Archive for February, 2018

Homesick

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

When I was a sophomore in high school, our marching band was given the incredible opportunity to voyage overseas for a Europe tour. At first, I didn’t want to go—traveling without my parents was something I’d never done before, and the idea of journeying by plane was beyond frightening. However, after being persuaded this trip it was the opportunity of a lifetime, I caved and signed up at the last minute. Off I went, the day after Christmas, to return home sometime after the New Year.

Realistically, 1 ½ weeks was not a long time to be gone, but it felt like forever. Don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful time sightseeing and spending time with friends. But, it wasn’t long before I was tired of sleeping in hotel beds, using a weird converter to blow dry my hair so I wouldn’t knock out the power in the hotel again (that’s another story for another day), eating strange food, not being able to read anything in English—overall, being plain uncomfortable with my surroundings.

Prior to my departure, I obtained a pre-paid international calling card to contact my parents in case of emergency. After a while, I desired something to remind me of home. Truthfully, I was homesick, and I needed to hear my parent’s voice. And, that was reason enough for me to make that emergency call.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Hebrews 11:13, KJV).

I love reading about the pillars of faith in the Bible. How did they persevere in their faith? How did they keep going when the world around them seemed so dark? The driving factor: a promise of a future country and a future home.

Our patriarchs and matriarchs of faith weren’t comfortable living in this world. They knew to press on because they were just strangers and pilgrims on earth. Their death wasn’t going to be the end. Strangers in the Greek (xenos) means a foreigner or guest, and pilgrim (parepidémos) means a sojourner—someone just passing through.

I’m reminded of an old song that explains this Scripture well:

This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And, I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

Just as I was a tenth-grader homesick to get back to a place I knew I belonged, we as Christians need to be homesick for a similar place. We need to long for a place we’ve never seen, but have been promised through the Word of God. We need to be homesick for Heaven! That’s our future home. That’s our future country. It’s not here; it’s not today; it’s not on earth.

We can’t be comfortable in a place that’s not our home. This is just a place to dwell for a season and then we’re leaving. This is why we need to call home to hear God’s familiar voice, so He can encourage us to press on just a little while longer. He can let us know everything is going to be alright.

Are you homesick today? Are you looking forward to the place Jesus has prepared for you (John 14:3)? Let’s get on our knees in prayer and make that phone call home. God will help us turn our eyes toward Heaven, and He will stir up that yearning for our true home.

Rescued

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

Luke 15:3–13, 20–24

Jesus was criticized by the religious leaders of His day for hanging out with publicans. They tried to cast doubt on His ministry and influence in the lives of the people. But, the mission of Jesus Christ was to seek and save that which was lost. He responded to the Pharisees with three parables to indicate the importance of repentance and the saving grace of God.

Lost Sheep

Jesus’ first parable was about a lost sheep (Luke 15:3–7). He used the imagery of sheep because this was something the people of the day could connect with. People understood sheep had an uncanny ability to get themselves lost. They would drift off into the dark away from the shepherd, and once they looked up from grazing, would realize they were lost. Their only defense mechanism was to cry for help.

Jesus said He was the good shepherd, and He would give His life for the sheep (John 10:11). Once we (the sheep) realize we’re lost and cry out to Jesus, He will come to save us. He will come to our rescue. It’s important to note that all of heaven will rejoice when one sinner repents (Luke 15:7).

Lost Coin

Unlike the sheep who realize they’re lost, Jesus tells of a coin (Luke 15:8–11). A coin didn’t have seeming importance all by itself, but this is a truth Jesus was trying to convey. We must understand we all have tremendous worth in the eyes of our Maker. We are His masterpiece and He wants to rescue us today (Ephesians 2:9–10).

The Jewish dowry was 10 silver coins. Losing one meant unfaithfulness on the part of the bride. Therefore, the woman swept her house to find the coin. There are those of us who can be in church and be just as lost as someone outside the church. We might look like the other coins, but we’re not in our proper place; we’re lost. We need to allow God to come in, expose our sin, rescue us, and restore us to our proper order in the church.

