When your friends arent there for you

I happens. You may be going through the worst time in your life, and your best friend doesn’t seem to care. They skip out on lunch, forget plans, never notice how down you are . . . They’re absorbed in themselves and they forget to care for you. In those moments, your response matters greatly. You can wallow in self pity and weakness, or you can rise above.

Jesus had his friends fail Him at the worst time in His life. And yet He still loved them. We found the account in Luke 22. Jesus is submitting His will to the Fathers. He is about to go to the cross to be crucified, and He is in great agony. He tells the disciples.

“And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.”

Did you notice how Jesus was concerned about them? He didn’t say “pray with me for moral support” No, He told them to pray for their own sakes. Even at the most agonizing part of His life, He was still caring for them.

In the next verses we see how much agony Christ was in. It says, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” His body was under so much stress and torment from the inner turmoil He faced that His body was mixing blood with His sweat. Within the next few moments, He came back to the disciples.

“And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,” They were sleeping for sorrow. Their own sorrow. They weren’t concerned about Him necessarily. The word sorrow could be translated exhaustion. They were tired, so they were sleeping. They had not a care that Christ was under so much pressure.

Christ’s response?

“Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”

He was still concerned about them. He never faltered in His selflessness. He wanted them to live a life free of sin and failure to temptation. He loved them.

I don’t know how I would have reacted in such a situation. I probably would have felt hurt, betrayed, uncared for, or unloved. I might have become angry, or started and argument. But Christ? He was loving them. He had forgotten about Himself and His needs. He was completely fulfilled by the Father, ready to pour out Himself and love those around Him.

Is that how you are when friends betray you or disregard your struggles. I would ask you to pray and ask God to help you become a better friend. Ask Him to teach you how to love others even it would seem that you are the one who needs the most help or support. Don’t be a martyr, or be afraid to ask for companionship when you need it, but don’t allow other’s actions to bring you to selfishness.

“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Philippians 2:4

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Is your solution, His solution?

Prayer is a powerful vehicle for our lives for good. We can ask God for His will to come to pass in out lives, and He works on bringing it to fruition. The thing is, we can pray for anything. And it doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen. You could pray for the continents to move together and become one land mass (because you think it would be cool). And I’m gonna tell you that’s probably not going to happen.

You could ask God to change your natural hair color. And it’s probably not going to happen.

There’s a lot you could ask God for. The limits are boundless. But the thing is, God isn’t going to do anything that is outside of His will. It’s in His character.

It’s important to pray right. Pray according to His will, or we won’t get results, we will waste our breath, and we will be left with disillusions of what God wants or His capabilities.

Let me give you an example.

In John 17, Jesus is praying. He says, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”

Jesus was praying for believers, and praying for them to do well. He clarified at one point (probably for our benefit) that He wasn’t asking the Father to remove the disciples from the influence of the world, but to protect them from evil. Isn’t that interesting. God wanted them in the world as a witness. As a stark contrast between what a righteous person’s life was like, and what a sinners was like. Being in the world was probably a growing experience for the disciples as well.

I invite you to remember what God’s will is when you pray. If you’re stressed, maybe don’t just pray the stress goes away. Perhaps it would be better for you to pray that God teaches you how to trust Him in your stress. If you are scared of something, perhaps you don’t need to pray for a specific solution, but for God to calm your fears. If you are in a job you don’t like, maybe you don’t need to pray for a new one. Maybe you need to pray for contentment right where God has you.

Every situation is different. But I challenge you to consider that God’s solutions are not always our solutions. There was a time when Christ calmed the storm for the disciples. And there was a time He invited Peter to walk on the water in the middle of the storm.

Won’t you ask God for wisdom when you pray?

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.

It’s not time to build a calf

If you have ever spent time being led by God, you probably have experienced a time when it seemed that God wasn’t leading at all. One day, you know exactly what His will is for your life, the next, you are completely unsure and are wondering where his direct leading went. In those times, it’s not time to build a calf.

