surrender (5)

A group of near culture believers who have moved to the Arabian Peninsula for work have a passion to share and are meeting regularly to encourage each other as they ask the Father for opportunities to share and disciple. Please pray that the Lord will move mightily in and through them.

A country with very few indigenous believers is slowly beginning to see some fruit, as those who have begun to follow Jesus are giving testimony to their friends and family. Give praise for these bold ones and pray that they will continue to share with great joy, continued boldness, and great wisdom. Pray that many will be added to the Kingdom.

R, a self-proclaimed agnostic, admitted to a follower of Jesus that he too once decided to follow the teachings of Jesus after coming to the conclusion that His message is the true one. Since then, he has fallen away and admits his feeling of emptiness. Please ask that R will once again have a hunger to walk with Jesus, that he will surrender his life to His Lordship, that his family will be restored to him, and that they also will come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Even after seeing the truth in the Word and realizing that Jesus is so much more than just a prophet, it is difficult for someone from the Muslim faith to embrace the Gospel as the way to God.  A young woman exclaimed, "How could I ever believe that the Quran is not from Allah?" Pray that the beloved people of the Arabian Peninsula will be freed from the chains that bind them to falsehood. Pray that they will be given faith by the Holy Spirit to repent and confess that Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life.

A woman with stage 4 cancer is reading the Word with her mother. May they receive the faith to embrace the truth of the Good News and surrender their lives to Jesus. Pray also for divine healing in accordance with His will and for His glory.

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All prayer is not a struggle, but some of the best prayer is like Jacob wrestling with the Lord.

There are several reasons we must struggle in prayer. They are diverse enough that they could not be covered thoroughly in a single blog entry. I will pray about writing a series of blogs on this important subject. But for now I want to overview the issue.

We need to struggle in prayer because of the condition of the fallen world where God has assigned us to minister. In Joel's powerful call to prayer we read,

"Gird yourselves and lament, you priests;

Wail, you who minister before the altar;

Come, lie all night in sackcloth,

You who minister to my God;

For the grain offering and the drink offering

Are withheld from the house of your God.


We need to struggle in prayer over the condition of our country, our city, sometimes our churches. Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Have you wept in prayer over someone you love who is rejecting Christ. Have you fasted before God because of things were terribly out of His will?

We sometimes need to struggle to discern God’s will. Have you prayerfully poured yourself out over scripture and circumstances to clearly hear God’s voice?

I also have to struggle over my will. In a sense this is struggling over the will of God. Only saying it that way sounds like God is the enemy. But as a child of God, He is no longer the enemy. He is on my side against the selfishness and foolishness of my sinful nature.

It is almost blasphemous to compare my struggles with that of Jesus in the garden before the cross. But He showed us the right attitude of prayer. Even as Jesus was asking if there were any way "the cup" could pass from Him, He surrendered to His Father’s will. And after He had spent time in the presence of God, Jesus made peace with God's will even though it would cost Him everything. The struggles God leads you through are never so difficult or so crucial. But they are important. And they are a necessary part of spiritual growth.

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The Prayer of Relinquishment

If you’re like me, there’s hardly anything in life more frustrating than when you lose something that’s important to you. The day is off to a bad start if you can’t remember where you put your car keys, your cell phone, or the computer file you’d worked on all day yesterday.


Everything else is put on hold until you find what you lost.


On the other hand, nothing is more exhilarating than to find something you thought might be gone forever. Jesus tells three stories about this kind of experience in Luke 15, where a lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son all were regained with great joy.


Have you ever had this kind of experience?


Recently I uncovered a “lost” secret to having an adventurous, discovered-filled life. I feel like the man in Matthew 13:44 (MSG) who unexpectedly found “a treasure hidden in a field for years.” How could I have missed or neglected this “treasure” for so long?


The secret is amazingly simple, found in a single word. It’s a word that probably sounds wimpy or even defeatist at first—yet it’s anything but that. The word is filled with explosive power and potential, but this is a lot like nuclear energy—hidden away for millennia inside of tiny atoms.


