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10 Quotes from Max Lucado’s ‘Before Amen’


When Prayer Flows

If you want to take you prayer life to another level of simplicity and ease, “Before Amen” is for you. It is inviting and inspiring. The focus remains on the Father all through the book. In essence, that is exactly what prayer is all about.

Enjoy a few quotes that jumped off the pages:

“Before you face your world, face you Father.”

“Prayer is conversation with God while driving to work or awaiting an appointment or before interacting with a client. Prayer can be the internal voice that directs the external action.”

“Guilt leaves a tattooed heart.”

Just as a happy child cannot mis-hug, the sincere heart cannot mis-pray”

“Prayer is the hand of faith on the door handle of your heart; the willing pull; the happy welcome to Jesus.”

“Prayers are not graded according to style.”

“You are never more like Jesus than when you pray for others.”

“An un-prayed for problem is an embedded thorn.”

“Life is a gift, albeit unassembled. It comes in pieces, and sometimes it falls into pieces.”

“God’s goal for you is wholeness.”

An Illustration that will preach

This was a gentle, smooth read. Max’s illustration of the prayers of a 10 year old girl in Helen Roseveare’s orphanage is a powerful testament of what it really means that the “Father knows what you need even before you ask” (Matthew 6:8). How would you like to receive a timely gift, the same day you prayed, only to find out that the gift was mailed 5 months earlier?. I highly recommend Max Lucado’s ‘Before Amen.’

#brightsummerbooks

Ignite my Soul: Consume these idle sticks


“God consume these idle sticks in my life that may burn for thee.” Jim Elliot

What does the word idle mean?

It means – not active or in use.
synonyms: inactive, unused, unoccupied, unemployed, disused. It speaks of a person – not working; unemployed. Synonyms: unemployed, jobless, out-of-work, redundant, between jobs, work less, unwaged, unoccupied. It also speaks of a person avoiding work; lazy. Synonyms: lazy, indolent, slothful, work-shy, shiftless, inactive, sluggish, lethargic, listless

It means to lack or be without purpose or effect; pointless.
Synonyms: frivolous, trivial, trifling, vain, minor, petty, lightweight, shallow, superficial, insignificant, unimportant, worthless, paltry, niggling, peripheral, inane, fatuous

It defines a person who spends their time doing nothing; be idle.
Synonyms: do nothing, be inactive, vegetate, take it easy, mark time, twiddle one’s thumbs, kill time, languish, laze, lounge, loll, loaf, loiter.

The Scripture warns about it

A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. Proverbs 10:4

And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace. Matthew 20:3

But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Matthew 25:26

For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. Titus 1:10

And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. Titus 3:14

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Romans 12:11

I understand that some times, depending on where you are in life, a lack of clarity or opportunity can easily turn you into a couch potato. But that is a very dangerous place to park. If you didn’t already know, you are in big trouble if you find yourself sitting around doing nothing. Your life has become the devil’s workshop.

A slothful life can easily become a life of Spiritual Apathy. You soon find yourself slipping into a subtle love for worldly things. All of a sudden you, your life, your vision becomes dull – nothing moves you.

At this point, life is reduced to easy choices, and mediocrity. You begin to make the bed with false comforts. You are easily carried away by worldly distractions and fleshly attractions. And the things of the world are now more important than God’s mission.

What you need at this time is a dose of purpose; a watershed of passion and an explosion of persistence.

Mary O’Connor said, “It’s not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised. The mosquito is swatted.” What’s your purpose in life?

Shannon O’Dell said, “God has so made man, that whenever anything fires his soul, impossibilities vanish.” What are you passionate about?

The Apostle Paul said, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward toward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” How persistent are you?

Before I close, I urge you to find those idle sticks that are slowing you down from living life persistently and passionately on purpose. My idle sticks are different from yours and yours from mine. What’s important is that we can find them and ask God – the God who answers by fire – to consume them and set us on fire.

These prayers I will pray:

Lord, consume my longing and lack of discipline for:
Too much Entertainment

Lord, consume my:
Laissez Allez Mentality

Lord, consume my:
Indifferent & Care free Attitude

Lord, consume my:
Propensity to Settle for second best

Lord consume my
Spiritual Apathy

Lord consume my
Passivity

Light a passionate fire in my soul and make me “the fuel oh flame of God.”

Recourse: Online Etymology Dictionary for idle

The Prayer for Success


I visited my Twitter feed this morning and the first thing that caught my attention was a tweet from one of the pastors I follow.

In two days his church is having a conference, so pinned at the top of his page is a question and a poll of four things attendants are expecting to see as a result of participating in this conference. Out of four desired outcomes, almost fifty percent of attendants are expecting to see breakthrough in their finances, as it relates to their business.

