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Archive for the tag “Boldness”

Dry Wood in This Season

In my newsletter for May, 2021, I wrote about Elijah’s prayer. When I was finished writing for the moment, I went back into my archives and found a post from 2012. I used 2012’s blog to write my second book. Since I was on a theme this month, I thought I would dust this off and post the longer “book” version. I hope this encourages you in this season we’re in…

One Sunday morning while sitting in my nephew’s Sunday school class, we were engaged in a discussion about Elijah and powerful prayers. We were discussing the prayer Elijah prayed to God to bring fire upon the altar in the confrontation with the prophets of Baal (see I Kings 18:16-39). Elijah told the servants to wet the sacrifice which in turn wet the wood and the ground. He asked them to do it three times. I have heard this story many times, but what stayed with me this time was the image of the wood. The drought had lasted at least three years at the time of this confrontation. The wood the servants would have been using was very dry. Dry wood would have soaked up the water being poured on the altar. Wet wood cannot be lit unless it’s done supernaturally!

James wrote in his letter that Elijah was just like everyone else. Elijah prayed for no rain, and it did not rain for over three years (James 5:17). Elijah prayed for the fire to come down to consume the sacrifice (First Kings 18). And God answered this bold prayer of Elijah.

Elijah was doing the work of the Lord. He was God’s instrument to bring Israel back into a relationship with Him. Elijah prayed and God responded. Not only was the sacrifice consumed; the wood and the altar were burned up and the water in the trench evaporated in one huge showcase of God’s power. God likes to display His power. God also likes to use us to display His glory. We have the capacity to ask bold prayers to display the wonders of God.

I think the majority of the reason we don’t pray such prayers is because we don’t believe He’ll answer or maybe we don’t believe He can do it. We deal with a lack of faith in His ability to deliver our requests. We should have the type of faith that we could attempt great things and expect great things from God. It honors Him when we ask bold prayers.

One of the things that I find remarkable in relational to Peter is his boldness after he received the Holy Spirit. Before he was filled with the Spirit, he was fearful – denying Jesus (Luke 22:54-62), sitting in a locked room fearful of the Jews (John 20:19). Once the Holy Spirit fills him at Pentecost, he addresses the crowd where three thousand believed his message – Jesus is Lord – accredited by God by miracles, wonders and signs; He died, and rose again because death could not hold Him (Acts 2:22-41)! The Holy Spirit changed Peter from coward to a bold message bearer. Boldness is one of the characteristics of the Holy Spirit. He enables us to be bold if we would have the faith to ask.

I chuckle every time I read about Peter being released from prison by a miraculous encounter with an angel. The story is found in Acts 12. Verse five says: So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The church was actively praying for Peter; God answered in a miraculous way. He shows up at the believer’s door; the people don’t believe its Peter, even though they had been in prayer for Peter’s release. Did the church believe that God was going to answer?

Yet, I am the same way. Why do I pray? What’s my motivation for prayer? I want to pray some really bold prayers. But I have to check my motives. I have to check if it’s something I desire for my own benefit or if it’s going to benefit others. Do I want to move God’s Kingdom forward by my bold requests?

God has given me an urgency to do more and to be more attuned to His will. I do believe too that we are going to see even greater things than what we could ever ask or imagine in the next few years. I think the time of dryness is over. We have to be bold in our prayers. We see these great men of the Bible and think they aren’t like us. However, they were nothing special. They were flawed individuals that God used in mighty ways. He likes weakness in us so that He will get the glory – not us. My prayers may not bring an end to a drought or change the course of history. But they could if I were to ask and believe – all it takes is the smallest of faith in a very large God. He is who He says He is. He is the miracle worker.

I think I have put God in a box. I expect small things from God. I seem to believe that He can only handle small things and not my huge problems. The problem with this theory is that my huge problem is nothing in the sight of God. The one who created the universe – the universe that we are still discovering is still growing. My perception needs to change. God’s story told through Scripture tells of a mighty big God. No matter the size of the box, it’s still too small to contain an awesome God. Scripture tells us that we have to have faith in the One to whom we bring our prayers. Hebrews 11:6 says anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Faith, as small as a mustard seed, can move mountains. Bold prayers offered in faith to a mighty God will be heard and answered.

…How much more do we need bold prayers at such a time as this. Let’s be bold and be brave and let God work through us! Amen!

Time Will Tell

Over the last couple of days, I have been pondering a few things. I know, I ponder quite a bit. Every blog posting is attributable to my thought processes. However, God is stirring my heart for change. Change in me and change in this country. I heard about a mission trip to the green hills of Vermont that had me contemplating a move to those hills to help plant a church. Then I recognized my lack of ability to acclimate to cold weather and I thought better of it. But it still left me feeling a bit uneasy to leave that thought alone. After all, Vermont is the second most unchurched state of the union. There are a lot of lost souls in those beautiful hills.

I grew up in the south. I have lived in this state all my life. I have moved from one end to almost the other. Churches are on every corner in the city, with very few miles in between in the counties. Growing up, gathering on Sundays was just the norm. Sunday nights too. Even Wednesday nights, with our covered dish suppers that were a kid’s delight (after all, who could resist all those desserts!). It’s just what we did. Today is a different story. I think much of that is my generation’s fault.

We have a watered down Gospel. Much of us have decided we don’t need God. We’re doing fine on our own. We do the Sunday thing, because that’s what we do or not; depending on what else is going on. I think one of our problems is we didn’t see God working. We put God in the “out there” category. He just doesn’t get involved in our lives. We did the church thing because that’s what we were taught. But is that all we’re called to do? Just do the church thing a couple of times a week? Where’s the fire that the early church had?

