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3 Ways to Break the Crazy Cycle

The crazy cycle.  You know that cycle of insanity of doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome to happen, that never happens.  Instead the exact opposite happens a downward spiral of nowhere good.

We’ve all been on it.  We’ve all engaged in it.  So how do we stay out of this crazy cycle?

I’m no expert.  Even though I’ve been married 16 years, I still get caught in the trap of the crazy cycle, if I’m not careful.

If we know the crazy cycle is detrimental to our relationships then why do we continue to get caught in this trap?

I think because we each want to be heard and see each others hearts, but somehow craziness erupts instead leaving us feeling hurt and frustrated.  Over the years I’ve discovered what works, what doesn’t work and what I’m still working on.  Marriage isn’t a one and done, I’ve got all the answers and figured it out kind of deal.   It’s a forever refining process that reveals our flaws and weaknesses and if we allow it, transforms us into the best version of ourselves.

Here are 3 Ways to Break the Crazy Cycle:

Respond don’t react.  “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end” (Proverbs 29:11).

I don’t know about you, but I never feel good about myself when I react in anger.  What I have learned over the years getting angry at the situation will never get me closer to the outcome I desire.  Whenever I stop, calm down, then respond, I never regret it.  The best thing we can do is recognize when the crazy cycle is about to happen.  Instead of reacting out of emotion and engaging in the crazy cycle the better response is BE CALM.

Come up with statements, ‘Let me think about that first and I will get back to you.‘ Or, ‘I need to calm down, I’m going to go for a walk, then I will address this when I get back.’  By temporarily walking away (not avoiding) it helps dial down the heat of the moment.  I am also a big fan of acronyms.  Here are two that have helped me.  Before responding use the *THINK acronym, is it TRUE, is it Helpful, is it Inspiring, is it Necessary, or Kind?

There is also the HALT acronym, am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired?  Chances are if we are one of these things we will not react well.  Identifying and recognizing underlying factors can help tremendously in our responses.

Listen and Be Available. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” (James 1:19).

Over the years I’ve had to really work on this one.  There is an art to listening.  Listening can be so powerful.  It just lets the person know I hear you and I empathize what you are going through.  We don’t have to offer advice.  We don’t have to fix it, we can just make ourselves available so the other person can vent.  Allowing for opportunities to hear one another in non-confrontational scenarios creates a loving environment that has potential for growth.

Forgive.  “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Without forgiveness, marriage wouldn’t be able to exist.  Forgiveness is the crux to marriage.  To forgive is to love and to love is to forgive.  Forgiveness allows us to turn away from destructive habits, allows us to take a step back and see what is triggering this cycle again, and gives us a glimpse into how God’s grace continually forgives us.

Forgiveness is a powerful tool in looking inwardly at ourselves to learn from our mistakes and unlearn bad habits that keep us in the crazy cycle.Click To Tweet

In the Bible, there is a story of a crippled man who sat by a healing pool.  By this pool laid multiple invalids who were blind, lame and paralyzed (John 5:2).  However this one day, Jesus arrives to the scene and approaches one crippled man in particular.  Jesus knew this particular man had been there a greater part of his life of 38 years and asks a very important questions, “Do you want to be healed?”

The invalid man, didn’t know how to respond, of course he wanted to be healed, he was sitting by a pool that could heal him.  But this isn’t how he answered.  He responds to Jesus, not with an immediate yes, but with a few reasons why he can’t quite get down to the healing pool.  Jesus replies, ‘that is not what I’m asking you, if you want to be healed pick up your mat and walk’ (paraphrased John 5:7).  

This man was hesitant to accept this miraculous gift of healing because the only thing he’s ever known was dysfunction and disability.  He’s lived his entire life begging and making a living as a cripple, which has served him well until this point.  Talk about crazy cycle, doing the same thing over and over for 38 years expecting something different to happen!  If he was healed then he was going to have to learn how to provide for himself instead on relying on others.

Just because this crippled man became comfortable living in the chaos of the crazy cycle doesn’t mean this is what God intends for us or what is good for us.

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33Click To Tweet

Let me say that again, Chaos does not need you.  The crazy cycle will only keep us in a state of chaos, which is exactly what the enemy wants for us.  When you feel the tug of the chaos, that crazy cycle pulling you in, don’t react, respond when calm, listen and forgive.

Chaos is the enemy’s way to get us engaged in his plan to pull us down and lure us away.  Don’t fall for it.  Be smarter than the crazy cycle so we can engage in God’s purpose and plan for us to transform our lives.

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The Second Chance That Saved My Life

The Second Chance That Saved My Life

Are you getting ready for Easter?  I love this time of year, for what it represents and the rich gifts that God gives us even when we don’t deserve them.

Have you ever been a second chance that saved your life?  

God has given me so many second chances I didn’t even deserve.  I’m so thankful for second chances and wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

One man in the Bible reminds me of a second chance that saved his life.   His name was Barabbas and he was a criminal convicted of committing murder in a rebellion (Mark 15:7).

