Connect: A Praying Life Session 6

A Praying Life: Authority in Prayer

In Jesus Name

God has given us the ability to pray from a position of strength when we pray for His will. God gives us the authority to activate His will on earth; the authority to bring His power into situations on earth. The proof that we are to pray with authority is that we have been authorized to use the name of Jesus. The One who has all authority in heaven and on earth has authorized us to speak in His name.

Read! Mathew 28:18

·      And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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.’”

When Jesus gives us the privilege of using his name, it is an indication of trust. He is saying, “Use the credibility I have earned to establish your own. You will not need to prove yourself in order to have immediate access to the benefits I have earned because you will be coming in my name and not your own. My reputation will be imputed to you. You will be received as I am.” This is the privilege Jesus has given us. We approach the Father in His name. Because Jesus has given us permission to use His name, we are accepted in the Father’s presence as Jesus is.

Ask!

·      Have you ever used someone else’s name in order to establish credibility? Share.

·      When a person gives you permission to use his or her name, what trust is implied?

·      In your words, what does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name?


Delegated Authority

The authority we have in Christ is delegated authority. We are to use His name to access His resources to fulfill His purposes through prayer. Jesus is the One who has been given the authority; He has only authorized us to use it. Delegated authority is only in effect when it exactly matches the original authority that backs it up. The authority that we exercise in prayer flows from Him. We do not have our own authority. We exercise His authority. Any time that our prayers are outside His will, they have no authority.

Ask!

·      Can you pray with authority unless you pray in Jesus’ name?

·      Can you pray in Jesus’ name if you are not praying Jesus’ desires?

·      What is the key to praying with authority?


A Praying Life

The longer we live a praying life, the more focused we are on God. The secret to powerful praying is not a method, but a relationship. Little by little we are freed from the uncertainty induced by scrutinizing our prayer methods to see if they measure up. Did I have enough faith? Did I pray fervently enough, or long enough, or eloquently enough? Did I present my case with enough passion? In the praying life, we can forget the method and look to the Master. The secret to prayer lies in Him alone. 

 

Dean, J.K. (2010) Live a praying life: Open your life to god's power and provision. United States: New Hope Publishers (AL).

Connect: A Praying Life Session 5

A Praying Life: Faith Is Required

Scripture Emphasis: Luke 17:5

·      “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’”

o   Ask the Lord to give you more faith as well more opportunities to exercise your faith.


Faith and Prayer

Faith and prayer are inseparable. Faith fuels prayer.  Prayer expresses faith. The two are intertwined. One does not exist with out the other. It is important for us as believers to fully understand what faith is, because a misunderstanding of faith and how it operates can cause us to lose-heart in prayer.

 Ask!

·      Is faith a feeling that can be worked up?

·      Is faith feeling sure that we know what God will do?

·      Does faith have anything to do with feeling?


Faith vs Belief

We are sometimes taught that if we just believe hard enough that God will answer any prayer. The problem here is that faith is not just “believing really hard”. You can make yourself believe anything, true or not. Believing it will happen won’t make God do it. Belief is one thing; faith is something else. Many believers have mistaken belief for faith, they have had experiences in prayer that are discouraging and disappointing. They have believed with all their might that God would perform in a certain way that seemed best to their prayer. They have prayed scriptures and listed all the ways God would be glorified. With all these good intentions, they misunderstood belief for faith.

Ask!

·      Have you ever believed for something to happen that never did?

·      Has doing this ever caused you to feel discouraged?

No matter how hard we believe, we will never be able to manipulate God into doing something. Our prayers will never do anything except release God’s power for God’s purpose. Faith is not knowing how God will bring His will into being; faith is knowing that God will bring His will into being. When your faith is in God, not in your own idea of what God should do and how he should do it, then faith has substance. We must keep in mind that whatever direction a situation takes once prayer has begun, it is taking the direction that will accomplish the purposes of God.

Read! Matthew 13:53-58

·      “When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there.  Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?’ they asked. ‘Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?  Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?’  And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.’  And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”

You will notice that the people did not disbelieve that He could do miracles. In fact, they were amazed at His miraculous powers. It was not doubt about what He could do that is called “their lack of faith”. It was their refusal to embrace who He was. They had confidence in His ability to do miracles—they had belief. But they did not have faith. They were not willing to abandon themselves to Him, trusting Him to be all they needed or desired. This scripture teaches us that faith is not believing in the answer to prayer; it is trusting the One who answers prayer.


