How To Pray When You Are In Need

Trust means praising God first. I learned to pray the hard way. Sometimes we just find ourselves in seasons where we need help. When it hit me, I thought I knew what to do: trust God. Jesus said,  Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? (Mat 6:25) He said He would take care of us.

So when I ran out of money and couldn’t find a job, I trusted God. I would spend my devotional time telling Him how much I trusted Him, that I knew He would take care of me, that He would open doors of opportunity. I trusted Him. But nothing changed. Small jobs would come my way, but nothing that would help significantly. It frustrated me because I believed I was doing what He wanted me to do in that position. The problem was, I was still looking at my problem.

Then something changed in my attitude. Instead of telling Him how much I trusted Him, I began telling Him how good He is. I filled pages in my journal praising Him and loving Him. I poured out all the greatness that belongs to Him in every way I could think of. It wasn’t an action that I felt I had to do, it was genuine and loving.

Almost immediately money started coming my way. I knew that I’d need to continue to rely on God’ provision going forward, but it was going to be ok. It was amazing.

As I sat back and thanked Him for all that He was doing for me, I began to think about a nice hot chai latte. I love chai lattes, but I had not allowed myself any indulgences because all my money had to go to paying expenses. I heard the Lord say, “Go get one.” I said, No, I can’t. I still have bills to pay. “Do you think I will stop providing for you if you spend $5 on something that will please Me?”, He said. Why would it please You?, I asked Him. “Because it is a form of worship when you obey Me.”

This astounded me. He has promised to give us life abundantly, but the only way we can enter into that is to trust Him and enjoy who He is and what He is doing for us. I would never have considered spending $5 on a chai latte as a form of worship, but because I could trust Him to continue to love me and provide for me, He wanted me to enjoy something that He knew I would love. So I did, and I loved it, and I praised Him for it.

This lesson that I learned was to seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to us. It’s true and it works. Take you eyes off the problem and look to God’s amazing goodness. Then watch what He will do.

Join ISIS, Become Great

ISIS has a Join ISIS Become Greatlot to offer a young man looking to find his way in life — a chance to be part of something big, something powerful and growing, something with tremendous impact. It offers brotherhood and camaraderie. It offers a way to become great.

But ISIS is not the only way to find those things. You don’t have to kill people to become great. You don’t have to kill people to be part of something powerful. You don’t have to kill people to belong to something big.

Most people joining ISIS don’t even understand the religious aspect of what ISIS stands for. God seems to be behind the ones with the guns and bombs and the ruthlessness to use them. My guess is that most people don’t want to kill, they want to matter. For those who want to make a difference without violence, there’s another way.

Looking for greatness in God is not entirely incorrect, just misguided in who to believe. Before joining ISIS, look to Jesus. See what He says. See what He has to offer. When we become believers of His grace, we become sons and daughters of the King of Kings, royal heirs. The God of the universe becomes our amazing Father. The life that Jesus lived on earth is a model for us to live today. Everything He did, we have the ability to do. Can ISIS raise the dead? Can ISIS heal cancer? Can ISIS restore broken lives and relationships? Does ISIS provide love, joy, peace, and kindness?

Carrying a gun does not make you great. Living the life you were meant to live with all your gifts and talents leads you into the greatness of God. Anything else will always bring pain and loneliness. Jesus can make your life matter in ways you can’t even imagine. I’m not promising that life will be easy. There is still evil in the world to contend with, but Jesus will always make a way. He will always be there when you need Him. He will be everything that you need Him to be.

All you have to do is ask Him into your life. It’s that simple. He hears you and He knows you. When you pray, you will hear His voice in your heart. Learn to trust Him, He knows how to take care of you. If you have questions, let me know. People care about you. You’re not alone.

What Is Faith?

Faith is believing, not knowing.Everyone feels little confident that they know what faith is. Intellectually, we understand that faith is trust. I’m going to talk about what it is to trust in God. For most of my life, I agreed with what just about everyone else believes, that faith is trust. I believed in God and counted that as faith. I prayed. I believed that God would, and should, answer my prayers because I trusted that He would. Did He? Not as often as I wanted.  Why? Because I didn’t actually have faith.