It was during the time of Passover and every year the Roman governor would release a prisoner to the people of their choice (Matt. 27:15).  Jesus had been arrested and was in custody of Roman authorities.  Barabbas was a well-known prisoner among the people.  When Pilate asked, “Whom do you want me to release to you?  Barabbas or Jesus, the people knew exactly who each one was.

Pilate was convicted that he was persecuting an innocent man because Jesus wasn’t guilty of any crime under Roman law.  Jesus couldn’t be prosecuted under Jewish law during Passover because the Jews couldn’t crucify anyone during that time.  So Jesus was to be prosecuted under Roman Law.

When both men were in the judgment seat, Pilate’s wife tells her husband “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man (Jesus) for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”  (Matt. 27:19).

But the chief priests and elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed (Matt. 27:20).  When Pilate asked, which one do you want me to release?  The crowd shouted, Barabbas! Then Pilate asked, what should I do with Jesus?  The crowd shouted, “Crucify Him!”  Pilate then questions their decision and asks, why, what crime has he committed?  They shouted even louder, Crucify Him!  (Matt.21-23).

Pilate felt so guilty about the outcome he took water and washed his hands before the crowd and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood” (Matt 27:24).  “Then he released Barabbas to them” (Matt. 27:26).

Can you even imagine this scene?  A prisoner who committed murder being set free!  And Jesus a man who committed no crime under Roman law sent to be crucified!?!?!

I can’t imagine what Barabbas was thinking, I was just set free!  He merely received his freedom by default all because the crowd wanted to persecute Jesus.  I can’t help to think of the parallels in Barabbas’ story.  He was a man guilty of a crime and set free.  He was given a second chance at freedom something he didn’t even deserve!

Barabbas being set free and Jesus taking his place on the cross was a foreshadowing of our future story of what Jesus was going to accomplish for us.  Barabbas’ name actually means “Son of Abba” or father.  How coincidental the meaning of the criminal’s name who was released is the very thing that Jesus is to us, “Son of God,” our Father.

I wonder what Barabbas’s life was like after he was released.  I wonder if he was thankful for his second chance at freedom or if he just reverted back to his old criminal habits?  If I were Barabbas I would have been convicted of the new freedom granted to me.

Jesus someone who was innocent and didn't deserve to die took our place for us instead. Click To Tweet

I wonder if Barabbas was at Jesus’ crucifixion, standing at the cross thinking, this man saved my life and set me free (in more ways than we could ever imagine).  I wonder if Barabbas looked at Jesus on the cross and thought, he took my place, that could have been me.  

This whole scene sounds barbaric with the crowd yelling, “Crucify Him!”  In the end, we can point fingers about who was to blame for the death of Jesus.  In reality, it was all apart of God’s plan for us to be set free and forgiven. The only way for us to receive this amazing gift, was for God to sacrifice His only Son for us.

'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.' John 3:16Click To Tweet

Barabbas’s story is a physical representation of what God does for us every day.  How he extends us His mercy and grace, even when we don’t deserve it.  We are all criminals (sinners)  just like Barabbas.  I once was lost but now I’m found.  God’s second chance of mercy and grace has saved and changed my life forever.

We are all given a second chance at freedom, just like Barabbas.  

Have you ever been given a second chance that saved your life?  Please Share!

The second chance God has given me has changed my life forever.

You have been set free.  What an amazing and wonderful gift!  Happy Easter!

Prayer–Lord, Set me Free from my burdens and the things I cannot control.  Set me free from anything weighing me down not allowing me to live how you designed me to live, in freedom.  I love you and praise you, God.  I thank you, God, for sending Jesus to take my place even when I didn’t deserve it.  Thank you for giving second chances. Forgive me of my sins.  You have set me free, Lord.  Thank you, in Jesus name.  Amen

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The One I Admire Most (Leaders Worth Following)

President’s Day has passed and I’m reflecting on a very important question that our country’s foundation is based upon, many of us may think of but may take a passive approach in answering.

What leader do you admire most?

Who is a leader you esteem worth following?

I finished reading the book “How to Lead When Not in Charge: Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority,” by Clay Scoggins.  This book has changed my way of thinking of what it means to be the authority verses being a person of influence.  He identifies what separates a good leader from a great one.

Great leaders love people well.

Great leaders live and lead in a way that’s worth emulating.

Great leaders are lifetime learners.

Great leaders make others feel valued and appreciated.

Great leaders forgive well.

Great leaders lead by action.

Great leaders sacrifice themselves for the good of others.

Great leaders admit their failures.

What do think makes a great leader?

Clay Scoggins challenges us to write down leaders we admire and dissect why do we admire them?

Just to name a few of my favorite leaders Abraham Lincoln, Francis Chan, Corrie Ten Boom, Irena Sendler, and of course Jesus.  I admire all of these leaders for different reasons.

I admire Abraham Lincoln because he was a leader who led by action, admitted his failures and was a lifetime learner.  He defended the defenseless, stood up for social injustice by not following the way the world wanted him to but lead in the direction that was for the greater good of others.

I admire Francis Chan as a leader because he loves others well, lives and leads in a way worth emulating.  Francis Chan’s mission in life is to lead like Jesus.  He doesn’t chase fame or power but the influence of Jesus.

