My wife has done a great job writing this week about marriage. Today’s post is awesome! Please check it out as well as the rest of the week!
My wife has done a great job writing this week about marriage. Today’s post is awesome! Please check it out as well as the rest of the week!
Last night in prayer meeting, we shared in a family-friendly service. After singing a couple of gospel songs, one by request, we had the kids up front leading the singing of some good, old children’s songs, two of which had motions. It was fun to look back at the adults who were doing the motions as well, especially on singing “Only a Boy Named David.”
After singing “Boys and Girls for Jesus” we took prayer requests for the unsaved. How precious to hear these children and adults mention their loved ones, friends, and neighbors’ names. We then broke up into small groups with adults and children praying out loud for the lost. How sweet to hold a 4 year old boy in my lap as he prayed in his own precious way, and it was not a short prayer either.
When we gathered back together, we sang the old gospel song, “I Love to Tell the Story.”
I’ve challenged our congregation to memorize Ephesians 4:1-16 over the next two months. Hence, we then worked on 4:1-3 as a family or in small groups. The drill was to say 4:1-3 five times aloud in unison as a group. Then, one person in each group would take the lead in saying the passage leaving out words for the rest of the group to fill in. This was a blast! The laughter and joy of memorizing Scripture was so cool! Then some of folks stood and recited 4:1-3 which was followed by encouraging applause.
We then took Ephesians 4:1 and broke it down word-for-word learning the meaning and the application. How cool to watch everyone search through Ephesians 1-3 to find what Paul meant when he said in 4:1 to walk worthy of the vocation to which you are called. The kids did a great job with their answers straight from Scripture.
What a precious time we had as a church family in community last night.
The ice cream treat with my wife and the sunset afterwards was an added blessing, too!
From a pastor’s heart,
Read carefully Paul’s words in reference to the church at Philippi: I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now (Philippians 1:3-5).
Look at those words, making my prayer with joy. Is prayer a joy in your life? Do you have a joy-filled time praying? In others words, is praying a happy time for you? Is it a time of rejoicing, praise, thanksgiving, and sweet communion with your Heavenly Father?
If you pray in the power of the Spirit (Romans 8:26; Ephesians 6:18; Jude 20), you will be praying with joy because it is a fruit of the Spirit.
For many, prayer is a burden, a drudgery, and/or a duty. May I encourage you today to find a place to meet with God and enjoy His presence?
I believe if you will make prayer with joy this morning, it will set your day to be one of joy and blessing. Try it! (Philippians 4:4-7)
Come on now. Don’t deny it. You’ve been thinking about that annual summer vacation to the beach, Disney World, Pigeon Forge, etc. Vacations are a good thing. We all need our physical, mental, and spiritual batteries recharged!
Question. When you go on vacation, do you plan for those special daily times to build your relationship with the Lord? Do you take your Bible, journals, and books so you can feed your soul? Can you say when you have returned that you and your family love the Lord more or less? Do you research the area before you arrive to find a solid Bible preaching/teaching church where you and your family can worship on Sunday morning?
I will submit to you without reservation, the best parts of our vacations over the years have been our time in the mornings in the Word and prayer. Vacation must not be a time to leave the Lord at home. Vacations should be a time where everyday distractions are removed, and you can enjoy His presence and His precepts!
I hear so often from so many that due to their work, school, recreation, and church schedules, they struggle to get time in the Word and prayer. And believe it or not, it shows (I know by experience in my own life). Vacation is a time for you to unplug from all the aforementioned things and be refreshed. What better way to do so than to meet with Jesus everyday as an individual, as a couple and as a family. Even Jesus Himself went apart from the crowd to meet with His Father (Matthew 14:23).
Furthermore, because you are in such a relaxed mode on vacation, that’s even more reason you need the Word of God to ward off the attacks of your flesh, the world and the devil. I promise you, they never take a vacation.
And finally look at the effect the intake of the Word will have upon you:
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:7-11)
97 Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts. 101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. 102 I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me. 103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. (Psalm 119:97-104)
So, as you plan for all the places you will eat, recreate, lodge and relax, be sure to seek Him first (Matthew 6:33). By the way, He’s the One Who gives you the strength, provides the funds, and watches over you for your vacation.
