What An Awesome Privilege…

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1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 (KJV)

17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Prayer is the lifeblood of an intimate relationship with the Father.

But believers often have questions about its Prayer is the lifeblood of an intimate relationship with the Father. But believers often have questions about its power and effectiveness. Don’t hesitate to take your queries to the Lord, dig into Scripture for answers, and seek the counsel of a trusted spiritual mentor. Prayer is too important to neglect.. Don’t hesitate to take your queries to the Lord, dig into Scripture for answers, and seek the counsel of a trusted spiritual mentor. Prayer is too important to neglect.

Will God’s plans fail if I don’t pray?

God is not subservient to believers or dependent upon their prayers. The time we invest in speaking with Him involves us in the work that He is doing in our lives and in the world, but He will carry on without us.

Laboring alongside the Lord is our privilege.

Does my prayer (or lack thereof) impact God’s work? I believe that Scripture indicates the answer to this question is both yes and no, depending upon the situation. There are times when God’s purpose is set. He is in control and has determined the best course. In the Old Testament, the Lord often prophesied what He would do and then brought those events to pass.

In other cases, “you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2).

There are some good things that He holds back until we put out prayerful hands to receive them. But because God is a loving Father, He also pours our blessings that we wouldn’t even think to request.

Believer’s prayers have tremendous impact, particularly on their own faith and life. Do you understand what an awesome privilege it is to kneel before the all-powerful Father and know that He listens and will respond?

God loves to be good to His children and answer their prayers. 

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Understanding The Plan…

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1 John 5:13-15 (KJV)

13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

The Father has provided the Holy Spirit to teach His children about His will for their lives (John 14:26).

Why, then, do we have difficulty understanding what the plan is?

We make decisions based on emotion. 

When life presses in on us, our instinct is to move away from the source of stress or pain. At such times, our need to remove difficulties and turmoil from our life can take precedence over the Lord’s plan. We figure He could not possibly want us to feel this way, so we take action and then hope that we are in His will. Our emphasis is on ourselves rather than on God’s purposes.

We focus only on the immediate.

Many times we come to the Lord troubled about the choices we or our loved ones are facing. We do not see how this situation could possibly be His will. Our short-term focus prevents us from seeing God’s long-term purposes.

We conduct a superficial search.

In our desire for an answer, we can fall into a trap and treat finding God’s will like a checklist—read the Bible, pray, fast, serve, worship, give. Then, satisfied with what we have done, we press the Lord for His answer now. But we have neglected to give God the time and stillness needed for us to hear from Him (Ps. 46:10). Investing time with our Creator is a necessity, not a luxury, and listening to Him without distractions is essential.

How much Bible study is required to find out what our heavenly Father wants for us?

What amount of prayer? What quantity of time? The answer is simple: Whatever it takes to hear from God.

He will answer. The question is, Will we wait?

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An Unselfish Investment…

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Galatians 6:1-5 (KJV)

1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.5For every man shall bear his own burden.

The Lord doesn’t want the members of His body to live in isolation; believers are intended to function as a loving family who actively care for each other.

One of our responsibilities as part of God’s household is to come alongside a brother or sister who has stumbled. Paul specifies that those “who are spiritual” are to restore the fallen ones to fellowship with the Father and the family.

“Spiritual” doesn’t mean some elite group of pious leaders; it refers to any Christians who are living under the Spirit’s control.

A key element in this process is the attitude of the one who seeks to restore a fellow Christian.

A Spirit of Gentleness:

This isn’t a time for harshness, anger, judgment, or condemnation. Our goal is not to heap pain and guilt upon a hurting brother or sister but to show mercy and forgiveness (2 Cor. 2:5-8).

A Spirit of Humility:

Those who have a superior attitude look down on a fallen brother and think, I would never make those mistakes. But the humble know their own vulnerability. Instead of judging others, they examine their own lives in order to recognize and deal with areas of weakness.

A Spirit of Love:

When we love others, we’ll willingly sharing their burden. This requires an unselfish investment of our time, energy, and prayer on their behalf.

How do you react when a fellow Christian has stumbled?

One of the ugliest human traits is our tendency to feel better about ourselves when another person misses the mark. Instead of sharing the latest gossip about a fallen brother or sister, let your heart break, and come alongside to love and help.

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Discovering God’s Will…

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Psalm 119:17-24 (KJV)

17 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.
18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
19 I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.
20 My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.
21 Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.
22 Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.
23 Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
24 Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.

How would you describe the process of discovering God’s will?

Would you call it . . .

Fantasy (“I do not believe God has a plan for specific areas of my life”)?
Mystery (“God has a plan, but it is so hard to figure out”)?
Biography (“I know Scripture reveals who God is and what His plans are, but at times I get confused”)?

Let’s look at some of the reasons that we might miss God’s will.

• Handling God’s Word improperly. 

When our days become jam-packed with commitments and activities, we have trouble maintaining a steady intake of Scripture. Without significant time in the Word, we tend to forget what matters to God. When we start mixing the world’s lies with the Father’s truth, we will step out of His plan. Other times we will incorrectly use Scripture to bolster decisions we have already made. Or, when the Bible does not match what we want, we might reject it and do things our own way.

• Picking the wrong guide.

When making decisions, we sometimes rely too heavily on other peoples’ opinions. We think that the easiest and quickest way to get answers is to ask fellow Christians or unbelievers who seem “wise.” In other instances, we use our friends’ lifestyle as a yardstick for God’s will: we decide that if they can act a certain way, so can we. Or we might assume that if our way is better than their choices, God will approve.

