Experience Missions ‘19

Some of the most important weeks on the calendar of our church are when we talk about our collective mission to reach the world for Christ. There is no greater enterprise in the history of the world than participating in the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Precious people everywhere need to know that Jesus loves them, died for them, and is preparing an eternal home for them in Heaven. To think that we get to be a part of sharing the Good News to those around the globe is just amazing. Here are a few guiding principles that set the tone for us at BCA — both collectively as a church and individually as Christ followers.

  1. Create a growing Great Commission culture and mindset.

    When someone shares their final “deathbed” wishes you want to listen carefully, knowing that what they’re sharing is very important to them. You could say that Jesus’ deathbed wish was really a command. He commanded us to be his ambassadors, taking the message of His love to all people. We cross cultures, oceans, and languages to make sure that ALL hear. We are ALL in, for ALL the world, so ALL can hear.

  2. Understand the dimensions of our reach.
    We reach out in 3D, understanding there are three dimensions to our reach, as you can see in our outreach triangle:
  • We reach out personally as we bring people to church and include them in our church community. May God help us as we invest in relationships with pre-Christians and invite them to church — and to faith.
  • We reach out locally through the 100+ ministries of our church and 25+ compassion outreaches to our local community through the Bethany Compassion Center.
  • We reach out globally through our 80+ missionaries and missionary projects and our 5 Global Church Partnerships (Sumba, Cuba, Albania, eSwatini/Swaziland, Medical Missions).
  1. Realize that conviction and passion come from the mandates of Scripture.

    We must be careful that the good does not become the enemy of the GREAT (sounds like a book I read once). There are many good things we can do as a church but we must make sure it does not take our eyes off the GREAT, which is reaching out to others so they can know of God’s love for them. Notice these 5 “greats” that provide us with our marching orders:

  • Great COMMISSION — Matthew 28:19,20: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 
  • Great COMMANDMENT — Matthew 22:37-40: Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
  • Great COMMITMENT — Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
  • Great CALLING — Luke 14:23: “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.’”
  • Great CONCENTRATION — Matthew 4:19: “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

  1. Reach out farther and wider than ever before.

    Our motto is Pray, Give, Go — even more this year than last year. And last year our goal was to Pray, Give, Go even more than the year before. We want to continue to reach out farther and wider for Christ’s glory. We PRAY for people far from God. We PRAY for our missionary team. We GIVE regularly to support missions and missionary outreach through our missionary team and Global Church Partnerships. And we GO on STORM trips (Short Term OutReach Missions) and we GO by becoming missionaries or sending missionaries in our place.

Let me close by sharing three important quotes. Hudson Taylor and Jim Elliot were amazing missionaries whose words are legendary. I’ve included a quote that summarizes my heart and I’m asking you to prayerfully ask God to give you a burden for people who need the Lord.

  • Hudson Taylor — “The light that shines the farthest is the light that shines brightest at home.” We need to keep building up our church so we can reach out farther and wider.
  • Jim Elliot — “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” We need to gain the eternal, which is souls. We treasure helping people find the Lord.
  • Rob Carlson — “We must be driven by that which drove Christ to the cross; namely, people and their need to know God’s love.” We are either a missionary or a mission field. If we know Christ then we must reach out passionately, so join me as I seek to Pray. Give. Go.

How to Pray for Someone’s Salvation

Jonah 1-3

There is no greater mission in life than to know Christ personally and to make Him known to those around us. Who in your family or friendship circle are you praying will come to know Christ? Maybe there’s someone you work with or live by or go to school with? Whoever it is, let’s pray more fervently for them than ever before. There is no greater mission in life than to know Christ and to make Him known. We are Christ’s ambassadors and He wants to use us to reach others. Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” Here are 3 ways we can pray for those around us who need to come to a saving knowledge of Christ.


3 WAYS TO PRAY FOR OTHERS TO FIND THE LORD
  

  1. THAT PEOPLE REALIZE THEY CAN’T RUN FOREVER — Jonah 1

    In Jonah 1 we see that Jonah disobeys the Lord and runs from His command to go to Nineveh. God commanded Jonah to go and share the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness to a people who desperately needed it. What jumps out to me in this passage is that, as followers of Christ, we can run from obedience and not share God’s love with others. And certainly many who don’t know Christ are running from Him. We need to stop running and share the Good News! We also need to pray that others stop running and turn to God. Both are vital. Pray today that God will help you be His ambassador more than ever before. Start by showing love and kindness and then look for an opportunity to simply tell your story. Keep it simple, just share what Jesus has done for you.

