Friday, October 30, 2020

Free From Condemnation

 Friday, October 30, 2020

Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit's law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:1-2

Free From Condemnation

In the realm of human experience, there are positive emotions – I feel happy, affirmed, contented, hopeful and there are painful emotions - I feel embarrassed, used, neglected, frustrated. Though no one wants to experience painful emotions, they are a natural part of life.  No one wants to be embarrassed, used, frustrated, or neglected, but most people realize that, to some extent, painful emotions are inevitable.

But there is one heart-wrenching, spiritually-debilitating emotion that God never wants us to experience, one that we should never accept as just a part of life: condemnation.  Condemnation means to judge as unfit, to pronounce sentence, punishment, or judgment. Condemnation says I remember you in a negative way each time I think of you and regardless of who you are now.

In the life of a believer, this sense of worthlessness is not from God.  There is no condemnation because Christ took the sentence, punishment, and judgment for our sin. 

Condemnation might cause us to think:

     I can't do anything right.

     I'll never be as good as other people.

     I'm a terrible person.

     I'm not important to anyone.

     It's all my fault.

     I'm not worthy of receiving your love.

In contrast, God would say to us

     Your soul is more valuable than everything that is in the world (Luke 9:25).

     I loved and valued you so much that I gave my Son for you (John 3:16).

     I have accepted you, just as you are (Romans 5:8, 15:7).

     You are of great value to me (Matthew 6:25-34).

It’s important to know the difference between condemnation and conviction.  True conviction is good for us (healthy thoughts and emotions that lead us to repentance), but thoughts and feelings of condemnation are unhealthy.  Relative to the source of condemnation and conviction: Condemnation comes from Satan, others, and our personal conviction comes from the Holy Spirit.  Satan, the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10) ministers condemnation not conviction.  

Many people suffer under the burden of condemnation; it clings to their soul like barnacles on the side of a ship.  It is part of Satan's strategy to "kill, steal, and destroy the abundant life that God has promised us (John 10:10).  God desires that we be set free from feelings of condemnation we have encountered in the past, that we not minister condemnation to others, and that we become lovingly involved in helping others be set free.  

Therefore if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.  John 8:36 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Power and Boldness to Walk Through Anything...

 Thursday, October 29, 2020  Some material taken from Finding Boldness Through Prayer 2

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all. that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. Acts 4:32-35

Focused and Unified in Purpose

Prayer - it is an open line to the God of this universe. It is a one on one conversation, or a communication between a group of people and the Lord. This coming together in prayer to God as a group, unifies us and brings us together as one.  After Peter and John were released from jail and went to their friends and they all entered into a prayer meeting together, they were of one heart and mind. All the believers were one in heart and mind… They were unified in their praise and prayers to God, and that unity extended after the prayer was finished. They were a group working together to spread the gospel, and to take care of one another in the process.

When we are filled with the Spirit, we act like the Spirit. We possess the nature of the Spirit, which is to glorify the Son. In glorifying the Son, in the nature of the Spirit, we will treat others the way the believers in this passage were treating each other - with love and care for one another. They were focused and unified in their purpose and filled with Holy Spirit.

What the best of teaching techniques and the best of inspirational preachers can't do, the Spirit of God can. We can pass on more to people by acting in the Spirit than a sermon can do any day. Real evangelism is not just witnessing, it is God sharing Himself through one person to another. This heartfelt and sincere care for people and their eternal destination will show.  And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all…God’s grace is exactly what we want to impart to a lost world. It is the draw of God’s grace that leads them to salvation.

Those filled with the Spirit pour out the Spirit.

The natural process of things is to spill over when filled up. When it comes to the Holy Spirit, we don’t ever want to just be filled and stop right there. The Holy Spirit inside of us is wonderful, but the purpose of the filling of the Holy Spirit is to overflow that to others around us. He never intended for His Spirit to just fill us to the top and stop. The good news of His mercy and grace and the salvation He has given us, is not ours to keep to ourselves. It is His gift for all, and we are the ones to take it to others who need it. Along with other believers, we need to come together, with a single focus of spreading the gospel, and pray for boldness to carry it out as He has planned.  With a lack of knowledge of God and His love, the work of Christ, or the indwelling Spirt how can they believe? 

