Pray Continually

The Day of the Lord is Coming!

i thess 5 16-18

1St Thessalonians 5

Chapter 5 speaks about the day of the Lord coming like a thief in the night. People will speak of peace and safety but destruction will come on suddenly. The cool thing is that we are not in darkness; we know the end is coming. We know what the end is and who wins. Jesus died for us. He died so we could live. We need to make sure we are encouraging each other with these words. We all go through hard times, but we need to remember that no matter how hard it is now, the kingdom will be awesome!

The 2nd part of chapter 5 gives us some final instructions on how to treat people. We need to be respectful, encouraging, patient, kind, and give warnings when needed.  Verse 16-18 says:

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I never truly understood verse 17 until I had children. I always wondered how someone could pray continually. Now I know, prayer does not have to be in a closet by yourself; it can be anywhere, anytime. We are told to test everything, hold on to good, and avoid every kind of evil. We need to share this with all of our brothers and sisters, and as mentioned before, pray for one another.

 

Tomorrow we will go over 2 Thessalonians 1.

Many Blessings,

~The Ransom’s

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Genuine Prayer

1 John 5

1 John 5_15

 

Hello, my friends!

Isn’t it strange to think this greeting that was written at 8:30am on the 31st of January got to you sometime today – or even later?

That is how communication works between people sometimes: it takes time, it’s not immediate, but it’s likely to reach you eventually. Some people won’t even receive my special salutation, because they did not read the devotion today. And that’s ok.

In fact, if I yelled as loud as I could right now, you will still not be able to hear me.

HELLO, MY FRIENDS!!

Did you hear me? No? Shocking. You’re human, therefore you could not. Let me try something else…

Hi, God.

Guess what? He heard me. You know what is even better? He can hear you too. Our prayers don’t take time to reach Him. They are delivered immediately, and they will never be lost in the mail. God hears you.

Therefore, when you pray, pray genuinely.  Don’t hold back. You can trust that God is listening. God loves you so dearly that He wants you to pour out your heart to Him. He wants to hear all about your day, the ups and downs, concerns, visions, everything. Lay it all at His feet, because He can take it. To top it all off, He never gets tired of listening.

To be honest, sometimes it feels like God can’t hear our prayers. Sometimes it feels like God isn’t present in our lives. Sometimes it feels like God won’t care about us, let alone what our deepest desires are. But those are just feelings. God does hear. He is present. And He certainly cares.

Therefore, pray genuinely – even when if feels like God can’t hear you, even when life is perfect, and even when everything seems to be falling apart. People may not always be there for you, and they certainly won’t always hear you. But God will always hear your prayers. So pray like you mean it.

– Madison Cisler

Building Your Prayer Life

James 5_16b

Another common resolution of Christian’s is that they want to pray more. What does that mean though? Does this mean that they will pray more during meals, or they will remember to pray before bed? Does this mean praying at random times or scheduled times during the day? What exactly is prayer, and how do you have more? If your goal this year is to grow closer to God, then this topic is something you should really consider and maybe work on. (I am also not claiming that I am good at this, I know that this is something I plan to work on this year.)

Some passages to read this week: Matthew 6:5-13, James 5:13-18

Prayer is conversation with God. It is a time for you to talk with him and tell him what is going on in your life and to ask him for guidance or support or help. Prayer is for you to build your relationship with God. It is a way for you to give him praise and thanks for everything that he has done in your life. Besides these, prayer is for you to ask for what you desire and what you need. God is pretty awesome and he loves to give us what we want as long as it is good for us and it is in accordance with his plan for our lives. Matthew chapter 6 talks about how and where to pray. It says not to be like the hypocrites who pray in front of the synagogues so that people could see them and what they were doing. It says to pray in your room alone, because prayer is for you and God, and between you and God. Now do I think that you can only pray in your room alone? No, you can absolutely pray wherever and whenever you want, but the motivation behind your praying should not be to get attention from other people, but to converse with God. In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us the Lord’s prayer, he was giving a simple prayer that people could remember, and it covers a lot of different things in there, but your prayers do not all have to be like the Lord’s prayer.

Different ways to pray. There are as many different ways to pray as there are people on earth, and even more than that. Every single person of faith has their own relationship with God, and this means that their prayers are going to be their own, and different from anyone else. If you are trying to add more praying into your life and you do not know where to start, here are some ideas.