Corrie Ten Boom and Irena Sendler are women after my own heart.  I aspire to be like them.  Corrie and her family hid hundreds of Jews in a secret hiding place in their home to save them from going to concentration camps. Irena saved over two thousand Jewish babies from Nazi death camps.  Both women sacrificed themselves for the good of others, putting others before themselves, which in the end saved the lives of many (Gen. 50:20).

Although all these leaders are great, the one I admire most is Jesus.

Jesus is the ultimate leader.  A leader we all strive to be like.  He changed the trajectory of how leaders should lead not by the words he said, not by throwing around His titles, but by what He did.  Titles such as Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father made Him the highest authority of all.   However, Jesus didn’t use His titles of authority to transform the hearts of people, He used the influence of His mercy and grace.  His role as Humble Servant, Shepherd and Teacher won more hearts than His authority ever did.  He didn’t leverage how much He knew, he leveraged how much we can learn.

'Being a great leader isn't dependent upon having more authority. Great leadership depends upon influence. The more influence cultivated today the more you'll have tomorrow' quote Clay Scoggins.Click To Tweet

Great leaders don’t throw around their clout, beat their chests and say, “I’m in charge!”  They use their influence in a way that inspires others to say, “I want to live and lead like them!”

We don’t have to wait until we’re in a position of authority to make a difference, our time to make a difference is today.  We were all created to be a leader in one or another.  Whatever your role is as a teacher, a parent, a coach, a musician, a caretaker, an administrator or a janitor we all have our roles in God’s greater kingdom.  How we lead here on earth prepares us for our day in heaven.

In order for us to have a chance at being a loving culture, to make a difference where we are, we must emulate the best leader of all.  It starts right here, right now, with US.  I pray and hope we all can live and lead like Jesus.  Be encouraged God isn’t done with us and desires us to live in the best design of ourselves.  You are loved!

Who do you admire most and why?

What leaders do you think are worth following?

How do you leverage your influence when you’re not in charge?

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The Intimacy of Grace

In your own words, what does grace mean to you?

Many of us use the term grace loosely, by putting an introductory word before it, like that’s my saving grace, we sing the song amazing grace, we even say grace around our dinner tables before eating.  Grace is such a beautiful entity by itself and doesn’t really need another presiding word next to it.

What is grace and why do we even need it?

In case you haven’t seen the news lately, our world is a pretty corrupt and evil place.  We need grace like we need oxygen to breathe.

Grace is one of those definitions we can read from a book, but isn’t really understood until we’ve received it.

Grace by definition means the ‘unmerited favor of God towards man.’

Grace is something God freely gives us.  There’s an antinomy of grace which exists where we are all given the free gift of grace, something we could never earn or deserve.  Yet how could we be freely given something without ever earning or deserving it?

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–”  Ephesians 2:8

The answer is simply, because He loves us.  

How many of us have gotten close enough to grace to see what the grace of God really entails? Click To TweetThere are so many pictures of grace in which Jesus shows us He loves us despite our shortcomings, our failures and mistakes.

We see His grace in the story of The Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32, when a father takes back his son after he left and spent all of his inheritance.  He celebrates his return with the fattest cow in the herd to show his son how much he missed and loved him.  He didn’t chastise him.  He didn’t give him a lecture, ‘I told you so.’  He embraced him with his undying love sending the message, ‘you are loved and I missed you.’

We see His grace with Peter in John 21:15-25, when Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?”  He asks him the same question three times in a row, the same amount of times Peter denied Jesus after he was captured by Roman soldiers.  Asking Peter to profess his love for him the same amount of times Peter denied him, invited him into God’s sanctuary of grace allowing him to receive redemption.

We see His grace with the stoning of the adulterous woman in John 8:1-11.  When a woman is brought before Jesus in front of a crowd of people to make judgement upon her for her actions, Jesus responds in a way no one had ever heard or seen before.  Jesus then says to the people, “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.”  Then one by one everyone dropped their stones and walked away.  When no one was left except Jesus and the woman, Jesus asked, “Where are your accusers?  Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said.  And Jesus said, “Neither do I.  Go and sin no more.”

These pictures of grace show me, God doesn’t condemn us but loves us despite our wrongdoing.  Grace doesn’t mean he likes our sin or even agrees with it, but means He never turns his back on us or leaves us.

The definition of Intimacy doesn’t necessarily mean something physical.  By definition intimacy means ‘close familiarity or friendship, closeness.’

There is an intimacy or closeness of grace that we would never receive if we weren’t near Him. In each of the above scenarios, each person received God’s grace when they were in His presence.  When God’s love was poured out to them instead of condemnation.

There isn’t a clause that says, grace covers everyone except the evil and wicked, God’s grace is for everyone who willingly accepts it.  God’s grace is one of those things we keep close by but rarely get close to because we’re afraid there’s something required of us.  There must be something God wants from us in order to give this to us.

God wants US.  He wants our HEARTS.  He desires Us.

Imagine if you were the woman whose life was spared from being stoned.  Imagine if you were given that much love and grace, how would you respond?  I think God’s grace was the deal breaker that changed her life to not want to sin anymore.  When God’s grace is staring at us directly in the face, it’s hard to deny the source of where it came from.