Power and Boldness to Walk Through Anything

Even though they had been threatened not to preach anymore, they didn't stop. They prayed louder, and for boldness to continue to preach the gospel. They prayed for the power, and left the rest to God. They didn't pray for God to take the threat away. They prayed for power and boldness to walk through what God had planned for them. I think this is so important to mention because many times, our first request when faced with a threat or difficult circumstances is for God to take it awayThey received power when they prayed - through contact with Him. Prayer is the channel. We too can receive the power to have the boldness to reach others for Christ, and to face whatever comes. He takes care of the details and fills us with His Spirit so we can overflow to others. One on one with Him, and unified with other believers, when we come to Him in prayer, He empowers us to do His work. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Experiencing God’s Power and Presence

 Wednesday, October 28, 2020  Some material taken from Finding Boldness Through Prayer 2

And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31

Experiencing God’s Power and Presence

There are a few examples of God’s presence in the Bible manifesting itself as shaking. When Paul and Silas were in jail, singing praises, the walls of the jail began to shake. That was the awesome power and majesty of God’s presence. Our walls will not shake with God’s presence and if they did, we would chalk it up to a powerful earthquake. We may not feel God’s presence in the same way these early Christians did, but His power and presence is just as real in our lives today. 

Though God is always present, there are times when the powerful presence of God goes undetected. Sometimes we do expect the walls to shake or to have a particular feeling before we believe God is present. If we don’t “feel” His presence, then He must not be present, but we know our feelings cannot be trusted. God can certainly be present, even if we don’t “feel” His presence. At Bethel, Jacob said "Surely, the presence of God was in this place AND I KNEW IT NOT!" Most of us can identify with this - realizing that we just came through an experience where God was surely present and we didn’t even realize it at the time.

God’s presence is not a feeling, although there may be times we truly feel His presence. Just as our salvation cannot be based on a feeling, we cannot base God’s presence in our lives on whether or not we feel it - thank goodness! The times we need His presence the most will likely be the times we may feel it the least. The circumstances of our lives can cause us so much turmoil that we may not feel like He is close at all. These are the times we hold to the promises of His word and we believe what the Bible says. The God of the universe cannot be considered real on the basis of our fragile human emotions. 

Prayer Keeps Us In Touch With the Presence and the Work of God

When we pray on a regular basis, we are going to have a closer relationship with God and be more aware of the presence of God than those who don’t communicate with Him. A relationship between two people cannot be built without communication. Prayer is part of what builds our relationship with God and it puts us in tune with Him and His work in our lives. We cannot recognize what we are not familiar with, and failure to pray can cause us to miss much of the work of God.

Prayer ushers the presence of God and the filling of His Spirit into our lives. It is the simple act of communion with God and seeking to glorify His Son that opens our hearts to Him. And the humble act of prayer is the vehicle for His power in our lives. 

When we come together as one with others and lift up our voices in unity, there is added power. In the passage above, Peter and John, having been in jail for preaching the gospel, were with their friends praising God for delivering them from jail, and asking for protection and boldness to preach the Gospel again. This faith and this unity and this adoration from this group of believers played an important part in what happened. The walls shaking with the presence of the Lord, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to preach the Gospel with boldness. 

The filling of the Spirit came because of prayer- even though they did not pray for that. They didn’t gather to have a party, they gathered to praise God seek the power of God to keep delivering the Gospel in boldness. God delivered them from the first crisis and filled them for this new one. 

