Book Review – A Praying Church

The weekly prayer meeting is the gauge of the spiritual health of a church. – Dennis Gundersen

Available Online

The sovereign purposes of God can be difficult to understand. However, there are times when we are going through a difficult time and the right prompt or post brings a word of encouragement to the heart.

With all that has recently transpired in the world with Covid-19, I have done a great deal of reading. This has also been a time where the Lord has burdened my heart more than ever for the need of prayer in the local church.

Being an avid reader, I have read many books on the matter of prayer through the years. Dennis Gundersen though points out in the first chapter that books actually dealing with the prayer meeting itself are rare. Personally, I cannot ever remember seeing or reading a book about prayer meetings until I purchased this book.

Our family had the privilege of meeting Dennis Gundersen many years ago when he pastored a Bible church near Tulsa, Oklahoma. He owns Grace & Truth Books.

The book was brought to my attention by one of our contributors, Sony Elise, when she read a chapter of the book online. The first chapter alone is worth buying the book.

Sadly, many churches are doing good to have one service a week and rarely do churches include a time of corporate prayer. Our country is in a mess and we need to implement the recommendations of this timely book and get back to prayer — personal prayer as well as corporate prayer.

The book is only 170 pages and could easily be read in a couple of settings. It contains six chapters taking the reader through the first 70+ pages of the book. The remainder of the book is 30 short devotionals on prayer. These devotionals can be used by church leaders and teachers as an aid to helping restore corporate prayer in local assemblies.

The Chapters cover —

1. The Priority of Meetings for Corporate Prayer
2. Everyone Together: Pray for Me, and Me, and Me
3. How Should We Pray in Prayer Meetings
4. Proposals for Focusing a Prayer Meeting
5. A Biblical Case for Regular Prayer Meetings
6. Prayer Meetings and Those Who Lead Them

Personal Recommendation: Purchase this book. You will be glad you did. It will challenge you, but it will also encourage you in your walk with the Lord.

Pastors and church leaders, I will end with a recommendation from the back cover of this book written by Derek Melton, a pastor in Oklahoma.

“The prayer meeting is the most necessary but neglected facet of Divine worship. Dennis Gundersen has written a practical and biblical guide to assist pastors in implementing or improving their corporate prayer meetings. I highly recommend it.”

A Praying Church, subtitled “The Neglected Blessing of Corporate Prayer”, can be purchased at SONY ELISE CHRISTIAN BOOKS.

From Scam Into Blessing

Thirteen years ago this same week, I found myself on a plane headed for the first time to Liberia, West Africa. It was not what I expected, but the Lord brought glory to Himself through the lessons learned.

My second book has been years in the making, and with the professional editing care of my friend and sister in Christ, Sony Elise, it has finally come to fruition. Her editing service can be found, along with her online Christian bookstore at Sony Elise Christian Books. Thank you for the work you provided in helping make this book a reality.

My friend and brother in Christ, Manfred (Stuart Brogden) provided the Foreword to the book. Thank you for being willing to read the early manuscript months ago and taking the time to write a Christ-honoring introduction.

From Scam Into Blessing can be ordered in Kindle format or in paperback form from Amazon.

Book Description:

“The dictionary defines a scam as a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation. Internet technology has changed the world, but it can also change lives. Many believe they cannot live without access to the internet while others use the web as a way of making a living – fraudulently. Scam Into Blessing is the real account of the author’s first trip to Liberia, West Africa. What started as a scam turned into a blessing of epic proportions. Read the exciting adventures of how God sovereignly took what was meant for evil and changed it for good to His honor and glory.

I Love You

I love you. One of the most beautiful phrases that you can say and yet society has distorted love to the point that, if you were to tell someone you love them, especially outside of your immediate family, they might become uncomfortable or look at you as if they’re trying to figure out what you want from them. The sad thing is that, because of this, many people feel unloved. Many moms and dads never even tell their children they love them because they are not accustomed to doing so, and they assume that their children just know somehow. I believe one of the reasons suicide is rampant today is because of this lack.

The New Testament is full of verses instructing us to love each other.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another (John 13:34).

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7).

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law (Romans 13:8).