I have never met anyone who doesn’t want to be successful. Parents, pastors, bloggers, businessmen and women all have this one desire in common – success.

One of my favorite Bible verses to pray is Psalm 90:17

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

The common mistake we make as it relates to praying for success is to use a misguided definition of success. For most, success is, the attainment and self use of prosperity, popularity, and power. To use this measure in prayer is to miss the heart of God. It is, actually, to pray amiss.  James says,

You ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

True prosperity is finding favor from God to achieve His dreams, goals, and calling on one’s life. For example, we can say that David was very successful in that, “he served the purpose of God in his own generation” (Acts 13:36).

What did Jabez understand when he prayed “Lord bless me?” I assure you this was not a selfish prayer.  First of all, “Lord bless me” means to prosper me, elevate me, promote me, lift me. But that phrase almost always has “others” in mind. For example, “enlarge my territory” according to scholars, means “to multiply my borders with disciples.”

But the Bible is clear when it comes to praying for blessing or success:

I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you . . . and you will be a blessing to others. Genesis 12:2

May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him. Psalm 67:7

I will save you that you may become a blessing. Zachariah 8:13

When someone has been given much, much will be required in return. Luke 12:48

So that in every situation you will always have all you need for any good work.                  2 Corinthians 9:8-11

The above definition makes praying for success very easy. This is what Jabez understood when he prayed, “Lord bless me indeed” (1 Chronicles 4:10). Because of that understanding, the Bible says, “God granted what he asked.”

Jabez’s heart and prayers were aligned with the heart and character of God.

Here are some ways you can use this prayer. Lord Bless Me:

  • Make me a successful parent… in order be a blessing to my children and an encouragement to other parents
  • Make me a successful pastor… to lead well, to pastor with compassion, and care for my brothers and sister in Christ
  • Make me a successful blogger… to write some uplifting, life-changing articles for others to enjoy and grow
  • Make me a successful business man/woman… to take care of my family, invest in your kingdom and help the poor

I guarantee you, if you order your prayer for success in this manner, you will begin to see results in you life. God bless you richly!

 

Jabez, a man of travail


There are levels in prayer that we will never know until pain becomes a friend.

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” 1 Chronicles 4:9

The name Jabez is a name associated with pain. He got his name from his mother while she labored in pain to bring him forth. Being a man of prayer, himself, I believe the knowledge of that experience left an indelible mark on Jabez’s life. It opened his eyes to see and understand something much deeper about prayer.

He understood that nothing of immense value comes about without pain, suffering, hard work and travailing prayer.

The birth of a child

“Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.” John 16:21

The deliverance of a nation

“This is what Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them. 2 Kings 19:3

Jesus’ decision to embrace the cross

And being in agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:44

Salvation and the making of disciples

“My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” Galatians 4:19

The Suffering Servant

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes[a] his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:10

The Lord’s Service

“I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” 2 Corinthians 11:27

The widow’s breakthrough

“In a certain town, there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ Luke 18:6

Many have approached the Jabez prayer with great enthusiasm hoping to score a quick and easy win only to find out that Jabez’s win came at a cost. Some people want to pray but not many want to ‘pray’ the price.

Some people want to see miracles signs and wonders, so they go up on the mountain to seek God. But too many would rather sit at the base of the mountain and play church while others are up on the mountain fasting and praying.

Remember what Jesus said – “this kind comes out only by fasting and praying.”

The best prayer you will ever pray is one inspired by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26 tells us, “when we don’t know what to pray for, the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”

What is the meaning of groaning?

According to dictionary.com, “it is a deep, mournful sound expressive of pain or grief.” It means to be “overloaded” with an intolerable burden. Nehemiah tells of his experience of being overloaded with an intolerable burden here in chapter one of his book. He said, “when I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days, I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”

If you never experience that level of burden for the wellbeing of others or country in your Christian life, you cannot afford to live without the intense longing of Psalm 42:1, 2. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night.”

Conclusion

Like Jabez, those who run after God with that level of intensity; those who avail themselves to Him by letting Him place on them a burden for this lost and dying world; will not only go to deeper levels of prayer but will also see the ‘birthing’ of impossible things.

Jabez, a man of ‘weight’


I hear your voice, I hear it piercing through the night. I feel your heart, I feel the beating of your heart. It was a whisper. But it got louder. Now, it’s clearer. You said, ‘Come away to my secret place I want to spend some time with you. Come away to my dwelling place I want to pour my love on you.’

Walter Bright

1 chronicles 4:9

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.”

