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Restoring Altars: How is Your Prayer Life?

Ezra 3:1–2 (NKJV) “And when the seventh month had come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem. 2 Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brethren, arose and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God.”
 
How is your prayer life? Has the altar of prayer been neglected or even missing in your life? Judah had been conquered by the Babylonians and the temple destroyed but seventy years later the LORD commissioned Zerubabel to return to rebuild the temple. The first thing he did was rebuild the altar. Restoring the altar is the first step in restoring everything else the enemy has destroyed. Altars are sacred places where men meet God. In calling the people of Israel back to God, Elijah restored the altar of the LORD. There God answered by fire and a revival took place in Israel. We can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the evil that surrounds us. Positive change can seem impossible when we believe that it depends upon us. However, altars remind us that everything depends upon God. God can turn an impossible situation around if we will spend time at the altar of prayer. At the altar we behold the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross and make petitions through faith in God’s promises. Let us face our need with prayer. We have great challenges but God is greater than the challenges we face. Prayer is the key to revival. Prayer is the key to breakthrough. Prayer is the key to the miraculous for we call upon the God of miracles. Let us restore and revisit the altar of prayer. Let us trust in God who can turn things around.

Getting Things in Order

Isaiah 9:7 (NKJV) “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”
 
This verse speaks of Jesus. Jesus is a King and He has a kingdom. When we are born again, we enter His kingdom. While on earth we are called to be a member of one of His kingdom embassies called the local church. Together we have received a commission to go into all the world to preach the gospel and to make disciples. We are called to represent our King and His kingdom throughout the world. We cannot do this is if our churches are weak. Jesus said He will order and establish His kingdom. Even now Jesus is working to bring things in order on the inside so that we will be able to carry out His work on the outside. Jesus is working to establish His kingdom within the church so that it will accurately portray His kingdom to the lost world around us. Each of us has a calling, a gift, and a purpose that will help make the church strong. Jesus is zealous to accomplish His work in and through His church. He will use those who are willing and obedient. Those who are will eat the good of the land. (Isaiah 1:19) The doors of opportunity to reach beyond our walls are opening. Will we be ready? Will we rise to meet the challenge? It will take faith and courage to step up and to step out, but through faith we can seize the opportunities before us. An opportunity must be seized in the time of the opportunity or else the opportunity will be lost. Don’t miss God’s opportunity. Be among the willing and obedient. The good of the land awaits those who will.
 

Christ's Command to Love

1 John 3:23 (NKJV) “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.”
 
Hebrews 10:24–25 (NKJV) “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
 
We are commanded to love. We are to consider one another in order to stir up love and good works. Love is not only a noun—it is an action word. Love is as love does. When we show love in tangible ways, we help stir up love in others. We will not show love if we only consider ourselves. Showing love is often inconvenient and costly, but that is when love shines brightest. Jesus said that the world will know that we are His disciples by seeing our love for one another. Love reveals who belongs to Jesus. Love will enable us to reach those who are hardened or who have built up walls. Jesus showed us what love looks like. We see it in His everyday ministry to hurting people. He loved His Father first, but His love for the Father led Him to show love to those whom the Father loved. Let us obey Jesus’ command to love one another. Let us overcome selfishness and self-centeredness in order to stir up love in one another. Let us look for ways to serve one another. Our relationships are only as strong as the love we show. Let us grow in love and stir up one another in love. People are waiting to see that God’s love is real.

Everyone Doing Their Part

1 Corinthians 10:24 (NKJV) “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.”
 
God is on the move! People are being drawn to the Lord. The church is growing. When this happens, it requires those of us who have been sitting at the table being fed to get up and serve the new ones coming in. Spiritual maturity is evidenced by selflessness; by seeking what others need rather than what we want. One of the great needs at the moment is children’s workers. Since we began Grace Kids Church on Sunday mornings and Grace Kids Connection on Wednesday evenings, we have more parents and children coming. That is a good thing! It is an answer to prayer! However, with that comes a responsibility to minister to them. We either minister to them or lose them. We are thankful for the many volunteers who have served faithfully and sacrificially. However, many are serving more than they should while others are serving little or not at all. Members with children are required to help. Many workers who no longer have children continue to serve because of the need. How can you help? We ask that our church members prayerfully consider volunteering one or more times a month in one of our nurseries on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday nights. The more workers we have the less each has to serve. We also need to split up the overcrowed classes on Wednesdays. This too requires more teachers and helpers. The harvest is great but the laborers are few. Therefore, I pray that the Lord of the harvest will thrust out laborers from His table into His field! God is on the move! It is time to mature in love and serve. Let us rise and sieze this opportunity to reach new families! If everyone will do their part, the need will be met. Thank you ahead of time for your help!                   