Lost Son

The last parable was about the prodigal (wasteful) son (Luke 15:12–24). This was a story about the worst sinner: someone who was disrespectful, greedy, wasteful, and squandered their privileges. At that time, if a son had done such a thing to his family, they would have had a funeral with an empty casket. The son would still be alive, but dead in the hearts of his family. But, Jesus showed the nature of a loving God. When this son realized he had sinned, and returned with a repentant heart, his father was waiting and ran to him while he was yet a far off.

The Pharisees expected a different outcome according to the law (Deuteronomy 21:18–21), but Jesus said grace says another. When Jesus comes in to rescue us, He will take our shame, and welcome us back to a right place in Him.

Rescued People

Isaiah was a prophet in the Old Testament that stood out from the rest due to his literary distinctions and theological revelations. Once we come upon Chapter 6 of his book, we see a change in the tone of his writing and experience. He stepped past the familiar and into the realm of the supernatural. He saw the Lord, had his sins purged, and was commissioned to go into the world to make disciples (Isaiah 6:1–10). He understood that he was a sinner, but he had been touched and cleansed by Jesus Christ. He had been rescued.

Isaiah understood his cleansing wasn’t just for him; it was a moment in his life where he had been changed and was commissioned to go and do a work. He needed to help others be rescued. Rescued people are used by God to rescue other people. We need to allow God to flow through us and help lead someone else back to Him. We need to help someone realize that can and will be rescued by Jesus.

Faith Without Works

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

What doth it profit, my brethren though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? (James 2:14, KJV)

Faith and Works

In our personal relationship with God, we must exercise both faith and works. We cannot be void of either faith or works because the lack of one will impact our life as well as others. We have a tendency to define faith and works by our own standards, and in doing so, we put God in a box. We cannot define faith and we cannot define works. We must look to God and his Word to see the definitions.

Many claim Paul was an advocate for faith only and James for works only. However, a close look at the Word shows Paul and James both supported the coupling of faith and works together.

Six Principles of Faith with Works

See All People as Equals

We cannot see people as objects without value; we should see everyone as an equal because the ground is level at the foot of the cross. Scripture tells us all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We need to look upon people with the heart of God.

If we don’t combine our faith and works, we become just another body on the pew—a part of the furniture. We need to look upon people with loving eyes and be moved by the Spirit to help people, from all walks of life. James tells us not to favor one person over another (James 2:9), but to love and help everyone equally.

Stay Motivated to Keep All the Laws

We cannot pick and choose what part of God’s Word we want to follow and what elements we want to avoid. If we don’t abide the whole law, we’ll be guilty of all of it (James 2:10–13). Jesus came to follow the whole law. He set the example, so we must follow Him!

The love of God must be in us to be able to follow the law. Fear is not enough of a motivator to help us keep it. We must genuinely love God, love His law, and love every part of our relationship with Him. If we have faith in Jesus Christ, he will help us do the things He has called us to do (Titus 2:11–14).

Couple Faith with Action

A man cannot just say that he has faith without showing any works (James 2:14). Faith is always going to be active and moving. If we read about our patriarchs and matriarchs of faith in Hebrews 11, we see their faith had “legs”—it took them somewhere! Just like our forefathers of faith, we need to be working in our faith. We need to be engaged in the needs of the church and be active!

Make Sure Faith is Profitable

James tells us speaking about or believing in meeting a need for others doesn’t actually meet the need of helping someone (James 2:14–17). Unless we actually take action to help give someone food or clothing, our faith isn’t profitable (James 2:20). We need to take our faith and activate it in the work of God’s Kingdom. We should be prepared and ready to help people at all times. When someone is in need, we need to act to help them. When they return, we need to help them again.

Couple Faith and Works Together

As mentioned previously, our faith and our works can not stand in silos. Both components build on each other; they help grow and advance each other in our life and in the Kingdom of God. Just like following after the full law, we can’t pick and choose one over the other to abide in our walk with Him.

