(For the The Prayer Challenge Devotional)
Proverbs 29:18 - "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
A vision for your life is very important to have. Without a vision, and without a strong hope for that vision to be fulfilled, actions and choices are simply random and certain things that ought to have meaning lack it. The vision we have should be in line with God's will and purpose for our lives. Jeremiah 29:11 declares, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." As we submit to God and obey Him daily, we get closer and closer to that "expected end."
Our purpose is fixed; God created each of us for a specific reason. Our destination and destiny, however, are not fixed. They are directly affected by the choices we make each day. Our destination is where we end up. Our destiny has to do with how we are when we arrive at our destination. If we make choices while thinking from a short-term perspective, we could miss what God has for us and wants to do through us concerning the long-term things.
So we've got to think long-term. We've got to ask ourselves, "how will this action here or that one thing spoken to another person impact not only myself, but also others now and in the future? Am I in line with what God wants me to do? Am I setting myself up for a bright future?" If you struggle with any or all of those questions, then it might be a good time to take a personal assessment of your life and the things around you. Hopefully you have the right goals, tools, and resources that will take you to that "next level," as we often say nowadays. If you're dealing with the contrary, seek God about who and what you should be connected to so you can fulfill the vision God has given you. When you have sight beyond sight, when you can see beyond the present circumstances that you see in front of you, you can then make some necesssary changes and please God. As you seek God more and more, prayerfully you will see things less and less from a temporary perspective and more and more from an eternal perspective.
Prayer Focus: Lord, help me to grasp the kind of sight I need in order to fulfill what you have called me to fulfill. I thank you now for clear vision. Thank you for helping me to see beyond my present temporary circumstance to catch a glimpse of what the future holds.
Study Focus: Proverbs 29:18; Jeremiah 29:11; Joel 2:28; Habakkuk 2:2-3; Ephesians 5:15-16
Reflection: Sometimes we can get so stuck on our present situations and circumstances that we forget to consider the importance of vision. When you keep in mind your God-given vision, you set certain goals that are good and healthy for yourself and for those whom you might be leading. Feed yourself truth daily so the vision will live strong. For we know what happens with the absence of a vision. So keep looking forward. The future is bright!
(For The Prayer Challenge Devotional)
Matthew 6:33 – “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
According to Mark 1:14,15, “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,” saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” What is the kingdom of God? The kingdom of God has to do with God’s rulership and dominion in heaven and earth (Matthew 6:10). To Jesus the kingdom of God was the very essence of life, so much so that He taught more on the kingdom than any other subject. So when Jesus says, “seek first the kingdom of God,” it is not just a statement or part of a sermon; it is His very heartbeat.
Seeking the kingdom of God is the most important choice a person can ever make. In fact, if you have been born again in Christ and you have made it your aim to truly follow Him, then seeking the kingdom of God is your life choice; it is the core purpose of your existence. Seeking the kingdom of God entails focusing on God’s will being accomplished in the earth. How do we help ensure that God’s will is accomplished in the earth? It is by seeking the truth in God’s Word and making ourselves available for His use. It is by understanding He has called each of us to fulfill different individual purposes in light of the greater purpose of bringing Him glory, honor, and praise.
So what are the benefits of being in the kingdom of God? So glad you asked! Here are a few:
1) We have Christ as our King. Now as obvious as that sounds, that truth carries some great weight. If Jesus is King, and we are His people, then what does that make us? That makes us royalty. And what royal figure exists in a poor condition? None, I’d imagine! Believers in Christ should not be struggling, in the sense of “just getting by,” especially since God will supply all of our needs “according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
2) We have protection against the kingdom of darkness. Satan would love to sift us as wheat like he wanted to do with Peter (Luke 22:31), but we have Jesus as our great Intercessor. He makes intercession for us without ceasing (Hebrews 7:24-27).
3) We have a family. When we are born again we have God as our Father and fellow believers are our brothers and sisters for a spiritual family dynamic. No one has to go through life all alone. Support for living and doing what God has called you to do is available. Moreover, everyone who has the hope of having his/her child-to-Father relationship perfected when Christ returns is presently making sure their life is purified (1 John 3:1-3). Since he/she bears the family relationship to God, they must also exhibit the family character: “holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
4) We have hope. The hope of ultimate salvation not only from the effects of sin, but also this present world, is present. What would be the point of being born again if we had nothing to look forward to? In Colossians 1:27, the Apostle Paul mentions the awesome idea of “Christ in you” being the “hope of glory.”
