Today’s gospel passage makes it seem so simple! Ask God for what you want and you’ll get it; look for what you want and you’ll find it; just knock and doors will be opened to you. However, Jesus reminds us that God is a good father and will not give us what is wrong for us! When you were young, did you ever ask your parents for something that was just not right for you? Perhaps your children have done the same to you. You don’t give a baby a steak, nor do you give a toddler a 10 speed bicycle. You wouldn’t let your children look for milk in the cabinet where you keep your cleaning supplies. But sometimes we are looking for what we think we need in all the wrong places. Yes, Jesus tells us to keep asking for what we need and we will receive it, but he also expects that we will be asking for the right things. We are bombarded with ads that tell us what we need to do or own in order to be happy, but are those things truly what we need? Jesus tells us that we need hearts that are open to others, that we must be people of peace and forgiveness, and when we ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit, we will surely receive. When we pray, do we ask God to give us those things which He knows we need in order to be happy, or do we ask for what the media says we need? If we leave the decisions up to God, then we will always receive what we ask for; we will find what we are looking for; and doors will open at our knock.
Through Jesus Christ, we can have boldness in our speech as we speak about Him, and boldness as we live knowing that death is gain. Through Jesus, we also get access to the Father, whom we wouldn’t have access to without Jesus. Beyond that, we can come to the Father confidently in the name of Jesus because Jesus covers us. He puts on us His perfection and victory over sin. Through Jesus, by faith, we get great rewards.
Father in Heaven, I am so glad that I can come before You confidently. Thank you for sending Jesus so that through Him I would be able to approach You. You have given me great things, so let me live boldly. I have no one to fear but You, Lord. You are the only one who needs to be pleased with me. Make me confident as I live out my days for You – not for men. You are good. You are beautiful. I truly serve the God of all things who created all things. There is no evil in You. I come to You, Father, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sometimes preachers use this text to question whether or not Jesus has siblings, but I think they miss the point of the text. Jesus looks at the people gathered around him, listening to his message, and says that the one who does the will of God is mother, brother and sister to him. The important thing is that he includes us in that as long as we do the will of God. In another part of the Bible, we are called adopted children of God, again being described as the brothers and sisters of Jesus. The key here is doing the will of God. This can be a stumbling block for us. What does it mean to do the will of God? Do we ever ask God to show us the path he wants us to take? Do we ask for guidance when we have an important decision to make? Do we ask for help when faced with temptations? We know that the commandments provide guidance and we have the Beatitudes to give us further instruction, but do we pay attention to them? Many times I know that I don’t. I just go along my own way and then wonder when things don’t turn out the way I want! This is especially true when I am not as considerate of others as I know I should be. I say I want justice but don’t always let my action follow my words. How about you?
Jesus was sent to preach the kingdom of God all over, not just in one place. He taught in places where others would not even go because of prejudices. Then after He had died, risen, and departed, His disciples continued preaching and spreading the gospel throughout the earth. Today, there are still groups of people who have never heard the gospel. There are missionaries whose goal it is to bring the gospel to those people. Eventually, every tribe, tongue, and nation will hear the name of Jesus and the good news about Him.
Heavenly Father, I pray for the peoples who have never even heard of the name of Jesus. Send missionaries and believers to share You with them. Prepare their hearts to receive You and Your word. Give them true hope and save them from judgment. You have a plan for all of us, and You are sovereign. Let Your will be done in the nations. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
C S. Lewis pointed out that “forgiving does not mean excusing . . . if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive.” The people of Paducah, Kentucky, understood this. A few years ago, fourteen‐year‐old Michael Carneal opened fire on a group of students who had gathered in prayer. In seconds, ten were wounded, three fatally. Yet the students and people from the community showed a remarkable willing‐ness to forgive. Placards appeared at the high school reading, “We Forgive You, Mike.” Kelly Carneal, Michael’s sister, was not only embraced by her peers, but was also asked to sing in the choir at the slain girls’ funeral.
