Monthly Archives: August 2019

Persistent In Prayer

One of the questions I like to ask people is, “What’s a trait that makes you successful?” I hear all kinds of answers from this question, but one that always stands out is persistence. Some of the most successful people I know are also some of the most persistent people I know. They keep going and pushing when others have given up. They know that if they give a little more effort, try a little longer or stick with it longer than anyone else, they’ll get what they’re after. They’re the epitome of dictionary.com’s definition of persistent: continuing firmly or obstinately in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

The same principle holds true for those who are persistent in prayer. I know people who have prayed daily for decades for their spouse or child, and I’ve watched those prayers answered. It’s nice when God answers a prayer the first time we pray it, but more often than not, God answers persistent prayers. Are you willing to pray for what you need for decades? That to me is persistence. It’s obstinately holding on to God’s promise and your faith that He will answer as long as you keep knocking. If you’re still waiting for God to answer, then keep praying. God hears your prayer the first time you pray it, but there are things moving in the spiritual realm that require you to remain persistent in your prayers to get your answer. Don’t quit now.

Here are some Bible verses on being persistent in prayer.

1. Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].

JAMES 5:16 AMP

2. Rejoice always and delight in your faith; be unceasing and persistent in prayer.

1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-17 AMP

3. Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving.

COLOSSIANS 4:2 AMP

4. For every persistent one will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he longs for. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.

Matthew 7:8 TPT

5. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Ephesians 6:18 NLT

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God Is Standing With You

There are times in life when we take a stand for what’s right only to find out we’re the only ones standing. In those moments, you wonder why no one else is standing with you. I’ve done it before and had people private message me that they were with me. I asked why they weren’t standing with me. They said they were too afraid to stand up too, but wanted me to know I had their support. I wanted their public support instead because standing there alone was tough. I knew what I was standing for was right, so I kept standing.

There are other times when we come under attack. We’re standing on the battlefield of life, and the hits won’t stop coming. We wonder when it will let up and if we should just give up the fight. We need someone to come stand with us because we feel all alone out there in the struggle. We may lose our strength to fight back, but we still stand in the face of relentless attacks. In each case, we feel all alone, but the truth is we are not. Whether we stand for what’s right or we are under attack from the enemy, God is standing with us.

Psalm 59:10 says, “In his unfailing love, my God will stand with me” (NLT). God’s love never fails us, nor does it ever leave us standing alone. I once heard someone say, “Me plus God equals a majority.” We need to let that sink into our spirits. We are not standing alone in those moments. Our physical eyes tell us we are alone, but we need to learn to see our situations with our spiritual eyes.

I love how in 2 Kings 6, Elisha’s servant looked outside and saw the whole army encamped around them. He panicked and asked Elisha what they were going to do since they were out numbered. Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid. There are more on our side than theirs.” The servant thought they were standing alone, but God was standing with them with a full army that surrounded the other army. That’s how it is for us. When we stand for what’s right or we are standing in our battles, there are more with us than we see with our physical eyes because God stands with us.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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The Little Things

A while back, there was a concert my wife and I wanted to go to. On the day the tickets went on sale, I had two phones, an iPad and a laptop out trying to get tickets. After sitting in their digital waiting room for an hour, a message popped up saying they were sold out. As we got closer to the concert date I began looking at all the resale sites, but the ticket prices were outrageous. As we were driving down the road discussing it, my wife closed her eyes and said, “Lord, it would be awesome if you could give us free tickets to this concert. Amen.” I laughed internally and thought, “No one is going to give up their tickets, but ok God.” The day before the concert she got a message offering her free tickets to the concert. We were both blown away.

In 2 Kings 6, Elisha was the prophet of Israel, and the group of prophets who were with him decided the place where they were staying was too small. They wanted to build a bigger place, but Elisha didn’t think they needed to. After begging him to come, they went to the river to cut down trees to build a bigger place. Verse 5 says, “But as one of them was cutting a tree, his ax head fell into the river. ‘Oh, sir!’ he cried. ‘It was a borrowed ax!’” (NLT) Elisha had him point to the place where the ax head went into the water. He then threw in a stick and the ax head floated to the surface. The man grabbed it and went back to work.

Both stories remind me that God is concerned about the little things in our lives. Going to the concert didn’t change our lives, but God knew it was something we would appreciate. Sometimes we forget that like a parent, God just wants to bless His kids. We don’t need to feel like we’re bothering Him with the little things. He’s just as able to take care of the “little” requests in our lives as the “big” ones. God simply wants to be involved in our day to day lives instead of being our spiritual 9-1-1 call. He’s looking for relationship with us. If we’re going to have one with Him, then we need to let Him into all areas of our lives including the little ones.

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Power In Praise

There’s a worship song out that says, “This is how I fight my battles. It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you.” I love that song because it’s a great reminder of the power of praise. It also reminds me of a time when I was in high school and I came under a spiritual attack that presented itself in a very physical way. A guy I knew attacked me in my home. One of my parent’s friends was there at the house and walked in at just the right moment. She told me to go collect myself. I went to the bathroom and began to praise because I recognized what was happening. When I came out, I was ready for battle, but God had already delivered me from the situation.

The story was similar in 2 Chronicles 20. A massive army came out against Israel. They prayed and fasted Seeking God’s help. They still had to go to battle, but they understood that the battle belonged to the Lord. On the way, the king consulted the people and they decided to send singers out in front of the army who were worshiping God. Verse 22 says that the moment they began to praise, the other army started fight among themselves and killed each other until no one was left. It took Israel 3 full days to gather the plunder left behind by the army. The Israelites were so grateful to God for the victory, they named the place “The Valley of Blessing”.