We receive the Intimacy of Grace when:

God pours joy into our pain

God’s love chases us down in the most unlikely places

It doesn’t matter how far lost or gone we are, He will find and embrace unconditionally

God covers our shame and there’s no where else to hide except in his light

Even in our poor choices we receive forgiveness and redemption

We receive his eternal gift of salvation

The most intimate, closest moments I’ve had with God were when I’ve been the most broken.  When I’ve been down on my knees before him alone in prayer and he whispers to me, ‘my child I AM here.’

He loves us so much he sent his son to die for us so we could be with Him in heaven.  The same way the cross brought pain to Jesus is the same cross that brings us freedom.  The same grave that brought death to Jesus, is the same grave that brings victory to us.

The closer we get to God’s grace the clearer we see, there’s nothing we could do to make God not love us more or leave us.  The closer we are the clearer we see his undying, unconditional, eternal love desires us more than anything.  Have you received God’s wonderful gift of grace?  You are loved my friend!

How close have you been to God’s grace?

Do you believe God’s grace is for you?

Did you enjoy this blog post? Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive a FREE E-book “The Jericho Prayer” and a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook pageto catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

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#ShareFourSomethings

Loved- God’s Grace Said-Song by Elevation “Come to the Altar” Learned- You don’t have to be good to be perfect Read- Everybody Always by Bob Goff


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The Demon Who Needed Prayer

Inner Demons.  We all have them.  They’re around every corner, behind every temptation.  We wrestle with them.  We stuff them down so we don’t have to deal with them.  We avoid them.  We lie to ourselves and pretend they don’t exist.  But they are there.  Always lurking around, waiting to take hold of us, to control our lives.  If we’re not careful these inner demons can lead us to places we don’t want to be and take us captive to the point of destruction.

One boy in the Bible, reminds me of what can happen when inner demons take control of our lives.  We don’t know his name, but we all can relate to his story.

In Mark 9, we see the desperate plea of a Father who is frantic to find help for his son.  He approaches Jesus and says, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech.  Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground.  He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid.  I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not” (Mark 9:17-18).

Jesus then says to the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” (Mark 9:21).  The Father answers, “From childhood.”  We have no idea how old his son is or how long he’s been possessed.  But the father paints the picture of torment the boy has endured, telling Jesus the impure spirit often throws the boy into fire and water trying to kill him.  He begs Jesus, ‘if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us’ (Mark9:21-22).

“If you can?” said Jesus.  

'Everything is possible for one who believes' (Mark 9:23). Click To Tweet

How patient God is with us.  Jesus had performed many miracles upto this point.  What was it going to take for people to believe?

Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, 'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!' (Mark 9:24).Click To Tweet

Jesus then rebuked the impure spirit and said, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.  The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out.  Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up  (Mark 9:25-27).”

How many times have we been there, doubting God that He is able?  Everything is possible for one who believes.  When we believe, the unbelievable happens.  Everyone was amazed and shocked at this scene.  The disciples who had previously tried to cast out the demon questioned, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” (Mark 9:28).

Jesus replied, 'This kind can come out only by prayer' (Mark 9:29). Click To Tweet

Wait, you’re telling me the disciples forgot to pray!?!?!  We too can be guilty of trying to handle our demons in our own way by ourselves, forgetting to allow God to handle it.

This story shows me how powerful prayer really is.  Prayer is the language the deaf can hear and the mute can speak.  Back in biblical times, it was believed only the Messiah Himself could cast out mute and deaf demons.  But Jesus tells us, prayer is what the demon understood and what drove it out.

Maybe you’re wrestling with deep, dark hidden demons right now.

Maybe you struggle with finding your worth and value in status, money, external beauty and things of this world. Maybe you’re trying to fill a void by seeking attention in not so good places.  Maybe your demons are shame, doubt, guilt, keeping you in an ugly cycle of brokenness not allowing you to move forward.

We can all relate to effects the demon had on the little boy’s life.  The demon took away his ability to speak, it seized him, paralyzing him from living life.  The demon placed him in harm’s way almost destroying his life to the point of death.   

Whatever your demon is--it needs prayer to drive it out so it will never enter again.Click To Tweet

There is freedom when we release our demons to God.  I promise when we give our demons to God in prayer He will take us by the hand, lift us up, so we can stand just like he did for the boy.

Do you believe everything is possible for the one who believes?

Do you have inner demons that hold you captive from what God desires?

Spend time with God today, ask Him, ‘what are my inner demons that hold me back from what you desire?’  Ask for prayer from a friend or a pastor.  Write out your prayer to address your inner demon, give it to God so you can live the abundant life God desires for you, free from strongholds holding you captive.

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Breaking the Cycle of Prayerlessness

Over the past year, I have been doing a lot of soul-searching and research about prayer.  I’ve been reading books, learning what the Bible says about prayer, I made a prayer closet (underneath my stairs), I’m involved with the prayer team and pray with prayer partners.  In all my research and time in prayer, I’ve discovered Satan desires our mouths to be kept shut and our voices to be silent to keep us in states of prayerlessness.

WHY?

