Pray (54)

Pray, "No More Drug Overdose Deaths"

Addiction in America is an ever increasing national crisis! Millions of Americans have addictions. "According to data from the DEA, from 2006 through 2014, a total of 100 billion doses of oxycodone and hydrocodone were shipped to pharmacies across the country, and from there into households."

This has resulted in "770,000" opioid deaths, which has killed more Americans than all American wars combined. The rising overdose numbers make the drug epidemic more deadly than gun violence, car crashes or HIV/AIDS!

9651041901?profile=original

Not only is substance abuse America’s number one health problem, the devastation of alcoholism and other drug addiction has impacted families and communities worldwide. Substance abuse has been directly linked to violence and sexual immorality and is a major source of income for organized crime and terrorist activities.

If you believe that God is calling you to intercede for the addicted please contact us. To find help for addiction through prayer and Christian ministries log on to our web site: http://justprayno.org. To learn how groups can participate in our annual prayer event, click on “Information on the Annual Worldwide Weekend of Prayer” or email: justprayno@aol.com

For a personal interview with “Just Pray NO!” Founder and Author Steven L. Sherman, in the U.S.A. call: (727) 647-6467 or email: justprayno@aol.com.

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HOW DO YOU WORK FOR SUCCESS?






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I am writing especially to you who are pastors, but much of what I have to say will apply to any believer in Jesus Christ. I suspect that much of what is pressed upon us by the church growth movement and its widely accepted continuations are little more than superstition. Some of these things remind me of the labors of Jacob in the 30th chapter of Genesis. Jacob put striped sticks before the eyes of the livestock while they were breeding so that they would bear striped and spotted offspring which were to be his wages. 

I have recently been trying to memorize chapter by chapter through Genesis. And frankly, I had great difficulty with this chapter. I did not believe for a minute that what those animals saw had any relation to how their offspring turned out. However, I am pretty sure that Jacob believed it while he was doing it. And low and behold, it worked! Jacob became extremely rich. That may be the mantra of some in the church growth movement. Whatever works must be right. 

I didn't really get any peace about this until I was into the 31st chapter, and discovered that at least eventually Jacob found out that his strategy was not what increased his flocks. And Moses had to have known it when he penned chapter 30. God made the animals produce the offspring that were designated as Jacob's wages, not his machinations.

Now, let me say emphatically that the Bible teaches that God and God alone adds numerically to His church. I am aware that by God's grace and in union with God's Spirit we, like Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:11, seek to persuade people. But we do not do it with cleverness, sidestepping truth that is uncomfortable, or appealing to worldliness. We persuade in the fear of God, the conviction of the word of God, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

This is not to say that you can never bring success by gimmicks. I once heard someone quip, "That church would have grown if there wasn't a God." But I strongly suspect that if you reach people by any means but the movement of the Holy Spirit, they are still lost. And they will often do harm to the fellowship before they leave completely.

What then can we do to become successful? Let me suggest some things that lead to long-term success, at least in the eyes of God.

  1. Seek to grow in the Lord by saturating yourself in God's word.
  2. Seek to grow in the Lord as you obey what God shows you of His will.
  3. Pray earnestly and lead others to pray for God's will and work in their lives and in His church
  4. Pray for people all around you, and help others pray for deep connections with people who need to hear the gospel.
  5. Compassionately minister to needs that God shows you.
  6. Consistently teach and train your people to walk with God and touch the lives of others.
The scriptures give us the fodder for this kind of development and teaching. Things like the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 and those things that pertain to life and godliness listed in 2 Peter 1 and in many other Scripture passages that God enlightens in your heart, in your preaching and teaching, for your organization and encouragement of the flock, and in the lives of your people.

http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/
http://theanchorofthesoul.blogspot.com/
http://watchinginprayer.blogspot.com/
http://writingprayerfully.blogspot.com/

Website
http://daveswatch.com/

YouTube
https://goo.gl/PyzU

Amazon Author's Page
https://www.amazon.com/David-Young/e/B008C7VLAQ/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

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SELAH


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Selah is not translated in our English Bibles. We just have the transliteration of the Hebrew word. But if you follow its usage, you can get a good grip on its meaning. It is used at the end of each stanza of Psalm 46. I have italicized it for you.

“God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah”

Literally, Selah means, step up. It could have been a musical notation. I like the speculation that it was used when the people ascended Mt. Zion with singing. As they came to a pause in the music, they would all take a step, or several steps, up. They would pause to take a step nearer to God. 

There is a delightful little poem in Spurgeon's Treasury of David.

“Selah bids the music rest, 
Paused in silence soft and blessed;
Selah bids uplift the strain,
Harps and voices tune again;
Selah ends the vocal praise,
Still your hearts to God upraise.”


But as I said, whatever the meaning of the word, the most telling thing about selah is where it is placed in the text. Selah is a call to be still and know God.

Selah is used as a pause to reflect. 

We are to stop and think about what God is saying to us in what we just read in the Psalm.

Selah gives a pause to pray.
Scripture reading should be bathed in prayer. We need to pray for God to open our eyes and hearts to see and hear what He is telling us. We need to ask Him to plant His truth in our hearts to transform our lives.

Selah brings a pause to listen.
Are you aware that God will speak to you personally in His word? We need to stop to remind ourselves that God is speaking as we read. Selah reminds us to stop and listen

Selah is a pause to understand.
The more we think about and meditate on Scripture the more the Holy Spirit of God explains to us. Our Lord speaks personally to you in His word. You need to be still and know what it means that He is God.

