Wake up and pray!

“FAILURE TO FOLLOW SIMPLE INSTRUCTIONS!!!”

The Chief Petty officer screamed at a cadet. I was glad I wasn’t him. This was the third time he was repeating that phrase. Someone in the company had messed up something excruciatingly simple. I was so glad it wasn’t me. I remember hearing that phrase all through the military youth boot camp I was a part of. Over and over they repeated it. It stuck with me- to this day. How simple our lives would be if we followed the simple instructions we are given.

Have you ever been told to do a specific thing- and then you do the opposite?

Your teacher: “Make sure you study hard.”  You: *Don’t study*

Your boss: “Don’t be late to this meeting”     You: *Come late*

Dentist: “Brush your teeth!”  You: *don’t brush*

Being human can be difficult. But we don’t have to make it more difficult. A lot of times we know exactly what we need to be doing- and we don’t do it. This leads to all sorts of issues we never had to face otherwise. We knew what was needed. Why didn’t we just do it?

In Matthew 26 we find just such an occasion. Jesus tells His disciples to watch and pray. And that word watch, means to stay awake and to be awake. So he literally says to them, “Stay awake and pray with me.”

The reason?

So they wouldn’t fall into temptation.

If you know the story of the disciples in Gethsemane, you know they all fell asleep- more than once. Jesus came back to find them sleeping – three different times. Later on, when the temptation came, they all fell. They ran away from Jesus like scared rabbits. They denied Him and were in fear for their lives, instead of standing in faith.

All because they didn’t follow simple instructions.

A lot of our lives are like this. How much temptation of lust, pride, fear, and selfishness could we avoid if we simply would remain spiritually awake and pray. I mean, when’s the last time you struggled with self control immediately after genuinely praying and studying God’s word? It’s kinda hard right?

Isn’t it interesting how the Christian life is so simple. Pray. Humble yourself. Ask God to teach you. Pray some more. Meditate on God’s word. Study the scriptures. Encourage one another.

Nothing is that hard. Nothing requires exhaustive study and contemplation.

And yet, like the disciples, we struggle.

I challenge you, whatever simple things you are failing to do. Find them, and do them.

Watch and pray.

Stay awake and pray.

Don’t let your life take whatever course is comfortable.

Stand up. Stay awake. Pray.

You will avoid so many struggles, if you do.

10 minutes could save you . . .

There’s a popular insurance ad that reads, “15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance.” It’s sales tactic is simple, take some time out of your day and explore the possibility of . . . Think of the time it would take!

Only 15 minutes!

That’s not a lot of time. And you could save money too! This advertisement has become somewhat known in America and I’m sure many parts of the world. It’s tactic is brilliant.

So I’d like to use it.

But let’s shorten it. Let’s say ten. What could you do with ten minutes? You could aimlessly surf the internet, chat with a friend, play a Sudoku game – I’m running out, so think of something that you would do in a 10 minute window of time. You probably come across these once or twice a day. You know, that random time between appointments. What do you do with it?

I don’t know what your schedule is like. Or what you face every day. But I would challenge you, take 10 minutes every day, and invest it. Do something eternally profitable.

For instance, if you struggle with laziness – take ten minutes every day to suppress your sin nature. Do that thing that you’ve been putting off for some odd days. You may not be able to finish it, but start. And start again day 2- for ten minutes.

If you’ve noticed that worry or anxiety has been stressing you out, take ten minutes. And spend it in constant prayer. Take that time to turn your eyes heavenward. God promises that he will keep you in peace if you keep your eyes on Him.

If you’ve been feeling distant from God. Take ten minutes and spend it in His Word. Flip through proverbs, or psalms, or wherever the Spirit takes you and learn from Him. And then do it day 2. And so forth.

If you’re like me, you’ve spent more than ten minutes surfing the internet, or having a long conversation with a friend. It flies by doesn’t it? Not very much time. Take that time and invest it in God’s eternal kingdom, and you will be amazed at what He does with it.

I challenge you, take 10 minutes. Every day. And watch your world change

 

Uphold the Strong

When a brother falls to sin, it is natural for us to pass prayer requests and take time to lift them up in prayer. Of course, that is a good thing and should be done. But what if we were praying for that person before they faltered?

The Lord commands us to edify one another. This literally means to build one another up. God doesn’t tell us to pray for people just when they are faltering, He just tells us to pray for one another.

Colossians 1 gives a great biblical example of how it is clearly Biblical to pray for even Christians who appear to be doing well. In Chapter 1, Paul says that he has heard of the believers at Colosse. He heard of their salvation, and their love to others. And more than this, He heard of their spiritual fruit that they have had since they first got saved.