He Has Put Eternity in Our Hearts

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NKJV) “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”
 
Are you living your life in light of eternity? Often our lives are so distracted with the temporal that we do not live for the eternal. When you get to the end of your life, will the things you are living for really matter? Will they matter to God? Leonard Ravenhill once said, “Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for?”. Looking back over my life I can see how I wasted time pursuing things, even good things, that had no eternal meaning and value. Are you wasting your life on temporal things at the expense of doing God’s will? Is your time being controlled by the tyranny of the temporal? Many people say they want to serve the Lord but they are just too busy. They say that they will serve the Lord when things slow down. Things never slow down unless God slows them down. I have performed many funerals and the haunting thing in the back of my mind is, “Did they do the will of God in their lifetime?” or “Will they hear Jesus say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ or ‘Depart from me, you worker of iniquity. You called me Lord, but you refused to obey Me.’”? God has put eternity in our hearts. Eternity beckons us to live for eternity. You and I have no time to waste. God does not give us enough time to do everything. He only gives us enough time to do His will. The Scripture says, “He who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:17) This life is but for a moment and that moment will soon be gone. Eternity is forever. The only thing that will matter when this life ends is “Did I do the will of God?” Knowing this, let us live in light of eternity!                                   

Living in the Light of Eternity

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NKJV) “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”
 
Are you living your life in light of eternity? Often our lives are so distracted with the temporal that we do not live for the eternal. When you get to the end of your life, will the things you are living for really matter? Will they matter to God? Leonard Ravenhill once said, “Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for?”. Looking back over my life I can see how I wasted time pursuing things, even good things, that had no eternal meaning and value. Are you wasting your life on temporal things at the expense of doing God’s will? Is your time being controlled by the tyranny of the temporal? Many people say they want to serve the Lord but they are just too busy. They say that they will serve the Lord when things slow down. Things never slow down unless God slows them down. I have performed many funerals and the haunting thing in the back of my mind is, “Did they do the will of God in their lifetime?” or “Will they hear Jesus say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ or ‘Depart from me, you worker of iniquity. You called me Lord, but you refused to obey Me.’”? God has put eternity in our hearts. Eternity beckons us to live for eternity. You and I have no time to waste. God does not give us enough time to do everything. He only gives us enough time to do His will. The Scripture says, “He who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:17) This life is but for a moment and that moment will soon be gone. Eternity is forever. The only thing that will matter when this life ends is “Did I do the will of God?” Knowing this, let us live in light of eternity!                                   

Dry Bones Hear the Word of the LORD

Ezekiel 37:3–5 (NKJV) “And He said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ So I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, You know.’ 4 Again He said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, “O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: ‘Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.’ ” ’ ”
 
As we look across the valley of East Texas and across the landscape of America, we see the dry bones of a Church that was once alive and thriving, a Church that thundered God’s truth from its pulpits and laid the foundation of God’s word in the homes, businesses, schools, and government of our land. Where is that Church today? Many have given up on the Church. We are like this valley of dry bones. It seems there is no hope and that all is lost. But I am hearing the Lord say to me, “Prophesy to these dry bones!” What must be prophesied? “O dry bones, HEAR the word of the LORD!” The people’s ears have grown dull of hearing. They hear with the ears on their head but not with the ears of their heart. Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let Him hear!” We must begin to target the hearing of God’s people in our prayers and in our prophetic declarations. It is time to prophesy HOPE to a hopeless generation: “Surely I will cause BREATH (Spirit) to enter into you, and you shall LIVE!” It is time to HEAR! It is time to BELIEVE! It is time to PRAY! It is time to PROPHESY! It is time to EXPECT! It is time to RISE! God is on the move. The ARMY of GOD is about to arise!  May we rise up and follow Jesus, our Lord of hosts!                      

Gathering and Releasing

Proverbs 11:24-26 “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty.  The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself. The people will curse him who withholds grain, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.”  
 
Life is a process of inhaling and exhaling air, of the heart receiving and releasing blood, of sowing and reaping, and of gathering and releasing. Life begins with God as the Source.  In order to give life, we must first receive life.  We must be willing to receive ministry in order to give ministry. Gathering and releasing is the essence of life. 

For many of us, our Christian life has been a continual season of gathering. We have become hoarders. Our lives are crowded with “stuff” that we cannot possible use in several lifetimes. When we run out of room to keep it, we build more storehouses. We have also become spiritual storehouses of resources, information, and revelation. Many of us have been taught more in one year than others would hope to receive in a lifetime. And somehow, we keep gathering and storing!