Faith Is Required

So, what is faith? Faith is not a feeling. Faith is not “feeling sure”. You can be exercising faith and at the same time be filled with feelings of uncertainty. As you mature in your faith-walk, as you gain more confidence in how to operate in faith, your feelings will begin to match your faith; but your feelings are not the measure of your faith. Knowing God produces faith. He authors faith, just as He authors Prayer. 

 

Dean, J.K. (2010) Live a praying life: Open your life to god's power and provision. United States: New Hope Publishers (AL).

Connect: A Praying Life Session 4

A Praying Life: The Process of Prayer

 

Scripture Emphasis: Psalm 73:25-26

·      “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

o   In life we all have needs, wants, and desires. In your prayer this week, push those things aside and focus on God as your ultimate need, want, and desire.

Recap!

·      Week 1: The Purpose of Prayer

o   The purpose is not to change or convince God. The purpose of prayer is to release the power of God and accomplish the purposes of God.

·      Week 2: The Necessity of Prayer

o   Prayer is necessary because God deems it so. Because of the gap sin created, God decided that he would require us to pray in order for Him to release His power, provisions, and blessings.

·      Week 3: The Author of Prayer

o   God’s heart is the beginning point of prayer. God’s Holy Spirit leads us in prayer and transforms our hearts and minds to match God’s.


Prayer Lists

Many people are in the habit of making prayer lists to organize and remember prayer needs and requests. Prayer lists are a great tool for keeping track of and witnessing God’s power. A problem occurs though, when we look at a prayer list like a “To Do List” for God. Prayer doesn’t work like that. We don’t pray for a need and God fulfills it then we check that need off. When we have a “To Do List” mentality we look at prayers as complete or incomplete, answered or unanswered. God is not in the business of answering prayer with “yes” and “no”. God answers prayer in His own way and in His own timing. We must remember that God answers prayer progressively and that prayer is a process.

Ask!

·      Do you use a prayer list?

·      How can you keep from falling into the ‘To Do List” mentality?


Waiting for an Answer

We do not pray so we can get what we want, when we want it. Prayer is how we rely on God for our needs and grow closer to Him in the process. Sometimes that process takes a while and other times it seems like God is never going to answer. There is a reason for that. God works through the prayer process to expand our vision, to deepen our hunger, to stretch our faith, and to lift our desires higher. We start the process desiring something from Him; we end it desiring only Him. Each time you witness God fulfill a desire or meet a need, your faith and dependence on Him grow deeper. The process of prayer was designed to bring each one of us closer to God.


Desires of The Heart

Read! Psalm 37:4

·      “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desire of your heart.”

When we truly delight ourselves in the Lord, He becomes the desire of our hearts. When we live a praying life and allow God to mold our hearts and minds, He also molds our desires. Through prayer God uses us to fulfill his plans. Our prayer should always reflect our desire to see God glorified.

Ask!

·      Do the desires of your heart reflect your desire for God?

·      What is one of those desires and how does it reflect your desire for more of God?

There are times when we think we are asking for the desire of our hearts, but we are really asking for the desire of the moment. Often, in order to give you the desire of your heart, God will withhold the desire of the moment. He only says “no” as a prelude to a higher yes. Give Him time—give him access—so that He can peel back the desire of the moment and show you the desire of your heart.


The Process of Prayer

Prayer does not work like a vending machine. You do not simply put in a request and then receive an answer. God answers prayer in His timing and in His way. Sometimes His timing is instantaneous and other times it takes years. No matter the length, the process is always to make your faith in God grow. We see this in the Bible with the story of Lazarus. Mary and Martha wanted Jesus to heal Lazarus, but he came four days to “late”. Jesus timing was perfect and He performed an even greater miracle. We must trust the process and allow God to mold us through it.

 

Dean, J.K. (2010) Live a praying life: Open your life to god's power and provision. United States: New Hope Publishers (AL).

Connect: A Praying Life Session 3

The Author of Prayer


Scripture Emphasis: Isaiah 50:4 (GW)

·      “The Almighty Lord will teach me what to say, so I will know what to say to weary people. Morning after morning he will wake me to listen like a student.”

o   Ask God to teach you what to pray. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide your prayer.

Recap!

·      Week 1: The Purpose of Prayer

o   The purpose is not to change or convince God. The purpose of prayer is to release the power of God and accomplish the purposes of God.

·      Week 2: The Necessity of Prayer

o   Prayer is necessary because God deems it so. Because of the gap sin created, God decided that he would require us to pray in order for Him to release His power, provisions, and blessings.


