Daily Bible Reading

To boldly go

… to boldly go where no man has gone before.

You’ve probably heard that phrase more than a few times. It’s the mission of the starship Enterprise.

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

The Church has a similar mission—only it’s a life-long one, not just five years.

And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”

Mark 16:15 (NLT)

Did you know that this instruction from Jesus doesn’t apply only pastors? It applies to Christians. Period. But a lot of us tend to look at this as a job not an opportunity. The more we see taking the Gospel to the world as work, the less we’re apt to do it. So how did the early church manage to grow so much so quickly?

“And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give your servants great boldness in their preaching. Send your healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

After this prayer, the building where they were meeting shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. And they preached God’s message with boldness.

Acts 4:29-31 (NLT)

The church prayed and—amazingly enough—God answered their prayers!

They didn’t pray for their leaders to be bold, they prayed for boldness for themselves. Every member of the church received the power of the Holy Spirit to preach the Good News boldly. We don’t have to share the Gospel, we get to. And we don’t have to do it on our own power. If your desire is to see more people brought into the Kingdom of God, God is not going to withhold the power of His Spirit to help you do so.

Jesus told us to bring the Gospel to the world, but he also promised the Helper.

It’s time that the Church—the whole Church, every member of the Church—pray for boldness to preach the Good News. Now is not the time to sit back and reevaluate our message so that we don’t risk offending certain groups of people. Now is the time for us to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to fall on us all so that we boldly go forth and preach God’s message.

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 12-13, Acts 4:23-37

Daily Bible Reading

By the hand

But Peter said, “I don’t have any money for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!”

Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and anklebones were healed and strengthened.

Acts 3:6-7 (NLT)

How many times have you heard of people praying, yet receiving nothing? How many times have you prayed and received nothing? Some people will keep on praying while others just give up. If God didn’t answer them the first time, why would He answer at all?

But what if all that was missing was a helping hand? What if all your prayer needed was a little extra boost from a friend or someone who cared enough to help you out?

Notice that, in this passage, the man wasn’t healed the instant Peter told him to get up and walk. Nor did the man get up on his own. Peter lifted him up and then strength came to his limbs.

Maybe you’re the one who needs the extra hand or maybe you’re the one who can give the extra hand. Either way, we shouldn’t let a little seemingly unanswered prayer stop us from receiving the things God has promised to us. A little extra help may be required to see it through. Don’t stop praying. Look to the next step. Maybe God is waiting on you to ask for a hand. Maybe God is leading you to lend a hand. Our own pride and selfishness could very well be the things that are preventing us from seeing more miracles.

Let’s not pull each other down, let’s lift each other up so we can all begin to walk, leap and praise God.

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 7-8, Acts 3

Daily Bible Reading

Continually

There are few things in life anyone does continually. We all breathe. That’s a given. Most will work continually until retirement. Some talk continually. Some sleep continually. But all of these things can, and most often do, required breaks of some sort or another. There is one thing, though, that the Bible tells us to do continually.

Pray.

Never stop praying.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)

Many in the western church probably couldn’t tell you the last time they started praying let alone the last time they prayed without stopping.

One of the greatest needs of the present day is men and women who will not only start out to pray for things but pray on and on and on until they obtain that which they seek from the Lord.

R.A. Torrey (1956-1928)

We all want to see God move in church on Sunday, but who is really willing to pray on Monday? For most of us, the Great Awakenings of the last century are so far gone (and often forgotten), that we don’t realise how effective prayer can really be. I make a point (though not often enough) to go back and read of the great revivals that brought North America to its knees. You cannot learn about a great move of God without being stirred to see one yourself.

But who is willing to pray for a move of God? Who even knows what that kind of prayer looks like?

True prayer is an approach of the soul by the Spirit of God to the throne of God. It is not the utterance of words, it is not alone the feeling of desires, but it is the advance of the desires to God, the spiritual approach of our nature toward the Lord our God. True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that—it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of heaven and earth.

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Acts 1:14 says that they all met together continually for prayer. Do you think the Holy Spirit would have shown up with tongues of fire if the group hadn’t waited? If they hadn’t been praying while they waited?

It is time that the Church look again toward prayer. Not just programs and growth strategies. I believe those things will come as the result of effective prayer.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.

James 5:16b (NLT)

We all have a decision to make regarding prayer. We can go on with our daily lives and offer up a prayer every once in a while when we feel like it or need heavenly help out of a jam—but what’s the point of our faith at all if that’s the case? Or we can pray continually. Continual prayer will require sacrifice on our part, but the reward is great power and wonderful results.

Daily Bible reading: Ezra 9-10, Acts 1

Daily Bible Reading

Persistence pays

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must never give up.

Luke 18:1 (NLT)

The story that follows this statement about a woman who demands justice from a godless judge. She is so persistent that the man finally gives her what she wants.

The the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this evil judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end, so don’t you think God will surely give justice to this chosen people who plead with him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?”

Luke 18:6-7 (NLT)

There is something to be said for persistence. If you have kids or have even been around them, you know this. Jesus even talks about them later in the same chapter of Luke.

I assure you, anyone who doesn’t have their kind of faith will never get into the Kingdom of God.

Luke 18: 17 (NLT)

Our prayers should be constant. Without end. Ongoing until we get a response. Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to keep on praying. Another translation says to pray without ceasing.