There are plenty of ways to let others know that you love them and, if you had to choose between telling a person or showing them, I strongly recommend showing them, but I would encourage you to let someone know that the reason you serve them, pray for them, spend time with them is because you love them. Not because you are obligated but because Christ has placed a love within you that flows to those around you. Try it out this week. If it’s someone that you have never told before, they may not know how to respond, but that may just be the person that needs the reminder that they really are loved.

Helping One of Our Contributors

Twenty years ago, I had the privilege of having my first article published in The Homeschool Digest. I was referred to them and it was suggested that I contact the company.  Submitting my article, I was not sure whether it would meet the criteria for what they were looking to publish in their monthly magazine. However, I received a gracious response and with a few edits, my article made me a published author.

A contributor and one of the editors of the magazine was none other than one of our contributors, Sony Elise. About a year after the article was published, our family moved to Michigan and we learned that we only lived about three miles from Sony and her family. Connections were made and our families were able to spend time together enjoying meals and Christian fellowship.

Twenty years later, Sony has been an encouragement to many and continues to do so with her words of encouragement on Truth in Grace. While her health does not permit her to do a great deal away from her home, she has about 25 years of professional editing experience behind her. She has her own editing business which has benefitted myself and J.L. Pattison, who is another contributor here.

Over the last 2 months, we have been working together on a collaboration that would help incorporate her editing and her love of good Christian material. With that, it is my privilege to introduce her new online bookstore, Sony Elise Christian Books.

Sony’s intentions are not to compete with Amazon or other major bookstores, but to offer a small selection of good reading material. Supporting her new business helps her to support herself and also helps to support Christian Indie authors who are self-published. Many large name companies will not publish many Christian authors because the author is unknown or because the message in their book is not acceptable in mainstream evangelicalism.

More books will be coming to the current selection, but I also encourage you to visit, like, and share her Facebook page. You will be helping a friend, a prayer warrior, and an encouraging sister.

Every blessing in Christian love and grace,

Mark Anthony

Be Faithful

“Nothing that we do for God is small.” I read these words from D.L. Moody this morning. It reminds me of the song that says, “Little is much when God is in it.” I need to be reminded of this sometimes. OK. I need to be reminded quite often.

I turned 45 a couple months ago, and it hits me at times that I have more than likely lived over half my life already. Accompanied with that thought is wondering if I have done anything to impact people’s lives and help them to draw closer to the Savior. If I haven’t, then my life has been a waste, and I do not want to end my life that way.

I know I’ve written on this before, but I expect that I am not the only one who needs these reminders. You do not have to be a singer, a speaker, a writer, or a pastor to be used by God. You just have to be faithful. Faithful to live a Godly life, faithful to your family, faithful to the calling God has placed on your life (not someone else’s). If you do that, you will most likely reach more people than you can imagine. You may not even know you are doing so. I will also counter that if you are not living a faithful life, then all the good you think you are doing, you are probably not.

Faithfulness is one of the things that I admire most in a person, but I don’t often tell the people I admire that I do so. I guess that’s something I need to work on.

If you are discouraged today or are caught in the trap of looking up to others while feeling insignificant yourself, look up. Examine your life in the light of God’s Word. If you are living a life of obedience, that is all He asks. He will bring the increase. Just keep being faithful.

Are You Starving?

As I was doing my Bible study last evening, Romans 1:28 jumped out at me:

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting.

Matthew 5: 6 says:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

If you are not hungering and thirsting for God and His righteousness, if you do not long for it as though you were starving, may I submit that you may very easily fall into the category of those who do not like to retain God in their knowledge? These people are “filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness,” among other things (Romans 1:29). If you are reading this, I’m guessing you would not put yourself into one of those categories, but if you are not actively seeking God, spending time with Him, studying His Word, you may very easily find yourself falling into an alternate lifestyle and then wondering how you got there.

In Matthew 12:30, Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me.” You cannot serve God and the world. I see so many who act like they can have all this and Jesus too, but we serve a jealous God. He wants our full devotion. He does not want to compete with the plethora of entertainment that we have today.

D.L. Moody is quoted as saying:

The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.

