A Prayer for America

pray-for-AmericaPrayer prayed for the National Day of Prayer by Pastor Greg Laurie, honorary chairman for the NDOP in Washington, DC, May 2nd, 2013:

Father, we come to You to pray for our nation, the United States of America.

How You have blessed us through the years, Lord! We rightly sing, “America, America, God shed His grace on thee.” Yet we see trouble in our culture today. We see the breakdown of the family, crippling addictions, and random acts of horrific violence.

Lord, we need Your help in America. In recent days, we have done our best to remove Your Word and Your counsel from our courtrooms, classrooms, and culture. It seems, as President Lincoln once said, that we have “forgotten God.” But Lord, You have not forgotten us! You can bless and help and revive our country again.

Scripture tells us that “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). Lord, in Your mercy, we ask that You would exalt our country again. We have had a number of great awakenings in America. We have experienced times of refreshing, and revivals that changed not only the spiritual but also the moral landscape. As the psalmist said, “Will You not revive us again, so that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Psalm 85:6).

That is our prayer for America today, Lord. Send a mighty spiritual awakening that will turn the hearts of men and women, boys and girls, back to you. You have told us if we will humble ourselves and pray, and seek Your face and turn from our wicked ways, that You will forgive our sins and heal our land (2 Chronicles7:14).

Forgive us today, Lord, and heal this troubled land that we love so much.

We ask all of this in the name of Jesus Christ.

Amen.

3 Questions to Ask Before You Act

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. (1 Corinthians 10:23-24 ESV)

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV)

  1. Will this help the other person? Will what you are about to do satisfy a need (not necessarily a want) of the person for whom you plan to do it? Meeting every “want” someone has ultimately ends up hurting, not helping. Helping requires discernment. Sometimes people around you view wants as needs. Your “no’s” may be as critical as your “yeses.”
  2. Will the other person be better because of what I am about to do? To build up literally means to “build a house.” Will what you are doing add to the other person? This requires having a vision for the other person that sees them not only as they are but as who they can be. In parenting, Smalley and Trent call this “picturing a special future.” If you’re a leader at work, you see your staff member as a supervisor, shift leader, or vice-president. If you’re a teacher, you see your student walking across the stage and graduating one day.
  3. Will this glorify God? A simple non-theological way to approach this question is: will God’s reputation be enhanced because of what you are about to do or say? Will your actions make his name greater? When all is said and done, will people talk more about you or about God?

You’d Better Run!

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:14 ESV)

fts

Dictionary.com defines flee as to run away, as from danger or pursuers. Idolatry is dangerous. Fleeing is the only sane response. Making it practical, here are five ways to flee idolatry:

  1. End ungodly relationships. The right relationship with the wrong person is still the wrong relationship.  Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. (Proverbs 13:20 ESV)
  2. End ungodly habits. Stephen Covey said, “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) What you do today will determine who you are tomorrow.
  3. Don’t just run from–run to. If you flee idolatry without running to God, you will replace your old idol with another one.  The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10 ESV)
  4. Begin godly relationships. You are not designed to walk alone. From the beginning, God knew Adam should not be alone so he made a helper for him. John called this walking in the light:  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7 ESV)
  5. If you fall down, don’t freak out, ‘fess up.  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9 ESV) God is faithful when you fail. Run to him.

A Prayer for Saturday

From The Valley of Vision, a book of Puritan prayers:

My God, I bless you that you have given me the eye of faith to see you as Father, to know you as a covenant God, to experience your love planted in me; for faith is the grace of union by which I spell out my entitlement to you.

Faith casts my anchor upward where I trust in you and engage you to be my Lord.

Be pleased to live and move within me, breathing in my prayers, inhabiting my praises, speaking in my words, moving in my actions, living in my life, causing me to grow in grace.

Your bounteous goodness has helped me believe, but my faith is weak and wavering, its light dim, its steps tottering, its increase slow, its backsliding frequent; it should scale the heavens, but lies groveling in the dust.

Lord, fan this divine spark into glowing flame.

