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Keep This In Mind | Revolt

#storychanging

Keep This In Mind | Revolt

Monday  The angel said, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.” Acts 10:4

“I don’t think I pray very good,” Stan mumbled. His life group leader gave him a curious smile. “Really, Stan?” he said. “Don’t you talk to God?” Stan lifted his head. “Well, yeah! Of course! I talk to Him all day, but I’m not good with words and I can’t quote verses like you and the other guys do.” Roger slapped him on the back. “Stan, my friend. You put us to shame. Wasn’t it you who prayed for Kendra’s mom and now she’s cancer free? Aren’t you at church on Saturdays fixing widows’ cars? Didn’t you start that medical fund for the Jones,’ and didn’t you and Shelly take in that homeless guy?” “Well, yeah,” Stan admitted. “I want to please Jesus and I say little prayers all day, but not like you guys.” Roger laughed. “Trust me, God loves your prayers!”

How could Roger be certain that God heard Stan’s prayers? It was for the same reason that God heard the prayers of Cornelius—because his whole life was a prayer. Everything those men did was to honor the Lord, so when they put a few words together and directed them heavenward, God leaned forward to listen. The late Keith Green wrote a song in the ‘70’s that expresses the hearts of people like Stan and Cornelius. The song begins this way: “Make my life a prayer to you, I wanna do what you want me to. No empty words and no white lies. No token prayers. No compromise.” God is not impressed with flowery speeches designed to impress. He hears the humble requests of people who offer their lives as prayers to Him.

Final Thought: Is your life a prayer to God? Regardless of your words, God hears your heart when your actions are praying.

Prayer: Father, I feel embarrassed sometimes to pray out loud or in front of other people. But I’m not praying to them. I pray to you alone and you hear me. Show me ways that I can make my whole life a prayer to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Tuesday Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  James 5:16

How is confessing sin connected to healing? Medical science may not realize this, but the more it learns about the human body, the more it supports what God’s word has said all along. Science now tells us that the quality of our mental and physical health is directly connected to the way we handle stress. Some experts suggest that between 75-90% of all disease and illness is stress-related. Everything from obesity to heart disease to psychosis can trace its roots to mismanaged stress. Most addictions begin as attempts to manage stress. Those addictions then produce physical impairments which shorten our life spans and create more stress. So let’s take another look at this verse and connect the dots God laid out for us.

The healing referred to means “to be made whole.” God is all about wholeness, restoration, and redemption. Since He created us, He knows that our minds and bodies are interconnected. Some of our stress comes from unhealthy responses to life’s crises and some stress is due to sin. When a rock is thrown into the gears of a powerful machine, the whole thing malfunctions. Sin is like a rock thrown into the fine-tuned workings of our bodies and souls. When we live in unrepentant sin, our bodies translate that into stress and they malfunction. While not all migraines, disease, IBS, back pain, and depression are rooted in unconfessed sin, some is. God wrote a prescription for us: confession, accountability, and prayer with Christian friends.

Final Thought:  How much is stress affecting your health? How much of that stress is sin-related? Confession will heal you.

Prayer: Lord, I haven’t handled stress well. I’ve turned it into worry, anger, depression, and addiction and it is costing me physically and mentally. I’m ready for healing. Give me courage to confess this to others so they can pray for me. Amen.

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Wednesday Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.  Luke 18:1

How long had she been coming here? She couldn’t remember. She was a nobody, but she was in the way of progress, they told her. They were trying to get rid of her. She’d ended up outside the gate of a Supreme Court Justice. Every day she sent him word through his messenger: “Please, sir! I need justice!” She had not expected today to be any different, but she was out of options so she refused to give up. She was on her knees sobbing when she heard the squeal of the gates opening.  A messenger appeared before her. “This rarely happens, Ma’am,” he said. “But your persistence has paid off. Come with me.”

Would you have given up? After the first week, month, year of pleading for justice and mercy, would you have assumed it was hopeless? It was the woman’s persistence that impressed the judge and it is our persistence that impresses God. He often waits to answer our prayers until we know we are out of options. As long as we think we can solve it ourselves, He has no interest in being our third choice. God loves to work in our lives in ways that leave us saying, “I don’t know how it happened, but only God could do something like this!” He wants that event to remain as a memorial in our hearts so that every time we think about it, we smile in amazement. God is ready to do the impossible for us, but we’ve got to keep praying and believing.

Final Thought:  How persistent are you in praying for that one thing that hasn’t been answered yet? Keep praying.

Prayer: Father, you’re a good Dad, a loving Judge, and you hear me when I pray. You know this desire that I’ve prayed about for so long. I get discouraged when you don’t answer, but I renew my vow to pray until it happens. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Thursday Elijah was a man like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain; it did not rain for 3 1/2 years. James 5:17

“God has had it with you!” Elijah told King Ahab. “There will be not be a drop of moisture on this land for the next three and a half years!” And it happened just like he said. The clouds shriveled, the dew stopped, and the rivers dried up. God moved Elijah to a famine-free place to wait out the drought while He brought judgment on Israel. First Kings 17 tells the whole story.

“But that was ELIJAH!” we groan. “Of course God did whatever he asked. He was a superhero.” First-century Christians thought that way too, so James reminded them that “Elijah was a man just like us.” Really? JUST like us? Sinful, selfish, prideful, and prone to laziness? Yep. Just like us. The only difference was that Elijah had been chosen by God for a special assignment—prophet to Israel. So God withheld rain like Elijah prayed because they were on the same team. When Elijah asked something that was in line with what God already wanted to do, his prayer made it happen. You’ve been chosen by God for a special assignment too. You may be Mom or Dad, plumber, secretary, teacher, or bus driver, but God has placed you where he wants you. His purposes are not always ours, so we have to do a heart-check first and make sure we want what God wants. Then, when we ask for something that is in line with what He already wants to do, our prayers will make it happen.

Final Thought: Elijah had the same relationship with God that we can have. Are you in position to be used as mightily as he?

Prayer: Father, I’ve always thought those guys in the Bible were on some IMF mission where they had you on speed-dial. But this verse says they were just like me. You used them mightily when they prayed. I want to pray prayers like that too. Amen.

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Friday(Pray)for kings and those in authority, that we may live peaceful, quiet lives in godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 2:2

“He’s not MY President!” “She’s not MY governor!” Statements like those have become commonplace in our volatile political climate. They are usually made by people trying distance themselves from decisions an official has made. We’ve all felt like that at some point because people in government are as flawed as we are. We won’t always agree. But this verse does not say we should only pray for the authority figures we like. And it doesn’t mention whether those authorities were good or evil.

The authors of the New Testament and their first readers lived in the shadow of rulers who wanted to kill them for talking about Jesus. They had no Constitution to protect them. Christians were fair game for anyone who wanted to abuse them. Paul, who wrote this letter to Timothy, had been beaten, stoned, and imprisoned many times under cruel governmental authorities. Timothy would later join him in prison for preaching the gospel. So these words do not spring from a Pollyanna naivete. Paul told Timothy to lead his church in praying for their leaders, even the awful ones. Pray that they would make wise decisions. Pray that they would enforce laws that would protect Christians. Pray that they would cease persecution and allow God’s people to live in peace. We must continue to pray that. Regardless of who wins in November, our job is to pray for them.

Final Thought: How faithful have you been to pray for those in governmental authority over you?

Prayer: Lord, you know the grief in my heart over our current political turmoil. But I’m not the judge. I’m only called to pray for these people you have allowed to rule my state and country right now. You can work in and through them in miraculous ways. May they seek your wisdom and make decisions that will turn the heart of America back to you.  In Jesus’ name, amen.