How to Overcome a Mediocre Prayer Life

How to Overcome a Mediocre Prayer Life

As believers, it is easy for us to fall into the trap of mediocrity. To think of prayer as a spiritual discipline “I have to do.” Prayer can become monotonous, routine, boring, crusty, and old. It can become a chore. And when we find ourselves in this stuck place, we must renew our perspective on prayer.

Prayer is a privilege, not a tedious task or mind-numbing inconvenience. We have the honor of being called into a relationship with God Himself, made available to us by the tremendous sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. We have the joy of getting to know God personally. As we read His Word, we have the opportunity to respond. When He speaks, we can experience Him more.

In its simplest form, prayer is a conversation with God. We must remember that God was the initiator of this conversation. It is God who spoke the world into existence (Gen. 1:3). It is God who chose you before the world began (Eph. 1:4). It is God who gave us His son, Jesus (Jn. 3:16). And it is God who causes us to be born again (1 Peter 1:3).

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to eternal glory in Christ, will himself RESTORE, CONFIRM, STRENGTHEN, AND ESTABLISH YOU.” 1 Peter 5:10

This is a direct and personal promise of God and it is about time for some of us to believe it! We serve a God who bestows unceasing grace upon our lives. He covers our lives with unmerited favor through people and circumstances. He blesses us with daily bread. In good times and bad. In sickness and health. Till death do us part.

God is our Creator, Sustainer, Provider, Rescuer, Eternal Father, Author, and Finisher of our Faith, and much, much more. He is worthy of our praise. He is worthy of honor. It is God who has first called us into relationship, and it is this same God who wants to hear from you. Let that sink in for a minute. Yes…God wants to hear from you!

Prayer starts with the revelation of adoption. Before the foundation of the world, God determined to set you apart and call you His own. Ephesians 1:5 says, “He [God] predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” It is life changing to understand the privilege we have been afforded. We are able to call the One who holds the sun and the moon and the stars and the planets in orbit…we are able to call Him “Daddy.” We are able to crawl up into his lap and just be ourselves.

The veil has been torn. We have access to our heavenly Father.

The benefits of being a child of God are unimaginable. You are a child of God! As part of the family, He has given you access. You no longer are treated like the rest of the world. Instead of being viewed as a sinner, your slate has been wiped clean. Because of the work of Jesus on the cross, you have a secure future and eternal hope. No longer do we need to walk in the ways of this world, but rather we can “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Eph. 4:1).

It is amazing grace that has saved us. We once were lost and now we’re found. We’re blind, but now we see. God, who is righteous and holy, desires to have a relationship with wretched sinners like you and me. When we have a proper view of who God is and who we really are—we become overwhelmed by our standing.

He is your Daddy.

You are a child of God.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 1 John 3:1

In this verse, John commands us to “See” the kind of love the Father has given us. We are being called into a deep, rich, never-ending, unfathomable kind of relationship, and to experience Him for ourselves. Allow God’s amazing grace to resonate within you. Ask God to open your eyes to let you see.

Sue Allen

Leave your comments on our Facebook page

And read more from Sue at: https://sueaallen.com/

Keep Valentine’s Day Alive All Year

“Keep Valentine’s Day Alive All Year”

OK, so Valentine’s Day is over. The cards have been exchanged. The chocolate has been eaten. And, Hallmark stores are currently changing out their hearts and cupids décor with Easter eggs and bunnies. But, wouldn’t it be great if you could experience that mushy, giddy, loving feeling of Valentine’s Day all year long?

Well, you can!

Following, are three tips guaranteed to help you keep that loving feeling long after the Valentine’s Day roses have wilted.

  1. ADAPT & ADJUST TO KEEP THE PEACE: What does that mean? That means you shouldn’t try to change your spouse. But you say, “My spouse really needs changing.” Well, that’s not your job—that’s God’s job. Take your request to God…but beware. You know what happened when I used to pray, “Heavenly Father, please change Jeff. He doesn’t treat me like he should”? God always showed me how I could treat Jeff better. (Turns out, I’m not perfect…and neither are you.)