    And let’s also pray that those who are on the run from God will stop and realize they can’t run forever. There is only one way to Heaven (Acts 4:12) and that is through Jesus.

  2. THAT PEOPLE REMEMBER AND TURN TO GOD — Jonah 2

    In Jonah 2 we find him praying from the belly of a big fish. Have you ever had to do that? I would imagine not. What I love about this passage is that Jonah remembers God (see vs. 7) and he turns back with humility, sincerity, and obedience. He says in verse 9, that “salvation comes from the Lord.” That is true! Jonah was a follower of the Lord and he had to stop and remember what was right and turn back to God. I want to pray that those who do not know God will also stop and remember and turn to Him. For those who do not have any understanding of who Christ is or what He has done, the word remember may need to be something more like stop and ponder and wonder if there really is a God? Maybe they start by thinking about a higher power, and then begin thinking about who God is, and then maybe someone helps them find their way to Christ. The point is, people need to stop running and start turning to the Lord. Jonah did and eventually so did the Ninevites.

THAT WE REACH OUT WITH PASSION AND COMPASSION — Jonah 3

In Jonah 3 we see that Jonah finally got it right. It says here that he obeyed the second time. There’s something about being thrown into the sea and being swallowed up by a big fish that just might get your attention, don’t you think? He cried out for mercy and then obeyed and went to Nineveh to tell them to turn to God. Nineveh repented and God showed them mercy. I can’t help but notice the important role Jonah played here. What if he wouldn’t have obeyed? God could have sent someone else or maybe He wouldn’t have sent anyone. If you really stop to think about it, there are three parts to a person’s salvation:

    • God’s part — Jesus died for the sins of the world and is knocking on each heart’s door. (Revelation 3:20). He does not want anyone to perish but desires everyone to come to repentance.
    • The person’s part — Each person must answer the knock at the door, stop running, and turn to God. The Lord will not force anyone but offers salvation to everyone. (Romans 10:9).
    • Our part — Like Jonah, we have a part to play and our obedience is of utmost importance. God is wanting those around us to see and understand His love. We are his hands and feet and heart.

May God help us share Christ clearly to others needing to find their way to faith.

How to Pray Through Your Problems

Psalm 3 (A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.) Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side. Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.

David had a bunch of problems. Think about his life… He was on the run from Absalom, and before that Saul – both of which were problems he brought on himself. Problems come in all sizes and shapes and we all have them. David shows us how he prayed through his problems and how we can pray through ours. Let’s look at Psalm 3 and focus in on seven ways David shows us how to pray through our problems.

