Siesta Scripture Memory Team 2015: Verse 6!

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Greetings, sweet Siestas. It is with the largest lump in my throat imaginable that I introduce myself and share my heart with you, a most tender and humble heart as I type these words. I’m Melanie Toups, and my husband, Jerry, and I live in Bridge City, Texas. Our son and daughter-in-law, Jerrad and Cody Toups, live in Houston and are the parents of our darling grandbaby, Cally. Our daughter and her husband, Jacqueline and Josh Elliff, live in Arlington. Besides my salvation, my sweet Father has loved me most well in the lives of my children. Most well. Jerry and I worship at First Baptist Orange; I serve as principal of Kountze Elementary School and also teach at Lamar University’s junior college, LIT, in the evenings. Facilitating ladies’ Bible studies, primarily Beth’s studies, for the past 10 years is one of my greatest joys.

 

In 2009, I began memorizing Scripture through this very blog and have continued for six years. I’ll never be able to fully express the profound, life-changing impact this has over me every single day. I love His Word like no other love in my life. Last fall I began asking Him with much anticipation, “Father, what do You have for us in year seven?!”

 

Our Connection Group recently began “Time of Your Life” by Andy Stanley, and during the first session, I whispered to a friend that Psalm 90:12 would be my first memory verse in 2015:

 

So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. – Psalm 90:12 (NASB)

 

This verse challenges me greatly in how I redeem the time He gives me. Andy discusses the cumulative value of investing small amounts of time in things of worth over a long period of time. (My first thought was the immeasurable worth of Scripture memorization.) I’d been asking for His guidance in laying aside a current commitment to better serve Him, and this verse took my breath away. When I dug deeper into ‘wisdom’ (Hebrew ‘chokmah’) in my Bible’s lexical aids, I found it specifically refers to ‘prudence’ in this passage. Prudence – wise in handling matters; skill and good judgment in the use of resources. Yes. Psalm 90:12 is for me.

 

This verse also speaks to me in seasons of wait. While we believe Him to be faithful as we await answered prayers for loved ones, relationships, jobs, etc., let’s serve Him and intentionally seek daily glimpses of His glory in the wait. A favorite set of commentaries by Charles Spurgeon, “Treasury of David”, contains this statement regarding my verse, ‘When the heart seeketh, it findeth, as though it were brought unto her, like Abraham’s ram.’ Ahh. Breathtaking. This is for me.

 

I’m in such need of His loving-kindness. Each morning, my knees hit the bedroom carpet for my Manna time (‘quiet time’ – necessary, daily nourishment from Him) and then again knees on the floor behind my office desk, desperate to live under His authority to have His anointing over whatever the day holds. (Warning: you may look like a bobble-head doll popping up if someone opens your office door without knocking. Smile!) But what carries me throughout each day is His Word, verses memorized to fill my thoughts and speak aloud while walking the halls of my campus or the hallway of my home. And on stressful days when my thoughts seem to continually cycle ‘grumble/confess/repeat’, I beg Him to please ‘work in me to will and to ACT according to His good purpose’ (from Philippians 2:13, emphasis mine).

 

So, let’s do this! Your heart will soar at His faithfulness! He will use you to encourage coworkers and family with verses penned to notepads and text messages. Learn verses with friends (in 2014 I invited Facebook friends to join a group and was overwhelmed at the response); recite them during your morning commute. My work commute is 90 miles roundtrip, and my spiral is my copilot. Recently I spoke at a local ladies’ retreat and discussed Scripture memorization. Today I saw the pastor of one of the participating churches, and he was excited to share the difference Scripture memory is already making in his congregation. Applause for Him alone! He. is. most. worthy.

 

Thank you, precious Beth, for your incredible generosity in allowing me to honor Him through your ministry. I love Him more because of your obedience to His calling. I love you.

So excited to read YOUR verses, my friends!

