Have We Really Prayed?

Posted May 27th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

I received this email from my brother this morning who is a missionary in Thailand and wanted to share it with everyone. God bless you in your daily prayers.

This morning God convicted my heart in a way I have only felt once before. My heart is His and has been for a long time. But He is still trying to waken me to see how much I depend on myself instead of Him.

Once in Cambodia , the efforts of four years church planting came crashing down and we cried out, “Why Lord?”

I sensed deep in my heart God saying, “Because you have not prayed.”

“But I pray!” I answered. “I am a missionary. I pray.”

The clear thought seemed to come back straight from God, “You have not prayed as if what I do matters more than what you do.”

So I began to lean on God more in prayer. For the last few years prayer has become more important to me bit by bit.

But today three quotes took me by surprise. My last year rushed through my mind. It has been more full of traveling and projects than ever before. Yet the work of this last year feels like a dimly flickering light. Good things have still happened, work has gone forward, but not like I believe God wants to do. I want fire, a bright shining life like Daniel and Enoch and Paul.

Don’t you?

Listen with me to God’s convicting call to entire reliance on Him:

“If we as a people would pray as Daniel prayed, and wrestle as he wrestled, humbling our souls before God, we should realize as marked answers to our petitions as were granted to Daniel” (The Sanctified Life, 47).

I need marked, specific answers, don’t you?

I want to study Daniel’s way of praying,
AND PRAY LIKE HIM!

“Only by humbling themselves before God can God’s servants advance His work. Never are they to depend on their own efforts or on outward display for success” (4BC 1173).

It’s the ONLY way to advance God’s work.
Then what have my sometimes prayer-less efforts been doing?

“True prayer engages the energies of the soul and affects the life. He who thus pours out his wants before God feels the emptiness of everything else under heaven” (4T 535).

Anything else is emptiness?
Then let the prayers go forward with earnest, joyful faith!
Let us have “marked answers” to our prayers!

So today, I have no specific requests I’m bringing you this time, though there are some urgent things happening that need your intercession.
Instead, I’m just asking you to let the Holy Spirit empower you to pray. He is the great Intercessor (Romans 8).

Looking Unto Jesus,
Scott and Julie Griswold
Center for Ministry among Buddhists

BridgesForMinistry.org
MissionActionGuide.org

Jesus And The Jerks

Posted May 26th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

“But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV)

Jerk: A person regarded as disagreeable, contemptible, especially as the result of foolish or mean behavior.

One of the biggest jerks I ever knew was a 23-year-old college graduate whose anger and arrogance spilled into many of his relationships. His hypocrisy was astounding – one moment he claimed to be a Christian and the next he acted like a son of hell. If it had been my choice, I would have avoided him all together – but since that jerk was me, I was stuck being around him!

Most of us try to avoid jerks. We pat ourselves on the back for not telling them off. We applaud ourselves for putting up with them. We remind ourselves everybody has a cross to bear, and so we grudgingly accept certain jerks as our divinely ordained burden.

But is that what we’re called to do?

Jesus embraced jerks; he graced them with love – while stilling telling them the truth in love. Now he had no qualms about pointing out a whitewashed tomb when he saw one, but the corporate evil of the Pharisees was a far more serious matter than mere human jerkiness.

The point is this: Jesus didn’t shelter himself from the pain and heartache caused by jerks. In fact, he voluntarily stretched out his arms on the cross and allowed several jerks to slam nails into his hands and feet.

Behind all their stomp and snort, jerks are still spiritual beings, created in God’s image and destined for heaven or hell. We’re compelled to be ministers of reconciliation, willing to embrace the pain of a fallen world for the sake of our God. (2 Corinthians 5:16-21)

The heart of the gospel is that God loves the unlovely. Could it be that the jerks God places in our lives are there to teach us to be more like Christ, to teach us the God-like quality of loving the unlovely?

Most of us take for granted the incredible change God initiated in our own lives: We were once jerks to God, yet even while we were still jerks, Christ died for us!

Jerks are never easy to embrace. If it were easy to love everyone, then Christ need not have died; we could love them on our own. But in order to embrace the jerks in our life, we need the Life of Christ within us so that, as new creations, we can overwhelm jerks with God’s grace, showing them the only power that will stop them from stumbling in the darkness, teaching them to cling to the only thing able to move them from being jerks to being Jesus-followers.

So what?

· Jesus loves jerks too – Even the most difficult people are spiritual beings in need of Christ.

· Jesus transforms you – Jesus can use the “jerks” in your life to transform you into a more Christ-like believer. Is it possible that the “jerk” who annoys you is God’s instrument to show you areas where you should grow, areas where you have difficulty loving unconditionally, the way that Christ loves you?

· God’s plan for you – If God allows a difficult person in your life, consider that he may want you to (1) pray for them and (2) show them by your own example how much God loves them, regardless of their behavior.

· Your mission – Who in your life seems disagreeable, contemptible, foolish, or mean? How would God have you approach them from now on? What can you do today to show them the love of Christ?

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

They Saw Jesus

Posted May 24th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews
John 20:19

Picture the scene. Peter, John, James. They came back. Banking on some zany possibility that the well of forgiveness still had a few drops, they came back. Daring to dream that the master had left them some word, some plan, some direction, they came back.

But little did they know their wildest dream wasn’t wild enough. Just as someone mumbles, “It’s no use,” they hear a noise. They hear a voice.

“Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)

Every head lifted. Every eye turned. Every mouth dropped open. Someone looked at the door.

It was still locked.

It was a moment the apostles would never forget, a story they would never cease to tell. The stone of the tomb was not enough to keep him in. The walls of the room were not enough to keep him out.

The one betrayed sought his betrayers. What did he say to them? Not “What a bunch of flops!” Not “I told you so.” No “Where-were-you-when-I-needed-you?” speeches. But simply one phrase, “Peace be with you.” The very thing they didn’t have was the very thing he offered: peace.

It was too good to be true! So amazing was the appearance that some were saying, “Pinch me, I’m dreaming” even at the ascension. No wonder they returned to Jerusalem with great joy! No wonder they were always in the temple praising God!

A transformed group stood beside a transformed Peter as he announced some weeks later: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:56)

No timidity in his words. No reluctance. About three thousand people believed his message.

The apostles sparked a movement. The people became followers of the death-conqueror. They couldn’t hear enough or say enough about him. People began to call them “Christ-ians.” Christ was their model, their message. They preached “Jesus Christ and him crucified,” not for the lack of another topic, but because they couldn’t exhaust this one.

What unlocked the doors of the apostles’ hearts?

Simple. They saw Jesus. They encountered the Christ. Their sins collided with their Savior and their Savior won! What lit the boiler of the apostles was a red-hot conviction that the very one who should have sent them to hell, went to hell for them and came back to tell about it.

From Six Hours One Friday
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 1989) Max Lucado