Praying without Ceasing

There is a penchant in humanity to take things to the extreme. Many in our society will make desperate attempts to gain more intimacy with God to the point of neglecting their duties to family and society.

They will cloister their self from life and spend their time in their prayer closet, reading God’s Word and listening to sermons. In an attempt at holiness, they desert all aspiration to communicate with anyone other than God.

Yet, in doing this they prevent God from using them to reach the lost and dying world around us. God instructs us to pray without ceasing at the same time that we do every mundane task of life for His glory (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, 1 Corinthians 10:31).

Until the day on which He returns to claim His Bride for His own, God calls for His Saints to give Him a balance of devotional prayer in our closet and obedience to His will (1 Samuel 15:22; John 14:15).

Then He will take us home to be with Him for eternity. Our current position in Christ allows us to see life from God’s perspective and to choose our words and actions according to the will of God.

In this way, we are always moving toward perfection, which is the prize of the high calling of God (Matthew 5:48; Philippians 3:14).

 

Carrying on throughout our day, we pray without ceasing each moment in order to remain in His will (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Jesus taught the disciples how to pray using this formula (Matthew 6:9-13):

1.) Praising God’s majesty

2.) Anticipating the coming of His Kingdom

3.) Requesting our needs to be met

4.) Repenting of our sins

5.) Forgiving those who sin against us

6.) Acknowledging His Lordship

As we live in a place of communion with God during every waking moment, we have so much assurance of His love for us that we are able to rejoice regardless of the circumstance surrounding us (Romans 8:28).

Prayer:

Father God, as we walk in Your Spirit, we give thanks for everything that happens to us – the good, the bad and the ugly, because we know this is Your will and You always work out all things for our ultimate good (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17; Romans 8:28).

We rejoice and give You praise and thanksgiving for Your eternal care for everything that concerns us. We could never, ever repay You for Your personal love and care for each one of us. Thank You for taking a personal interest in our life and for providing for all of our needs.

Thought for the Day:

As we gather around the throne of Heaven, there will be a great innumerable multitude from every single nation, tribe, people and language group all standing there with us in worship and thanksgiving before our redeeming Lamb. – Revelation 7:9

Advertisements

The Truth about Love

There are three common types of love. Each one is distinctly different, but we can feel all of them at one time – for one person or many people. EROS is passionate physical love. It includes sensual desires and longing.

Relationships built only on Eros usually end when sexual passion wanes. That is why people have affairs or casual physical relationships. Therefore, marriage needs more than Eros to survive.

PHILIA means friendship and connotes affectionate love between friends and family. It displays dispassionate camaraderie. Philia includes loyalty to friends, family and community. It exhibits Godly virtue, impartiality and delight.

Philia denotes a friendly type of affection between family and friends. It is a desire for companionship and enjoying activities with each other. Having a friendship with the people in your life and enjoying time to play, pray and share in common pursuits is vital in any relationship.

AGAPE means unconditional love. It refers to a deep sense of God’s pure, holy love. Instead of the sexual attraction of Eros or the deep affection of Philia, Agape is sacrificial.

Agape provides us with the feeling of contentment and satisfaction as we put each other first and highly esteem one another as better than our self (Philippians 2:3-4). True love takes effort and is not dependent on the other person.

Christ lives in us and is love personified. Regardless of how someone treats us, we love them with God’s love within us. It is not how we feel, but what we do to express God’s love to one another.

This does not mean that we do not honestly communicate to others how their behavior makes us feel; but we never give up on the relationship. We may have to establish boundaries, but we keep the relationship active.

Love is not what we expect from others, but what we provide for those in our life whom we care about. We are called to love one another, just as Christ loves us. Sometimes, that is a tall order to fill.

Prayer:
Father God, help us to display love to our parents, spouse, children, church family and even strangers regardless of how they treat us. This is only possible as we submit to Your will for our life and allow Your Spirit to reprogram our thinking to have the mind of Christ. Remind us that once we have this spiritual love, then the physical and the emotional feelings will follow after it.

Cause us to submit our self to You and to resist the devil. Then he must flee from us (James 4:7). His destructive suggestions that putting our self first, estrangement and divorce are not wrong, and that You want us to be happy, will vanish with his departure. Remind us that You want us to be holy. Help us to develop Agape love for others as we focus on submitting our self to You.

Thought for the Day:
Most people realize that we are far from loving one another with true self-sacrificing, lasting and sincere love; Eros and Philia come and go throughout the years, and they are never intense for long periods of time, but Agape lasts forever.

Forgiveness and Boundaries

Human beings tend to suffer in silence. We fear rejection and criticism, so we internalize our thoughts and feelings rather than confiding in one another.