Many of us sit on a wealth of “seed” that needs to be scattered in order to bring blessing and increase in the kingdom of God. It is time to transition from being storehouses to being distribution centers. It is time to release or “scatter” the seed that God has put in our hands. 

God has lavished on us His precious treasures.  Now it is time to pour out. The paradox is that the more we give, the more we will increase! That is why Jesus said it is “more blessed to give than to receive”. (Ac 20:35) As we scatter our seed, God will multiply it so that we gather more.  Sowing and reaping are spiritual principles of life. We cannot bring life to the seed, but we can scatter the seed and allow God to bring life. We are not the source of life, but He has given us seed to sow. As we sow what God has given to us, God will give it life and multiply it to our account. As we receive seed from the Father and then scatter it into the lives of those around us, we receive back a fruitful life, a life that has been increased and multiplied. 

Jesus said in John 12:24-25: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.  He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”  Jesus came to give His life away on the Cross. In giving His life, He received back a harvest of souls to the glory of God. Jesus increased the fruitfulness of His life by giving it away.  He became the Seed that is still producing a mighty harvest of souls! 

If we try to hold on to what we have, we will lose it.  But if we scatter the seed that God has given us, then we will increase more.  If we continue to gather and not release, we are destined to become like the Dead Sea that has no life.  Why is the Dead Sea dead?  It is dead because it has an inlet but no outlet.  One of the reasons we do not see fruit in our lives is because we have trained ourselves in receiving but not in giving. We must change. Let’s begin to scatter what we have been given. Let’s not be a reservoir.  Let’s be a RIVER! 

One of the greatest ways to release God’s blessing upon our lives is to give. It is hard be depressed when we are focused on giving rather than on what we receive. The principle of God is this:  we will reap what we sow—not what we hold. A farmer’s harvest produces both food to eat and seed for a future harvest.  Grain that is stored very long only ruins or is destroyed by pests.  The only way to keep the benefit of the grain is to use what we have been given. God has given each of us talents, gifts, abilities, knowledge, experience, money, wealth, and resources.  What a waste to see them sit in the storehouse and never be released to benefit others including God. Ask God to show you ways to release what you have in a way that blesses His kingdom and the people around you.  We have one life to live and one life to give.  Let’s take every opportunity to scatter the seed God has placed in our hand.  Only what we sow can grow. Don’t leave this life sitting on your bag of seed!
 
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, thank you for the resources you have placed in my life. Help me to increase the fruitfulness of my life by giving it away.  Help me to be a blessing to those around me. I believe as I scatter the seed you have placed in my life, You will cause me to increase for greater ability to give again.  Help me not to be a reservoir.  Let Your river of life flow through me. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

The Invasion of Christ

Isaiah 59:16-19 (NKJV) “He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him. For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.  According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, fury to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; the coastlands He will fully repay.  So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against Him.”
 
The coming of Christ into this world was nothing less than an act of war against the kingdom of darkness. It is an invasion against the gates of hell. Its purpose is to redeem lost souls held behind enemy lines. 

In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis has a chapter entitled “Invasion”. In it he says, “One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe---a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease, and sin. The difference is that Christianity thinks this Dark Power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong. Christianity agrees . . . this universe is at war.”  The truth is that we cannot understand what is happening around us until we understand that we are at war.  Unless we understand that we have an enemy, we will misinterpret most circumstances in our life. It is very hard to believe that God has a good plan for our lives if we believe that He is the source of all that is bad, corrupt, and evil.[1]

If we fail to recognize that we are at war, then we begin to believe some very terrible things about God. What about that son or daughter who was killed by a drunk driver?  What about the four-year old girl who was sexually molested? What about the faithful wife who died of AIDS which she contracted through her unfaithful husband? What about victims of murder, rape, and terrorism?  What about the tragedy of divorce that devastates an entire family? What about the people who are killed in a violent plane crash? What about families killed in fires? What about destruction and death caused by violent acts of nature? What about the famine where thousands of people are starving?  What about the horrors of war?  Are all these things God’s will?  Is God the author of evil?