If you never have time to read God’s Word or spend quality time in prayer, I challenge you to examine your heart and ask yourself why. I understand there are busy days and busy seasons, but there should not be busy lifestyles that keep us from doing the most important things. Most of us do not forget to eat or drink, at least not usually the whole day. If you have time to do that, you can find time for God. Download a Bible app and read while you eat if you need to, but make sure that you are getting God’s Word into your heart so that you don’t sin against Him (Psalm 119:11).

This hit me in a new way last night, and I am asking God for help to make the time to draw near to Him, to continually learn of Him, to listen to Him. If you and I are too busy to do those things, we are simply too busy.

Preparing for Jesus’ Coming

I wonder what it was like to live before Jesus was born. The prophets had foretold His birth and encouraged people to be ready, but I wonder how many took the prophecy seriously. Maybe it seemed like one of those tales they had heard their whole lives so, even if it would become true some day, it most likely wouldn’t be in their lifetime.

 

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I expect that people then were very much like they are today. The difference is that, today, we know He came. He lived, He died, He rose. But He also promised to come again! Are we watching, making sure that we are ready for His return? Or we are going through life with a vague recollection that He said He would return, but it probably won’t be for a long time yet?

Although that may be true, we need to live as if He were coming today. So many missed His first coming. I do not want to be among those who are not ready for Jesus’ second coming.

As you celebrate this week, think about how much we truly have to celebrate. God so loved you that He gave His Son, and one day, we will get to see Him face to face. Lord, hasten that day!

Dealing With Relational Stress

If you have lived for any amount of time, you have probably been through a breakup of some kind. Whether it was a spouse, a close friend, a boyfriend or girlfriend that you thought was “the one,” people have a way of distancing or, worse, actually turning on you. For myself, I can handle a lot but, when a person I thought loved me moves on, I do not handle that well.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season” and, unfortunately, this includes relationships. I do not like change, and this especially includes a change in relationship, but God allows things for a reason. Sometimes people are only in your life temporarily for a specific purpose. As much as I do not like that season to end, it makes me appreciate that much more those who are always there. I am very blessed with true friends, and I thank God for them.

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I think the hardest part is usually being able to handle relational stress emotionally. I know this is hard for me. You have to be there for your family and the remaining friends in your life, yet your heart aches for the friend that you lost. As hard as it may be, I’ve found that if you take time to thank God for the people who love you, it will give you perspective and reduce your heartache, if even a little.

For women, it is also important to remember that, although PMS is a real thing, we do not have a license to take our anger and frustration out on others. Sometimes things must be said, but there is a Godly way to say it. Until you have found that way, it is better to not say anything. The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:20).

If you have something against another, go talk to that person but go with a heart to hear. There is a good chance that it was just a misunderstanding or that you are being hypersensitive and it will blow over.

If you suspect that someone is holding things against you or that your relationship is changing with someone, you should ask him or her if there is a problem. If they say nothing or they don’t want to talk about it, you are going to have to let it go and trust God to heal your heart.

Regardless of your situation, the answer is to draw near to God. He is the only one who can truly comfort your heart and bring peace and joy to your soul. Others may try but God created humans to do only so well in that department. Mostly, He desires His children to rely on Him.

Remember too that this too shall pass. It may feel like the end of the world now but it’s not. God will accomplish His purposes. You will be able to move on. And one day, everything that you don’t understand now will be made clear. Just trust Him. Lean on Him. He is near and will continue to be near, even when others fail.

How To Show Someone You Care

Most people who know me now don’t realize that, by nature, I am pretty insecure. I’ve never been “popular,” so I still have times of wondering if anyone loves me and why. Since coming to know the Lord, I fight to not let that rise to the surface. Instead, when the battle of the mind begins, I pray and ask God to help me to show His love to others. The Bible says that “a man that has friends must show himself friendly” (Proverbs 18:24) and, although I don’t claim to do this perfectly, God has blessed me with wonderful friends who really do seem to care and whom I am pretty sure really pray for me.

I think sometimes people care more than one might realize so I wanted to give some tips that, at least for me, helps to show me that my friends are not just putting up with me but that they do indeed care.