Inner voices, which do not line up with God’s Word, are lies from Satan Himself. The only way to dispel His lies is by speaking God’s truth (Philippians 4:8; 1 Timothy 4:1).
( http://www.theophostic.com )

Once we receive our forgiveness from God through repentance and faith in exchange for our sins, then God receives us as His own precious children (1 John 3:2).

We have Jesus’ example in order to forgive those who harm us. If they are repentant, we allow them back into our heart. If they refuse to repent, then we forgive them for our sake, but keep them at a distance.

Even though we forgive them, we do not condone their behavior toward us, and we certainly never allow them any opportunities to harm us again.

We derive our self-worth through Christ in us, rather than through our own achievements. This way our esteem does not depend upon people, circumstances or meeting our goals.

It depends on God’s faithfulness and the presence of Christ abiding within us. We are secure in who we are through Christ. We live the life to which He calls us (Ephesians 2:10).

This way too, we have no need to attempt to manipulate and control the behavior of others in order to make our self feel better, safer or more secure.

Prayer:
Father God, people do tend to maliciously use us, but You encourage us to love them with Your agape love and to forgive them and pray for them (Matthew 5:44). However, we can also be wise as snakes and gentle as doves in our dealings with them (Matthew 10:16).

We point them to Your love for them, but we never again allow them to take advantage of us or to use us for their evil gain. Their opinion of us does not matter anymore, because our identity and our good name come from You (Proverbs 22:1; Psalm 52:9).

Thought for the Day:
No one is more deceived than the person who will not admit that he or she is wrong; but we can forgive them anyway and erect boundaries to keep them from harming us again.

Whole-hearted Devotion

In the wilderness, the pillar of fire kept the Israelites warm in cold desert evenings, and the cloud gave them shade under the hot desert sun. They clearly saw God’s will when He moved the fire at night and the cloud by day to direct them (Numbers 9:20).

Yet, I think that we actually have more of an advantage of walking in God’s will than they did, because we have God’s Holy Spirit residing within us every second of every day.

Even in times of trouble and uncertainty, God is happy to generously give us His wisdom (James 1:5). He searches our heart and discerns our every desire, thought and motive (Jeremiah 17:10).

When we serve God with wholehearted devotion, a submissive will and an obedient mind, He tells us whether to turn to the right or the left to find His will for each moment of our day (1 Chronicles 28:9; Isaiah 30:21).

When our delight is in the Lord, He actually puts His desires in our heart (Nehemiah 7:5; Psalm 37:4). As we commit our thoughts, choices and feelings to the Lord, He leads us in His will for our day (Proverbs 16:3).

Some people enjoy physical abundance with more money and possessions than they know what to do with; however, they have a life filled with greed, strife and disappointment (Proverbs 15:16).

Even when we have few material possessions or advantages, we have an abundance, because it is covered with God’s love (Proverbs 16:8). Our ways are peaceful and full of God’s favor as we serve Him with wholehearted devotion (Proverbs 3:17).

Prayer:
Father God, You love us so much, that when we ask, we receive; when we seek, we find; when we knock, You open doors for us to walk in the center of Your will (Matthew 7:8). As we always look to You and seek Your face, we find our delight in Your presence within us (Job 22:26, 27:10; Proverbs 3:5-6).

When our thoughts, words and behavior please You, even our enemies live in peace with us, and You grant us our heart’s desires without withholding any of our requests (Proverbs 16:17; Psalm 21:2).

A baby bird sits in the nest, trusting its parents to fill its gaping mouth. As we have a similar trust in You and we open our mouth wide, as our Heavenly Parent, You always fill it (Psalm 81:10).

Thought for the Day:
Our life is not our own, and it is not up to us to make decisions and to plan our activities for our day; instead, we pray and God communicates to us where to go and what to do.           – Jeremiah 10:23, 42:3

Aging Gracefully

Getting old is difficult. Energy, bodily organ functions, and attention span all diminish; while aches and pains, pill intake and doctor bills all increase. We get discouraged, lose self-esteem and feel useless in so many areas.

Eventually, we even have to cut back on our energy outgo; limiting our activities to one major event a day. Many are required to give up the keys to the car, join a geriatrics exercise program and get more sleep with less productivity.

God knew, before we were born, that we would grow old  (Ephesians 2:10). He has plans for us, which includes this time in our life (Jeremiah 29:11). We do not need to confine our self to the rocking chair on the front porch – although that is fun sometimes too.

We just change our focus and keep a positive attitude. We keep walking in the Spirit and continue to fulfill the will of God for each moment of our life. We exchange youthful ministries for the equally as important ministry of prayer and mentoring (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Titus 2:4).

