Prayer and faith go hand-in-hand. The promise underlying all prayer is that God has promised to accomplish in you what He requires of you. He is doing a work in you right now. Life change begins with God. It is a work of God that is accomplished in us through the work of the Holy Spirit (read more about life change HERE). Philippians 1:6 reminds us that God will finish what He began.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Phi. 1:6
God has great purpose for you today. Let me say that again…God has great purpose for you today. Embrace whatever you face throughout your day with great resolve, knowing full well that God has purposed for you to live every moment. He is directing your steps. Ask Him to bring to remembrance “every good and perfect gift” and to rejoice in whatever comes your way. Ask Him to mold and shape you in life’s most challenging moments.
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
If we want to know God more, we will have to be deliberate in our actions. Through the process of prayer, God is changing us from one degree of glory to another. Hallelujah! That should give us reason to break out in resounding praise. God has promised Himself to us by the blood covenant of Jesus. What He says will be done. He is fashioning us into His unique and precious design. He is preparing our hearts to receive His answer. He is making us His dwelling place here on earth. Read the verse below and pay attention to what God says He will do.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:26-27
God will. God will take our old, tattered, resistant spirit and give us a heart like Him.
God will remove our dead, burdened, and heavy heart of stone and give us a heart like Him. God will put His very own Spirit…the Spirit of God…inside of us. Imagine it, will you? One of the greatest promises in Scripture is that God is making us more like Him!
How do you see God changing you? In what additional areas would you like to be changed?
God’s Word is chock-full of astounding promises and today we will take a look at a few. Knowing God at a deep, intimate level grows out of a relationship with Him. The kind of relationship that develops over time by walking through the journey of life. Through the highs and the lows, the valleys, and mountains. If we want to know God in this way, we will need to intentionally set aside time to spend with Him.
Relationship doesn’t just happen. It is no accident.
I’m talking about being deliberate.
And it’s not always easy.
When the going gets tough, we often get jolted. We don’t want to work things through when we don’t see eye-to-eye. But I promise you, it is worth the hard stuff. The kind of rich, deep, satisfying relationship that we all long and dream for is available to us if we pursue God with all of our heart, soul, and mind.
God wants to have a relationship with YOU!
When talking about His people, the Israelites, in the Old Testament, we are reminded of the sweet relationship God has with His children. He carries you during tough times.
Deuteronomy 1:31, “The LORD your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.’
We don’t need to worry about what to say or do when confronted by others for the sake of the Gospel. God will give us the words to say.
Matthew 10:20, “For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
God considers you part of His family…as dear as His mother, brother, or sister. What an extraordinary promise to be called a child of God!
Matthew 12:50, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
God has chosen to give you His Kingdom. You have been appointed to eternal life!
Luke 12:30-32, “For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”
I hope you noticed one thing in particular…every single promise is hinged to a relationship requirement. God’s promises are tied to a requirement: we must know Him. His guarantees are directed to those He calls “children of God.”
The church cannot be healthy without holding tightly to God’s Word and to sound doctrine. Methods may change but the Bible must remain. And not just opened but pored over. Studied. The Bride of Christ will grow sick and weak without it. (Beth Moore, “Entrusted”.
My friends, we’ve gotta dig into God’s Word in order to know Him. No longer can we survive with a watered down, mixed up, homemade remedy that some have strewn together on their own. God’s Word is God’s Word. We cannot piecemeal it together, picking out the pieces that we like. The Gospel should not be treated like a buffet line. It is time for this generation to rise up…be diligent and prove faithful.
And if we do, we have one incredible promise…we will know God for ourselves!
What is God teaching you? What truth from God’s Word has resonated with you this past week?
I’ve had several of you ask about my lack of blog posting as of late. I haven’t abandoned you! I’ve just been caught up in the whirlwind of busyness. And one thing I have learned over the past sixteen years of ministry is that my family takes priority. As a mom, I am blessed with the God-given calling to bear the title, MOM. My kids need me.
It would be much more glorious to pursue initiatives where I can receive an occasional pat on the back. But truth be told, I’ve probably learned more from swapping up spilled milk and sitting in traffic as I carpool little ones to-and-fro.
There are many lessons that have come from motherhood.
Patience really is a virtue. It is not something that comes naturally and must be cultivated by life’s own challenging circumstances over the course of time.
I’ve learned that middle-school boys smell like sweat about 98.9% of the time.