Selah is a pause to absorb.
In several of the parables of Jesus we see that the word and the kingdom of God are planted into our hearts. In Luke 13:19 Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed sown in someone’s garden, that grows to become a tree so that the birds make nests in its branches. This can certainly be applied to the kingdom of God being introduced to a tribe, a people group, or a city. But I think the Holy Spirit also applies it to each of our lives. James 1:21 calls us to, “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save our souls.”

Selah pauses to remember.
It takes time and effort to fix God’s word in our minds. We will need to remember that God has said He is a very present help when trouble comes. We need to remember the stream that makes our hearts and cities glad.

Selah is a pause to tremble.
Considering that God has spoken to us, and that He is God over all our circumstances, should cause us to tremble. If you do not tremble before the Holy God, you do not understand.

Selah lets us pause to rejoice.
God is gracious, loving, mighty, and glorious! His people should rejoice as He draws near to speak to our hearts.

Selah is a pause to praise.
We need to exalt His name along with the nations. We need to stop where we are to praise Him. We will exalt His name forever!

Selah pauses to commit.
Unlike the person spoken of in James 1:24, who glances at the mirror of God's word and promptly forgets what he saw, we are to take time to commit ourselves to obey what God tells us in His word.

http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/
http://theanchorofthesoul.blogspot.com/
http://watchinginprayer.blogspot.com/
http://writingprayerfully.blogspot.com/

Website
http://daveswatch.com/

YouTube
https://goo.gl/PyzU

Amazon Author's Page
https://www.amazon.com/David-Young/e/B008C7VLAQ/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
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WATCH AND PRAY

Have you ever seen a medieval castle? Have you noticed the broken lines at the tops of the walls? A rook or castle on a Chessboard has the same cuts.

I suspect you could guess what those were if you didn't already know. They were essential to the defense of a castle. Those slots were the lookouts for soldiers on watch.

On several occasions Scripture tells us to watch and pray. Have you thought about what God is saying to you in those passages? Let's look at those Scriptures and allow God to speak to our hearts through them. The first of them that comes to my mind is when Jesus was praying with His disciples in the garden before the cross. He prayed earnestly that that cup might pass from Him. And yet He surrendered His heart to the will of God. Then He looked and saw that Peter, James, and John were asleep. He was amazed that they could not watch with Him for one hour. And in Matthew 26:41 Jesus commands us.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

The word translated, “watch” here is also used for soldiers, or possibly shepherds, keeping the watches of the night. On that very night while they were in the garden soldiers would come to arrest Jesus. This would be the most severe trial that the disciples would ever face. Earlier Jesus had told them they would all abandon Him. Peter and the rest swore they would never leave Him even if they had to die with Him. Their spirits were willing but their flesh was weak.

You might say they should have known this trial was coming. Jesus had told them over and over again. And it didn't take any great genius to see that the High Priests had determined to kill Him.

And it it should not surprise you that you are going to face trials and temptations. Peter himself warns us that we are going to be tried. In 1 Peter 4:12 he wrote,

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

Like soldiers on guard duty we are told to watch and pray for spiritual strength and protection.

The next place we are told to watch and pray is in Luke 21 where Jesus warns us about the trials that will come in the last days. In Luke 21:36 Jesus gives us this same command.

“Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

It seems to me that many of these things are already coming upon us. I am crying out to God for a great prayer movement. We need to be on guard, and pray as we have never prayed before. These things could be seen to begin when the Roman General, Titus, led his army to destroy the city of Jerusalem. As Jesus predicted, not one stone of the beautiful temple was left upon another. 2 Timothy 3:1 and other Scriptures warn us that there will be terrible times in these last days. Will we be on guard as these things come about? How seriously will we watch and pray?

We are also to watch for our hope in God during difficult times. He has made very great and precious promises to us even for the worst of times.

Another place where we are called to watch and pray is much more positive. Colossians 4:2 says,

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

We not only need to watch for spiritual attack that will come. But I am afraid we are not alert enough to see God at work around us. There is great encouragement and joy in seeing the hand of God and thanking Him for working in our lives.

Finally, we need to watch and pray for others in our families and in the church where God has stationed us. Ephesians 6:18 commands us.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

In 1 Samuel 12:23 Samuel said he would be sinning against the Lord if he failed to pray for the people of Israel. Are you alert to pray for those God has commissioned you to pray for?

We need to see watching as motivation and preparation for prayer. But all four of these passages see watching as integral to prayer. As we spend extended time in prayer God shows us more and more of what we will face and what He is doing and preparing to do all around us.

http://theanchorofthesoul.blogspot.com/

http://watchinginprayer.blogspot.com/

http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/

http://writingprayerfully.blogspot.com/

Website

http://daveswatch.com/

YouTube

https://goo.gl/PyzU



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FAKE NEWS

Some of you are familiar with Michael Cernovich. Somebody is familiar with him. During just one month last year Michael had 83 million twitter views. It was Michael who reported that Hillary Clinton had Parkinson’s Disease during the recent presidential race. When confronted on 60 Minutes, Michael said he still believed this and other things he wrote even though sources he listed denied they had ever spoken to him.

The 60 Minutes reporter emphasized that the problem of fake news primarily on social media was just as rampant from liberal sources as from conservative. Of course, the worst thing about the prominence of such fake news is that many people will believe the reports simply because they support a certain point of view. The prevalence of such public deception will divide America even more.