Because nothing defeats the enemy more than when we are prayerful!

So How Do We Break the Cycle of Prayerlessness in Our Lives?

In the book by Beth Moore, “Breaking Free,”  she states, “What victory the enemy has in winning us over to prayerlessness!”  The enemy knows prayerful lives are powerful lives and prayerless lives are powerless lives.  We can identify what is keeping us from prayer, by asking ourselves these tough questions.

  1.  Do we depend on God for our needs?  Prayer is our lifeline to God.  No prayer, no relationship.  Maybe you’ve been praying a prayer for a long time and wondered is God listening or even care?  How long have you prayed for your request?  Do you pray for your request regularly, over a period of time?  Our prayers don’t change God’s heart, they change our hearts.  We don’t know when God will answer our prayers but don’t give up, that’s exactly what the enemy wants us to do.  Keep Praying!
  2. Do You Allow the Enemy to Keep You Silent?  The enemy would like nothing more than for us to stop praying.  When we stop praying we are fulfilling the enemy’s plan.  Satan wants to fill our minds with his lies of doubt, worry, and defeat.  These are the tactics he uses to keep us silent.  Don’t let him.  Instead of worrying, pray about it.  Give it to God.
  3. God’s will or my will?   When we pray, ask God is this your will or my will?  We have to ask ourselves, is the request we’re praying appropriate or selfish?  Am I praying with the right attitude and motive?  Is the timing right?  Just because we don’t hear God’s answer right away, God might be saying not yet.  We must be patient for HIS perfect timing.  In our patience, God grows the greatest blessings.
  4. Are there Prayer Obstacles in Your Life?  In the book Too Busy Not To Pray, Billy Hybels, talks about prayer blockers in our lives.  He challenges us to look within and ask ourselves are there problems in my life?  If the answer is yes, chances are there is a prayer obstacle present.  Maybe we don’t see God answering our prayers because he is trying to illuminate hidden areas of our hearts that are getting in the way of HIM.
  • Is there un-forgiveness or unconfessed sins in your life?  Isaiah 59:2, Micah 6:8.  Unforgiveness and unconfessed sins contaminate our hearts and prayers.  When un-forgiveness resides in our hearts and lives we will never reach the full potential of what God desires for us.  We must forgive and receive God’s forgiveness for our hearts to be clean and hear HIS voice.
  • Are we being selfish or prideful? James 4:3.  Are we asking God with the wrong motives for personal gain?  Are our prayers making God famous or ourselves?  Pride will be the death of us.  It will keep us from crying out for help from our Savior.  Pride keeps us blind to God’s presence and deaf to HIS voice.  Is there pride in your life?
  • Do we have inadequate faith?  James 1:5-8.  Do we believe in our own abilities or God’s?  Do we look for more evidence for him to prove to us the power HE already has?  Do we believe we are praying to a God who is able to do anything?
  • What is the attitude of our hearts?  Proverbs 21:13.  Do we have an uncaring attitude?  God cares about the condition of our hearts and what they are filled with.  He cares about developing our character which reflects HIM.  What is the attitude of your heart when you pray?
  • Are there broken relationships in your life?  Matthew 5:23-24, John 2:9.  Is there any unresolved conflict in your life?  Satan desires to cause division among us, fight with one another and take us away from God’s plan for unity.  Satan knows we are weaker when we are alone.  We are stronger together in numbers.  God desires us to live in community and harmony with one another, not alone and isolated.

Ephesians 4:31

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.Click To Tweet

Pride, anger, malice, deceit, unforgiveness, and selfishness will always get in the way of our prayers and God’s plan for us.  Don’t allow the enemy to use his tactics against you.  Don’t let him win the victory in our prayerlessness.

Is there Prayerlessness in your life?

Are there prayer obstacles in your life?

Get rid of the prayer obstacles by identifying what they are.  Break the cycle of prayerlessness by asking yourself these tough questions above.  Prayer is a way to search and soften our hearts, get rid of sin, grow, reconcile relationships, change our attitude and get out of the ugly cycle of prayerlessness.

Once prayer obstacles are out of the way, it clears the way for God to answer our prayers in the way He desires and breaks the cycle of prayerlessness.  

Did you find this post to be encouraging and helpful?  Please share with others who are in need of prayer.  For more encouraging messages, Subscribe to my blog to receive a weekly message of hope right to your inbox or like my Author Facebook Page. to keep updated on recent posts.


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“Too Busy Not To Pray,”  by Billy Hybels
“Breaking Free” by Beth Moore

The Lord’s Prayer

 

 

If I were to ask you to recite the Lord’s Prayer whether you are a Christian or non-Christian I bet most of us could recite some lines from this prayer.  In this prayer, Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes my prayer life can become dull like I’m reciting a memorized prayer.  Reciting a prayer from my lips that has no meaning in my heart is like an empty cup waiting to be filled.  An empty cup is not fulfilling its purpose unless it’s filled.  

The purpose of prayer works the same way in our lives.  The Lord’s Prayer was never meant to just be something we memorize but a pattern that we apply to our hearts and lives.  God knows better than us what we need and directs our steps in The Lord’s Prayer.  I encourage you to read this whole article today to develop a powerful pattern of prayer that God desires to bring us the most abundant life ever in Him.

