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Archive for the tag “faith”

Christmas Uncluttered Day 4

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

Everyone in our family continues to place items in the “give away” box each day and each day they are more interested in putting items in the box (and some wanting to put more in the box than is requested for the day). In fact, two of our three teens have begun the long process of cleaning their rooms and starting a pile of items to give away each day. I’ve never seen so many clothes!

I started Christmas shopping today and found myself struggling with conviction as it was difficult to make sense of giving away our possessions yet replacing them with new things. Are we defeating the purpose?

Jesus demands, in Matthew 6:19-21, that his disciples give their full allegiance and devotion to God (“Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven”) rather than to the accumulation of wealth (treasures on earth). He gives three reasons for this admonition: (1) material things offer no security, since they are themselves susceptible to destruction. (2) the quality of personal character (the heart) is determined by the object of commitment and devotion (3) the attempt to divide allegiance between God and money is doomed to failure; it can lead only to self-deception and the despising of God.

Christmas is already becoming more meaningful as I consider Jesus’ demands to give all of ourselves and consider – the treasures stored up on earth vs. treasurers stored in heaven.

I pray you too are experiencing a meaningful Christmas and remembering our eternal treasured.!

Blessings,

Paige

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Christmas Uncluttered Day 3

The king is pleased with words from righteous lips; he loves those who speak honestly. Proverbs 16:13

The joy of parenting – especially when we see the fruits of our labor! Day 3 was a day of honesty in more than one way from the same teen in our family. Not that others in our family aren’t honest but today was a special day. This morning, on the way to school, he humbly and honestly admits (without my prompting), that he forgot to put his items in the “give away” box last night but will make sure he gets them into the box after school. Gotta love it! How many times have we talked to our kids about the importance of honesty (and many other important character traits critical for excelling in life)? Just like the king, we parents are pleased with words of honesty. And what a blessing to witness when one of our kids “get it.”

Then tonight, as I was searching for my Christmas Uncluttered items, I found myself struggling to depart with a few sentimental accessories. Luckily my humble and honest teen was standing next to me and provided a gentle and honest “No, you shouldn’t wear that…,” followed by a silent look on his face of “…ever!” Before thinking about these items further, I quickly pushed them deep down into the bottom of the “give away” box so that I wouldn’t see them and be tempted to pull them back out. It’s only Day 3 and I’m already a bit anxious to say the least! If I’m sentimental and struggling to give away three items, how will I give away 325? Maybe today’s scripture should have been “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I’m sure I will recall this verse often in order to get through the next 21 days.

I hope you too experience the fruits of parenting and the humble honesty our kids can bring us. Join our family on this journey to a Christmas Uncluttered! Clearly we are beginning to receive as much as we give.

Merry Christmas!

Paige

Congratulations!

You have completed the 40 Day Prayer Challenge from Mark Batterson’s book, Draw the Circle! I hope this daily devotion over the last 40 days has been helpful to get you into the habit of prayer. More importantly, I hope you are developing a relationship with our awesome God as this is the beginning of a lifetime of watching God at work in your life.

I speak from personal experience when I say, He will answer your prayers! Never give up. Never stop praying as you may only be one day away from your dream, or miracle. Our God is an amazing and mighty God who can and will do more than we could ever ask or imagine.

100% of the prayers you don’t pray won’t get answered. -Mark Batterson

Keep circling!

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 40 Prayer Alphabet

“Lord, teach us to pray.” Luke 11:1

Have you ever prayed with someone who prayed with such familiarity and authority with God that it made you feel like you barely knew God? I wonder if that’s how the disciples felt every time they heard Jesus pray? I wonder if that’s why they asked him to teach them to pray? They clearly didn’t ask Jesus to teach them to preach, lead, or even disciple. The only asked him to teach them to pray.

Based on my own experiences through prayer, I concur with Mark Batterson when he states, “If we change the way we pray, everything changes. It changes the way we work, the way we parent, the way we lead. It changes the way we prioritize and strategize. It changes the way we think, the way we feel, and the way we speak. Prayer changes everything from the inside out.

“The word prayer often induces feelings of guilt simply because we don’t do enough of it or because we feel inept when we don’t know what to say. For the record, I’ve never met anyone who felt that they pray too much or too effectively! All of us fall short. But instead of feelings of guilt, the thought of prayer should induce unbridled excitement because nothing is more potent than kneeling before God Almighty.