What can Believers do about this?  First, we must take Paul's warning seriously for ourselves.

"Test everything. Hold firmly to the good. Flee from all appearance of evil."

We can pray for super-political, supernatural discernment for ourselves.

There may well be times when we need to point out lies and such dubious sources of information even when they seem to agree with our politics.

Most of all we need to pray for our nation and our world in days of such evil and deception.

 

http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/

http://watchinginprayer.blogspot.com/

http://writingprayerfully.blogspot.com/

http://daveswatch.com/

 

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A TAPESTRY OF PRAYER

One of the themes of my blogs has been the importance of praying together. I believe the American notion of independent faith is a serious problem. The lyrics of an old him used to say “You've got to walk that lonesome valley. You've got to walk it by yourself.” This is false teaching. The Holy Spirit certainly dwells in you as an individual. But almost every verse where the Scripture tells us the Holy Spirit lives in us is plural. One of the foundational ways of developing real understanding of our spiritual unity is in praying together.

Much of my thinking and about praying together has been influenced by the prayer meeting in Acts chapter 4. Verse 24 tells us that the church raised their voices together in prayer. The translators of the King James Bible, recognizing that it would be very difficult for the entire church to pray this prayer together, interpreted this verse as praying with “one accord.” This expresses what Jesus said in Matthew 18:19 “If two of you shall agree on Earth as touching anything that they ask, it shall be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

Here is what I believe we would have experienced had we been there on the day recorded in Acts chapter 4. Someone, possibly Simon Peter, began, “Sovereign Lord.” Someone else, maybe you, followed that up by saying, “You made the Earth.” When I heard you pray that the Spirit spoke to my heart, and I prayed, “and the sea.” Someone else added “and everything in them.” And so our prayer became a tapestry with all the vividness of the Holy Spirit speaking through each of us as we prayed one prayer.

Now to do this we have to listen prayerfully as everyone else in a group prays. Most of us have been guilty from time to time of thinking, maybe desperately, about what we were going to say when our time came. You can guard against that by recognizing that God will speak to you when others pray. And you can pray what the Spirit presses on your heart in their prayer.

 

http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/

http://watchinginprayer.blogspot.com/

http://writingprayerfully.blogspot.com/

http://daveswatch.com/

 

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Lance Wallnau, says, “You get to choose the environment you create. You can create an environment that draws people to the Kingdom or pulls them out.” 

Rather than adopting your street with the intention of implementing program, folks who join ‪http:lovejax2020.org and sign up to adopt their street spend time talking to God about their neighbors before they talk to their neighbors about God .… engaging in the ministry of presence and becoming more aware, alert, and awake to the fullness of the immediate moment.

Neighborhood transformation occurs best when we let go of an “event” mentality and replace it with an “environment” mentality. Programs and plans have their place—moments matter—but all the pieces must be seen against the backdrop of a larger atmosphere and experience that never stops. 

Followers of Jesus who have adopted the lifestyle of “pray, care, share” live “environmentally.” We do not adopt our streets and prayer walk our neighborhoods as “volunteers” offering an hour a week. Instead, the hours we spend with people, working for justice, come from places we live, shop, play and work as part of our everyday life. We hope to spend years together living life in the Kingdom.

Like Jesus, we need to live and walk with an awareness that the Father's blessing is upon us. We come to be “with” our neighbors. Think of how different the dynamics are when a new parent joins a parents group in need of a place to share the loneliness/ tediousness of caring for a new born child versus a church that sets up a day care center. We come out of a “mutual” relationship sharing in what God is doing.

We become conduits of God’s work, pointing out what God is already doing, or where there are already resources right here to help. We therefore never run out of gas. We are truly energized. Of course we will offer our own resources not as a solution but because we are friends, part of this social reality God is bringing into being.

Neighborhood transformation brings us into an environmental understanding of the Christian life—an understanding that is “here and now”—“worship and work”—“life together”—“places and people.”

When I serve on Kairos teams at Union Correctional Institution, I find the same emphasis upon environments. Of course, there are “events” within environments, and even in the Kairos Prison Ministry such is the case. But the three-day weekend is never viewed apart from the environment, which both preceded and followed them. It is when we "listen, listen, love, love" that we can properly appreciate and participate in the events.

But the moment is made even more meaningful as we remember that the river never stops flowing. The flow of water through the arteries of the St Johns River is larger than the water we encounter at the riverbank.

Transformation never stops coming. Our moments of encounter are memorable, but not definitive. The environment enriches the event. It is when the River captures us that we can love our moments on the riverbank.9651023101?profile=original

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Blessing of the Ages

BLESSING OF THE AGES

On the day when your inner child
Curls up in fetal mode With thumb in mouth
And blanket clutched

May a thousand memories of childhood play
On rocks, in creeks
On lookouts, in hideouts
Call out to you, caress you
And carry you onward

When the inner crisis of mid-life
Grabs your throat tight at midnight
And drowns you in droves of unrealized dreams
May you find a pause on the path
A rock on which to rest
With a view above the valleys
And a peace in the present

When your soul feels as useless
As hunched-back old man
In nursing home wheelchair
May you awaken in the world around you
A renewed hope in humanity
By welcoming care and concern
With a single, simple smile

May the wonder of children be yours
May the dreams of youth be yours
May the pragmatism of adults be yours
May the wisdom of elders be yours

And may the Ancient of Days
He who looms large and long over your life
Your past, your present and your path yet unknown
Whisper deeply and daily
Into the depths of your soul

David Brazzeal from www.praylikeagourmet.com
(in the spirit of John O’Donohue’s “Beannacht”)

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Take the LoveJax2020 Challenge

"It's a cultural change that needs to take place," said Sheriff John Rutherford, who was joined by several pastors. "...We cannot arrest our way out of a murder problem or violence problem. We have to start changing hearts." The Sheriff is correct. The only real solution to the culture of violence in this city is to change people. And, the only way to change people is through a transforming encounter with God.

