I Believe In Prayer

Praying for Branch County and Beyond

Archive for the month “January, 2015”

A Life That Makes Sense

John 5:24
As a guy, I know that there is a common trap we all can fall into. That is the trap of identifying my life with what I do for a living. It’s common in “man circles” to ask “so, what do you do?” meaning that what kind of work do you do, what do you earn? We easily identify the significance of our lives by what we do instead of what we are. Truth is we are called “human beings” rather than “human doings” for a very good reason.
Jesus in this passage tells us that the significance of our lives is found in who we believe in. I love this because it cuts through all the clutter that life throws at us. The world tries to define the value of our lives on an impossible scale that leaves us as frustrated as the donkey that is pulling an overloaded cart by being enticed with a carrot tied to a stick just outside of its reach. Jesus said that if we hear His word and believe on Him (and the Father) that we would have everlasting life. That kind of life is the ultimate definition of a life of significance and we see that it is a gift that cannot be earned.
Mark Twain once said that there are two important days in everyone’s life, the day you were born and the day you find out why. The simple truth is the “why” is found only in Christ where our lives are made whole and make sense. I am not a random biological accident wandering around like a blind squirrel trying to find an acorn. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, on purpose and for a purpose, by God who doesn’t make any junk. I’m invited to trust and obey Him, to let go of the old weak and beggarly life I once had in order to grab onto the indescribable life of God Himself that was freely given to me. Once this truth gets inside of you, you can truly enter into the rest God promises because you are His and He is yours…simply because you believe!

Transforming Truth:
I have already passed from death to life (John 5:24)



Deeper Needs

John 4
Eating, sleeping and drinking water are some very fundamental needs that all people hold in common. Even more basic than these physical needs is our need to be fulfilled. We are all created to be “full-filled” by God, and like it or not, we also depend on other humans to help fulfill us, show us love and share their compassion with us. We are always looking outside ourselves for something or someone that will satisfy us at the deepest level. “Self-fulfilling” is impossible.
Jesus was thirsty when he met the Samaritan woman at the well. Both needed water, but fulfillment was the woman’s deeper thirst, and Jesus knew it. The conversation rapidly moves from the task of drawing water to the woman’s deeper need to find fulfillment.
Jesus told her, “…you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband…” His body language and tone of voice must have expressed a great deal of compassion, because she stayed and wanted to hear more. Jesus wasn’t preachy or condescending—he was real with her—and in one sentence he lovingly exposed just how empty her search for fulfillment had been.
Jesus’ ability to speak the truth in love and robust compassion reminded the woman at the well that the messiah, a savior, was coming. She was the one who turned the conversation to the coming messiah, and then a great God-moment happens; Jesus says, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
Jesus’ words of love and concern were so sincere that she ran off to bring her friends back to Jesus. His compassion for these people compelled Jesus to stay with them for two days. Before Jesus left them, the Samaritan woman’s friends admitted, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
Today you will be surrounded by people who are searching for fulfillment. Share compassion with them. Be real. Meet their needs out of a heart of love. Maybe in doing so, you will remind them that what they are really looking for is a savior. Point them to Jesus, the Savior of the World.


Transforming Truth:
Jesus is the Savior. “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
– Jesus


The Life That Is Alive To God

John 3:3-5
We have a big maple tree on our property. It’s alive and well with maple tree life. Let’s suppose that every day at lunchtime I go out and sit with my back against that maple tree. Further, let’s suppose that I talk to the maple tree each day as I eat my lunch. I can relate to it and take care of it, but my relationship to the maple tree is pretty one-sided. It doesn’t lower its branches for me when I need shade. It doesn’t drop a branch for me when I need firewood. It is alive, but it is not alive to me.
Similarly, we are alive but not alive to God, apart from the miracle of the new birth from above that Jesus talks about in John 3. We must be “born again”; that is, we must receive the kind of life that is alive to God, in order to interact with him. As that life grows within us, relating to God becomes more and more natural.
Imagine if my maple tree could respond to me, could hear my voice and lower its branches—perhaps even learn to speak to me. It would be a miracle! But no greater miracle than for us to receive the life that is alive to God!
“The life that is alive to God” comes to us when we trust (and therefore entrust ourselves to) Jesus Christ. When we give ourselves to him in faith, he in his faithfulness gives himself to us. And when he does, our lives begin to change.
“The life that is alive to God” – routinely called “eternal life” in the Scriptures – is not a prize awarded to the religious after they die. It is a life (God’s own life, see 1 John 5:20), imparted to the faithful who trust in Jesus Christ now. It is a life that continues in the age to come but begins in the here and now.