“While my prayer batting average is no better than anyone else’s, I’m determined to get back into the batter’s box because I can’t get a hit if I don’t take a swing. And if I swing enough times, I’ll hit a few homers and accumulate a lot of RBIs. So quit worrying about striking out, and swing for the fences!

“Don’t beat yourself up over past failures or present struggles. Simply do what the disciples did. Ask Jesus to help you, to teach you. Let their simple request become your modus operandi: ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’

“It doesn’t matter how much you know. Do you have a teachable heart? Are you hungry to learn? Are you open to change? Wisdom is knowing how much you don’t know. So you have to start there and ask God to teach you.”

Have you ever gotten to a point where you were praying the same words over and over? Or maybe your worship time felt small or cliched? The lyrics on the screens were like greeting cards? When this happens, we start saying words that someone else wrote but never expressing love to God in our own words. This kind of relationship with God isn’t enough. We must find new ways to worship; our own words to sing. God wants to hear our voices, our words, and our praise.

Batterson writes about, “the story about the grandfather who walked by his granddaughter’s bedroom one night and overheard her praying the alphabet, literally. ‘Dear God, a, b, c, d, e, f, g.’ She prayed all the way to ‘z’ and said, ‘Amen.’ The grandfather said, ‘Sweetie, why were you praying that way?’ The granddaughter replied, ‘I didn’t know what to say so I figured I’d let God put the letters together however He saw fit.’

“Sometimes I feel that way too. I have no idea what to say when I pray. And that’s OK. The first objective of prayer is prayer about what to pray about. Prayer isn’t about outlining our agenda to God; it’s about getting into God’s presence and getting God’s agenda for us.

“If you don’t know where to start, or if you get stuck, go back to the Bible. Start reading, and God will start speaking. That’s when you need to stop reading and start praying. Words, phrases, or verses will jump off the page and into your spirit. You need to circle them in prayer. And don’t be in such a hurry to get through the Bible that you don’t get the Bible through you.

“Prayer is the difference between appointments and divine appointments. Prayer is the difference between good ideas and God-ideas. Prayer is the difference between the favor of God and the luck of the draw. Prayer is the difference between possible and impossible.

Prayer is the different between the best we can do and the best God can do. -Mark Batterson

Begin where you are!

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 38 Climb the Watchtower

“I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost.” Habakkuk 2:1

In Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle, he writes, “Watchtowers served a variety of purposes in ancient culture – as built-in defense systems in the walls of ancient cities, as built-in pastures so shepherds could protect their flocks from wild animals, and as built-in vineyards for protection form thieves. Watchmen would climb into their watchtower, station themselves at their guardpost, and scan the horizon for enemy armies or trading caravans. The watchmen were the first to see, and they saw the farthest. So it is with those who pray. Intercessors are watchmen and watchwomen. They see sooner and see farther in the spiritual realm. Why? Because prayer gives us a unique vantage point.

“I wonder if that’s how Elijah felt as he prayed for rain on top of Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:42). God has just answered an impossible prayer on that very mountain. Elijah defeated the 450 prophets (1 Kings 18:16-39) of Baal in a sudden-death showdown on Mount Carmel. The God who sent fire can certainly send rain, right? That miracle gave Elijah the faith he needed to pray hard. And that is one of the by-products of answered prayer. It gives us the faith to believe God for bigger and better miracles. With each answered prayer, we draw bigger prayer circles. With each act of faithfulness, it increases our faith. With each promise kept, it increases our persistence quotient.

“Geography and spirituality are not unrelated. That’s why the Israelites built memorials in places of spiritual significance. During seasons of repentance, they would often return to those ancient altars to renew their covenant with God.

“I have to believe that David revisited more than once the battlefield where he defeated Goliath. That Abraham made a pilgrimage back to the thicket where God provided a ram. That Peter rowed out to the place on the Sea of Galilee where he walked on water – and it renewed his faith. That Paul built a personal altar on the road to Damascus where God knocked him off his high horse. And that Zacchaeus let his grandkids climb the sycamore-fig tree where he had gotten his first glimpse of Jesus.

“Where we pray is not insignificant. The Israelites pitched the tent of meeting outside the camp for a reason. Jesus prayed on mountains, by water, and in gardens for a reason. We need to find a place where we are free from distraction, where we get good reception, where we can focus, and where our faith is strong.”

As mentioned in previous posts, there is nothing magical about circling something in prayer, whether literal or figurative, but there is something biblical about it. There are times when we have to mark God’s territory; to take a step of faith and pray a perimeter around a promise that God has put in our heart.