Don’t take a vacation from the Lord when you are on your vacation!
To balance the scales in reference to yesterday’s post, may I, from my heart, challenge dads to consider their impact upon their daughters?
God graciously lent us three daughters to raise for His glory. He saw fit to take our middle daughter before she ever experienced the outside world of sin. She was stillborn twenty-nine years ago. What a reunion awaits us in Glory when our family will be together again for all eternity!
In spite of all the trials, bumps, mistakes, tears, miscalculations, and naivety of raising two girls, I assure you that the blessings far outweigh all the aforementioned. We are richly blessed! But . . . it takes hard work, time in the Word, and MUCH PRAYER!!!
So with that said, men, may I ask . . . what are your daughters learning from you by your example and through your instruction?
May I strongly encourage you to go back through yesterday’s list and replace all the boy/son references to girl/daughter?
And let’s add the following.
To my two daughters who are now married, how blessed to be your dad!! My heart is full when you and your husbands are able to visit and we gather around our table or sit in our living room, to hear the laughter, quote our Andy lines, share our joys and heartaches, laugh at each other and just be family. How awesome to see you continue to grow in your relationships with God and your husbands!!
Accomplishing anything good as a father is ONLY by the grace of God and His sovereign leadership.
Men, your daughters are watching you.
Here are two recommend links that offer further insight:
There are many words to describe the various aspects of our Christian experience that is our daily walk with Christ in relationship with our Heavenly Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. Some of those descriptive terms include putting off and putting on, retreat and rest, keep on keeping on, press toward the mark, be zealous, and many others.
Last week I saw the word advance come to life. A group of ladies from our church attended a conference in Roanoke, Virginia, known as Ladies Prayer Advance. The gathering began on Thursday at 1:30 with a general session which included singing, prayer groups, more singing, and powerful preaching from the Word of God. This was followed by workshops and then a supper break.
The evening service began at 7:00 p.m. with singing, prayer, choir ministry, and the preached Word. The first evening session is followed up by one of the most important events of the conference, prayer meetings. Ladies gather with their group and follow the prayer prompt of what is known as CPR, Confession, Praise, and Requests. As they go around their circle in at least three rounds of prayer, the Holy Spirit moves in, hearts are convicted and broken. Honest and transparency abounds. The conference really begins here. Prayer meetings have been known to last all night.
My wife returned to her room somewhere between 11:00 and midnight.
Needless to say, when the Prayer Advance began again the next morning at 9:00, there were some tired ladies. Instead of listening to their fatigue, they pressed on through a whole day of preaching and workshops followed by another service after supper and more prayer time. Before lunch is one of the great highlights of Friday’s events called Sweet Hour of Prayer where you find a quiet place and pray for one hour.
Then Saturday morning rolls around with an 8:30 start for a workshop and then the final session at 10:00.
I have attended several Men’s Prayer Advances and have been the van driver for the past two Ladies Prayer Advances, and the same thing happens every time. By the time the Friday night service rolls around, the conference participants are pumped, excited, expectant, full of praise, clean before the Lord and walking close to their God.
This same spirit escalates into the Saturday morning final session, and my friend, I will tell you, it is a bit of heaven on earth!!!
Why does it happen this way? One word describes it . . . Advance! Although our earthly bodies through fatigue, excuses, fears, laziness, and unconfessed sin calls us to slow down, quit, go take a nap or various other backward responses, the grace of God through praise, prayer, and preaching causes you to advance. As each session and workshop moves along, the ladies are moving closer to the Lord! They are advancing! And of course, that is the way it is supposed to be as we read in James 4:6-8, But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
I promise you, no believer has ever regretted drawing closer to God, advancing toward God and the things of God.
Yes, there are times when we need to retreat and rest, but advance should be a term to describe our relationship with God on a daily basis. Grace is sufficient even when we are tired, tempted, and tested.
There’s a song we sing in our church that describes what I’ve tried to convey in this blog post. Listen to it and . . . ADVANCE!