We would like to invite you to join us in a movement with the goal of giving every person, young and old, in Jacksonville the opportunity to be authentically loved by at least one committed follower of Jesus Christ by the end of the year 2020. This authentic love involves followers of Jesus praying for their streets and neighborhoods, loving their neighbors in practical ways, and eventually sharing the Gospel with them. We call it the LoveJax2020 Challenge. This movement is drawn from a question asked to Jesus recorded in Matthew 22:36 and following.

"Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?"

Jesus replied, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."

God can use you to begin loving your neighbors into the kingdom as a vital part of Transform Jacksonville & NE Florida​'s LoveJax2020 Challenge (visit http://www.lovejax2020.org/ for details.) We encourage you to Adopt-Your-Street - Jacksonville. Start by taking periodic walks through your neighborhood and quietly pray for your neighbors. Then, look for opportunities to express Christ-like care for their physical or "felt" needs. Lastly, look for ways to share the Good News of Jesus. It is as simple as, pray, care, share!

Those of us accepting the challenge will seek to be conformed to the standard of loving God with all of self and to love those around us with the same degree of care with which we attend ourselves.

We believe those who honestly, humbly, seeking, praying, and confessing engage the LoveJax2020 Challenge will emerge on the other end changed. And, when a group within a community is changed, the community will begin to be changed. And so, the ripple can go...all the way to changing a city.

How about you? Do you have the courage to take the LoveJax2020 Challenge? Our city is at stake.

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/story/news/crime/2015/05/05/jso-operation-pie-outreach-initiative/26932843/

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PRAY SO YOU WILL NOT FALL INTO TEMPTATION

In the garden before the cross Jesus told His disciples to pray lest they fall into temptation. Temptation is more dangerous than many of us imagine. James 1:14 says temptation drags us away by our lusts. In John 14:30 Jesus said the prince of this world had no hold on him.

No doubt no fear,

No guilt or sin that he controlled,

No secret desire held dear.

The enemy had no hold

To drag Him to his fold.

We must pray to avoid the enemy's grip on our hearts.

Part of this is simply to ask God to deliver us from temptation. But the focus of what Jesus is telling us in the garden is the transformation of heart and mind that comes from extended prayer. Jesus asked "Could you not watch for an hour? Watch and pray lest you fall into temptation."

Ephesians 6 paints a forceful picture of our spiritual armor. The first defense against temptation is truth. In prayer God fastens the belt of truth tightly around our thinking."

Next is the breastplate of righteousness. The accuser of the brethren will accuse you before God in your hearing. You need to pray in the righteousness of Jesus to be protected from his onslaughts.

Nothing will prepare you to ward off the enemy like the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The enemy trembles at the name of Jesus. But time and time again we are not spiritually prepared to share the gospel. In extended prayer we lace up our spiritual boots.

Praying Scripture builds faith as a shield to extinguish Satan's fiery darts.

A relationship of prayer covers us with God's salvation like a helmet from beginning to glory.

And by prayer we wield the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.

Paul concluded his discussion of spiritual armor with the admonition for us to pray at all times with all prayer and supplication. Pray, pray, pray, so you will be able to avoid temptation.

 

http://watchinginprayer.blogspot.com/

http://daveswatch.com/

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My Prayer Mentor Pledge to You

If you aren't on my email list or a friend on Facebook, you wouldn't know that I have been posting a FREE series of prayer training videos online. In response to a comment last night, I posted the following manifesto on Facebook...
 

MY PRAYER MENTOR MANIFESTO--


For the life of me I can't find it, but on one of my video prayer posts someone commented, "Prayer is just talking to God. Don't over complicate it."
 
I absolutely agree that prayer can be just talking to God. So, why am I doing these videos? I have met many people (and I was definitely one of these people) who feel totally lost in just talking to God. Some don't know where to begin. Some don't know how to hear the other side of the conversation. Some are worried they aren't doing it right. Some wonder what to say and for fear of saying the wrong thing say nothing. Some are in A bad place with God.
 
For you beginner folks...
For you folks who are lost, I get it. And I am doing this for you (but not just you, others that I will mention in a minute as well) At one point, I was utterly lost about prayer and didn't know where to start. I was a high school kid with no one teaching me and limited role models. Laugh if you will, but I was so lost I looked up the Lord's Prayer in an encyclopedia (if you're to young to remember what one of those is you can read about it on wikipedia) and memorized the prayer. I didn't know what else to do. So, I am here for you to help you get started so you don't have to be as lost as I was.
 
For you folks who know what to do...
And then there's you folks who know what to do, but you're struggling to get it done. Been there, done that...err...didn't do it. Whatever. You get my drift. I am here for you too with strategies to help you make prayer the priority it should be. So God is that best friend your constantly spend time with rather than that best friend you regret not having seen in a while.  

For you folks who could have so much more...

