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Posts tagged ‘depending on God’

Change Won’t Be Easy — Just Worth The Effort

SOURCE:  Living Free/Jimmy Ray Lee

“If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows our ignorance of God.” 1 John 1:8-10 MSG

Overcoming life-controlling problems is a process. It is important to acknowledge that you have a problem and come to Jesus for help. Your next step should be to get real—with yourself and with God.

Take an inventory of your life. Think about the ways you have been denying the reality of your condition. Have you been isolating yourself? Keeping your struggle a secret? Making light of it or rationalizing that it is OK?

Have you blamed other people and circumstances for your problem instead of accepting responsibility? Perhaps you point your finger at your parents or spouse or friends. Maybe you blame a job loss or even your childhood.

Think about the ways your behavior has affected other people. Have you lost their respect and confidence? Are you experiencing strained relationships or problems with your children?

Determine to be honest about your problem and to accept responsibility for your behavior.

Repent for what you’ve done and turn to Jesus for the hope that only he can give.

Change won’t be easy. And you may suffer natural consequences of past failures. But begin to focus on your new hope in Christ. He will not disappoint you in your time of personal searching and change.

Father, forgive me for blaming people and circumstances for my behavior. I’m ready to accept responsibility for my situation. Forgive me for my sin. I thank you for helping me through this time of change. In Jesus’ name …

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These thoughts were drawn from …

Stepping into Freedom: A Christ-Centered Twelve-Step Program by Jimmy Ray Lee, D.Min.

When Under Pressure, Make The Best Choice

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Lighthouse Network/Stepping Stones/Karl Benzio

This Pressure Cooker Called Life

Have you ever been in “pressure-cooker” situations, dealing with non-stop stress, multiple priorities, constant interruptions, or emotionally charged situations?

What happens to the brain when we’re under pressure like that?

Our circuitry, the hard-wiring necessary to get the best decision-making and spiritual worship out of the awesome mind that is YOU, is dramatically affected by stress.

God gave us a great brain to respond to acute and short periods of stress. But longer episodes of stress are actually destructive to the brain, and thus all the areas of life our brain touches. Satan knows that and he cranks up the pressure, the stress of life, to push us to be a ‘conforming’ mind. Our viewpoint and decisions will determine how much stress and pressure we are exposed to and whether we fan it or extinguish it. . . .

Ongoing stress causes excessive action by our immune system and endocrine system, producing cortisol and adrenaline. Prolonged activation injures brain cells, even kills some, and disrupts circuitry in our emotion, memory, and relationship centers of the brain. This is why we have trouble thinking of God’s promises, character, or past provision … trouble remembering Bible passages that soothe, and trouble connecting to God’s love, peace, comfort, and grace when we are under continual pressure or stress.

Everyone responds to stress differently. Some people just walk away. Maybe you’re competent to accomplish a task, but instead, do just enough to make it work. Possibly you fall into making knee-jerk reactions, or you respond to what is urgent while avoiding what is important. It’s easy to go for the quick fix, relying on yourself, but forgetting to ask God for His guidance and wisdom. That’s exactly where Satan wants you to be.

But there’s another way.

[W]hen you are under pressure at work, at home, or on the street, just stop. Consider that you get to make a choice. Call on God and tell Him you need His help.

This is exactly where we all need to be, “on our knees” in a position of dependence. God is delighted when we rely on His goodness, mercy and power. He has promised that He will always be with us. He will never leave us or forsake us. You can decide to let the pressure get to you … or to rely on the God who loves you. Whether you stop and rely on Him, actually rewiring that damaged circuitry, healing damaged brain cells, and literally growing new ones that will allow you to function better or you rely on yourself and allow stress to ultimately overwhelm you is your decision … so choose well as it is your spiritual act of worship!

Dear God, When I consider all the pressures and demands on my life today, it feels overwhelming. It’s so hard to know what to do or even where to start. I don’t want to just get by. I want to live a full life, the abundant life Jesus talked about, a life that pleases You in every way. I can’t do this alone. I need and want Your help. As I call out to You. I trust You alone to give me wisdom, guidance and energy for my situation. I pray to You in the name of Your Son Jesus who had perfect brain chemistry and triumphed through the most extreme pressure cooker.  “AMEN!”

The Truth
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”  Matthew 6:13

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:1-2

Grasp My Hand, Lord

SOURCE:  Tim Clinton/American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC)

Your Hand in His

“Don’t trust to hold God’s hand; let Him hold yours. Let Him do the holding, and you the trusting.”  (Hammer William Webb-Peploe)

When my son Zach was small, he loved for me to hold his hand. Often it would simply be out of the sheer joy of having his dad close to him. He would wrap his little chubby hand around my finger, and away we would go. Other times, when I sensed that I needed to hold on to him, I would wrap my hand all the way around his hand and wrist, and squeeze tight. Love… joy… security… safety — all wrapped up in his hand in mine.

