Devotions

Category Archives: Pray

New Every Morning

Requests • Devotion #1: New Every Morning
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11

I am a sticky note fanatic. I create at least one sticky note every day of what needs to be accomplished. I can get so overwhelmed by the big picture that I need to create “baby steps.” I might check off an item on tomorrow’s list, but I try not to fret about those items. If I just look at the project as a whole, I can become anxious, defeated, and depressed. The whole course is good to consider, but the next step needs immediate focus.

Something that jumps out at me is that the Lord’s Prayer speaks of “this day” and “daily.”  The focus is on today. Too often we get so caught up in the future that we miss the blessings of the present day. Matthew 6:34 adds, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Max Lucado got me thinking when he wrote, “No one can pray and worry at the same time.” We need to pray in confidence. George Mueller is known as a man of extreme faith. He added, “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” Anxiety is real, but too often it tries to focus on things that are out of our sight.

Lamentations 3:22-24 presents this concept in another way, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” God’s mercies are “new every morning.” His mercies are for today, and He will not run out of love. Corrie Ten Boom experienced God’s mercies at a time most would have missed them. She said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” It reminds me of the whole thought that 90% of the things we worry about never happen and the other 10% we cannot change. Therefore, worrying does not make sense. Luke 12:25 captures the idea, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

God offers peace for today. In John 14:27, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” God will not leave us. He will not forsake us. He is with us. Enjoy Him today.

“As you walk through the valley of the unknown, you will find the footprints of Jesus both in front of you and beside you.” Charles Stanley

The Detroit River

God’s Will • Devotion #6: The Detroit River
Brett Eberle

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10

As we did the week before, we are going to continue breaking apart The Lord’s Prayer. The part that we are working on today is found in Matthew 6:10. There are two main points in the verse, “Your kingdom come” and “Your will be done.” We are going to look at what God’s kingdom looks like and also what His will is for us.

I want to address God’s will for us first. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” The will of God is that all things work together for good, but it does not say that everything is going to work out for everyone. There are specific qualifications to have all things work together for good. The first qualification is that we have to love God. It is God’s will for us to love Him. The second qualification is that you have to be one called according to His purpose. What does that mean? I think that Jesus spelled out what His purpose for us is right before He ascended to Heaven in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” God is the only place that we find the truly good things in this life but we have to love Him and live according to His purpose.

The second part we should address is, “Your kingdom come.” The word “kingdom” is used 53 times in the book of Matthew alone and one of the examples used that I gravitated to is in Matthew 13:47, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind.” This parable caught my eye because one of my favorite things in the world to do is to go fishing with my dad. There are days that I do not want to get up at the crack of dawn to half freeze to death on the Detroit River, but when it comes down to it, there are few things that I value above the time we spend together in a boat. When we are fishing, our goal is to catch Walleye, that means that we have special hooks and specific bait to target that certain species of fish. But no matter how hard we try or what bait we buy, we always end up with some other type of fish in the boat. In the short time that I have been in ministry, I have seen the same thing happen whether it be a message that was tailored for students that resulted in a parent getting saved or even a message meant for inmates that encouraged the warden of the prison beyond what anyone could have imagined.

In the broken world in which we live, the one good thing that we have is God. Therefore, we need to spread His Word as far and to as many people as we possibly can.

Eloquence?

God’s Will • Devotion #5: Eloquence?
Jill Osmon | Assistant to Lead Pastor

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10

The Lord’s Prayer is a template for how we should pray. If you look at verses 5-9a, you will see that the Gentiles were praying incorrectly, they were praying to be heard by men, not by God. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

I do not know about you, but I like to sound eloquent when I pray, and that can make it more about the words then the actual meaning of what I am saying. It can sound really good and still be empty, meaningless prayers. Which, I think, if we all admit, we want our prayers to have depth, meaning, and be powerful before God. So how we pray is important and what we pray is important.

Verse 10 has always been so interesting to me. In one commentary, it talks about how we ask about His will to be done. Are we resigned to His will, knowing it will happen? Are we annoyed that we do not get our way? Our attitude when asking for His will to be done is important. It shows where we are in our faith. When we ask for God’s will to be done, it should be because we have come to the point in our love and trust that we know God has the best for us, whether it is what we think is best or not. It is difficult; no one can say that giving up control, giving up earthly desires, is simple or easy. But what I do know is that when we begin to give control over to God, let go of what we think we should get, let go of what the world says we should have, and look around to what God has given to us, we will find our faith stronger, and our life being used by God. That starts with a prayer asking for His will to be done.

We know that what He has planned will happen, but He still commands us to pray. John MacArthur says, “To pray Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven is to rebel against the worldly idea that sin is normal and inevitable…” We pray because we want our life to reflect God here on earth, not to reflect what our flesh wants. As we continue to learn about prayer, do not forget that we pray for many reasons and one of those reasons is to connect with God. In connecting with Him, our desire for His will grows, and our request for His will to be done is an outpouring of our faith in Him. So we need to be clear in our prayer, it does not have to be eloquent or perfect, but it does have to be about God and not men.

God’s Will or Mine?