Going back to places of spiritual significance can help us find our way forward again. -Mark Batterson

Do you have a place to pray?

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 37 Prayer Contracts

“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” Matthew 18:18

Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle states, “The word bind has a legal connotation. It means ‘to place a contract on something.’ This is precisely what happens when we pray in the will of God. Our prayers place a contract in the spiritual realm.”

As previously emphasized (see post Day 31 Spell it Out), the purpose of prayer is not to get what you want; the goal of prayer is to discern what God wants, what God wills. But if your prayer is in the will of God, then it is backed by the full authority of the King and His kingdom.

“A.W. Tozer wrote, ‘What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.’ So let me ask the question: When you think about God, what images come to your mind? For most people, I suspect the dominant image is Jesus hanging on a cross. That gruesome cross is the most beautiful picture of what true love looks like. But let me make and observation that may sound a bit sacrilegious. You aren’t praying to a God who is hanging on a cross; Jesus is seated on the throne, and the earth is His footstool. All authority is His. And if you are His, then His authority is yours.

“We grossly underestimate the authority that is ours because we are children of God. And we desperately need a vision like the one Isaiah had (Isaiah 6), who saw the Lord high and lifted up.

“I think Tozer was right when he stated that a low view of God is the cause of a hundred lesser evils and a high view of God is the solution to ten thousand problems. Our biggest problem is our small view of God. God is so much bigger than our biggest problems (see post Day 8 One God-Idea). God is so much better than our best thoughts. He is infinitely wiser and more gracious and powerful than anything we can imagine.”

When we dream big, pray hard and think long, God pushes our limits and stretches our faith. And we steward the miracle by believing God for even bigger and better miracles.

“We tend to view the goal as the goal, but in God’s economy, the process is the goal. It’s not about what we’re doing at all; it’s about who we’re becoming in the process. It’s not about doing great things for God; it’s about God doing great things in us.

“After explaining the binding nature of our prayers, Jesus explains the power of prayer circles. If two of you agree (Matthew 18:19-20) on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or more have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.

“The word bind means ‘to tie together.’ It’s the same word used to describe marriage vows. Just as the two become one flesh, when we agree in prayer, the two become one spirit.

“Something powerful happens when we agree in prayer. Our faith isn’t just added together; it’s multiplied. If we are praying in the will of God and for the glory of God, then agreeing with someone in prayer is like getting our prayer contract notarized.

“Finally, the word bind means ‘to chain.’ There are more than 3,000 promises in Scripture, and according to the apostle Paul, all of them ‘are yes in Christ’ (2 Corinthians 1:20). Our most powerful prayers are chained to the promises of God. Don’t just pray your words all the time; pray the Word of God because His word does not return to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11).

“Chain it to your mind through memorization. Chain it to your heart through meditation. Chain it to your past, present, and future through prayer.”

Agreeing with someone in prayer is like getting your prayer notarized. -Mark Batterson

Are you bound in prayer?

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 36 Senior Partner

“Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Matthew 6:20

Guess what? No matter how hard we try, we cannot outgive God.

We are introduced, in today’s devotion, to a friend of Mark Batterson’s named Stanley Tam. Stanley is the founder of the United States Plastic Corporation. More than half century ago, he made a decision to make God his Senior Partner and gave his business over to God believing that God would bless his business, as he wanted to honor God from the start. Feeling convicted, Stanley transferred every share of company stock to his Senior Partner and became a salaried employee of the company he had started. Since that day, he has given away more than $120 million.

During a memorable meal between Mark and Stanley, Mark was blessed with a lifetime of wisdom. He says, “Stanley discovered the key that unlocks the joy of generosity: what we keep we ultimately lose; what we give away we ultimately get back. So Stanley said, ‘I just send it ahead by giving it away.’ Stanley also puts it, ‘A man can eat only one meal at a time, wear only one suit of clothes at a time, drive only one car at a time. All this I have. Isn’t that enough?’

The same God who helped Stanley is the same God who can accomplish the plans and purposes He has put in your heart. As Mark says so well, “If it’s God-ordained, it’s inevitable.

“Few things are as inspiring as seeing childlike faith in a very old person. That’s Stanley Tam. He is the youngest oldest person I know. He simply takes God at His word. And when we take God at His word, God stands by His word.