Prayer was the first response of these early Christians, in the face of persecution and the unknown. They experienced the power and presence of God because of their faith in Him and their relationship with Him. When we have a relationship with God and build that relationship with regular prayer and communion with Him, we can also experience His power and presence in our lives.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Misinterpreting The Silence of God

 Tuesday, October 27, 2020  

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24

Misinterpreting The Silence of God
Have you ever thought that the unanswered text or email of a friend or loved one must mean that they are mad at you? Or maybe a misinterpreted gesture that you are sure means that they don’t like you, or they don’t respect you? Later, when talking to that friend, you find out that your friend wasn’t thinking any of those things at all. When our mind gets the better of us, we can actually regress into an elementary mindset!

Just as we can misinterpret a friend’s silence, we can also misinterpret God’s silence. If you have ever prayed, chances are you have experienced His silence at some point. God does not usually answer our prayers instantly, and whether you have experienced a moment of silence or a season of silence, it can feel like a lifetime in a desolate, barren wasteland. We pray and pray, desperate heartfelt prayers, and yet it seems like God is ignoring us. Our minds can totally knock us off the rails, usually the work of Satan. In the silence, thoughts roar inside our heads that can lead us to feel despair, lose hope, and believe God has completely abandoned us. Nothing is happening, or maybe things even get worse. 

Satan loves to get into our heads - to whisper these lies and try to make us believe them. He wants to try to take our faith away and leave us powerless in his grasp. When we have been praying desperately about something, and absolutely nothing is happening, these lies can overwhelm us if we are not on guard.

God is sometimes silent, but He is never absent, no matter how alone you feel. Satan would 
have us misinterpret His silence for abandonment. God is always at work and sometimes 
the work is waiting in faith. His timing is perfect, and He is working when you are waiting.

God loves us and He does hear our prayers. He cares about us even when it seems He doesn’t. He sees our tears, He hears our cries, He knows the burdens. His words to us are:

Even when you don’t feel My power…

Even when you don’t feel My presence…

Even when your prayers are not answered immediately or in the way you want them to be answered… 

Even when you think you are unworthy and undeserving of my love and help…

I am working everything for your good. You are my child and I love you and care about you.

The silence does not mean he has turned His back on us. It does not mean He doesn’t love us or He thinks we are unworthy. In the silence, He is working. In the silence, He is answering – in one way or another. It may be different from what you expect, but It will be the very best answer for you. Sit with Him in the silence and let Him fill you and drown out the lies. Trust Him and lay it at His feet. Leave it with Him and know that He cares for you.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2


Monday, October 26, 2020

Prayer & Discipleship

 Monday, October 26, 2020 Submitted by Van Houser

"Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 'Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 'Give us this day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]' (Matthew 6:9-13)


Prayer & Discipleship 

Two spiritual practices are indispensable in reaching Christian maturity. The first is prayer; the second is Bible study.  These are like the two wings of a giant bird.  If you keep both of them going, you can soar to spiritual heights. 

The single most important factor in growing to Christian maturity is prayer.  Its importance cannot be overestimated.  It is the difference in Christianity being merely a form and it being a force.  Every great servant of God has been a person of prayer.  Not just repetitious sayings made at proper times but intimate conversations with Holy God.

Too many spend too much of their energy on trying to achieve righteousness.  We are the consummate “I can do this myself” generation.  We pride ourselves and praise others who are highly independent.  Here is some news for you...the Christian life is a life of dependence.  It is not believing in Jesus and then “doing the best you can.”  It is not an "Operation Bootstrap" where only the people most disciplined and gifted survive.  It is not joining the church and getting a “do-it-yourself” kit.  It begins by confessing our complete inability to save ourselves and continues with the confession of our desperate need for God’s power and righteousness.  It is living in constant fellowship with and dependence upon God. 

The importance of prayer can best be seen in the life of Jesus. Jesus on his knees is the greatest argument there is for prayer.  As someone has said, "God had only one son who lived without sin. But he has had no sons who have lived without prayer."  Jesus was constantly in prayer. He prayed before he ate, before great decisions, and in the garden of Gethsemane. Sometimes he prayed all night long.  His was the most beautiful life ever lived.  And it was punctuated with prayer.