 Worship

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name.  Jesus starts His prayer off by turning to God, His Father.  His prayer begins with showing reverence, respect for our God who is sovereign, omnipotent and creator of all things.  Turning our eyes towards God focuses our attention on his abilities that nothing is too difficult for Him.  Recognizing God for everything He is to us, takes our focus off of ourselves and gives Him the glory, which is a form of worship.

Submission

Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  This part of the prayer puts God’s will first ahead of our own agenda.  Allowing God’s desires to be greater than our desires gets rid of any selfishness or self-centeredness.  God is able to do anything, however, the way God works in our lives isn’t as a genie in a bottle ready to grant our every wish.  If our hearts are filled with things that get in the way of him such as greed, lust or selfishness, we limit God’s power within us.  In order to receive God’s divine power working within us, we must be in places of humbleness and surrender.  Submission prepares our hearts for the next part of the prayer.

Appropriate Requests

Give us this day our daily bread.  This is the part of the prayer is where we ask God for our requests and needs.  This is where we can ask for help for anything we need in our lives such as marriage, parenting, help with finances, provision, relationships.  God’s provision can provide us with anything.  But if our requests are inappropriate such as, ‘God please give me a million dollars,’ He will not grant our requests.  Daily bread is our daily provision of what God offers not what we desire.  When we have the daily bread He provides for us we are eternally satisfied (John 6:35).  When we are content with the daily provision in what God provides us we can forgo the rat race and make do with what He provides.

Confession

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  Asking forgiveness from God purifies our hearts and makes us right before Him.  Our sin and unforgiveness separate us from God.

 Jesus said, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”  (Matt. 6:14-15).

Thankfully God is in the healing and restoration business.  He cares about our eternal salvation.  Jesus paid a high price for our sins with his life.  It costs us nothing to forgive but costs us our lives if don’t forgive.  Forgiving someone who hurt you may be the hardest thing you do.  But I promise when you do forgive, you will be set free from the heavy burden of carrying around unforgiveness.  Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the full, not so we can be weighed down with our sins and burdens.  Confessing our sins removes the obstacles in our hearts for God’s love to grow within us and cleans out our hearts.

Authority

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  Asking God to protect us from temptation and the evil one recognizes God as the authority in our lives.  This part of the prayer is asking God who is Lord in our lives to direct our steps and keep Satan away from our hearts.  Praying for protection over our hearts is so important to keep the enemy out of our lives and allows victory over our temptations. Deliverance sets us free from our sins, temptations, and strongholds that keep us captive and away from God’s plan in our lives.

Worship

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.  The Lord’s prayer not only begins with worship but ends in worship as well.  Ending our prayer by giving thanks to God for all that he does for us acknowledges that He is the God of the heaven and earth.  

The Lord's prayer is a pattern of prayer that gives us the elements of a strong, powerful prayer foundation. Click To Tweet

The Lord’s prayer isn’t meant to be rote memorization but active, alive and breathing in our lives.  We can learn so much from what Jesus teaches us in The Lord’s Prayer.  Prayer can be so powerful in our lives if we use it the way God intended for us.

What have you learned from The Lord’s Prayer?

Write out your own pattern of Prayer of Worship, Submission, Requests, Confession, Authority, and Worship.

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The Last Prayers of Jesus

How encouraging is it when you know someone is praying for you?  Today I hope this post encourages you to know that in Jesus’ last hours on earth He spent His time not teaching another message, but in prayer for US!

How Jesus spent His time on earth is so telling of His character and His heart for us.  Even when Jesus knew He only had hours left to live, He spent His last precious moments in prayer in the presence of God our Father and the disciples.

The last three prayers Jesus spoke on this earth teach us so much about what God desired for us.

John 17:  The Overcomer Prayer:

One of the holiest of prayers in the entire Bible is a prayer Jesus prays in John 17, which was prayed sometime after The Last Supper.  Throughout this whole prayer, Jesus is praying for our security, our joy, our unity and our future.  He prays on our behalf so we know what He’s done for us, given to us and all that he will do for us when we get to heaven.

In the first part of John 17, Jesus first turns to His Father and prays for Himself.  Jesus knew after He left we would still experience trouble in this world but prayed that we would know we are overcomers in Christ and share in His victory.

In John 17:6-19, Jesus then prays for His disciples.  Here Jesus is praying for our protection against the enemy, that we would know the fullness of joy and we would be molded according to His holiness.  In John 17:13-26, Jesus prays for our unity, for us to carry out His mission of spreading God’s love and our future.  The prayer in John 17 shows us how much Jesus cares for us and how He desires the best for us.  He knew we were going to have struggles and prayed for us on our behalf before He left this earth.

A Prayer in the Garden– Mark 14:35-36:

I don’t know if you have ever sat and read the prayer Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before, but it is filled with lots of sorrow and suffering.  Jesus knew the time was coming before he was going to be arrested.  He went to the Garden of Gethsemane, a quiet place to pray and sit with God.  He took His disciples Peter, John, and James with Him to keep watch while He prayed.

