One of the advantages for Christians on Facebook is the opportunity to have someone to pray for your needs as they arise, just as you pray for theirs. Daily we all seem to have friends who need prayer for an illness, financial stress, or on behalf of a loved one. I’m happy to oblige, realizing my own need of prayer. But recently it occurred to me how often we turn to prayer as a result of some difficult circumstance that has just happened or is happening now. What if, in addition to praying as a result of difficult circumstances, we prayed in such a way that our future circumstances would be the result of our present-day prayers? That is, why don’t we more often pray vigorously about our future days and years?

I believe prayer is the solid foundation on which a successful and happy future is built. That’s one reason for the existence of Magnificent Prayer, my popular daily devotional on prayer.

Prayer precedes great things. Prayer births life-changing events. Prayer moves the hand of God on our behalf. Wouldn’t you like to be assured that God not only can handle your present difficulties, but can also arrange your future in such a way as to bring about blessing in your life?  Through personal prayer you can lay down a pathway for the will of God to move you in His perfect direction for you. Don’t leave your future to “chance.” Pray your future years and fruitfulness into existence now–and every day from here on out.

Pray earnestly for open doors of personal ministry. Pray for your family. Intercede for revival. Cast a strong net of prayer over your every future circumstance. Pray your own life forward.

Make this a priority. Persist in prayer. Never give up. Be strong in prayer. Make circumstances the result of your prayers, not merely the cause of them.

 

Like many of you I’ve been concerned about some of the current events shaping our world and how they might affect us in the future. As a Christian, I’m not worried about what’s to come, but I do want to be prepared. So today’s blog post is written to me, but you’re free to eavesdrop if you think it might speak to you as well.

Some of us are old enough to remember when Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth was a mega-seller back in the 1970s. One of the benefits of its popularity was that it gave readers a chance to see current events in the light of Biblical prophecy. Several decades have passed since the book was published and we’re all still here. No rapture yet. To be honest, I’m not a prophecy scholar. I don’t know how the future is going to play out. I don’t have the maps and charts that pinpoint the timing of Christ’s return. But what I do know is that every generation of Christians from the days of the early church right up to the present needs to be aware of the times in which they live and prepared for come what may.

This post, then, is a look at what I mean by “prepared.” And the following 12 admonitions, I believe, are true no matter what happens. Even if Christ’s return is a thousand years away or if we’ve totally misread Bible prophecy, these still hold true for us today.

  1. Don’t be fearful about the future. Someone has wisely said that the fear of the Lord is the fear that drives away all other fears. If we’re living right, if we do fear the Lord, then we can face the future full of faith, not full of fear.
  2. Don’t rely on any human person (or political party) to pull us out of a national or world-wide decline. No man or woman has that power. If you’re trusting in a man to turn things around, you’re looking in the wrong direction.
  3. Live clean. If you’re still playing around with sin, you’re wasting time and setting yourself up for an ultimate failure. Get rid of the sin in your life. God wants to use you, but you must discard the sins, ambitions, desires for worldly success that are short-circuiting your usefulness.
  4. Keep diligent in prayer. Pray for national (and personal) revival. Though no man or woman can bring us out of a decline, God surely can—and desires to do so. Historically, revivals were preceded by much prayer. Get to praying. Serious praying.
  5. Be doing what God’s called you to do. Find out your mission and get on with it.
  6. Stop “going to church” on a drop-in basis.  Instead, find and become part of a serious and committed fellowship of believers who know you as well as your family knows you. In short, become part of a close fellowship where you can serve and grow in Christ. In the tough times ahead, you will need them and they will need you. (I hope I don’t need to add that you should stay away from ingrown cultish groups, no matter how “committed” they are to each other).
  7. If you’ve been a fence-sitter regarding your faith, the time for that is over. Your present circumstances may look rosy. Your life may be a peak…but that can all end suddenly. Now is the time to commit or recommit. It’s time to buy oil for your empty lamps (see Matthew 25:1-13).
  8. If you’re a parent, be a diligent parent. Feed your children positive influences and guard them from the destructive (often openly evil) influences in the media and elsewhere. Be aware of the occult overtures to you and your children in contemporary society. Teach them about heroes of the faith from the past. Do they know who Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, Jim Elliot, Hannah Whitall Smith, and Watchman Nee were?
  9. Be prepared physically and practically as well as spiritually. Physically, this means keeping your body healthy and performing well. Practically, it also means taking appropriate measures to have extra food and supplies on hand in case of an emergency. Be prepared.
  10. Stay current with the news. Know what’s going on. Watch what’s happening through Biblical eyes. Be discerning. Recognize deception when you see it. Applaud truth when it prevails.
  11. In the next few years, expect an increasing attitude of persecution against Christians to become mainstreamed. Currently, we still have much freedom in America, especially compared to Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere. However, I think many of us sense that America is changing rapidly and not for the better. Persecution has happened many times before in world history and it’s sure to happen again. Be willing to be called names and endure reviling for your faith. Expect attacks on the Bible and possibly physical attacks against churches.
  12. Despite all the challenges ahead, stay positive. Be a light. Affirm your friends and loved ones. Even if things look dire (nationally or personally), don’t become a fearful Gloomy Gus. God is in control…always. Make your motto “Faith, not fear.”