The disciples were so impressed with the prayer life of Jesus that they asked him, "Lord, teach us to pray."(Luke 11:1)  They had heard him preach eloquent sermons, but they never asked, "Lord, teach us to preach."  They saw him perform amazing miracles but they never said, "Lord, teach us to work miracles."  They recognized that the secret of his great life was in his communion with God through prayer. That's why they said, "Lord, teach us to pray."  In response to their request Jesus gave them and us the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:5-17).

There is one thing that must happen if you are to know a powerful prayer life…you must focus on God.  If you focus on your need, you will worry.  If you focus on God, you will find your faith renewed.  Jesus said, “Without Him, I could do nothing.”  Are we stronger than Him?   

Scripture to Claim:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”  Matthew 7:7-8



Sunday, October 25, 2020


Finding Boldness Through Prayer Part 2
Acts 4:23-35

Churches in America have operated for centuries without interference or fear of persecution. However, that seems to be changing as Biblical truths conflict with secular values.  What is our response to be?  Around the globe, persecuted believers have found their greatest weapon is prayer.

When the world attacks the gospel, it wants it silenced.  And yet, if it is silenced, it ceases to have a reasonto exist.

Why are we angry and surprised when the world acts like the world?

The world needs the gospel! The world needs Jesus! The world needs those who tell the Good News!

God emboldens His people through contact with Him.  It is His person that moves us, not the precepts we defend.

God does not need to empower His people in order for them to sit, but to serve.

Salvation prepares us to have a full spiritual life by giving us the Spirit, but it doesn’t automatically give us the tools to realize that life. That comes through discipleship

I learned a lot about who God is and about what God does but not about how God desires a relationship with me.

I. The Shaking of God’s Presence is Experienced  v31a

·      Persons who pray are often more aware of the presence of God than those who have failed to pray.

·      Spiritual aptitude is developed by spiritual exercise.

·      When God charges His people with His power there is created an ATMOSPHERE of holiness. 

II. Spiritual Power is Received  v31b

·      The filling of the Spirit came as a consequence of prayer-though they did not pray for the Filling of the Holy Spirit.

·      The union and unity among the people played a special part.

III. The Sharing of God’s Word Results    v31c

·      Those filled with the Spirit pour out the Spirit. 

·      Real evangelism is not just witnessing, it is God sharing Himself through one person to another.

IV. Sacrifice for God’s Purpose is now the Natural Response v32b-35

·      The Preparation for Service:  
Prayer → Filling → Sharing → Sacrifice

Fellowship (one heart & soul), Evangelism (giving testimony), Giving (sell and bring) and Ministry (distributed to each as any had need) are the natural effects of the living presence of God in the life of a believer.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Wait On It

 Friday, October 23, 2020   Submitted by Van Houser

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

A Parable about Perspective

The story is told of a king in Africa who had a close friend with whom he grew up.  The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, "This is good!"

One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition.  The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king.  The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off.  Examining the situation, the friend remarked as usual, "This is good!"  To which the king replied, "No, this is not good!" and proceeded to send his friend to jail.

About a year later the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of.   Cannibals captured him and took him to their village.  They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake.  As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb.  Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole.  So untying the king, they sent him on his way.

As he returned home he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend.  He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend.  "You were right," he said, "it was good that my thumb was blown off."  And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened.  "And so, I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long.  It was bad for me to do this."

"No," his friend replied, “This is good!"  "What do you mean, "This is good"?  How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?"  "If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you." said his friend with a sigh of relief.

A Truth Expanded…“Wait On It!”

Sometimes in life we find ourselves viewing an event, circumstance, or occurrence with a strong opinion as to its positive or negative impact on our lives.  The truth is, all things are connected not only to a past, but to a future which interprets the value of the past.  Some things which may seem disastrous are merely preparatory lessons for a future challenge or opportunity to be a blessing to the lives of others.  

A mother is cooking, and the child wants to taste it NOW!  A father is heating a piece of metal to form it and others are in a hurry to see the product.  To know the value or reason for some things, we just have to “Wait on it!