Making Scripture your daily companion is the best way not to miss God’s plan.

Be prepared to spend time reading and listening while the Spirit teaches you what God’s will is for your life.

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Bearing The Burden…

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1 Thessalonians 5:14 (KJV)

14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

There are hurting people everywhere, but at times we just don’t know what to say or do to ease their pain.

Here are six practical ways to bear someone else’s burden.

Be there. 

At times the best “method” of helping is simply to be present. During our darkest hours, we don’t need someone who tries in vain to fix everything; we just need a friend.

Listen. 

Don’t attempt to give answers or tell people what to do next. Injured souls frequently want simply a listening ear so they can express what’s on their mind.

Share. 

Never parade yourself as someone who has all the answers. Instead, allow your own pain and failures to help others.

Pray. 

There is power in speaking people’s names before the Lord. When they hear someone talk to Jesus on their behalf, healing often starts taking place.

Give. 

Sometimes helping others involves more than a handshake or warm hug. Maybe they need something financial or material. One of the best measures of sincerity is how much we’re willing to give to others.

Substitute.

You may know an individual who bears the burden of caring for someone else. If you step in and take his or her place for a while, you are emulating your Savior–He, too, was a substitute.

Because we were unable to do it ourselves, Jesus bore all of our sin and sorrow, even unto death.

As a result, we can live happily and eternally in communion with our Father.

If Christ did that for us, how can we ever say, “I’m too busy to bear someone else’s burden”?

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Friendship, Our Most Valuable Asset…

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 Proverbs 17:17 (KJV)

17A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Friendships are among our most valuable assets.

Acquiring quality companions—those who will laugh with us in good times and stand by us during trials—requires shared commitment and an investment of time and energy. Healthy relationships thrive on . . .

Transparency. 

We must be honest with friends and encourage them to be truthful in return. To preserve a strong bond, we can’t hide hurts or feelings of rejection they may have caused. Transparency that is tied to accountability can also help make each individual a better person. A solid relationship allows each party to gently point out error sin the other’s life and offer loving correction.

Time and talk. 

Genuine friendship takes time to develop. We must be willing to put aside other obligations and give priority to moments spent together. A generous portion of our time with each other should be spent talking—speaking about our thoughts and desires and also asking questions to prompt our companion to open up. This type of conversation allows a glimpse into the other person’s heart and mind.

Thanks. 

Everyone likes to feel appreciated. Expressing gratitude when friends are helpful will remind them that we’re thankful to have them in our life. Moreover, we affirm our love when we communicate how much we enjoy a certain aspect of their personality or remember an occasion that is special to them.

Being a good friend is a way to serve the Lord.

He designed us to be in relationship with others, so we should give our best to every companion the Lord places in our life.

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The Boundless Care of The Lord…

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Matthew 5:38-48(KJV)

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Many people talk a lot about rights these days. Yet the attention given to human entitlements hasn’t brought about corporate or personal freedom.

Instead, most people are prisoners of jealousy (you have greater rights than I do!), greed (I deserve more!), or bitterness (my rights have been violated!).

Instead of focusing on the privileges due us, we should take the biblical perspective of loving enemies and forgiving persecutors (Matt. 5:44).

Believers lay down their rights so they can take up the cause of a holy kingdom. That doesn’t mean that we let people trample on us. Rather, we offer a proper response according to biblical principles. In short, believers should be more concerned about showing God’s love to those who do wrong than about demanding their rights.

Maybe you’re thinking, but he doesn’t know how I’ve been mistreated. 

Indeed I do not. But what I do know is how Jesus Christ, our example, reacted to terrible abuse. He was betrayed by His friends, persecuted by His people, condemned by His peers, and crucified for our sins. Yet He said, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34).

Before assuming that Jesus’ capacity for forgiveness and love is out of reach for mere human beings, remember: His Spirit dwells in believers. We can choose to give away our rights and let God’s love work through us.

Luke 6:29 says to turn the other cheek and give up more than is asked because expressing love outweighs exerting our rights. You can’t lose when you show others the boundless care of the Lord.

You gain His blessing, and, hopefully, someone will be saved because of your example.

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Unmet Expectations…

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 Matthew 5:23-24 (KJV)

23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

When we develop friendships, we intend for them to last.

But since two fallen human beings are involved, occasional hurt feelings and unmet expectations are likely. If one or both people simply ignore the affront, the relationship can be damaged.

Repairing a troubled friendship requires humility to admit our faults, effort to fix the problem, and time.

But the reward is a renewed connection with a valued companion.

The process of saving a friendship begins when you acknowledge that damage exists.

This takes place the moment you say, “I feel something isn’t right in our relationship. I’d like for us to find and fix the problem.” It is helpful to work together to assess how the trouble began—perhaps it resulted from a misunderstanding, an unresolved conflict, one person’s busyness, or the like.

After recognizing the problem, apologize for your part in it.

Taking responsibility and saying “I’m sorry” shows your love and commitment to the friendship. Remember that an essential aspect of apologizing is refusing to justify wrong actions or blame someone else.

An apology must be followed up with amends.

Ask your friend what specific action you both can take to rebuild the relationship. Then commit to follow his or her suggestion while occasionally asking, “How am I doing?”

Rather than waiting until their relationship is in trouble, wise friends will go through these steps as soon as they are aware of having hurt a loved one.

As with physical injury, preventative care can soothe minor scrapes before they become serious wounds.

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