  1. GOD WILL ALWAYS BE WITH ME. Ps 3:1: Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!
    David’s prayer starts off with the understanding that God is with Him as he cries for help. Like David, we need to honestly admit our situation to God, knowing that He is present. God knows our circumstances. He cares, He’s aware and He will never leave or forsake us. We will persevere in His power and in His name, just like David did. What is the problem that weighs heavy on your heart today? Give it to Jesus! He is with you always.
  2. GOD WILL HELP ME OVERCOME DOUBT AND DISCOURAGEMENT. Ps 3:2: Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”
    One of the things I encounter most in the work I do with people is trying to encourage those who feel they are being dragged down by life. Discouragement and despair run rampant but we need to keep encouraged in Christ. We all understand and have to deal with discouragement. One of the things I find helpful when dealing with discouragement is to specifically identify the source of discouragement and call it out. Compare it to the promises and power and riches of Christ and let that source of discouragement know that it will not own or define us, that it will not determine the level of joy and impact we will have in this life. David took his doubt and discouragement to God. He called it out and in so doing put his trust in the Lord to help him deal with his doubt and despair.
  3. GOD WILL GIVE ME STRENGTH. Ps 3:3: But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
    The reason I don’t doubt is because of God’s strength. David prayed “Lord, you are my strength, you are my shield.” Because we serve an all powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God we can have faith and confidence that He has our back. He is a shield around us. What is the problem you’re praying about today? Remember, He’s got you; He is a shield around you. Nothing is too big, too complicated or too messy for God.
  4. GOD WILL ANSWER ME. Ps 3:4: I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain.
    When God seems silent it doesn’t mean He doesn’t hear. When it feels like God is not answering, by faith we can know that He does hear and that He will answer us. Don’t doubt or be discouraged by His apparent silence. Instead, in faith, remember that we serve a prayer-answering God and He will not give us something He knows will be bad for us. David knew God was there and that He heard him and would answer him. He knew that God had his best interest at heart. It was central to His faith and it needs to be central to our faith, too. What is the problem, trial, and/or adversity you’re dealing with? Remember, God promises us in His Word that He hears every word that we pray to Him. Like a good parent, He is waiting, ready and willing, to listen to our worries, concerns, and needs.
  5. GOD WILL SUSTAIN ME. Ps 3:5: I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
    I think there are times when we feel like our heart has been crushed or our mind is about to explode. I want to remind you today that when life is the hardest and most hopeless, Jesus is right there with us and He will sustain us! He will help us get through to the other side. David prayed and affirmed: “I will wake again because my God will sustain me.” Pray that way today over your current situation.
  6. GOD WILL REPLACE MY FEAR WITH FAITH. Ps 3:6: I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.
    Fear can cripple and immobilize us. We can be frozen emotionally, relationally, even spiritually, by fear. We can be stuck by fear, unsure of what to do, unable to do what we know we must. David prayed, “I have God on my side, and His love and strength and help drives out fear.” I don’t care what the odds are against us, how big our problems might seem, our God is bigger still! Trust Him and cast your cares on Him.
  7. GOD WILL DELIVER ME. Ps 3:7,8: Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.
    One of the reasons we love the Bible so much is that it is real. Here, David tells us how he really feels, his real, raw emotions flowing out. David needed God’s intervention and deliverance and he prayed specifically and passionately from his heart. Sometimes we need to pray a very specific and raw and real and emotional prayer of one word… HELP! We do not waver, we do not doubt, because we are convinced of His love and mercy and kindness and power. God doesn’t promise in the Bible to take our problems away, but He does promise to carry us through them and help us overcome them.

God will always be with you. God will help you overcome doubt and discouragement. God will give you strength; He will answer you. God will sustain you and replace your fear with faith. Ask Him today.

Six Life-Changing Prayer Principles

 I Chronicles 4:10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

The Prayer of Jabez is a famous prayer in the Bible. Some have turned it into a self-focused, bless-me prayer. However, the biblical definition of blessing is less about “God, make me rich and comfortable and happy,” and more about “God, use me as Your hands and feet for Kingdom impact.” Let’s take a look at a few prayer principles from Jabez.

1. Cry Out to God. Jabez prayed — he “cried out to God…”

Not just “help me, bless me, and save me” but “God, use me.” Ask yourself: Where do I need to step up and step out personally to be obedient to Christ individually and to join with my church so we can have greater impact?

2. Recognize the source of every blessing. Jabez prayed — “Bless me”

We recognize that the Lord is the source of every blessing. The Bible says in James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…”. The Bible cautions us to not take credit (see Isaiah 10:13) but rather to give the glory to God, from whom all blessings flow. We have been blessed by God to be a blessing to others!

3. Ask to be used for greater impact. Jabez prayed — “Enlarge my territory”

Most like to turn this into a “bless me, give me, prosper me with more stuff” kind of prayer. However, if we look at the lineage of Jabez we can understand that he is not merely speaking in terms of wealth, prosperity and land but in terms of impacting the Kingdom of God. He wanted his spiritual territory to increase, to claim future generations for the Lord of Israel. As a Christian, it is never just about me. It is never just give me more money, give me more land, give me more comfort…as if we are the end all. My personal pleasure and comfort is not the end all; it is not the finish line. Jesus is less concerned about my comfort and more concerned about my character.

4. Request guidance. Jabez prayed — “Your hand be with me”

Jabez wanted God to be in every moment of his day. He understood the power of God’s hand to protect and to lead in the right direction. We can count on God to protect, correct, direct and lead us. Where do you need wisdom? Ask God for His guidance. Pray for yourself and your kids and spouse and others that you/they will make wise choices.

