Pray for Your Leaders

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Paul, in his command to intercede in 1 Timothy 2:1-4 focuses our prayers especially on leaders. They have great responsibility and because of that face even greater attacks from the enemy. Satan has limited forces and focuses his attacks on those in leadership, whether it is among nations, or in the Church. If the Enemy can take down a leader, many other people are usually badly damaged. So, Paul tells us, “pray…for all those in authority.”

Are you praying for your pastor? Your church leaders? Your national leaders? This is a command from Scripture. It doesn’t command us to agree with them…but to pray for them. Those who move into leadership, whether in a nation or in a church, often face great criticism. This should not come from Christians. We are those who are committed to following Jesus, the great Intercessor. May every word we speak, especially in our prayers, identify us as followers of Christ.

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Slow Down

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).

If we wish to live the way of Jesus Christ, then we must reflect upon the fact that nowhere in Scripture do we see Jesus in a hurry. The Son of God did not rush around. He did not look for more things to do. His example was one of patiently waiting upon the Father in prayer so that He could get His instructions for every step He took and every word He spoke. Is that how you and your family members live your lives? My guess is that if I were to live as Jesus did, focused upon His Word and connected to the Lord continually in the two-way love relationship that is prayer, I would accomplish more in less time, and be more contented. How about you?

They Left _ Now What

As pastors and ministry leaders, we know it’s inevitable that people will leave our church at one time or another. The reasons, while seldom given, are varied. It could be the worship style. It could be your leadership or a new direction being “taken” by the church. Maybe the church is growing too quickly. Some will leave because they’re hurt—by you or someone else.

Whatever the reason(s), the loss—most of the time—feels like a kick in the gut! The smaller the church you serve, the more magnified the loss. Further, the resulting pain is something every pastor knows all too well. While commenting on this topic recently, one pastor said, “When people leave your ministry, they also leave your life.” Truth be known, we often leave theirs as well.

While that tends to be the case, does it have to be that way? Sure, things will probably never be the same. However, I’ve noticed over the years that we as pastors are quick at times to write people off who’ve left our church. We take it personally. Our feelings get hurt. And while we may truly miss them and seek to learn how they’re doing through others who know them well, we usually don’t pick up the phone or try to touch base with them personally.

Granted, there may be those select few for whom you’re grateful are no longer part of the community. For the sake of the church, it’s best they’re gone. What about the others, though? What about those who invested much in your life and the life of the church? They’re not bad people. Most people who leave aren’t. If they shared with you their decision to leave, did you bless them in their departure? If they were hurt, did you ask the Father to bring healing? Since they’ve been gone, have you even attempted to connect with them in a small way? Have you prayed for them?

My guess is you could make those individuals feel like the most important people in the world if you’d take a few moments and send them a brief email, text or card letting them know you’re grateful for them and their legacy in your life or the life of the church you’re serving—or some other sincere message along those lines. Give it a try and see. It will do your heart and theirs good! Further, maybe … just maybe … God didn’t intend for them to leave for good, and He’s using you to help them discover that!

Turning the Table

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).

When it comes to spiritual warfare, most often I thought in terms of not being overtaken by the enemy.  But after watching a high school wrestling match, I realized that is only half the picture. Winning in wrestling means more than simply not being overtaken.  The resisting is fierce, but to win, you can turn the tables and pin your opponent.  You must become the aggressor, not just the resistor. One pair of wrestlers, in a seemingly one-sided match, grappled through each round with one contestant racking up points at every turn.  It seemed obvious who the victor would be as the same boy clearly dominated the entire match.  Suddenly, in the last seconds of the match, the underdog gained leverage and in an instant the previously-dominating contestant was flipped over on his back and pinned.  Amid the cheers you could hear the winner’s father yelling, “And that is why you never give up!  That is why you never give up!”

Can you hear it?  Can you hear our heavenly Father yelling, cheering us on not only to keep from being overcome, but to be overcomers ourselves — often in the last seconds of battle? Friends, don’t give up _ keep resisting and look for that opportunity to turn the tables on the enemy.

Trusting God Includes Praying About Everything

Some things never change. George Müller, who lived almost 200 years ago, found no detail too insignificant to take to the Lord in prayer, believing that Philippians 4:6 is true: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Childlike in trust, Müller took to the throne room of God the need for shoes and breakfasts and playgrounds, for teachers and assistants, for jobs for the oldest boys leaving his care, for healing of illnesses, and the provision of financial resources. Prayer became as natural as breathing for Müller who testified that, in more than seven decades of walking hand in hand with God, he had never found the throne vacant nor the supplies exhausted. Here we are in 2018 and God is still on His throne and the supply-house is still full of blessings.

Hang in There

Sometimes the new leaf we want to turn over fails to become a new life because we give up too soon. We tend to want immediate results, and when we don’t get them when we want them, we go back to our old way of life.

That applies to every part of our life _ physical, mental, emotional, and of course our spiritual life. It affects our relationships, our finances, our business, our church life _ every area of life. For those who desperately want times to get better it may take some time _ maybe four or five or six weeks _ maybe four or five or six months _ maybe years.  

The longer it takes the more you will find yourself tempted to think, “Why am I doing this _ things are still the same. I’m just wasting my time. I may as well give up.” That’s what most people do. They say, “I gave it my best shot,” and they quit, and their life stays the same.

But for that select group of people who say, “I refuse to give up.” Eventually their lives get better. Why? Because they locked in on the right strategy _ they persevered _ they stayed with it until payday.

Paul put it like this: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Let Us Pray

Well, 2018 is here and just like it was in 2017 there is still plenty the church needs to get done. I read this devotion from Harvest Prayer Ministries this morning and decided to share it because it’s a great way to get things done.

“It’s clear from Scripture that prayer makes a difference. When Moses stood on a hillside and prayed for Joshua and the armies of Israel, prayer made the difference between victory and defeat (Exodus 17:8-16).  When Elijah prayed on Mount Carmel, prayer made the difference between drought and rain (1 Kings 18:41-45; James 5:17-18). Prayer is a means by which believers are able to accomplish great works for God (John 14:12-14). Prayer is a means by which God’s power is released in this world (James 5:16). Yes! Prayer makes a difference.

“Prayer was the key factor in building the church, too. The first disciples “all joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14) as the foundations of the church were laid. Paul later instructed believers, “Devote yourselves to prayer” (Colossians 4:2). And in the face of the devil’s schemes, he pleaded that they “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18).

“Prayer is the foundational factor in bringing the blessing to our world and bringing people to Christ. “I urge, then, first of all,” commands Paul, “that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.” The result is transformation of society—people living “peaceful and quiet lives”—and salvation of the lost—persons “saved and [coming] to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

“Why isn’t payer making a greater difference in North America today? Perhaps it’s because so few of us really understand the importance of prayer. We do not see prayer as the key factor in building the church or changing the world. We are so self-confident and “sufficient in ourselves” that we neglect prayer and attempt to do things for God in our own way and in our own strength. Of course, we’d like God to bless our efforts, so we add a little prayer, seeking his support. But that isn’t God’s way. His way involves earnest, constant, devoted, striving, powerful prayer. That’s what makes a real difference in the world around us.”

So there it is church let’s pray and serve and make 2018 a great year for the Lord.