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Fresh Start: Get a Fresh Spirit for 2021

I love January because it represents fresh starts. All possibilities are open. Usually at this early point in the year, I haven’t made too many glaring mistakes or committed a hoard of selfish sins yet. Of course, as a Christ-follower, I can confess sin and receive fresh power of the Holy Spirit any time of the year. But there’s just something special about January. I’ve got a wide-open fresh canvas of a year ahead of me.

So for this month, I want to focus on the theme of a fresh start.

Today we will look at one aspect of this, seeking a fresh spirit. Exactly how can we welcome a fresh breath of the Holy Spirit in our lives? I’d like to suggest a few ideas:

1. First of all, pray each morning for the Holy Spirit to fill you with His presence. Then listen and watch for His leading and guidance in your life throughout the day. How might He do this?

  • Conviction. He may prod your conscience that something you’re about to say or do may not be the wisest choice.
  • God appointments. As you’re out and about, you may find yourself with unexpected opportunities to offer an encouraging word or prayer for a friend or even complete stranger. You may make a business connection that you didn’t see coming.
  • Equipping. When you pray and commit your needs to the Lord, the Holy Spirit equips you for the difficult tasks at work, home, school, or church that you need to accomplish.

2. Another way to get a fresh spirit is to pick a characteristic or habit that you want to cultivate and choose a scripture that matches that need. For example, perhaps you are feeling jealous of a friend’s recent success in an area that you have been striving for yourself. You don’t like this feeling that has overtaken you, so you choose to memorize Proverbs 14:30 “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (That’s direct, isn’t it?!) As you commit this verse to memory, repeat it often, especially when those envious pangs hit your heart.

To take it a step further, you could also write this verse in your journal and meditate on it, asking the Spirit to show you how you can personally apply it in your life. Write down any special instructions you receive. Maybe God directs you to write a note to your friend, congratulating her on her success. As you follow through and actually do these things, you’ll begin to experience victory in this area. Stick wth the verse until you feel you have worked your way through this challenge and are experiencing the freedom you desire.

3. A third way to get a fresh spirit is to choose a book to read that addresses an area where you would like to see spiritual growth. It could have something to do with the topic you have picked for your memory verse, or it could be entirely different. For example, over the last two years I have been in the “dream-birthing” process in my life. I am slowly working through a book by Beth Booram called Starting Something New: Spiritual Direction for Your God-Given Dream (this is an affiliate link). I purchased a journal just for this book, being sure to capture all the insights God is giving me.

So, choose a book for the first part of this new year and commit yourself to growth. Don’t feel you have to rush. Take as much time as you need to thoroughly digest the book and extract from it all the goodness and ideas you can. Make sure you find concrete ways to apply what you’re learning by giving yourself actions steps and setting goals that have dates attached to them.

Instead of setting a goal that is vague like “I want to open an online store,” make it specific and actionable: “By March 1, I will open an Etsy store featuring my knitwear designs.” Then take the goal and break it into all the smaller steps you’ll need to do to get there, like choosing the designs you’ll feature, knitting the designs, researching how to photograph your items for the store, reading through the online tutorials, and so on.

4. Cultivate a spiritual discipline. Spiritual disciplines have been around just about as long as the church has, but I’m not sure that we pay enough attention to them. Let’s make 2021 the year we change that. Choose a discipline and learn about it and how to include it in your life. Maybe you feel like you could use some silence and solitude. Perhaps you feel convicted to add fasting to your spiritual repertoire. Maybe you want to learn how to deeply examen your life. It could be that you want to understand more about prayer or explore how to do sacred reading. The spiritual disciplines add a depth of richness  and intimacy  to your walk with the Lord and are well worth the time you invest in them.

What about you?

What other ideas do you have for acquiring a fresh spirit for 2017? I’d love to hear what you think. Just leave a comment below and …

Pray on through 2017!




Puffball Seeds of Prayer

DandelionYou never know when God will intersect your everyday with something sacred.

Even something as simple as a dandelion.

The other day I was walking out to the mailbox and glanced down. Lying at my feet was a perfect puffball of a dandelion gone to seed. Detached from its root, it was resting on my blacktop driveway ready to send it seeds up and away at the first breath of wind.

I want to be like that dandelion …

with a perfect puffball of seed-prayers ready to send aloft at a moment’s notice — no matter where I am — because I’ve found that sometimes the wind of the Spirit puts me in places where it wouldn’t be my first response to pray. Will I listen or wait for a more “fitting” place?

Over the last year, God has prompted me to waft a few seeds of prayer while –

  • in the middle of a facial at a spa. I stop and pray with my esthetician as needs bubble to the surface. Off blows a seed of prayer.
  • on the phone with a new friend worried about her aging father. Another seed wafts away on the breeze.
  • at a meeting where a person suffers a breakdown. Three of us pray as emergency workers attend to her needs. Seeds floating all around us.
  •  in the median of a busy road with a desperate young woman on a cold, miserable night. Winter winds carry this seed up to heaven.