“One of the biggest mistakes we make in reading history, whether biblical history or history in general, is thinking that those who lived before us were different from us. They weren’t. If God did it for them, He can do it for us. And if we do what they did in the Bible, I’m convinced that God will do what He did. Nothing has changed. God wants to renew His deeds in our day. But we need to pray the price. Leonard Ravenhill put it this way: ‘One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed. We have adopted the convenient theory that the Bible is a Book to be explained, whereas first and foremost it is a Book to be believed (and after that to be obeyed).’

“The greatest legacy a person can leave is a complete surrender of their life to the lordship of Jesus Christ. If we don’t hold out on God, God won’t hold out on us. Take God at His promise as expressed by the psalmist: ‘No good thing (Psalm 84:11) does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.’ And these good things will pass from generation to generation and become great things. God will answer our prayers in the lives of offspring we won’t meet until the Father’s family reunion at the marriage supper of the Lamb. But every prayer we pray, every gift we give, every sacrifice we make, and every step of faith we take is an inheritance left to the next generation. And our prayers live on, long after we die, in their lives.”

What we keep we ultimately lose; what we give away we ultimately get back. -Mark Batterson

Are you leaving an inheritance?

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 35 The Longest Lever

“Do not despise these small beginnings.” Zechariah 4:10

A friend recently came to me saying that she’s been praying during our 40 Day Prayer Challenge but things don’t seem to be getting much better. I know it’s hard to pray and wait on God (see post Day 23 Not Now) but small beginnings is where we must start. And if we continue to pray like the members of the early church (Acts 2), Pentecost can happen anytime, anyplace!

Mark Batterson reminds us of the value of small beginnings, “In Zechariah 4, the Jewish remnant who returned to Israel are getting ready to rebuild the temple. It is an overwhelming undertaking. But the Lord encourages them with these words: ‘Do not despise (Zechariah 4:10) these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s land.’

“The plumb line was an ancient measuring tape. All they had done at this point was measure! That’s it. But God was already rejoicing over them. Like a parent that celebrates a baby’s first step, our heavenly Father rejoices when we take the smallest of steps in the right direction. And those small steps become giant leaps in God’s kingdom. If we do little things, God will do the big things. But we have to do the little things like they are big things.

“We cannot worry about what we cannot do; we have to simply do what we can. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things. And if we do the ordinary, God will add an extra to it.

“Prayer is our plumb line. It’s also the true measure of a person. No one is greater than their prayer life. Our potential is directly proportional to our prayer life. It is the single greatest indicator of our success in any endeavor.

“Archimedes of Syracuse is famous for his quip, ‘Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the earth.’ He was referencing the lever, one of six simple machines identified by Renaissance scientists. A lever amplifies the input force to provide a greater output force. Simply put, the longer the lever, the greater the leverage.

“Let me borrow a simple statement and substitute one word: Give me a place to kneel on, and I will move the earth. In the kingdom of God, humility equals authority. Call it bold humility or humble boldness. That is our lever. If we try to exalt ourselves, God will find a way to humble us. But if we humble ourselves, God will find a way to exalt us. There is no leverage like kneeling in prayer. If we hit our knees in humble prayer, God will extend His mighty hand on our behalf. He will leverage us in ways that are humanly impossible.

“Humility is how we get out of the way of what God wants to do. And if we stay out of God’s way, then there is nothing God cannot do in us and through us.

“There is nothing magical about kneeling, but there is something biblical about it. Posturing our bodies helps us posture our hearts. Bowing our hearts in reverence before God is what really matters.”

If we do the ordinary, God will add an extra to it. -Mark Batterson

Is daily prayer your plumb line?

Prayerfully, Paige

 

Day 32 Get a Testimony

“…and by the word of their testimony…” Revelation 12:11

I have loved hearing from so many of you, the stories of how Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker and/or Draw the Circle has impacted your life. I believe that sharing these testimonies increase our faith and get us excited to keep praying!

Batterson says, “When God answers a prayer, no matter how big or small, we need to share it. It’s a stewardship issue. If we don’t turn the answer to prayer into praise, it may very well turn into pride. Giving testimony is the way we give God all of the glory. But we also need to share it because others need to hear it. If we don’t share our testimonies of how God is working in our lives, then others are tempted to think He isn’t working at all.

“When we share a testimony, we are loaning our faith to others. When we listen to a testimony, we are borrowing faith from others. Either way, the church is edified and God is glorified.

“A testimony is powerful, in part, because we cannot argue with it. It’s irrefutable and undeniable. A personal testimony is our secret weapon, and that’s why the enemy wants us to keep our testimony a secret. It’s not a testimony if we don’t share it with others. If we don’t share our testimonies, we are robbing God of the glory He deserves. And we aren’t just holding out on God; we are holding out on those who need to hear it.