I love the picture illustrated by Isaiah – “Thus says the LORD to His anointed, to Cyrus, (insert your name there) whose right hand I have grasped” (Isaiah 45:1 ESV).

The Hebrew word for grasped, “Chazaq” literally means “to be bound fast, both in the significance of adhesion and strength” (Strong’s Concordance). God was saying that when your hand is in His, a strong, fast, bond is formed between the two.

As our children grow into those teen years, things change. Our kids become increasingly independent, and socially they might be a little embarrassed to be seen walking hand-in-hand with dad.

Sadly, we often become so independent in our Christian journey that, for any number of reasons, we don’t let our Heavenly Father hold our hand. More often than not, I believe it is a part of what John was talking about when he writes to the Church in Ephesus, “…you have abandoned the love that you had at first” (Revelation 2:4 ESV). This Church had been “enduring patiently… bearing up for His name… not growing weary” (Revelation 2:3 ESV), but even after all of those “good works”, God was more interested in whether or not they loved Him — whether they were still dependent on Him. Perhaps they simply needed to slow down and let God take them by the hand.

When life is good, that’s a great time to wrap your hand around your Heavenly Father’s finger and enjoy the journey. When life is tough… when the wheels are coming off… that’s the time to reflect on these verses, and let His strong, mighty hand grasp your hand:

“(For they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand…)” 1 Kings 8:42 ESV “They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and your strong hand.” Nehemiah 1:10 ESV “You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand…” Psalm 89:13 ESV

Don’t let the cares of the world rob you of your dependence on Him, or your strength in Him.

In the good times, hold His hand. In the hard times, let Him grasp your hand.

It just might turn your life around.

A Lesson from Hezekiah: 7 Steps to More Effective Prayers

SOURCE:  Ron Edmondson

Hezekiah ruled over Judah and was a good and faithful king.

Hezekiah often became the target of warring nations. The king of Assyria, which was a much more powerful nation, decided to attempt a take over of Hezekiah’s kingdom. Throughout the stressful time in leadership, Hezekiah consistently used the same battle plan. He went before the Lord in prayer and followed the Lord’s commands. Hezekiah relied on prayer to rule his life. This king knew how to pray and he prayed in a way that got results.

At one point, the Assyrian king launched a huge smear campaign against Hezekiah with his own people. It scared all Hezekiah’s people to death.

Hezekiah heard about it and went before the Lord. God assured Hezekiah everything would be ok, but the Assyrians wouldn’t let up. They kept taunting and taunting, throwing threats towards Hezekiah. They sent a letter by messenger to Hezekiah, basically which, said, “The Assyrians are tough and they are coming for you next.”

What do you do when you are backed into a corner about to face something bigger than your ability to handle? Well, Hezekiah received the letter with all the threats and began to pray.

We find this account in  2 Kings 19:14-19

What can we learn from listening in as Hezekiah prayed?

Hezekiah got alone with God. There is corporate prayer like we do at church, and there is prayer where a few are gathered, but probably some of the most effective prayer time of your life will be the time you invest alone with God.

Hezekiah’s prayer was Immediate. It wasn’t an afterthought. It was prior to making his plans. We are so geared to react that it’s hard for us to go first to God. He may be second or third or when we are backed into a corner and have no choice, but as a habit we need to make God the first place we turn in our lives.

Hezekiah’s prayer was Open and honest. Hezekiah was transparent before the Lord.  I love the imagery here in this prayer story of Hezekiah. He took the letter, went to the house of the Lord, and spread it out before Him. I get this visual image of Hezekiah, and this letter…laying it there on the table, and saying, “Okay, God, what now? What do I do next?”

Are you in a tough spot right now? You may just need to get you some note cards right down all the things you are struggling with….lay them out on a table…then say, “Okay God, here are my struggles…I can’t do anything about them. What now?”

Writing your prayer requests before God is a great idea for 2 reasons.

a. It helps you remember to pray for them.

b. It helps you to watch as God answers. We get more answers than we realize if we only ask.

Hezekiah’s prayer was Honoring, humble and respectful of who God is.  Hezekiah knew his place as king…and he knew God’s place in the Kingdom. Hezekiah was king of a nation and that is an important job, yet Hezekiah willingly humbled himself in prayer, because he knew his place before the King of kings.

Hezekiah’s prayer was Bold. He said, “Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD…” Hezekiah had the kind of relationship with God where it wasn’t a surprise when Hezekiah showed up to pray. They talked frequently; probably throughout the day. Because of that relationship, Hezekiah didn’t wonder if God would be there when he came before Him. He knew he could ask God to act on his behalf.

The more you grow in your relationship with God, the bolder your prayers can become, because the more your heart will begin to line up with God’s heart.

Hezekiah’s prayer was Dependent. In verses 17-18 he prays, “It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands.” Hezekiah knew he was out of his league facing the Assyrians. From the way I see that Hezekiah responded to life, however, I don’t think it mattered the size of the battle Hezekiah was going to depend on God.