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1) Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes I think people don’t want to pry into a person’s life because they don’t want to appear nosy, or maybe they think it’s none of their business. The fact is, many times a hurting person really wants someone to talk to but they don’t want to burden others. Lines such as, “I’m having a really rough day today” or “Please pray for me today” are often doorways for you to stop what you are doing and ask if they would like to talk about it. If your response is merely, “I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll be praying for you,” that will be taken as you don’t want to hear about it or don’t really care. I am not discrediting prayer at all and, if you really don’t want to hear about it or don’t have time to do so, then that at least is a sympathetic response but, if this is a person you really care about, take time to ask them what’s going on. If they don’t want to say, they will tell you but at least they know you are available.

2) Listen. Sometimes when I’m going through a difficult time, I want advice but many times I just need to talk. Don’t feel like you need to have “answers.” Obviously, if God brings something to your mind which will help the person, share that but do it with a posture of humility, realizing that it is the person’s choice whether they take your advice or not. Mostly let them talk it out, pray with them, ask God to give you a burden for this person. It’s easy to get caught up in our own lives that we don’t really invest in the lives of others but, if God has put a person into your life, it’s for a reason. Make sure you are being the friend they need.

3) Pray. It’s one thing to say “I’ll pray for you” and another thing to actually do so. If you commit to pray for a person, write it down, put it on your calendar, do whatever you need to do to remember to pray for this person. Then take the time periodically to let the person know you are praying. This will encourage them immensely. I have over 1,000 Facebook friends and I see many prayer requests every day. Because of this, I have learned not to promise every person that I will pray but, if it is an urgent need, I will pray right away and sometimes post a comment stating that. I also have friends who text or email me requests. These I take more seriously and ask for God’s help to remember them. I have had people that I don’t know real well message me because they know I pray. I don’t know how they know that but I consider it quite a compliment and, again, if they have taken the time to ask me personally, I want to take it seriously.

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4) Initiate interaction. If God brings someone to your mind, take time to call, text, or email that person. Many times, that is what it’s taken for me to realize a person really loves and cares for me. If I am always the one who initiates interaction, I begin to wonder, but getting a message out of the blue that says someone was thinking of me, praying for me, etc. makes my day. It lets me know I really am loved and that even God loves me enough to lay me on someone’s heart periodically. You don’t know what kind of day that person may be having, and it could be your simple act of loving kindness that lifts their spirits and brings a smile to their face. That is not a small thing.

5) Be thankful. I think this is usually the most neglected of all. Not that we aren’t thankful for our friends but I think we don’t often let them know. Take time periodically to do just that. Thank them for their love and their friendship. If someone gives you a gift, don’t just thank them at the moment (that’s common courtesy and is expected); go above and beyond the call of duty and also thank them a month, a year, five years down the road … especially if it’s something you still use. Several years ago, a friend came to visit and, as a “hostess gift,” she gave me a couple CDs. (This was a special blessing, as it showed how well she knows me.) I’ve not done it for a while but, periodically, when I would listen to the CDs, I would write to her to let her know I was listening to them and thinking of her. I just wanted to make sure she knew that she did not waste her money on those. They are still used and appreciated.

I’m sure this is far from being an exhaustive list but hopefully it will help you in reaching out to those special people in your life and making them feel truly loved. If there are other things that you have found to be meaningful in showing love to others, feel free to post it in the comments. If you are one who feels like no one really cares about you, I assure you that is probably not the case. We live in a hectic, fast-paced society. Many are struggling just to keep up and they don’t have time to think beyond their own day-to-day trials. Then there are others who just don’t know how to show that they care. It doesn’t mean they don’t. Purpose to be a friend, to show God’s love, and to think of others instead of yourself. Even if it doesn’t come back to you from people, you will receive your reward in Heaven, and I believe you will feel God even nearer while on earth, which is really the most important One to be close to anyway.

Praise: A Sacrifice?

I grew up singing “We bring a sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord” but I confess that I did not understand what a “sacrifice of praise” was until a few years ago. Praising God is fun … at least for me … so how could it be a sacrifice?