You can do little things, make minor adjustments, and make a huge difference in your marriage. For instance, if your husband says, “Nothing I do is ever good enough for you.” Don’t get offended and say, “That’s not true and I resent you for saying that.” No, realize that your husband is crying out for your approval. Make an adjustment. Put your arms around him and say, “Honey, I am sorry if I’ve been critical of you. I appreciate everything you do for me and I’m going to try and do better in that area.”

Adapt, make adjustments, and keep the peace.

  1. STUDY YOUR MATE:  Someone once said, “Anything worth having takes work.” That’s true—especially when it comes to our relationships. You have to work at having a good marriage. It takes effort, but it’s so worth it.

We should make it our business to know what our mates like and dislike. Knowing those things will help us to work with them and not against them. I try to study Jeff, and then I act on that knowledge. He does the same with me.

For instance, I know if I want to bless Jeff, I will cuddle up next to him on the couch and watch some sci-fi movie involving aliens taking over the world. Am I truly interested? Not really. That’s not my favorite genre but I like being with Jeff, and he likes watching intergalactic war movies. In the same way, he watches syrupy-sweet Rom-Coms with me. We show each other honor by doing those things.

So, find out your spouse’s likes and dislikes. Study your mate, and act on that knowledge!

  1. DO SOMETHING EVERY DAY TO “LOVE ON” YOUR SPOUSE: Pastors and authors Diana and John Hagee call this practice “O.W.E.” which is an acronym for: One Way Everyday, which means they make an effort to do something every single day to show each other how much they love one another.

These don’t have to be big gestures of love like whisking your mate off to Maui, but don’t rule that out.

It might be something as simple as sneaking a romantic card into your husband’s car that says how much you love and appreciate him. Be creative and have fun with your daily assignment.

Make a conscious decision to make your mate feel respected, treasured, and adored, and celebrate Valentine’s Day every day!

Pray this with me: “Father, help me to be the kind of mate that brings honor to You. Help me to love like You love, and Lord, help us to grow closer to You and to each other every single day. In the Mighty Name of Jesus, Amen.”

Michelle Medlock Adams

Read more from Michelle @michellemedlockadams.com

Leave your comments on our Facebook page

Loving the Unlovable

LovingThe Unlovable

On Valentine’s Day, we treat our loved ones. Grown men stand in line to buy fuzzy teddy bears, overpriced chocolates in heart-shaped boxes, and mushy greeting cards declaring their undying love. Women shop as well, searching for a new set of tools, the perfect cologne and, of course, a mushy greeting card. Parents even buy treats and toys for their children, to remind them that they’re cherished.

However you celebrate Valentine’s Day, you’ll be thinking of those you love. You certainly won’t be thinking of those you don’t love.

The Unlovable

You know who they are. The woman who said hateful things about you behind your back. The guy who deceived you and broke your heart. We all know people like this. The ones who make life harder. The ones who hurt others to get ahead. The ones we can’t stand to be around. The ones we cannot, under any situation, love.

And yet that’s what God has called us to do: to love the unlovable.

An Impossible Command

Jesus said we should love our enemies and pray for those persecute us. (See Matthew 5:43-47.) I thought about this for years, wondering how I could possibly live this out in my own life. How can we muster the courage, strength, or whatever goodness is needed to love those who hate us?

I finally have the answer: We don’t. We can’t. We simply don’t have what it takes.

But God does.

A Godly Love

Before we knew God, we had to manage on our own. Our emotions—from love to hate—were based on passion, desire, and fear.

Then, we accepted Jesus as our Savior, and the Holy Spirit took up residence in our hearts. The Bible says that God is Love. This doesn’t just mean that He Loves us, but that His Love abides within us. (See 1 John 4:8 and 15.) If we will tap into the Holy Spirit in us, we can dispense God’s Love (with a capital L).