Exactly 10 years ago, today, I bumped into a missionary at the San Francisco Airport. He had just arrived back to the States from his first two years of work in various parts of West Africa. He was excited to find out that I was born and raised in that part of the world. So, we sat down for a little chat about his travels and ministry.

After reminiscing for about an hour, he said these words to me.

“I have profound respect for African Pastors. Their dedication, consecration, and sacrifice speak volumes to me. But there is something else that I have been privileged to witness first hand in the last two-year. Something that has completely changed my life and ministry.” I interjected with an inquisitive – what? With teary eyes, he said, “Their prayer lives. They carry a certain level of presence.”

As I nodded in agreement with him, he reached out and grabbed me by the hand, looked me in the eyes and said, “they are men of weight. Are you a man of weight? America needs men of weight.”

That encounter challenged me and reminded me of Jabez. Jabez was a man of weight. In 1 Chronicles 4:9 the Bible uses the word ‘honorable’ to describe him. The root definition of the word carries the idea of weight. Men and women of prayer and consecration carry with them the weight of God’s glory.

  • A man/ woman of weight is a man/woman of character
  • A man/woman of weight is a man/woman of prayer

Now, I don’t think the missionary was saying that all African Pastors are men/women of character and prayer. Neither do I think he was trying to throw shade on western or American pastors either. As the missionary does, I too know a lot of American Pastors who are men/women of weight.

I think he was trying to make two points. One of laziness on the part of many Christians and the other of effectiveness in calling and ministry. Speaking of laziness, Corrie Ten Boom asked, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” If the only time you pray is when you have a flat tire but neglect your consecration, your prayer life needs an awakening.

On the other hand, E. M. Bounds said, “Nothing is well done without prayer for the simple reason that it leaves God out of the account. Everybody wants to improve ministry, gift, and calling, but nobody wants to improve their prayer life. Improve your prayer life and everything else will improve.

Beth Moore said, “There are parts of our calling, works of the Holy Spirit, and defeats of the darkness that will come no other way than through furious, fervent, faith-filled, unceasing prayer.”

Conclusion:

How much do you desire to grow in your relationship with God? How effective do you want to be in your ministry? If you want to grow and become effective, you must become a man/woman of weight. It all starts with an invitation. Can you hear His voice? Can you hear the beating of His heart? He is calling you away. He wants to spend time with you. He wants to pour His love on you. What are you going to do?

Pray like Jabez Prayed


Jabez ‘Called’ and God granted.


The word call carries the idea of a heartfelt, passionate prayer. This kind moves us beyond the laid back, lackadaisical prayers we are often guilty of.

Scripture says, “He rewards those who diligently seek Him.”

May He grant you clarity of vision this next season.

Intro: Life and Prayer of Jabez


“A man whose soul never “calls,” never cries, never looks, never waits upon God, is not living to the end for which a man should live; he is not truly living at all.”

Bible Illustrator

1 Chronicles 4:10

Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.

Introduction

Mentioned once in the entire Bible with a name associated with pain, lack and limitations, we find a man who had nothing until he started praying. He was literally a man of many sorrows. A man whose mother gave him the name pain. For Jabez, things were on a downward spiral. He had no job, no friends in high places, and no connections. He had no five-year plan. Not even a piece of land on which he could build.

If there was anything honorable that set Jabez apart, it was his prayer life. That is the reason why verse nine of first Chronicles called him an honorable man. Out of a heartfelt and audacious prayer life, one full of faith and trust in God, he uttered 4 powerful prayers that got God’s attention. The Bible says “God granted what he asked for”.

I don’t see Jabez’s prayer as a magical formula like many people do. They think by just reciting it, it will mysteriously bring them what they want. I do, however, believe in the Almighty God who is able to exceed our expectations when we pray. And speaking of prayer, the scriptures tell us that when it is “effectual and fervent, it can accomplish much.”

There is a combination of things, consistent with the character of God, by the way, that makes Jabez’s prayer so powerful and effective.

  • Things like praying according to God’s Will
  • The long and sometimes lonely seasons of prolonged prayers
  • The level of his consecration
  • The silence the wooed him to keep seeking, searching, waiting
  • Having an audaciously huge God kind of faith
  • The willingness to accept and work with God’s timing, vision, and purpose
  • And to keep oneself faithful, responsible and accountable to God

For example,

Prayer for success is crucial, but it’s certainly not the only thing you are going to do to bring you success. God is your source, don’t ever lose sight of that. But he will challenge your definition of success; stretch you through pain; and model faithfulness (grit, tenacity) perseverance to get you to the finish line.

These are the things I would love to explore in this blog series. But, before we do that, let’s define a few words from 1 Chronicles 4:10.

