When you Pray

‘While He prayed…heaven …opened’ Luke 3:21 NKJV

When Jesus was baptised the Bible says, ‘While He prayed…the Holy Spirit descended… upon Him… and a voice…from heaven…said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased’ (vv 21-22 NKJV). After the crucifixion the disciples ‘prayed with a single purpose’ (Acts 1:14 CEV) and ‘the place…was shaken. They were… filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke God’s word without fear’ (Acts 4:31 NCV). Make no mistake, prayer can be hard work, but our most rewarding moments will come from time spent in prayer. God used prayer to accomplish things that won’t happen any other way. Henry Blackaby says: ‘As we pray our attention is turned towards God and we become more receptive to aligning our lives with His will. He won’t equip us with His power while we’re racing off to our next appointment! His Spirit won’t empower us if we’re oblivious to what He’s saying. He requires our complete attention…’Jesus told his disciples… they should always pray and not give up (Luke 18:1 NIV 2011) If you’ll commit yourself to spend sustained time in prayer… God will work in your life as He did in the lives of Jesus and His disciples… The fervent prayer of the people at Pentecost didn’t induce the Holy Spirit to come upon them. Prayer brought them to where they were ready to participate in the mighty work God had already planned’ The Bible says ’Before daylight, (Jesus) went…to a solitary place; and… prayed’ (Mark 1:35 NKJV). And before He chose His disciples, ‘he spent the night praying’ (Luke 6:12 NCV). If it took a whole night for Jesus to determine His Father’s will, what makes you think you can do it in a few hurried moments?

This is reproduced with kind permission from United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) Word for Today. Copies can be obtained from them at UCB Operations Centre, Westport Road, Stoke on Trent, ST6 4JF
They can be reached on 0845 6040401 or at http://www.ucb.co.uk

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Start Looking Forward

‘Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead’ Philippians 3:13 NLT

There are things inside you that must be dealt with before you can move ahead. Every experience you’ve had from birth until the present moment has helped shape who you are. The things that happen to you, good and bad, are instrumental in determining how you’ll act and react for the rest of your life. Paul talks about ‘forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead’. You ask, ‘What did Paul have to forget?’ A lot! On Paul’s orders Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was stoned to death while he looked on. Before he met Christ on the Damascus road, Paul routinely imprisoned and put Christians to death. The fact is, if he hadn’t overcome his past he would never have written half the New Testament and helped establish a church that would last two millennia. Was Paul perfect? Not even close! That’s why he said: ‘I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all the Christ saved me for and wants me to be… I am still not all that I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us’ (vv12-14 TLB). The only place the past can live is in your memory; and the only power it has over you is the power you give it. So the word for you today is: Start looking forward.

This is reproduced with kind permission from United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) Word for Today. Copies can be obtained from them at UCB Operations Centre, Westport Road, Stoke on Trent, ST6 4JF
They can be reached on 0845 6040401 or at http://www.ucb.co.uk

Divine Guidance

‘God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him’ Philippians 2:13 NLT
Underline these words: ‘God is working in you.’ He does this as you engage your mind, open your mouth, move your feet, and use your hands to do what He’s already put into your heart. The moment you say yes to His will, He gives you the ability to perform it. Notice, He doesn’t reveal His will to you, then call you. He calls you, and as you step out in faith and obey Him, He reveals His will to you step by step, empowering an equipping you as you go. If you’re thinking you’d like a little more detail before you make a commitment, take note. First, God may make you uncomfortable where you are. ‘Like an eagle that stirs up its nest…The Lord…led him’ (Deuteronomy 32:11-12 NIV) To teach her children to fly, a mother eagle literally pushes them out of the nest. Talk about being out of your element! Can you imagine what they are thinking? ‘It’s my mother doing this to me’. But until a baby eagle is forced out of its comfort zone, it doesn’t realise it was born to fly, spread its wings, reveals its power, and take its place in the heavens. Is God stirring up your comfort zone today? Second: God’s direction is impossible to follow without His help. He plans it that way. Jesus said, ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5 NKJV) Third: there’s persistence in His leading. Human ideas go away, but God’s direction stays. That means time is on your side – so stay in step with God and don’t get ahead of Him.

This is reproduced with kind permission from United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) Word for Today. Copies can be obtained from them at UCB Operations Centre, Westport Road, Stoke on Trent, ST6 4JF
They can be reached on 0845 6040401 or at http://www.ucb.co.uk

Reach for Help

‘The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone’ Exodus 18:18 NIV
God has placed people within your reach who are willing to help you. If you don’t accept their help, you will be frustrated and they will be unfulfilled because they’re not using their gifts. God hasn’t called you to do everything, for everybody, in every situation. You can’t be all things to all people all the time! You yourself have legitimate needs, and when they are not met you suffer and so do the people around you. There’s nothing wrong with needing help and asking for it; in fact, it’s wrong to need help and be too proud to ask. Because the children of Israel looked to Moses for everything, he tried to be ‘all things to all people’. And that’s when he reached a breaking point. So his father-in-law suggested he delegate some of his authority and let others make the less important decisions while he made the more important ones. It worked! Moses did what Jethro suggested and it enabled him to succeed in his assignment. Plus, those under his leadership got to enjoy a sense of accomplishment too. It was a win/win and the job got done right! Question: Are you complaining that people are placing too many demands on you and you’ve too much to do? Are you reluctant to let others help because you don’t think anyone can do the job as well as you? Look out! The Scriptures caution about developing ‘an exaggerated opinion of (your) own importance’ (Romans 12:3 AMP). Reach for help. You’ll last longer and enjoy life more if you do!