In other words, these people accepted Christ and immediately began showing love to one another. They continued to grow in Christ and show the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Then Paul says, “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;” Did you catch that? Paul is happy that they’re saved, and that their growing, but he knows that it does not stop there. He wants them to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will!

I think it is important to note that Paul was praying for Christians who had not done anything amiss. They weren’t falling to sin, facing great temptation, or even experiencing great trial. They were prospering in Christ! And he was praying for them. -always and without ceasing.

I challenge you to take a look around at those people in your life who look like they don’t need prayer. And pray for them. They need to grow in Christ just as much as anybody. Let’s take an aggressive view on spiritual growth.

Take some time today, and pray for someone who appears to need it the least. Pray that God would grow them, and fill them with the knowledge of his will. Pray whatever the Lord lays on your heart.

Let’s not pray only for the wounded, but also for the strong.

When you need the utterance

Have you ever seen someone speak the truth, but you knew that something about it wasn’t right. Perhaps it was their attitude, or maybe they were addressing a side issue when they probably should have focused on something else. In short, they spoke what they believed to be right, but it was not led by the Spirit at all. They were in the flesh, and the truth that they spoke seemed to go unheeded.

That is how the speech of many Christians is, when they do not try to give truth according to the Spirit’s leading. It’s not that God can’t do anything with that sort of speech, it is simply that He could do so much more if they would heed His leading.

Paul gives a very clear example of this when He asks the Ephesians to pray for him. He asks them to pray, “for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

So let’s break this down, Paul asks for utterance, or speech, so he can speak boldly to preach the gospel. He mentions that the gospel is the reason he is an ambassador in bonds, and because he is an ambassador, he should speak boldly.

I think the key to truly understanding this short passage is understanding the world “utterance.” It’s a very common word that refers to spoken word or speech. Here’s the key, Paul wasn’t asking for boldness. He was asking for words so that he could speak boldly. That’s the key to understanding this whole passage.

Paul was asking that the Ephesians would pray that God would give Him the words to say so that he could speak freely and with confidence and declare the mystery of the gospel. Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” If you look throughout the Bible, you will find many men of God who declare God’s truth. And when they declare it, things happen. I honestly believe the best way to declare God’s truth is to declare His truth after receiving His utterance. When you receive utterance from God, you can truly speak boldly and with freedom and declare His truth with maximum effect.

I challenge you to first declare God’s truth. Both with your life, and with your words. Secondly, I pray that you would receive utterance to speak with boldness, and that you would be sensitive to God’s leading in how and when to speak His truth.

Where is our affection?

I was in church tonight, and the choir sang a song about the rapture. They spoke about the joy we will have when we will see Christ. The eternal joy of knowing the one who loved us. As I contemplated eternity, I realized how much we can lack an eternal mindset.

How often do we get caught up in day to day things that we forget what our life is leading towards? James 4:14 says, "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." The truth is, we don’t know what tomorrow will hold. And even if we did, no matter how long our life is, it will pass away. All the things the world system values will turn to dust and we will stand before an eternal God. The only things that will matter is how much we allowed Christ to transform us, and what we did out of a pure heart for Him.

I would like to encourage you, remember your destiny. Don’t value the things of this earth. Value on the things above. Christ is all that matters, in this world, and the next. So let us not live valuing what the world chases after, but let us live pursuing His Word and character.

"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." Colossians 3:2

In my name . . .

Have you ever prayed for something and it didn’t happen? Many times we pray for something that is completely outside of God’s will. How can we know what God’s will is so we can pray correctly? Today I would like to share a short Bible study with you on how you can base your prayers on a faith that is rooted and grounded in God’s Word.

As mentioned in one of my previous posts, the entire Christian life is based on faith. The bible says that the just shall live by faith. It commands that we pray in faith. (James 1:6-7) Because of this passage, we know that we must pray in faith in order for anything to happen. But where do we get that faith? We get it from God’s Word. Romans 10:17 tells us, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Our prayers must have a basis in a knowledge of God and His will.

One interesting example is the prophet Elijah. The first time Elijah is mentioned we find him going to king Ahab and announcing that it will not rain until Elijah says so. In James 5:17, we are told that Elijah prayed that it would not rain. When I first read that, it made no sense. I thought Elijah’s prayer was just a random judgment he made up. But that wasn’t it. In Deuteronomy 11:17, God told the Israelites that He would stop the rain if they were disobedient. Elijah had read this. Elijah then stepped out in faith believing that God would do what He said God would.

So I would like to encourage you, pray in faith, and pray in His name. When we pray in God’s name it isn’t just saying "in Jesus’ name" at the end. It’s praying with His authority. We can pray with His authority when we pray for His will. We can know His will by studying His promises.
In conclusion, we must:
(1) Study His Word,
(2) Put our faith in His promises, and
(3) Pray according to what He has promises.

"If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." John 14:14