(Text by Chris Anderson; Tune by Greg Habegger)
I run to Christ when chased by fear
And find a refuge sure.
“Believe in me,” His voice I hear;
His words and wounds secure.
I run to Christ when torn by grief
And find abundant peace.
“I too had tears,” He gently speaks;
Thus joy and sorrow meet.
I run to Christ when worn by life
And find my soul refreshed.
“Come unto Me,” He calls through strife;
Fatigue gives way to rest.
I run to Christ when vexed by hell
And find a mighty arm.
“The Devil flees,” the Scriptures tell;
He roars, but cannot harm.
I run to Christ when stalked by sin
And find a sure escape.
“Deliver me,” I cry to Him;
Temptation yields to grace.
I run to Christ when plagued by shame
And find my one defense.
“I bore God’s wrath,” He pleads my case—
My Advocate and Friend.
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Ordinary, average, middle-of-the-road, uninspired, undistinguished, indifferent, unexceptional, unexciting, unremarkable, run-of-the-mill. These are all words synonymous with a word that means “of only moderate quality; not very good.”
Mediocrity describes too much of daily life today at home, the work place, in businesses, churches, entertainment, and sadly at times in my own life. Yet, I believe that the worst place for mediocrity to raise its indifferent, ordinary head is in a born-again Christian’s life.
Consider what the Bible says about mediocrity:
Romans 12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.
1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Colossians 3:17,23 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.
Simply put, a mediocre Christian is one whose thirst for God has waned over time, and sadly, he/she doesn’t realize it. Instead of giving diligence to his growth in Christ, to add to his original faith in Christ (2 Peter 1:3-7, 10), he has become barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins (1:8-9).
As we heard last night in our Men with a Mission weekly ministry, “Mediocrity cheapens the grace of God.”
Are you a mediocre Christian? Here are 10 questions taken from last night’s lesson to ask yourself to determine your level of mediocrity. Read each one carefully and thoughtfully. Do not rush through the list or be mediocre about it.
When you are cold, you want to be close to the fire. How’s the fire in your Christian life? That will be determined by how close you want to walk with Christ. That will be determined by your vine/branch relationship with Christ (John 15:1-11). You are as close as you want to be; you are as zealous as you want to; you are as zealous as you want to be. God does not force His will on anyone.
The remedy for mediocrity:
For me to live is Christ (Philippians 1:21)
You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:17-18)
When we stand before Christ one day at the Bema and our works will be judged, do you want Him to say, “Well done for being completely mediocre.”?
Have you ever listened to yourself pray?
Do you say the same prayer phrases over and over again?
Has prayer become dull, boring and a duty?
What are you praying for your children or grandchildren?
There is a huge difference in praying, “Lord, bless my children. Help them to have a good day,” and praying Philippians 4:8 for your children. For instance . . .
“Lord, help my children today to think what is true and live what is true. May truth guide their every step. May the Word of God come readily to their mind when they are tempted to do wrong or need encouragement to do right. May they commune in prayer with You, Jesus, Who is the Truth. And, Lord, may my children today be truth tellers, speaking the truth and sharing the truth.”
When you pray Scripture, you are praying in the will of God (1 John 5:14-15), your praying comes alive (Hebrews 4:12), and you move from tired, old prayer cliques and empty phrases (vain repetition, Matthew 6:7) to prayer that comes alive (Hebrews 4:12)!
I would challenge you to take your daily prayer list and place Scripture references beside each one. Then, pray that Scripture from a sincere heart of genuine relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ. Pray expectantly! Cry out to the Lord in believing prayer because it is based upon the eternal words of God!
For additional help: 31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for Your Children
Yesterday I received my daily email from All-Pro Dad, and the post for Wednesday was entitled, 4 Areas You and Your Wife Need to Be on the Same Page
The four areas are:
BONUS: Closing the day in prayer
These four things are spot-on, but what caught my attention was the title of the article and the bonus. They describe the real need of every marriage.
The page that every marriage should work from each day is a page from God’s Word.
The bonus in every marriage, every day is prayer!