5. Pray for strength. Jabez prayed — “Keep me from harm”

I think there’s something deeper in this prayer than just asking for comfort or not to get hurt. The name Jabez literally means “born with pain.” His own mother named him Jabez because of the pain she endured in labor. When Jabez prayed, he spoke against the testimony of his name and let go of the shame it covered him in. When we pray, we come humbly to God, vulnerable, with all of our scars and imperfections, and we ask Him to turn our weakness into strength for His glory.

6. Believe God can meet your need and will answer your prayer. Jabez prayed — “…and God granted his request.”

May we all pray with faith believing in God’s power to meet our needs and answer our prayers. And let’s make sure one of our oft-prayed prayers is, “God, use me for greater Kingdom impact.”

My Prayer for You

Ephesians 3:14-21 | For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

My prayer for you is really Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus. Moreover, Ephesians 3:14-21 is a model prayer that we would do well to pray for each other. In my prayer, there are five things that I pray you fully realize and understand:

1. INNER STRENGTH. Paul prayed 3:16 — I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being…

The idea here for “strength” is the opposite of being discouraged. Paul is praying that their inner person is being renewed and I pray this for you. Life is hard and our mind, emotions and inner person can become down and discouraged. Paul is praying for inner strength, that they stay encouraged and hopeful. Paul prays for them and us that they and we would rely on the strength available in Christ to be built up from the inside out.

2. ABIDING PRESENCE. Paul prayed 3:17a — so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…

“That Christ may dwell” is the idea of Christ taking up residency in your heart. The picture is for to Jesus move in and become more and more a part of the home of your heart and life. Paul prays for them and us, and I pray for you, that we know clearly and completely that Jesus is with us, He is for us, and He is in us. I pray that you realize that you can call on Him any time and all the time. Remind yourself: He is with me, beside me, and even will carry me when I need Him most.

3. UNQUENCHABLE LOVE. Paul prayed 3:17b-19a — And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge…

Being rooted and established are the results of a life built on Christs love. Paul wants us to grasp His love and know it is greater than you can know, goes farther than you can realize and it is forever. There is nothing you can do to quench His love for you. You are never unloved and you never don’t matter. You are valued, esteemed, loved, and treasured. Know it, grasp it and comprehend. He loves you more than you will ever know.

4. DIVINE PURPOSE. Paul prayed 3:19b — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Fullness is the state of being filled to capacity. It is the idea of brimming with godliness. Overflowing with Christlikeness. Being like Him and growing more and more into the image of Christ. May we realize that God’s design for us all to be like Jesus. To think, serve, live, relate, and give like Jesus.

5. ABSOLUTE ASSURANCE. Paul prayed 3:21-21 — Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Never forget His power and never forget that His power is available to you which is a power without limits. This 5th prayer that I pray for you is one of the most powerful verses in the Bible to me. We need to live each day in the realization and in relationship with the Almighty where we know that we know that we know—that His capacity exceeds my needs. He is not only able to do exceedingly more than what I ask for and need, but He is able to do immeasurably more than what I could ever imagine. I pray for you, I pray for my family, I pray for me, I pray for our church, I pray for our pastors and staff, I pray for our missionaries…that we know, with absolute assurance, that the God of the Bible is the Almighty God who is all present, all powerful, and all knowing. The implications of this realization in my life is that my faith will skyrocket. There is nothing ever too hard, too big, too complicated, too messy, or too overwhelming in any way for my God.

May we realize, comprehend and experience all five of these crucial qualities for living a life of great faith:

  • When I feel discouraged  Remember Inner Strength.
  • When I feel alone  Remember Abiding Presence.
  • When I feel unloved  Remember Unquenchable Love.
  • When I feel aimless  Remember Divine Purpose.
  • When I feel self-doubt  Remember Absolute Assurance.

Jesus Cares for You

Never underestimate how much Jesus cares for you. In Mark 5 we read about the simple prayer of a women in need. Her prayer was simple, a heart cry; “Jesus please help me.” Let’s look at three factors involved in this simple prayer:

  • THE INSIGNIFICANCE FACTOR – Mark 5:21-26

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lakeThen one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 

Consider the plight of the leading lady in this drama. She was lost in the crowd, sick with no end in sight, all alone, her illness was getting worse and she had run out of money. She is a nobody to everybody except to One Somebody and that Somebody was Jesus. The One Somebody that matters. Jesus cared for her and he cares for you more than you will ever know.