Show forth Evidence

James noted, as did Paul, that you can’t just have faith without works. You will show your faith by your works (James 2:18). We must declare our faith in Jesus by change. When you have an encounter with Jesus, you won’t stay the same. The work of obedience to the Gospel will work a change in us. With the Holy Ghost flowing through us, it will help us to bring power to our faith, which will manifest into works. The Holy Spirit will guide us and move us into places we’ve never been before. But, without the faith, we won’t have the works, and without works, we won’t have faith.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on February 21, 2018 with Pastor Linton

Workout: Round 2

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

I’m an avid exerciser. Yes, I’m one of those people others look at with disdain and quote I Timothy 4:8 (For bodily exercise profits little…). But, I exercise for various reasons, and when I exercise, I exercise hard.

I have one exercise DVD that’s broken up into segments. You’re supposed to do all of them at the same time, one right after the other. But, if I do what they want me to do, I’m absolutely dying in the last exercise. But, if I split it up, and do the last exercise at a later time after I’ve rested, it’s much easier.

But, the workout guru on the DVD makes me guilty every time I wait to complete the last segment. He says, “Anyone can work out when they’re fresh.” (It’s almost as if he knows…)

Ah, who cares?!? If I’m exhausted, and literally screaming at the end of my workout, why not wait to come back and do it again when I’m rested and it’s easier?

Okay—you might need to do this when you work out, but this doesn’t hold true in all areas of your life. Not sure? I’ll show you.

In our walk with God, we’re in a constant battle against our flesh and struggling to survive life’s trials. But, there comes a point in all of our work, pushing, straining, and effort against that one thing, we feel like we’re going to break. Like me at the end of my workout, we’re screaming because we can’t go any farther, and we don’t have any energy or life left in us to do it.

God’s direction for us to fight that battle and win isn’t like my exercise regimen. God knows we’re not going to be able to fight that battle in our weakened state. The more we try, the weaker and more fatigued we become. He’s not barking at us like a drill sergeant saying, “Go, go, go!” He’s saying, “Stop, and rest with Me.”

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength (Isaiah 40:29, KJV).

Scripture tells us God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. When we’re in the midst of our battle and we can’t fight any longer, God’s telling us to stop and rest. Stop and read the Word for a bit. Stop and pray for a while. Stop and experience the refreshing of the Holy Ghost.

It’s after we’ve read the Bible, prayed, and been filled with the Holy Spirit, we’re rejuvenated and geared up again with a renewed strength to fight. And, when we return to the same battle, we’ll find that same flesh, same obstacle, or same adversary much easier to overcome.

When you’ve been in the presence of the Lord, you’ll face your problem with a greater power. What seemed impossible becomes possible! What seemed too heavy becomes light as a feather! What seemed like the greatest mountain is now a mere bump in the road!

Don’t approach your daily walk like the way the world desires—don’t push until you can’t push any more. God does want us to fight, but He also wants us to take water breaks with Him. It’s only then do the words of the exercise guru hold true in your spiritual life: “Anyone can work out when they’re fresh.” Amen, Brother!

Your flesh, the devil, or fiery trial better watch out because you’ve got a new power and anointing behind your spiritual muscles. I promise you’ll be able to fight and win when you come back for round 2.

Three Steps to a Miracle

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague (Mark 5:25–29, KJV).

Miracles are signs and events that communicate there has been a supernatural, extraordinary event—which still happen today. We must understand miracles aren’t just events, but they’re markers of a person showing up at the event. Miracles prove someone supernatural has been at work in our life, family, and marriage.

The underlying reality—the true miracle is the One who completes it. Therefore, the potential for miracles is always present if Jesus shows up. If we need a miracle in our life today, there’s no reason for us to leave His presence without it. Whatever we need, the miracle is right with Jesus Christ.