God’s Will • Devotion #4: God’s Will or Mine?
Kenny Hovis | Prison Ministry Director

For over 20 years, I have worked in youth ministry. There have been many different students in that time that I have watched mature both physically and mentally. I have watched as some of them have made some very bad choices that resulted in strained relationships with their parents and other family members. Sometimes it has resulted in children and parents being estranged for most of their adult lives. As a parent myself, I cannot imagine not having a relationship with my kids because of something they did or did not do.

I have been close with a number of the students I worked with, but there have been a few that have broken my heart. Kevin was one of these. He was a super personable kid and fun to be around. Anytime with Kevin was always spent laughing. Sometimes I laughed so much my ribs would hurt! But Kevin could not do anything other than what he wanted to do. He thought he could do whatever he wanted as long as it did not hurt anyone else. Tragically, I watched him burn his world to the ground many times making choices that separated him from friends and family. Him imposing his will ended up costing him a relationship with his parents, grandparents, and eventually his child. Kevin was abusing a gift from God: free will.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes time to address some areas that were a concern to Him. One of those areas was prayer. He even gives a prayer template in Matthew 6:9-13. It is most commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer.” One of the specific things in that template for prayer that He addresses is in verse 10.  It is at the beginning of the prayer so it must be pretty important. Matthew 6:9-10 says, “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth is it is in Heaven.” Jesus is telling the listeners that praying for God’s will in our lives should be priority number one. When we use our wisdom and discernment to make decisions, the results are not usually positive.

God did not create us to be robots. He created us to desire a relationship with Him, our Heavenly Father. We do have a free will that allows us to not listen to our Heavenly Father’s directions. In Jesus’ prayer template, He tells us to ask for God’s will to be done in our lives. This is the process of us dying to our natural tendency to grab the reins of our lives and submit to the supernatural steering of the Holy Spirit. When we fail to do this, it is to quite literally telling the All-Knowing Creator that we know better than He does how we should live our lives.

Our “free will” was not really free. It was paid for with the sacrifice God’s Son, Jesus, made on our behalf. That is why we now can have a restored relationship with our Heavenly Father. The freedom is in the choosing Who or what will influence us. It is the realization that left to our own choices, without the direction of the Holy Spirit, like my young friend, we will destroy and separate ourselves from a right Parent/child relationship with God.

Too many times I have done this in my life. Now, every day my prayer is, “Lord, Your will, not mine in all that I do!” Whose will are you acting on today?

What are You Really Saying in Prayer?

God’s Will • Devotion #3: What are You Really Saying in Prayer?
Holly Wells | Assistant to Pastor Jim

Prayer is one of the most vital forms of communication we get to have directly with the Lord. Most of us have been a part of a church, small group, or family prayers where it was led by our pastor, leader, or family member. I believe we have prayed directly over these same groups and likely others who God places in our lives. So, we have heard others pray, and we have prayed ourselves, but what is being said? I do not believe that fancy worded, wonderfully illustrated, smoothly spoken prayers have any greater value or impact than those that are a little rougher, raw, and well real. I have always been told that prayer is simply a conversation (not a monologue) between the Lord and us and that it is our heart posture (or heart condition) toward Him that is most important.

Jesus cared greatly about prayer so much that He gave us a prayer model to follow. Through it, as we continue to glean all we can, let us really focus on the meaning of what is being said so that we can understand if and how our hearts align.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10

That is a bold petition to make to the One who is holy, righteous, and just. He is the One who is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. He is the Alpha & Omega, the beginning and the end, and the Great I AM! But what does it mean when we pray it? A few words come to mind – the first being trust. I want what God wants, and I trust that He knows best and how to accomplish it. Isaiah 55:8-9 is a reminder to me that even when my opinion or flesh is sure to know the answer or the way, God’s thoughts and ways are not mine. In fact, the verse tells me that His ways are higher than mine! Additionally, I must surrender my will to Him through submitting myself under His authority. I need to stand down and let God be God because guess what? I am not God, and spoiler alert: neither are you (See Isaiah 45:9). To be honest, I fully know that I could not handle even the tiniest portion of being God, which leads me to the next thought: rest. Matthew 6:10 honestly refocuses my eyes, my priorities, and my will to God’s through which I find rest and breathe with relief. I may not know the how, the when, or the why, but I know the Who, and He is more than enough for me (Matthew 11:28-29). This verse also stirs in me a confidence in God, anticipation for what is yet to come, and a thankful heart fully believing that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NASB).

Jesus is the perfect example of this promise, and He helps us understand this concept fully. It was at the end of Jesus’ ministry and nearing the end of His life on Earth that He went away with Peter, James, and John to the Garden of Gethsemane to plead in prayer to His Father. This was the most distressing time of Jesus’ life, and it was here that Jesus (fully God and fully man) seemed most human and frail. Overcome with emotion and anguish, He pleaded with God three separate times to “let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:36-46). Jesus prayed for relief from the suffering He knew He would endure and He laid Himself out before the Lord begging for another way. But He trusted, surrendered, and submitted to God’s will. Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus willingly paid the ultimate sacrifice because He knew fully who was at stake – you and me. He went to the cross so that we could spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Those who pray to receive Christ as their personal Lord and Savior are the fruit of Jesus’ prayer and decision to accept God’s will over his own. Despite the cost, and that being His life, Jesus meant what he prayed. Do you?

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10



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