You see, God, the Creator of marriage between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18-25), is also the Author of God’s Word. Therefore, for a husband and wife to be blessed and have an honorable marriage, they will work off the same page . . . the page(s) of God’s Word.
Since God is righteous (Psalm 145:17), then all His ways, counsel, direction, and wisdom is right. You want to know what’s right for your marriage, then both of you work off the same page, God’s Word!
Husband and wives should read the Word together, share with each other what God teaches you each day-by-day from the Word, faithfully attend a Bible teaching and preaching church, be exposed to biblical preaching via podcasts or radio, attend camps and conferences where you can learn the Word together, and live your lives in accordance to God’s right path (Joshua 1:8-9; Psalm 1:1-6; 19:7-14).
Proverbs 14:11 reminds us, There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Since marriage is the union of two selfish individuals whose way seems always best to themselves, it is most wise to walk in the counsel of God’s righteous Word.
The power and place of God’s Word is on display in Psalm 119. Here’s an action plan. How about each day, you and your spouse read one eight-verse section from Psalm 119. Take turns reading each verse out loud and stopping after each verse to listen to God and share with each other how that verse applies to your life and marriage. Then jot down in a journal your thoughts, biblical plans, and the righteous path God has revealed to you as you read, discuss and meditate on the Word.
Finally, enjoy the BONUS—pray together. Don’t just wait until the end of the day. Find yourselves praying for and with each other throughout the day and night. The absolute best place to go with your spouse is to the Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Now, that’s really working off the same page!!
It is now 355 days away, and yes, I am counting, until we gather again for the Friday evening session of Men’s Prayer Advance! Every year, I must say that it is a “little bit of heaven on earth.” There is a genuine spirit of expectancy; a passion to worship in song, prayer and praise; a longing to hear the Word preached again; and an unparalleled unity among men before the Throne of God!
How is it that over 600 men gathered in one auditorium are singing with all their heart and voice, even if they have no musical ability? How is it that these men are uninhibited in their expressions of love for God and surrender to God? How is that men are willing to clap and/or raise their hands in praise, shout for joy, and even move to the altar in conviction even during a sermon, pray with such honesty and transparency, and not be ashamed to confess Christ before their peers?
I believe the answer is found in Exodus 14:30-31, Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.
And then note their response to the Lord’s working as recorded in Exodus 15:1-3 and following,
Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying,
“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
2 The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
3 The Lord is a man of war;
the Lord is his name.
The Children of Israel had been exposed to the character and works of God! They saw, listened, believed and then worshiped!
The Friday night service is a touch of heaven because we arrive on Thursday afternoon in need of a touch from God, a heart-change. From the very first general session until Friday night, we are exposed to powerful, convicting preaching; many times of prayer with another man or in groups; CPR prayer (confession, praise, requests) in our Thursday half-night of prayer; Sweet Hour of Prayer on Friday mid-morning; breakout sessions that deal with men’s heart issues; and music that magnifies Christ, glorifies God, and lifts the soul!
So, when Friday night rolls around, you have over 600 men who are ready to worship because as we heard this year, “we are not cleaner, we are CLEAN” before the Lord!
You know, Sunday services at church, for instance, should be times of awesome worship, too, if we are being exposed every day to the Word and broken in prayer! When you have a daily fresh encounter with God Who is your Holy, Loving, Just, Righteous, Awesome, Transcendent Heavenly Father, it will affect your worship! And as Romans 12:1-2 reminds us, worship is 24-7 . . . not just on Sundays or Men’s Prayer Advance.
So, are you giving God Exodus 15 kind of praise today?
Are your co-workers experiencing salt and light (Matthew 5:14-15) and seeing Matthew 5:16 fulfilled in their lives because you have been exposed to the Son?
Will today in your home before your family and next Sunday at your church be a touch of heaven because you are clean?
As we were so challenged this year, we must “keep the clay wet” (Jeremiah 18:6); “shut the door” (Matthew 6:5-15); and “stay in faith” (Hebrews 11:6).
(If you want to watch the services, check out this site as well as the other links: Thursday NIght Service 1.26.17)