We all feel insignificant, either some of the time or all the time, and it can manifest itself in many ways: fear, hopelessness, discouragement, uselessness, worthlessness, feeling unwanted, unneeded, unappreciated, and alone. It can feel that God doesn’t care and yet that is not true. Never underestimate His love and care for you. He created you, He died for you, He has big plans for you in this life as long as you are alive, and He has made preparations for you on the other side.

  • THE RISK FACTOR – Mark 5:27-30

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak,  because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”  Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

Notice that she tried to steal a miracle. She wasn’t even supposed to be there. She thought that all she needed to do was to reach out and touch His clothes.

She risked several things just for this moment. She risked being found out and even being kicked out just to reach out and ask for healing. Are you willing to reach out and ask Jesus for help? This woman placed her trust in Jesus and so should we. He came for her and He came for us.

  • THE FAITH FACTOR – Mark 5:31-34

“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.  Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Jesus stated ‘Your faith has healed you’. Some teach that it is all about you and your faith. But actually it is not about you, it’s about Him. It is not how much faith we have as if we’re the power source. No, it is WHO we place our faith in. Faith is about our belief and trust in Jesus as our all-powerful and all-loving God.

Max Lucado says, “Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference”.

Where do you need a miracle? Step out in faith and ask God to meet your need. He cares about you more than you will ever know.

Pray Like Jesus

Matthew 6:9-13

The Lord’s Prayer is one of the best loved and most spoken prayers on the planet. It is THE prayer that Jesus taught to His disciples and the prayer he teaches to us as the pattern for all of His followers to use. As His followers, may we continuously strive to pray more like Jesus. Let’s look at what it means to pray like Jesus:

  1. PATTERN  Matthew 6:9 This, then, is how you should pray. (NIV)

While I point out 7 aspects to the Lord’s Prayer, the first one simply affirms that this is Jesus’ prayer pattern for us to follow. The average Christian spends 59 seconds per day in prayer. The Lord’s Prayer encourages us to stretch that out a bit.

  1. PRAISE  Matthew 6:9 Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name.

Hallowed means we recognize God as holy and distinct from us. He is mighty, full of power, wisdom, justice and mercy. As we praise the almighty for who He is our prayer needs to be that we will become more like Him which means we need to grow in holiness.

There is no greater way we can praise the Lord than to live the life he has called us to live; the life of love. Praise him with your life, with your heart and with your love. Praise him by living like him. Praise Him by thinking and being holy like him. Ask Jesus how you can best worship and praise him by loving others as he did. 

Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

1)Act justly—act rightly (righteously) toward others.
2)Love mercy—show compassion and mercy to others.
3)Walk humbly—be free from arrogance and pride as we live and relate to others.

  1. PLEAD  Matthew 6:10 Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Thy Kingdom come—pray for the ways and order of His Kingdom to happen here as they are fully obeyed in Heaven.
  • Thy will be done—pray that God’s Will occurs. Here we are aligning our will with God’s will, we are submitting ourselves to Him and asking that His will triumphs.

Let us all pray: “God, may your ways and your will be done on earth as they are done in heaven and may it start with ME! That must be what we plead and what we pray. God may I live the way you want me to live, may your will be fulfilled and accomplished in me and through me. YOUR Kingdom come, not my kingdom or the kingdom of this world and may your will be done on this earth as it is done in heaven where everything is good and godly and right and loving and perfect.” 

  1. PETITION  Matthew 6:11 Give us today our daily bread.

This part of the prayer teaches us to ask God for our daily needs. It also teaches us how to think about life. We must live in daily dependence on Christ. We need Him, are dependent on Him. This doesn’t mean we don’t step out and work hard. It means we are in constant relationship with our Savior every day and throughout the day.

  1. PENITENCE  Matthew 6:12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Different versions of this prayer use different words here. Sometimes trespasses, debts, sins – it all means the same thing: ways in which we have failed God and others. Regardless of our failings, we need to ask the Lord for His forgiveness and He will forgive.

This is an important prayer to pray but it is also an important way to live. I’m a sinner saved by grace. His mercy and forgiveness are overwhelmingly powerful. My sins are not final and my flub ups don’t have to be fatal. I can find forgiveness if I ask. To me this speaks of not only asking for His forgiveness but living with a soft heart.