Remember, Jesus sacrificed Himself so all who believe in Him will have everlasting life (John 3:16). He saved each of us while we were still sinners. God’s Love is bigger than any sin we can commit, and there is no one God doesn’t want to save.

Exercises

There will always be people who wound us, aggravate us, or simply annoy us. But we aren’t limited to our own anemic emotions any more. Now, we can draw from God’s perfect Love that dwells within us.

The next time you happen upon your enemies, try these godly tactics:

• Fake it ‘til you make it. Act like you sincerely care for their wellbeing. This isn’t about lying but about positioning yourself to draw from God’s wellspring of Love.
• Don’t be ugly. Even when they’re not in the room, don’t say anything hateful about them. That would only negate the good work you’re trying to accomplish and open the door to hypocrisy.
• Pray for them. You can’t hate someone you’re praying for, so pray and pray some more.

Whatever you do, ask for God’s guidance and wisdom. Treat each interaction with your enemies as opportunities to be His hands and feet in the world. By this, God’s love will be perfected in you. (See 1 John 4:12.)

If you practice this enough, you will eventually prove something quite profound: thanks to God’s grace, no one is unlovable.

~ By Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

Leave your comments for Ashley on our Facebook Page

The Best Valentine Ever

The Best Valentine Ever

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”  -Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV).

 

Can you recall your elementary years when you decorated a shoebox with red and pink paper hearts and lace doilies? If you’re a male, you might have decorated it with more “manly” colors to take to school on Valentine’s Day.

Whatever your choice of décor, the box represented something more than a special day to trade the cards, especially made for schoolchildren to exchange. Some of the boxed cards had cartoon themes while others included a heart-shaped sucker. Regardless of the style or theme, the cards and decorated shoe boxes were sometimes a haunting reminder of your popularity (or lack of).

The more popular classmates often received more cards or even nicer cards than those who were not as well liked. If you fit into the latter group, you might not have felt as loved or as valuable as others in your class. It was a day you might have dreaded and were relieved when it was over. It was like being the last one picked for the dodge ball team. You might have avoided meeting people’s eyes for fear they could see the pain and the loneliness.

We don’t need a reminder of our loneliness when we feel unlovely. Valentine’s Day serves as that reminder when often our expectations are unrealistic. We might think we are not worth loving, at least in the way we really want to be loved. However, I have come to realize that when we put that kind of pressure on others, we place a heavy burden on them. Why?

Because no one this side of heaven can love us the way we desire to be loved. Our heavenly Father is the only One who can love us unconditionally—that means warts and all.

One of the most beloved passages of the Bible says it best. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

You see, I was one of those who dreaded Valentine’s Day when I was in elementary. Because I was creative, my box might have been one of the best decorated on the outside but the inside was another story. Oh, I received Valentine’s cards, but they were not the kind that spoke of being accepted for who I was.

That applies to each of us. Our outside may be clothed in an array of beautiful garments but our inside is another story. Without His love and peace filling up our empty box, no chocolate candy, glittery cards and flower bouquets will be enough to satisfy the hunger He has placed in each of us to have a relationship with Him.

I sat in my sunroom recently, observing the grays and browns of the winter landscape, when the flash of a cardinal’s vivid red feathers reminded me that if we pay attention, we see God’s presence everywhere. Our lives can be the same shades of winter.

We may feel alone, forgotten or abandoned. We hurt when we think no one cares. However, the good news is God is crazy about us. He’s so crazy in love with us that He sent His only Son to die for you and for me. Now, that‘s what I call true love. It’s the best Valentine ever.

Carol Round

Read more from Carol @Carolaround.com

Leave us your comments on our Facebook page

Peace Be With You

. If God had not protected my grandmother, who loved him so dearly, how could I trust him to keep me safe?

