?Good? Deeds

Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
James 2:18 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/jas.2.18.NLT

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38‭-‬42 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/luk.10.38-42.NLT

One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
Luke 10:25‭-‬37 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/luk.10.25-37.NLT

“The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’ “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters. And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your Father. And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are! “Blind guides! What sorrow awaits you! For you say that it means nothing to swear ‘by God’s Temple,’ but that it is binding to swear ‘by the gold in the Temple.’ Blind fools! Which is more important—the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred? And you say that to swear ‘by the altar’ is not binding, but to swear ‘by the gifts on the altar’ is binding. How blind! For which is more important—the gift on the altar or the altar that makes the gift sacred? When you swear ‘by the altar,’ you are swearing by it and by everything on it. And when you swear ‘by the Temple,’ you are swearing by it and by God, who lives in it. And when you swear ‘by heaven,’ you are swearing by the throne of God and by God, who sits on the throne. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel! “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed, and you decorate the monuments of the godly people your ancestors destroyed. Then you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would never have joined them in killing the prophets.’ “But in saying that, you testify against yourselves that you are indeed the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Go ahead and finish what your ancestors started. Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell? “Therefore, I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers of religious law. But you will kill some by crucifixion, and you will flog others with whips in your synagogues, chasing them from city to city. As a result, you will be held responsible for the murder of all godly people of all time—from the murder of righteous Abel to the murder of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you killed in the Temple between the sanctuary and the altar. I tell you the truth, this judgment will fall on this very generation.
Matthew 23:2‭-‬13‭, ‬15‭-‬36 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/mat.23.2-36.NLT

“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’ “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’ “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’ “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.
Matthew 25:1‭-‬13 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/mat.25.1-13.NLT

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip. “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money. “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’ “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together! ’ “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’ “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’ “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Matthew 25:14‭-‬30 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/mat.25.14-30.NLT

“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
Matthew 25:31‭-‬46 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/mat.25.31-46.NLT

Strip and Run

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Hebrews 12:1 NLT

Just to give you some personal context —

Right now, we are in the midst of a lot of life change. We have a family working to get back on solid footing that joined us on the farm this summer, the teenage boy that moved in with us nearly lost his life in a freak go-cart accident shortly after joining us and is going through surgeries and rehab to regain full use of his arm and hand, my employer just got bought out by a competitor, and it looks like my grandparents are at a point in their lives that they need additional care, so they will be joining us on the farm soon as well. Our household went from a seemingly healthy, stable, quiet, boring population of 3, to what soon will probably be a population of 8 — with each of us having our own special challenges in this new arrangement.

And while the Lord is leading us through all of this crazy stuff and showing us such amazing things, not every step has been easy or comfortable — but He proves time after time that it is so good.

Even as I’ve had to give up some of Dave Ramsey’s advice and like a hypocrite after teaching his course to others, after having taught the dangers of credit cards, use them to finance what is food, shelter, and care for those at our doorstep in this time of need.

I’ve had to step away from engagements and responsibilities where I might be “up front” visibly leading evangelism/outreach programs and participating in scheduled church activities in order to meet the needs of my family and my household.

I’ve had to look at the faces and words of disappointment in church elders’ faces when I say that I can’t be at this or that function, or that I can’t run this or that program anymore because of my other responsibilities — and know that behind my back they judgementally talk about my absence as if I’m forsaking the Lord or have fallen into sin that is pulling me away from fellowship.

I’ve had to offer up resignations proactively for many posts that I love, knowing that the load that I have may not allow me to meet the expectations that were once on my shoulders to carry — and realize that some understand the weight and seek to help bear the burden — while others look at me as simply a pack mule for their own plans and purposes, as if I have wronged them in not being able to do the labor that they will not fulfill themselves.

And in all of this, I see how much I truly must trust in the Lord, and how much I truly must offer up mercy and prayer even for those who look down upon me as if I am not fit for their courts.

So in this time, where I feel Christ in me has put the true calling of Matthew 25’s sheep and goats ahead of the warnings of Matthew 23’s woe to the Pharisees — I am also seeking God even closer and more intimately and intentionally than even these storms and valleys have led me to “have to” trust in the Lord.

It’s no surprise that when the storm is seemingly about to overtake the boat that a man will seek out to summon the Lord awake with a question like, “Do you not care that we are about to die?” But after He has spoken, “Peace be still” will we sit at His feet in awe like Mary and like the Acts church, or will we just busy ourselves?

In this season, I am setting my focus on the Lord. I am not posting this so that you will think I am pious or holy or anything like that, because if I do this under my own strength and power alone, it is just religious filthy rags — in fact, I would be storing up wrath for myself.