In the beginning of God’s creation all that God made was very good.[2] There was no death, sickness, crime, pain, hate, adverse weather patterns, sin, or curse.  All was good until the old Serpent, who is called the devil, Satan, and the dragon, came on the scene.[3]  Through his deception, the evil consequences of sin, death, and the curse came upon our world. The effects have touched our bodies, minds, emotions, marriages, children, society, and nature itself. All creation longs to be delivered from the bondage of this corruption.[4]

Jesus came into this world to destroy the works of the devil, the power of death, and our bondage to fear.[5] Our deliverance from the penalty of sin and death was secured through Christ’s substitutionary death on the Cross. His sacrifice was validated through His resurrection from the dead. Our deliverance is enforced through His exaltation to the right hand of the Father where He reigns until all of His enemies are put under His feet.[6]

The Incarnation of Christ was a divine invasion into the enemy’s territory to deliver those held captive through deception, sin, and death. Let us remember that we are in a war.  The victory is already sure even though the battles of resistance are sometimes fierce. War is not pretty. The devil does not play fair. The fallout of sin and the curse have taken their toll. Do not be shaken by Satan’s tactics. Rise up, put on your armor, and fight for the sake of others who are still under his control.
 
“Heavenly Father, thank You for invading this earth to rescue my soul. Help me to see that I am in a war. Help me to see the lost and the deceived who are still held captive by the devil. Help me to be a faithful soldier and to fight to rescue others even as You fought to rescue me. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
 
[1] Jeremiah 29:11; John 10:10
[2] Genesis 1:31
[3] Revelation 12:9
[4] Genesis 3:14-19; Romans 8:20-23
[5] 1 John 3:8; Hebrews 2:14-15
[6] 1 Corinthians 15:24-28

The Power of a Godly Mentor

Mark 1:16-18 (NKJV) “And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ They immediately left their nets and followed Him.”
 
God sees in us what we cannot see in ourselves. We are often too aware of the flaws and weaknesses in our life. God already knows them all and yet He is for us and not against us. When Jesus came into this world, He could have come with His sword swinging—cutting down sinners on His right and left.  But He didn’t.  Jesus said, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”[1] God sent Jesus to redeem rather than to condemn. God didn’t wait for us to change before He sent Jesus.  Rather, “even when we were dead in trespasses, (He) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” [2]

Jesus mentored twelve disciples to carry on the work given to Him by His Father.  Jesus did not choose anyone that the world deemed qualified. There were no doctors, lawyers, philosophers, or princes among them.  They were just ordinary men living ordinary lives.  None of them were alike. Many of them struggled with issues of ambition and competitive jealousy. They were more like a rag tag team of misfits.  Yet Jesus saw in them something that neither they nor anyone else saw. He saw their potential—and what potential it turned out to be!  These ordinary men became the apostles of the Lamb who laid the Foundation upon which the entire church is built.

When Jesus approached Simon and Andrew, they were just ordinary fishermen.  No one would have believed that these very simple and unlearned men were destined for greatness in the kingdom of God.  Not even Simon and Andrew believed it about themselves.  It takes a godly mentor to see and believe in the potential that God can work in our lives.  It takes someone who can look beyond our character flaws, lack of training, and emotional baggage to see the precious treasure of Christ buried deep inside.  Like a gold miner, it takes someone who can look past a lot of “dirt” to mine the gold.

Jesus was a leader who saw the “gold” in these men. Jesus said to Simon and Andrew, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Jesus declared the potential He saw in them and accepted personal responsibility to mine and develop that potential if they would meet His one condition—they must follow Him. These men responded immediately to Jesus because He believed in them.  They were willing to walk away from their secure, routine, and predictable life for the sake of what He saw in them. Ultimately, they believed in Jesus because He first believed in them.  Jesus saw what they could be rather than what they were. 

Successful leaders do not pressure people through intimidation, manipulation, condemnation, and domination. Instead, they lead through inspiration and vision. Sure, Jesus called men to repent of their sins, but He did not do it through condemnation. He called them to repentance because sin stood in the way of their relationship with the Destiny-Giver. Jesus demonstrated the power of godly mentoring. His disciples are the evidence.

God desires to bring forth His plan for our lives.  However, we need mentors to help us realize our potential.  We need people who will see beyond what we are and call us up to what we can be.  We need people who will walk with us through the issues in our lives and not give up on us when we stumble.  We need people who will be like Jesus.  If we really want to be mentored, we must respond like Jesus’ disciples. We must be willing to leave our comfort zone, to be led, and to follow.  When we find that type of relationship with a godly mentor, then we have been granted one of the greatest blessings and opportunities we could ever have in this life.
 
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, thank You for not condemning me in my failure. Thank You for seeing potential in me and sending Jesus to redeem me back to You.  I submit myself now to Your mentoring process.  I ask You to send people into my life who can see what I cannot see in myself.  Help me to let go of what I am now so that I can become what I never imagined possible for.  I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
 
[1] John 3:17 NKJV
[2] Ephesians 2:5 NKJV (He) added
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