And we must also forgive others just as we have been forgiven. Eliminating the toxin of unforgiveness from our life is crucial to spiritual health.

  1. PURITY  Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. 

This part of the Lord’s Prayer is where we pray for ourselves and others to not to be in a place where temptation might overwhelm us. And when tempted to overcome temptation. Temptation is not a sin, but yielding to it is..

  1. PROCLAMATION  Matthew 6:13 For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The prayer finishes with a closing doxology, that is, a hymn of praise to God. For me this is a declaration of faith. I believe it is powerfully faith building and inspiring to start our prayers with praise and end it with praise or a proclamation of how GREAT our God is.

How to Pray for your Family

Colossians 1:1-14

There is no one more important in the world to us than our family. And one of the greatest ways to love our families is to pray for them. Here’s how:

  • PRAY PASSIONATELY Colossians 1:3-3, 4:2 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you…

    The church at Colossae was made up of Paul’s spiritual children. He loved them and experienced hardship on their behalf. Paul shows us that one of the greatest ways we show love for others is through prayer. Why would we not plug into the greatest power source this world has ever known? May we understand that prayer is the power switch to unleash God’s power on our family’s behalf.

  • PRAY POINTEDLY  Colossians 1:4-8 …because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel  that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.  You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

    Am I praying specifically for my family? Paul mentions several characteristics in the lives of his spiritual children that he commends and celebrates. I believe these are excellent spiritual traits that we need to pray into our kids, grandkids, and others around us.

    Make a list and pray for the development of specific character qualities. Pray pointedly for specific character qualities/traits to be developed in your kids and grandkids. Here are five Paul mentions:

    • Faith
    • Love
    • Hope
    • Fruitfulness
    • Learning
  • PRAY PERSISTENTLY  Colossians 1:9 — For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives…

    Am I praying persistently for my family? Start early and never stop praying for your kids, grandkids and family. Pray for your family in seven ways:

    • Mentally—to have the mind of Christ, to be clear minded, to think like Jesus.
    • Physically—health, protection, strength.
    • Spiritually—to know Christ, live for Christ, grow in Jesus Christ.
    • Emotionally—break free from emotional chains.
    • Relationally—be protected from the wrong people and connected with the right people.
    • Sexually—moral and sexual purity
    • Financially— manage money God’s way: save, give, avoid debt traps and materialism.
  • PRAY PURPOSEFULLY  Colossians 1:10-14 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

    When praying for our children and grandchildren use Paul’s “checklist:”

    • Pray they live a life worthy of the Lord.
    • Pray they live their life to please Him in every way.
    • Pray their life becomes fruitful and full of good and godly works.
    • Pray they grow in the knowledge of God.
    • Pray they are strengthened in His power.
    • Pray they experience great endurance and that they persevere through challenges.
    • Pray they grow in patience, trusting God in all things.
    • Pray they experience the joy of the Lord and keep encouraged.
    • Pray they live life with gratitude and thankfulness for all God has done.
    • Pray they live life to gain Heaven.

You need to plan prayer – so create a plan and then be sure to work your plan. Paul shows us how to pray for our family by starting early and never quitting!

Others Depend On Your Prayers

One of my favorite prayers in the Bible doesn’t even feature any words. It simply communicates action. In Ex 17:8-16, Moses prays on the mountain while Joshua fights in the valley. As long as Moses has his hands up in prayer, Joshua is winning on the battle field. Whenever Moses’ hands come down, Joshua is losing. What a powerful message to me about the importance of prayer. God has stated that He wants us to pray and intercede for others. When we do, it moves the hand of God in a powerful way on behalf of those for whom we pray. When we don’t pray some things do not happen for good on others’ behalf. This is God’s plan. He has invited us to participate in advancing His will and blessing. We don’t manipulate God when we pray, we participate in accomplishing His ends.