When the phone rings unexpectedly in the middle of the night, it’s never good news.  Kenny and I had only been married a few months when the call came.  My grandmother had been assaulted in her home. She often traveled by bus from Arkansas to Texas or Florida to visit family.  We worried about the “kind of people” she might encounter at the bus stations and what could happen there, but not at her home located in a small farming community with very little crime. We thought that was a safe place.

We grieved for the pain, physical and emotional, that my grandmother experienced.  We were angry. We wanted the man who committed this crime to see justice.  We now were not only concerned about her safety when she traveled, but at all times.  Those feelings and responses weren’t surprising.  What was unexpected was the fear that began to grow and fester in my own heart.  A fear that lurked in the day as well as the night.

I knew in my head that a relationship with Jesus was not a guarantee of personal safety.  I am sure I had even said so out loud, but now I realized the reality of my heart was that I felt my grandmother had earned a right to be safe.

She loved Jesus more than anyone I knew and would share with anyone and everyone about him . . . whether they wanted to hear or not.  This is what she often did in those bus stations.  We saw people who weren’t safe, she saw people who needed Jesus. She was also known for occasionally jumping up in the middle of a sermon letting the preacher and everyone in the church know how much she loved Jesus and how thankful she was for him.

But there wasn’t just a new fear for my grandmother’s safety.  There was a new fear for my own.  If God had not protected my grandmother, who loved him so dearly, how could I trust him to keep me safe?

Thus began my journey into a binding fear.  For many months I did not want to be alone in our apartment.  I would sit in Kenny’s office while he worked until he was ready to go home.  The only way to enter our apartment was through the front door or one window.  If I had to be there alone, I would sit in a chair where I could see both and wait for Kenny to come home.

I searched the scriptures for a verse or story that would guarantee my safety.  There were stories of deliverance, but there were also stories of beatings and death.  I wanted someone to tell me that if I did certain things, followed certain rules, nothing like this would happen to me, but it wasn’t there.  I couldn’t find, and no one could give me the sense of security I desperately wanted.

The worst part was that for as long as I could remember I had found my security in the Word and in my relationship with God and now I had no source of comfort. No sanctuary. No peace. I didn’t understand I had previously built my foundation on sinking sand – on a false idea that I could put God in my debt.  I felt God had abandoned my grandmother, that I couldn’t trust him not to abandon me and as a result, I wanted to abandon him . . . but he would not let me go.

I remember another call in the middle of the night, but this was not by phone.  It was my heart calling, crying out to God in my anger and fear.  I told him I thought he was a rotten God and that I didn’t want anything to do with him.  The odd thing was, the more I unleashed my spiteful words, the more he seemed to draw near.  Looking back, I was like a child throwing a tantrum and God, the Father, wrapped his arms around me and held on until the ranting stopped and the calm set in.

It was a turning point.  Although it would take time, and there were many more days and nights of fear and not so pretty, well let’s be honest, ugly prayers to come, God began to build a new foundation. A faith more solid and secure.  A faith that didn’t completely fall apart when God didn’t act in the way I wanted.  A faith that could weather the storms, not that water wouldn’t get in the boat or the sails were never torn, but I wouldn’t be capsized.

I would be lying if I said fear is no longer an issue.  It still rears its ugly head – especially when it comes to my children.  But I’ve learned and am still learning . . . God Is Enough.

In the twentieth chapter of John we see the disciples gathered in a locked room because they were afraid. Jesus came to them in their fear and said, “Peace be with you.”

He didn’t say it just once.

Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”  Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

The amazing thing is those same men who were hiding in fear were later able to be sent out, to endure persecution and even to die for Jesus. They no longer lived in fear. What made the difference?

“When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” (John 20:20)

They saw the risen Lord, his wounds, and they received the Holy Spirit.  This same Holy Spirit who transformed the disciples into men of courage resides in us and can transform us as well.  Transformation isn’t quick or easy, but it is possible.

