Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fumigating Your Prayer Closet

 "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:16

Have you ever dreaded something  you needed to do? You put it off until it simply had to be done, but once you did it, it was not nearly as bad as you thought it would be.

We can be that way about prayer sometimes. We know it is important, but we fear running out of words and feeling guilty about it. We know our minds tend to wander, and so we don't pray to elude that spiritual embarrassment. Then there is that terrible feeling when we try to pray about a seemingly insurmountable problem and our faith falters. In discouragement, we sigh,  "What's the use?"

How do you overcome these obstacles and move on to a victorious prayer time?

First, always remember Satan invites himself into your prayer closet. He perfumes the air with the stench of discouragement, lights the black candle of doubt,  and plays the subtle background music of lies about God's ability to answer audacious prayers.

Hidden in the folds of today's verse is the key to victory. Read it again. Do you see it? The key is humility. When your mind wanders, own up to it right away and get right back to praying. When you run out of words, humbly ask the Father to put more words in your mouth. Pray through your roster of friends and family.

 What can be more humble than confessing your sins? Confession relieves the guilt that tries to stifle your prayers before you even start.

Another way to express humility is to take your eyes off yourself and  adore Him for who He is. Adoration magnifies the Lord to His proper size,  and your big requests don't seem such a drain on your faith.

Humility lets fresh air into that prayer closet, banishing discouragement, doubt, and drowning out the the voice of your accuser. The fervor will be there and God says it availeth much (does a lot of good.)

Your prayer closet awaits. Fumigate it with humility and I'll see you at the victory party!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fan It Into Flame

"I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God..."2 Timothy 1:6

This morning I stopped by a coffee shop at my church. I'd seen the young man tending the coffee bar many times, and he did just what I hoped he would.

He sang.

In a voice so beautiful it was almost painful to hear,  he sang stray verses of whatever song was in his head.

 I ordered my coffee and sat down. Whenever he had an idle moment, he'd mindlessly allow the wind in his lungs to caress his vocal chords,  and a glorious sound would grace the atmosphere. I found myself wishing he'd have more idle moments so he'd sing more. Each time he sang, my heart would squeeze. Nothing romantic....more like worship. Something about beautiful music made with the human voice evokes worship....know what I mean?

Finally, I asked the young man why on earth he is not singing solos in our church. He looked a little sheepish and muttered something shyly. That voice was given to him by God, and it seemed a shame that the coffee cups and the odd customer were the only ones privileged to hear it. I am not playing the Holy Spirit in this young man's life. I'm just saying. Gifts are meant to be used and shared.

What about you? What are you hiding that God intended for the world? To say you have nothing to offer is to call God a liar. You were made for His glory. Is He getting any by way of the gift He placed in you for that purpose?

I have a friend who grew frustrated with me when I slacked off writing my blog. I did not realize it mattered enough. It dawned on me that she felt the same way I feel about that young man's voice. We often discount the influence we have on people. Much more, we sit on our gifts thinking they are neither good or important enough.

Maybe Paul knew Timothy was not using his gift to the fullest. He  admonished him to fan it into flame. Maybe Timothy was unsure where to start, and Paul said those words to show him he already had what he needed, he just needed to do his part by putting it to use.

 Jeremiah tried to sit on his gift, but it was like fire shut up in his bones, and he just had to let it out. Maybe you already know what your fire is and you have been trying reignite it, but fear and insecurity stand guard at all your attempts and you say it's no use.  Yes, there is a use. Keep fanning, My Sister. You are making a bigger fire than you think. God is pleased.

Maybe your gift is just a tiny flicker right now. That's OK. Add the oxygen of practice, effort, and consistency to it.  You will have a bonfire in no time. The best part is that the bigger the fire, the more people you draw to come warm by it. They will meet Jesus there, and isn't that what it's all about anyway?

What is God prompting you to fan into flame this year for His glory?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Connect the Dots in 2015

 I know you have somewhere you want to go this year. Maybe you want to become someone by December that your January self is not.

How are you going to get there?

Take a lesson from today's passage. Did you notice that God did not tell Joseph to go straight to Nazareth? Prophecy said he would end up there, but God drew the dots and allowed Joseph to connect them.

How can you connect them in your life so you end up where you are destined?

God spoke through Joseph through dreams, but that is not the norm for today's Christian. He speaks primarily through His Word; therefore, if you want to know what dots to connect in 2015, you've got to be in His book. Reading the Word is part of God's ongoing conversation with you about your life and His plans for it. It's exciting because you never know when you will come across a dot with your name on it.

God spoke to Joseph twice via dreams in this passage. What if Joseph had not obeyed the first dream? Do you think he would have obeyed or even gotten the second one? The path to connecting the dots in this new year is littered with  signs marked "obey". The wise traveler will be careful to obey each one.

Finally, notice that after Joseph obediently went to Israel, he found a circumstance there that I am certain caused him to ask God what to do. Joseph prayed and God answered through a dream. Reading the Word is God's part of the conversation and prayer is yours. No dots will connect without prayer.

Read, obey, and pray and you are sure to reach your destination. Send me a postcard when you get there!