In the book of Exodus, we can follow the account of Israel (God’s people) as they are freed from bondage and then begin their journey towards the promise land. God chose Moses to lead them. Moses was their symbol of authority, their leader, and their go-to man. But one day Moses was called up to Mt. Sinai on official business.

And the people waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And it seemed like he wasn’t coming back. Have you ever felt that way? No clear direction from God, and you feel that you have to do SOMETHING! Well, the people did do something, but what they did was nothing short of idolatry and wickedness.

Chapter 32 of Exodus tells us that they took their jewelry and decided to make a golden calf. Then Aaron said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.” The next verse tells us that the next day that came the people offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. I honestly believe that some of the people were sincerely trying to worship God. But the manner of their worship was evil, and it was not acceptable to Lord. They had now bowed down to the God of heaven, but a calf of gold. They did not reverence God, but brought an abomination into their midst and called it worship.

I challenge you, never allow your impatience to bring you to the point that you are willing to worship God in your own way. Maybe you don’t know where God is leading you, or what his plan is, but now is the time to prepare for it. When  Moses came down from the mount, there was a considerable time spent correcting everything that Israel had done wrong. If they had prepared themselves in prayer and consecration to the Lord, they would have been ready for the next step that God had for them.

So in short, if God hasn’t given you direct leading of late, don’t do your own thing and make a golden calf. Don’t decide to lead yourself and strike out in a new direction for God. Wait on the Lord. Follow His last instruction. Pray and sanctify yourself so you will be ready when God wants you to move.

Working with God

In Matthew 28, Jesus speaks to those who labor. He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you . . .” Think about that for a moment. Take God’s yoke on you. Yoke up with God. Imagine the God of the universe bending his back to lower the yoke for you. Imagine Him doing mindless menial labor- with you.

That’s the challenge- the command- that Jesus gives.

Paul illustrates this idea in Colossians 1. In verse 27 he says, “Whom [Christ] we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:” Then he continues, “Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”

Paul was working to teach every man. But he wasn’t alone. God was working in him mightily to accomplish the work that was necessary. Notice also that Paul was working according to God’s working. It wasn’t the other way around. Paul didn’t strike out with his own ideas. God worked something inside of Paul, and then Paul operated in the area that God had mightily worked in.

There’s something amazing about the thought of being co-laborers with God. It’s one of the most beautiful things of the Christian life. If you look closely, you can see that God works in us, so He can work through us, so we can work in others, in whom God is working. In reality, it would be simpler if God just did everything. It’s like having a little child in the kitchen who wants to help. It’s easier just to tell them to go play. It’s more work to invest in them and teach them.

But that’s the heart of God. He chooses to allow us to take His yoke. He chooses to work with us, through us, and in us. Aren’t you thankful that God allows you to be a part of his awesome and majestic creation?

Going back to the scripture, think about the specific task mentioned. Spreading the gospel throughout the world. I’ve known people who have, and I myself have, stressed about the great work that needs to be done. So many that haven’t heard. So much to share. It is easy for us to become anxious and worried about our own insufficiency and faults.

Remember God’s words in another part of Scripture, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” – Philippians 4:6 It’s not your responsibility to save the world. It is your job to be sensitive to the leading of the Lord, and obey His will. This is not an excuse to do nothing, but a challenge to do all you can. Not out of fear and anxiety, but out of a calm and faithful heart, filled with dedication to the Father.

When you consider all that must be done, don’t stress, you have a pretty capable coworker. Just ask Him to do what He does best. Work with you, in you, and through you. If you will allow Him, He always will.

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.

Your duty to do something

A young boy is swimming at the beach. The tide carries him out a little  and suddenly he can’t touch bottom. He panics and begins to flail his arms frantically. The boy is about to drown. On a dock nearby, a healthy well-built man hears the boy’s cries and makes no attempt to save him. Whether or not the boy survives, is that man guiltless?

Of course not!

Proverbs 24:11-12 gives a similar situation. It says, “If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to everyman according to his works?”

God tells us in His word that He sees us. He knows our heart and our motives. He knows what we are capable of. This verse makes it very clear that God has a punishment for those who can save others and don’t do it.