Just start praying; tell God anything and everything that is going on in your life. Talk out loud, or quietly to yourself and just thank God for the little things, or ask him questions, or ask for things in your life. Start a conversation, and listen for the response. Look for it in the world around you. God will make things clear when they are meant to be clear and known to you.

Listen to music, or sing a prayer. I personally feel closest to God when I am singing, or when I am listening to praise music. Is that praising? yes, but for me it is also how I talk to God, and I often get chills that tell me God is hearing me. My favorite prayer is actually a prayer that my family sings before meals. It goes like this; “Be present at our table Lord, be here and everywhere adored, these mercies bless and grant that we, may feast in fellowship with thee. Amen.” It is a tradition that I have always loved, and it is where I feel closest to our heavenly father.

Write in a journal. Again, prayer is meant to be a conversation between you and God. Maybe talking and singing is not comfortable for you, or you do not feel God’s presence when you do those. Try writing and journalling. Write your thoughts down and then just give them to God. He can still understand what you are asking of him, and this is still a form of communication. I sometimes journal and write down my thoughts, and it helps me in that moment. However, sometimes I re-read what I wrote and it helps me again later.

James 5:13-18 This passage talks all about when to pray. I’ll let you in on a little secret, it basically says to pray all the time, in any and every circumstance. We should pray when we are sick, troubled and lost. We should pray and sing praise in the joyous times. When we have wronged someone we need to tell our brothers and sisters in Christ and ask them to pray for us and with us. We should being praying in EVERY circumstance. I know I pray to God when I am really having a hard time, but I sometimes forget to pray in the good times and thank him for everything that he has done for me and given to me. This is on me, and I should do better about this.

James 5:16 talks about confessing your sins to your brother and praying for each other. To me, this also talks about accountability. Sometimes with the business of life it is difficult to remember what we promised, or to pray. If prayer is something you want to take more seriously in your life, or have more of, think about asking for an accountability partner. Ask a friend if they are willing to pray with you daily, or if they are willing to send you a text asking if you have been praying. Whatever an accountability partner would mean for you, I encourage you to seek that out. You will deepen your relationship with God, and you may even build deeper connections with fellow believers as well.

-Jana Swanson

The Power of Persistence

ask devo

Persistence is like the spraying surf or the whistling wind; it erodes away even the most hardened rock over time.  Battle-hardened generals, the most well-meaning of parents, the most demanding of bosses all will give into persistence.  Why?  Like the irritating gnat buzzing around our head, like an adjacent whistling hearing aid, like the canker sore lingering in our gums, we just want to settle the annoyance so our attention is no longer divided.

Luke 18 begins with Jesus telling a parable about a widow who most desperately was seeking justice, so she would seek out the king of her and tell of her request.  The king wasn’t a God-fearing man, or a man-fearing man for that matter, but he eventually gives into the never-ending nagging just to make it stop.  His exasperation becomes her blessing.  He did not even care about the woman, yet he fulfills her incessant request.  Jesus compares this to the matters of our own heart, and how we might constantly convey needs to our Father in prayer.  Jesus states, “Will he delay long over (our requests)? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily” because he is a loving Father, who is loftier than any king, but is most desperately desires a relationship with the lowliest of men.

Nearing the end of the chapter, Jesus models his Father’s care for the determined.  A blind beggar recognizes the “King of Kings” is passing by, and recognizes his opportunity to be healed.  He is unrelenting in his pursuit.   He cries out “Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me!”  The crowd tells him to shut up – a nuisance such as this is not worth the time of Jesus.  Instead, the man cries louder, longer, and harder, emphatically declaring the Lord to have mercy on him.  Finally, he has the attention of Jesus, and he declares the desire of his heart: sight.  This time it is not an unkind king who yields to petition, but a truly benevolent one, acting on behalf of the Father, because this blind beggar has believed.

We serve a Father who does not hide in shifting shadows from petitioners, but makes it clear that He is ready, willing, and able to meet our every need if we would so choose to let him.  Not only this, he will also give us the desires of heart if we are attuned to His will and purpose; however, we fail to recognize that we must be faithful and persistent in our request. Now, I don’t think we can annoy God into submission, but there are more than a few faithful followers in the Bible who petition the Lord Almighty, and there is a change of course.  James Chapter 1, which I highly recommend you read alongside your assigned daily devotional, speaks of the great rewards awaiting those who do not surrender in their pursuit.

God is most certainly in control.  He is also a gracious and loving heavenly Father.   He is awaiting your appeal and ready to meet the desires of your heart – yes, even those, that are locked away, wrapped in doubt, and shouted down. Unashamedly shout them and ask in the name of the King, Jesus Christ, and He will hear your cry.