I am reading through the Book of Psalms right now, and it tells us a number of times to offer up a “sacrifice of praise” or a “sacrifice of thanksgiving.” Reading it translated as “thanksgiving” has caused me to ponder this even more.

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My family and I have entered a season of life recently that, honestly, I have been dreading. In it, I am going to have to die to self and forgo some of my plans this summer. That’s not easy for me but I know that, in this, God is performing His perfect work. Because of this, I do find myself thanking Him. I don’t always feel like it but, as I praise Him and thank Him for what He is doing in each of our lives, I feel more peace and more grace, and I know that, because of Him, I’ll never walk alone.

No matter what you are going through today, don’t stop praising Him. You may not always like the changes that God brings your way or the tasks He calls you to but, if you are willing to lay down your life and surrender to Him 100%, you will find that peace that passes understanding, and you will grow even closer to a God who loves you so much more than you can think or imagine.

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Fruit of the Spirit 7: Faithfulness

I have been looking forward to writing about this fruit, as this is the one I pray for the most. There are so many things that are constantly vying for a person’s attention, yet my heart’s cry is, “God, help me to be faithful.” I pray to follow Him with my whole heart and not to be distracted with the things the world throws at me. He has a purpose for my life, a reason for my existence.

God is so faithful. Everything He says, He will do. He never lets me down. That is faithfulness.

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Faithfulness is being a person others can depend on. A faithful person is a trustworthy one. This is a person who keeps his or her word.

God’s Word is full of instructions as to how we should live. As we grow in Him, we begin to be more faithful to live the life He requires. As we become faithful to Him, we become more faithful in life in general. That should be our goal.

Fruit of the Spirit 6: Goodness

I am sorry it has taken so long to continue my series. Life has been really hectic lately but I continue to think about what exactly it means to walk in the Spirit.

This particular fruit is interesting to me. Romans 3:12 tells us, “There is none that does good; no not one.” Jesus said the same thing in Mark 10:18 and yet “goodness” is one of the fruits that we are to have if we are full of the Spirit. So what does it mean to be good?

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In our humanity, we are vile, sinful, selfish creatures. It is only with God’s help that we have any goodness in us. When we come to know God, He teaches us to love others. As we learn to love others, we become more selfless. That is when the goodness of God begins to show through.

I realize that there are “good” people who do not know the Lord but without His Spirit, your goodness avails nothing. Only with God’s Spirit will we exhibit the goodness that leads to life and Godliness.

Fruit of the Spirit 5: Kindness

When I think of kindness, I think of a heartfelt desire to bless other people. I’m sure that is not the definition according to Webster but it may definitely be defined my way.

Kindness is deferring to others, preferring them above ourselves. It is not always having to be right. It is biting our tongue when we would like to comment on a “stupid” decision someone just made.

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Kindness is servanthood. It exhibits itself in the way we talk about others. It is having a heart of compassion. It is selfless and patient (two other fruits of the spirit we’ve studied).

Colossians 3:12 tells us to put on kindness. Would your friends and family classify you as a kind person? If not, this is an area you must work on. As you begin to act kinder, people will better enjoy being around you.

Fruit of the Spirit 3: Peace

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

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Ultimate peace: fearing nothing. I doubt very many of us could say there is nothing that we fear but the truth is, for those who know the Lord, we never have a genuine reason to be afraid. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” That is the key: present your requests with thanksgiving, and trust God to take care of the situation. Once you hand it to Him, truly release it. He will carry your burden so that you don’t have to.

Like love and joy, peace is something others notice. In this world of constant change and turmoil, peace is a rare commodity but one that many would like to possess. You have the ability to do so.

I realize if you have walked in fear a long time, this may be difficult for you, but I encourage you to consciously work to get there. Start by thanking God that He is in control of a situation, even if you have no idea what in the world He’s doing. Thank Him for His love and His care. Ask Him to remove all fear and wariness from you and replace it with His peace. Do this as long as it takes until you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is listening and has only good in store for you. His definition of “good” may be different than yours but it will be good in the end.

peace1Be encouraged, dear Brothers and Sisters. This world is not our final Home. One day all the things that trouble us here will be gone forever. I am looking forward to that day but, for now, let’s do our best to walk in the Spirit so that we do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

Fruit of the Spirit (Part 2): Joy

I have several friends who are battling depression right now so I know it is no coincidence that the next Fruit of the Spirit is Joy.

