Most Christ-followers would like to have a better prayer life. Try this with me. Think about where your prayer, physical, financial, or family life is. Now, think about where you want it to be. What is in between? If you are normal, there’s the infamous gap! [Not the store!] It’s the same gap that occurs when the exterior doesn’t match the interior. The gap between knowing the truth and implementing the change. It’s the gap between discipline and regret.
Proverbs 25:28 NLT says A person without self-control (discipline) is like a city with broken-down walls. No matter the area you need to change, you must make a choice and this choice calls for discipline. Where are the gaps in your life? What discipline is the Holy Spirit leading you to commit to in order to make the change?
You must choose between discipline and regret.
Surrender: to yield (something) to the possession or power of another
Control: to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command
Let’s be honest; most of us like to be in control. We stress out when things seem out of our control. Growing up with two brothers, control was a big issue, whether it was who would ride “shotgun” in the car or would we watch cartoons or American Bandstand. It feels nice to call the shots, drive the car, hold the mic, dominate the remote, and plan out a detour-free itinerary for our lives.
Control becomes a major issue when we refuse to surrender control of our lives to God. I’m like, “Hey God, I know you created the world, and exist outside of time, and are unquestionably wiser than anyone could imagine, but I just want to give you a heads up. You’re going the wrong way!”
Jesus prayed, “Your will be done,” right before His crucifixion; and our hearts, words, and lives should continue His prayer.
We cannot micromanage God, but we can trust Him. We can yield to His guidance, knowing He only leads us in the right direction.
We all get to choose. The options are confidence in our own partial understanding or surrender to the one who holds the map.
If you have raised children, they probably have done something that was foolish, destructive or even dangerous. And you ask them the proverbial question; “What were you thinking!?” The standard reply is usually, “I don’t know!” They are telling you the truth because they were not thinking! It came to their minds and without thinking or weighing the consequences, they did it.
I wonder if God asks the same question of us sometimes. Thoughts and impressions come and go through our minds and we never give them a second’s notice. But God’s Word says what we think, what we allow ourselves to dwell is very important. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says we are to “... take hold of every thought and make it obey Christ.” Our thoughts should not control us; we must control our thoughts. Every sin and unChristlike behavior begin as a thought. In the Garden of Eden, Satan’s strategy was simply to place a thought in Eve’s mind that God was being unfair to them. Genesis 3:1 Eve should not have entertained that thought.
“Our lives move in the direction of our strongest thought,” [Craig Groeschel] You cannot control thoughts that come to your mind but you can reject from dwelling on them.
When I was learning to drive, my father thought everyone should first learn to drive a car with a manual transmission. For those not familiar with that term, this refers to cars that require you to change gears manually. The process involves learning how to synchronize the gas pedal, the clutch pedal, and the gearshift. The key is to ‘smoothly’ engage the clutch.
My father and older brother took me driving in the country one Sunday afternoon (less traffic) to practice learning the mystery of the manual transmission. I came to a stop sign that had a sharp left turn UP HILL. Now the trick is to engage the clutch without letting the car roll backward. My first unsuccessful attempt was best described as a hopping rabbit. My “instructors” roared with laughter!
For the Christ-follower, our lives must “fully engaged” to live our lives pleasing to Him. Romans 12:11 “Do not be lazy but work hard. Serve the Lord with all your heart.”
The plague of Christianity is half-heartedness, resembles Christianity but there is no power, no love, no peace. We are to serve the Lord with all [fully engaged] our hearts. 2 Timothy 3:5 says, “They will go on pretending to be devoted to God, but they will refuse to let that “devotion” change the way they live. Stay away from these people!”
We are beginning a new year, I would encourage you to be fully engaged in your service to the Lord this year.
One of the greatest aspects of Christianity is prayer. If you have been a Christ-follower for any amount of time, you know how important it is to have a consistent prayer life. True prayer can sometimes be a challenge. That is why it is called a Christian “discipline.”
I firmly agree that every Christ-follower needs to have a time set apart for personal prayer. But I also believe that prayer needs to be a natural part of our daily lives. The Apostle Paul admonishes us to “pray continually” but how is that done?
Bill Hybels, author of Too Busy Not to Pray, suggests a way make prayer a part of our daily routine. For example, when you shower, allow it be a “trigger” to pray for cleansing and purity in your life. If you take medication on a regular basis, allow that to be a “trigger” to pray for good health and healing for you and others. Don’t just read or listen to the news, allow it to become your prayer list. Pray for people that are hurting and facing tragedy. When you see an automobile accident or an ambulance rushing to help a needy person, pray for those involved. When you get a glass of pure, clean water, pray for those who do not have access to clean water.
The possibilities are only limited by your creativity. Start today, making your own prayer “triggers.”
People love racing. The urge to be faster than everyone else is ingrained in us. Whether it is in a race car, on foot or involving animals, nothing quenches our competitive thirst like a good race. Here is some race that you might not be familiar with.
* Hamster racing. The United Kingdom is quite fond on betting on hamsters racing miniature vehicles in a 30-foot straight line.
* Pig racing. Four trained pigs race around a circle track, knowing there is a delicious (for them) prize at the end.
* Mud racing is an adventure race where contestants hurl themselves through mud pits, waist-high mud rivers, obstacles on a challenging cross country race.
The Apostle Paul repeatedly referred to the Christian life a race but he carefully explained the differences from secular racing.
1. In secular racing, the winner wins a crown made from plants that only lasts momentarily. However, the Christian’s crown is the eternal life that never withers or dies. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
2. Only the person who crosses the finish line first wins the prize. But every Christian that crosses the finish line receives the prize. Matthew 24:13, James 1:12
The most important thing in your life is to realize that because God has created you and given you life, you ARE entered into this race called life. I know that you did not choose to be entered into this race but it is your responsibility to finish the race. Do not be afraid, God has provided everything you need to reach the goal.
Failure to finish means to be eternally lost.
We have all had an itch that we cannot scratch. It is usually located somewhere on your back that your arm is too short to reach. So, you reach into your desk for a ruler but you cannot get enough pressure. Next, you get up, walk from your desk and rub your back against the door frame. No good! After several other attempts, you give up and try just to ignore the itch you cannot scratch.
Maybe no one was better at scratching than Solomon. The book of Ecclesiastes is devoted to his search for The Next Thing. He had wealth, power and ability. The phrase “I devoted myself to…” keeps coming up in his book.
- Solomon threw lavish parties that we today cannot comprehend the cost
- He surrounded himself with gardens, parks, and houses
- He constructed a palace that took 150,000 workers thirteen years to build.
- He accumulated 1,000 wives and concubines
- He indulged in every appetite. “I denied my self nothing my eyes desired.”
You can walk down the same road but you find, as Solomon did, nothing brought lasting soul satisfaction. We are called to contentment. Contentment does not come when we acquire enough. It is a product of the way we think. The goal of advertising is to get you to think how dissatisfied you are with your current it.
A spiritual leader went to spend a few days in a monastery to reflect. The monk who showed him to his simple cell said, “If you need anything let us know and we’ll teach you how to live without it.”
“He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance with increase. This also is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 5:10