Iron Sharpening Iron

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)

You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17 (MSG)

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Bad News And Good News

When someone says, “I have bad news and good news,” which do you ask for first? A lot of people ask for the bad news first. They know they’ll react to it and then hope the good news will lift their spirit. Our reaction to bad news though, says a lot about our faith. It’s hard not to be devastated based on the news we receive, but God asks us to trust the truth of His Word over the truth of our circumstance.

In Luke 8, a man named Jarius wanted Jesus to come and heal his daughter. While they were on their way, some people from Jarius’ house came and told him that his daughter had died. He was devastated. In verse 50, Jesus tells Jarius, “Don’t be upset. Just trust me and everything will be all right. (MSG)” Jarius’ faith was being tested. Was he going to believe the report of others or what Jesus was saying? He allowed Jesus to come to his house and his daughter was raised from the dead.


We each hear bad news in our lives. The question is if we allow that to affect our faith. So many times when we hear that something is incurable, malignant, life threatening, serious, unavoidable or impossible, our faith takes a hit. We have to believe that what Jesus said to Jarius, He says to us. Don’t be upset. Just trust Him and everything will be all right. Things may not always turn out like we expect. We may only get bad news. Even if there’s no good news accompanying the bad, there still is good news. It’s that God is still in control and in the end, it will be all right.

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Equal Access

  
Have you ever worked for a company that uses a badge or FOB system to be able to get through doors? I have. All doors require you to use a badge to get through them, even the bathrooms. In a system like this, your badge may only get you access to certain rooms. Some badges have access to everything. When you don’t have access to something, you go around looking for someone who does so you can get what you need.

Some Christians feel like Christianity is that way. They feel their level of access to the Father is determined by the level of their faith. They think they have access to the Outer Courts, but not to the Throne Room where God is. The truth is that God doesn’t use a badge system. Each of us have complete access to Him whenever we need Him. We don’t have to rely on someone more spiritual or with a higher clearance to let us in.

Ephesians 2:18 says, “He (Christ) treated us as equals, and so made is equals. Through Him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father. (MSG)” Jesus puts us on equal terms when it comes to having access to the Father. You and I can walk boldly into the Throne Room of God because we have been given access by Jesus. God wants to be accessible to us and made a way for that to happen. Don’t be afraid to open the door, walk through, approach the throne and to make your requests known. You have equal access to Him as Jesus does.   

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10 Powerful Prayers

  
1. “He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.”

1 Chronicles 4:10 NLT

2.   “Pray, therefore, like this: Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have given up resentment against) our debtors. And lead (bring) us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

Matthew 6:9-13 AMP

3.   “Be merciful to me, O God, because of your constant love. Because of your great mercy wipe away my sins! Wash away all my evil and make me clean from my sin! I recognize my faults; I am always conscious of my sins. I have sinned against you — only against you — and done what you consider evil. So you are right in judging me; you are justified in condemning me. Sincerity and truth are what you require; fill my mind with your wisdom. Remove my sin, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Create a pure heart in me, O God, and put a new and loyal spirit in me. Do not banish me from your presence; do not take your Holy Spirit away from me. Give me again the joy that comes from your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.”

Psalms 51:1-4, 6-7, 10-12 GNB

4.   “When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3:14-21 NLT

5.   After Jesus finished saying this, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your Son, so that the Son may give glory to you. I have made you known to those you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me. They have obeyed your word, and now they know that everything you gave me comes from you. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those you gave me, for they belong to you. I gave them your message, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but I do ask you to keep them safe from the Evil One. Dedicate them to yourself by means of the truth; your word is truth. I sent them into the world, just as you sent me into the world. I pray not only for them, but also for those who believe in me because of their message. I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me.”

John 17:1, 6-7, 9, 14-15, 17-18, 20-21 GNT

6.   Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him. His mighty arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones. He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.”

Luke 1:46-55 NLT

7.   Solomon said, You have shown to Your servant David my father great mercy and loving-kindness, according as he walked before You in faithfulness, righteousness, and uprightness of heart with You; and You have kept for him this great kindness and steadfast love, that You have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of David my father, and I am but a lad in wisdom and experience; I know not how to go out (begin) or come in (finish). Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people who cannot be counted for multitude. So give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and bad. For who is able to judge and rule this Your great people? ”

1 Kings 3:6-9 AMP

8.   “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.”

Psalms 63:1-8 NLT

9.   Hannah prayed: “The Lord has filled my heart with joy; how happy I am because of what he has done! I laugh at my enemies; how joyful I am because God has helped me! “No one is holy like the Lord; there is none like him, no protector like our God. The Lord kills and restores to life; he sends people to the world of the dead and brings them back again. He makes some poor and others rich; he humbles some and makes others great. He lifts the poor from the dust and raises the needy from their misery. He makes them companions of princes and puts them in places of honor. The foundations of the earth belong to the Lord; on them he has built the world.”

1 Samuel 2:1-2, 6-8 GNB

10.   “I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.”

Ephesians 1:16-20 NLT

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Turn Worries Into Prayers

What good does worrying do? I’ve fallen victim to its deceit in the past. Worrying does nothing more than occupy your mind with things that will more than likely never happen. It sucks your energy right out of you. It keeps you up at night and cause you to lose the peace you once had. It creates a vicious cycle of “what ifs” that make you believe all is lost and there is no hope. Worry is not from God and we shouldn’t let it make its home in our minds. We need to guard against it with all the power in us.

When you’re constantly dwelling on difficulties or troubles, you cannot think of the answer. When your mind is consumed by fear, you cannot know the peace of God. Worry is a tactic that is designed to minimize the faith you have in God. The more you worry, the less you trust God. You either think He can’t handle it or that you can resolve whatever the problem is in your own strength. Either way, you rely more on yourself and less on the God who knows when a sparrow falls to the ground. 