Hezekiah’s prayer was certain…Because it was based on his personal faith and trust in God.  In verse 19, Hezekiah prayed, “Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.”

Hezekiah had a faith in God that allowed him to pray with confidence. You need to understand that faith is always based on the promises of God. Some things God has promised to do…some He hasn’t. God has promised to always get glory for Himself and always work things for an ultimate good. He hasn’t promised to rid everyone of cancer or to heal every bad relationship.

(That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pray for everything. We don’t know His will, but we can’t guarantee God to do that which He hasn’t promised to do.) Sometimes we get upset because God doesn’t do something we asked or wanted Him to do but the fact is He had never promised to do it.

Hezekiah knew God had promised to save His people. He knew God had placed him in the position of authority over them. He had confidence that God would do what He had promised to do. Hezekiah trusted God to be faithful to His word so he was willing to act in faith.

What situations are you dealing with today that you know you are helpless to do on your own and you desperately desire God’s answer?

Get alone with God, spread your problems out before Him honestly, humbly, and boldly; then, allow His will to be done, as you wait for His response.

Why Do We Pray?

Source:  Taken from the book  The Front Line: A Prayer Warrior’s Guide to Spiritual Battle by John Bornschein

In the powerful work, Giving Ourselves to Prayer, Gary T. Meadors observes that dialogue with the Almighty is part of the fabric of the Bible: “Genesis 4:26 first mentions that ‘men began to call on the name of the Lord,’ and Revelation 22:20 closes the Bible with the prayer, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ (compare 1 Cor 16:22).

The entire history of redemption is framed in prayer. In between these terminal references we find a database about prayer that is so large it requires description beyond simple definition.”1

Why do we pray? Here are a few key reasons:2

1.  We love Him. Just as a man and woman in love desire to be together and communicate, so we, if we love God, will desire to be with Him and to fellowship with Him in proportion to our love for Him.

2.  We depend on God. He is our source. He is our life (Col 3:4). Through prayer, we receive the comfort, strength, and all the other resources we need in life, both naturally and spiritually. Prayer—relationship with God—is as necessary to the spiritual life as air is to the natural life.

3.  Prayer allows us to resist temptation. Jesus warned His disciples to “watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Matt 26:41 NKJV). Living a life without prayer can leave us weak and exposed, giving an opportunity for the enemy to gain ground and potentially lure us into sin.

4.  Prayer is necessary for people to invite God to act in salvation. God gave the earth to Adam and his descendants, so we must invite God to work here. If no one invites Him to work on earth, Satan—the “god of this age” because of humanity’s universal rebellion (2 Cor 4:4)—will dominate human affairs, and eventually the judgment of God will come. By inviting God to intercede often and specifically, multitudes can be saved who would otherwise be lost.

5.  God commands us to pray. In Colossians 4:2, Paul writes: “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (NKJV). Jesus also encouraged His followers to pray: “Then He [Jesus] spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1 NKJV).

The need to pray is as great as the authority of God, who commands us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17 NKJV). Prayer is so vital to all that God wants to do on the earth, and it is so essential to us, that He commands us to do it all the time. We should even deny ourselves sleep and food at times to pray more and with greater power (see Matt 6:16; Luke 6:12; 21:36; Col 4:2; 2 Cor 11:27).

Or, as John Chrysostom wrote:
Prayer has subdued the strength of fire. It has bridled the rage of lions, hushed anarchy to rest, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, burst the chains of death, expanded the fates of heaven, assuaged diseases, dispelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, staid the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. In this communion with God, there is an all-sufficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine that is never exhausted, a sky unobscured by clouds, a heaven unruffled by the storm. It is the root, the fountain, the mother of a thousand blessings!3

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Genesis 4:26 And as for Seth, he also fathered a son, and he called his name Enosh. At that time he began to call on the name of Yahweh.

Revelation 22:20 The one who testifies about these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

Gary T. Meadors, “The Bible and Prayer,” in Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry, comp. Dan R. Crawford (Terre Haute, IN: Prayer Shop Publishing), 10.

Adaptation of list compiled by AllAboutGOD.com, cited in “Why Pray?” National Day of Prayer Task Force, http://www.nationaldayofprayer.org (accessed October 6, 2010).

Colossians 4:2 Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving,

Luke 18:1 And he told them a parable to show that they must always pray and not be discouraged,

Luke 6:12 Now it happened that in these days he went away to the mountain to pray, and was spending the whole night in prayer to God.

John Chrysostom, quoted in R. Kent Hughes, James: Faith That Works (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991), 263. Day*� Pa�E �) Force, http://www.nationaldayofprayer.org (accessed October 6, 2010).

Bornschein, J., Butts, D., Branzell, K., & Elmore, D. (2012). The front line: A prayer warrior’s guide to spiritual battle. Bellingham, WA: Kirkdale Press.

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