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Archive for the tag “James MacDonald”

If Then Statement

Have you noticed lately there has been an emphasis on prayer? Priscilla Shirer wrote the Armor of God Bible Study a couple of years ago, which begins with prayer as the first step to putting on the armor. The movie War Room came out about that same time, which is about getting on our knees before God; crying out to Him. Anne Graham Lotz just recently released a book called The Daniel Prayer; again about getting on our knees before God. There must be something to this that we need to understand for these times. I think we are at a crossroads in our culture today. I think God is preparing us to be battle ready for whatever is coming next.

I also think in order to be ready; our hearts have to be right before God. In James 5:16 we are told that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James goes on to write in the following verses that Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

Pastor James MacDonald is currently preaching a series on Breakthrough Prayer. Pastor James pointed out a few things in the Book of James that needs to be considered. In James 4:16 we are told to confess our sins to one another so that we will be healed – spiritually. Sin is a blockage to prayer. Elijah was in the midst of a battle. He didn’t pray for Ahab and Jezebel to be struck by lightning – he could have – they were a thorn in his side to his effective ministry. He prayed so that the people would be humbled. Pastor James mentioned that “Elijah prayed a little step on a long journey to bring God’s Kingdom purpose.”

We get caught up in our lives and forget this is a long journey in God’s Kingdom. We have just a small part while we are here for this short amount of time. But God has the long range view. We get messed up with this short life with all the complications, thorns in our side and our panties in a twist. It’s hard not to. But if our hearts are lined with God’s; we would pray like Elijah and ask for God’s Kingdom purpose to be fulfilled in our time. We could be instruments that God uses that would change kingdoms and nations just like Elijah.

I am currently reading Beth Moore’s Audacious. There is a chapter titled “You would ask me.” In this chapter, Beth writes about Jesus’ encounter at the well with the Samaritan woman (John 4:4-54). Beth points out this small statement in verse ten “If you only knew” (NLT). The next phrase that stands out to Beth is “You would ask me.” If we only knew then we would ask Jesus.” There’s a promise in this passage as well. “I would give you.” If we only knew then we would ask Jesus and He would give it to you.

If we don’t know, then how are we supposed to ask for it? There’s a catch in the belief system. The prayer of a righteous person; He gives us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4); when we are aligned with God’s heart and know His will. Beth wrote: “The axis of our approach shifts dramatically when we know beyond a doubt that we’re perfectly aligned, asking God for something He is more than anxious to give than we are to receive.” There are some things that God is only going to do through prayer. He would do it if only we would ask.

It all starts with us. Our hearts have to be right. We can have confidence in prayer because of God’s character. He is a good Father and loves His children more than we could ever know or understand. Understand this – God answers, but sometimes it may take a while before the answer comes. Pastor Dhariaus Daniels recently pointed out in a message during Code Orange Revival at Elevation Church that the Israelites cried out to God; God talked to Moses. There was no message back to the people of God. The Israelites continued to cry out and God continued to work on Moses to take the assignment. Sometimes the prayer isn’t being answered immediately because God is working on something or someone behind the scenes. Our call is to persist in prayer until the answer is received or we get an assurance from God that He has heard and the answer is coming. The prayer of the righteous is heard and in God’s time and in God’s way; it will be done. Have confidence in God’s character and His love.

If you only knew + you would ask Me = I would give you. This is the formula for fervent prayer that will change things. Pastor James pointed out in his recent message: “Great prayers come from people like us who choose to pursue God in fervent prayer.”

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT)

Source: Elizabeth Moore, Audacious (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2015) pages 124-129.
James MacDonald, Harvest Bible Chapel, message series Breakthrough Prayer.

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Six Years and Counting

What a difference six years can make. Today is the anniversary of my Mom’s move into her heavenly home. It was extremely heartbreaking to see her depart from this earthly existence. I was by her side as she took her last breath. I remember the moment all too well. I don’t know if that feeling will ever go away. The feeling of loss created a hole in my heart. The hole that I experienced on that day seems to have closed a bit more this year. The heartache is not as acute. I still miss her presence. I still miss her touch. But the pain has lessened with each passing year.

Years ago, I asked for eyes to see. I wanted spiritual insight. I believe God has opened my eyes in certain areas. But in some things I am still blind. Each year that passes though, I believe I am growing. The last four years have been significant in my growth. God put me in a place where I learned more about Him. I am still learning to trust Him in different areas of my life. He has made circumstances to see greater growth. I want to see change happening. I want to be different than I was the last year. Mom once told me I lacked compassion. It was hard to hear, but true nonetheless. God allows certain trials for our growth. I was reading in my “Streams in the Desert” devotional last night which said about trials: “The grandest character is grown in hardship.” Also written in the devotional was this: “Stand up in the place where the dear Lord has put you, and there do your best.”