Maybe don’t get a dog. Or at least not a puppy. Unless you are ready to say goodbye to your favorite pair of shoes. Besides, as much as your kids promise to feed the dog and walk her regularly…they will fail. There will be some broken promises in the end. But regardless, despite the agony of dog-training…you might end up with a new best friend.
I’ve learned humility by following after some well-taught advice from a mentoring mom I once had. She told me true JOY is discovered by putting life in proper perspective: Jesus, Others, and then You.
I realized that when you mess up, you can ask your kids for forgiveness. They have the biggest hearts. Modeling confession and forgiveness goes a long ways.
I’ve seen myself through a different lens…and I haven’t always liked what I see. Selfishness. Pride. A short fuse. Parenting opens your eyes to see where there is still some work to be done in your own life.
Girl drama is temporary. The season will pass. And you will enjoy reliving memories later on.
Make home your safe place for your kiddos to be real…and to know that regardless of what happens, they will be loved.
Don’t neglect your relationship with your spouse. He is important too! Date nights are necessary to nurture intimacy. You will be glad in the long run.
God always comes first. Pursue Him with all of your heart, soul, and mind and everything else will fall into place.
Your friend on the journey,
Sue A. Allen
What lessons have you learned from parenting?
We often miss it. We put the focus on us, rather than on God. We think we have to be perfect. More righteous. Our ducks all lined up in a row. If someone else appears to have their prayers consistently answered, we want to know their method. Their secret. Their tips. And we line up to buy their best-selling book on prayer. We assume we can strip down the frivolous and somehow reproduce results.
And we try.
But in our vain attempt to get answers from God, we erroneously misplace attention on ourselves. As if somehow our own righteousness bestows an answer. If we can be holier than thou, our prayers will be heard. But God teaches us that prayer is not meant to be about us. Prayer is to be who we are. We are to be people who pray.
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” James 5:13-16
“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16b) because prayer works. When we pray, God IS working. God hears his people and acts on our behalf. The point James is making in this text is to encourage us to keep praying. In all circumstances. Good and bad. Because prayer is effective. It is not how we pray, but more importantly, the act of prayer. We need to be intentional prayers’.
What we say. When we say. How we say. This is not the main point here…the point is that we say. Period. That we say prayers to God our heavenly Father and keep in constant communion with Him. Even when He seems distant and far away, unmovable and static. We pray so that we can know God and know Him more. We pray so doubt does not settle in. We openly confess our struggles.
And then we wait. We wait for God to reveal Himself to us as only He can. Nobody wants to pray to a phony, artificial, unreal god. Nobody. We want to feel and relate to a God we know. After all, He knows us. He knows our thoughts and our actions better than we even know ourselves. Nobody knows us as well as God…so we can all stop pretending and be real about who we truly are.
We overestimate our own abilities when we neglect prayer. And we grossly underestimate the power of the Enemy.
How would our prayer lives change if God became the center of our focus? What consumes most of your prayer time?
A few months ago, I sat alone on my back patio with my Bible spewed open on my lap, with a cup of jo within arm’s reach. It was a time of solitude, which in Christian circles is referred to as a quiet time. As I sat there, breathing in the fresh air and taking in the utter beauty of singing birds and fluttering butterflies, I began conversing with God. One simple request kept floating through my mind:
“Lord, teach me to pray.”
Now, of course, I knew how to pray. Anyone can pray. But what I was really after was a desire to know God more. To know Him in such a way that my heart affections are emotionally stirred. To be able to sit still for a mere moment and hear His voice. To be more keenly aware of His presence in the reality of this thing called life.
I wanted to be moved by prayer.
I wanted to be changed by prayer.
I wanted to know God more.
What does your prayer life look like?
The book of Job is named after a man who suffered greatly. In one ordinary day, he lost everything. His livestock, his servants, and his ten children. Gone. Completely destroyed. In response, we see Job tear his clothing and shave his head as he begins the arduous process of mourning. Unfortunately, Satan isn’t finished reeking havoc and returns by inflicting Job with hideous, unbearable skin sores. His face was so disfigured that his closest friends did not readily recognize him and when they came closer, they fell to the ground in pity (Job 2:12). The pain was so excruciating, we see Job asking God to take his life (Job 3).
