Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Popcorn Prayers and Wrestling Matches

Prayer is the simple act of worship where we, as believers in Jesus Christ,  can speak boldly and confidently to God from our heart. When we pray through the lens of a believer,  God hears our prayers (John 16:23). But an unbeliever's prayer will fall on deaf ears (Hebrews 11:6). As believers, we can thank and ask God for anyone, anything, anytime, anywhere using our own heartfelt words.

Often, our prayer life can find us doing popcorn prayers. Random prayers that simply pop in our heads and are quickly whispered to God. Prayers of thanksgiving, healing, safety, of praise. Nothing wrong with those quick sporadic prayers. God knows our heart, and what we need at that moment and he will listen.

Other times, our prayer life can seem like a wrestling match. So many thing vie for our attention that our minds wrestle with staying on the task of speaking to God. Interruptions, time demands, deadlines, grocery lists, washer or dryer buzzing, kids fighting all distract us. Our prayers may travel down many unrelated tangents until we give into our demands and stop praying. Satan is perfectly happy keeping us distracted from conversing with God.

Then, too, we can simply be too busy and we forget to pause and take time to listen for God’s reply.  

God’s reply? YES! God communicates back to us through his Holy Word, the Bible.

When we devote even short amounts of time on a daily basis to be reading his word, he can give us the instruction and comfort we may need to handle the circumstances he sees heading our way. When we read bible stories and the way God’s people of the past reacted and handled situations in their life, we become better prepared to face life with the peace only he can provide. He loves us and he wants to prepare us, interrupt us and sometimes rearrange us to protect us from our natural, sometimes sinful, responses to our circumstances. When we spend time in our bibles, our hearts are better prepared to deal with our daily lives.

A favorite bible story is about Jesus on a 40 day fast, alone in the desert, when he is visited by the devil in the beginning verses of Matthew chapter 4. Satan tempts Jesus three times. In each case, Jesus used God’s word to fight off the temptations he was facing. Jesus knew God’s word well enough that he was prepared to use it.

As we dig into God’s word, he too will prepare us to face our days. We can pray God’s word back to him and be strengthened.

How powerful would it be to:
  • Pray for your husband and ask that God would keep his mind sharp and focused. That his thoughts would not be conformed to this world, but would be transformed and renewed by the power of God. (Romans 12:2)
  • Pray for your children and ask that no unwholesome talk would proceed from them, but only what is good for building others up. Pray that your children would always speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15, 29), that they’d be quick to flee from temptation, to turn away from evil, and to faithfully pursue wisdom, righteousness, peace, love, and truth. (2 Timothy 2:22; Psalm 34:14; Proverbs 4:5-7)
  • Pray for a hurting friend and ask that they may humble themselves under God’s mighty hand, so that he may lift them up in due time.  May they cast all anxiety on him.  Help them to be alert and of sober mind.  May they resist the roaring enemy lion and stand firm in the faith.  Remind and encourage him that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings (I Peter 5:6-9).
  • Pray for a boss or coworker to give victory over seeking the praise of people. Help them to be ready to give to the Lord’s work without expecting any recognition from others. (Matthew 6:2)
  • Pray for your pastor and ask the Lord to help him to proclaim the kingdom of God and teach about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance (Acts 28:31).
  • Pray for yourself or bible study friends Psalm 86:11 that the Lord would teach us his ways so we may rely on his faithfulness and that he would give us an undivided heart, and that we may fear his name and that as we draw closer to him, he will draw nearer to us. (James 4:8)
We underestimate the power made available to us when we don’t spend enough time with God. Instead of filling your prayer time with only your words, take time to focus on what our powerful God is communicating back through his word.

You can spend time praying and meditating on passages that touch you, journal your thoughts and prayers and jot down how God answers them. And don’t worry if at first all you hear is silence. Keep sitting at his feet. He is faithful and will draw our hearts out of the chaos of our lives into the sweetness of his presence. Pray Jeremiah 29: 12-14.

Prayer is powerful. Join us at 5pm this Sunday, January 31st in the church basement to watch the family friendly movie, War Room. See how Ms Clara changes the lives of a family through her prayer life. Pastor will be available for questions and pizza will be served. (rs)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

How do you spend your soul?

What does YOUR soul long for, that deep down thing you long to do? 
Do you carve out time in your day for this longing and guard that time or do other people’s requests dictate your schedule?  There’s a distinct difference between being proactive or reactive when it comes to how you approach your schedule.  When other people’s requests dictate the decisions we make, we can quickly become exhausted from living reactive instead of proactive lives.
An overwhelmed soul leaves you longing and living with an unfulfilled emptiness.

“The decisions we make dictate the schedules we keep.  The schedules we keep determine the lives we live.  The lives we live determine how we spend our souls.” Lysa Terkeurst.

This is more than selfishly making “ME time.”  What we are talking about here is making intentional decisions to honor God with the time we have .  

In Philippians 2:3-7 Paul talks about the unity of the church through humility. Giving voice to the passion God has placed in you.  Why?   “… to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul”  Deuteronomy 10:12.  Having the right attitude and unselfishly letting your passion out and come to fruition so that you may serve others.  This is mission work, right?  To not only preach, but live the Gospel.  A little farther down Paul says then you will shine like stars in the universe (Philippians 2:14-16).