My knowledge of God was not the same thing as trusting Him. My knowledge of a political party does not make me an active participant in that party. I have to believe their core values and act on them. It was a shocking burst of reality when I discovered that all my years of “believing” only amounted to years of “knowing.” When my faith called me to believe, I had a meltdown.

Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Heb 11:1) That’s the tricky part — we don’t like having to trust in something we can’t see. Yet, that’s exactly what God wants from us. That’s what faith is all about. It means that you will trust and not worry. Will the money come in? Trust and not worry. Will your son be ok in the military? Trust and not worry.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Heb 11:6)  It starts with believing that God exists. When we know that, we have to understand His nature. If we seek Him, because we want to find Him, He rewards us with what we need and blesses us even above that. Once we understand who He is, trusting Him gets easy. Read His Word and see just how generous and kind He is.

Here’s my challenge to you: check your heart and judge if you think you have faith, or you know you have faith. The way to determine that is checking your worry meter. If you worry at all, then faith is absent. If you turn to God and believe that He will do what He’s promised to do, then faith is active. Try it. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been worrying. Repent. Ask God to forgive you and ask Him for more faith to trust Him. Then try it out. See how far it takes you. We grow from faith to faith, always trusting Him more. If worry sneaks in because it’s been a habit, repent, ask for forgiveness, and move on.

Faith will save your life if you allow it. It is definitely God’s plan for you.

How Is It Possible To Be Friends With God?

 

I am friends with GodIf you have ever had the privilege of standing on a hillside away from city lights at night and looked at the expanse of stars in the sky, you know the wonder of our God. The massiveness of His creation and the beauty of it all should open your heart to want to know Him more. What is astonishing is that He wants to know us even more. But how can that be? How can the God of creation not know me?

That is the wonder of our relationship with Him. From the very beginning, before the first star was released to the vast expanse of space, God wanted to know me. He knew my name, He knew my heart’s desires, and He knew my weaknesses before a single atom was made. He knew who I would be, but He wanted to know my heart as I revealed it to Him. He wanted to be my Friend.

This is a concept almost too deep to bear. How can I be friends with God? How can I approach Him without fear and trembling? Well, He is God and He knew our fear so He revealed His great love for us through His prophets and through His Son. When we understand and establish in our hearts that God loves us more than we can comprehend, we can respond back with our human love. It is smaller and more fickle than His love for us, but it is where we start.

In that love that we feel from Him and for Him, we become friends. There is a comfort and boldness to go to Him without trembling. We can know Him as Papa and run to Him in joy. When we sit in the quiet place to listen to Him, He also listens to us. He wants us to pour our hearts out to Him. He wants us to tell Him about all the loss and pain that happens in life. If we don’t tell Him, then we hold it in and it hurts us. When we talk to Papa, we release it to Him and there is room for healing and joy.

And after we let go of our hurts, Papa crooks His finger at us to follow Him. There is more that He wants us to have. There are treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places to find. He lays out a treasure hunt in the heavenlies and invites us in to scamper and find His delights. Yes, it sounds fanciful, and yes it is real. After every delight, He crooks His finger again and draws us deeper. There is no limit to the wonder of knowing Him. The only limits are those we allow. We stop when others stop. We stop when we think others will judge us or not understand. God is waiting for those who will press in to know Him more.

He wants to know us. He wants us to know Him, and there are no boundaries in that knowing, only further possibilities. The more we reveal our heart to God and not hold back because we are embarrassed of our selfishness or greed, the more He can replace those harmful attitudes with His goodness, and His goodness reveals more of Him to discover. Our friendship with God is the reason for all creation. He is my Friend and I am His.

How To Receive Blessing

Being blessed by GodThe blessings of God belong to us.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Eph 1:3) These are real promises. Every spiritual blessing  is ours.  What does that look like? Look at the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Gal 5:22-23) Does any of that look like anything you’d like to have in your life? What about physical blessing? Jesus said: Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. (Mat 6:25) That means that God will provide all that you need in life!