There are seven prayer factors in this story that we can relate to:

  1. Opposition (vs. 8) The Amalekites were in Moses’ and Joshua’s way. God has called them to advance His mission and inhabit the Promised Land. The Amalekites stood in their way. We all have opposition in life of one kind or another. In times of opposition, adversity and hardship, we need to pray for strength, guidance, faith and for God’s help. Moses did. What obstacles do you need to overcome? Give them to God and trust in Him. 
  2. Fight (vs. 9) Notice that Moses and Joshua did not retreat, give up, or cave in when opposition came their way. Moses says to Joshua, “get some guys and go fight; I’m heading to the mountain.” Just ponder the imagery here and apply this to your personal life. One of the ways to fight is on our knees or more specifically in prayer. Both Moses’ and Joshua’s roles were indispensable – and both were critical. Many of us are in a fight of one kind for another. What fight are you in? How do you plan to approach the fight? May I suggest the Moses/Joshua plan? Simply move forward in prayer. Have faith in God and step forward as you pray. God is with you. God is for you.
  3. Team (vs. 10, 12) This leads me to the third prayer factor that jumps out to me. Joshua and Moses teamed up, but the partnership here goes beyond just the two of them. Notice their larger team includes Aaron and Hur and of course the warriors in the field. Question: Who’s on your team and whose team are you on? Who have you invited to pray for you and who are you praying for? Don’t do life alone. Face opposition and move forward in faith with a team of folks praying for you. Build a prayer team or join one of the many LifeGroups here at BCA (which is an instant prayer team, btw). Let’s do life together by praying for one another.
  4. Belief (vs. 10) Moses and Joshua believed in the power of God and in the power of prayer. We need to do the same. Have faith in God and His mighty power and believe in the power of prayer. Barna says the average Christian spends less than 59 seconds a day in prayer and most don’t have a prayer plan. As we begin this new year, develop a prayer plan and a daily devotional plan to grow and strengthen your spiritual life. I’ve included a couple of practical ideas below that you might consider.

  1. Power (vs. 11) When Moses lifted his hands it was a symbolic appeal to God for help and enablement. He believed in God, God’s power, His need for God, and in the power of prayer to move the hand of God. What do you believe about God? What do you believe about His power? What do you believe about prayer? We can believe in the God of Moses and Joshua, the God of Scripture. Trust Him. Entrust your burdens and needs and family and challenges to Him. Allow Him to strengthen you and grow you and help you and guide you. He is a powerful God worthy of our worship and obedience and trust.
  2. Victory (vs. 13) “So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.” So did Joshua win the battle? Or was it Moses on the mountain that was the key to victory? Or both? Ultimately it was God who won but they both had a part to play. Herein lies a powerful application for you and me. In God’s Kingdom and in His wisdom, He has allowed us and invited us to be active participants in advancing His Will. It is very clear in this story that Joshua and Moses both had a role to play (as did Aaron and Hur and the warriors in the field of battle). God has a role for you and me, too, and part of it includes us praying for others. Others depend on our prayers. Pray for your kids, spouse, family, extended family, friends, church, and more. Where do you need to see victory in your life? Where do others near and dear to you need to see victory in their lives? Pray about it and ask God to also reveal what additional role He may want you to play.
  3. Gratitude (14-16) Moses built an altar to commemorate the mighty victory. “The Lord is my banner, protector and deliverer,” Moses said for all to hear and remember. God was there for Moses and Joshua and Israel and He will be there for you and me. Stop for a moment and thank Him for all He has already done for you. Have an attitude of gratitude and allow His faithfulness in the past to build your faith in His provision and grace for the future. As you move forward in this young new year, be grateful for His goodness in years gone by. Be thankful, remember and never forget.

 

Never underestimate the power of prayer and the need others have for us to be in their corner…through prayer. Ask God to help you step up your prayer focus in 2019.

Gratitude & Anticipation

I Chronicles 16:34—“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

 

2018 is behind us and as 2019 unfolds, we are each presented with a new book, the pages and chapters each waiting to be written. How will you choose to write 2019?

One principle that I have found important to practice in my life is the regular and ongoing dance between gratitude and anticipation. I need to be grateful for all God has done in my life, my family, my church, and more. But I also need to remember that He is not finished with me – or any of us – yet. And therefore, I need to live with a renewed hope and anticipation that the days ahead are brimming with possibilities and opportunities to love God and others and to fulfill His purposes.

Take a moment today and reflect once again on the many blessings God has placed in your life. Then stop and pray, “God use me and make me useable. May I be faithful to advance your purposes and obey your Word and Your will with greater zeal in 2019. Amen.”