During the town’s annual Christmas parade, the people lifted up a moment of silent prayer on behalf of Michael and his family. One young girl said it best: “I can hate Michael and bear the scars of what he did for the rest of my life. But I choose to forgive him and get beyond it.”CONTINUE READING →
No matter what a person believes on the matter of interracial marriage, I want to begin with the fact that we are all made in the image of God.CONTINUE READING →
Bible Trivia Question of the Day What did the townsfolk of Gerasenes ask of Jesus after he cast the legion of demons out of the possessed man into the herd of pigs? A. they asked Jesus to heal their sick B. they asked Jesus to leave their town C. they asked Jesus to perform more miracles D. they asked Jesus to feed them
I am a 47 year old Native American woman who has servived being raped, being beaten and being shot by my husband who then selflessly killed himself in front of me. Seven years have past but I still can’t get the image out of my head. But, I thank God for keeping me alive. My past is my experience. An experience you can’t get in any class room. It was a hard challenging life, but By the grace of God I am here. Only to be a true testimony for the living God. To glorify His Holy Name. Fasting and prayer work hand in hand with each other. You cannot fast without praying – otherwise you will simply be on a hunger strike. The point of fasting is to sacrifice earthly needs in order to focus more on communing with God. Prayer is how we commune with God during this time of fellowship. It is in these times we can receive visions, revelations of God’s word, and a refreshed assurance in the goodness of God.
Boy, are we just like the people in Jesus’ day! We say we will follow Jesus, but we put it off with all kinds of excuses! I need to work; my kids are in sports; I’ll do it when I’m older. I don’t have time right now for you, Jesus, but the day will come when I will have time. Imagine how that works with our earthly relationships! There’s an old song called “Cat’s in the Cradle” that talks about a father who doesn’t have time for his son while the son is growing up and only realizes what he has done when he retires and the son now has no time for him. The good news is that Jesus will always have time for us no matter how long it takes for us to wake up and make room for him in our lives. But think of what we miss! We can miss years, or in some cases, a lifetime, of knowing that Jesus has our back – he will always be there to help and guide us. His grace will be there to keep us from making some pretty terrible mistakes. All we need to do is follow him. In one of the classes we had this spring, the video instructor explained that the “yoke” that Jesus asks us to take for our own, is not a burdensome piece of wood that keeps us tied to the plow, but rather, a point of view. Jesus asks us to view life as he did – working for justice, in communion with one another, always connected to the God who made us. Yes, it can be difficult at times because the world is always pulling us in all directions, but with the grace of God, we can do it. What has happened when you didn’t follow Jesus? I know that in my life, that’s when I was on my knees begging God to get me out of the mess I made. In the long run, life is actually easier when we give in, let go of the excuses, and just follow Jesus.
Dear God, my prayer is that everything I do will never be done out of ignorance or selfish desire. May I never have any ulterior motives in my actions because I know how this can nullify the very act. May I remember that the importance of all I do is to communicate with you and to ensure that your name is glorified at all times. In Jesus name I pray Amen
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ and you live in America, then there is a glaring problem that we are faced with. Even though this problem might seem simple to identify, I am not sure if we are recognizing how much damage this problem is doing to the name of Jesus and to the hope of the message of the gospel.
The problem is the church is not one and is clearly divided. Now to be clear, there have been disagreements throughout church history – you can read about some of them in the book of Acts. Even Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement that caused them to part ways. However, even though they disagreed, it never interfered with the preaching of the gospel, and it never brought shame to the name of Jesus. I am not sure we can say that about the church in America today.
Wanted to remind you to get into this group with other pastors. There are over 3,000 members, with several hundred being very active monthly. It’s a really healthy group and there are lots of great ongoing conversations on topics I think you’ll find helpful.
One topic that is most pertinent is planning out your sermon calendar for 2022… and it’s not just because it helps you prepare your messages.
Small group curriculum can be shaped around a sermon calendar. Giving initiatives can be incorporated into the sermon calendar. Guest speakers and breaks for the preaching team (vacations) are included in the sermon calendar. Volunteer and membership initiatives can fund support through sermon series. Those are just four big benefits of getting your preaching calendar in order for the new year. There are countless more contextual benefits that will elevate ministry beyond the pulpit.
As I mentioned in my last email, you’re at the starting line for the new year and as important as it is to feel a sense of renewal to the call God has put before you, it is equally as important to be intentional in getting the work done, step-by-step.