It was only a few years ago that I went through a long period of depression. Prior to that time, I saw depression as a spiritual issue, and I still believe it is.  I saw another side, however, and that is that no matter how much I made myself look at the positive, it did not make me feel better inside. I fervently prayed for God to restore my joy or take me Home. Thankfully He answered that prayer by filling me once again with joy and a sense of His presence. Sure, there are still bad times but God’s grace is there, walking with me every step of the way.

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I do not know how people who don’t have the Lord get through life because truly it is often the joy of the Lord which is my strength. If you do not have that joy right now, don’t stop asking for it and fighting to receive this important fruit. Once you receive this joy unspeakable and full of glory, you will be able to share it with others.

In closing, let me remind you that tears may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning. Don’t give up hope. Everything happens for a purpose to those who love God. He will complete the work He’s begun in you if you will surrender and allow Him to do so.

Fruit of the Spirit (Part 1): Love

For a couple weeks now, I have been planning to write a series on the fruit of the Spirit. As I was reading Galatians 5:22-23 and thinking about what I would write, I found it fitting that I start this week with the first fruit mentioned, which is Love.

There is so much I could say on this topic, as there are different types of love which we show to different people; however, I would like to focus on the greatest commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.

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These two really go hand in hand. John tells us in 1 John 4:20: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

One of the most popular passages of Scripture which talks about love is 1 Corinthians 13: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

It can be easy to “sacrifice” in the name of “love” and, yet, real love is giving of ourselves on behalf of others–loving them in tangible ways. We need to know our friends and family so well that we know what will bless them. They will be able to tell if our actions are token or if they come from the heart.

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Not everyone is easy to love but Jesus went so far as to tell us to love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us. Love is not an option. Jesus gave us the greatest example of love, and we are to follow that example: “Greater love has no man (or woman) than this, that he (or she) lay down his (or her) life for a friend.”

Truly, friend, if you don’t have Love, you don’t have anything. Everyone wants to receive love but we also need to be willing to give it: to those we like and to those we don’t.

It bothers me that many never know how much they are loved. Once a person dies, people line up to share how much that person means to them but the person being talked about never hears the kind words that are spoken. How much more important is it to tell our friends and loved ones how much they mean to us now, while we are still walking this road of life together. If you’re not used to saying, “I love you,” it can be really hard at first but I encourage you to begin to tell people. As you do, it will be easier, and you may find yourself loving more deeply and better able to genuinely serve because it is no longer about yourself but about those you love.

God Resists the Proud

One sin that I am convinced almost every human on the planet deals with to some degree or another is the sin of pride. It may exhibit itself in different ways but the root is there just the same. Years ago, I thought of pride as arrogance, and I did not think that described me, so it was easy to feel pretty good about myself. It wasn’t until I read Irresistible to God that I was reminded just how much God hates pride and exactly how one can begin to see the proud areas of his or her life in order to change into the humble son or daughter that God requires.

First Peter 5:5 tells us that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. I don’t know about you but the thought of God resisting me makes me tremble. I can’t imagine kneeling before His throne to make my petition known just to see Him turn His face and refuse to even look at me. That’s at best. Resisting also means turning against. That is even more scary! I need God on my side so I must endeavor to become humble.

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In Proverbs 6, you will find a list of things God hates. Pride is the first thing in that list, along with “hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked imaginations,” and several other things. If God hates it that badly, I want nothing to do with it.

Unfortunately, after 40+ years, it is not easy to just be humble and get rid of all pride. I have a lot of habits and patterns that are a part of me, which I must rely on God to help uncover bit by bit. As I see my pride flare up, I do have the responsibility to kill it though. I do not want that to define my life.

If you have never considered pride as a bad thing, I encourage you to do a study and see what else God has to say about it. My prayer tonight is:

Change my heart, O God
Make it ever true
Change my heart, O God
May I be like You

Walk in the Spirit

I am going through The Walk of Repentance Bible Study for the second time and have been focusing a lot on Galatians 5:16: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” Galatians 5 goes on to list the lusts of the flesh versus the fruits of the Spirit. There is no doubt which list I would like to define my life but I am very aware that, without the Spirit, I will be doing those things that I do not wish to do.