Jesus was very troubled and distressed and told His disciples, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death”  (Mark 14:34).  Jesus knew it was only hours before he was going to be arrested and persecuted.  His soul was heavy with the burden of what God was asking Him to do on behalf of everyone else–to bear the penalty for all our sins.

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”  Mark 14:35-36

Jesus knew His Father was capable of all things.  He turned to Him in His sorrow asking Him to please take this cup from me.  A cup’s symbolism is of deep sorrow and suffering.  Jesus felt as though God was leaving Him behind and turning away from Him when He who had no sin was made to be the sin offering for us.

A Prayer From the Cross–Luke 23:34:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34)

This prayer that Jesus prays on the cross is one of the most powerful prayers I believe Jesus prays.  Even in death, Jesus cared about our salvation.  He takes His last dying moments to pray for us on the cross and still had the power to make people right with God. It amazes me even as Jesus was ridiculed, persecuted, beaten and crucified He still prayed for those who crucified Him. He even forgave one of the criminals on the cross whom He was sentenced with.  These last moments show how much Jesus cares about our hearts and what they are filled with.  He knew unforgiveness would be the death of us and spent every last moment showing us He is the way to our salvation and the path to our freedom.

The last prayers of Jesus are so telling of how much He loves us.  He spent every last moment praying for us up until His last moments of death.  The prayers Jesus prayed didn’t die that day on the cross.  His prayers continue on from heaven.

We can learn so much from the last prayers of Jesus.  He didn’t allow persecution, being arrested or suffering to keep Him from praying.  He prayed all throughout His suffering and turned to God for His every need, leaving His mark in our lives.

There may be so much suffering and evil in this world, but we can be encouraged that God is praying for us and loves us very much.

There is power in the prayers of Jesus.Click To Tweet

How have the prayers of Jesus marked your life?

How can our prayers leave a mark in others or in this world?

If Jesus was standing before you and asked, “How can I pray for you?”  What would you say?

Praying this Easter Holiday is filled with the prayers of Jesus, his abundant joy, and love in your life!  Happy Easter!

Did you find this post to be encouraging and helpful?  Please share with others who are in need of prayer.  For more encouraging messages, Subscribe to my blog to receive a weekly message of hope right to your inbox or like my Author Facebook Page. to keep updated on posts.


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Lamb of God

With the Easter holiday approaching, I wanted to take us back to the reason for the season of why we really celebrate Easter.  As I enter into stores my eyes are bombarded with empty plastic eggs, Easter baskets and bunnies.  Really the Easter bunny has nothing to do with why we celebrate Easter.  The world has made the most holy of holidays into propaganda.  The Easter and Christmas holidays have become a reason to spend money on gifts that have nothing to do with what is actually being celebrated.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus is called the Lamb of God?

In the Old Testament, those who sought forgiveness for their sins would choose a sheep or a goat to sacrifice on an altar.  A person would receive atonement for their sins from the blood of the animal being shed.

 “The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.”  Exodus 12:5

Specific instructions would be given to choosing an animal without blemish or broken bones and how to prepare and celebrate the animal after being sacrificed.  The animal wasn’t just a sacrifice for sins, but something to be consumed by the community afterward, not to be wasted.

“It must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones. The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.”  Exodus 12:46-47

Passover is a holy holiday that the Jewish community celebrates the Passover in which “the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.”  Exodus 12:27.  (To read more about the Passover read Exodus 12:21-28).  Every year the Jewish community celebrates Passover by sacrificing and consuming a Passover Lamb.

The last week that Jesus was alive on earth, the Jewish community was getting ready to celebrate the Passover.  Little did they know their lives would be changed forever.

The turn of events that happened before Jesus’ death was orchestrated by God Himself.  Jesus told Peter he would be the one to deny Him and that Judas would betray Him.  Once Jesus was in the hands of Pilate and the Roman soldiers He was…

flogged and a crown of thorns was placed on his head.  John 19:1

He was struck, spit on, the crown of thorns was twisted on his head and He was given 39 lashes.  Mark 15:19

The horizontal crossbar of the cross was tied around the arms of Jesus in which He was made to carry up the hill of Golgotha (which weighed 75-125 pounds, the whole cross weighed 300 pounds) John 19:17.

Jesus’ arms and feet were nailed to the cross.  Each wrought iron nail was 7-9 inches in length.  Mark 15:24

The Nails they used were 7-9 inches long

This is merely a glimpse of what Jesus endured and went through.  There were two other men hanging on the crosses with Jesus.  The Sabbath was approaching.   The Sanhedrin went before Pilate to ask him to not allow any bodies left hanging on the crosses during sundown on the Sabbath.  This particular day was the day before Passover their most holy of holidays.  They asked Pilate to have the ‘ legs broken and the bodies taken down’ (John 19:31).

Death was lingering too long, so Pilate ordered the legs of those hanging on the cross to be broken. The weight of a person’s body usually caused their death on the cross after their legs were broken, from asphyxiation–crushing their own lungs.

The Roman soldiers broke the legs of the other men first.  When they came to Jesus they discovered He had already died and did not break His legs.  “Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.  The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true.” John 19: 34-35.

Why is this all so significant?