Get the Miracle in Our Mind

The woman with the issue of blood made a key statement: if I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. She decided in her mind what she believed would happen before she took any action. Her faith started on the inside by hearing the Word of God spoken aloud (Romans 10:17). The Word of God will foster an atmosphere of faith, and where God finds faith, miracles are bound to happen.

We must command every thought to be in the obedience of Christ and His Word (II Corinthians 10:4–5). We are given power to rebuke thoughts coming into our mind that work against God’s will for our life. Once we align our thoughts to Christ, we’ll be able to visualize our miracle.

Get Close

The woman’s next step toward her miracle was to get out of her house and move toward Jesus. We cannot just grow close to God physically, but must ensure our heart is right (Matthew 15:8). We need to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts; sin must be eradicated from our life (James 4:8). Getting close to God means we must draw farther away from the world (II Corinthians 6:17). Once we draw closer to Jesus, the things that destroy us will slowly lose their impact on us.

The Reach

Nothing happened in the woman’s life until she reached out to touch Jesus. She visualized the miracle, she went to Jesus, but the miracle didn’t manifest until she reached. The reaching moment in the miracle process is a place most people never get to. It’s the last moment of surrender, where there’s no turning back. Our physical reaction to our mental decision will be our act of drawing toward God regardless of the cost. When we’re all in, our faith will drive us to action.

The Miracle

The woman was healed immediately when she touched Jesus’s garment. In the throng of onlookers, almost suffocating our Savior, He felt the one touch where virtue left His body. He knew a miracle had happened; it was a touch and experience that separated her from the rest of the crowd.

Jesus stopped and addressed her to let her know it was according to her faith she received a miracle, but also to receive the glory for it. When a miracle is dispatched in our life, it will be according to our faith, but we must remember to give God the praise he deserves!

Real Love and Marriage

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife (I Corinthians 7:3–4, KJV).

Real Love Meets Needs

There are over 40 Scriptures Paul wrote in Corinthians alone regarding marriage. His discourse on marriage covered unbelieving spouses, divorce, conflict, widows and widowers, unmarried individuals seeking spouses, intimacy, and much more. But, the basic crux of this Scripture passage is simple: husbands need to meet their wife’s needs and wives need to meet their husband’s needs.

When married couples forsake meeting one another’s needs in marriage, this is when discord enters. In I Corinthians 7:3, the Greek word render is apodidómi, which means to deliver, perform, or to yield. Husbands and wives must love each other in their marriages. But, what’s real love?

Jesus gave us a working definition of love through laying down His life for us. We’re told to do the same for our brothers and sisters in Christ (I John 3:16). Real love generates from a desire to ensure the best for someone other than ourselves, regardless if our own needs are met. We must love as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25).

Real Love Meets the Need in Conflict as Well as Comfort

God designed conflict to be a part of marriage to help solve problems in the relationship (I Corinthians 7:28). But, conflict can become ill-perceived if we use marriage solely for self-serving purposes. If we allow for a self-serving attitude to creep into the scope of our marital relationships, we’ll soon find the marriage has become an idol in our life.

We should be careful not to base our relationships on the feelings associated with love (e.g., liking someone or romanticism). If we truly love the way God wants us to love, we can’t fall out of love with someone. No one can ever be unlovable because as we were sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Our marriage relationship is based on our relationship with God, not based on the performance of our spouse.

Real Love Meets Your Spouse’s Need of Service

When God made man, He put him in the Garden of Eden and told him to take care of it. Afterward, God saw it wasn’t good for man to be alone, and created a help meet for him (Genesis 2:15, 18). God fashioned humans with gaps, and our spouses help fill those gaps. Marriage isn’t about our spouse being “all we need.” Marriage isn’t about finding someone who “completes us.” Marriage is a delightful love and intimacy that enables a man and a woman to serve God together.

Real Love Meets Your Spouse’s Need for Communication

In marriage, there are several rules for communication. We need to learn to communicate with one another at the right time (Proverbs 25:11). Don’t try to discuss a heated subject when it’s the wrong timing (Proverbs 20:3). It’s important to listen to one another when communicating. We should wait to answer after the other person speaks (Proverbs 18:3). Listening helps our spouse know we believe they’re important to us and what they’re staying is important.