Prayer Focus: Lord, I thank you for Your Kingdom and everything that comes with it. Give me the strength and the wisdom to operate in it the way You would have me to so I can fulfill the purpose You created me to fulfill.
Study Focus: Matthew 5:19, 6:10, 33, 7:21, 11:12, 13:30-34, 19:24; Mark 1:14-15; 4:10-12, 10:14-15, 10:23-25; Luke 4:43, 9:62, 16:16; 17:21; John 3:1-5; Acts 1:2-4; Romans 14:16-18; 1 Corinthians 4:20, 15:50; 1 Thessalonians 2:11-13; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 12:10
Reflection: God has a glorious kingdom and He wants you and I to be in it. In order to be in the kingdom, we must first be born again by placing our faith and trust in Christ Jesus in making Him our Savior and Lord. Once we have been born again, seeking the fulfillment of God’s kingdom agenda should be our top priority. When we make that so, everything else we need will fall into its proper place. God will surely take care of us daily. Although the Gospels focus on the present aspect of the kingdom, it is also clear that the kingdom will be realized perfectly only at the second coming of Christ. In its spiritual nature, the kingdom of God, as a gift, is the ultimate salvation of His people.
(For The Prayer Challenge Devotional)
Proverbs 4:7 - Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
There are many things that we might want to obtain in our lifetimes. Maybe for some people it’s about getting those dream cars and houses. For others perhaps it’s about getting those nice shoes everyone has been talking about. Or maybe for others still, it’s getting a shot at retiring early after working for so many years. Whatever it is, if wisdom and understanding are not part of the equation, then we could be in serious trouble.
There is nothing wrong with having nice things or great financial opportunities, but those will fade away for they are temporary. However, there is something special about getting wisdom and understanding. When you are wise and understand what to do, you make choices that positively impact not only yourself, but also many others. The benefits of making wise choices can be seen not only in the present, but also down the road in the future.
How does one gain wisdom? Quite frankly, it’s by studying the Word of God and learning from mistakes made in his/her life. We find it difficult to take a person seriously if they have not been through various tests and learned from their mistakes. Our experiences help to shape us as we should not want to make the same mistakes more than once. Also, it’s about what we allow God to show us. God is not going to force us to be wise. But He does want us to invite Him into our lives so He can show us how to live in a way that pleases Him. Some people reject God’s wisdom and end up going through a situation that causes them to be humbled and they then see the error of their ways. It’s a good thing to listen to the Lord and then actually avoid trouble. When people see us walking in wisdom because we take heed to what God says, God will get the glory.
Prayer Focus: Lord, I thank You for Your infinite wisdom. Please help me to walk in wisdom so I can please you and help others along the way.
Study Focus: Exodus 31:2-4; Deuteronomy 4:5-7; 1 Kings 3:4-14; Psalm 49:3; Psalm 90:12; Proverbs 1:7, 2:6, 3:5-7, 3:13, 4:7, 24:14; Ecclesiastes 2:13; Isaiah 33:6; Jeremiah 9:23-24; Luke 2:52; Romans 11: 32-34; 1 Corinthians 1:29-31, 12:8; James 3:12-18
Reflection: When we take in wisdom, we come to understand what is true about things, situations, people, and even God. Knowing what is true helps us to make good choices that bring God glory.
(For The Prayer Challenge Devotional)
Psalm 27:5 – "For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock."
There is something very comforting about knowing that when things are going well, God is there for you. And when things go sour, God is still there for you. We all face trouble from time to time. The issue is not the trouble itself. However, the real issue is how we choose to deal with that trouble. When trouble comes do we run to things and/or people first for a sense of security? Or do we go to the Lord first in prayer, seeking His face? If we’re wise, we’ll fulfill the latter instead of the former.
