Weekly Devotions

Positive Prayer Makes Strong Relationships

I want you to think of somebody who irritates you—maybe somebody you’ve got a strained relationship with or who just rubs you the wrong way. I have two questions for you:  One, do you pray for that person?  Or do you just complain and grumble and nag and nit-pick?  If you prayed more, you’d have a lot less to grumble, complain, nag, and nitpick about. It’s your decision.  Does nagging work?  No.  Does prayer work? Yes.  So why do you do more of the thing that doesn’t work than does?

Paul says in Philippians 1:4, “Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy” (NLT).  Paul didn’t just pray for people in his life; he prayed with joy!

There are things in other people’s lives that you’d like to change. You don’t want to change yourself; you want them to change. We always want to change other people. But you can’t!  You can, however, pray, and let God do his work in other people.

Positive praying is more effective than positive thinking.  All the positive thinking in the world isn’t going to change your husband or your wife or your child or your friend or your situation.  Positive thinking can change you, but it won’t change somebody else. But positive prayer can make a difference in someone else.

Do you want to know the quickest way to change a bad relationship to a good one? Start praying for the other person! It will change you, and it can change the other person.

Paul even told us how to pray for others: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11, NIV).

From these verses, we can learn to pray for the people in our lives in four ways:

Pray that they will grow in love: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.”

Pray that they will make wise choices: “… so that you may be able to discern what is best …”

Pray that they will live with integrity: “… and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ …”

Pray that they will become like Jesus: “… filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.”

Pray these for yourself and anyone else in your life, and watch how God turns around the relationship you thought had no hope or that needed to be revived.

 

 


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Failure Doesn’t Have To Be Final (2)

Last week we looked at the first two directives in Overcoming Failure—  Acknowledge our Feelings and Ban the B’s.  Today we look at the third initiative of our ABC’s:

 

Choose to believe Jesus  Brennan Manning, in his book Ruthless Trust, completely changed how I viewed my own failings in light of the gospel:

 

“Wallowing in shame, remorse, self-hatred, and guilt over real or imagined failings in our past lives betrays a distrust in the love of God.  It shows that we have not accepted the acceptance of Jesus Christ and thus have rejected the total sufficiency of his redeeming work. Preoccupation with our past sins, present weaknesses, and character defects gets our emotions churning in self-destructive ways, closes us within the mighty citadel of self, and preempts the presence of a compassionate God.”

 

WOW!  When we truly accept the total redeeming work of Jesus, we have no choice but to decide we are going to stop beating ourselves up, because we will all fail.  This is a reality of living on this planet.  We all fail and will continue to fail. What matters is how we respond to our failure.  We can choose to believe that Jesus can rewrite our stories and use our failure for his good (and ours), or we can become stuck in a cycle of failure.

 

A perfect example of this is the woman at the well in John’s gospel.  She was a failure in the eyes of her community.  She was stuck in a cycle of failure, failing over and over again, marrying one man and then another and then another and then another and then another, until she gave up on marriage entirely and just lived with a guy.  Her fear of failure eventually became the assumption of failure until it became actual failure.  The woman at the well feared that her life was colored by such failure that she could never rise above it.

 

But then Jesus showed her differently.  He knew her stories and her pain and offered her life and a future.  He addressed her failed relationships, but what He really wanted to do was show her that she had a bigger purpose in the kingdom despite her failure.  And she believed Him.  So she left her water jar behind, went back to her town, and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” — John 4:29 

 

Jesus broke the cycle of failure by speaking truth to her just like He is breaking the cycle by speaking truth to us today.  You can choose to believe the truth that Jesus has a purpose for you beyond your failure and allow Him to rewrite your story.  Our futures are already claimed by God; we don’t have to stay stuck in a cycle of fear and failure.  Failure doesn’t have to be your story.  He is still writing your story.

 

 


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Failure Doesn’t Have To Be Final (1)

We hold onto the pain of past failures until they become woven into our hearts and minds. But that is not what Jesus has for us.  In order to heal from the pain of our past failures and overcome the fear of future failures, we must practice our ABCs: acknowledge our feelings, ban the B’s, and choose to believe Jesus.

 

  1. Acknowledge our feelings

 

Maybe it’s a lost business, a failed marriage, a friendship that ended over an argument—whatever it is, it’s important to acknowledge the feelings you have about the failure.  Remember this, the enemy doesn’t want us in touch with our emotions, because you can’t heal from what you don’t feel.

 

  1. Ban the B’s

 

When we are battling the fear of failure, it is so easy to fall back on these coping mechanisms.