This is reproduced with kind permission from United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) Word for Today. Copies can be obtained from them at UCB Operations Centre, Westport Road, Stoke on Trent, ST6 4JF
They can be reached on 0845 6040401 or at http://www.ucb.co.uk

Growing Stronger through Change

‘…under pressure… your faith….shows…’ James 1:3 TM

The one thing we can count on in life is change. We try to resist it by it says, ‘Ready or not, here I come.’ In order to grow stronger through change we must give up, wise up and toughen up. First, don’t be an escape artist; trying to avoid the stress that accompanies change. There is no escape; change is inevitable. Stop regarding it as any enemy and make it your friend. Only when you decide to ride the horse in the direction it’s going, will get to where you need to be. Second, when we’re hit with sudden change, our ‘fight or flight’ instincts aren’t very good at handling it. But there’s a solution. By entrusting our lives fully into God’s care and asking for His wisdom,’… he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into… change’ (Romans 2:4 TM).
God loves us the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way. Finally, someone quipped, ‘if it wasn’t for stress, I’d have no energy at all.’ Stop and take inventory.
Are you making it harder on yourself than it needs to be?
Are you speaking faith or fear?
Are you convincing yourself you can’t handle the changes?
Are you ready to give up without even trying, or trusting God?

If you’re struggling to make sense of the situation you’re in, read these words: ‘…under (the pressure of change), your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed…’ (James 1:3-4TM)

This is reproduced with kind permission from United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) Word for Today. Copies can be obtained from them at UCB Operations Centre, Westport Road, Stoke on Trent, ST6 4JF
They can be reached on 0845 6040401 or at http://www.ucb.co.uk

What God Expects from You

‘From the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’ Luke 12:48 NIV (2011 Edition)

Added blessing always brings added responsibility, so

1 Stop complaining. Happiness doesn’t come from getting what you want; it comes from recognising and enjoying what you have. So keep a positive attitude and be grateful every day. Rudyard Kipling said, ‘Don’t pay too much attention to fame, power, or money. Someday you’ll meet a person who cares for none of these, and then you’ll know how poor you are’.

2 Stop assuming. When you see your neighbours buying new furniture, taking expensive holidays, and driving the latest car, does something stir inside you to do the same? Be careful; just because someone appears to be in similar circumstances to yours doesn’t mean anything. They might earn twice as much. On the other hand, they may be in debt up to their ears or three-quarters of the way to bankruptcy or a divorce court. Stop making assumptions and trying to be like somebody else.

3 Stop withholding. Bruce Larson said, ‘Money is another pair of hands to heal, feed, and bless the desperate families of the earth. In other words, money is my other self’. But that’s only true if you’re willing to part with it. Money is like manure: if you let it pile up it stinks; if you spread it around it helps things grow. Money gives you options the less fortunate can only pray for. And one more very important thought: How you use your money will be one of the biggest issues you’ll face on Judgement Day. Indeed, it’ll be a determining factor when it comes to your eternal reward. Think about it.

This is reproduced with kind permission from United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) Word for Today. Copies can be obtained from them at UCB Operations Centre, Westport Road, Stoke on Trent, ST6 4JF
They can be reached on 0845 6040401 or at http://www.ucb.co.uk

Growing Through Discouragement

‘Lord, Where do I put my Hope?…’ Psalms 39:7 NLT

Here are four suggestions to help you survive and grow through upheavals such as an unexpected job loss, the death of a loved one, a failed marriage or a serious health issue:
1 Admit how you feel. That doesn’t mean sitting around wallowing in negativity; it means trusting God enough to acknowledge how you really feel. Pretending things are fine when they’re not, makes it harder to get back up. We all have down times. The Psalmist asked God to help him cope with despondency (Psalms 42 & 43). And at one point Paul was under so much pressure he ‘despaired even of life’. (2 Corinthians 1:8 NKJV).
2 Identify the source. Discouragement often comes on the heels of a setback or disappointment. Did something you set your heart on fall apart? Were your hopes unrealistic to start with? Did somebody let your down? Or is your dejection coming from a generalized feeling of burnout?
3 Talk with a trusted counsellor. Solomon said, ‘…The more wise counsel… the better you chances’ (Proverbs 11:14 TM). Don’t let pride prevent you from opening up to those who will listen empathetically and respond wisely. Talking to the right people can lessen your sense of isolation, and also pave the way for others who are hurting to do the same.
4 Be open before God. He, not fate or circumstances, gets to write the last chapter. Maybe He’s trying to teach you something or redirect your energies. David said, ‘Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.’ When your hope is in God, He replaces discouragement with confidence so that what you’re going through can become a path to spiritual growth.

This is reproduced with kind permission from United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) Word for Today. Copies can be obtained from them at UCB Operations Centre, Westport Road, Stoke on Trent, ST6 4JF
They can be reached on 0845 6040401 or at http://www.ucb.co.uk