Verse 26 says, “On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Blessing, which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked the Lord there. It is still called the Valley of Blessing today” (NLT). If you’re in a valley facing defeat, spend time praising God. Not only does it invite His presence into your situation, it gets your focus on Him rather than your problem. Praise is a powerful weapon that we must learn to use in our darkest moments. People all throughout the Bible used it (Joshua at Jericho, Paul and Silas in prison, etc), we should be too. You may not feel like praising God in your current situation, but that’s precisely when you need to. There’s power in praise.

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Fighting God’s Battles

We all get into situations where we don’t know what to do. There are also times when we’re in over our heads and fighting battles we can’t win on our own. Should we turn and run? Should we seek counsel? Should we just give up? Should we stay and fight? Just because you’re in one of these situations, it doesn’t mean you’re out of God’s will. So many times our thought process is that when things are going wrong that somehow we are out of God’s will or we’ve done something wrong. While that can be true sometimes, the truth is that if you’re in God’s will, you’re going to be tested, fought against and opposed. God’s desire for each of us is to trust in and rely on Him more than we do. Often the way to a deeper faith is through situations where we can’t do it on our own.

King Jehoshaphat of israel loved God and was instrumental in turning the nation back to Him. He tore down idols, trained the people in God’s Word, returned priests to their roles and sought God. It was during this time that armies from three countries united against him. He was terrified by the size of the army, but instead of being paralyzed, He sought God through fasting and prayer. He then encouraged others to fast and pray with him. In 2 Chronicles 20:12, he finished his prayer with, “We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help” (NLT). This is the key. So many others, ourselves included, do everything we can first, then we seek God for help. When we seek God first (and His Kingdom), then we will receive wisdom, favor, help and victory.

God responded to King Jehoshaphat the way He responds to us. In verse He said, “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” I have to wonder how many times we try to fight God’s battles thinking they’re our own. When we seek God, and wait for His reply, we’ll know which are His and which are ours. In both cases, God expects us to dress for battle and show up to the fight. Sometimes He delivers victory while we watch, and other times He asks us to fight and He supernaturally gives us the victory. Whatever insurmountable thing you’re facing today is no match for God. Seek Him through fasting and prayer. Ask Him what to do, then listen for His voice. Sometimes He’ll speak through His Word, sometimes through others and sometimes through His still, small voice. No matter how pressing the situation is, there’s always time to seek God first for wisdom.

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Protecting Your Mind

When I think of the Armor of God, I don’t think it was an accident that the piece of armor given to us when we’re saved is the Helmet. God knows we need to protect our mind from both outside and inside influences. Our minds are so powerful that if we don’t learn to control the outside influences and our internal thoughts, we can lose sleep, stress out, get sick, get stuck in a rut and invite all kinds of negativity into our lives. Our thoughts determine who we are and how we act. Without that helmet, there’s no protection for our minds. Without understanding the power of our thoughts, we may let our minds run free to jump to all kinds of conclusions. It’s imperative that we guard our thoughts and bring them captive to the obedience of Christ.

How do we do that though? The biggest thing we have to do is recognize when we’re following a chain of thoughts that are leading us down a rabbit hole. We must then disrupt the thoughts and challenge them. Are these thoughts true? Do they line up with what God says? If not, then replace them with the truth of God’s Word. When we change those thought patterns with God’s truth, we will begin to become renewed inwardly and that will reflect in our outwardly life. When we receive salvation, God transforms who we are. We become a new creation from the inside out, and it starts with how we think and see ourselves. Don’t fall back into your old way of thinking. Put a stop to the enemy by putting on the Helmet of Salvation and letting God finish the work He began in you.

Here are some Bible verses on protecting our mind.

1. Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.

Romans 12:2 GNT

2. Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Philippians 4:8-9 MSG

3. You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].

ISAIAH 26:3 AMP

4. Since a great price was paid for your redemption, stop having the mind-set of a slave.

1 Corinthians 7:23 TPT

5. Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, and you must put on the new self, which is created in God’s likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy.

Ephesians 4:23-24 GNT

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Getting God’s Attention

From my earliest childhood, I remember hearing the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel from I Kings 18. If you’re unfamiliar with it, Elijah was the sole prophet of God in the land, and the people were following false gods. He called out the prophets of Baal and challenged them to a public duel on top of the mountain. They each prepared a sacrifice and would pray to their god to see whose was real. The god who was real would answer by fire and burn the sacrifice up. As the prophets of Baal tried for hours to get their god’s attention, Elijah mocked them.

I always thought very poorly of those prophets and even laughed at the way Elijah mocked them. But now I wonder if we are any different than they were. We may serve the God who won that duel, but we have resorted to their tactics to get His attention. We seem to believe that there is something you and I can do to earn His favor or to get an answer to prayer. We pray loudly, we stomp, we circle, we make promises and even put ourselves in danger to test God to get Him to answer. But God isn’t looking for that from us.

What He’s looking for is found in verse 37 in Elijah’s prayer. He said, “Answer me, Lord, answer me, so that this people will know that you, the Lord, are God, and that you are bringing them back to yourself” (GNB). The prayers God responds to are ones that bring Him glory and allow Him to do the work. Religion is all about working to get a god’s attention and favor to do something for us, but Christianity is about letting God draw us to Him. It’s not about what we do; it’s about what He does. He hears each one of our prayers according to 1 John 5:14, and He sees our intentions. You don’t have to do anything crazy to get His attention. He loves you and is constantly drawing you closer to Him.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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