And then there's you folks who are praying, but you are scratching the surface of the amazingly rich conversation and well-spring of life prayer can be. You drop into conversation with God fairly regularly, but not at a depth that's changing who you are and how you live in profound ways. It's not at a level where you have that peace that surpasses all understanding. I'll confess, I don't live in that space as much as I want, BUT I live in and experience it enough to have a handle on a number of best practices that can help it become more normative for you.  

From the deepest place in my heart...

So here I am to help. Yes prayer is just talking to God. But if it's a conversation that doesn't come easy for you, or you're neglecting it more than you like, or it's less than anything miraculous...then I am here, not to complicate, but to aid, enrichen and solidify the most amazing connection in life you can have.  

Peace and Christ's love to you all,

 

John Arnold The Practical Disciple  

p.s. You can get my free training and our conversation about prayer can start here...  

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Free Prayer Training Videos Available

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For the first time in almost 18 months, I’m leading a FREE 3-part prayer training series called, 'Surefire strategies to pray better and connect more deeply with God."

In the first video, I share a strategy that Jesus used in his prayer life that is seldom addressed--the use of  having distinct prayer spaces.  You get to see my three personal favorite prayer spaces and I'll share with you the unique role each one plays.  This strategy will keep you more consistent in prayer and help you more readily connect with God.

In the second video, I tackle the number one struggle people report to me, which is focus.  People are so busy and have been so conditioned by technology that being able to maintain focused thoughts during prayer has become almost impossible for many people.  In this video, I share some extremely quick and easy solutions for this epidemic problem.

Lastly, I just finished my third video and will be uploading it momentarily.  By the time you read this it will most likely be available as well.  In it I share my personal story of moving from learning to pray using an encyclopedia -- yes, you read that write "an encyclopedia -- to developing a very easy to follow system for evaluating and improving your prayer life called, "The Five Pillars of Life-Changing Prayer."  To get access to the entire series go to this link...

GET THE VIDEOS HERE:  Surefire strategies to pray better and connect more deeply with God.

These are strategies I have personally used and experienced the benefits of time and time again.  Don't take my word for it though.  Check them out.  I would love your feedback after you have had a chance to watch these videos.  I hope and pray that they are a significant blessing to you.

Peace,

John Arnold

The Practical Disciple

p.s. Warning: These aren't quick pithy videos.  Each one is about 25 to 30 minutes of solid practical training.

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An Eternal Perspective Changes Everything

"We may ‘believe’ in eternity, but to what extent have we actually agreed with the world that eternity is not relevant until after this life? Eternity is not merely a time frame that is endless; it is profoundly and foremost a qualitative thing that is available now. When we begin to see all our moments set in the context of eternity, we will bring to those moments a seriousness that we would not otherwise have had." Art Katz

What will I do this year or even this next month? How will my family survive? How will I make ends meet?
 
As we enter into this New Year, these are questions that vast amounts of people are asking. Is there a way to live above all of these temporary trials and truly thrive amid the stress and the strain of end time living? If the whole world is groaning and the birth pangs before the Lord’s return are getting closer, what can we do in order to survive? Is there a way to live victoriously?
 
Perhaps what we need is an eternal perspective that changes everything–how we view life, how we view our trials, and how we live life in the ordinary.
 
The truth is that we are being prepared for eternity. God is building character within us that will last forever. He is most concerned about our character and motives. The unique trials that each of us face on earth are designed by an eternal God who sees and knows all. They are not a mistake or by chance. Of course, we ourselves make mistakes, but God can turn them all into good (Romans 8:28). He knows our advantages and our disadvantages–our family backgrounds, our marriages, our education, and everything about us, even to the minutest detail. He sees the good and bad circumstances that we face. We must realize that God sees everything in the eternal context, but we live in a world that wants everything now.
 
The world system is built on immediate gratification and living for present pleasures. But if we lose the meaning of eternity and fail to see life from an eternal perspective, we lose everything important from God’s point of view. To apprehend eternity in this life is not only to anticipate a future enjoyment, but it is to appropriate a present reality.
 
The apostle Paul lived in the powerful reality of the eternal. It was a joyful reality, and it made a difference in everything he did. He saw beyond the things that he suffered on earth. He was hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecute, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-10). His trials (shipwreck, stoning, persecution, prison, and so much more) were merely light and momentary afflictions. Why? Paul had an eternal perspective and saw an eternal weight of glory that would be his reward. An eternal perspective changes everything. He said:
 
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
 
If we look at our life at this moment, how do we see our trials? Are they burdensome, depressing, overwhelming, worthless, and to be avoided at all cost? Or can we rise up higher and see the eternal realm? Everything depends on seeing the unseen and the eternal. Are we living as if we were a citizen of heaven or a citizen of earth? Are we bringing the eternal dimension into our daily tasks and the ordinary?
 
It is possible to live as if everything is charged with eternity. We as believers have the calling to bring eternity into time, of bringing the reality of heaven down to earth. God wants us to lay up our treasures in heaven and live in the joy of being rewarded for everything we do for Jesus’ sake. Even giving a cold glass of water will not lose its reward when we do it for Jesus.
 
If we live as the world lives by seeking to find fulfillment now, then how are we different than those who do not know Christ? We are living like mere men who have not tasted of heaven and are blinded by the alluring traps of the enemy. We are trying to make the emptiness of this life our home. The whole world lies in massive deception. Many of us keep rearranging the furniture in our earthly life (endless buying, multiple divorces, countless addictions) without ever finding true fulfillment and joy. It just can’t be found without Jesus.
 