In looking back at an unhappy or difficult childhood, many have come to realize how those difficulties actually were a part of helping them deal with life today and create the attitude necessary to be successful.  Some have seen a financial windfall and said, “This is good” only to see the wealth become the very curse of their family.  Others have watched as other seeming curses became overwhelming blessings.

What will certainly make an event bad is if it causes you to lose faith or hope.  Without these, the future is certainly bleak, and the blame is set on whatever it was that happened.  So how do we make good out of bad?  We don’t…God does.  Just trust Him to take all of the circumstances and weave them into a powerful life.  So, whatever happens today, realize it is not just what it is today, it is what God and you will make of it.

Scripture to Claim:

And we know 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)


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Sovereign God

 Thursday, October 22, 2020

Some material taken from Finding Boldness Through Prayer by Van Houser

And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness… Acts 4:24-28

Sovereign God

When we pray, it is important that we recognize - or remind ourselves of - the sovereignty of God. Peter and John and their friends understood this important step as noted in the verses above. The first words to God were not of their requests, but of His glory and power. 

They first recognized God as Sovereign Lord.  The word for "Lord" in this verge is "despot" - One who rules with absolute authority. They spoke of different examples of God’s sovereignty from the past and in the creation of all things. And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, "O Lord, it is You who MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM… v.24 

We say we trust God but does our prayer life really reflect that? If we believe God is who He says He is, we can believe He is perfectly over everything in our world.

The sovereignty of God can be seen in His control of all things – "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. vs.27-28 Even those in opposition to God are seen as being in His control. God is in charge!

Once you acknowledge God’s handiwork in creation, what stops you from recognizing His hand in the world today? The world is bigger than our nation and what is happening in the interactions of the world is God’s bigger plan for mankind. God has used persecution, godless rulers, small children and donkeys to do His bidding.  He is in control today! 

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of the sovereignty of God and how He has answered our prayers and been faithful to us in the past. We know these things, but in the midst of crises, we tend to forget. We have to remind ourselves that if He can create the world, He can handle our problems. When we are scared or anxious, we need to speak it out loud. We need to declare with our mouth the praises He deserves and, because of His sovereignty, we can leave our worries in His more than capable hands. Because, even though He is sovereign God, mighty and powerful creator of this world, He loves us and cares about us and everything that worries us. He wants us to come to Him, to trust Him, and give Him every burden that weighs us down. We can do that with faith because we know He is sovereign. 




Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Pray First

 Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Lord’s loving kindness indeed never ceases, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. --- Lamentations 3:22-23

Pray First - by Donnie O'Fallon

I enjoyed the challenge of Pastor Van’s message Sunday form Acts 4. He asked, “How will God get His church, back on mission today?” He then stated, “the church is supernatural in it’s origin and should be supernatural in it’s operation. What is not supernatural is superficial.” The foundation of all that we are and all we do, is prayer. Jesus’ words to his disciples from Mark 4:17 says, “My house shall be called a house of prayer, for all nations.” We cannot do anything until we pray. We can only come before God’s throne of grace because we are Children of the King and there can be no unconfessed, unrepented sin in our lives. We must be clean, or we cannot come before a Holy God. In His Word He gives us clear guidance for what makes Him listen to our prayers, what hinders our prayers and the power He has given to us by prayer. We are to pray for His glory and for His kingdom to come to earth as it is in heaven. It is through you and me that the Great Commission and the Great Commandment will be completed. We then can stand boldly be fore Him as "vessels onto honor.

My morning prayer can then be that of a bond slave or servant. This is my prayer today for those reading this and for the NSBC membership:

Thank you for the blessing of a new morning and the privilege of beginning the day by communing with You. I give you myself, my gifts/abilities, and my schedule today asking to be used to further your Kingdom Father.

Give me the wisdom to handle every situation I will encounter with your grace so that my speech will be pleasing and honoring and my thoughts pure as I follow your direction and purpose. I know and am grateful that Your plans for me today are good (Jer. 29:11) and I will trust in Your steadfast faithfulness.