Praying in church is intuitive. But it’s in the middle of living our lives that God sends opportunities for prayer that may be a bit risky as we open ourselves to ridicule or rejection. Yet being willing to gently blow our seeds of prayer for others makes a pathway for the work of God in their Dandelion seedslives.

When I met the young woman on the median,  disbelief, tears, and relief played across her face as we hugged. And prayed. In the midst of cars whizzing by us on a freezing night, a puff of the Holy Spirit dispersed love, comfort, and hope right there on the “blacktop driveway.”

We can’t afford to wait for perfect timing and comfortable circumstances. We always carry the seeds of prayer within us, and when the Spirit prompts, it’s time to take a deep breath, catch the wind of the Spirit, and let them fly.

What about you? How is God using you in His kingdom work? Leave a comment to let me know.Sacred and Everyday thumbnail

Pray on!




i pray: divine appointments

ipray

i pray

short podcasts to bring the sacred into your everyday

Do you only have a few minutes for prayer today? You’re in the right place! Try one of our new i pray podcasts. A few minutes is all you need to pray God’s word into any situation by interceding for friends, family, and yourself. 

Show Notes

Sometimes I go through life oblivious to everyone and everything—except for my own agenda, my own schedule.

When I do that, I may miss the divine appointments and opportunities that God has scheduled for me that day. Will I take the time to look the homeless person in the eye and talk to her, or will I listen the the prompting of the Holy Spirit and smile at the person on the bus sitting next to me? I know we live in a dangerous world, but I need to be listening to the direction and guidance of the Spirit. At times He may move me along, but many times He would have me pause. I want to be alert to the work of the kingdom, not asleep on the job.

Today’s Scripture to Pray

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15,16

Just click on the arrow below to pray along with us today.

 

You may also subscribe on iTunes.

 

Thanks for praying and in the comment section below, feel free to tell us about a divine appointment you kept.

Pray on!




Back to School: Pack a Lunch

To Do-ers List: Back to School, Pack a Lunch

When my sisters and I were little girls, my mom taught us how to pack our lunch for school. With four daughters, a husband, and a full-time job, she needed to take a few tasks off of her to-do list! So every day I had to pack a lunch.  A honey-loaf sandwich, fruit, and a cookie went into my lunch box. Monday through Friday, the same thing. When lunch time would roll around, I’d look wistfully at the Fritos and Twinkies the other kids were snacking on and try to “trade up,” but I didn’t have much ammo to trade with!

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” Isaiah 55:1

Spiritual Nibbles or a Fortified Feast

As I was thinking about my uninspired lunch, it reminded me of the spiritual food I used to exist on. For years, I nourished myself with honey-loaf bites of the word of God. Day in and day out, I quickly nibbled on a verse or two as I rushed out the door for work. I dutifully drank my spiritual baby milk while God waited for me to “trade up” my milky sustenance for a meatier, stick-to-your ribs meal.

The wonderful thing about God is that I don’t have to beg Him for a treat. I don’t have to buy it. It is there for my taking. What I do have to do is decide that I am going to put in the time that it takes for me to eat a richer meal. Actually, God calls it a feast.

No wonder I was stuck in sin patterns in my life. I didn’t give God the time that the Holy Spirit needed to take my life and transform it into something beautiful. I was stuck in fear, in doubt, basically in a rut, living off leftovers. When I got serious about wanting to change, He began to move in my life. He didn’t force me. The Holy Spirit never does. It’s up to us to follow through.

For Today:

Resolve that you are ready to expand your spiritual diet. If you are a new Jesus-follower, then by all means, start at the beginning and get grounded in the basics of the faith. But if you have been a believer for a while and are still subsisting on baby food, move up to solid food.

What will that look like for you?

It may mean you sign up for a Bible study. Perhaps you’ve thought about taking a Bible class for credit  or personal study through a ministry or university (see the resource section below — several free classes!). God has His eye on someone whom He wants to start teaching a class. Perhaps you should be mentored or are ready to mentor someone else. Maybe studying a book about developing your prayer life is on your to do-ers list.

With unlimited possibilities before you, pray about it and ask the Holy Spirit to show you what your next step is. Write this down on your app or in your notes and tell someone else what you’re thinking. Accountability never hurts! If you’d like to, feel free to share in the comment section what your spiritual feast might look like. And post on Twitter if you’d like about what you’re doing using the hashtag #ToDoers.

Resources:

To help you organize your daily study and record your experiences, please download and print the following PDF, or download the journal app to your favorite Apple device.

Don’t forget to comment on your experience in the comment section below! Choose your verse/s for today and be a Do-er of the Word.

School is in session. Remember to pack your lunch!

Previous Sessions of To Do-ers List, Back to School:

Day 1: New Clothes

Day 2: The Book




Soul Care for Intercessors

Soul Care for IntercessorsFinal

The best gifts that people can give are those that involve some type of sacrifice — of time, money, or creativity. While you may have never thought of it like this before, prayer is a gift to others and like any gift, it extracts something from the giver.

Those who regularly intercede are constantly standing in the gap between man and God, holding up people, events, and circumstances to His notice. It’s exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time.

