The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays. ~Soren Kierkegaard (goodreads.com)
Prayer is the conduit of relationship. It connects us to our Lord and Savior and to other believers. It changes us and gives us fertile ground to graze on. It feeds us, nourishes us, empowers us, and sustains us. When we pray we become one with the Lord. Throughout the years I have experienced how prayer has changed me from the inside out. When we are new believers, our prayers connect us, then as time moves forward, one day we pray and find ourselves at a new, deeper level of relationship with the Lord. As we mature and our relationship deepens, He is able to convey His wishes for us on a much deeper level.
As our nature changes internally, so too does our outer nature. We no longer view the world as we had previously. Since we see the world differently, we respond to situations, circumstances, trials and tribulations differently. We also look at the joyous moments in our lives differently. We begin to see the world through God’s eyes expressed through His Word.
I also believe our prayers become less myopic, and no longer singularly focused on self. We begin to focus on more than our needs and look at God’s world and it’s needs.
God directs our path through the Holy Spirit who resides in us, as well as through His Word. The Holy Spirit teaches us to focus on our prayers. It nudges our perspective and removes old bias, stereotypes and, hatred towards others.
Prayer provides spiritual empowerment. There is an article in Bible.org entitled, 7. Prayer #2: A Prayer for Spiritual Empowerment (Ephesians 3:14-21), in which the author shared that the “theme of this prayer is: “When you pray, pray boldly.”” As you do so, you are asking God to give you deeper understanding. As we mature, and our prayers become more selfless, they also become more bold. Bold prayers are a form of radical faith, a faith that does not falter or doubt.
This radical faith empowers us to be the soldiers and ambassadors He called us to be. When we pray, as Soren Kierkegaard expressed, our nature changes.
We cannot influence God, but we can, through prayer, influence the world around us through our actions, thoughts and deeds. We are empowered through the Holy Spirit to conform to the image of Jesus Christ, to be like Christ in all that we do. To reflect His Will in our actions, thoughts and deeds. Ultimately we change our nature through prayer and that change flows out into the world affecting others.
I just have to share this daily devotional. The verse is so exacting, clear and concise. Take a minute to listen to the pastor explain it.
“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment. ” (Proverbs 9:10 NLT)
The YouVersion Bible app invites a guest speaker to share a verse everyday. I recommend downloading the app if you haven’t already done so. The guest speakers are selected from an international pool of pastors and ministers.
I love Colossians 3. It reiterates Galatians 5. God is emphasizing who we are in Christ and how we should govern our lives. That’s right, the does and don’ts of life. Paul was inspired by God to write both Books, one to the Galatians and one to the Colossians, same message. It’s the same message to us today, these millennial years beyond the days of the Bible. It doesn’t matter who we were before Christ entered our lives. When you received Him, you were given new life and freed from your past. You can become the ‘you’ God created you to be, that person who was laying dormant in the recesses of your mind. Shed the past, it does not own you, nor you it. Today is a new day!
Accept this fact, Christ died for you. You have morphed into a child of God. Now is the time to recognize the new you and work towards manifesting that person who was formally lost in darkness.
If you rid yourself of the old behaviors and exchange them for the new behaviors delineated in both Books, your new self will see the light of day. Psychologist’s say it takes six months to eliminate bad habits/behaviors. It is a process. So, this too, you will succeed, fail, retry, give up, BUT never give in to the difficulties the evil one uses to keep you from changing. You may loose friends and loved ones. In exchange you will gain new friends and loved ones who are children of God. The most important of these new loved one’s is our Lord and Savior. Our Lord walks with you. The Holy Spirit will nudge you and direct you. You are not alone.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
NOTE – I added orange text to add emphasis. Scripture: Colossians 3:1-17 NIV. Bible.com. Images: amazing facts.org;knowing-Jesus.com; woman’sday.com
Surrendering is not an act of attrition, it is a deliberate act of contrition.
~ Lisa Blair
‘Looks like’ is a common idiom of our time. What does surrendering look like, you ask?