So you may never be able to save someone’s physical life, but how about someone’s spiritual life? Have you ever had a friend or acquaintance who is about to make some horrible decision that will have terrible consequences? I know I have. I’m sure we all have.

You may not be able to keep them from a wrong decision, but it is your duty to do something.

God commands us to love our neighbor. It is a far cry from love for us to watch someone destroy their life without attempting to save them. So I challenge you, take another look around you. If you see someone in grave danger, physical or otherwise, take some action. Perhaps you should speak to them about salvation. Maybe you should give them some godly counsel. Or maybe it’s not your place to correct them, and you should simply pray for them. Seek the Lord about what He would have you do.

James 4:17 says, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do goodand doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

Just like it would be a wicked thing for that man to ignore the cries of a drowning boy, it would be a wicked thing for us to ignore the plight of this dying world or the plight of our Christian brothers and sisters.

Let us not hold back when it is in our power to give life!

At every corner

Choices are everywhere in life. We make thousands of them every day, many without even realizing it. Sometimes our choices are a result of ingrained behavior, sometimes they are conscious. Our choices determine our direction and ultimately the general success or failure of our lives. Proverbs 7 gives an example of someone who makes one of those life changing decisions.

In Proverbs 7:6 a narrative begins. It appears that Solomon looks out his window and sees a young man who lacks understanding. This “simple” man is found by a harlot and is persuaded by her to commit adultery. Solomon makes it very clear that this choice will bring the man complete misery and ultimately death.

The man in this story was simple. He did not have his wits about him, and he was destroyed. The harlot in this story was subtil, loud, and stubborn. Since this man was not guarding himself, he was destroyed very easily.

While this account is mainly about how a person should guard against adultery, I would like to point out some things it teaches about temptation. Notice in verse 12 that the scripture tells us, “Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.” This woman, this personification of temptation is outside. She is in the street. And she is at EVERY corner.

Think about this situation metaphorically.

First, temptation is in the street. Streets are means of travel. Everyone uses them. You use them. I use them. As we travel through this life, we will meet temptation, because temptation is in the street. We cannot avoid it. We must be prepared, unlike the man in the story who obviously wasn’t.

Second, temptation is at every corner. When you think of a corner, what do you think of? Let me give you a clue, think of a crossroad. When someone says the are at a crossroads in their life, what do they mean? They’re talking about a choice they have to make of course! A street corner is usually made when two roads meet. Think about that. Not only is temptation unavoidable (being in the street), it also presents itself at every choice you must make.

Every time you travel on this road (or street) of life, you will encounter temptation. You cannot avoid it. You must prepare yourself.

When the disciples were about to be tempted, Jesus told them, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Matthew 26:41

The Bible warns us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” – 1 Peter 5:8 Let me put this in common English, the devil wants to destroy you, so keep your wits about ya!

Remember, every time a choice for right presents itself, a choice for wrong presents itself also.

Temptation is at every corner.

“Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” – Proverbs 4:27

Keep your wits about ya!

Ask not, have not

Prayer is a powerful thing. Throughout all of Scripture we can witness the power of prayer in providing rain, bringing healing, lessening punishment, providing food, giving victory in battle, opening barren wombs, multiplying loaves and fishes, and countless other acts of God. God has told us that we can pray. In fact, He commands it! Then why are many of us so apathetic in our prayer life?

God promises, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." John 14:13.

When we pray, we grow closer to our Savior. When we pray, we get to be used by God as an instrument in glorifying Him and bringing His will on earth. And when we pray and see our prayers answered, our faith grows and we learn how to be used of God more.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, "Pray without ceasing." Do you? How often do you ask God to work mightily in your life? Do you want to be used by Him? Do you want to grow in your walk? Do you want His will mightily in your life?

James 4:2 says, "ye have not, because ye ask not."

I wonder, how much of God’s will have we missed out on, because we have failed to ask? Let’s make a decision to ask God continually for His will in faith. Ask Him continually for specific things throughout this next week.