Isn’t it amazing that after all the beatings, the flogging, the crucifixion and piercing Jesus endured that not one bone was broken in his body?

These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled. Not one of his bones will be broken” John 19:36'Click To Tweet

While Jesus was on earth He was without sin and defect, He was perfect. 

“but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” 1 Peter 1:19.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed”  Isaiah 53:5.

Jesus was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities and received a punishment we deserved.  All of His suffering was not for nothing.  It was to fulfill the greater plan of God.

Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the full (John 10:10). Click To Tweet

Jesus is the Passover lamb. He is the Lamb of God.  In the Old Testament, when instructions were given for the Passover Lamb, it was to be prepared by roasting and cooking it by the fire. From the beginning of time, God was preparing us.  It wasn’t enough to just sacrifice the lamb but to also partake in it. The lamb wasn’t meant to just be observed, but also be consumed by the people (Exodus 12:46-47).  Jesus didn’t come to just be observed on the cross, but to be consumed in our everyday lives.

What does this mean for us in our everyday lives?

“God made him who had no sin, to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” 2 Corinthians 5:21Click To Tweet

Jesus dying on the cross for our sins changed everything!  The sacrificial lamb no longer needed to be sacrificed for every sin.  That lamb can only atone one person for their sins.  Jesus, the Lamb of God, came to shed His blood making it possible to atone all for their sins.

Jesus died once to pay the price for all.

Jesus isn’t just a figure in our lives that we observe on the cross.   He desires to have an active role in our lives, a relationship with us–to give us life-giving sustenance. When we choose to partake in the beautiful message of Easter, in the good news of the gospel, we are loving God with all of our heart, all of our mind and all of our soul (Matthew 22:37).

We can nail our sins to the cross

“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross”  Colossians 2:13-14

When Jesus died on the cross, it gave us a chance to nail our own sins on the cross.  Jesus’ act of taking our place, dying on the cross for our sins is something He did one time but is something that gives eternally forever more.  Jesus loves us so much, He took our place for us so we can be in heaven one day with Him.  You are loved!  I pray this Easter you will partake in the Lamb of God and celebrate the reason for the season.

'For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord' Romans 6:23Click To Tweet

His gift to all of us is eternal life.  Have you accepted God’s gift of eternal life this Easter?  When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, death has no power over us.  Have a Happy Easter!

Isn’t it amazing how Jesus became sin for us, took our place and suffered for us?

Why do you celebrate Easter?  What does Easter mean to you?

He is our Redeemer, our Savior, our Healer, our God is capable of anything.  God makes the most perfect and amazing plans.  

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”  John 3:16-17

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are. In Him, we have life to the full that is complete and everlasting. Have a blessed week!

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3 Strategies Satan Uses Against Us

When you look at this picture what do you see?  The game of chess is an interesting game where one tries to capture the king to become the victor.  I love how the game of chess provides an opportunity for the underdog to win.  It’s not over until it’s over.  Even if all the major playing pieces are taken, it’s possible to still win.  In this game, the pawn can become a queen.  The pawn is merely an underdog until it makes its way to the other side and changes the trajectory of the game.

The game of chess requires perseverance and patience.  How many of us give up before the end of the game? Is it because we are weary and tired?  Or have we lost the confidence to believe that we can win?  In life, Satan can play us like pawns in his game of evil.  He throws temptations in our path trying to lure us away, he whispers lies in our ears to make us doubt and seduces us to believe life is better in the green grass.  He waits until we are at our weakest, most desperate moments to make his move.  He is evil and uses sneaky strategies to make us move where he wants us.  We don’t have to fall victim to Satan’s evil schemes.

3 Strategies Satan Uses Against

  1.  Unforgiveness-  Satan’s role in our lives will always be to tempt us.  When there is unforgiveness in our lives, Satan will always use this against us to tantalize us to the point of destruction.   Unforgiveness opens a door for the enemy to cause division and chaos in our lives.  Satan seduces us into believing holding onto unforgiveness is a better solution than forgiving others.  Forgiveness provides an open door for unity, harmony and peace in our world.  Forgiving others allows an opportunity for the underdog to win.

2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NIV

“Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven–if there was anything to forgive–I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”

2.  Making Fear greater than God.  Satan will do anything he can to elevate our fears, trying to make them greater than God.  One of his primary purposes is to instill fear in our lives and take our focus off of God.  The other day we were at the park and my daughter said, “I’m thirsty.”  I said, “There is a water fountain over there, go get a drink of water.”  My daughter said, “I want a drink of water, but there is a wasp over there.”  I went over to inspect the situation to find the wasp had already left.  I told my daughter the wasp was gone, but she would not go near the water fountain because she was still afraid she would get stung.  How many times has the enemy done this in our lives?  He instills fear in us so we can’t go where God is trying to lead us.  Even though the wasp wasn’t there anymore she still wouldn’t go near where it was.  Allowing fear to dictate and control our responses and actions will always keep us from God’s greater plans.  When Fear > God, we will always live defeated life that is stuck.  When God > Fear, we will always live a life that is filled with God’s abundance and victory.

1 Peter 5:8 NIV

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

 

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