The Bible says that we are strangers on earth and are looking for a city whose maker and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10).
 
As we begin this New Year, it’s time to live up to our true heavenly calling. True joy is found only in living for heaven, where the glitter of this world has lost its glamour and power. An eternal perspective changes everything. There is an unbelievable purity and simplicity in knowing Christ that is far greater than anything this world offers. But we can so easily be led astray (2 Corinthians 11:3).
 
As believers we must understand this message about the eternal. The urgency around us screams for our attention. We can no longer say that what is coming on the world is just a bad dream. This is the hour where the Lord is asking us to rise up to our true calling. He wants us to shake off the lies and be all that He intended for us to be at this hour. He wants us to set our minds and hearts on things above. Only then can He truly use us to the fullest extent for His glory. With an eternal perspective:

  • We can be truly joyful even when all around us is falling apart. 
  • We can rise up with a new perspective that will make the lost world take notice. 
  • Our life can burn with eternity and purpose. 

This is an invitation for all of us to come into a new dimension of being. We need to evaluate all of our earthly activities from an eternal perspective. It’s time to live for heaven and narrow down our life to what will be eternally of value. Joy is found not in half-hearted commitment, but when we go all the way for God. I am evaluating everything I do. In light of the judgment seat of Christ at the end of the age, Mike Bickle has often said to our IHOPKC staff:
 
“Lord, shock me now! Show me what areas in my life that need change before that final day.” 
 
Four years ago my life dramatically changed in an instant. Running to answer my doorbell to get a new computer for writing, I slipped on my top step and fell all the way down the stairs, landing at the bottom in a heap. My husband quickly drove me to the emergency, and I ended up in the hospital with a broken wrist and heel. I was in a wheelchair for months with a cast on my foot and leg, and one on my arm. From a human viewpoint, it made no sense at all. There were months of recovery where I couldn’t do a thing!
 
During that time I had a lot of time to think. I thought about life. I thought about what was important. I thought about eternity. Through this unfortunate circumstance God turned personal tragedy and loss into blessing and joy, because He gave me an eternal perspective that changed everything. 
 
It’s time for us to change our perspective and seek that which is above. It’s time that we live in light of eternity. 
 
Every time we pray and bless another, every time we don’t complain, every time we turn another cheek and stop our tongue from speaking evil, we are laying up our treasures in heaven and will be rewarded. God is conforming us to His image, and we will not be disappointed. Let’s see our eternal reward in every act of kindness and in every sacrifice we make, large or small. Everything on earth is preparation for the age to come. We have an eternal destiny. Let’s learn to live a joyful life in light of this reality.
 
"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory" (Colossians 3:1-4).
 

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PRAYING FOR CONGRESS

This is a big week for politics in America. I need to say I am not sympathetic with believers who put their hope in politics. However hopeful or cynical you may be about the election this week, it is crucial that believers join together in prayer for those who govern our country. In his first letter to Timothy Paul admonished us to pray for them.

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

Do you pray every day for our president? Are you praying for God’s hand on individuals in Congress?

The reason the scripture gives for this is so we may live peaceful quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. It is important to understand that government affects our lives as much today as it did in the Roman Empire where Paul urged Timothy to lead people to pray for their ungodly leaders. For many of us the complexities of politics are too complicated to unravel. But they are not too complicated for God. I read a review in Books & Culture this week of a book called The Myth of Persecution. The book disputed the stories of persecution in the early church. The author made the pedantic distinction between persecution and prosecution. She said it was not persecution if Rome was simply prosecuting Christians for shaking up the fragile stability of the empire. I suspect the same distinction could be made about much 21st century persecution.

Government effects our lives even if it is not necessarily aimed at persecuting Christians. We are living in days when Christian values are no longer a major influence upon the thinking of those who make the laws and determine the values of our culture. Make no mistake, spiritual and cosmic issues are involved in politics. But we pray to the God who is sovereign over the Kings and governors of the earth.

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Lord, Teach us to Pray

“It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples." Luke 11:1 NASB

 

            Do we know how to pray as we ought? According to the bible we don’t. Since we don’t know how to pray as we should the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. The fact is, no one can teach us to pray but God. Others can give suggestions and advice, but no one can truly teach us to pray; except the one to which we pray.

            In this verse, we see one of the disciples first listening to Jesus pray. When Jesus finished praying it was as if the disciple came to Jesus and said, I want to pray like that, just like you did. I have been in the presence of some mighty men of God and stood in awe of their prayer. It was as if they were calling fire down from heaven. D.L. Moody gave testimony of traveling to England to visit with Charles Spurgeon. When Moody attended the Metropolitan Tabernacles service he said it wasn’t the heavenly choir that impressed him, nor was it Spurgeon’s masterful preaching, rather, he was impressed with the prayer.  Could you imaging being with Jesus while He prayed? These Jewish disciples of Jesus had no doubt been taught to pray from childhood. More than likely they prayed daily. However, they never prayed as Jesus prayed, but they wanted to.

            Jesus asked the disciples to do many tasks. He asks of us the same. The greatest of tasks is to go and preach the gospel to all creation. Of the many tasks Jesus asked of us we never find in scripture anyone asking Jesus how to do them. The only request of any sort is how to pray. The fact is, the tasks Jesus calls us to do are empowered by prayer. If we don’t pray we shouldn’t expect any power or provision.