Does it start to look like God wants to bless you in just about every way possible? So, if He’s so willing to give it, why don’t you have it?

One reason is because you may not think you deserve it. We’ve been trained to earn what we get. We think that if we behave ourselves, we’ll be rewarded. When we screw up, we feel guilty and don’t feel like we deserve any reward, and that blocks what God wants to do. And, as it turns out, we’re human, so we screw up all the time — so we never feel like we ever deserve blessing.

But here’s the thing, God knows we’re human. He’s known that all along, and He’s not bothered by it. In fact, Jesus died for us knowing just how human we were, and loved us the whole time. We can’t earn His blessing. He gives it freely, knowing who we are. There’s no way to be perfect, so get over it. When you mess up, repent. Give it to Jesus and let it go. Guilt, condemnation, and fear will block all the goodness that God wants to put into your life. Confessing your sins and continuing to feel guilty is not His plan. You have to know that you are forgiven when you repent.

Now ask God to bless you. That’s perfectly ok to do. He wants to do it. Say, “Father, I receive all the blessings that you are giving me.” Now watch what happens in your life. When you see blessing begin to come to you, thank Him. Be grateful, then ask for more. That’s ok, too. There’s no limit to how much blessing you can have. It’s all yours. More than you could possibly hold onto. In fact, you may have to ask Him to hold back at some point so you can take it all in.

Blessing is a by-product of living in a loving relationship with God. Once you get over feeling like you have to earn it, you can live with the grace of God on you that your spirit hungers for. Love, peace, and joy are yours. Provision to meet your needs are yours. God wants to take complete care of you. All you have to do is let Him.

Do Something Impossible Today — Here’s How

 Do impossible things with God.I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)

Is this true? It’s from the Bible, so it’s either truth or a lie. I choose to believe that the Bible is truth. It is the word of God, and God is telling me that I can do anything. Wait…anything? That probably means that if I put my mind to it I can do all things that are within my limitations. Because, if I study hard enough, or practice hard enough, or think good thoughts long enough I can do things that are pretty hard.

Nope. That’s not what it means. Studying hard and practicing are works of my own effort, not through Jesus. God says that I can do anything, if I rely on Him. That means that it’s all His effort, not mine.

So what does anything look like? Well, use your imagination. Imagine that the Holy Spirit is asking you to do something that seems impossible. It probably looks a little scary, because it if wasn’t you could do it on your own. But what if you accept that God can do what He wants, and what if you agree with Him to do what He asks. Now impossible things begin to happen. Now you can do anything because Jesus is with you.

What’s stopping you right now from doing impossible things? Fear. Fear is lying to you. Fear says that God will not what He says He will do. Fear is a liar. Tell it to leave you. Turn to God and tell God that you trust Him. Ask Him to help you do impossible things, then trust Him. Just do it. Now the next one will be easier because you have experience that God will be there for you. Keep doing it. Soon, the impossible things will become an amazing and fun adventure.

What’s The Difference Between Serving And Being A Servant?

serve others in true loveI think that there are many in the church who understand what it is to serve others. They work in the kitchen, feed the homeless, and pick up trash. But we have to be careful about doing works for the sake of works.

Yes, it’s good to feed the homeless. Yes, it’s good to work in the community. But ask yourself why you would do that? Because people are hungry! Because it needs to be done! But let’s remember this: And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (1 Cor 13:3)

Are you serving or a servant? There are a few ways to look at that. One way is to see serving as an act and servant as a mindset. To be a servant to others is to intentionally put them first. Yes, it’s nice to do good things for others, but to do them in sacrifice, in love, goes to the heart of God. I could give my body to be burned for others, but if I do it out of obligation or merit, I would suffer for nothing. My actions must be to truly care about people.

The next time you volunteer to clean up after a potluck, pick up someone who needs a ride, or pay for someone’s lunch, stop and look at who you are helping. See the person inside. They’re just like you and they want to be loved as much as you do.

Serving with a heart of love is enormously different from serving to get a job done. Love will reach out through the action to touch another soul.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)