 

P.S. In case you missed it, we have a new SSMT app!!  Check it out here: SSMT App Launch

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You Asked For It, You Got It! SSMT App Launch (optional)

If you are one of the Siestas who asked for an SSMT app, we are so happy to announce it is launching today! Yay!   Although it has broader features that connect to the LPM website, today we will focus on the SSMT features of this app.   It is completely optional, but here’s how to get it, and what it does:

1.  DOWNLOAD THE APP: Whether you are on an Apple, Android, or Windows device, go to where you download apps and search for “SSMT 2015″, developed by Subsplash.  Once downloaded, this is the home screen you will see:
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Notice the bottom icon tray that we are on the “SSMT 2015″ portion, and the top 2 related tabs are: SSMT Post & SSMT Event.  SSMT Event is information about our Celebration on 1/16/16. (More details to come.)

2.  OPTIONAL:
* Bible Gateway.com – optional resource for searching scripture in many different translations.
* Save verses to the Notes section on Bible Gateway. [Many of your devices have a “Notes” app to which you also can save your verses.]

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3.  SUBMIT YOUR VERSE FROM THE APP TO THE LPM BLOG:
* Select date. (Verse 4 in the example below)
* Select “Link”. (Links you to the Blog.)
* Scroll to the very bottom of the page where you submit your verse in a comment.
Watch” – to view video
Notes”to just read the post

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4. SUBMIT VERSE FROM APP TO FACEBOOK:
* Select “Connect” from the bottom icon tray
* Select “Facebook” and leave your comment

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That’s it!  Feel free to click around and see other fun features on the app.  Enjoy!

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LPL Atlantic City, NJ – Tickets for you and a friend!

Hi Ladies,
Happy Monday to each of you from LPM!  We hope you are beginning this new week refreshed and full of faith!

This weekend we are so thrilled to take Living Proof LIVE to Atlantic City, NJ!  Raise your hand if you are planning on going?!  Please know that all of us at Living Proof will be praying for you and we can’t wait to see and hear all that the Lord does!

Last year Beth shared a new initiative for LPL ticket giveaways.  (You can read about it here.) In keeping with this new initiative, we have some tickets set aside and available for you to give to some friends you might want to invite to an LPL event. Your friend might not even attend church, or know Jesus as Savior;  they might be new to faith, or simply less-discipled in the Word. Listen, if the Lord puts someone on your heart that might be interested and would be blessed by attending, by all means call them up and invite them. You never know what kind of investment you’re making in their life!

If you have someone that wants to attend with you, or if you stumbled across this blog and don’t know why, just call and ask for Kimberly here at the ministry and she will get you set up: 1-888-700-1999. (Not 800.)

Oh, that they would taste and see that Jesus is good; that they would be willing to enter in to hear that Jesus DOES exist, HE IS the Savior, and He is LIFE!  If while inviting a friend you need a ticket yourself, we want to gift a ticket to you, also.

You are dear to us.

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Siesta Scripture Memory Team 2015: Verse 5!

Hi everybody!  I decided to cheer you on in video this time to put some extra heart in it. I’m so proud of all of you!

 

Here’s my verse:

Beth Moore, Houston, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father.” Eph 3:14 ESV

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LPL Seattle Recap!

Happy Monday, friends!
Beth is so happy to have kicked off the 18th season of Living Proof LIVE this weekend in the Seattle suburb of Redmond!  Thank you David Lowe for the recap.

Enjoy!

Seattle Living Proof Live 2015 from LifeWay Women on Vimeo.

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Siesta Scripture Memory Team 2015: Verse 4!

SherryMcClure2

Hi Siestas! It is such a joy to be able to talk to you! My name is Sherry McClure and I just love this community so very much. I live in the suburbs of Houston, Texas, and I work here at Living Proof Ministries. One of my responsibilities right now at LPM is to help moderate your comments and it brings me such delight. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life in that way. All of you have so much to offer and I love getting to know you through your comments here! I also have the joy of tending to many of you through Facebook and I love y’all so incredibly much.