At this point in the story, his wife casts blame on God and urges her husband to do the same. Put yourself in her shoes. In one day you lose all of your babies who you nursed and held tightly in your arms. You become homeless without a single belonging to your name. You are hungry, forced to beg outside of the town dump. Riches to rags in a matter of minutes. Your worse nightmare becoming your new reality.
How would you respond?
Something extraordinary should be noted. In the midst of calamity and uncertainty, Job never turns away from God or denies His existence. We watch him wrestle with God in the midst of his suffering through prayer. We hear his complaints as he cries out to God for help. We can feel this man’s pain as we skim the pages.
As we ponder the book of Job, one must wonder, “Is it possible to love God and God alone? Is He truly all that I need?” Could I live without lattes and pedicures and an occasional shopping spree? Could I bear the thought of losing my home, and all of my financial security? Could I stand being ugly…to the point where no one even recognized me…or would I bow my head in shame and dismay? And what if I lost my family?
Would I still be able to say, “God, I love you more than anything?”
The only way Job survived such catastrophic events was by living a life of prayer. We watch his faith mature and his view of God expand in the book of Job. A man who once was filled with grumbling and complaining is moved to confession and repentance. A man who repeatedly makes his appeal before the Lord becomes overwhelmed in awe with the presence of God.
We see Job move away from merely a head knowledge of who God is towards a personal, intimate relationship. God is no longer someone Job only reads about in the books of the Law. God is someone Job personally knows and has experienced.
“My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.”
Be encouraged…you CAN love God more than anything in this world! Our faith CAN deepen through the good and the bad.
We drove up to school and as I glanced back through my rear view window, I noticed that his shirt is splattered with ketchup. My son. He loves ketchup. Red. Messy gunk. Smeared everywhere. It is considered a household staple.
We eat it at breakfast.
We eat it at lunch.
And for afternoon snack time.
I hope it is considered a vegetable. When we walk into Chikfila, they know us. They know my son wants 10 packs of ketchup and water. I know…it’s weird.
I had a decision to make. I could either turn around, head towards home, and get him a change of clothes. Of course, that would make everyone tardy. Or, he could go to school with a splattered red shirt.
I chose the splattered red shirt. After all, I am a mother of four. And no longer am I concerned that I won’t win the “Mother of the Year” award. It was a far-fetched idea from the onset. I’m okay that my kid’s socks don’t match and pants are worn backwards occasionally and shoes are tied in a tangled mess of knots. Teeth aren’t always brushed in the morning and their hair can be sorta snarly…but at least they know they are loved.
I apologize to the teachers of my kids in advance. They don’t always wear deodorant and smell like lilacs. They may even be missing a button. But today’s blog isn’t for teachers (who I do adore by the way)…it is for my mom friends who need to know they don’t have to be perfect.
Kids can be kids and we can enjoy them. Our houses don’t have to always be tidy. We can find smeared jelly under the couch cushion and smile because some little body calls this place home.
God has entrusted us with these little people who grow up way too fast and suddenly look more like giants.
“But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” 2 Timothy 1:12
Enjoy your kiddos today.
Give them a hug.
God has entrusted them to you with great purpose.
What lesson has God recently taught you through your kids?
Her name is Petunia. I remember the first time I laid eyes on her during a trip to Haiti last summer. It was during a class that we were offering for the seniors living in the village. Why, you couldn’t help but notice her…her hands shook uncontrollably all of the time.
Turns out, her condition started three years prior and had worsened over time. No longer could she prepare a meal, or button her blouse, or do anything with her hands. The shaking was debilitating. She was unable to care for herself.
One of the young girls on our team tried to help her write her name. She tightly grasped Petunia’s hand, attempting to write a letter of the alphabet.
But it looked more like a scribbled mess.
About an hour later, some of the team members gathered in a circle around her and prayed earnestly for God to heal her hands. They believed God could answer their big prayer. They asked God for a miracle right then and there. I wonder how often we put limits on God. I wonder what holds us back from praying God-sized prayers.
Without seeing a result the first time, they petitioned again the following day. They didn’t give up. They persevered in prayer. Maybe you find yourself stuck right here. Frustrated that God isn’t coming through. Doubting He truly is a good God.
God promises us He will work all things together for good for those who called (Romans 8:28). We can trust that God will work our situation out for our good. We can know that when God’s answer is yes, it is according to His eternal plan. And when we don’t understand the no, we continue to persevere in prayer until our hearts are transformed. Ready and willing to surrender to God’s will.
