crying and accepted Christ as my savior’, ‘Oh it was a the best day of my spiritual life, the day I experienced the power of the Holy Spirit.’, If you grew up in church do you remember hearing testimonies like this, accounts of peoples lives? I know I did, but the fact was the same people would get up and recount the same story every couple of months. I feel like I should have gotten up and asked ‘but what has he been doing lately?’ Their lives were lit with only a pilot light just waiting to be ignited if only they would step out in faith.

 

“Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the LORD has helped us!””
1 Samuel 7:12 NLT

Samuel had just lead the army of Israel in the defeat of the Philistines. God had supernaturally confused the army to the point they were easily overcome. Samuel then took the time to set up a reminder to the people of Israel of what God had done for them.

 

We all need to put reminders in our lives of what God has done for us and in us. These reminders aren’t there to look back on and live in, but are there to remind us that what God has done in the past and that he is still doing amazing things today and tomorrow. To many people set up reminders and then base their whole lives on what happened in that moment in time. These believers become closed to the new things that God is doing around them, wishing that the good old days where things were happening.

 

The phrase Samuel stated was ” up to this point” which tells me that there is hope for more as the future for Samuel and the Israelite’s was just beginning and they had many more events to live through.

 

Now some people ignore the reminders as seen not one chapter later when the people of Israel cry out to Samuel for a king. They started believing that a human king would be better suited to watch out for them then the God who was protecting them and giving them victories in battles.

 

So today I pray you examine your heart and answer this question. What are you doing with your reminders? Living in the past, forgetting them, or looking back reminding yourself that what happened then is just a hint of what can happen today. Are we living in the experiences we had or are we seeking for new ones? The Holy Spirit will ignite your passion if only you will humble yourself and ask for renewal. Let your testimony be fresh and exciting so others will want to hear of what God is doing with you and through you.

 

Jesus, let us not get lost in the memories of what happened yesterday, we thank you for it, but we ask for more today. We want to see you move in awesome power in our communities. Let us be great witnesses to those around us. Give us vision to reach the lost, knowing that you love them, they matter to you and they matter to us. Amen