A little bit about me: I have been here at LPM for just over 11 years and have had the opportunity to do many things here! I started working at LPM when I had only been married for 2 years and we didn’t have children at the time. As I have grown and changed, my responsibilities at LPM have changed as well. I have been married for 13 years to David and we have two boys –Sam (9) and Jacob (7). We have a lot of fun together, but life with boys is loud, fast, and sometimes messy.   I also have the privilege of serving my home church in our women’s ministry. Life is full and fun! Some of the things that I enjoy most in this life are playing with my kids, being outside, shopping, cooking, and most of all, studying God’s word. His Word is the absolute thrill of my life. The Lord has recently breathed a new passion for His word into my soul and it is what I wake up for everyday…to see the Lord in His Word.   He is the love of my life.

 

1 Samuel 12:24 (ESV)

“Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.”

 

This is one of the verses that the Lord has given me to focus on throughout the entire year. He broke it down for me like this:

Only fear the Lord: I am not to fear failure. I am not to fear what someone may think. I am not to fear the enemy. I am not to fear people I think are my enemies. I am not to fear things I imagine. I am not to fear man. My only fear should be of the Lord. There is safety in fearing Him.

 

Serve him faithfully: I am to be faithful in the ways that He has given me to serve. I am to work in excellence and do everything unto Him.

 

With all your heart: I am to give my all to the things that I am serving in. No settling for mediocrity. No half-accomplishing things. No “it’s fine.” No “this will do.” I am to give my whole heart.

 

Consider what great things He has done for you: I want to be living in a constant state of gratitude before the Lord. I want to be mindful that He rescued me from the dominion of darkness and transferred me to the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13). He indeed has done great things for us!

So, my dear sisters, I pray that you will only fear the Lord. I pray that you will serve Him with all of your heart. I pray that you will remember the great things He has done for you. He is everything and I pray you experience Him through His word as it sinks into your souls!

I love you all so much,

Sherry

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A Valentine’s Post: I Believe and I Don’t

I believe in romance.

I believe in the love between a man and a woman.

I believe that love can be sustained for a lifetime.

I believe in falling back in love over and over.

I believe in making up.

I believe that good marriages are wed of soft hearts and hard heads: a tenderness to love and be loved and a tenacity too bone-headed to quit.

I believe that laughter lasts longer than sex.

I believe that many people marry people they do not love.

I believe that desperation gets confused with affection.

I believe that many couples divorce that could have made it.

I believe that God can resurrect hearts that are stone-cold dead and create love between a couple ex nihilo.

I believe that couples can put in their fifty years like a prison sentence with souls that have been divorced for decades. And that Jesus sees right through it.

I believe some fights are worth having.

I believe that laziness is the leading narcotic of romance.

I believe that neglect is a form of infidelity.

I believe in the power of repentance to jump start a dead heart.

I believe the most important synonym of the word love in a marriage is forgiveness. I believe in working it through, crying it through, even fighting it through, then I believe in putting it behind you. For keeps. Love resists the inundating urge to bring back up the old with every new offense.

I believe that getting godly counseling is an act of courage.

I believe in the immeasurable power of mutual respect.

I believe that cynicism about romance is as unhealthy as believing in fairy tales.

 

 

But I do not believe in teaching our little girls that their worth will be measured by the love of a man. Unless that man is Jesus.

I do not believe in staying silent in a culture that says girls are as valuable as they are desirable.

I do not believe it is helpful that our constant go-to compliment to a little girl is how pretty she is.

She is also smart. And strong. And thoughtful. And artistic. And creative. And well able.

I do not believe in perpetuating the myth of happily-ever-after in marriage. I believe in teaching our adolescents that we can have love-ever-after, devotion-ever-after, hope-ever-after, and faith-ever-after but only if we don’t faint-ever-after. We prepare soldiers for real war but leave young couples ill-prepared for real marriage. I don’t believe that realism has to remotely equal pessimism.

I do not believe in teaching our girls that men are gods or devils.

I do not believe in marrying a man who won’t date you.