Help me to live in a manor worthy of the call You placed on my life so that I may magnify Your name and lift up Jesus in all that I say and do. Amen

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

All The Power You Will Ever Need

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord. Acts

All The Power You Will Ever Need
In yesterday’s post, we read about how Peter and John were thrown in jail for healing the lame man and proclaiming the Gospel. They were threatened heavily by the religious leaders – yes, the very ones who could not take their eyes off of Peter and John as they stood before them declaring the power of the Holy Spirit. They were threatened to not speak or teach in the name of Jesus again, on no account. Peter and John’s response was that they could not keep quiet about what they had seen and heard. Surprisingly, the leaders let them go – after renewing their threats once more. They couldn’t keep them in jail, and if they had tried the people would not have stood for it – they were all praising God over what had happened.

Have you ever been in a place where you didn’t know what would happen to you, but you expected the worst? I am sure Peter and John didn’t expect to be released. Given the circumstances surrounding their jailing and the situation with the church at the time, they might have expected to not get out of jail alive. Imagine the joy and pure relief! What would you do at that very moment? I imagine any of us would do just as they did – they went to their friends and told them what the high priests and religious leaders had said - and then they all prayed.

Sometimes, dropping to our knees is our last resort. First, we panic, or fall apart. Next, we start trying to fix it ourselves. But nothing fixes our broken lives like the power of prayer!

  •        Nothing can bring us together like joining in prayer. There is no connection more powerful than being in the presence of God together, and when two or more are gathered together in His name – He is among them. If you have been in a prayer meeting like this, then you know exactly what I am talking about. God’s power is evident, and it gives us boldness to proclaim His praises, and to face whatever comes next.
  •         Nothing can bring us more comfort in a time of distress than for our Christian brothers and sisters to come together and pray with us and for us. I would imagine that all these Christians joined together in a big group, laying hands on one another and lifted their prayers up in unison for Peter and John. Even if our prayer may not be answered the way we prayed it would, we have community supporting us and loving us through to the end.

This world today is full of technology and there is an answer for everything at the tip of our fingers – literally. We seek answers everywhere before we seek God. The first thing we should do is to gather with our friends and break out in prayer (or at least ask for prayer) just like Peter and John did.

Perhaps we don’t want to appear weak, or needy. Maybe we are embarrassed by our circumstances. It certainly would contradict most of our social media profiles if others knew what was really happening in our lives. The sad thing is that we do not have to suffer alone. We have this awesome power of the Holy Spirit to help us through this life, and no matter how advanced our world gets, it will never surpass the power of almighty God to meet our needs and answer our prayers! There is nothing this world offers that will meet our needs and perform the miracles we need like our Hold God. Nothing is more fulfilling than seeking His wisdom, praying for His hand in a situation, and seeing Him move in your life. It does bring boldness. It gives us the power of the resurrection in the very breath we breathe, in the silent prayer, the weakest utterance of a word. Choose Him first over trying to fix it yourself. Give Him the opportunity to reveal His power in your life through the power of prayer. Ask your friends and family to pray with you as well, and rejoice together in the freedom to do so. 

Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. Matthew 18:19-20

Lara Cook

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Precedent Set Before Us

 Monday, October 19, 2020

And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31

The Precedent Set Before Us

This year has certainly seemed unprecedented in many ways, but is it really? Or is it just unprecedented for our lifetime? This year may have been unprecedented to us, but not to our God who knows all things and has already been in 2020, as He has been in all of our tomorrows. Although He doesn’t like to see us separated physically and divided spiritually, He is not surprised. 

There have definitely been things happening that we have never seen before, nor did we ever dream they could happen. It feels to us like everything is out of control, but if we believe what we say we believe, then we know it is not. Satan loves it when we panic at the news, or when tempers flare at the protests, or when we lock ourselves away and do not come together for worship. He truly does work hard to silence God’s people and he will stop at nothing. We are his greatest threat. If he can silence the people of God, he can win over all those souls who will not hear the Gospel from us - not a political view or a social platform. 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is still our mission, even in the midst of a pandemic, an intense election, and a rioting society.