To help you get started (or finish out) your sermon calendar, I have several links to share.
How to Create A Preaching Calendar (Article) 2022 Sermon Calendar Template (Spreadsheet) Sermon Calendar Videos – Video 1, Video 2, Video 3 2022 Sermon Calendars – Topical, Expository, Lectionary, Acts Workshop on January 26 It’s not abnormal to stare at your February, March, or April weekend dates hoping and planning to get some time set aside to fill them in. That’s pretty normal… not just for pastors, but people in general.
You tell yourself, “I’m going to get to this…” but it doesn’t happen.
Using the resources above, and especially the workshop I mentioned on the 26th, you can gain some insights, develop a little motivation, and before the end of the month, look at an excel spreadsheet with tentative sermon titles and even have guest speakers penciled in for weekends when you know you’ll be gone.
Don’t forget, you can still join the preacher’s group I mentioned above and in my previous email.
You won’t fail to plan for lack of resources or opportunity… it would be for lack of action… and you’ve got 6 different recommended actions in this email alone. Choose one and go!
There are likely older believers in your life. Here, Paul tells Timothy not to rebuke his elders, but to come to them the way he would come to his father. Then, he tells Timothy to treat younger men as his brothers. Similarly, you can treat older believers in your life as you would a father or mother. Don’t be harsh with them, but come with respect and humility. With younger believers, treat them as you would a sibling. Do not taunt or be rude to them. Do not act as though you are better than them. Rather, treat them with respect that you would want to receive from those who are older than you.
A mother is a blessing to her family. Mothers are known to be the glue that holds the family together – after Christ, that is. If you have been privileged enough to have a loving and dedicated mother, take time out to appreciate her or thank God for her. If, unfortunately, you have not, thank God for the women in your life who filled that gap. God is also able to fill that gap in your life, and heal you from any hurt or pain you may have suffered as a result of losing your mother or having a mother who did not show much care.
The Bible always instructs us to honor our parents. If you are privileged enough to have parents who know and love God, pay attention to their counsel. Their words are designed to benefit you and not bring you down – as long as they are inspired by God. You can also apply this advice to any mother or father figure you have in your life. It is wise to listen to your father and love your mother – there are exceptions to this, but generally it is wise. No matter how old you get, you can still respect and learn from your mother and father. It brings parents joy to instruct their children and give them advice. It makes them happy to hear from their kids no matter how long it’s been since they lived at home. If you haven’t spoken with your parents lately, and there’s no good reason not to, you may consider giving them a call.
Dear God, I thank you for the parents and guardians you have given me who are concerned about you and your will for their lives and my life. Father, may you help me to pay attention to their instructions and their advice. I desire to honor my parents because I know it brings you honor too. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Father in Heaven, thank you for my parents, for the things I learned from them, and for the good things they did for me. Bless my parents. Draw their hearts to You, and let them live the remainder of their days for You. Help me to keep the wisdom I learned from them, and remind me of it in a time when I need it. In Jesus’ name. Dear God, I just want to pray for all the mothers in the world. Lord, I know how tough it can be being a mom. I pray that you comfort them in times where they need comfort, strengthen them when the going gets tough, and may you bless them abundantly for their love, care and concern. I also ask that you heal those who may have never had the chance to know a mother’s love, Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen, Amen, Amen.
Heavenly Father, make me respectful and humble as I interact with those older and younger than me. If I see something in their life that needs correction, give me wisdom and humility to address it. Lead me by Your Holy Spirit, and do not let me do it on my own strength. Let me correct others because I love them and You, not for selfish gain. Thank You God that You correct me in love and not wrath. Let me correct and treat others how You treat me and how I would want to be treated. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
God rested on the seventh day; just as He rested, so we are to rest. It gives our livestock, family, and workers under us a chance to relax. It brings light back into tired eyes and allows people to continue. Take your Sabbath. There is nothing wrong with resting, and it is good for you. Enjoy your day of rest.