Surrendering is not a one-time event. It requires constant attention. “Until Jesus returns and takes His rightful place as the final authority and ruler overall, we have to make the decision over and over to surrender our minds, wills, and actions to Him (Romans 8:20–22; 12:1–2). Our first stage of surrender is the surrender of our lives to God when we are saved. www.compellingtruth.org/surrender-to-God.html
My thought for the day. There are many quotes of what people in the Bible have said when they surrendered their will to God’s will for their lives. The two that stand out to me today are:
The angel came to Mary to inform her that God was pleased with her and chose her to give birth to His son. Mary, a young girl of marrying age, was betrothed to Joseph. Wouldn’t you imagine her first thinking, I cannot become pregnant until I marry, what will people think of me in particular and Joseph if I carry a child before the ceremony ends. However, Mary responded to the angel saying, “I am the Lord’s servant,” “May your word to me be fulfilled.” ~ Luke 1:38 NIV
Jesus, the, was in deep prayer about the circumstances that would result in his death, He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; this is the human condition, to ask God to remove the situation so we do not feel the pain. However, the second part of the prayer is one of submission – Jesus then prayed, “yet not my will, but yours be done.” ~ Luke 22:42 NIV
So, what does surrendering look like? Surrendering looks like the person who moves out of the way to submit to another’s wishes. In this case surrendering is looking to God for direction and following His path for our lives rather than forging ahead blindly satisfying our own urges and direction for our lives. If Mary had not accepted God’s will over her own, Jesus may not have been born to her and the story of Abraham may not have been written as we know it. Our decisions not only affect us but many others in our immediate and future sphere of influence. Our decisions affect our descendants. *
If Jesus, the man, chose to run from his purpose, again, the story would have differed, and the Son of God, Immanuel-the God with us, would have led to a different story. Thinking back, how many times has God instructed, or better said, invited you to do something His way, to follow Him, not turn to the left or the right, and you did just what you were instructed not to do, waiver to the left or right and not stay on the path He designed for us, how did that turn out for you? Ask yourself, what happened when you listened and surrendered to God? I am certain the latter set you on a path you couldn’t imagine you could ever attain.
Surrendering looks like victory. It feels like love. Surrendering lifts the burdens of life off of your shoulders and places it on Christs’ shoulders. In Jeremiah 38:17-18, the scripture reads, Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: If you will surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then your life shall be spared, and this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. 18 But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.” (Je 38.17-18)
Surrendering looks like victory. The writing is on the wall. God does not promise it will look like success, sometimes the direction is pain staking, but looking deeper we reflect that it was part of the path we must take to become more like Christ, when he said, but your will be done. Surrendering looks like, choosing the path of righteousness over the path of selfishness. Surrendering to God looks like and feels like love, a connection greater than anything this life could afford you.
Surrendering is the establishment of your lineage to God the Father, Christ the Son-our Savior, and the Holy Spirit. Surrendering is the act of no longer resisting God’s love and is the state of acceptance and no longer defiance. It looks like victory when we spread our arms over our head and jump up and down in joy, no longer relying on our own focus for our lives but rather God’s plan for our lives that is often unseen and unexpected. Surrendering is the act of faith. Surrendering looks like and feels like – Victory over our carnal state of being. It is the act of intentionally becoming part of God’s family.
* The Book of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Christ. It is a look at the descendants of Jesus. In the Jewish faith and many others, the lineage is important, it defines who you belong to, it expresses your values and character.
Resources: Bible.com; the scripturesays.org; compellingtruth.org
God’s promises are eternal. Theywill never fail, fade away, or end. He is not a man and cannot lie. His truth is forever.
~ Lisa Blair
I am studying the Book of Genesis this year at BSF, Bible Study Fellowship, and have come to realize that Genesis is so much more than what we learned in Sunday School or Church. It is a deep and lengthy study. One of the most profound things is that God established a covenant with Adam and Eve after they were expelled from Eden. God made a similar covenant with Noah after the flood subsided. The covenant was God’s promise that He would continue Adam’s genealogy to give life to Christ through Mary and save us from eternal sin through the resurrection of Christ.
All of God’s promises stem from His love for us. Each promise has a purpose and is true today just as it was when He made them. God will never forsake us or leave us. He will lay His eyes upon us. His Word will always be good, and it will always just.
This is the fifth and final installment of the series, God’s Promises Shape Our Lives. The focus of this installment is the Promises of the Holy Spirit. This series highlights some, though not all, of God’s promises. The Holy Spirit intimately knows the worst of us and the best of us, yet He remains faithful even when we persist in rebellion against Him. He protects us and walks with us, even when we sin. There is nothing in this life that we cannot share with Him. The Holy Spirit resides in us, and the blood of Jesus reigns over us. We are completely encapsulated by the Spirit of God. The lyrics to one of Tasha Cobb’s songs says, ”He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own… No fire can burn me, no battle can turn me, no mountain can stop me, ’cause you hold my hand. Now, I’m walking in Your victory ’cause your power is within me, no giant can defeat me, ’cause you hold my hand. (Lyrics to You Know My Name. Tasha Cobb Leonard.) God’s promises protect us without failure or compromise because He walks with us as we navigate through this life.