            Yet, we so often do not know what to pray for. So, where do we start? Lord, teach is to pray. I don’t know how to pray as I should. Will You guide me? I have my own agenda and my own goals. Will you lead me to Yours? I am week and easily distracted. Will You keep me focused and on track. Prayer begins and ends with Jesus. Our level of dependency upon Him will determine the level of power in our prayer. We don’t put faith in our faith, nor do we put faith in prayer in and of itself; we put faith in Christ alone. For this reason, the beginning of all is, Lord, teach us to pray. Make that your daily prayer.

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Have our prayers been too polite with God?

Prayer is necessary because it energizes our heart, it releases God's blessing, and it results in real change on the earth. But we have been too polite with God. I do not mean we should be irreverent; I am saying the Lord's Prayer is not a weak, pleading prayer. There is a time to plead with God, but what Jesus gave was prophetic. There is not a “please” in it. Indeed, it’s the Father's pleasure to give us His kingdom (Lk 12:32). Thus, Jesus is not instructing us to beg for it, but to align our lives with it and then announce it. He is commanding us to call for God's kingdom to rule on earth, in our lives, churches and cities. This is a prayer of authority. Do we see this? Maybe our prayers should sound more like this:


"...Hearing the report, they lifted their voices in a wonderful harmony in prayer: “Strong God, you made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. By the Holy Spirit you spoke through the mouth of your servant and our father, David: Why the big noise, nations?

Why the mean plots, peoples? Earth’s leaders push for position, Potentates meet for summit talks, The God-deniers, the Messiah-defiers! For in fact they did meet—Herod and Pontius Pilate with nations and peoples, even Israel itself!—met in this very city to plot against your holy Son Jesus, the One you made Messiah, to carry out the plans you long ago set in motion.

And now they’re at it again! Take care of their threats and give your servants fearless confidence in preaching your Message, as you stretch out your hand to us in healings and miracles and wonders done in the name of your holy servant Jesus. While they were praying, the place where they were meeting trembled and shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God’s Word with fearless confidence."

Give us fearless confidence to speak your word!

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You Can Make a Difference - PRAY NO! to drugs

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CHRISTIAN NEWS SERVICE, April 7, 2014 — The 24th Annual “Just Pray NO!” weekend for the addicted is scheduled for April 26 – 27, 2014. The event is designated as the “Just Pray NO!” to drugs Worldwide Weekend of Prayer and Fasting.

Since April 7, 1991 “Just Pray NO!” has united millions of Christians from 150 nations and territories around the world in intercessory prayer on behalf of the addicted and their families.

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” –James 5:16

Not only is substance abuse America’s number one health problem, the devastation of alcoholism and other drug addiction has impacted families and communities worldwide. Substance abuse has been directly linked to violence and sexual immorality and is a major source of income for organized crime and terrorist activities.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” –Ephesians 6:12

Make a formal commitment to join with believers in Christ from around the globe this coming April. Put on the full armor of God and fervently pray in spirit and in truth. We are seeking to enlist millions of prayer warriors from around the world to join us in battle!

“We are not only praying for the release of those bound by substance abuse but also for people to be delivered from pornography, gambling, obesity and smoking,” said Steven Sherman, “Just Pray NO!” founder. “We seek individuals and groups which are willing to commit to pray weekly on behalf of the addicted and their families, and then join with multitudes of other committed Christians from around the world in prayer and fasting April 26 – 27, 2014.”

If you believe that God is calling you to intercede for the addicted please contact us. To find help for addiction throughprayer and Christian ministries log on to our web site: www.justprayno.org. To learn how groups can participate in our annual prayer event, click on “Information on the Annual Worldwide Weekend of Prayer” or email: justprayno@aol.com.

For a personal interview with “Just Pray NO!”  Founder and Author Steven L. Sherman, in the U.S.A. call: (727) 647-6467 or email: justprayno@aol.com.

 

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Setting Aside Time with God

In Scripture, we read of men who sought God, desired to hear His voice, who were instructed in His ways, and who took great joy in knowing and following Him.  In Hebrews 11:5-6, we read of Enoch as one example:

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 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. (NIV, emphasis added)


Others, like Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, and especially our Savior, Jesus Christ; all earnestly sought the God; desiring to know Him and be known by Him.  In more recent times, John and Charles Wesley, E.M. Bounds, Charles Spurgeon, A.W. Tozer, Bill Bright, and others each had powerful ministries, but much more importantly, deeply personal relationships with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

In our day, God continues to give each of us just as much opportunity to draw near to Him as He did for any of those mentioned above.  He allows each one of us to determine how much or little time we spend intimately in His presence; talking with Him, worshiping and adoring Him, thanking Him, listening to His voice, and more. The question we must each ask ourselves is, “How much of this opportunity am I willing to take advantage of each day or night?”  Tozer touches on this below:


"There are many logistical tasks to be done during the next few weeks. And it is so easy to be caught up in the hustle and bustle of a noisy life such that we fail to hear God’s still, small voice. Many of us need the “stripping away” of the “many loved objects which harm [our souls].” Please pray that God will give us the all-absorbing desire for Him that is the key to a life of radical commitment and radical devotion to Christ." – A.W. Tozer

 

History of the Modern-Day Quiet Time


Frank Buchman (1878-1961), a Protestant evangelist, is credited with establishing what’s known as the modern-day “quiet time,” or daily time set apart with God.