Satan thinks he has won this year, because he thinks he has completely averted the eyes of the world and caused us to focus on everything but God. We need to get our focus back on God, back on our mission, and off all of Satan’s distractions. 

Our world is hurting and needing the love of God more than ever right now. On top of everything else this year, Christians are experiencing persecution in our country for gathering together. This is not unprecedented. In Acts, the church had been driven into hiding because of persecution. Peter and John were jailed for healing a lame man in Jesus’ name, and proclaiming the Gospel, yet already about 5000 people were saved because of their witness! They were brought to trial, and when asked on whose authority they said these things, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, let loose: Rulers and leaders of the people, if we have been brought to trial today for helping a sick man, put under investigation regarding this healing, I’ll be completely frank with you—we have nothing to hide. By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One you killed on a cross, the One God raised from the dead, by means of his name this man stands before you healthy and whole. Jesus is ‘the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.’ Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one. Acts 4:8-12 The Message

Their response was the best in this Message translation: They couldn’t take their eyes off them—Peter and John standing there so confident, so sure of themselves! Their fascination deepened when they realized these two were laymen with no training in Scripture or formal education. They recognized them as companions of Jesus, but with the man right before them, seeing him standing there so upright—so healed!—what could they say against that?  Acts 4:13-14 The Message

Are you so full of the Holy Spirit that others cannot take their eyes off you and recognize you as a companion of Jesus? Peter received the greatest compliment of all time and set a precedent for all Christians. 

This year, today, right now, is the perfect time to pray for boldness and use the power of the Holy Spirit you have within you to proclaim the Gospel and be recognized as a companion of Jesus Christ. This lame year and this hurting world need the people of God to have Holy boldness to spread the healing balm to everyone we can. They need the healing power of Jesus Christ. 

Though this year seems unprecedented, it is not. We have the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the example of those in the early church. We can have this same boldness the Holy Spirit provides to get back on mission and proclaim the Gospel if we pray and ask God.

Lara Cook


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Finding Boldness Through Prayer Part 1


Finding Boldness Through Prayer Part 1
Acts 4:23-35

Churches in America have operated for centuries without interference or fear of persecution. However, that seems to be changing as Biblical truths conflict with secular values.  What is our response to be?  Around the globe, persecuted believers have found their greatest weapon is prayer.

The enemy wants God's People silenced in every possible way.

The Bible and its authority have been rejected as being bigoted and culturally irrelevant to the present generation.

It is difficult to stand and profess what the Bible says is right without others feeling you are condemning or demeaning them.

The sad truth of the church today is that it has failed to stay on mission with the Great Commission when under attack!

The gospel has never been and will never be “politically correct”.

The church is supernatural in its origin and should be supernatural in its operation.

What is not supernatural will be superficial.

God’s Process of Emboldening Disciples

I. God’s Deliverance Is Proclaimed v23-24a

·         When you are really in trouble you don’t rise up to fight, you fall to your knees to pray.

·         Under pressure, they formed a prayer meeting; we form a committee.

·         Fact of ministry today is that the most difficult position to get the church into is on its knees.

·         People are willing to go, teach, preach, sing or do most anything before they will spend time in earnest prayer.

II. God’s Sovereignty is Confessed  v24-28

·         The word for "Lord" in this verse is "despot" - one who rules with absolute authority.

God's Sovereignty is seen in:

·         Creation of all things v 24

·         Control of all things v 27-28

·         The world is bigger than our nation and what is happening in the interactions of the world is God’s bigger plan for mankind.

III. Man’s Servanthood is Understood  v29-30

·         The Greek word for “servant” is "bondslave" – one purchased for life.

·         There is submission involved in this to the circumstances, not merely for release from the pressures.

·         Their prayer was not for safety, but for boldness. 


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