Walking in the Spirit
Walking in the spirit means that when we were saved, we invited the Holy Spirit to reside in us. We no longer victims of this world driven by the lust of the flesh. We are no longer condemned to walk in our flesh, lusting for the things of this world, things associated with the external world such as riches, recognition, and possessions. The Holy Spirit indwells in us and through Him, we are free from sin. We have the power to turn away from temptation and the gift of repentance. We are renewed every day. Each day is a new day in the Lord. Each day His Spirit resides in us and strengthens us to walk in the Spirit.
Romans 8:1 NKJV
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16 NKJV
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
Galatians 6:8 NIV
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
2 Corinthians 4:16 NKJV
Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
God is (forever) our guide. We can choose to lean on our own understanding or trust in the Lord to light our path and direct our steps, especially in times of grave difficulties. During these times of uncertainty, the evil one conspires to entice us, to weaken us, to separate us from God. God’s Word, His promises, strengthen us and are our tools to overcome the circumstances that may have afflicted us through no fault of our own, such as, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, eviction, critical illness, and ultimately loss of hope. Our strength is in the Lord and when we rest in His arms, His strength, the world looks different than when we resign hope and only see failure.
Psalms 18:28 NIV
You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.
Psalm 48:14 NIV
For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.
Proverbs 3:5,6 NIV
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 16:9 NKJV
A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
John 8:12 NKJV
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.”
John 16:13 NKJV
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
Praying in the Spirit
The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, sometimes our hopelessness camouflages what we should pray for, leaving us unable to pray for the condition or circumstance. When we do not know what to pray for, the Holy Spirit intercedes and prays on our behalf. He prays for us in the Spirit. However, He can only do that when invited, we must seek Him to help us.
Romans 8:26 NKJV
Likewise, the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Praying for Wisdom, and Knowledge
As humans, we seek wisdom, though not always in the right places. We seek wisdom from peers, leaders, and fallen souls when we should wisdom from God through the Holy Spirit and His word. we should seek wisdom from God who gives it to us generously. It is His wisdom and knowledge that strengthens us to walk upright. It is His wisdom and knowledge that will refrain our conditions as we see them. It is His wisdom and knowledge that leads to our victory over our circumstances.
Ecclesiastes 2:26 NKJV
For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight; but to the sinner, He gives the work of gathering and collecting, that he may give to him who is good before God. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.
Amos 3:7 NIV
Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plans to his servants the prophets.
Luke 21:15 NIV
For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.
James 1:5 NIV
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
So, What does this all mean?
The scriptures highlight God’s love for us. They prove that He is trustworthy and will carry all of His promises out. He activates and fulfills all promises He has made. His promises will manifest to either take us through our current circumstances or deliver us out of them.
When we feel defeated, we cannot waiver but rather stand fast. We cannot compromise what God promised, choosing a quick remedy over His plan. We may feel our ways are more expedient, but experience proves they generally cost more than had we waited on the Lord to fulfill His promises for us. Only God knows where our path leads, and only He knows what is required of us to walk down the path. It’s important to always remember His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Always go into prayer before making life decisions.
Seek God and ask that He reveal the things you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3) and do not make your own decisions on how to move forward without God’s input. As humans, we tend to believe that we should do as we please and then make amends. However, spiritually speaking, we are to go before the Lord, seek His Word and direction through faith, and move forward in His grace.
Developing an ATTITUDE of GOD FIRST in our lives places us on solid ground. The more familiar we become with His promises, the more quickly we can stop in our tracks when doubt and hopelessness try to invade and destroy us. His wisdom and knowledge lead us to acknowledge that God’s promises yield results. I personally find when I relinquished my will to His Will, His Word, and His Way, I find a place of peace that allows me to comfortably make decisions that align with His Word.
It is my sincerest hope that this series has helped you and me by reminding us that God is always with us, and we can turn to Him at any time in our lives. We can rest assured that decisions that align with God’s Word are the right decisions to make. To nonbelievers, our decisions may seem to be folly or misdirected, but to believers, we know that God is directing our steps, and God’s Promises are shaping our lives.
Update, God is so good. I completed this series last night, and felt something was missing. When I awoke this morning, God directed me to this devotional. It is the perfect closing for the study of God’s Promises.
Resources: Life Principles Bible by Charles Stanley, NKJV; Song-Apple Lyrics; Biblestudytools.com; biblegateway.com; He Whispers Your Name, 365 Day Devotionals, by Cherie Hill