I don’t believe in making love to a man who won’t kiss you.

 

For what any of this is worth.

 

One last thing in case you’re still reading.

 

I believe that great marriages are great but that a good marriage can also be good. Amid the blur of magazine headlines and blog articles about how to have a great romance, a great marriage, great sex, great kids, great families, great jobs, great relationships, and fabulously great futures with great impact, save a little room in your heart to believe that good can also be good.

Because life’s just not always great.

But, man, it can be good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Creative Keepsake From LifeWay that I will treasure forever

Hey, you guys!

I can’t even put into words how you’ve flooded my mind as LifeWay and I commemorated the graciousness of our God in 20 years of Bible study partnership. Without you sitting on the other side of that page and that screen, the first study would have become a hideous purple and yellow dust collector at your neighborhood LifeWay Store and the second study wouldn’t exist. For every minute of those 20 years, God has used you to drive me to a blank word-document and type in the words Week One: Day One. Picturing us both – two women (you younger, older, married, single, Black or White, on your 1st study or 15th) trying to live this faith thing out in the harsh world – with an open Bible between us, studying, seeking, praying, page-turning, thinking, discussing, maybe not even always agreeing, laughing, and crying together with one preeminent goal: to love Jesus more when we closed the workbook than when we opened it – this is what God has used to keep me at it.

To share the Scriptures with you. To pursue Christ with you. To run the race with you. To hear Jesus speak through His Word with you. THAT has been ministry to me. I am a girl in the Scriptures who wants to see girls in the Scriptures. That’s it in a nutshell.

I have no vocabulary poetic enough, no font large enough, no volume loud enough to say thank you the way I want to convey it. My heart is nearly sore from all the emotion that I have felt in the last several days as I have glanced back over my shoulder with my beloved man, my two daughters, my son-in-law, and my ridiculously adorable grandchildren. God’s grace has been poured out in scandalous proportions to me because of the cross of Christ. God got us through. And He is getting us through. And He will continue to get us through.

I got on here to show you something else which I’ll get to in just a moment but bringing up my grandchildren makes me think of the picture that Amanda clicked of the kids and me when we were all leaving the hotel for the LifeWay Bible study team celebration dinner Tuesday night.

The kids

Come on, now. Jackson was so handsome in his suit that I could hardly stand it and don’t get me started on Annabeth and her purse that her Aunt Melissa gave her for Christmas. Y’all please forgive my hair. I’d already anticipated that the team was going to have terribly embarrassing pictures of 20 years of my huge hair at the celebration dinner and, lo and behold, if it was not as big that night as it had ever been. Poetic justice.

But here’s what I’m trying to tell you about. At the LifeWay chapel service on Wednesday morning, Dr. Thom Rainer (LifeWay president) took a drape off of a breathtakingly beautiful picture (so much prettier than it appears from a distance)…

IT

 

…then told the audience and me the story behind it. The creative image is comprised of bits and pieces of all the covers of the Bible studies throughout the 20 years plus some cuttings from various pages within the workbooks. I was floored. It will hang in my home for the rest of my days as one of the dearest keepsakes I own. To this former pit-dweller, it is fluid grace stuffed into a frame.

Which brings me to the catalyst for this post. At lunch today I told my staff about the picture and showed them some photographs of it on my cell phone so that they could grasp the idea. They’ll see it in a few days when it arrives but I knew they’d love hearing the backstory Dr. Rainer told the audience. My staff here at LPM also knows that the gift was even more significant and fitting because, throughout the years, I’ve hung a picture in my office to represent each of the studies. For instance, this depiction of Moses hangs on my wall to represent the tabernacle study, A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place.

AWH

And this one depicting Peter and John running to the empty tomb represents Beloved Disciple.

Beloved Disciple

This one of Daniel in the lion’s den is one of my very favorites.

Daniel

You get the idea. So, nothing on earth LifeWay could have given me to represent 20 years of Bible study partnership would have thrilled me more completely than a gorgeous conglomeration of them all.