Pastor James MacDonald spoke this past weekend about problems we face. We have two options concerning our problems. Rationalization or reflection. Rationalization offers excuses. Reflection offers growth. Reflection gives us insight to our problem. Is the problem sin related? What’s my responsibility for the problem? Repent of any actions that have led to the problem. And handle any restitution for wrongdoing. In my past, I could say I easily offer rationalization for any problems I faced. It wasn’t my fault. But upon reflection of my past, I can easily say, most of my problems were my own fault based on my own weaknesses which led to wrong decisions.

Beth Moore’s teaching on “The God who sees” tells us from the story of Hagar found in Genesis 16 how God poses questions in order to reveal our hearts. God asked Hagar “Where did you come from and where are you going?” (Found in verse 8.) Beth says we are caught in the middle of those two questions in the right now moment. God has a strategy in the right now. He has revelation in the right now. But it takes reflection to come to the right understanding of what God is doing in the trial. Hagar was sent back to the place where she once was. But she didn’t go back the same. She had a new revelation of God as the God who sees.

Elijah had a moment when God questioned him after he ran away from the evil Queen Jezebel. Two times God asked Elijah “What are you doing here?” (1 Kings 19:9,13) Elijah offered a rationalization for staying in a cave. But God had a better option. Elijah had a task to do to move the Kingdom forward. We’re all called to tasks to move the Kingdom forward. It’s a matter of reflection of where we are right now. What is God showing us in this right now? It takes time to reflect and be aware of what God is up to in each of our lives. We can’t live in the past. We can’t live in the future. We can plan based on what we know right now. But we always have to defer to God’s plan and His future. It’s God’s story and we’re called to be a part of it. Loss comes, but there is always a brighter hope and a brighter future. Stand up in the right now and see God work through those tough times. He’s into building character!

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 (NLT)

Freaking Out!

It started Friday morning. I guess you could call it a bit of a “freaking out” moment (or two or ten). I am in a desperate place, and the only thing that can save the day is Jesus. I have been pretty self-sufficient most of my life. I have always had a good job, a place to live, plenty of food to eat and love from my family. But is that all what God wants for me? Is it all about my happiness; my well-being? Or does God have a different agenda? Sure, I am blessed to be in the place that I reside – spiritually speaking as well as physically speaking. However, on Friday I was freaking out because I was looking at my current circumstances with an economic picture that isn’t too bright – right now. I don’t know how to resolve my needs – everything I have decided to do has really come to a dead-end.

That afternoon, I took the exit ramp off the freeway to go to the grocery store where I encountered a hand painted sign at the stop light that read “Trust God.” Never seen the sign before, it was just there right where I needed to see it. Thank you, Jesus, for the reminder. My anxiousness left me, until Saturday. Saturday I was mowing my lawn when the lawnmower broke. The anxiety returned – how am I going to fix my mower? My hot water heater too is acting up. How am I going to get a new heater? Anxious moments again filled my heart. My circumstances cause my peace to vanish, and my anxiety to return.

I have been fretting – I don’t worry, fretting sounds better – how all of my problems are going to be resolved? When is the deliverance coming? I have come to the end of my own resources, and God is telling me to trust Him. I get it. I do. He is trustworthy. He is faithful. But I am still anxious about the timing. Is God going to delay the answer so that I can learn a new lesson (or an old lesson that I have yet to grasp)? I know God is not punishing me, but is there another reason that I am not hearing from Him? Has an answer been sent that I missed along the way? Is there sin left unchecked? These are the things that circulate in my mind when I am fretting. Is there any truth to what is circulating?

These are irritations to my little life in my comfortable bubble. James MacDonald was teaching this past weekend in a Southeast Asian country that is closed to the Gospel. He reminded me in his teaching that God has a different agenda than what we see in human terms. His agenda is not about our comfort; it’s not about our happiness. Pastor MacDonald said it’s not even about justice or even God’s love shown to the people of the world. It’s greater than all of that. God’s agenda is really about God’s glory, and the exaltation of His Son Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. Pastor MacDonald gave the point, that “when we take care of what’s on God’s heart then He’ll take care of what’s on ours.” Point served and received.

When I am stressing about my future, I am seeing it through my own eyes. There’s more to my circumstance than I can see with my physical eyes. Psalm 118:17 says “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.” My troubles are not for me to wallow in but to give God the glory in. I may not see how things will work out right now, but God’s Word says it’s all good – He’s got this (my interpretation of Romans 8:28). Stay tuned to see how God fixes my mess! And seriously, is my mess really that important in the grand scheme of life and death? Nope, I will live through the trial regardless of what the outcome will be.

“What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself. Luke 12:29-32 (The Message)

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