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
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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

 

Day 22: 50 Days of Impact

 

All to often we see young singers who are very talented decide to follow the popular music scene and become something that is copying what is trendy at the moment. We see how they are influenced by those who they are hanging around with all in the name of being popular and selling records. They may have had a large following before they made the change, and many will follow what he or she is now doing with their music. Influence can corrupt, listening to bad advice will take you places you never should have gone. Innocence will be lost. But they can be restored, we hear tales of one young singer trying to change, but when your caught up in the industry change isn’t always easy. Lets pray for those who want to change, pray that Godly influence will be available to them. Not just for the celebrity but for your family and your friends.

 

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Romans 12:2 NLT

 

We as people tend to mimic those around us. Hang around someone with a strong accent for to long and we begin to use it as well. Put your self in an environment where people are speaking another language and it won’t be long before you are picking up words and maybe even speaking some. It’s just the way we are built.

 

Picture a turkey farm, now put an eagle egg in the midst. When that eagle hatches, it most likely will adapt to its environment and will become a ground bird like those it knows. But an eagle is meant to fly. It isn’t meant to walk with the turkeys,

 

We are meant to do so much more with our lives then hanging out with the turkeys who aren’t interested in the ways of Jesus. I am not saying you can’t hang out with your friends who don’t know Jesus. What I am asking is who is influencing who in the relationship? Being yoked to an unbeliever will more times then not drag you down. I pray you are the influence in their lives.

 

If we let God transform our lives through the Holy Spirit he will create in us a light for our unbelieving friends to be attracted to. We need to continue to ask for opportunities to reach them, share with them and show the love of Jesus to them. When was the last time you told your non-Christian friends that Jesus loves them, or have you given up on them?

 

Dear Jesus, we want to be a people who shares your love to all men. We want to focus of the mission of saving the world, and those around us are part of the world. Let us not get complacent when it comes to our close friends forgetting they need you too. Let us not write them off as lost causes, or expect our actions alone to draw them to you. For we do not know what word we may say that will trigger a reaction and a heart change. Guide our words today that we may share about you. Amen

 

 

Day 50: 50 Days of Change

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”Romans 12:2 NLT

I would say this is the hardest thing for any believer to do, new or weathered. To fall into the patterns of thinking like those around us is so easy. Party, drink, sleep around, cheat on taxes, wanting what your neighbour has, revenge, and the like. 

We are called to be better then that. We are called to avoid copying the ways of our old life. It isn’t easy to stop the things you did before, but it can be done. If you want a meaningful relationship with Jesus it is something you need to strive for. 

When you work at breaking the old ways patterns then we become more like Jesus, we become more effective in our faith. Others will see us as changed and become interested in what has changed us. If we don’t change outwards but our words change what will people think of our witness. All talk, nothing else. Don’t be discouraged if you make mistakes, we all will stumble, pick yourself up wipe off the dirt ask for forgiveness and keep pushing forward. Even Peter, a faithful disciple, told Jesus he would never eject him nor leave him, ran away when he was arrested and denied knowing him three times. Yet he was forgiven and did amazing things for Jesus sharing the faith its thousands of people.

Let’s work at changing inside and out. Let’s love them because God loves them. Let us not be a reason they don’t accept Jesus, but be a reason they do .It is time to change.

Jesus, I pray we will be changed. Help us to walk away a from the things that will lead us away or lead others away from you. We must make this choice individually, but those who do I pray you will give strength, joy and wisdom. Thank you Father for loving us. Help us to remember that they matter to you so they should matter to us. Amen

Day 49: 50 Days of Change

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We are a people who like to try to control our own lives. We would rather live our lives as we are reading a ‘choose your own adventure book’ then to submit to someone else’s plans for our lives. We believe that we know what is best for our lives, our families and everything that we are in contact with. 

Have you ever owned a gps? A navigation tool that helps you get to where you need to go. I have had one and when you enter your destination it expects you to follow it. But as stuburn humanity I believe that the gps is wrong and doesn’t want to take me the most effective route, so I take turns that go against what it tells me. The machine itself gets frustrated and recalculates, it keeps redirecting me as I get lost by trying to control how I get to me destination.

Do we sometimes do this with God? We ask him for a path to take and when he shows us we then decide to make our own way. We see an alternative that should get us to the same desired result, but n the end it cause us much pain, discomfort and detours. We are called to trust the Lord, not just a little but with al our hearts. To submit to him is to know him, then to press in and seek his will for your life will reveal which path to take. 

So are you following his lead or are you trying to forge your own path? Maybe just maybe it is time to trust him and see where he will lead you.

Father, all to often we try to guide our own lives down roads that ultimatly lead to nothing. Sometimes the end is harmless but other times they can cause much pain. I pray that we start trusting you more in our descisions and life choices. Holy Spirit reveal to us the path to follow and choices we must make. We want to reach people for you, we want to build the kingdom, they matter to you so the matter to me. Amen

Day 48: 50 Days of Change

“And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.”‭‭1 John‬ ‭5:14-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

So many times we have read this verse and many other just like it and expect that God will give us anything we ask for. We more often then not skim over the four words ‘anything that pleases him’, in favour of ‘anything that pleases us’. Where did the confidence that John was writing about here come from? If you were to read the previous part of this chapter you would read about what it means to have faith in the Son of God. It also tells us what it means to truly love God. 

Yet so many ask for things that are just not pleasing to God. He knows what the results will be if he was to give you every desire of your heart. If he had answered your teenage prayer to date that high school crush, or given you all the answers for the test you forgot to study for. Maybe you prayed for money or stuff, he understands we need money but asking him to be rich is not something that pleases him, money can corrupt. 

But as often the case, people walk away from God because he doesn’t give them everything they prayed for, the job, the perfect spouse, status. They become bitter and angry at God because he withheld something they really wanted like a spoiled child not getting what they asked for. As a parent I know that my kids won’t always agree with the decisions I make, they will ask for things and I will have to say no. This isn’t because I am trying to be mean, it is because I believe I know what’s best for their development. 

What I love about kids compared to adults is that they get over the NO. They may have a fit but it is only temporary, they in general will not try to walk away from you if you say no to them. The may stamp around, cause a scene, say somethings they may regret, but at day’s end they will be back for a hug, tell you they love you, moving past the NO. 

So today will you become like a child and move past the no? God is a good father and wants to give you good things, not everything we ask for is good for us. Trust that even though we may not agree with him he has our best in mind. Why would we not trust the God who created us? Loves us? Saved us from sin. Don’t stop asking, keep praying, trust he will give you the best answer.

Father, it is hard for us to understand why you would say no to things we ask for. Sometimes they are request that will harm us other times we don’t see how they wouldn’t be answe. Help us to continually trust that you know what’s best for us, as you created us, one might assume you have a good understanding what we need. I ask father you will guide us in reaching the lost. Holy Spirit give us wisdom and opportunities every day to share the love of Jesus with our friends, family, coworkers and anyone who will listen. They matter to you so the matter to me. Amen