 The Origin of Payer

Prayer is and always has been a part of God’s great plan. God uses the prayers of His people to bring about His will. However, God does not wait on His people to decide to pray or hope we pray the right things. Instead he urges us to pray and authors our prayers. If not for the urging of the Spirit, man would not be led to pray. True prayer comes from God.

Quote!

·      “It is not our prayers that move the Lord Jesus, but the Lord Jesus who moves us to pray.” – O. Hallesby

·      “He seeks to rouse the spirit of intercession that He may be able to bestow His blessing on mankind. God regards intercession as the highest readiness to receive and to yield themselves wholly to the working of His almighty power.” – Andrew Murray

·      “The content of all true prayer originates in the heart of God.” – Paul Bilheimer

Ask!

·      When is the last time you felt the sudden urge to pray? Was it something specific? Share.

·      Have you ever felt sure that the Spirit inspired your prayer? Share.


God’s Will in Our Hearts

True prayer is when God’s heart is expressed through our words. True prayer is when God’s words become our words. In order for this to happen God’s desires must be in our hearts. Powerful prayer is not a matter of knowing the right words to say, rather it is having a heart that is at God’s disposal—open to hear His every sigh and whisper and to echo it in prayer. When you allow God to mold you heart so that it matches His, your heart should overflow in prayer.

Ask!

·      Do you think the desires of your heart match God’s?

·      In your prayer experience, how much time have you devoted to making yourself open for God to express Himself to you?

·      What can you do to open your heart further to God’s heart?


Spirit Led Prayer

Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians that we were created as the temple of God and that the Holy Spirit dwells within us. When the Spirit makes a home in us, He then speaks to us and makes known to us all truth. The life of Jesus is flowing through us be means of the Holy Spirit. It is Jesus’ prayers’ that are the content of our prayers.  The Spirit reproduces the intercession of Jesus in us.

Read! John 16: 13-15 (GW)

·      “When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into the full truth. He won’t speak on his own. He will speak what he hears and will tell you about things to come. He will give me glory, because he will tell you what I say. Everything the Father says is also what I say. That is why I said, ‘He will take what I say tell and it to you.’”


 The Author of Prayer

God’s heart is the beginning point of prayer. When we live a praying life His thoughts transform our thoughts. His heart reforms our hearts. His desires reshape our desires. When we allow God to lead and guide us, then He becomes the Author of our prayers. 

 

Dean, J.K. (2010) Live a praying life: Open your life to god's power and provision. United States: New Hope Publishers (AL).

Connect: A Praying Life Session 2

The Necessity of Prayer


Scripture Emphasis: Ezekiel 36:26-27

·      “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you… And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

o   This is a declaration from God. Pray this over yourself and ask God to fulfill this promise in your own life.

 

God’s Plan for Prayer

In Session 1 we discussed that the Purpose of Prayer is to release the power of God and to accomplish the purposes of God. Today, we are going to discuss the Necessity of Prayer. 

Think!

·      Why is prayer necessary?

·      Does God actually need us to pray?

·      Can God work without our prayers?

The truth is God does need us to pray, but not because he is needy. God needs us to pray because he chooses to. God in His sovereignty decided how his power should work. His sovereign decree is that His specific, intervening will in any situation will be released onto the earth by means of prayer. It’s not that God can’t intervene to release His provisions without prayer; it’s that He wont. Prayer is the avenue that God has established for how His finished work comes from the spiritual realm and changes the earth. God has bound Himself to His people through prayer. It is prayer that brings God’s intervening power directly to bear on situations on the earth.

Quote!

·      “Prayer is the conduit through which power from heaven is brought to earth.” – Ole Hallesby

·      “God will do nothing but in answer to prayer.” – John Wesley

·      “The work of His Spirit follows the prayers of His people” – Andrew Murray


Standing in the Gap

Before the fall of man, God did not need us to pray. His creation was perfect. But now, because of sin, there exist a gap between what God has prepared and is ready to release and what is happening on earth. Sin made prayer necessary. Prayer bridges the gap. When we pray, we reach into the spiritual realm (heaven) and grab hold of the will of God for that situation. Then we pull the will of God through the gap and establish it on the earth. Last week saw this played out in scripture with Moses.

Read! Psalm 106:23

·      “So He said He would destroy them had not Moses, His chosen one, stood in the gap before Him to keep His wrath from destroying them.”