Even though this word is never used in the Bible, the concept is found throughout. However, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard a sermon by this name.


So here it is, the forgotten key to a happy, fruitful, and prosperous life of discovery:




Dictionaries define relinquishment as surrendering, releasing, letting go, or yielding. The closest Bible “proof text” I could find was an obscure marginal reference in Psalm 46:10 (nasb):  LET GO and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The secret to having God exalted in our lives is in simply letting go—relinquishing something we treasure to Him. Or, as Jesus told us, we must lose our life in order to find it (Luke 17:33).


Relinquishment takes a person’s life from ordinary to extraordinary…from bland to blessed…from victim to victor…and from boring to bold. In contrast, nothing is duller or more depressing than trying hold on to what we already have.


Abraham’s son Isaac was just an ordinary young man until Abraham relinquished him to the Lord and put him on the altar of sacrifice (Genesis 22).


Once Moses relinquished his ordinary shepherd’s staff (Exodus 4:1-5), it was transformed into “the rod of God,” able to perform mighty miracles.


There was nothing extraordinary about the five loaves and two fish the disciples had on hand—until they relinquished their supply to Jesus (Matthew 14).


The stone waterpots in John 2 contained only ordinary, colorless, tasteless water, until Jesus took the bland water and did a miracle—turning it into sparkling, tasty, intoxicating wine.


You see, whenever RELINQUISMENT takes place, life gets exciting and God does miracles. So why is it so easy to miss this? The answer is simple: Because of fear and unbelief, we tend to hang on to our meager resources rather than entrust them into the hands of God.


The life of faith is never ordinary, bland, or unexciting. But the “religious” life is a completely different story. Religion always turns the wine back into water and removes the fizz from the adventurous life God planned for us.


Jesus relinquished the rights of His heavenly life in order to embark on the great adventure of redeeming humankind and giving us a right to enter heaven. Still today, He beckons us to a life of relinquishment, where it is “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).


Instead of being a life of boredom or defeat, a life of relinquishment is a life of anticipation, success, and victory. What can God do with that “thing” you are holding in your hand? You’ll never know until you relinquish it to Him. That’s when the fun starts and the fizz returns.



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John Wesley's Covenant Prayer

Join me if you would like in praying this prayer during Lent: 


Covenant    Prayer

From   John   Wesley's   Covenant   Service ,  1780 

I  am  no  longer  my  own,  but  thine. 

Put  me  to  what  thou  wilt,  rank  me  with  whom  thou  wilt. 

Put  me  to  doing,  put  me  to  suffering. 

Let  me  be  employed  by  thee  or  laid  aside  for  thee, 

exalted  for  thee  or  brought  low  for  thee. 

Let  me  be  full,  let  me  be  empty. 

Let  me  have  all  things,  let  me  have  nothing. 

I  freely  and  heartily  yield  all  things to  thy  pleasure  and  disposal. 

And  now,  O  glorious  and  blessed  God, 

Father,  Son,  and  Holy  Spirit, 

thou  art  mine,  and  I  am  thine.  So  be  it. 

And  the  covenant  which  I  have  made  on  earth, 

let  it  be  ratified  in  heaven.  Amen.

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Waving the Wrong White Flag

"Prayer is our most formidable weapon, the thing which makes all else we do efficient." - E.M. Bounds

I've been reading a booklet titled, Praying Effectively for the Lost, by Lee E. Thomas.  The author packs many foundational biblical truths, plus personal and powerful stories of persevering prayer, into what he's written.
One of the many points he touches upon is the matter of the Church, and the Christians who make up the Church, giving up too easily in prayer.  It's as though we are often quick to wave the white flag of surrender when we fail to see immediate results to our prayers when we pray.
Yet, in addition to surrendering too quickly, could we also be waving the wrong white flag in surrender?

Instead of surrendering our ability to pray because our expectations aren't fully met in the moment (or in the way(s) we expect them to be fulfilled), shouldn't we surrender ourselves, and continually do so, to God?

Do We Think We'll Really be Satisfied with Instant Potatoes All of the Time?