Thank you, LORD, for allowing me and encouraging me to rest. You are a good God. You are not cruel or unkind. You truly care for me and my wellbeing. I love You, and I love Your ways. I will surely serve You and find my rest in You all the days of my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen. O merciful and forgiving God, implore me to seek you more. Help me to help others do the same. Through your words and deeds all that I need to know can be known. Forgive me for not always committing fully, and help me commit more in the future. I humbly ask all of this in your Holy name, my Lord. Amen.
Comparing myself to my parents and other people that I looked up to often made me feel like a failure. It took me much longer to start a family than my parents, and this was tied somewhat to my constant comparison of my own potential children to my parent’s children. What if I was not as good a parent as they were? How could I cope with that? I later learned that this was a foolish line of thinking. Having good role models to compare and emulate is incredibly valuable. Without them, it is very hard to understand the process involved with getting to where you want to go. Out of all the people that we could compare ourselves to, who would be the most difficult to live up to? The answer is Christ, of course. However, attempting to emulate the Son of God is surely the best person we could ever aspire to be. We also have the Holy Scriptures to guide us, the word of God and teachings of Jesus to assist us along our spiritual path. We will surely never be as sinless and good as Christ, but there is no better person to compare ourselves to and aspire to be.
My Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. We thank You O Lord, for showing us the way; the way to a righteous path; the way to Your heavenly Kingdom. Thank You for granting me Your courage and wisdom to walk Your path, for with You each stepis a victory as we get closer to You, I praise Your wonderful name Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in Jesus name Amen.
The original colonies of America offered Christians a safe haven to practice their religion in any way they saw fit. The city of Boston, one of the earliest settlements as well as one of the most puritanical places, was viewed by the early colonists as an example of Christian values that would shine to the entire world, as a “city on a hill.” Many of the core values of the founding colonies are still central to the American way of life and western civilization as a whole. As Christians we have a duty to share the truth of God’s word with others and understand it ourselves. This light is a lamp at our feet, taking us out of darkness, into goodness. Like many of the states in early America, they thought this was a great responsibility, and did not want to keep their light to themselves.
Prayers for Healing America and Turning to God
America is hurting. Pandemics, racial inequalities, job loss, and political division have caused great suffering. We are called to be salt and light on the earth. As Christians, we can begin healing our land through prayer and action. Let us come together not just by words but a faith that produces works. The love and grace of God can begin turning the tide of America.
We look to You and to You, only, Lord. Help us make wise decisions that move our country in the right direction. Help us to do our part in praying and in staying with what we know is right according to the truth of Your Word. Teach us to make our actions count and our words matter, and line them both up to Your sense of rightness, not ours. Guide us with Your eye; grip us with Your strong arm; teach us what we need to know to make our lives – and our nation – count for you.
As a nation, God, help us to desire righteousness more than rights, and to mirror sacrifice more than selfishness. You know us well, and You understand our flaws. Turn those weaknesses into strengths; bathe us with Your grace and mercy, though none of us deserve it. Fill us with the boldness to choose the kind of freedom that will benefit all, rather than a few. Open our eyes to see others as You do—with godly potential and value. But help us, too, to recognize our own pride in trying to elevate ourselves and others above You and Your purpose for our lives.
We need, You, God. Oh, how we need You! You have exercised nothing but faithfulness and fairness in Your treatment of our country, even when we’ve turned our back on You and forgotten Your goodness to us. Your discipline at times is hard, but You are just. Your purpose is always to draw us close to You, to bless us, and to make us a great nation who honors You. You are a good, good, Father—and Your love for us has a proven track record. – Rebecca Barlow Jordannull
Prayer for An Awakening in America
Thank you for your great power. We praise you for your Truth. We’re grateful that you have set us free from the clutching grasp of sin and death. Would you be with your people, extending your grace, granting your freedom, providing your protection, and empowering with your strength. We ask that you’d bring about an awakening of your presence as never seen before. We ask that your Name be proclaimed, that all plans to silence the Name of Jesus would be thwarted and crushed. We pray that many would come to know you as Lord and Savior, we pray that many would see your Light, that you would open blind eyes and release those still imprisoned. – Debbie McDaniel
A Prayer for America’s Future
Make us a great nation, yes. But more than that, make us good, Lord, with a heartbeat that wants every person of every creed and color to know Your love, Your goodness, and Your worth. Make us wise as serpents, but gentle as doves. Turn our fears to faith, as we look to You and You alone for the future of our country. Give us God-confidence that no matter what happens, we will believe You are not only in control, but that You know exactly what is needed to accomplish Your purpose. Help us not to second-guess Your moves, but to move at Your command, always without hesitation.