Prayer is standing in the gap—being the conductor of His power and His will into the circumstances on earth. Prayer is the conduit that brings the power of heaven into the circumstances of earth. Prayer does not change what has been done in heaven, but releases it.


The Prayers of Daniel

In Daniel 9, we see Daniel reading the Word of God. He reads in the Book of Jeremiah that the desolation of Jerusalem is to be in effect for 70 years. Daniel reads this and realizes that it has now been exactly 70 years.

·      “I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.” – Daniel 9:2

Daniel saw God’s will and God’s plan clearly revealed in the Word and decided to act. Daniel understood that prayer is the conduit that brings God’s will out of the spiritual realm and causes it to take effect on the earth, so he prayed and the desolation of Israel came to an end.

·      “So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with Him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.” – Daniel 9:3


The Necessity of Prayer

Prayer is necessary because it changes the spiritual realm and in turn the spiritual realm changes the physical realm. Many people mistake prayer for a passive activity. Some think it is what you do when nothing else works, but prayer is the work! Prayer is the most aggressive, offensive, pro-active, invasive work you can ever do.

 

Dean, J.K. (2010) Live a praying life: Open your life to god's power and provision. United States: New Hope Publishers (AL).

Connect: A Praying Life Session 1

The Purpose of Prayer


Scripture Emphasis: Psalm 25:4-5

·      “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

 

Think!

·      What is the purpose of prayer?

·      What does prayer accomplish?

·      Does prayer change God?

·      Can it change his mind? Does it convince him?


 The Sovereignty of God

In order to understand the purpose of prayer we first have to understand the sovereignty of God. Scripture is clear that God is, has always been, and will always be sovereign. There are no limitations on God’s sovereignty. He is under no rule or authority outside of Himself.

·      If God is sovereign how can our prayers affect him?

·      If God is sovereign is it possible to convince him in prayer?

·      If God is sovereign can we change his mind through prayer?

What Scripture Says:

·      “Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” – Numbers 23:19

·      “He who is the glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.” – 1 Samuel 15:29

·      “But the plan of the Lord stand firm forever…” – Psalm 33:11

·      “He does not take back his words” – Isaiah 31:2


The Intercession of Moses

Scripture states that God does not take back his words and his mind cannot be changed, so why then does scripture also contain stories where it appears God does in fact change His mind? 

Read!

·      Exodus 32:7-14

God’s anger was at its’ peak. He was ready to destroy Israel and start over with Moses, but then Moses made a plea to God to change his mind. He reasoned with God. In the end God does seem to change His mind. Does that mean God changed His mind because of what Moses said? If Moses was able to convince God to show mercy does that mean Moses is more merciful than God? Should the people of Israel be grateful to God for his mercy or to Moses? 

In Ezekiel 22 the tribe of Judah is in a very similar situation. Judah had turned away from God and his judgment was about to be unleashed. In this passage God says, “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it.” This is exactly what God did with Moses. God does not want to unleash his wrath that is why he informed Moses of his decision before carrying it out. He gave Moses the opportunity to intercede. He wanted to show mercy.

·      Moses did not change God’s mind; He shared God’s mind.

·      He did not alter God’s plan; He implemented God’s plan.

·      God’s purposes were firmly rooted in Moses’ heart and formed the basis of Moses’ desires.

·      When Moses spontaneously poured out his heart to God, God’s desires were being expressed through Moses’ lips.

·      Through his intercession, Moses reflected God’s love and redemptive purposes


The Purpose of Prayer

The purpose of prayer is not to change God’s mind. It is not to convince God to do something. The purpose of prayer is to release the power of God and to accomplish the purposes of God. Through prayer we must try to discover God’s will, not obligate him to do ours. We must reflect God’s mind. Prayer opens the way for God to what he already wants to do. The secret of prayer is not how to change God, but how to be changed by him.

 

 

 

Dean, J.K. (2010) Live a praying life: Open your life to God's power and provision. United States: New Hope Publishers (AL).

Accepted Grace

Senior Pastor:

Randy Lemme



“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
Romans 12:3-5 ESV


Accepted Grace gives us authority over self so that we can become true members of the body of Christ, not members of a denomination or local church, but members of the body of Christ "In" the local church. Your church can't save you nor can it gift you, those things only come from a relationship with Christ having accepted Him as Lord and Savior. Then, that Grace and membership makes you able to serve with humility in the local church from your membership in Christ's Body. Carry out your assignment in the local church because you are a member of the body of Christ.