But I am doing this because I want to draw close, even come up to Him from behind, to touch His garment, to pour my alabaster box out upon His head, to wash His feet with my tears and hair, and maybe He will turn to me and we will speak face to face like He did with Moses and so many others. And maybe if I fall down as if dead in His presence, He might touch me knowingly, lovingly, not in rebuke, but in kind recognition of that humble and contrite reaction to being in the presence of the Almighty, trusting in but not presuming upon His grace, and He might say, “Fear not, my good and faithful servant.” Oh what words to long to hear! Oh how amazing to know that He will make it so! Not because of who I am or what I’ve done, but because of who He is and what He has done!

So this season, knowing that even Jesus went into the wilderness, that even Jesus who said “these come out with prayer and fasting” did fast and pray and remove Himself from the noise and influence of the world, and He did deny His flesh even going so far as teaching us this key principal with tears of blood, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

Knowing these things, and feeling the draw, the desire, the need to “know Him closer and more personally” I want to set out on a 40 day time of fasting and prayer.

The reason I share this is that many people may think that such a thing is worthless, religious, or even impossible for them to set out on without failing — but I tell you that our strength comes from the Lord, not from ourselves in these things. And I have a schedule for a 40 day that has been helpful to me in past times to balance the physical and spiritual challenge with what my body can handle and still work a full time job, etc.

NOTE: I’m going to get a bit practical and pragmatic in my wording here, but hear me out to the end.

40 days is just 2 days shy of 6 weeks. So I divide it up into 6 weeks. Each week I plan to progressively drop something else off of my physical diet (starving the flesh), so it gets increasingly “restrictive or freeing” (depending on your perspective – I hope our is the latter, or will be by the end). And each week has a focus or a theme of something spiritual that I’m hoping to see watered and growing by the power of Christ in me.

And even though I plan these things at the week level, I do let the Holy Spirit make adjustments to “my plans” in the moment, so don’t take this and use it as a “religious system”. It is just a framework and starting place for a spiritual vacation with God, not rigid rules to be a burdensome trek in this world. The point is to draw closer to God and trust Him to strengthen and lead us, not to feel more pious or Holy because we are doing these things.

Week 1 –

REMOVE: Addictives (processed sugar, caffeine, tobacco, social media, hobbies/obsessions/idols)

ADD: Additional private/personal prayer and Bible study

Week 2 –

REMOVE: Meats

ADD: Intentional Prayer Walks, Intercessory prayer

Week 3 –

REMOVE: Carbs (breads, pastas, noodles)

ADD: Intense Bible study, both topical and verse by verse

Week 4 –

REMOVE: Fruits

ADD: Intense Praise and Worship

Week 5 –

REMOVE: All solid foods

ADD: Increased Fellowship with Believers and Preaching/Evangelizing

Week 6 –

REMOVE: Everything but water

ADD: Rest, Peace and Trust in the Lord

Now, if you see all of the above as burdensome, not as an opportunity to free yourself from the things of the world and the flesh, the above might just be a worthless religious exercise for you in this time and season — but if you believe that being freed from the desires of the flesh and influence of the world would be an amazing experience for the Lord to lead you through, then pray and ask the Lord to have the Holy Spirit lead you in the way that you should go.

I know that the experience when God calls you into it is an amazing time, but when we just try to do it on our own it can be miserable both physically and spiritually.

God bless you and lead you in all things!

And remember the fast that God desires:

“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins! Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God.

They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me. ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’

“I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord ?

“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.

“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.

“Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord ’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the Lord will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the Lord , have spoken!”
Isaiah 58:1‭-‬14 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.58.1-14.NLT

Rejected

We have been going through a lot this summer. And this week, a major change came about with my job when our division was announced as being sold. So this morning’s devotional was timely as I found myself being sold off to new owners, as Mia finds herself in a new school year facing the prospect of making new friends and facing new rejections, and as we have all recently realized how our not cleaning up after ourselves after Mandee works so hard to maintain our household doesn’t demonstrate to her how much we value and appreciate her. It is natural for us to want to be noticed, appreciated, valued, and wanted — and that natural tendency to rely on the people around us to fulfill those “wants” — it leaves us open to be hurt.

How quickly we can become hurt when we feel we have been rejected, overlooked, forgotten. As we have been encountering a lot of unexpected surprises this summer that all have felt like “losses” at the time, I have to admit that as each successive one came, my eagerness to suffer for the glory of God has waned and I have realized that even my strength to “Trust in God” is something I must rely on Him to provide. I’ve realized that there is no pride or honor in the moment when we are truly “suffering well” — that would be standing in our own strength — but there is brokenness and full surrender and a realization that we must rely on something greater than ourselves.

When we are overwhelmed by the many circumstances of this life, when the unknown looms ahead of us like a dark cloud, when the sufferings and trials prove to be real and not just “theoretical possibilities” — it is here that we find ourselves necessarily humbled and contrite before the Lord.