I got back from lunch and walked into my office and pushed the button on my new coffee maker. While I waited impatiently for it to fill up the cup, I checked Twitter. I could not believe it when I saw that the place of business LifeWay commissioned to create the picture had tweeted me with a link to a blog post about how they did it. I read it, slack-jawed.

Some of you are so creative that I thought you’d get a charge out of seeing how it was done. They took great pictures of the process and you’ll also see the end result. If you like this kind of thing, here is the link.

I could write for hours, telling you how much it meant to me to commemorate these 20 years with my beloved family. They’ve given so much to it. The grace God has shown me through Keith, Amanda, and Melissa for 30 years of ministry and 20 years of publishing  is staggering. My heart has been wrecked with love and gratefulness to them in these days of looking back. Rich, our LPL photographer, was there this week at the celebration and, as soon as I get some pictures from him, I’ll do a picture post instead of overloading you with words. I’m trying to accept that most people don’t read long blog posts anymore.

I love you guys. The honor of having served you and presently serving you is a privilege that I can hardly wrap my mind around. I do not take it for granted. You are noticed here and loved here. I’ll be in touch soon. AND, we have our SSMT post coming up in just a few days!

Hold tight to Jesus, Girls. He is everything.

 

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An Open Letter to LifeWay

Dear Dr. Rainer, Trustees, Employees, and retired LifeWay President, Dr. Jimmy Draper,

Today I will board a plane, God willing, with my dearest loves – my husband of 36 years, our two adult daughters, our son-in-law, and our two grandchildren – to head to Nashville to commemorate and celebrate God’s inconceivable kindness to us in 20 years of Bible studies with you. I will have the chance to express some of my heart to you face-to-face while I am there but I’m unsure of being able to convey all I’d like to say without crying. And what if it spun into serious tears which, while sweet and sentimental, can prove to be embarrassing and awkward in a public address? And what if, on the way home, I had to get furious with myself for not being able to say what I’d flown to Nashville to say? Thus, with your patience, this letter.

Exactly 20 years ago, my husband, Keith, made a few phone calls behind my back to find out when the very first Bible study – A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place - would be placed on a shelf at one of your stores in Houston. I was too green a new author to even ask you guys about a release date. I had no idea how the whole thing worked or, for crying out loud, if it would work at all. Keith, however, has never been one for holding back questions. He took me out to dinner without saying a single word about the Bible study then told me that he needed to run an errand on the way home. He pulled up in front of the store, opened my car door, took me by the hand, and walked me into the store. He marched me down an aisle like he knew just where he was going then stood me right in front of the ugliest cover I would ever love.

A Woman's Heart

And we both cried.

As you who were around at that time know, there were never any promises from your side or expectations from ours about a second Bible study or, with the second, a third.

What began as a publishing relationship turned headlong and heart-long into a ministry partnership.

We who have worked together on the curriculum team have marveled over and over again that God would risk anything at all on such a flawed concoction of people. Early on we came to the conclusion that God either has a lot of grace or very poor taste.

His grace was not in vain. I want to boast in Christ for the caliber of people that I’ve had the privilege to labor alongside at LifeWay for 20 years. From Day 1 to this day, every single man and woman I’ve gotten to know (young, old, or middle aged, from customer care to graphic design to editorial to management and so on) has had a heart to love and serve Jesus Christ and an authentic desire to see people come to faith and be discipled in God’s Word.

Every person. Without exception. I mention it because I just don’t think that’s normal. I think that’s the Holy Spirit.

Every single time I had a conference call to run a concept for a new study past the discipleship team, it wrapped up in earnest prayer, placing it before God, asking Him to do with it what He would. Never did you enter into it lightly. Never did you pressure me to write on a particular concept. You always gave me the room to seek God for what He’d stir in my heart in the pages of Scripture for the next Bible study.

20 years is more than enough time to get cynical, to lose respect, and to shift into automatic and just shell out material that doesn’t have an ounce of the Holy Spirit on it.

