Persevering Prayer

While most of us have never been imprisoned for our faith, I had an experience of being interrogated by the KGB in the summer of 1986 while serving on a short term mission in the former Soviet Union. Because of our evangelistic activity, our team was asked to stop “spreading our propaganda” or we would be asked to leave the country.

In Acts 4, Peter and John were facing similar opposition for their faith and likewise were commanded not to “not speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” However, like my team in the Soviet Union, they could not help speaking about what they had seen and heard (4:20) and upon their release prayed to God in the midst of their opposition.

In looking at the prayer of Peter and John, I see four principles of how to pray in the midst of opposition. First, they focused on the character of God. They acknowledged God as the one who is in control of all things and as such, the one who they could trust with their lives. Second, they focused on the eternal truths of God’s word, quoting from Psalm 2. They focused on Scripture that was relevant to their situation and used it as a guide in their prayers. Third, they prayed for God to change their response to the opposition, not for deliverance from their circumstances. Finally, they got involved in what they prayed for and spoke the word of God boldly.

This year our small group ministry will be focusing on developing our prayer muscle. And I hope our prayers will be similar to those of the early disciples when we encounter similar opposition. I’ll keep you posted.

An Undivided Heart

Going to college in Santa Barbara was the ultimate experience! For four years I lived life on the coast with the all the amenities and distractions that come with beach living. I remember failing one of my first exams during my freshman year after attempting to study at the beach on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Even studying in the library was a challenge, as almost every window in the library had an ocean view.

College was full of distractions! There were plenty of things that could have easily divided my heart and my interests. Each day I was faced with choices and challenges; however, as I faced those challenges, I remembered the promise I made to God, which was to live for him no matter what.

In 2 Kings we see a picture of divided loyalty. 2 Kings 17:38 says, “they worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods.” In other words, the Israelites had a divided heart. Jesus taught about this during his Sermon on the Mount when he said, “no one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24).

While the distractions in college were many, I find that there are so many more things to capture my affections in this technological age. I guess life has always had its distractions; however, I don’t want that to be an excuse. God desires that our heart would be unwavering in our commitment to him. May that be true of me! May that be true of us!

“give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” — Psalm 86:11, NIV

Say Wait?

They say “good things come to those who wait,” but frankly I don’t want to wait. Whether it’s some new toy, saving up to buy a new car, or working through a difficult situation, I want immediate resolve. And in an age of instant credit and microwave dinners, it makes it difficult to practice this discipline.

In Acts 1 the apostles were instructed by Jesus not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the Holy Spirit, which they heard Jesus speak of. In that culture it was a lot easier to wait, so this is what the apostles did. The outcome was phenomenal. A great thing happened in that the Holy Spirit came as promised. The result was that Peter was able to speak boldly about the things of God, and church grew by three thousand people that day.

I have to confess that waiting on God is hard. For years my wife Jennifer and I struggled with wanting a child and not being able to conceive. I was bitter toward God for not answering our prayers and giving us the desire of our hearts. However, I kept pursuing the things of God while I continued to wait. Then one day after a seminary class, I came home and Jennifer exclaimed “I’m pregnant!”  Ten years later we still rejoice over God’s blessing, our son Zachary.

Good things do come to those who wait.

Conan

Got to connect with my friend Brian Chandler today. Brian and I used to serve together at Lakeside Church. Brian now serves locally as the worship leader at Mosaic in Hollywood. Since we’re both serving churches in the Los Angeles area, we spent the afternoon talking about life, ministry and our experiences in Southern California. Later we enjoyed a taping of Conan at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank. Had a fantastic time being part of this studio audience and we both actually landed on national TV! You can catch us about 50 seconds into this segment, which was part of the opening monologue.

Time to Pick Up the Towel

If you know me well, you have probably heard me teach on a Scripture or two from John 13-17. There is a reason for that, the Upper Room Discourse happens to be one of my most favorite sections in the Bible. I have often wondered what it must have been like to be part of this original small group and to share those final hours of Jesus’ life with him and his close friends.