If all of the above sounds foolish, just delete it and move on. If it makes sense, share it with others. I’m honestly concerned enough about “faith, not fear”  that I’m working on a book proposal that will tackle this topic at greater length.

I’m at the age where I’m taking my physical health more seriously than I used to. I’m taking several beneficial supplements, exercising daily, and trying to eat better. Paying closer attention to my physical self has caused me to consider the care—or lack of care—that I give my spiritual self. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that being busy has often caused me to neglect the health of my spiritual nature.

I realize many people deny the existence of a spiritual nature within themselves and so for all intents and purposes they remain spiritually dead. They live for the joys they can find in this present physical world. But denying their spiritual nature has no more validity than a person who denies they have a physical or psychological nature. It’s there whether we realize it or not.

Others may have realized their spiritual nature and tried to feed it with the various spiritual counterfeits available—new age teachings, the practice of ancient superstitions such as astrology or the reading of palms or consulting mediums and such. There’s no shortage of spiritual poisons to choose from.

Then there are those who have been born of God and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. In short, they are spiritually alive to God.

But spiritual life, like physical life needs nourishment. It needs regular good food. That’s where I find myself often lacking. And the reasons are almost always the same. Lack of time, lack of faith, and just plain old dullness of spirit caused by my malnutrition.

As you may have surmised, this present blog post is a result of a recent spiritual self-examination that has confirmed my drifting back to the shallows of spiritual life. It happens to all of us. When we don’t feed our physical body, it becomes weak and susceptible to sickness. Same with our spiritual life.

How is it with you? Is this dullness of spirit leading you back to the shallows too?

First, let me ask you if you’re aware of your very real spiritual nature? Have you had an encounter with God through Jesus Christ? Are you indwelt by His Holy Spirit? If not, that’s your first remedy. Go to my home page and click on the section called “An Invitation.”  If you will follow through by accepting God’s invitation to you, that will begin your spiritual life.

If you’re already a Christian, but, like me, feeling a bit malnourished due to the neglect of your spiritual nature, let’s take some good supplements, exercise a bit, and consume better spiritual food. Here are a few of things I’m going to do in the next few days and weeks. Join me if you will.

  1. Every day I’m going to refresh my spirit by deliberately spending several minutes dwelling on, pondering, and marveling at the vastness and the goodness of God. I’m going to consider His magnificent attributes, one by one. I know from experience that doing this will lead me to number two.
  2. Contemplating the goodness of God invariably leads one to praise. As we consider His power, His grace, and His sovereignty in our lives, we can do nothing other than praise and worship Him. If doing number one doesn’t lead to number two, we’re doing number one wrong.
  3. One special topic to thoroughly ponder over and over is God’s overwhelming love for us. Perceiving the intense love God has for us is in itself a life changer and if we do this one right, it will also lead us to more of number two.
  4. Next, I’ll thumb through the book of Psalms and read a few psalms aloud, pondering as I go. (That will likely lead back to number two as well!).
  5. Then, knowing that spirituality without feet is pretty much useless, I’m going to prayerfully consider how I can live out my faith by loving others. Not just in word or thought, but in practical ways.  Jesus said that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. When we find ourselves not giving, that’s a sure sign of spiritual malnutrition.  The first part of James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.” That’s spirituality with hands and feet. I think it’s also a necessary nutrient for good spiritual health.
  6. The second half of James 1:27 says, “…and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” If I’m honest, I’ll admit that part of my spiritual malnutrition comes from having been too attached to the things of this world. When we look to our spiritual nature, we must also look away from our attachment to this present world. The two are simply not compatible, nor can they be. Ever.
  7. Finally, there is prayer. Talking to God. Not just sending up short bullet prayers, but getting on our knees (or prostrate on the floor) and communing quietly (or occasionally loudly) with God. Don’t hurry. Don’t watch the clock. Don’t let your mind wander. Don’t fall asleep. Just talk to God and listen to God. Let God have all your burdens. Relax in His presence. Think less of yourself and focus more on Him. Let prayer also lead to praise and worship. You might read another psalm. Sing or speak the words to a favorite hymn. Stay in God’s presence until you sense you’re finished. If you do this regularly, you’ll look forward to this time because you will be becoming more spiritually alive and God’s presence will be all the more real.

If we do these things, I’m convinced our lives will change. To be spiritually healthy is as important–or more so–than being physically healthy.

Let’s do it!