Definitions

May the Lord “bless me” means – to prosper, elevate, promote, lift,

May the Lord “bless me indeed” means – significantly, out of the ordinary. Like no one else can. It is one thing to be blessed, but totally another thing to be blessed indeed. That is because “if the Lord doesn’t build the house, he who builds in vain. Or, it is the blessings of the Lord that make rich.”

May the Lord “enlarge my territory” means – to give a progressive growth. To enlarge what one has beyond his/her comfort zone. To break out. Step out. To expand beyond one’s sphere of influence.

May the Lord’s hand be upon me means – God’s providence, favor, anointing, grace, opened doors, and a blessing on everything one touches.

May the Lord keep me from evil – keep me from failure, sin, temptation, canal behaviors, and a protection from the evil one.

He cried! He called! This is not a casual, lackadaisical prayer. This was an earnest and heartfelt prayer.

Granted

1 John 5:14 – This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

As we go through this blog series, my prayer for myself and for you is that our confidence will increase as we pray. I pray that as we seek Him for all our needs we will hear this word – GRANTED!

 

The Life & Prayer Of Jabez 


A Summer Series: The Life and Prayer 🙏🏾 of Jabez

Week 1.
A prayer for success – May the Lord bless you – prosper you, elevate you, promote you, lift you, (indeed – significant, big, out of the ordinary)

Week 2.
A prayer for influence – May the Lord enlarge your territory – progressive growth, enlarge what I have and what I am, beyond my comfort zone, step out

Week 3.
A Prayer for Providence -May the Lord’s hand be upon me: open hands, favor, anointing, grace, open doors, the touch of God, to bless everything you touch.

Week 4.
A Prayer for Protection – May the Lord keep me from evil, keep me from PAIN, keep me from failure, sin, temptation, canal behaviors, the lust of the flesh, lust of eyes, pride of life.

Introduction is on July 6th

Join Us!

Day #21: How to fix your identity crisis?


Who are you listening to?
What are you reading?
Or, might I ask – what are you watching?

Whoever or whatever has your attention is shaping your life and your destiny.
You say, “brother, I am not listening to anyone but myself.” Well, what are you telling yourself?

If we are ever going to live to our full potential and experience the fullness of life, we must allow the truth of God’s word to shape and direct our lives. If we are going to shame the naysayers and haters; live out the gospel in a hostile world, and win the war on negativity and pessimism, we must regularly remind ourselves by speaking the word of our confession.

This must include an overwhelming exposure of our entire lives to the Word of God. We must study, Meditate, confess and commit to radical obedience.
It is also important that we develop core values and principles from the heart of God that we can use to remind ourselves regularly.

Here is my 10:
I am known. 
Even if the world never hears of me or never know me, I am persuaded that He knows me and It brings me satisfaction.

I love my wife. 
“All of her” – like someone said – “her perfect imperfections.” Just like Jesus loved the church and gave His life for her, I must do the same to love and serve my wife.

I am a man of God. 
I am full of faith, full of life, fully equipped, anointed, empowered and called to do great things. I am an ambassador; and I represent the Kingdom with integrity.

I am free. 
Sin shall not be my master. For God is working in me both to will and to do of his good pleasure. I am abiding in Jesus, meditating upon His Word and following His example.

I live on purpose. 
I am not like a boxer beating the air. I am not swayed by the currents of culture. The Holy Spirit is my guide. My steps are ordered by Him. I am in his will and I’m fulfilling my ministry and reaching my destiny.

My children are taught by the Lord. 
They will grow up in the fear of the Lord. They will love Jesus and commit fully to following Him. Their well-being shall be great.

I am blessed beyond measure.
I am resting in the finished work of Christ. Everything I need is already provided. I live by faith and trust; for His grace will never fail me.

I am stronger/Better/Wiser because of others. 
I purposefully and strategically seek out friendship and mentors to help sharpen my life.

I live to serve not to be served. 
I am gifted by God to serve other. I am a good and faithful steward of God’s various graces.

I am growing in my craft.
My leadership skill is improving. I am more disciplined and focused. I am becoming more creative and innovative. I am opened to change and willing to admit my shortcomings and mistakes.

Conclusion:
I am reminded by scripture to actively replace every negative, sinful and prideful thoughts with ones that are true, noble, admirable, pure, excellent and praiseworthy. So I make this a regular exercise so that I may reach my full potential in Christ.

  • Do you struggle with keeping you heart, mind and spirit aligned with God’s Word?
  • What core values and principles  have you developed that are shaping your outlook on life?
  • How is your regular reminder of these core values helping you stay focused and productive?

Thanks for sharing!