I know. I’ve experienced it and continue to experience it.

Peace be with you.

Tami Lowman

Read more from Tami @Lowmans on Long Island

Leave your comments on our Facebook page

Watching Creation

Have you found a place where you can get away from daily life and be close to God? A place where you can listen for His voice?

“Watching Creation,” is the title of a new series I’m working on. The children in the story start out in heaven and have some adventures before God has them watch as he begins to create the world. It’s not until the third day that they really begin to experience what’s around them on earth. Think of yourself, or your kids experiencing heaven. What would you see, feel, smell, hear, and taste?

Imagine that you were able to watch God as he created the world. What types of things can you imagine yourself doing? Would you be weightless? What type of mischief do you see getting into while exploring the grass, fields, and fruits of the third day of creation?

Last fall I had the opportunity to walk the beach at sunrise in St. Augustine. I walked feeling the sand and water on my feet, enjoying the textures that I don’t usually get to feel. Then I sat down and looked out over the water. The sky was beginning to show the first glimpses of light. It felt like I was all alone witnessing what it might have been like to see the very first dawn. It was a time of closeness with God without the distractions of everyday life. I was able to pray and actually feel His presence surrounding me. Quieting my mind I was able to hear His answers to my prayers.

Have you found a place where you can get away from daily life and be close to God? A place where you can listen for His voice?

Share with us your special place. What do you do to quiet your mind, so you can hear the voice of God?

Jann Martin

Read more from Jann @www.jannwmartin.com

Leave your comments on our Facebook page

Do We Have Total Obedience?

obedience

“But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him.” Matthew 3:15

The baptism of Jesus was an unusual event. We know John the Baptist knew he should have been baptized by Jesus. We know Jesus was baptized to show us we need to be baptized as a public sign of salvation, and to be obedient to God’s will.

We also know that Jesus was doing this to be totally obedient to the will of the Father. This was a picture of His humility.

The Bible tells us, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:8

The Son of God showed us what total obedience looked like. It involves sacrificing our will and our rights to perform God’s will in whatever God wants in His kingdom.

If that means, we get walked on like a doormat today—so be it. If that means, we get hurt by brothers or sisters in Christ—Thank you, Lord. If that means, closing our mouths and not giving our opinion—Go, God!

Crazy?

Words like humility, sacrifice, and death are fading from our Christian vocabulary. The celebrity status some Christians enjoy and the rise of social media have taught us to toot our own horn.

We all have something to add to the kingdom but that might not be celebrity status. It might be to simply wake up today and die to our will, to “Take up our cross and follow Him.” There are many things Jesus has done for us and showed us but the biggest thing is dying to us.

Total obedience is saying, “Not my will but thine be done.”

Don’t forget to Pray!

Pastor Rodney 

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

 

 

How to Keep a Right Spirit

right spirit

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11

Bragging. It’s not a new thing. From kings in the Bible to athletes in a big game, the art of bragging has been around a while.

Some people see nothing wrong with bragging. Muhammad Ali said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”

We’ve even modified bragging. There is a new term now called “humble bragging.” You know, “I am so humbled that they put me on the cover of TIME magazine…AGAIN!

Sadly, pulpits and pews have had a few pride infested words slung around. Our flesh fights our spirit.

We must be careful that we don’t boast about our attendance, baptism numbers, or altar movement. The tempter is always trying to get a foothold in the church.

Here in Matthew 3 John the Baptist is being used by God to prepare God’s people. Repentance was the one-note message JTB preached. Turn from sin and turn to God. An about-face sends us in God’s direction and away from ours.

The converts were massing to hear JTB preach. “Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him.” (Matthew 3:5) Talk about a popular preacher. JTB became the biggest news in the Jerusalem Times.

How did JTB respond?

Like we should. When people shout our praises, we sing Jesus’. “He who is coming after me is mightier than I.” God may be doing His work through me but it’s not about me. Donkeys can preach when touched by God.