When there is impending danger, God has the ability to hide you in a special way. In the Old Testament, the Tabernacle was the portable dwelling place for the divine presence of God from the time of the Exodus from Egypt through the conquering of the land of Canaan. The innermost section of the Tabernacle was the Holy of Holies which housed the Ark of the Covenant (also known as the Ark of the Testimony). In it there was Aaron’s rod that budded, a golden pot of manna, and the Ten Commandments. The top part of the Ark of the Covenant was called the Mercy Seat, which was made of pure gold. On the Mercy Seat were two golden cherubim on opposites sides that had their wings facing each other. In between the two cherubim was the presence of God (see Exodus 25:10-22; Numbers 17; Hebrews 9:4). The secret of the tabernacle is God’s awesome presence!
When you are hiding somewhere, you feel safe, right? Well there is no safer place to be than in the presence of Almighty God. With God, there is true life and growth (the budding). You can feast on the truth in His Word, and rest assured He will provide for your physical hunger too (the manna). And you can receive great instruction on how to love God and how to love His people (His commandments). When trouble comes, knowing you have access to growth, God’s provision, and His instructions is very important.
When you know God is there for you, you can stand in faith. Know that Christ Himself is a sure foundation. Some foundations can crumble from under you because of too much weight. That is not so as it relates to Christ. When trouble comes, we can cast all of our cares upon Him, for He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). No matter how much the weight of our cares upon Christ is, He cannot crumble. But He can surely hold us up. So let the winds blow and let the storms rage. Trouble is no match for Jesus. We can stand in spite of the trouble!
Prayer Focus: Lord, I thank You for being there for me, especially during my time of trouble. Thank you for keeping me safe from harm as You hide me. Then to keep me from falling, You set my feet on solid ground. I trust that Jesus is my Rock and I am convinced that all other ground is sinking sand.
Study Focus: Psalm 27:5, 37:39; Isaiah 28:16; 33:2; Psalm 9:9, 32:7, 34:19, 73:26, 126:5-6, 138:7; Nahum 1:7; John 16:33; 1 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:11-14; 1 Peter 5:7
Reflection: No matter what tests, trials, or tribulations come our way, we should know that we can stand and depend on Christ, for He is our solid Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4). Gravity holds us down, and while we stand, there is enough friction so we do not slip off of the Rock. With our feet firmly planted, trouble cannot knock us down. When trouble comes, don’t run to temporary things, but run to the eternal God Whose presence is more than enough.
(For The Prayer Challenge Devotional)
1 John 3:11 – "For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another."
It has been said many times, "It is not just what you know; it is who you know." That might very well be true in certain circumstances, but there is something we ought to consider in addition to that: what about how we are treating who we know?
When people enter our lives, it is for a particular reason and season. We would be wise to ask the Lord what that reason is. Are they there to show us something or teach us something? Are they there to help us face certain tests that come our way? Or have we entered their lives so we can possibly help them? Whatever the reason, we need to respect that reason and be sure to honor God by loving them the way Christ would. Honestly, we might not always like certain people in our lives, but we should always love them. To love someone is to do right by them. Love is more than an emotional state; it involves direct action.
Think for a second about who you are connected to. Consider your friends, your immediate family and relatives, your co-workers, your significant other, or your spouse. In the daily hustle and bustle of daily life, it can become easy to take them for granted. It can become easy to not dig beyond the surface level of the connections we have with people to see what they really might be dealing with. Do you have their best interests at heart? Do you pray for them to grow in Christ, or to embrace a relationship with Him if they have yet to do so? Do you encourage them to do good things? Do you assist them when they solicit your help? Do you comfort them during their time of hardship? The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ."
God can comfort us Himself directly. And He also takes great joy in using us to bring comfort to others. The question is, have we made ourselves available for His use? When we make ourselves available to the Holy Spirit, that shows the ultimate connection we have to the Lord Jesus.
Prayer Focus: Lord, please help me to be aware of how I am connected to people beyond the surface level. Please show me how to exhibit the kind of love towards them that You would have me to in order to please You.
Study Focus: Exodus 20:12; Joshua 24:15; Proverbs 17:17; Matthew 12:50, 19:6; 1 Corinthians 12:14-26; 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Reflection: We are connected to different people in different ways. But no matter what type of connections we have with others, this remains essential regardless of the scenario: we should show them the love of Christ. By loving people, we show that we love God.
I just want to encourage and inspire as many people as I can for Jesus Christ.