“No amount of education can compensate for a lack of first-person experience. We don’t get a testimony in seminary; we get a testimony by being tested.

“Remember the Samaritan woman who was totally transformed by a single encounter with Jesus at the well? She went back to her village and shared her testimony. That testimony sparked faith in those who heard, but their faith was secondhand faith. They needed their own encounter with Jesus, and that’s exactly what they got. The transition from secondhand to firsthand faith is evidenced in their words: ‘Now we believe (John 4:42), not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard Him ourselves.

“We cannot live off of someone else’s experience forever. Secondhand faith is as dangerous as secondhand smoke. We need a faith with our own name on it. We need to own it, and it needs to own us. We can’t just know what we believe; we need to know why we believe what we believe what we believe. And it must be continually upgraded.

“Don’t be satisfied with simply going to church; get into God’s presence. Don’t be satisfied with hearsay; get a word from The Lord. Don’t be satisfied with secondhand faith; get a testimony!”

Most of us are educated way beyond our level of our obedience. -Mark Batterson

What’s your testimony? Please don’t hesitate to share it! Email, call or text me – or better yet, share it with our praying community by commenting below!

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 31 Spell it Out

“What do you want me to do for you?” Matthew 20:32

I’m not sure about you but so many of the devotions, from Draw the Circle, have impacted my daily prayer life. This one in particular is one of my favorites as Mark Batterson reminds us to know what we want from God and ask for it specifically. I love the story as Batterson tells it:

“More than a thousand years after the original Jericho miracle, another miracle happened in the same place. Jesus was on His way out of the city when two blind men shouted, ‘Lord, Son of David (Matthew 20:30), have mercy on us!’ The disciples saw it as an inconvenient interruption, but divine appointments usually come disguised. The disciples would have walked right past this ‘miracle waiting to happen.’ They had places to go and things to do. But Jesus stopped. Then He asked the two men a loaded question: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’

“Is that question even necessary? They are blind. Isn’t it obvious what they want? Yet Jesus forced them to define exactly what they wanted from Him. Jesus made them verbalize it. He made them spell out exactly what they wanted Him to do, but it wasn’t because Jesus didn’t know what they wanted; He wanted to make sure that they knew what they wanted.

“What if Jesus asked you the same question: What do you want me to do for you? Would you be able to spell out the promises, miracles, and dreams God has put in your heart? I’m afraid many of us would find ourselves at a loss for words. We have no idea what we want God to do for us, and then we wonder why it seems like God isn’t doing anything for us. The great irony, of course, is that if we can’t answer this question, then we’re as blind spiritually as these men were physically.

“Most of us don’t get what we want simply because we don’t know what we want. We’ve never made a list of life goals. We’ve never defined success for ourselves. We’ve never circled God’s promises. And we’ve forgotten most of the prayers we’ve prayed before they’re even answered.

“If faith is being sure of what we hope for, then not being sure of what we hope for is the exact opposite of faith, isn’t it? The more faith we have, the more specific our prayers will be. And the more specific our prayers are, the more glory God receives. If our prayers aren’t specific, however, God gets robbed of the glory He deserves because we second-guess whether or not He actually answered them. We never know if the answers were the result of specific prayers or general coincidences that would have happened anyway. Well-defined prayers give God an opportunity to display His power in new ways. Well-developed faith results in well-defined prayers, and well-defined prayers result in well-defined answers.”

It’s not our responsibility to worry about when, where or how God answers our prayers. It’s only our responsibility to discern what God wants and then humbly and specifically ask Him for it. And look for holy surprises along the way because He may answer our prayers differently and even better than we originally requested!

Batterson poses critical questions for us today: “We need to identify our Jericho – the promise we are circling. What promise are you praying around? What miracle are you marching around? What dream does your life revolve around?

“It’s easy to get so busy climbing the ladder of success that we fail to realize the ladder is not leaning against the wall of Jericho. Eternal priorities get overshadowed by our everyday responsibilities, and we pawn our God-given dream for the American dream. So instead of circling Jericho, we end up wandering in the wilderness.”

Obviously our Jericho changes over time and during different seasons of life. Begin where you are today. Define your dream, claim your promise, spell out your miracle, and pray specifically to God for it.

Most of us don’t get what we want because we don’t know what we want. -Mark Batterson

What is your Jericho?

Prayerfully, Paige

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