Beth Moore wrote a blog posting this week called: “Is this it? Is this what Jesus meant?” (Check it out HERE.) Her words gave my heart a check. I want to see this outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I want to experience God working through me. We are told that we would have more of that in the “last days.” Where is it in America? Why are we not experiencing an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on this American soil? Are we washed up – so far gone that we just can’t muster enough gumption to do what we’re called to do as Jesus’ body? Where’s the fire? Aren’t we supposed to experience these things like before? Are the kids in Vermont just going to be lost forever?

Anne Graham Lotz also had a blog posting concerning this American Eclipse that is about to occur August 21 (check it out HERE.) God said in the beginning that He put the sun, moon and stars in the sky as a sign and to mark the seasons/festivals (Genesis 1:14). I have heard that God uses the sun as a sign for Gentile nations and the moon as a sign for the Jewish nation. So, if this is a sign for us in America, what is it about? Here are a few interesting facts that I have learned over the last couple of days.

It starts on the west coast at the exact minute that the sun goes down in Israel – which is the start of the last month (Elul) of the Jewish year 5777 (considered the year of completion). Also, there will be another American eclipse seven years later in April 8, 2024; the first day of Nisan on the Jewish calendar. There is a point of intersection between the first and second eclipse path at the intersection of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. X marks the spot. Time will tell why this spot is marked.

There was a European total eclipse on August 21, 1914. Two months later with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand World War I began. The war ended on November 11, 1918 which was just a few months after the American solar eclipse on June 8. In 1918 was the great flu pandemic that killed more people than the Great War. The flu killed over 50 million people from 1918 to 1920. There were also sixteen earthquakes throughout the world that year that registered more than 7.0. There were thirty with a magnitude of 6.0 to 6.9. What does 2017 American Eclipse hold for us and the world? Time will tell.

God is gracious to us to warn us before events take place. Time will tell what this eclipse and the one to come will bring. But we are not to be a stiff-neck people who do not pay attention or heed the call to change. The church is called to repent. We cannot be the light and live like the devil. I think God is calling us to a new level of commitment or I should say back to the same level as in the days of old. Time will tell.

Are you crying out to God yet? Time may not be on our side. If the clock is ticking, let’s be faithful in this last hour. Let’s teach the children about this great God and our loving Savior. We may be forewarned, but we have to heed the warnings and do something now. God, give us the boldness to tell others Your Story to save lives for your glory.

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Acts 2:37-38,40

A New Rhythm

We had a rather nasty storm roll through our area last week causing high wind. My yard was covered in pine cones and sticks. This past Sunday was gorgeous, and I decided to enjoy the afternoon picking up sticks (and pine cones). The morning was spent in church, and I also listened to another service on line. I was ready to digest the messages I heard. Something about activity helps me to process information as well as gives me head space for the Holy Spirit to speak.

While I was outside doing my thing, there were a couple of teenagers who walked by. I heard them coming when they turned the corner to come down my street. They had some type of music playing (loudly) while they walked. As they walked by, I thought it would be cool to have a soundtrack playing as we walked through our lives. What would my soundtrack be? The theme from Rocky? An Enya tune (is she still around)? Something peppy? Or something low key? Or something dramatic with anticipation for the moment? As I was contemplating that thought, my mind drifted into the messages I heard.

On Saturday, I listened to a speaker (Lisa Nichols) who gave a very inspirational talk concerning her book Abundance Now. She had a couple of points that were worth writing down and remembering. In her teen years, Lisa told a story how her grandmother encouraged her before a big swim meet. The meet was going to be an impossible feat as she was competing in an older age class. Her grandmother told her “winners never quit, and quitters never win; and she was not a quitter.”

At the start of the race, Lisa began to repeat “Winners never quit, quitters never win;” over and over. It became her cadence for her strokes. When she flipped for her turn, she saw her close competitor, but she thought they were in competition for dead last. When she finally touched the wall, she was alone – no one was even close to finishing beside her. She had out swum everyone in the heat and set a national record. That saying became the “soundtrack” that played throughout the tough times in her life. I must admit I was a bit envious of Lisa’s story. It’s powerful with lots of things to contemplate.

For the last week or so, I have been pondering my vision or my goals for my life. I don’t seem to have anything really out there to strive for. I don’t really have something I want to accomplish before I die. Sure, I want to have a great legacy; to mark my time here on earth. But I have no clue what I should do for God’s Kingdom. These thoughts led to the message from Sunday morning. That message was “shameless audacity” for praying bold prayers. The pastor said, “The size of your prayers shows the size of your God.”

Hmmm, my prayers seem to be rather anemic right now. I have had a few times in my life where I have prayed specifically for God to act and He did. But this is not a general characteristic of my prayer life. I throw out generalities and ask God to handle things (in His will). If I want God to act in a BIG way, then I have to ask persistently and ask them boldly for His intervention. The pastor mentioned he believed that God likes for us to ask for BIG things – it actually honors Him when we believe He can do what we ask of Him. Prayers shouldn’t be a formality, but a heart turned toward Him – seeking Him HARD! Pursuing Him with shameless audacity.

Lisa didn’t know she had a national title in her, but her grandmother knew of her potential. God knows our potential as well. He knows what He has put in us. But we have to be willing to get in the water and start making the waves by our strokes. We have to be in bold prayer to ask God to move mightily in us and through us. We need to listen to the right soundtrack and make sure we have people in our corner who will cheer us on. There is a point of intersection where our desires and His Kingdom come together.

Swimmers have racing lanes. We each run our own race. God didn’t give everyone the same vision. We all have an individual lane marked out for us. But we’ll never get to the wall if we quit now. I want to finish well, and break all the barriers to a fruitful life. Winners never quit, and our victory has already been won! Thank you, Jesus! Honor God with bold requests, and watch Him do amazing things!

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10)

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