There is nothing going on in your life that He doesn’t know about. In Matthew 6:25, Jesus says, “Don’t worry about everyday life. (NLT)” He goes on to say in verse 32, “These things (worries) dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but YOUR Heavenly Father already knows ALL of your needs.” As a believer, worry has no place in your mind. This passage of scripture makes it clear that it is pointless and a waste of time and energy. 

What good does praying do? Praying takes your mind off of your problems and focuses on the One who has the power to change your situation. So much of our energy is wasted on things we can’t change. We need to focus that energy in prayer and in reading God’s Word. The more we focus on how big our God is, the smaller our problems become. The more time we spend in prayer over our problems, the more energy we have as well as clarity in the situation.

I love how Paul told us to deal with worry in Philippians 4:6-7. He wrote, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (MSG)” When we start praying instead of worrying, our lives become more balanced because we put Christ there where He belongs.

Turn your worries into prayers. Take what you can’t control and give it to the One who is in control of everything. There is a peace that God gives the surpasses our understand. No matter what is going on in your life, God can give you peace in the middle of it. You are His most precious creation and He cares deeply about what you’re going through. Give it to Him and let Him handle what you can’t. You’ll find a peace that doesn’t make sense in your situation and you’ll have the clarity of mind to follow the path God will show you. 

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Persistent Prayers

I think that prayer is something that most of us wish we did more of. I don’t think it’s really a time issue as much as it is a return on investment issue. Let me explain. In our lives we give time to things that give us a quick return. We’ve grown accustomed to eating out because it takes less time than having to read a recipe, go to the store to get the ingredients, prepare the food, cook the food, prepare the table and serve it. We get a much quicker return on our investment by going to a restaurant and have less work doing so.

When it comes to prayer, we tend to have that same mentality. We expect Hod to give us a quick turn around on our investment of time. When we don’t get a quick answer, we say, “It must not be God’s will,” and we quit praying for it. We also spend very little time speaking to God about the things we need. We send up quick, 9-1-1 prayers in an time crunch situation wanting God to respond in a matter of minutes. I don’t know if that’s a product of our societal conditioning or if it’s just human nature.

What I do know is that Jesus gave a couple of different parables regarding prayer. One such is found in Luke 18:1-11. It starts off by saying, “Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. (MSG)” He told us right in the beginning how He expects us to pray. He’s not looking for one off prayers where we are one and done. He wants us to pray about our situations consistently and without quitting. In the parable He gives the example of a widow who wants protection because her rights are being violated.

The judge she goes to help for could care less what God or anyone thinks. He does things his own way. In the story it says that he wouldn’t even give her the time of day. But, because she didn’t quit and was consistent, he answered her request. He said, “I’d better do something and see that she gets justice- otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black and blue by her pounding. (MSG)” He didn’t answer her request because he wanted to, he answered it because he knew she wouldn’t quit.

When is the last time God knew you weren’t going to quit praying about something until you got your answer? Most of the time, we’ve given up before we’ve ever started praying. In fact, prayer is usually our last option instead of our first. If you’ve been praying for an answer and haven’t gotten it yet, keep going to God in prayer. Sometimes He needs to know you won’t quit before He answers. Show Him that you are depending on Him alone to answer your request. Pray consistently and frequently and God will not drag His feet in answering you. 

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Planting The Right Seeds

My son and I planted a small vegetable garden in our yard. It continues to be a source of lessons to me and him. As we were eating dinner out recently, he pulled the lemon off my drink, pulled out the seeds and said, “Here you go, Dada. We can plant these and get lemons from our garden.” At first I was impressed that he made the correlation that seeds inside of fruits and vegetables are what grow and make the plants. Then, as I thought more about it, there was a deeper truth. Only lemon seeds can produce lemons.

That’s knowledge that you and I don’t think often about. We know it as a law of nature, but not as a spiritual law. We know that if we plant watermelon seeds, we’ll grow watermelons every time. But somewhere along the line, we think we can break that law with spiritual seeds. We think we can plant seeds of discontentment and somehow reap peace. Worse yet, we think we can skip out on paying tithes and reap the benefits of giving.

The same law that causes a physical seed to reproduce itself works in the spirit realm as well. What you sow, that shall you also reap. If you want more peace in your life, sow peace into the lives of others. If you want joy, put the work in to make it happen. The great thing about seeds is that when one is planted, several are reproduced. You rarely get a one to one ratio. One kernel of corn can produce a stalk that has several ears containing hundreds of kernels each. You won’t get the benefit of multiplication until you plant the seed where no one sees it.

In Luke 6:38 Jesus said, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. ” (NLT) He talks of giving just like planting seeds. I also like how the Message writes the first portion of this. It says, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back.”

Jesus is talking about sowing a reaping in the spiritual realm. You can’t plant the seeds of criticism and expect a return of praise. You can’t plant condemnation and receive blessings. If you want an easier life, go easy on others. It’s easier said than done, but once you understand the same principle that works for those lemon seeds my son gave me works in your life, things will begin to turn around. You’ll have to make a conscious effort to think about what you want in your life and then begin proactively planting those things in others.

Just like with plant seeds, you’re going to have to work the soil, water the seeds, pull the weeds and wait for the harvest. Just because you plant the right seeds today, it doesn’t mean you’ll reap the harvest you want tomorrow. It’s going to take time and effort on your part to reap the harvest. I can tell you that the more work you put into the process, the greater the harvest will be at the end. Don’t settle for a small harvest. Plant the right seeds, cultivate the soil they’re in and your harvest will come guaranteed. 

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