Communication must go forward in a normal volume (Proverbs 15:1). We need to be careful to extend the same love and patience to our spouse as we do everyone else we encounter throughout the day. Lastly, we need to “fight fare” and resolve our differences with one another (Matthew 18:15). This requires us to:

  • Speak and act like a Christian
  • Set a time for confrontation with our spouse
  • Affirm our love for one another
  • Limit the parameters of the conversation
  • State the other’s position
  • Let the other person state our position
  • Find small areas of agreement
  • Engage in a dialogue, not a monologue
  • Watch for the boiling point of the other person
  • Continue with our responsibilities
  • Don’t violate confidences
  • Pray together

Real Love Learns What Your Spouse’s Needs Are

Scripture tells us to dwell with one another according to knowledge (I Peter 3:7). We need to learn our spouse and treat them with understanding and as equal partners in the relationship with Christ. If we fail to do this, God won’t hear our prayers. In the Old Testament, husbands and wives were commanded to invest in each other solely for one year before doing anything else (Deuteronomy 24:5). While we can’t do this today, this concept speaks of the importance of learning our spouse and what their needs are. They will never stop changing and we must never stop learning them.

Real Love Prepares You for the One Whose Needs You Will Meet

Paul wasn’t married at the time he wrote I Corinthians. He provides an awareness of those who are married as well as those who are single. Paul notes it’s easier to be single because extra work is involved when you’re married (I Corinthians 7:7). However, whether single or married, both states of life are a gift. We must accept and embrace the stage of life we’re in.

As we look to find a partner in life, we should be the person we want to marry. In self-reflection, we should also make sure we are living a right life that would attract the same type of person we’re looking for. Singles should be today who you want to marry in the future.

Real Love Comes from One Place

The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost (Romans 5:5). Real love is only going to come from God. He not only loves us, but uses us as a vessel to love through us to others in the world, and especially in our marriages. This is why Jesus looked at believers across the globe and noted how we’ll be called His disciples if we love one another (John 13:35).

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on February 14, 2018 with Pastor Nave

The Valentine Exchange

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

I remember as a child wrapping a shoebox in red construction paper, cutting out a slit in the top, and decorating the exterior with embellished hearts and flowers. All of this was meticulously done in anticipation for the yearly school Valentine’s Day exchange.

When the day arrived, I had such a fun time placing a Lisa Frank-themed valentine in my classmate’s shoeboxes. I paid very close close attention to ensure I didn’t distribute an “I love you” valentine in any boy’s shoebox. My mother encouraged me to give boys the more masculine valentines (if there is such a thing with Lisa Frank), and I also wanted to ensure my male classmates didn’t get any wrong ideas about my exclusive platonic feelings for them. Boys were and still are gross (Ssshhh—don’t tell my husband).

And, the best part was pulling my valentines out at the end of the day and reading through them one-by-one. They said stuff like, “You’re terrific,” “You’re an awesome friend,” or “You’re totally rad.” What an uplifting day! And, I especially cherished the valentines that were hand-made—I knew the person took extra special care in framing that valentine just for me. It really made me feel like a million bucks no matter the day I was having.

Whatever happened to doing this as an adult? My department at work, as close as it is, doesn’t hammer out the construction paper, shoe boxes, and pick-up goofy-themed valentines to hand out. Why? I have a few theories.

One, some people have children. And, because they’re already using the last empty shoebox in the house for classroom Valentine’s day activities, the remaining shoeboxes in their home actually have something in them—shoes. Two, adults have made valentines into a gushy expression of love reserved for their significant others. We’ve taken all the fun out of valentine-giving and encouraging others.

