#Prayerlife

Taylor shouldered through the people gathered at the entrance to the event center. “What’s going on?” he asked his friend Drake, who was busy looking around. Drake jumped. “Dude, you scared me. I told you not to sneak up on me like that!” Taylor laughed. “Man, you in a crowd full of people. How you gonna say I snuck up on you?” The two boys bumped fists. Drake turned to Taylor. “You think we can get his autograph? This place is crazy pumped. He might not stay around long enough.” Taylor smiled. “I’m staying all night if I have to. I don’t care how long the line is.” They were finally wanded and waived through. 

When the youth minister had broke the news that Kanye West was going to perform at the conference, the room had exploded. Everyone was bouncing off the walls. Ever since Kanye had announced his conversion to Chirstianity, Taylor’s entire youth group had been praying for him. They had talked and recognized that Kanye was in a strategic position to affect millions of people for the cause of Christ.

Taylor and Drake found a place to sit and made their way back out to get drinks from a vendor. Their youth minister had told them there was no way they could sit together as a group so they were told to break into groups of two or three and find somewhere to sit. They’d meet up in the lobby before leaving. The lines for the vendors were long because there were so many people. Drake looked around anxiously. “Man, I hope we don’t miss him waitin’ in this line.” Taylor nodded his head. Drake turned toward Taylor. “Are you listening to me?” Taylor nodded again. Drake noticed that Taylor had his eyes closed. “What are you doing?” Taylor finally opened his eyes wide and stared at Drake. “I’m tryna pray man! You keep interruptin’!” Drake held up his hands. “My bad. What you prayin’ for?” Taylor looked up at the ceiling and tried to avoid the question. “Taylor!” Drake crossed his arms and stood there with raised brows. Taylor looked at the ground and rubbed the back of his neck. “I was praying that we’d get to get Kanye’s autograph.” Drake rolled his eyes. “And how does that benefit the K.O.G.?” Taylor laughed. Their youth leader had shortened Kingdom of God to K.O.G. and created a song to the tune of O.P.P., which they later found out was some dirty song from the 90s. 

“I guess it doesn’t. I just really wanted to meet him. I know he hasn’t always been a good role model but I’ve been praying for him.” Drake nodded his head. “Yeah, me too.” They finally made it to the front of the kiosk and were about to place their order when some guy in a hoodie rushed up and broke the line. “Hey man, can I get ahead? He shook Taylor’s hand and quickly ordered from the vendor. “I need a water.”  Taylor was too shocked to react. As he released the man’s hand he caught a glimpse of his face. Taylor’s mouth dropped open and the guy put a finger to his lips as he grinned. He disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. Drake ordered and bumped Taylor. “What’re you gettin, man?” Taylor came to himself and placed his order and paid. As they walked back to their seat, Taylor realized that God had answered his prayer above and beyond more than he had asked for.    

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:18

OPERATION: ACTIVATE

What is your prayer life like? Have you positioned yourself to receive all that God wants to give you? Live holy, love God, love others. Pray for others, especially those in places of authority or influence for the Kingdom of God. 

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Listening

Another Nicholas Story

Anna sighed as she threw her backpack into the seat beside her and buckled up. 

“How was school today?” Mom asked as she pulled out of the car rider line and onto the street.

“It was okay, but Nicholas got in trouble again.” Anna said.

“Again?” Mom asked. “What did he do this time?” Nicholas had become the central character of many after school discussions and teaching points.

“Today, he was jumping chairs and running in the hall. Mrs. Baker told him to stop several times. When we went to PE, he threw a ball at Kyle and hit him in the face. After that, the teacher sent him to the office. I don’t know why Nicholas won’t just listen. He acts bad and gets in trouble every day. It’s like he wants to get in trouble.”

Mom shook her head again. “I understand that feeling.” Mom said.

Anna met Mom’s eyes in the rearview mirror as they waited at the stop sign. “You do? What do you mean?”

Mom pulled out onto the road and continued the conversation. “Well, sometimes I act that way with God. I know He has to be shaking His head over my behavior when I don’t listen. I try to do things my way instead of God’s way and that’s when I get in trouble, or sin. I don’t want to be disobedient to God, but I do want to have my way. Maybe that’s Nicholas’s problem. He doesn’t want to be disobedient to the teacher, but he also wants to get his way. That doesn’t always happen.”