"We need a power strong enough to change human nature and build bridges between man and man, faction and faction. This starts when everyone admits his own faults instead of spot-lighting the other fellow's. God alone can change human nature. The secret lies in that great forgotten truth, that when man listens, God speaks; when man obeys, God acts; when men change, nations change." – Frank Buchman


Many set aside a specific time of their day to read and meditate on Scripture, pray (in a variety of ways), and be still and listen for God’s voice or promptings.  The benefits of time personally invested with God are many- and they will touch the lives of every man, woman, and child around us- if we'll but make Him our priority over all others.


How close we draw near to God is up to each one of us.  When we set aside time to dwell in God’s presence, He changes us; how we live; and how we view the world and all it offers us.  Time personally invested with God yields eternal treasures that will long outlive the temporary activities or things we think we desire in our present age.  Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 6:5-21.



Modeling a Quiet Time


OnSite is currently offering a training that models what a quiet time can look like.  The training then gives all in attendance the opportunity to experience one-on-One time with God- to freshly allow each person to personally taste and see that He is good; in the model of Psalm 34:8.  See our schedule for upcoming trainings, or contact Rob to arrange this simple one-hour training for your church, small group, or neighborhood gathering.

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A Way to Pray Through Scripture

One way to teach and encourage prayer is to model it for others.  It's not done with a mindset of, "Hey, look at what I can do," but is done out of a humble desire to love and encourage others to pray and practice a similar manner of prayer within their own devotions and ongoing personal relationships with God through Jesus Christ.

Some ways to begin this practice of prayer include:

*  Prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to bring your attention to specific points or details as you read.
 
*  Read through the chapter, or section of Scripture, two or more times.  You may want to jot down specific points, ideas, or concepts that the Holy Spirit points out as you read (even ones that may seem unrelated to the text as they come to mind).

*  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you pray through the Scripture the final time you read through it.  Then begin praying through as you read.

*  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you opportunities to pray with prayers of praise, thanksgiving, confession, petition (asking), and more.


Today, we read Hebrews 5.

Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.

In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,

“You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”

And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Warning Against Falling Away

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

 
My prayer today:

Father, I praise you for being God of all.  In your many perfections, you display your perfect wisdom.  You watch and engage your creation and call forth your children to come before you in prayer.  Thank you for calling each Christian man, woman, and child to pray!  Although we no longer sacrifice animals to atone for our sins, we do offer you a sacrifice of praise, for you are worthy to receive it always, in all places, and times.  I worship you alone.  Thank you, Jesus, for being the perfect sacrifice for all my sins, past, present, and future.  You alone are worthy and capable!

I confess that I seldom deal gently with those ignorant or who are going astray.  I have established a pattern of quickly judging others in my heart and impatiently relegating them as a waste of my time.  I am weak, as they are, but fail to invite you to do what pleases you within me or through me.  Lord, forgive me for my arrogance and pride.  Renew my mind and heart by your Word and Spirit.  I long to obey and follow you humbly.  I desire to humbly lead and help others to know you, and know you deeply.

Jesus, I thank you for refusing to take glory in yourself or in the power you received from the Father.  You perfectly glorified your Father, and He did mighty things through you.  Help me to do the same; to look to the Father- to bring Him glory in all He does in and through me; taking none for it for myself.  Thank you, Father, for calling me one of your many children.  Oh, how I long for your glory to be reflected from me toward you and others!  Guide me by your Word and Spirit accordingly!

Father, I also confess that the words, obedience, and suffering, are not popular words in our time.  But Jesus, I praise you for living, and modeling, the importance of obedience following suffering.  You've promised that we will suffer for our faith in you.  Help me to hold my focus on you in times of suffering, as well as during times when it seems I'm not suffering.  I desire to follow you, and all you perfectly modeled during your physical time on earth.  You are my Rock, my Source, my Strength, regardless of circumstance!

Lord, I desire to consume the appropriate food within the teaching of your Word.  Please reveal to me what to read, learn, take to heart, apply, and more in this latest step in my walk with you.  I ask that you would do similar for my brothers and sisters in Christ.  Help us to accurately assess, and accept, where we are, regardless of how much or little of our lives we've walked with you.  We desire you, and to grow in you alone.  Teach us to pray, and lead us in your way everlasting.

Father, I continue to exalt you above all; all that could distract me from your presence or attention; all that would seek to tear me away from you.  And as I exalt you, I desire that many more would join in doing so.  You are perpetually worthy to be exalted; lifted up in our hearts and lives, in our countenance, in the outward living of our moment-to-moment lives, and more.  Equip us to humbly yield to you in all manners of our lives.

I worship you alone.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

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What you've read is a model of how it's possible to pray a portion of Scripture.  It's an excellent way to read, pray, and grow in your study of the Word and your personal walk with God.

You may find that when you pray Hebrews 5 (or any portion of Scripture) on your own, that your prayer and praise may look much different than mine.  Guess what?  It probably will, and in my opinion, it should!  Your relationship with God is different from mine, and any other Christian's!   Talk to God with your own voice and heart.  He made them, gave them to you, and desires your praise, thanksgiving, worship, petition, and more through all He's given you.

This is also true if you practice praying Scripture with a spouse or friend.  Scripture is an excellent foundation to pray from- whether individually, with a spouse, or together as a family!

Attempt this form of prayer once or more this week, and let me know your impressions.

Also, if there's a portion of Scripture you'd like to see modeled in prayer, or would like to model in prayer yourself, please email me.
 
Thank you for reading the Word, and praying today!

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