I think we need to resurrect valentine-giving as adults and not just make it a classroom activity. While you may not want to go out to grab a Barbie or Transformer-themed valentine to share because they may be a tad juvenile (albeit still really cool), or sacrifice a much-needed shoebox, there’s no cause for worry. You can forego the shoebox, and just go for the valentine, and I’ve got a few perfect Valentine Day sayings to share:

Valentines, in their simplest form, are to edify and encourage others; that’s what we’re commanded to do in Scripture (I Thessalonians 5:11). When we give a Valentine to anyone—child or adult—we’re essentially sharing the Word and allowing the love of God be shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5).

So, this Valentine’s Day, think about sharing a “Valentine” with someone—anyone. It doesn’t have to be mass produced in the store, or have a funky character on it. But, it can be in the form of a text, a phone call, email, or whatever method you choose. And, that Word of encouragement will make someone’s Valentine’s Day.

The Difference a River Can Make

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early (Psalms 46:4–5, KJV).

The Essence of a River

Rivers may change their course, empty from time to time, but they will never stop flowing. This is why Jesus chose a river to express what He would do in a person’s life. Jesus had said if anyone thirst, to come unto Him and drink. Those that believed on Him would have rivers of living water flow in their life (John 7:37–38).

In Psalms 46, the writer was referring to Jerusalem and how God would flow within and out. In relation to our lives, God is the river and we are the city. This Scripture is a promise that God will flow through our life. If we can allow the river to flow, there will be a difference!

The River is the Difference Between…

Glad and Mad

Sadness, anger, bitterness, contempt, and frustration all are washed away when there’s a river flowing inside of us. If we don’t have a river, we run a risk of living with these things our entire life. Scripture tells us in the presence of God is fulness of joy and pleasures evermore (Psalms 16:11). We have a choice to make: are we going to allow the river to flow? Are we going to rejoice in the day the Lord has made (Psalms 118:24)? With the river of God flowing through our live, we can be glad!

Stability and Chaos

God is not the author of confusion. If confusion is in our life it didn’t come from Him. Scripture tells us a double-minded man is unstable in all of His ways (James 1:8); we’re also cautioned not to waver in our faith (James 1:6). When we find ourselves in the midst of chaos, we need to centralize our thoughts on the river (Isaiah 26:3). If there is a river in us, we will not be moved (Psalms 46:5).

Things will start attacking us the moment we start living for God. We must be prepared for battle and gird up the loins of our mind (I Peter 1:13). We need to think on the river; think on the good things in Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:8).

Night and Day

When God created light, He called it the day, and when He created darkness, He called it night. But, both the evening and the morning were the first day (Genesis 1:5). In our perspective, the morning is the beginning of the day and the darkness ends the day. But, this isn’t God’s plan. God starts with the darkness and ends with the light. We must remember the day isn’t over until the light shows up (Psalms 30:5).

Help is always on it’s way in God (John 1:4); His help will come right at dawn. When the sun comes up, the Holy Ghost-filled believer has a promise. God will lead us in the way of light and manifest blessings in Him. We must seek after the light of the river and turn away from darkness (John 3:16–21).

Prayer is Not…

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16, KJV).

All prayer is good and all prayer avails; however, some prayers are more effective than others. As we continue in our spiritual journey with God, our prayer experience needs to grow. God will continue to deepen our prayers as we grow in Him, and their effectiveness will too.

Prayerful Maturity

As prayer matures, it will take on different characteristics and shape: the duration will extend, frequency will increase, the depth will grow, subject-matter will change from self to others, etc. We eventually will learn how prayer is a resource/tool for us instead of just for self-maintenance. Spiritual maturity will lead us to a place where we take less time to pray about ourselves and more on others and God’s Kingdom.

Prayer is Not an Option

People have a tendency to look at prayer as event-based—something with a start and stop time. However, prayer is not a moment in time but a lifestyle we must life in Christ. We’re admonished in Scripture to pray for everything (Philippians 4:6) and everyone (I Timothy 2:1–4). Prayer must become a state of mind for us; staying in a prayerful mindset will impact every other attitude manifested in our life. The basic charge we have as Christians is to continue in prayer (Romans 12:12) and without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17).