And we can see in scripture that Jesus faced rejection on such a grander scale than we will know personally:

When Jesus had finished telling these stories and illustrations, he left that part of the country. He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.
Matthew 13:53‭-‬58 NLT

Oh, Lord, teach us too truly give all of our worries and cares to you. We don’t even know how to do that right on our own. We find ourselves saying “I trust you” but find ourselves stressed, anxious, worrying, and seemingly powerless against the very things you have told us to hand over to you. Father, you know our weakness even better than the enemy who would try to exploit them for wickedness — but we ask you humbly,

Come rescue us from ourselves, from our pride and expectations — from thinking that we “deserve” from others or from you — from our self centered thinking and planning — from so many tricks, traps, and snares that we so easily fall into.

And help us to be aware of how we might have slighted, forgotten, overlooked, dismissed, or rejected others around us as well. Help to repair those relationships, to heal those wounds, and to reshape us in the ways that are best.

And help us to remember how many times we have forgotten and rejected you, oh God. Not just when we have chosen TV, sports, jobs, friends, etc over you — but when we’ve refused to fully surrender and trust in you. Lord, you are compassionate and slow to anger, and that is very good, because we can truly be foolish time and time again. Help us to turn from our ways and trust in you — truly trust in you no matter where you have to take us, no matter how fiery the furnace, no matter how great the need, no matter how broken any dreams and expectations of ours need to become in order that your best, your abundant life, your perfect will be the door that is opened to us and that we walk through confident in you alone.

Amen.

Some great additional study resources:

The Bait of Satan, 20th Anniversary Edition: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense https://www.amazon.com/dp/1621365484/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_oquFBbJFC262A

Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life https://www.amazon.com/dp/0310351804/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_HpuFBb47QBD1C

Operation: Prove It!

I’m participating in a Christian singing competition with a format similar to American Idol.

The first week’s assignment is to:

So, before picking a song, I was looking to scripture and commentaries on this subject, and found a great article here: https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_377.cfmhttps://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_377.cfm

And another good article here: https://www.reformedworship.org/article/june-2010/all-nature-singshttps://www.reformedworship.org/article/june-2010/all-nature-sings

And these portions of scripture are what I wanted to keep in mind while considering possible songs:

What may be known of God is manifest in them for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:19,20).
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them (Psalm 8:3,4).
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat. (Psalm 19:1-6)
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of humanity who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that humans are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:18-21).

So I’m considering a few songs and researching to choose, but this one jumped out at me immediately because I’ve been singing it recently:

“So Will I (100 billion x)” – Hillsong United

Also this song:

“Multiplied” – Need to Breath

Also this song:

“God of Wonders” – Chris Tomlin

Another:

“How Great Thou Art” – Carrie Underwood & Vince Gill

However, after thinking it through, since our intended audience is supposed to be non- believers, deceived, and hostile to the truth, I decided against picking either a traditional hymn or a contemporary praise song — and decided instead to go with a country song by George Strait.

You can listen here:

https://www.smule.com/p/796834962_2402646485

https://www.smule.com/p/796834962_2402646485

Prayer

It isn’t the length of your prayers…
It isn’t the foolishly prideful vows and promises made in your prayers…
It isn’t your many eloquent words…
It isn’t your repeating His Word back to Him…
It isn’t your worn out knees…
It isn’t your sacrificed time…
It isn’t your puddle of tears…

It isn’t your joining together…

It’s…

Will you hear when He speaks?
Will you move when He says move?
Will you stay when He says stay?

Don’t miss the guidance, the direction, and the call — for sake of the activity.

Also…

Do you know your appointed territory and authority within the Kingdom of God, within the spiritual warfare of the Army of the Lord? Have you asked Him?

Are you operating within those areas of assignment, or are you shirking your own territory while dabbling in the way of someone else’s appointments?

“How could you know such things?” you ask me — but have you asked Him for the answers?

There is too much trade being made in our prayer lives to accept friendly fire wielded towards and upon others — instead of holy spirit convicting and redefining fire falling on the one praying.

There is too much practiced religious tradition, performance for show, and self exaltation hoping to “be a mighty man of God” — instead of humble awe, and trembling at His word, and amazement that He could use “even me”.

Are you hindering your own prayers by:

– Selfish Motives (James 4:3)

– Not Meditating Upon Scripture (Proverbs 28:9)

– Unforgiveness (Mark 11:25)

– Family Discord (1 Peter 3:7)

– Unconfessed Sin (Psalm 66:18)

– Doubt (James 1:5-7)

– Eloquent but Empty Words (Matthew 6:7)

– Empty Promises to God (Ecclesiastes 5:2-7)