When faith sleeps, my heart becomes an unclean thing, the fount of every loathsome desire, the cage of unclean lusts all fluttering to escape, the noxious tree of deadly fruit, the open wayside of earthly tares.

Lord, awake faith to put forth its strength until all heaven fills my soul and all impurity is cast out.

The Mind of Christ

All is not lost. There is hope. Look at Paul’s words:

I have the desire to do what is right (Romans 7:18)

I delight in the law of God in my inner being (Romans 7:22)

The law of my mind (Romans 7:23)

Here we see the opposite of the flesh, the archenemy of the enemy within. This is why the most miserable people on earth are not sinners, but believers who have chosen to live a life of sin. They are the most desperate, the most despairing of all. Why? Because inside them is a desire to do the right thing.  Look again at verse 18. The New American Standard renders it: the willing is present in me. The word present here literally means to lie near.

When we accept Jesus by faith, we have the desire to do the right thing. That’s why a man and woman can come to Christ and feel convicted about living together unmarried. That’s why an alcoholic feels badly when she takes another drink. That’s why a lust-filled man has a sense of satisfaction when he refuses to lust after another woman. The willing is present in them. That desire lies in wait for temptation. And when temptation presents itself, that desire says, “No.”

What is your ally? A renewed mind.

Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…so that you may prove what God’s will is, His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

What is the problem? Our minds aren’t renewed. We spend our time thinking about our failures, planning our next step into sin, anticipating the next direction we’re going to take. Our thinking processes have never changed from our sinful way of life. The problem is that we carry old patterns of thinking into our lives with Christ. There is a conflict between the old nature and the new nature, between the old way of thinking and the new way of thinking.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV)

When you and I come to know Christ, we are given the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us. As He resides within you, He gives you the views, the feelings, the temperament of Christ. You are able to think like Jesus Christ. You are able to make decisions like Christ would make. You are able to respond to situations as Jesus Christ would.

What is the sin that continues to tangle you up? How does your thinking need to change? Change it today.

A Prayer and a Practice

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.  (1 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV)

When you come to know Christ, you are given the Holy Spirit who lives inside of you. As He resides within you, He gives you the views, the feelings, and the temperament of Christ. You are able to think like Jesus Christ. You are able to make decisions like Christ would make. You are able to respond to situations as Jesus Christ would.

“How can I do this?” you may ask. “How can I reinforce this ally that fights against my old sinful nature?”

I want to be very practical here. I want to suggest a prayer and a practice. The prayer comes from Robert McGhee’s work, Search for Freedom.

Dear Lord, I have believed the wrong thought of (name the thought). I hate thinking this thought. This thought is not a healthy one for me. It is against what you want me to think. I want to bring my thoughts into obedience to your thoughts. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). I also want to think about things that are worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8) Thank you for forgiving me, for accepting this thought that has affected my life so negatively. I now, by my own free will, choose to replace the wrong thought of (name the thought) with what you want me to think. The next time I think that wrong thought, help me to tell you and change it. Thank you for the truth that sets me free.

The practice: memorize Bible verses. Scripture is the most powerful tool used by the Holy Spirit to renew the mind. Scripture verses, when applied to your heart, can change your life. The Spirit uses the Word. And when the Word is in our hearts, we will advance—not retreat.

Walk Down a Different Street

This is my version of a poem originally written by Portia Nelson. I didn’t agree completely with some of her statements, so I adjusted them. Some of you need to walk down a different street today. Not tomorrow…today.

Day 1: Today I walked down a street. I fell into a hole. I did not see the hole until I had fallen in. I climbed out.

Day 2: Today I walked down the same street. I saw the hole. I knew it was there all along. I got caught up in the crowd and fell into the hole again. I climbed out.

Day 3: Today I walked down the street. I knew right where the hole was. All of a sudden, my attention was drawn to an accident. And before I had realized it, I had fallen into the hole again. I climbed out.

Day 4: Today I walked down the street. I saw the hole ahead of time and I walked on the other side of the street.