Prayer is Not a Ritual

We must approach prayer with a right attitude. There are several components that will help us understand how to come to a prayerful time and mindset in our Christian journey.

Be Real

It may go without saying, but we must be real when we pray. Prayer cannot become a charade for us; therefore, we must do it in secret (Matthew 6:5).  Prayer is not about impressing God, speaking with terminology we don’t normally use, or mimicking other people. We need to be us when we come to Him, get down to basics, and approach Him the way He created us.

Be Relational

God already knows what we have need of before we ask (Matthew 6:8), but our prayers need to emulate from our heart and less from our  mouth. As the Spirit leads us in prayer, we’ll know what to pray for! Prayer is all about quality; our heart must be right in order to pray effectively. Jesus rebuked behavior of people who came to Him with the wrong spirit (Matthew 15:8). We can touch the throne of Heaven when we pray if we seek Him with our whole heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

Be Revealing

King David prayed that God would search Him, try Him, and know His thoughts (Psalms 139:23). It’s important to be honest with God about what we know about ourselves, but also to be receptive in what God wants to reveal to us that we don’t know. David wanted to know about his “secret sins”—things he did, but wasn’t entirely conscious of. He wanted to know what God thought about and saw in his life (Psalms 139:24). Most importantly, he wanted God to expose the real him, and also to lead him into correction. We must desire the same in our life.

Be Open

Prayer is not a one-way conversation. Just was we talk to God, and make our requests known unto Him, we must be open to listen to what He has to say. God has something to say to everyone—He might even use us to speak to other people (Acts 21:11). But, there must be an avenue for Him to speak to us, and that is prayer. We must know His voice and follow it (John 10:27).

Prayer is Not a Leftover

We cannot live a life for God and allow prayer to be our “Plan B.” God wants to hear from His people first in their day (Psalms 63:1; Mark 1:35). Jesus even modeled this for us by rising early and finding a place to pray. Praying first helps to establish the steps we take daily; we commit every decision to Jesus and allow Him to orchestrate it. God wants to prepare a way for us—He has a plan for our life. If we wait to pray, we miss what He has in store.

Prayer is Not an Escape Door for Bad Decisions

We will reap the consequences of what we sow (Galatians 6:7). We can’t pray our way out of our poor choices. Prayer exists to help us through our wrongdoings, but it’s not an escape plan.

Prayer is Not a Guarantee Against Suffering

Daniel prayed for 3 weeks and didn’t hear from God. Jesus prayed in the garden and was still crucified. Paul, one of the greatest prayer warriors of our time was in prison, whipped, stoned, suffered shipwreck, experienced a multitude of perils, was tired, experienced pain, hungered, was thirsty, went naked, and many more things. Prayer may not ensure we won’t face trials and suffering in this life, but it will help us endure them. God will help comfort us in tribulation through our prayers (II Corinthians 1:3–4).

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on February 07, 2018 with Pastor Nave

The Inner God

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

It was starting to get dark. The treacherous fireflies were about. I was losing visibility fast, and I had to get back to base. Running as fast as my little legs could carry me, I bounded around the side of the house to the backyard. My destination was the playhouse, nestled in a garden plot behind my childhood home.

Throwing open the door, I bounded inside. A small head popped down the ladder from the floor above and asked, “Did you find him?” “No,” I panted, out of breath. I scrambled over to the table with the stationed CB radio. I grasped the hand-held mic, and shouted, “Breaker, breaker 1-2-3-4. Can’t find the robber. Requesting back-up. Over.”

We were kids then. It was just another game of cops and robbers, and we were playing with the entire neighborhood. We loved playing games, playing hard, and more importantly, having fun.

There are days I dearly miss the afternoons and evenings engaged in play with the neighborhood children. I miss being able to have fun, goof around, and have no one think twice about it because I was a juvenile.

