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Sunday, November 27, 2016

WITH THANKSGIVING

know Thanksgiving is over. Most of us have already unpacked Christmas decorations, and begun preparations for the biggest holiday of the year. But I would like to suggest that we hold on to the Thanksgiving holiday a little longer. In fact, I think we should continue to celebrate it 365 days a year.
Let me draw your attention to a Scripture passage that is so rich that all of you are familiar with it. Philippians 4:6 reads,
"Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known unto God."
This verse clearly teaches that we are to give thanks as we let our requests be known. You might well ask why would we not wait until we see God's answer before we start saying thank you. The Scripture offers such thanksgiving as a statement of faith. But I have had prayers answered with, "no." Haven't you. In fact, some of those I have in time thanked God that He didn't answer them the way I wanted when I prayed. John 15:7-8 gives us this promise of prayer.
"If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples."
I strive to discern His words and will for my prayers. I know that is the only way I can bear spiritual fruit. I also find a wonderful freedom in this promise. I can pray in confidence trusting God to keep me from praying mountains on top of your house or my own.
I also find a great joy giving thanks to God as I pray that He is at work in the most difficult or fearful situation that I pray for, even if I am unsure or mistaken about how He should answer.
So join me in continuing our Thanksgiving all year long. It is a wonderful celebration with or without the turkey.


Monday, November 21, 2016

PRAYING FOR THE IMPOSSIBLE

Are you praying for the impossible? I begin my daily devotionals by going over key verses through which God has spoken to me. After each verse I have several long term prayer requests. Under one of those verses I have this prayer.
I want to wait prayerfully for You to accomplish what is absolutely impossible in human strength.
I pray for God to help me trust Him for the impossible. But I don't want to pray for just any impossibility. For one thing, if I am praying for anything short of what God desires, I will be praying too small.
I am not absolutely sure what God wants to do in and beyond America in these days. But I believe I know some things God wants us to ask for. I believe God wants us to pray for our culture to be radically turned around.
Several weeks ago I wrote in this blog that there is more to concern us about abortion than its legality. One of the things I wrote was that it is crucial to change our media and our culture's attitude toward sex and marriage if we want to significantly reduce the number of abortions. That is humanly impossible. But I don't think that is enough.
I am listening to Eric Metaxas' book, If You Can Keep It.  He says freedom does not mean to be ungoverned. As the founders of our nation meant it, liberty is the freedom to govern ourselves. Eric quotes Os Guinness, citing the "Golden Triangle of Liberty.” The founders all assumed these three things worked together, liberty, morality, and religion. We cannot have liberty without morality, and we need free religion to sustain personal morality.
I believe a genuine revival sweeping the land will not just change our attitudes toward sex and marriage, but toward all morality, religion and godliness. I have been more and more alarmed at the profanity on television. Some of the shows that never had filthy language or innuendos are now rife with them. The fact that many of us think that is a picky matter is an indication that this is not simply an unholy influence, but a spiritual thermometer of our nation. In Matthew 12:34 Jesus said,
"Brood of vipers!How can you speak good things when your hearts are evil?
For the mouth speaks out of the overflow of the heart."
I fear this year's presidential election reflects the hearts of America. Especially in a democracy where grassroots movements sway elections we get the government we deserve.
Changing the hearts of this entire nation would be a revival like the world has not seen since the sweep of Christianity through the Roman Empire in the first three centuries A.D.
I don't know what we will see as a result of these prayers. This kind of praying may turn out much like Abraham's intercession for Sodom. The tears of Jeremiah did not change the hearts of Israel. And the move of God on Europe in the early days of the church cost believers dearly. But it was certainly worth every drop of martyrs' blood. Whatever it costs us, such prayer could bring about the greatest revival in history.
Let's pray for the impossible!


http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/

Sunday, November 6, 2016

BRINGING DOWN STRONGHOLDS

Last week in my other blog, http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/, I wrote about the complexity of the issue of abortion. Like many social problems its roots are deeper than its legality. I did not mention that the law acts as a teacher and does play a part in changing the thinking of society. But it is also important to note that we are facing spiritual strongholds that must be brought down to make radical changes in our culture. It is easy to treat these matters as less difficult or painful than they are. But it is important to note that Jesus said,
“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy.”
(Luke 10:19)
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us,
“The weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.”
We come against spiritual strongholds when we seek to change human nature or have real effect on our culture. I don't want to pretend that politics are not important in this spiritual battle, but as long as we think it is our primary means, we will be defeated. Let me point out three necessary elements in changing society.
Evangelism
Nothing changes people like the gospel. The majority of believers in Corinth had no spiritual background at all. God needed to make great changes in their thinking and lifestyle. Nothing would change them or people today like being radically born again.
Discipleship
And while a great change comes upon us at our conversion, there is also a process of transformation by which we are made more and more like Jesus. Before changes can spread into wider society, God needs to change us in the church. It is the will of God that we become salt and light to the society around us. If we try to do that in our own strength we will fail.
Prayer

But we have been given prayer to work in our world. We have the limitless power of God to break down our society's spiritual strongholds. By prayer we can do the impossible. Who knows what God will do through our prayer?