Because of the unfathomable grace and sustaining power of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, I will board that plane today free of cynicism and full of respect for you. I don’t have a sick feeling in my stomach like I sold my soul to the devil or have been a part of playing people or putting on a big act.

I have had the privilege to do the one thing on earth I feel most called to do.

And I’ve had the privilege to do that one thing with you.

Thank you.

That’s what I’m writing this open letter to say.

Thank you so much for your patience with me through 20 years of growing and changing and going through all sorts of highs and lows and crises and losses and some excruciating learning experiences. Thank you for dealing with the drama. Thank you for standing with me, believing God with me, dreaming with me, serving with me, and for fighting for me. 20 years is time enough to see someone at her best and her worst. We are long past the point where we don’t really know each other. And here we are. Still together. We didn’t have to always see everything the same way for me to be so deeply thankful we’d seen it together. I would not trade a minute of it.

A dyed in the wool sanguine, God used another little element to make this thing work for 20 years. I have laughed my head off with some of you. You’ve got some men and women on your payroll that are among my favorite people on the planet. I have been to the other side of the world and back numerous times with a merry band of your employees, made enough memories for 10 lifetimes, and laughed till I cried. I have eaten pizza on the Mount of Olives with them and walked with them through a foot of sheep manure in fields outside of Bethlehem. The privilege of working with people that you just flat-out like is no small  thing and it is not wasted on me.

I could write for hours and still not convey all that is stirring in my heart toward you but just this one time, I’m going to accept what my editor has tried to tell me for years: Beth, less is more.

So I will end with this and then bid us onward to the future:

Today I set this stack before our glorious and faithful God in His honor alone as a stone of remembrance. As an occasion to look back over our collective shoulders, reflect and say our God has been so gracious to us. For He alone can establish the work of human hands. May this makeshift stone of remembrance made of pages and ink serve as living proof to somebody reading today that, if He could be willing to use someone like me, He is willing to use absolutely anyone.

Bible studies

With so much love for all of you at LifeWay, for those recently retired, and for an unstoppable visionary in a wheelchair who now stands strong and complete in the presence of Jesus,

Beth

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In 2002 with Lee and Myrna Sizemore

 

Jesus, You and I alone know the miracle You have accomplished. We alone know the depths from which You pulled me. Your boundless grace saved me, not just from the enemy, but from myself. The patience with which You have taught me, disciplined me, helped me, refocused me, restored me, redirected me and constantly revived me is astonishing. You just don’t give up on Your own, do You? You, Jesus, are my Prince. You are the single greatest joy of my life. Thank You for the cross.

 

 

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It’s Prayer. That’s the thing.

I had an altogether different agenda for work this afternoon with no plans to blog but the Holy Spirit is stirring something in me with such force that I don’t want to resist it.

The word setting fire to my heart this moment is Colossians 4:2 –

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

Nothing is going to sound new or fresh in what I’m about to say because we’ve all heard it over and over again but sometimes it’s a timing thing. In other words, we’ve heard something a million times but all the sudden, with explanations known to God alone, the thing clicks and the breakthrough comes.

Here goes:

WE’VE GOT TO PRAY.

WE’VE GOT TO BECOME PEOPLE OF PRAYER.

WE’VE GOT TO PRESS IN MUCH FURTHER AND BELIEVE GOD TO BE MUCH BIGGER.

WE’VE GOT TO CEASE LETTING PRAYER BE OUR WEAKEST SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE.

WE’VE GOT TO STEP IT UP AND WIELD THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT IN RELENTLESS INTERCESSION.

WE’VE GOT TO GO FURTHER THAN WE’VE GONE BEFORE IN PRAYER. PRESS HARDER. THINK HIGHER. DIG OUR KNEES IN DEEPER.

WE WILL NOT LIVE BOLDER THAN WE PRAY.