“Wow, I’ve never thought about it like that.” Anna said. “All this time I just thought he was bad. Maybe he doesn’t listen because he doesn’t know how.” Mom pulled into the garage and turned to Anna. “Anna, that is very insightful. I hadn’t even thought about it that way. Sometimes I want my way more than God’s way and I don’t know how to listen. How much easier would our lives be if we just learned to listen and were obedient to what God has already told us in His Word?”

Anna clapped excitedly. “Oh, that’s like my memory verse for this week. It’s James 1:22. “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” 

“Good job Anna Banana! That’s something we ALL need to do.”

Follow Up Verse

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28

F. I. T. – Follow It Through

Are you listening to what God says and doing it? If not, ask for forgiveness and then do what God says.

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Purpose Revised

After thinking about my identity, I began to start thinking about my purpose. For the longest time, I have been confusing my purpose with my identity. What I am, or see myself to be, is my purpose, therefore, what my medium of employment should be. Like, my job had to be “God ordained”, and if I wasn’t in a certain job, then that couldn’t be the right job because God had led me to do this other thing, right? (LOL) 

I based all my future expectations on this one step in my life. Then that step was supposed to lead to the next logical step. However, as we all know, God usually moves in mysterious ways, not logical ways. He even warns us that He’s going to fake left when we think He’s going right. Proverbs 3:5-6 states: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” 

The Good News Translation says it even better: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know.” (LOL) This led me to a purpose revised.

A Purpose Revised

For over ten years now, I have been chasing, fighting, and forcing my way into something that was MY plan and MY expectation, but not necessarily God’s purpose for me. When He revealed my misconceptions, I felt a bit foolish, but He comforted me with a few facts:

#1 – Nothing is ever wasted. No trial, tear, or heartache and no joy, accomplishment, or victory will sit on a shelf unused.

#2 – Training will be ongoing until I get to heaven. I cannot be perfect here. And, just because He uses something to teach me a lesson, doesn’t mean I should focus on that method to the point of obsession, excluding all other methods. I don’t always have to learn the hard way.

#3 – Purpose has TWO definitions, neither of which are my identity.  As a noun, purpose means the reason for which something is done or created for, or for which something exists. We have a collective purpose as Christians to tell others what Christ has done for us and what He can do for them. As an individual, the verb definition, to have as one’s intention or objective, is more suitable. Therefore, I can choose my medium of purpose so that it is specific to me. 

For example: My intention or objective (purpose) is to tell others what Christ has done for me and what He can do for them through writing. I can write devotionals to help others draw nearer to God, I can write Bible studies to help people learn who God is and how He wants to interact with them, I can write fiction stories that teach Biblical truths in a way that might reach those who wouldn’t otherwise pick up a Bible.

Conclusion

The point is, my purpose is the same no matter what. It doesn’t depend on the type of employment I have and it is not to be confused with my identity. And, a lack of employment doesn’t mean that I am not fulfilling my purpose or that my identity has changed. Jobs, like seasons, change over time.  God moves us as He sees fit. He is our security. 

Also, our identity is found in Him. If you try to find it anywhere else, you will be discouraged and disappointed every time. 1Peter 2:9 says 

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Likewise, Galatians 2:20 says

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Then John 15:15 reminds us

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

Why? For what purpose? Ephesians 2:10 says  

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Expedition: Present and Future – You are NEW

So my final questions to you are these: What is YOUR purpose? And what have you PURPOSED to do in your life? Your present and future will be affected by what your answers to these questions are. You will have to make a choice. You will have to choose to let some things go (bitterness, unforgiveness, expectations). You will have to choose to pick some things up (discipline, accountability, responsibility), and then move forward in the revised version of life.  Philippians 3:13-14 says

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

We have to know who we are and live intentionally every day. How can you tell someone else who they are in Christ if you don’t know who you are?

This expedition won’t be easy so I suggest you find a few trusted friends to help you along the way, because being a hero is hard. We need someone to help us carry the burden. Even though we are heroes, we are still human. And no matter how much we say or demonstrate otherwise, we need other humans for help and support. It’s too hard to make it alone.

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

This is the ultimate lesson that every superhero learns. We are stronger together than we are apart. And this is the lesson that God wants us to learn, too. He is always with us, so we are not alone. We are stronger together than we are apart.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Holy Father,

Thank you God that you have provided all we will ever need to be victorious in Christ. Thank you Lord that you love us with so great a love that it can never be diminished. You will never love us more or love us less based on how we perform. Jesus, show us who we are in you so that we can show the world who you are in us. 

In Jesus’s name, Amen! 

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