On the eve of Jesus’ arrest, Jesus invites his disciples to share the Passover meal to show them “the full extent of his love.” Jesus washes his disciples’ feet, comforts his friends with the promise of his presence through the Holy Spirit, and prays for them and for those who would come to know him because of their witness. It is a beautiful illustration of Jesus’ humility and love for his friends.

I am challenged by the example Jesus set for us in the Upper Room. Instead of focusing on what was to come, Jesus gave of himself. Instead of asking for comfort, Jesus comforted his friends. What a wonderful example of being others-focused. This service reflects the character of Jesus, for he did not “come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

There are many ways we can serve others. Perhaps it’s time to pick up the towel and wash some feet!

God’s Purposes

Have you ever wanted to retaliate for a wrong done against you or toward another? Whether it is lashing out in anger, quietly plotting revenge, or sulking in our feelings, I am sure all of us have experienced this tendency to one degree or another.

The story of Joseph stands as the antithesis of our human tendency to retaliate. Joseph faced a multitude of pressures and trials: betrayal by his brothers, false accusations, and empty promises. All these could have caused Joseph to give up hope, give into the pressure, and turn away from God. Joseph could have accused God of being powerless to handle his problems, or not caring enough to come and rescue him. But Joseph didn’t do any of that. Instead, he knew some things about God. He trusted God, and he leaned into what he had been taught about him.

The pressures you and I face every day may not be like Joseph’s; however, no matter the situation, I believe God never wastes an experience. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph makes a declaration to his brothers. “You intended to harm me,”Joseph says, “but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” In other words, Joseph was able to see how God allowed the circumstances of his life to bring about the preservation of his family and the growth of a nation.

In spite of the circumstances, Joseph discovered the rich treasure of walking in God’s presence and in turn left this legacy for God’s people. Sometimes God’s purposes, in our pressures, may be far beyond anything we will see in this life, but whether we see clearly or not, he always has a purpose

When Things Fall Apart

Sparrow Records’ critically acclaimed artist Josh Wilson has a history of penning riveting songs that tug at the heartstrings of listeners, especially me. And now his latest single “Fall Apart” (See You, 2011) has testimonials from fans pouring from all over, explaining how the song has touched their lives and how God has pulled them through when they too had “fallen apart.”

Due to the influx of responses, Wilson has launched www.whenifallapart.com, where listeners can watch a touching video from Wilson and hear personal accounts of how their faith pulled them through tough times. Wilson’s hope is that the website can serve as an outlet and resource for those who want to share their story or be encouraged. Check out the website and the video below.

I Believe God Will Guide Me

In Your unfailing love You will lead the people You have redeemed. In Your strength You will guide them to Your holy dwelling. Exodus 15:13 NIV

I believe my life is in God’s hands and keeping. I believe He has a plan and purpose for my life and that He is leading me in a path that will fulfill that plan and purpose. I believe it is a good plan, a right plan, and the best plan. I believe there is not a better, higher, or wiser way for me to live or way for me to follow. I believe God knows exactly what He is doing and that He will bring things into my life at the exact time they are needed. I believe He wants me to follow Him with praise on my lips for who He is, with thanks in my heart for what He does, and with obedience in my steps for what He asks me to do.

-Roy Lessin, DaySpring co-founder and writer

I Believe

  • I believe today will be a good day because God made it. – Psalm 118:24
  • I believe I have all I need to accomplish His purpose in my life. – 2 Peter 1:3
  • I believe nothing is too difficult for me because nothing is impossible for the God who lives in me. – Philippians 4:13
  • I believe even the biggest challenges in my life can be redeemed for my good and His glory. – Romans 8:28
  • I believe I am loved just as I am and called to become even more like Jesus every day. – Hebrews 10:14
  • I believe that He isn’t finished with me yet and is able to complete the good work begun in me. – Philippians 1:6
  • I believe I am an overcomer, more than a conqueror, and nothing will keep God from carrying out His plans! – Romans 8:32-39

–Holley Gerth, DaySpring Cards

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Scroll to top