Just an "Out Loud" thought.
- Pastor Randy Lemme


Powerball

 

 

OASIS KIDS PASTOR:

CHRIS DAVIS


Powerball

Wednesday night three winning tickets were drawn for the 1.5 Billion dollar Powerball, the largest in history. I'm sure your timelines have been filled with people saying what they would do if they were the one to win. Let's be honest, we have all tried to answer that question. Seriously, a cash value of nine hundred and fifty million dollars. I mean really think about it. NINE HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS. Just look at all these zeroes: $950,000,000.00!

"What would you do if you won?"

We've all played this game before. "What would you do if you won a million dollars?" Yes, we always say a "million". But this time you have to answer that question 950 times! I doubt that's even possible to do!

"But, what would you do?"

Okay, I admit that I have given this quite a bit of thought. After hiring a tax lawyer and figuring out the best way to receive the money, I would pay my tithe. 10% of that 1.5 Billion would go straight back to the Lord!  Now that I've fulfilled what is required of me, the creativity can begin. 

"I would..."

  • Pay off the Student Loans of all my friends and acquaintances. 
  • Build a new state of the art building for our church.
  • Sponsor the many missionary friends that I have over seas.
  • Pay for a few new buildings at my alma mater, SAGU.
  • Walk in to a random Chick-fil-A and pay the college tuition of any patron or employee that wanted it. 
  • Build a new youth camp for the West Texas District. (I grew up at that camp)
  • Pay the medical bills of random families in need.

I know what you're thinking. I'm such a perfect little Christian, right? A real life "Good Samaritan". It is quite a bit of money and I'm not perfect, I'm sure I'd use some of it on personal things as well! Honestly though, I really do believe I would use that money for good. That list is a condensed version actually! I could go on and on about what I would do. I have no doubt that many of you have even more ideas than me. 

"Would"

That's the problem with this little game, it relies on the words if and would. All this thought power, all these great ideas are essentially pipe dreams. Spoiler Alert: I didn't win the Powerball. How much time did I spend thinking of ways I could honor the Lord and do some good, but only if I won 1.5 Billion dollars? I started to feel quite a bit of conviction. How selfish was I being? "If I had this then I would do this." I am essentially saying, "Since I don't have this, I won't do anything." 


Would-->Could-->Will

Since, I don't have 1.5 Billion dollars I can't pay for everyone's tuition. I have to stop asking what I would do and start asking what I could do. In order to answer that question I need take inventory of what I have to offer.

"I have..."

  • Time
  • A Compassionate Heart
  • An Education
  • A Friendly Personality
  • A Sense of Humor
  • My Health

Of these six things I think the greatest I have to offer is my time. I can actually think of many ways the others would compliment the giving of my time. So now I ask myself, "What could I do?

"I could..."

  • Spend time at a nursing home. (Time, Compassion, Friendly, Sense of Humor)
  • Tutor a struggling student. (Time, Education)
  • Mow a church elder's yard. (Time, Compassion, Health)
  • Volunteer at the boys and girls club. (Time, Friendly, Sense of Humor)

"I will..."

This final question is something I have to answer for myself. It will be between God and I. I won't do it to make myself look good or feel good. I'll do it because I'm able to right now. There are no restraints or stipulations. I have the means already and the only other thing I need is a willing heart.


How about you?

The Lord has given each of you something to offer. Have you ever asked yourself what that is? I encourage you to stop saying, "I would" and start saying, "I will". As you go about your day think about and answer these questions:

  • What do you have to offer?
  • What could you do to serve God?
  • What will you do to serve God?

GROWING IS SUFFERING

Junior.jpg
 
 

Administrative Pastor:

Junior Garcia


Less than 24 hours after surgery and a return visit to the Emergency Room due to complications, I write to encourage you with the peace and comfort that I have in my physical pain. As I prepared for surgery and the recovery I was challenged to not let my physical suffering take away from my time with God. I believe that every circumstance we face in life is an opportunity to overcome and grow in Christ. There is no question that every Christian should strive to grow and imitate the very nature of Jesus (Ephesians 5:1). But is suffering in the flesh really something we must all face? While we may not like the answer, the answer is YES. We live in a fallen world and must experience things such as pain, heartache, chronic illness and even death. While none of this was God’s original plan for humanity, we must all face the consequences of sin. While fleshly pain is inevitable, Jesus has made a way. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). While Jesus has made a way, overcoming flesh is something we must do daily (1 Corinthians 15:31). It takes work, commitment, trust, patience and love. It takes a longing for His presence and a complete reliance on His strength in times of suffering. So can physical pain, emotional distress or spiritual struggles really grow us in relationship with God?