Our American culture can get us into trouble when we yield too much to its influence.  Our microwaved instant meals save us time, but sacrifice our health and nutrition.  We have the ability to "just add water" to powdered potatoes or other dried foods to create a "meal" out of something rather unappealing when we first open the box and look into it.  But should we expect to live off of that kind of meal consistently?
There's no comparison when we taste the "instant" meal alongside of a meal of substance.  The substantive meal, made with real fruits, grains, vegetables, and meats, will always taste better, be more appealing to the eye, and provide better health in both the short and long terms.
So it is with prayer and God. 
Whether God seems to instantly answer the prayer we've asked, or He answers it in what appears to be a delayed or prolonged manner, doesn't change who He is in the slightest degree!  It also doesn't change the power or effectiveness God has placed within prayer or within our ability to pray!
A.W. Tozer, poignantly brought this problem into focus:
"What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."

"The words, "Be still, and know that I am God," mean next to nothing to the self-confident, bustling, worshiper in this middle period of the twentieth century (our modern day)."  (paraphrase added)

"The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us."
"Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, "What comes into your mind when you think about God?" we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man." - the above quotes gleaned from Tozer's book, The Knowledge of the Holy, preface and pg. 1.
God is not a formula; a boxed "just add water" god (like other gods).  He is all-mighty (meaning that all power as we know it- and even beyond what we know, comes from and is within Him).  He is perfect (in every way we can imagine, plus immeasurably more)!  He is sovereign, meaning that He does as He pleases, whenever He pleases, as it brings Him good pleasure.  He is perfectly wise.  He sees our current joys, trials, and challenges in light of everything He's done prior, everything He's currently doing, and everything He will do in the future.  In His wisdom, He has prepared all that we need for salvation, all we need in our present lives, and all we'll need throughout eternal life.  He is Redeemer.  Only God sent His perfect Son to be the perfect sacrifice to satisfy the perfect wrath and justice He requires as judgment for man's sin and rebellion.  And additional truths of the person and character of God could be written about from now throughout eternity.  He's that enormous, mighty, loving, encompassing, and more!
God is so complete and powerful, why shouldn't we continually surrender our lives, thoughts, words, and actions to Him?  Why would or should we ever surrender our ability to pray?  He's provided the means (prayer) for us to both communicate to Him and hear from Him.  Prayer is a two-lane highway of communication! 

Why would we ever want to quit?
Surrender to God the matters that bring you joy (giving thanks in and through prayer).  Worship Him (praise Him through word and deed as a prayerful act of surrender and worship).  Surrender in prayer those things that trouble you (requests and concerns), and more.

Persisting in Prayer for the Lost
Lee E. Thomas (mentioned above) writes, "Through the many vivid word pictures in the Bible concerning the plight of the lost, we can easily see why persistence in prayer becomes a necessary factor.  Isaiah 14:17 describes the lost as being prisoners whom Satan refuses to release.  Acts 26:18 tells us that they are under the authority or jurisdiction of Satan.
Persistent prayer is necessary because of Satan's reluctance to give the lost person up, not because God is unwilling to save them!!!
One of Satan's favorite tactics is to make the situation look so impossible that we get discouraged and quit praying.  The reason he does this is that he has absolutely no defense against prayer.  The old saying is true that Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.  All prayer is warfare and, when you pray, Satan is being defeated even though you see no change in the circumstances.

However, if we could see what is happening in the spiritual realm when we pray, we would be greatly encouraged.  So, keep on praying for the lost whether you see results or not because your prayers are being answered!!" (emphasis added)
Be encouraged, and continually persist in prayer (in all ways)!
Matters to Continually Take Before God
Here is a short, incomplete, list of matters to continually keep before God in prayer:
*  The deepening and growth of your relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
*  God filling you with His Holy Spirit.
*  Your appetite and ability to read, take to heart, and apply the Word of God.
*  The salvation of lost friends, relatives, acquaintances, and beyond (specifically name those you know, then persistently do so until He leads them to faith). 

*  Revival (when Christians, and the Church, become saturated with God).

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