Advance

Ladies Prayer Advance 2  Ladies Prayer Advance 1

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!

I Run to Christ

(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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Dying to Self

dying-to-self

For seventeen Monday nights in-a-row which started January 1, men have been gathering at Boones Creek Bible Church for an intensive discipleship study entitled Men With a Mission.  The seventeen lessons are a serious call to commitment, dedication, and sacrifice with the goal of fulfilling 2 Timothy 2:2, And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. These lessons, if applied, will develop godly men, build strong leaders, build godly homes, help with the basics of the Christian life, and accomplish Christ’s final command.

Our study last night, Dying to Self, drew us to the Word of God to discover what it means to die to self and the process of dying to self (Matt. 6:19-33; 8:18-22; 10:32-39; 16:24-28; Luke 9:23-26; 14:25-33; John 13:13-17; Romans 6; 12:1-3; Philippians 2; Colossians 3; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 12:1-2).

Below you will find a pointed, helpful application of what “dying to self” looks like. May I challenge you, in prayer, to look at each point, meditate on it, let the Holy Spirit speak to you, and see where you need, by the grace of God, to die to self. . . minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day. 

Dying to Self

When you are not forgiven,

or neglected,

or purposely set at naught,

and you sting and hurt

with the insult and the oversight,

but your heart is happy

because you count it worthy to suffer for Christ:

that is self-denial.

When your good is evil spoken of,

when your wishes are crossed,

your advice is disregarded,

your opinions are ridiculed,

you refuse to let anger rise in your heart

or even defend yourself,

you take it all in patient, loving silence:

that is dying to self.

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder,

any irregularity,

or any annoyance,

when you can stand face to face with waste

and folly

and extravagance

and spiritual insensitivity,

and endure it as Jesus endured it:

that is dying to self.

When you’re content with any food,

any offering,

any clothes,

any climate,

any society,

any solitude,

any interruption by the will of God:

that is dying to self.

When you can never care to refer to yourself in conversation,

or to record your own good works,

or itch after commendation,

when you can love to be unknown:

that is dying to self.

When you see your brother prosper

and have his needs met,

and honestly rejoice with him in spirit

and feel no envy,

nor question God,

while your own needs are far greater and unmet:

that is dying to self.

When you can receive correction and reproof

from one of less stature than yourself,

and humbly submit

inwardly as well as outwardly,

finding no rebellion or resentment rising in your heart:

that is dying to self.

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself,
and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world,
and loses or forfeits himself?
– Luke 9:23-25 –