As Christians, we cannot use the excuses so many do, such as “God knows I’m human” or “Nobody’s perfect.” God does know those things but He also gives specific commands as to how we should live. They are not suggestions. He tells us to be holy as he is holy (Lev. 11:44, referenced also in 1 Peter 1:16). Probably the most sobering portion of Scripture is Matthew 7:21-23: “Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” Those verses alone are enough to send me to my knees crying out to God to remove the sin in my life that displeases Him and replace those areas with His Spirit so that I don’t hear those dreadful words.

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If it were easy to be a Christian, everyone would be one. Unfortunately, the world sometimes has more of a handle on how Christians should act than those who profess to be Christ’s followers. If you are truly following Him, you will be like Him. You may not be perfect but you will fight the good fight, you will fall on your face in repentance when you do things that grieve Him, you will see your sin as He does. In the words of the old song, “It’s a battlefield, Brother, not a recreation room. It’s a fight; it’s not a game.”

I plead with you today: do not hold on to the sin that is pleasurable for a season but will end in spiritual death. Cling to the One who gives you life and that more abundantly. Let nothing be more important than pleasing Him and being a Light on this earth so that others can know Him as well.

Life is short. You never know when it may be your last day. Don’t waste your remaining time on earth living for self. Decide today to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.

Servanthood

This is another trait that I do not excel in but I love watching it in action. It seems to me to be the epitome of Christianity. Jesus said that He came to serve, not to be served. I personally like to be served but that is not why God put me here on earth. It is not all about me.

I was talking with a lady yesterday who is always opening her home to others, organizing gatherings, etc. She mentioned that no one ever offers to help; they just comment on how this lady and her family do such a great job. This happens way too often in the Church. It’s easy to leave hard work to the pastor or church leaders because, after all, that’s their job or it’s what they are paid to do. Servanthood is not a gift, however; it is a calling for every Believer.

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You may deal with insecurity as I do, thinking that there is no practical way you can serve others or maybe you feel like everyone else is better at doing things than you are. I guarantee you, though, that if you ask God to show you ways that you can be more of a servant, He will show you and teach you how to do so effectively. Don’t underestimate the blessing that you can be if you will lay aside your inhibitions and allow God to use you. Most people are not going to criticize genuine works of love, even if not done perfectly. And as you begin to serve in small ways, you will begin to be more confident and see more ways that you can practically serve others.

If you are one who tends to sit back and let everyone else do all the work, begin to pray about a place of servanthood that you can fill. If you are one who is getting burnt out because you are always the one pouring out, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s possible that others are willing to help; they just haven’t considered the fact that you need help or they may be afraid to admit that they don’t know what to do. Some just need a mentor to guide them.

I am not an expert on this topic and, as I mentioned, this is an area that I definitely need to grow in but I am trusting God to open my eyes to things I can do and to help me to grow in this area. I trust that you will pray about this too.

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Self-Control

Self-control is a fruit of the spirit I don’t hear much about. In my Bible study the other night, I was reminded of how many areas are encompassed in this one character trait.

America has become a feel-good society. “If it feels good, do it” was the slogan of the hippies but many still have that mentality today. We have comfort food, promiscuous sex, rampant gossip, etc. (James 3 has a lot to say about the tongue and is worth taking the time to read.)

SelfControlWhatever we do in word or deed, we are told to do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). There are also things God has told us not to do which all centers around living for self. Once we become children of God, our lives become His. Everything we do, say, and think are to reflect Him. If we are constantly feeding our flesh, we are not going to reflect our Father but instead are the antithesis of Him.

If there is one fruit that a lot of us don’t possess, it is this one but I feel like it is key to all the others. If you can master self-control, I believe love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, etc. will begin to exhibit itself. This is an area I am still working on. I pray for God’s help to surrender this area of my life to Him in every way that He shows me. I want and need God’s presence in my life. If anything is hindering that, it is not worth holding on to.