THERE ARE PARTS OF OUR CALLINGS, WORKS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND DEFEATS OF THE DARKNESS THAT WILL COME NO OTHER WAY THAN FURIOUS, FERVENT, FAITH-FILLED, UNCEASING PRAYER.

It’s time we quit falling asleep in prayer. It’s time we quit practicing a prayer routine that bores us to tears. It’s time our quiet times ceased to be quiet. There are battles to be won. Works to be done. The kinds which only come through prayer, prayer, and more prayer.

It’s time we quit depending on someone else to do it for us.

It’s time for each of us to see in the mirror one of the most powerful people of prayer we may ever meet.

It’s time we prayed like we believed the risen Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Glory, was right in our very presence. Because He is.

This is what Colossians 4:2 says:

Continue steadfastly in prayer.

Don’t give up several days in. Don’t get all whiny. Don’t get all offended because God doesn’t appear to answer right away. Persevere. Keep praying. Keep believing. There are muscles God means to strengthen. It’s about the means as much as the end. Did God clearly promise in His Word what you are asking for? Then do not shrink back. Or is there a precedent in Scripture for what you’re asking in prayer? Then keep telling Him what it is, asking Him if He’d be glorified in granting your request and, if not, to remove or quiet your desire.

Persist. That’s what Luke 11:5-10 and 18:1-8 are all about.

We are warriors. Victors. More than overcomers. Bloody and bruised, we still get back up. Lip busted, we open back up our mouths – this time the louder – and call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised and so shall we be saved from our enemies. (Psalm 18:3)

Being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

This is key. We’ve got to keep our eyes wide open. We can close our eyes during prayer if we need to but then, for crying out loud, let’s get those things open and let God see the whites of our eyes, ready and watchful. Let’s expect something, for Heaven’s sake. Jesus promised us in John 5:17 that God is always at work. When we get a glimpse of His activity or the slightest hint of answered prayer, let’s thank Him for it right then and there. For instance, have you been praying for someone dear to you to be set free from an area of tremendous bondage? While you wait for the huge breakthrough, can you see any glimpses that God is at work? Then thank Him for it. Applaud Him. Like Elijah who knew it was going to rain the moment he saw a cloud the size of a man’s fist, believe with all your heart that He who began a good work WILL be faithful to complete it.

We can be so preoccupied looking to the horizon for the huge thing that we miss the glorious mosaic of a hundred scattered pieces of answered prayer right at our feet. God is rarely up to only one thing. Our nature is to look for the big finish. His is to call us into constant and daily communion, working through every circumstance, tweaking and turning and tying and telling. He’s teaching our tongues the art of tasting in a world trained to binge.

We’re looking for the string of pearls. He’s planting one pearl here. Another pearl there. The full stretch of our lifetime is the string. We won’t see how those jewels all came together on the one strand until we study them under the light of His glorious presence. In the meantime, let’s ask God to make us alert and give us eyes to see where He’s working on the way to the divine achievement we’re longing for. And let’s respond with hearts full of gratitude and mouths full of praise.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

The Apostle Paul’s next words represent a concept that is crucial to the well-being of our souls. Colossians 4:3 –

At the same time, pray also for us…

At the same time we are praying and watching and waiting, we will be vastly helped and blessed and connected by praying fervently for other people. Intercession for others becomes a guard against the narcissism of this present culture seeping right through the screen door of our prayer closets. A stunning number of Christians don’t believe in praying for themselves at all. Others have global vision the length of their noses and don’t believe in praying for anyone besides themselves. The counsel of the Scriptures is to pray for others and to pray for ourselves.

But, for the love of God, PRAY.

There is no other way.

We’ve got to wake up and pray.

In Jesus’ Name.

Like those who believe He hears.

Satan wants you to quit praying. He wants you to believe God isn’t paying one whit of attention to you. That He’s moved on without you. That you don’t matter. There’s only one thing to do with that. Pray twice as much. With twice the faith. And a thousand times the thanks.

Get up and pray.

 

We’ve got one shot at this earthly life. Good Lord, let’s make it count.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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