Forgive us for wanting our own way and making our own paths—often the ones paved with least resistance. Forgive us for fence-walking, or for ignoring completely the truths that can so easily set us free. Deliver us from mindless quarrels and destinations that lead us nowhere, but away from You. Free us from divisiveness, and melt our hardened hearts to love, not hate, and to heal, not debate. – Rebecca Barlow Jordan
Prayer for Justice and Healing
We may look different from each other, but we have one big thing in common — we’re all your image-bearers Lord, which means we all have equal value, we all have purpose, and we are all part of your plan. Father, you know the injustice that has occurred for thousands of years, in different countries, with races of color and classes of people. I pray for justice in ongoing racism, which is still found here in America. I pray that these wrongs look very wrong to everyone who views these situations; make it clear to everyone God, that races of color are beautiful, valuable, and worthy.
You are the author of justice Lord, we ask that you would rain down justice in the form of convictions, law changes, police training, transformed mindsets and hearts, and continued racial reconciliation. Help us to look to you…and your Word to remind ourselves of what justice should look like. You know what injustice is like God; every sin committed is an injustice against you. Lord help us to fight injustice in the right way, may we always look to you as the solution. Oh Lord, that there would be more and more hearts transformed by your grace. May this time of injustice produce opportunities for conversation to talk about your grace, mercy, and forgiveness. May we seek you in our quest for justice, and may we continue to pray in your name for justice to be served when lives are taken and hateful actions are committed. In your name Jesus, amen. – Liz Auld
Prayer for Unity in America
We pray that you would unify your people for the glory of your Name that all who call themselves Christians would rise up, believing your great Truth. Wake us up Lord! Remind us to live aware, to redeem the time, to listen to your words, to be willing to make a difference in this land. We pray for all those in authority, that you would give them your wisdom and discernment as they lead. We ask that you would appoint strong, faithful men and women to serve this nation and our people.- Debbie McDaniel
A Prayer for Leaders to Rise Up in America
Lord God, we desperately need your wisdom. You have given us a great country, founded on principles and truths from Your Word. We need men and women who will honor You, trust You, and lead us once again back to You. We pray for servant leaders who love the things You love and who care more about others than themselves.
Raise up leaders with the greatest potential of godly leadership, those who can ease confusion, expose illusion, and heal delusion. You alone hold the power to turn the hearts of leaders, but You listen and use our prayers to move them into right action. Help us to be faithful to care and to pursue Your heart in prayer. – Rebecca Barlow Jordan
Heal our Land
We pray for your great healing on our land. Shine your face on us dear God. We need you now, more than ever before. Our times are in your hands. Thank you that you are rich in mercy and full of grace. Thank you that you are forgiving and merciful. Thank you that you are strong and mighty. Thank you that you are for us and that you fight for us still today. Bring honor to your Name, Oh Lord, for You alone are worthy. – Debbie McDaniel
Prayer to Love Others
Lord, help me to see the issues around me in my community. Help me to be the person who goes out of my way to meet them. Lord, my heart has gotten hardened. I haven’t wanted to love people the way you love them. I’ve only loved those that think and act the way I do. Help me love people the way you love them. Help me to love enough I’d be willing to lay down my life for them. Amen. – Michelle Lazarek
A Prayer for Those Who Protect America
Lord, police officers’ days are filled with uncertainties and unknowns as they make quick and often life-changing or life-threatening decisions. Help them to be wise and invoke all their training and experience before moving or speaking. When they have the opportunity to investigate a situation before taking action and engaging, give them patience not to rush to judgment or anger.
Give them compassion when they determine there is no ill intent but also a keen awareness for deception. Remind them that they may not have all the evidence to make a final decision. Help them to see the good in people, and don’t let their hearts become hardened and calloused by the challenging situations they encounter daily. Amen.