God places many people in our lives so that we may serve them.  It is not enough to be given the opportunities, we must take the time to see them and act.  It’s about being the woman who makes intentional decisions to find her way to serve others and shine.

You know, you are not alone in this.  God doesn’t give you the direction and then leave you out there hanging.  Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  He gives instruction so we can know His direction.

How we spend our souls matter.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:20-22  (Read these passages for yourself, God has more to say to you here.)

Things won’t change by simply trying harder, the approach of how you make decisions must change.  So, what is your longing?  What patterns must you change to create new, more proactive habits to live a more intentional life for God?

Don’t get so locked in to your overwhelmed schedule  that you haphazardly spend your soul.  Never was a woman so fulfilled as when she chooses to underwhelm her schedule so she can let God overwhelm her soul.

What will God accomplish and allow you to experience through you obedience to Him?   (JH)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Wind-up Toy Life

At the end of every year, you cannot turn on the radio or the television without hearing the media bombard the audience with thoughts about new goals and goal setting.  Our friends and family ask us what new resolution, or behaviors, will we make or change for the start of the new year. It is a condition of our world that we long for change. I ache to be better, to do better, to live differently, determined to take away the struggle of overeating or not exercising enough, of spending too much money on things or time on the computer and not enough in God’s word.  I long for change of some of my behaviors.

Cymbal-banging monkey toyEven if I desire change, I often find myself like the wind-up toy monkey I had as a child. In the morning, I wake up and wind the little key on my back and proceed to act and do exactly the same things I did yesterday. Oh, the day to day tasks change, but basically I move from here to there, clanging my cymbals, and getting the errands done; hopping from one task to another but never really moving forward. On occasion I get wound too tight and I cannot think correctly and sometimes I just slowly wind down and accomplish nothing. Somehow, every day is the same and the changes I desire never happen and disappointment in myself is felt deep inside my heart.

I struggle with this and I’m guessing you do too.

This struggle shows up in different behaviors, habits, actions or emotions for each of us. Some behaviors are healthy and enrich our lives. Think about the healthy behaviors you have in your life in relationships, finances, spiritual life or physical life and how you are enriched through those behaviors.

But some behaviors are unhealthy and we can all lay claim to an unhealthy behavior that impoverishes our life. It impoverishes us spiritually, financially, physically or in relationships.  It might be anger, an addiction, or laziness, possibly selfishness or something else entirely. We want to change, but you can’t. We have good intentions to change, yet we often fail to even start the change or it continues to persist.

Understand that you are not alone. The apostle Paul knew the tension to know what is right but to not live it.  Listen to what he said in Romans 7:15 and feel his despair, how he is like a wind-up toy too:

I do not understand what I do.
For what I want to do
I do not do,
but what I hate
I do.

I see myself in this passage. On one hand is me knowing and desiring the very things I should do but instead day to day routines, circumstances and habits keep me stuck doing the very things I resolved to not do.

There is hope for us though, and we will be exploring more on the topic in future posts to this web site. But I don’t want to leave you wallowing there. So one more thought.

The bible tells us in Lamentations 3:22,

Because of the Lord’s great love
we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Ahhhh…...don’t you feel better now? That passage brings a big smile to my face like a gulp of fresh spring air. Because God loves us so much, we need not despair and be consumed. The Lord’s great love is new every morning!

So, as we wind ourselves up and proceed through the day living our healthy behaviors and habits but also as we cave into our unhealthy behaviors and habits, rest in the promise that as children of God, we get a do over every morning because He loves us. And that is a promise from our God and our treasure!

If you would like to automatically receive more encouragement and growth for your spiritual life, you may subscribe to www. web site. Feel free to encourage and invite your friends to subscribe also.  

Then join us on Monday, January 18th at 7pm at Higher Grounds Coffee Shop in Beaver Dam as other ladies expand and grow in this area plus explore and discuss the topic of “Overwhelmed Schedule - Underwhelmed Soul”.        (rs)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


January 6 - Epiphany - the coming of the Wise Men to see Baby Jesus

A story told so often we know it by heart, or do we?

Jesus was the promised Messiah which the Jews were watching and waiting for.  Generation after generation the promise was passed on with anticipation.  The wise men, however, were not Jewish. They came from the East, gentiles.  They saw God's special star in the sky and they were moved to follow it to see the Savior.  They knew this Savior was for all people.

This wasn't exactly a walk down the block or even across town. Great care had to be taken in setting off with a caravan of any size. Camels and wise men like to eat, you know and nights get cold. Many supplies had to be gathered and packed for the journey of unknown length.  How many wise men we are not told.  We are told, though, in addition to necessities they took care to pack gifts and priceless ones at that.

Without question or delay, they set out, guided by a star to find the newborn King and present him with costly gifts.  They were not held back by doubts and they didn't bring cheap trinkets for show.  Worship, full of awe and wonder and praise.

This is the story of heart we know and treasure and hold as an example as we worship our King daily. His "star" still guides us.  Confidently follow.  What best will you give him?                     (jh)