Now I’m an adult, and let’s face it. If I’m not serious most of the time, people would think I have a screw loose. When I laugh hysterically at something remotely funny and get blank stares from onlookers, I blame it on my inner child desperately trying to break out. If I don’t feed her once-in-a-while, she’ll die.

I’m not in this whimsical category alone. There’s a clan of us running around with an “inner child” living in us. And, unfortunately, notions from our “inner child” can get us into trouble from time to time. When the going gets tough, if all we have is our “inner child,” our naïve spirits will break under pressure. If we’re not careful, we may be readily destroyed.

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He That is in you than he that is in the world (I John 4:4, KJV).

When we commit our lives to Christ, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost—God’s Spirit—dwelling inside of us, we literally have Jesus Christ Himself, living on the inside (Acts 2:38). Scripture tells us that instead of being led and governed by an innocent (albeit rambunctious) inner child, we can be led by something greater.

When the enemy of our soul attacks and tries to destroy us, the Spirit of God will rise up in us and combat the devil. We cannot defeat the devil on our own, but the Spirit of God will give us power to tread on serpents, and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19). Realistically, our “inner child” may want to accept defeat and cower in a corner. But, God has not given us the spirit of fear, but peace, love, and a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7). And, it’s His perfect love and powerful Spirit that will cast out all fear (I John 4:18).

He is greater. His work is greater. There’s nothing that’s impossible with God. When you walk with God, with Him living on the inside, He will also manifest Himself on the outside.

If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ today, it’s not too late to get right with God and allow Jesus to take up residence in your heart. You won’t just have an “inner child” on the inside, but a great big God.

You Didn’t See it Coming

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven (Genesis 28:16–17, KJV).

An Experience Like Never Before

Jacob came to a place in Scripture where He experienced God in a way never before. This is something we all need to experience in our walk with God. We must know God will show up when we least expect it, but at a time in our life when we need it most.

Jacob was on the run because he had deceived his brother, and Esau sought his life. He was in the middle of nowhere, and had a dream of a ladder reaching from the heavens to the earth. Angels ascended and descended on the ladder, and he saw the Lord Himself at the top.

Jacob didn’t stop in that place with an expectation of anything changing in his life. His agenda was solely to travel to his uncle’s house and lay low. But, God had another plan. Jacob awoke and knew the Lord was with him. It was in a dusty, barren place Jacob declared it to be the house of God.

God’s house is not just made of brick and mortar. His house is anywhere that He shows up. It then becomes a gateway to a life we can’t find anywhere else.

Baggage is Welcome in God’s House

Jacob was a liar and a deceiver, but he still found himself in God’s house. We cannot be deceived into believing there are no mistakes in God’s house. God Himself is perfect, but human beings are not. The purpose of God’s house is to take mistakes and correct them. We must all come together in God’s house so He can minister to us in the same way.

Pillars are Important in God’s House

Jacob took the stone he had used as a pillow, stood it up, and poured oil atop it. It became a monument unto the Lord and a reference point to Jacob’s life with the Lord. He called the place Bethel and made a vow to the Lord. Pillars are important to both God and to us. When God shows up in our life, we need to make a big deal out of it! Pillars will point us back to what is real; we can’t forget the day the supernatural presence of the Holy Ghost came into our life!

Pillars are Not the End

Twenty years later, Jacob heard the same voice of God. He was told to go back to Bethel; back to the pillar and dwell there. He was instructed to make an altar and change his experience to a conversion (Genesis 35:1). There is a vast difference between a pillar and an altar. Pillars are evidence of an anointing, but an altar is where things die—it’s a place where consecration is made.

Many people have lifetimes full of pillars, but they don’t go back to change them into altars. We must get out of the pillar-making business and get into the altar-making business. Jacob had lived a shallow spiritual life for 20 years. But, he had to get back to the presence of God so He could continue a work in His life and draw Him closer.

God never intended for us to end with a pillar, but to set up a gateway. God wants us to come back to build and altar. He wants to be more than just a segment in our day. He wants to invest in us. All we need to do is come before Him and make a commitment to be consecrated to Him today.