You mean I’m supposed to pray all the time? Yes! Like a kid who won’t leave his parent alone until they finally cave, that is how we’re supposed to be with God. Our everyday sort of faith is meant to be continual. All the time. In every moment. Persistent.

Does that mean we need to be muttering prayers under our breath all the time? No. But, as much as possible, we need to be aware of the Kingdom around us. The more in tune we are with the Holy Spirit, the more we will be able to continue praying. Whether it’s a long, urgent prayer in private or a quick word in your spirit as you go about your business, persistence in prayer is what gets results.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.

James 5:16b (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: 2 Samuel 1-3, Luke 18:1-17

Daily Bible Reading

Knock three times

When you approach someone’s house, how many times do you knock without receiving an answer before you leave? Once? Twice? Three times?

And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

Luke 11:5-8 (NLT)

So, in even simpler terms, the friend in the house isn’t going to help you because you’re his friend; he is going to help you because you’ve annoyed him with your persistent knocking and won’t stop until he gives you what you need.

All of this because one of the disciples asked Jesus to teach him to pray.

The only time one-and-done is sufficient when it comes to praying about our needs is if we see an immediate response. When Jesus healed people, He didn’t need to keep petitioning God because, as soon as He prayed, it was done. If you have the faith to see immediate results every time you pray, you need to be in full-time active ministry preaching to the masses. For the rest of us, we may need to be a little more like the man visiting his neighbour.

And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.

Luke 11:9-10 (NLT)

I think many have arrived at the conclusion that God doesn’t want to be bothered by our little prayers. But the truth is quite the opposite! Jesus himself told us that, in prayer, we should be like the annoying neighbour and not stop asking until we get what we’ve asked for. Not only is God not bothered by our perseverance in prayer, He welcomes it. He wants to fulfil our needs, but He also wants us to be dependent on Him.

If you don’t get your answer immediately, knock again. Knock twice. Knock three times if you have to. Don’t stop knocking until God opens the door.

Daily Bible reading: Judges 20-21, Luke 11:1-28

Daily Bible Reading

We need more lerts

If you haven’t read my post from Saturday, go back and read it first or much of what is to follow won’t make any sense at all.

You need to be a lert. I need to be a lert. We all need to be lerts.

Now, you may be shaking your head thinking this is the dumbest thing you’ve read in a long time, but tell the truth—how likely are you to forget about this?

Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak.

Mark 14:38 (NLT)

Jesus is nearing the end of his ministry on earth. He’s taken a select few disciples into the Garden of Gethsemane with him to pray through the night. While Jesus is in such great distress to the point of sweating blood, the buddies he’s brought with him fell asleep—three times.

They lost their focus. They lost their sense of purpose. It seems as though the disciples were always one step behind. How do we feed these people? Weren’t you with me a short while back when I fed 5000 men plus women and children? Keep these kids away! Hey! Bring them here. The kingdom of Heaven belongs to the children. She’s dead. She’s not dead, she’s just asleep.

Over and over again, even the disciples forgot who they were with. When we forget who we’re with, we forget what they can do. When we forget what they can do, we rely too much on ourselves.

Prayer is meant to be a deep, intimate communion with our Creator. Not a hardship or a task forced upon us by religious leaders. When we seek after the heart of God, we get to know Him better. The better we know Him, the better we know what He is capable of. The more we know what He is capable of the more we can rely on Him.

The more time we spend with God, the less likely we are to allow ourselves to be lead away by the things of the world. Jesus is calling us to him. He wants to speak to us. He wants to guide us. All we have to do is stay still and pay attention long enough to hear him.

Pray! Be a lert!

Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 20-22, Mark 14:26-50

Daily Bible Reading

A place of prayer

Once upon a time, churches were build on prayer meetings. They were the foundation of the ministry. Churches couldn’t survive without it. People couldn’t survive without it.

There are times when a trip to the dentist may seem more desirable than prayer. When it comes time to pray, people look for anything else to do other than spend time seeking the heart of God. I strongly believe that there is nothing more important to do in church on a Sunday morning than to pray. We can spend time getting the kids ministry prepared. We can have all the media slides ready to go. The sound can be perfect. But if we haven’t prayed, what’s the use?

In Mark 11, Jesus came storming into the temple because prayer had taken a back seat to everything else that was going on.

He taught them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a place of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.

Mark 11:17 (NLT)

While I’m pretty sure that most churches aren’t involved in the money changing the temple had turned to, are we robbing the church and ourselves by shifting our focus? Are we more concerned about programs drawing people in than we are about the Spirit of God drawing people in?

On of the greatest modern examples I’ve found of the power of effective prayer in a church is the story of Brooklyn Tabernacle that Pastor Jim Cymbala tells in his book Fresh Wind Fresh Fire. At a time when the best option would have been to walk away, they prayed. And then they prayed some more. They kept praying.

Many would be shocked to hear this, but God showed up. In a big way. It wasn’t their outstanding kids ministry that brought people to the church. It wasn’t bingo night in the hall or the bake sales to raise money for missions in China. It was prayer. A group of people so passionate about seeing God move in their city that they continually cried out to God until they saw Him move—and then they kept calling to see Him move more.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be a part of a church that is known for powerful prayer than one that has a good youth program. All it takes is one person to start (hint: it doesn’t have to be the pastor).

Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 1-2, Mark 11:1-19