Transforming Truth:
The life that is alive to God comes to us through faith in Jesus.



John 2
The first miracle that Jesus performs is at a wedding in Cana. One truth that transformed a wedding reception and can transform life or a circumstance in your life comes from the lips of his mother. “His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” John 2:5. The servants were obedient and it transformed the evening. Because the servants filled the water jars with water, Jesus worked a wonderful miracle. Do you want or need a miracle in your life?
There are many times when we want the Lord to do something for us. So we pray. We ask Him. And we look forward to the answer. But today let’s consider what it means for you to ‘do whatever he tells you.’ What sin is The Lord asking you to repent of today? What enemy is the Lord asking you to pray for and to bless in some way? Who has the Lord been prompting you to witness to but you’ve been putting it off? When is the last time you prayed for workers for the harvest field? What decision do you need to make by faith and not by facts right now? Have you been born again and are your actions and attitudes reflecting that? Who do you need to go to and ask them to forgive you? What is The Holy Spirit prompting you to be or to do? What ‘water jar’ is Jesus asking you to fill this week?
How much do we ‘cut ourselves some slack’ because we serve a forgiving and gracious God? Why do we not work at being firmly obedient to the Lord? Is it because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus?
O the joys we experience when we are obedient to The Lord! It is a mystery why the Lord’s servants don’t walk more by faith. Why we don’t give more, witness more, pray more, serve more, sacrifice more, etc… We experience his blessings when we do. Yet when he asks us again to sacrifice, forgive, surrender, or witness there is sometimes that selfishness that rises up within us that says not now, later, or no. And we unknowingly give up another blessing or miracle that he wanted us to have.
Today, with an open heart and mind, ask The Lord what ‘water jar’ he wants you to fill.

Transforming Truth:
Do whatever He tells you.


Witnessing His Glory

John 1
One powerful aspect of John’s gospel is that the apostle writes as an eye witness (Jn. 21:24). He had a life-altering encounter with Christ and kept record of the things he heard and saw, writing them in a book. His intention was to introduce others to the “Transforming Truths” of who Christ is and what he’s done. (Jn. 20:31)
In his Gospel’s prologue, John writes:
The word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn. 1:14)
The term John chose for dwelt in this verse is literally tabernacle. Restated, God in Jesus became human and “tabernacled” among us. In Moses’ time, God dwelt among his people in the tabernacle. From time to time, his glory would shine forth from that tent. John says, “I saw God’s glory shine forth from Jesus’ tent.” And what shined forth was grace and truth. He writes it again in verse 17. What a combination!
GRACE, a quality unique to Christianity among all world religions – is God’s unmerited favor. We are given what we don’t deserve. In Jesus’ life – his love, his vicarious suffering and death – we are given a gift, grace, the unmerited and unlimited favor of God. And John says “I saw this for myself, and it was glorious!”
TRUTH is ultimate reality. When we say something is true, we mean that it represents reality as it really is. John says Jesus was “real reality”! Everything he said and did represented God’s truth exactly so that we can literally know God in knowing Jesus (v. 18). Again John tells us, “that was my personal experience with Christ, and it was glorious!”
As we read through the Gospel of John this February, let’s keep in mind this year’s bold faith theme – Transforming Truth. Look carefully for the truths that changed John’s life as you read about Jesus chapter by chapter. Ask God to transform you, like he did John, into a loving disciple and a bold witness of the living Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our glorious Lord and Savior.

Transforming Truth:
Jesus Christ is full, to overflowing with Grace and Truth.



bold faith picJesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free!”  We are looking forward to our Bold Faith IV Initiative this year, February 2015!

The following devotional thoughts have been contributed by Branch County, MI pastors to help you get into God’s word during this year’s Bold Faith Initiative. Here are some suggestions for making these devotions highly effective in your life…

Start your devotional time with prayer.
Ask God to speak to you. Tell him you’re listening.
Read the entire chapter of John’s Gospel for the day. Read it slowly, listening for what God has to say to you.
Read the devotional based on some transforming truth from that day’s chapter.
Talk to God about what you’ve read.
Offer him your cooperation – your obedience, even – in any issues that come to light.

Don’t forget that we are on this journey with others. Take time to pray for fellow-Christians in your church and community, as we encounter these transforming truths together.

Also, a Bold Faith / T-Truth wristband can be picked up at the Lamp Post Bookstore if you are not able to get one at your local church.

Pray for our local pastors as they each prepare a message on Key Truths from the Gospel of John.

May the Lord bless us as we are obedient to Him.

Post Navigation