~Aaron Winner

The Lord’s Prayer

Luke 11

Luke 11 2

In Luke 11 the disciples ask Jesus how to pray and he gives them the Lord’s prayer, which you probably heard before.

 

1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 Forgive us our sins,   for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”

There are several parts of this prayer that are important and that I think we sometimes miss.  First he praises God and asks for the kingdom to come.  I think it is important to start our prayers by focusing on God, because he deserves the respect and it helps to remind us that he is more important and greater than our problems.  Then it is important to remind ourselves that we are sinners in need of forgiveness and that we need to forgive others as well.  Also, when praying for ourselves we need to keep it simple, by only asking for the basics of our physical needs and for God to guide us spiritually.

Then later he goes on.

9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

 

God is very good at giving gifts, and he is not looking to hide himself from us.  If you need something then ask for it.  If you need more wisdom or patience to deal with an issue in your life, then ask God for it, and keep on asking God for it. Just make sure to check your motives as it says in James 4:3.  If you are asking for your own selfish reasons then you may need to rethink your request.  But if you are asking for something for the reason of helping to further the kingdom and the gospel then God is excited to give to his children.

-Chris Mattison

God’s Worldview

Luke 9

luke 9 26

So I want to start today’s devotion with a short story.  The past two weeks or so I was in China on a business trip.  While there my local guide/coworker asked me if I was a Christian and went to church.  Now I don’t know about you, but whenever I have heard about persecution of the church I think about the countries in the 10/40 window, including China, where Christians have been very persecuted.  This always leaves me with a bit of anxiety in the back of my mind while I am in China. When my guide/coworker asked me this I paused for a split second and was reminded of a passage from Luke 9:23-26.

“23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

 

So I unashamedly told him about my church and explained some very basic parts of church to him.  He then told me about the government’s attempted control of churches in China and the persecution that he knew of.  It wasn’t much, but I tried to bring up church with him a few other times during my trip.  I hope that I helped to plant a seed as we looked at yesterday in Luke 8, we’ll see.  I encourage you to never be ashamed of Christ and to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15.

 

The other part I want to look at is a passage that I find funny, but it also can hit close to home.  It is Luke 9:51-55.  As Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to die for the sins of the world he tried to stop in a village, but the locals did not welcome him, so the disciples asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven just like in the good old days, and he rebukes them and they move on.  The disciples asking Jesus to nuke a town of people that he is ready to lay down his life for is so jarring and odd that I find it funny at first.  I’m sure the disciples looked back on this moment in later years and shook their head, and laughed at themselves.  I remember praying for silly things when I was less mature, and then wondering why the things I prayed for didn’t happen.  If you ever feel like you are a little out of sync with God, that is OK, even the disciples missed the mark sometimes.  But I encourage you to work hard at figuring out where your worldview differs from God’s, by reading the scriptures, praying, and asking for advice from more mature Christians.  Maturity and wisdom take time and perseverance to develop.

-Chris Mattison

Paul’s Prayer: Strong Holy Hearts

TUESDAY

1 Thessalonians 3-13a

I Thessalonians 3

1Th. 3:1   Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we decided to be left alone in Athens; 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and co-worker for God in proclaiming the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you for the sake of your faith, 3 so that no one would be shaken by these persecutions. Indeed, you yourselves know that this is what we are destined for. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we were to suffer persecution; so it turned out, as you know. 5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith; I was afraid that somehow the tempter had tempted you and that our labor had been in vain.

 

1Th. 3:6   But Timothy has just now come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love. He has told us also that you always remember us kindly and long to see us—just as we long to see you. 7 For this reason, brothers and sisters, during all our distress and persecution we have been encouraged about you through your faith. 8 For we now live, if you continue to stand firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.

 

1Th. 3:11   Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13 And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

 

I highlighted Paul’s prayer at the end of this chapter. In several of Paul’s letters, he offers a prayer in the middle. In these prayers, he often prays about the things which he is about to write. In this prayer, after praying that God will make it possible for him to return to Thessaloniki, he prays three things for the Thessalonians:

 

  1. May they increase and abound in love for one another,
  2. May God strengthen their hearts in holiness.
  3. May they be blameless before God at the coming of our Lord Jesus.

 

Paul gives practical teaching on these three things in chapter 4 and we will be looking at his teachings on holiness in the remainder of these devotions this week.

-Greg Demmitt