  • We busy ourselves trying to make sure our perfect kids stay that way. (Because, after all, any sort of failure from one of our kids is a direct reflection on our ability to parent them correctly, right?)
  • We binge eat our way through a package of Double Stuff Oreos rather than face certain failure in another relationship. (It won’t work out. It never does.)
  • We blame anyone and everyone for why we failed the last time and let that be the reason we don’t risk failure again. (If those people weren’t so dumb they could have seen that I was the best choice for leading.)
  • We bury our feelings altogether because out of sight, out of mind. (I never really wanted that job anyway. Whatever.)
  • We brood, constantly replaying our failure until it becomes a deeply rooted fear. (What was I thinking? Why did I say that? If I had only made a different choice that day.)

 

If you want to be free from the fear of failure and the pain of the past, you have to ban the Bad B’s.

 

God can rewrite your story.  But there must be confession and acknowledgement of your own feelings.  And YOU must remove the responses that will be debilitating to your future.  Next week we will continue the direction of our conversation as we discover that failure does not have to be final.                                 

                                                                   ~Pastor Greg

 

 

 

 

 

 


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4 Experiences of the Holy Spirit

The Experiences of the Holy Spirit

The Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament abounds with evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity.  He is the Spiritual Presence of God throughout the Old and New Testament.  He is referred to metaphorically as Wind, Breath & Life, Wine, Power, Fire, Water and Oil.  Symbolically the Dove represents the Holy Spirit. 

Some have said that the Acts of the Apostles should have been titled the Acts of the Holy Spirit. 

There are four things we can learn about our experience with the Holy Spirit. 

  1. The Holy Spirit creates unity among us without producing uniformity. When God’s Spirit resides within us we do not become clones. In fact scripture teaches us that God loves variety.

God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people!

  1. The Spirit taps the potential in our lives that nothing else can reach. Your life will never be the same after encountering the Holy Spirit.  Only the Holy Spirit can touch the depths of potential in our lives and draw it out.  That’s why we are encouraged to “wait on the Holy Spirit, that we may be empowered.” (Luke 24:49)

 

  1. Note that the Holy Spirit is always leading us in two dimensions simultaneously. He leads us into a deeper relationship with God and leads us out into the world.  When we draw close to God, His heart is revealed.  And His heart is this; “God so loved the world!”

 

  1. The Holy Spirit is a Person of the Godhead. He can be resisted.  He can be ignored.  Or … He can be welcomed.  The Holy Spirit is waiting to be invited into your life.  He will not force Himself on you!  Do you desire more of God that you may be more for Him?

~ Pastor Greg


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A Generational Ripple

A Generational Ripple Effect

I posted this week through social media the thought, “Never underestimate the power of one act of kindness.”  I did so as a response to the message in last week’s series #Struggles; Resurrecting Compassion.

The bible is replete with examples of courageous, generous and kind acts.  They became turning points within Christianity and in the history of the nation of Israel.  They had generational ripple effects.

One such example can be found in the story of the Battle of Jericho.  It was a act of kindness that became a key victory for the young fledgling Jewish nation.  It was an act of kindness in this story that led to your salvation.  Wow!  Just think of it!

When the Israelites sent in two spies to the city of Jericho on a reconnaissance mission, they were nearly captured.  A prostitute by the name of Rahab saved the lives of the spies by risking her own.  She harbored the Jewish spies.  This was an act of treason on her part.  But she was acting under a the understanding,

“I know the LORD has given you this land.”


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Power for Breakthrough

Power for Breakthrough

“You shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”  ~ Acts 1:8

Have you ever watched a program about one of the greatest human feats in history?  You can find it on the History Channel.  There was one about the building of the Panama Canal.   I wondered, how would they have accomplished this feat without dynamite.  It probably would have been accomplished, but it would have taken so much more time. 

I thought of the many access tunnels that have been dug through mountains, blasting holes through bedrock to get to the source of water or oil, removing the side of a mountain to get to gold or diamonds––all with the use of dynamite! 

In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “You shall receive power (dunamis/dynamite) after that the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”  Why dynamite? Maybe because He knew that the Church would need “dynamite” from time to time: to blast through spiritual mountains of resistance so we could spread the Gospel, to blast through other spiritual structures so the Holy Spirit could flow, or to remove any other kind of obstacle that would try to hold back the blessings of God and build His Kingdom.

Today, in this world fraught with mountains of resistance, we need divine dynamite more than ever!  We need Holy Spirit power to accomplish greater things for God and to get to the untapped resources for His Kingdom work.  O God, send us Your Power!  

  • Power to breakthrough religious ideology.
  • Power to breakthrough cultural barriers.
  • Power to breakthrough biases.
  • Power to breakthrough traditional strongholds
  • Power to breakthrough the gates of hell itself.
 
We need God’s power to accomplish the mission of the church.  That’s why Jesus said, “

stay until you are endued with power from on high.” 

Today we need to ask God to deposit His Spirit power within us.  We need to open our hearts and let Him fill us with dynamite power that will flatten the works of the enemy.  We need to allow His Spirit to flow in our everyday lives so as to see what the Spirit is saying to us today.  What is the Spirit saying to you today?  He is speaking. 

Pastor Greg


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