 

Suffering brings us closer to God.

 

Suffering is by no means easy. As a matter of fact, it’s the complete opposite. It’s trying and difficult, but as believers we must find hope and take every opportunity to grow from our sufferings. God’s intentions for us are still prosperous. While we all will suffer in one way or another, God intends for us to grow closer to Him in the process. It’s a blessing in disguise if you will. A disguise that was often sought after by the apostles and the early church (Colossians 1:24-25). Physical, emotional and spiritual struggles are an opportunity for us to know Jesus in a whole new light. A light that we would not know by living a pain-free life. It’s a trust and reliance that calls for a closer relationship with God in times of suffering.

 

Suffering causes us to rely on God.

 

Isaiah 48:10 says, “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.” When we rely on God during pain and suffering, God begins to free us from impurities and imperfections. Our weaknesses are brought to the surface and our reliance on God becomes a reflection of the words of Paul, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). This strength found in Christ points us to a spiritual maturity that encourages joy in our trials. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3). This joy and perspective on suffering can only be found in Jesus.  

Suffering grows us spiritually.

 

While pain and suffering can bring us closer to God and call for a greater amount of trust, the spiritual growth that we may develop is an opportunity to minister into the lives of those suffering around us. It enables us to become more like Christ. To practice encouraging one another, praying for each other and simply loving people through their trials. In Galatians 5:13-14 Paul says, “ For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” When we focus on loving God in our suffering, our freedom will not be used in the flesh but rather used to grow in Christ and in our love and compassion for others.

 

In Reflection:

 

As I reflect on the past few days I find myself weak in body and at times in too much pain to even think about prayer or reading scripture. But I have been encouraged to press in and not view my pain and suffering as a set back but as an opportunity for something new! As a new beginning, a deeper relationship, an opportunity for God to refine me both physically and spiritually. If you have been suffering in any way as of late, I encourage you to gain the right perspective. A perspective that brings you closer to God and allows for joy in the midst of your trials. Don’t lose hope but rather remember the words of the apostle Peter, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:10).

 

Ways to Overcome Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Suffering:

 

§  Worship

§  Do not Fear

§  Be Content in your Situation

§  See your Suffering as an Opportunity

§  Don’t Limit God’s Dominion Over your Circumstance

§  Remain in Prayer

§  Allow The Holy Spirit to Comfort you


God Is Love

Junior.jpg

 

 

Administrative pastor:

Junior Garcia


As we enter into a new year I have spent most of my time asking myself three questions:

  1. How can I love God more?
  2. How can I become a better husband, father & pastor?
  3. How can I live my purpose?

While I reflected on these questions and somewhat expected a definitive answer from God on questions one, two and three that's not at all what I received. My heart was immediately focused on falling deeper in love with Jesus. I wanted a passionate life-changing love for God that would absolutely transform my marriage, relationships and confidence to pursue the calling that God has placed on my life. It was as if God was saying don't worry about the husband, father, pastor, purpose stuff...worry about me and I will worry about the rest.

While I know God asks us to cast our cares on Him (Psalm 55:22) this was more of a simple reminder to keep His greatest command. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." (Matthew 22:37). As God reminded me to love Him I quickly started to fall in love with an all-knowing, all-powerful, self-sacrificing, unconditional loving God. Was it really that simple? Can developing a passionate, deep, crazy love for God really make me a better husband, father and pastor? Can a longing for God's presence and love really be the the catalyst that pushes me to live my purpose daily? The answer is YES. Loving God with all that we have will grow us closer to Him, our spouse, our children, our church and our purpose in life. After all "We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19).

IN RESPONSE:

I encourage you to take some time and get alone with God. Fall in love with the God who created you and not only created you but wants a personal relationship with YOU through Jesus! Maybe you have asked yourself some questions. Maybe questions similar to mine or maybe something totally different. Whatever your questions may be, I encourage you to pursue them through a response to God's love for you and a new passionate love you have for God. Read 1 John 4:7-20 for a deeper understanding of God's love for you. 

MY RESPONSE TO GOD'S LOVE:

Here are a few changes God has made in my life through my response to His love:

  • Worshiping on a weekly basis as a family
  • Leading a Young Adults Ministry
  • Praying to fall more in love with Him