Day 5: Today I walked down a different street.

Unrequited Faithfulness

Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.” (Ruth 4:9-10 ESV)

It is one thing to do something for someone who can return the favor. People do it everyday. Kids do chores so they can get an allowance. Employees work to get a paycheck. Friends do favors because they hope for one in return. In stating his purpose, Boaz clearly communicated his reason for buying the property: to honor three dead guys. That’s right. He did what he did for someone who would never be able to say “thank you.” Boaz practiced unrequited faithfulness.

Unrequited means unreciprocated, unreturned. There is no way Boaz can get any return on his investment. Elimelech, Chilion and Mahlon have died. They can’t say “please” nor can they say “thank you.” Boaz is practicing unrequited faithfulness.

Today you will most likely encounter someone who will never know the sacrifice you’re making, the burden you’re carrying, the pain you’re enduring–to help them. In those interactions, know that there is an unseen Observer who initially commands and ultimately rewards. It is He whom you are serving. Serve Him today.

A Prayer for Mundane Devotion

O Lord,
Whose power is infinite and wisdom infallible,
Order things that they may neither hinder, nor discourage me,
nor prove obstacles to the progress of thy cause;
Stand between me and all strife, that no evil befall,
no sin corrupt my gifts, zeal, attainments.

May I follow duty and not any foolish device of my own;
Permit me not to labour at work which thou wilt not bless,
that I may serve thee without disgrace or debt;
Let me dwell in thy most secret place under thy shadow,
where is safe impenetrable protection from
the arrow that flieth by day,
the pestilence that walketh in darkness,
the strife of tongues,
the malice of ill-will,
the hurt of unkind talk,
the snares of company,
the perils of youth,
the temptations of middle life,
the mournings of old age,
the fear of death.

I am entirely depended upon thee for support, counsel, consolation.
Uphold me by thy free Spirit,
and may I not think it enough to be preserved from falling,
but may I always go forward, always abounding in the work which thou gives me to do.
Strengthen me by thy Spirit in my inner self
for every purpose of my Christian life.

All my jewels I give to the shadow of the safety that is in thee–
my name anew in Christ,
my body, soul, talents, character,
my success, wife, children friends, work,
my present, my future, my end.
Take them, they are thine, and I am thine, now and forever.

From The Valley of Vision (page 244)

Mundane Devotion

Mundane means common or ordinary. Devotion is defined as profound dedication. The high drama of Ruth’s story often causes us to lose sight of her mundane devotion. Listen to these summary words at the end of Chapter 2:

So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law. (Ruth 2:23 ESV)

After Ruth’s first encounter with Boaz, she reaped throughout the barley and wheat harvests. Barley is ready first. The wheat is harvested about fifty days later. For at least (probably more) fifty days, Ruth got up early and got home late. She walked the distance from the town of Bethlehem to the fields of Boaz to harvest wheat. A foreigner in a strange land, she stood out among the other poor women of Bethlehem. She had become a scavenger for bread in the House of Bread.

Ruth practiced mundane devotion. It’s really an oxymoron. Mundane devotion. Ordinary but profound dedication. Ruth worked through long hot days in the field. She gleaned behind the other reapers. For almost two months Ruth lived off of Boaz’s leftovers. She was content with crumbs from the table. And she carried those crumbs to the woman who had nicknamed herself Bitter. Bitter had come home to Bethlehem and was resigned to a diet of bread crumbs–leftovers.

You must remember that we are privy to the rest of the story. Ruth had no idea how this would turn out. God did. Ruth had no idea that chapter 3 was following chapter 2 and that her story would unfold the way it did. She did not know her story would be written down and that millions would read about it!

She practiced mundane devotion.

Mundane devotion is the wife who cares for her suddenly ill husband.

Mundane devotion is the parent of a special needs child.

Mundane devotion is working in the shadows while someone else basks in the sunshine.

Mundane devotion is giving with no strings attached.

Mundane devotion is praying privately for God to work publicly.

Ruth practiced mundane devotion.

Do you?