For Petunia, her hands were completely healed.
And then we went home.
And doubt slowly crept right on in. Unknowingly taking residence in my heart. Were her hands really healed? Would the shaking stay away? Like Doubting Thomas, I wanted to see. I wanted to know with my own two hands.
“Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” John 20:25
After my visit last week, I am happy to report…Petunia is still healed. Her hands are calm. She has been completely made well.
What could happen if we believed God still answers prayer? How would our lives be changed? What would we ask Him to do? Would we persevere?
Jesus answered Doubting Thomas, “Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:27 (NIV)
I am praying for you today that you will believe God is working in your situation. That you will see His goodness. And that you will fight the fight, stand strong, and believe.
As I stand in our driveway nonchalantly watching as my son swings nearby, I can’t help but notice my neighbor pull into the driveway in a brand spankin’ new car. It’s white and sparkling, not a dent anywhere. I can only imagine the clean smell emanating as you enter the door.
No french fries smashed on the seat.
No 10-day old juice boxes mysteriously glued to the door.
I find this feeling welling up…it is the longing for more. This unquenchable, dislikable taste in my soul. Oh Jesus, I want more.
I turn and I hear my kid screaming. I’m not really sure where things went awry. Somehow he managed to fall off the swing. Nothing much. Just a little wind knocked out of the boy. As I sit and try to console him, I realize that I can’t fully suffice. He will always have needs that arise. Oh Jesus, I want more.
The mailman pulls up to deliver our mail and I walk out to retrieve our daily load. Quickly skimming through the pile, I realize that it is just a bunch of bills. I hang my head down low and pray…Oh Jesus, I want more.
Then I hear a whisper.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
When our focus is consumed with earthly stuff, it quickly becomes dim. We get discouraged and downtrodden when we gaze on the things of this world. We lose sight of eternity and our hope in Jesus Christ. We see through dim, dark glasses when we don’t keep our eyes on Him.
When we can’t see Jesus working in our small, little worlds…we jump to the conclusion that He has left us, or forgotten our existence, or has bigger fish to fry. But God’s Word promises us that He is always near. He hears our cries and promises to be the Light of the World.
Even when we cannot see Him, Jesus is still there. This world is temporary…leaving us to want something more. The things we see now are fleeting, but the invisible God will always last. Put your trust in something bigger than you…nothing is dark to Him. Your problems. Your burdens. And troubles. Don’t worry, darkness is not too much for God.
“even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.” Ps. 139:12
I’m praying for you today that you will not be overcome. That your problems and troubles will not overwhelm you, because Jesus truly is the light of the world. When we walk with Him throughout our day, we begin to realize…everything is better when we keep an eternal perspective. He really is our more!
I realize that Christmas has come and gone, but yet I find myself lingering. As I pack up the decorations and stack them away, I realize my house feels a bit empty. With no stockings all hung by the chimney with care and the nativity scene out of sight, I desire to cling to the memories in order to remind myself…Jesus is still right here.
It is a struggle to believe in an invisible God. A God who we cannot physically touch or see. It is a fight to keep living for Him amidst this world full of scoffers and doubters.
I wonder if Mary, the mother of Jesus, ever doubted God’s future promise. I wonder if she felt inadequate in spite of the words that were spoken over her.
“And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.” Luke 1:28-29
I wonder if she thought the calling was too great for her. Surely, she must have suffered. She faced rejection from her fiance and her family and friends…not to mention her entire community. To be pregnant and unwed must have hung a shadow of shame over her head; however, let us be reminded what God thinks of us matters more than the thoughts of man. Illegitimate. Pregnant. A crazy story. I wonder how many would believe?
“And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” Luke 1:30-31
Mary would have the burden of raising the son of God, and bear the pain of watching him be crucified. It could not all make sense to her at this time. How could she become pregnant with the son of a divine God? But God, who is loving and caring and full of grace, gently reminds her who He is forevermore.
“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
So often in life we try to figure everything out. We want to have life go according to plan. But if we willingly lay our lives down and allow God to work mightily…I wonder how our lives would change in the new year. I wonder what could happen if we lived open-handed, accepting what God sends our way.
Mary’s final words that particular day should serve as a great example. And I pray that you and I will let God have his way in our lives as well.
Do you believe in the invisible enough to go forward in 2017 and live for it?