Pulse of the Prayer Team

At a recent prayer meeting, my pastor did something a bit unusual. He took the pulse of the prayer team to see what kind of shape the pray-ers were in. We split into small groups and honestly shared what was on our hearts. Many of us were feeling beat up. It was a comfort to admit it and realize we weren’t alone. Right or wrong, some of our struggles revolved around these issues:

  1. Low-grade fever. One intercessor said he felt like he had a constant fever of needs going on in his spirit. Not enough to sideline him, but enough to wear on him. Similarly, a woman said she felt like the petitions were hovering around her like a cloud all day.
  2. Guilt. Some intercessors were dealing with guilt because they felt inadequate to meet the heavy needs that were presented to them.
  3. Spiritually drained. Some people admitted to being drained. Frequent intercession had extracted a toll on them that they weren’t recovering from.
  4. Overwhelmed. A few confessed to feeling overwhelmed by a prayer list that had grown to huge proportions.

Sharing these struggles with each other exposed the wounds to God so that he could start the healing process. It was clear that we pray-ers needed some TLC ourselves.

Soul Care for Intercessors

Some guidelines to soul care for intercessors emerged from our meeting:

  1. Intercessors need a time of rest and retreat to recharge spirits and souls. When possible, periodically attend a weekend or daylong retreat for some TLC.
  2. Pray for intercessors. We were so busy praying for others, that we were neglecting to pray for those who were interceding. Remembering to cover each other in prayer can supply a needed boost to a battle-weary pray-er.
  3. Periodically debrief with other intercessors. Sharing each other’s burdens can be a help. This is not meant to be a gripe session but a place to air any concerns or stress you may be carrying.
  4. Pray with a partner. For protection, when possible intercessors should pray deliverance type prayers over others in the safety of a small group of other pray-ers.
  5. The most important point to remember is that prayer time needs to be built on the strong foundation of personal time spent with God. We can’t be effective intercessors if we aren’t grafted on to the vine. In John 15:4 Jesus says “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

Several times a week, I have added quiet listening to my devotional time with God, and I journal what God brings to my mind. It keeps me connected to Him and opens me up to His plans. No matter how long your prayer list may be, don’t neglect sitting at Jesus’ feet. That takes priority over prayer requests and actually feeds into the ability to be directed by the Holy Spirit in knowing how to pray and which requests to pray for. You do not have to pray for every request every single day. Let God direct to what is most important for that day.

 Overall, remember that God is calling you to Him first and to pray for others second.

5 Tips for Intercessors

 At the end of our prayer meeting, some common helpful tips emerged.

  1. We are standing on holy ground. Offering ministering prayer or intercessory prayer for others is a privilege, and we are treading on holy ground by letting the Lord use us to bring his healing and comfort to others. We are ushering the person into His presence.
  2. God knows even more than the “prayee” about the situation. Sometimes the people we’re praying for have a hard time articulating their need. God knows what is going on, and we can pray in confidence that He understands, even when we don’t.
  3. The Holy Spirit is interceding with us. We’re not by ourselves in this prayer venture. Romans 8:26 tells us that “The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”
  4. Praying for others can give us a “prayer shot.” Although this doesn’t always happen, sometimes God lets us see comfort or healing delivered and received. How wonderful!
  5. Remember, the results are not up to us. We need to take the pressure off of ourselves. God promises us that He is working. How he does this is up to Him. Our calling is to pray.

Taking the time to care for yourself and other intercessors will strengthen you and fill your prayer tank back up, allowing you to continue to bless others with the powerful gift of intercession.

Pray on!




The 12 Days of Thanks Giving: Day 4, God’s Word

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Day 4: God’s Word

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

 

God’s word [wurd] noun

1. the Bible.

 

We would not get very far without God’s Word.

In Genesis 1:3 God speaks creation into being. The whole universe comes together at His words. Sun, moon, stars, seas, plants, animals, people. Everything. Without God’s Word nothing would be here. Fast forward many years to the birth of Jesus. John 1:14 tells us that Jesus not only speaks God’s Word, He is God’s Word. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” God sent Jesus to earth to fix the break in the relationship between man and God brought about by sin. God’s Word gives us new life when we accept Jesus as our Savior.

After salvation, God’s Word continues to play a most important role in our lives. Through it God instructs and encourages us. He molds us and disciplines us. He shapes us into His image through our obedience to His Word and the Holy Spirit’s work in each believer. It’s important to grasp the power of His Word. Hebrews 4:12 tells us “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Pray God’s Word

I am so thankful for scripture and it’s power in my life. If you’ve not yet begun praying it, this is a perfect time to begin.

  1. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a scripture for your prayer requests.
  2. Begin praying God’s Word over people and into situations.
  3. Memorize scripture. The more verses you know by heart, the more effectively you can pray.

More of God’s Word

If you’d like to explore this theme further, please listen to  How to Pray God’s Word.

Also, you must check out this beautiful Pinterest pin I found highlighting some of God’s Words.

 

Comment

Please leave a comment below in the Speak Your Mind section on what God teaches you today about His Word.

 

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By Mary Kane

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copyright 2016

god’s word. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/god’s word (accessed: November 18, 2014).