Sitting at Jesus’ feet, we worship Him by singing and praying the scripture. We lift up the needs of our fellow Saints and family members, the church’s pastor and staff and the ministry leaders and volunteers, the world and its leaders, the persecuted church and the unreached people groups.

Another way to minister is by writing a blog, emailing, fellowshipping on social media and private messages and texts. This way, we can communicate and minister all over the country and the world.

God teaches us to set boundaries around our time; to take a day off; to enjoy time in nature, at the pool or walking on trails each day; to play with our pets; to write letters and books and to make cards to brighten someone’s day; to bake a pie or a dozen cookies to share with the neighborhood kids after school – all in His name and all for His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Prayer:
Father God, when we are drained, worn and weary from life, we are still Yours with a unique calling on our life. Remind us that until our dying breath, You call us to seek You and to walk in Your perfect plan for us by Your Spirit. We surrender all to You and worship You with all of our thoughts, words and deeds.

Remind us that the girl checking us out at the grocery, the waitress, the retail clerk, the person next to us on the bus or airplane, the librarian, etc. all need us to recognize them as a person too, and to tell them that You and we really care about them. Let Your light shine in us so brightly that everyone will see our good works and give You the glory (Matthew 5:16).

Thought for the Day:
God uses us in so many ways, regardless of our age, energy level, health issues and physical limitations, to share His wisdom, ways and wonders with those He brings into our life.

Accountability Partner

We all have areas of our life that we ignore; little habits, words and facial expressions, which are less than stellar. We do not even think about them…but other people see them. Even more importantly is the fact that God sees them too. He has been watching and dealing with us about these issues throughout our whole life. They are called “blind spots”.

We merrily go about our life without noticing that our testimony is tarnished by what we say and by the way we act. That is why it is so good to have an accountability partner. Someone that we love and trust, and that we know “has our back” through thick and thin. They love and respect us in spite of all of our idiosyncrasies.

We choose an accountability partner who would never turn on us or hurt us by the intimate details of our life, which we share with them. They should be spiritual, and endeavor to follow Christ with their life as well. They see our blind spots, those little nagging issues, which we ignore or are unaware of, and they are not afraid to point them out to us in love.

They are committed to God, and care about us as a friend and a fellow Christian. They are humble and recognize that they have faults as well; and they are growing and changing in their own lives. We can share anything with them and they will keep our confidence. These particular people willingly pray for God to strengthen us and to give us wisdom.

Prayer:
Father God, Jesus had twelve disciples, but He only took three to the mountain to see His transfiguration. He had three special friends whom He knew cared for Him deeply and would need the vision of His glory to strengthen them as they carried on His work after His resurrection. Help us to find those faithful few whom we can trust with our life and who will help us to grow in Christ.

Thought for the Day:
Since we dwell on this earth together, let us help rather than hinder one another.

Connecting with God

People often wonder why God will not answer their prayers. They accuse Him of not caring about them (1 Peter 5:7). It could be that we do not have a personal relationship with Him and He does not know us (Matthew 7:21-23). Sin may be blocking God from hearing our words or tainting the message of our prayer. Possibly, we do not spend enough time listening in order to hear His voice.

God answers our prayers with a “yes”, “no”, or “wait”. Our Father knows the end from the beginning and knows what is best for us (Isaiah 46:10). He is not spiteful or vindictive. He does not punish us. He will discipline His children; but though He wounds, He always heals (Job 5:18). He will also heal our land, if His Saints will humble themselves and pray (2 Chronicles 7:14; Ezekiel 22:30).

A lack of a personal relationship with God (John 3:18), sinful behavior or a hectic lifestyle with little prayer and devotion hinder our ability to connect with God (Isaiah 59:2). Only repentance cleanses us as we confess our failings (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:1-2). With intimate times of prayer, we have more power to stand against spiritual warfare, trials and temptations (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

King David realized that God did not want sacrifice from us as much as He wanted obedience and devotion (Hebrews 10:8-9). God would rather have us praying than working for Him without His Spirit’s direction. He created works for us to do, but we will only know what they are as we pray (Ephesians 2:10). God’s truest desire is that we love Him with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength (Luke 10:27).

Prayer:
Father God, we ask You to fill us with a deep desire and hunger to know You more and to connect with You through our prayer life and Bible study. Our heart thirsts after You, like the deer pants for water (Psalm 42:1). Fill us with Your Holy Spirit every day and cause us to hear Your loving kindness each new morning (Ephesians 5:18-19; Psalm 143:8). Teach us to use Your Word to pray effectual prayers.

Thought for the Day:
If we remain connected to God, we will bear fruit for His Kingdom; but apart from Him, we can do nothing. – John 15:5-8