JTB’s humility resonates with these words, “whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.” Carrying clothing was the sign of a servant. Carrying smelly sandals would have been the least favorite part of the clothing.

Whenever we get prideful we must ask if we smell like a servant because our spirits get sour with pride. Prideful preaching and teaching forgets the needs of the people who hear us. Our words must be His words. After all, they are His people, not ours.

Let’s pray!

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

 

Pastor, Are “THEY” or “THEM” in Your Church Too?

crowd of people

“They” have been in every church I served and they seem to be members of every church my friend’s pastor. “They” show up in Deacon’s meetings, committee meetings, phone calls, and even in emails.

Who are they?

“Pastor, they are upset. The decision you made, the phone call you didn’t make, the out-patient surgery you missed, they got their feelings hurt. You pastor offended them.”

That’s right “they” have family members named “them.”

They and them have been around a while. They are easily offended and they never give you the benefit of the doubt. They question your motives, shake your hand, and even give a friendly smile.

You may never know who they are because they never talk with you, they go to others and talk about you. And, we never know how many of them there is.

They ruin our sleep, and can even wreck our ministry. Jesus speaks to they and them and how to deal with those people.

1.Don’t Worry

Would it help if Jesus dealt with them too? Jesus told the disciples about them. “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour. What you should speak:” Matthew 10: 19

Is it possible to not worry about them? They will talk, they will complain, and they will hurt our feelings but we aren’t to worry about them.

Sometimes in our churches, they go to other leaders and the leaders don’t know what to do with them. They grew up with them. Now suddenly they are not happy. They need to be heard. Spiritually mature deacons realize these people are the ones who habitually complain.

The next step is to talk with them. But they seem to always be nameless. Even when pushed a church leader will say, “They didn’t want their name mentioned.”

What? How can I find out who they are? If I can’t talk to them, then how can this be fixed?

Jesus speaks again to this, “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.”  Matthew 10:23

Sometimes they become louder than the rest of them. They get their way and we are left wondering why this all happened. Rest assured we are not alone.

Jesus gives another way to deal with them:

  1. Do Not Fear

“Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.” Matthew 10:26

Fear paralyzes us. Jesus says that they will be brought out into the light. That’s right Jesus will uncover them. They will not remain anonymous. These people will not stay hidden forever.

We may not see them here but Jesus will have an uncovering party in heaven. The hidden words will be revealed. The secret meetings will be seen.

Please know pastor, names will be taken. The scales will be balanced. We may have to move churches but God will move heaven to make this happen.

They will answer. I’m starting to feel better about them. How about you?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

 

What is Your Call?

call

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’” (Matthew 3:1-2)

John the Baptist was the long-awaited prophet of the Messiah. By all accounts today he was a different sort of dude.

He wouldn’t have made it past most pastor search committees, but he gives us so many glimpses of the glory of God that we can certainly see how Jesus called him, Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist;” (Matthew 11:11)

John the Baptist had what we all need, a clarity of call.

If we take a minute, we can see his message—Repent! And, we can also see his mission was to proclaim the Messiah.

We all have the same mission as him. Tell the world about Jesus. But, we do that differently.

It’s the message that we must see. This is the way we are gifted. A prophet will be an in your face, black and white messenger (like John the Baptist). Proclaiming repentance. But, an encourager we tell people about the love of God.

This is the message we have. Born into us when we were born again.

It’s also the problem we have with each other. Prophets tend to think they are right all the time. After all, we do need to repent. Right?

That’s why we must clarify our call. Most of the arguments in our churches and on social media are centered around our different gifts. Without a clarity of call, and the spiritual maturity to see our differences, we may end up being so right we think everyone else is wrong.

We need prophets. We need encouragers. We need mercy, knowledge, administration, and on and on. But we also need the grace to let others fulfill their call.

So, what is your call?

Don’t forget to pray!

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.