James 5:16 — Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
So we focused on one part of this verse in our devotion asking “Are My Prayers Effective?” But I could almost hear you thinking to yourself as you read that, “That’s great Scott, but the verse says that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective…If I’m not a righteous person, can MY prayers be effective?” It’s a fair question that requires us to define what a righteous person is and who can be a righteous person.
A righteous person is a person who is in right standing, or right relationship with God. God cannot be in relationship with sin, Isaiah 59:1-2 says, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Sin separates and breaks relationship. Sin in families brings about broken relationships, marriages end in divorce, children are alienated from their parents…sin separates. So as sinful people (because all of us sin), it is impossible for us to be in right relationship with God because only a sinless person could be in right standing/relationship with God. “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)
Then who can be a righteous person? The good news is that Jesus was a perfect, sinless and therefore righteous person. As God’s Son, he came to earth and lived the perfect life we could not and became a perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. When he paid the penalty of our sins on the cross, our sins were taken away and no longer are they held against us. “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:11-12) So, who can be a righteous person? “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:21-22) The answer is simple: all who believe and put their faith in Jesus Christ. Anyone can be and is righteous (in right standing/relationship with God) that puts their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. How great to know that we cannot earn righteousness, it is accomplished by Jesus and given to us by God through faith in Jesus. Wow. Place your faith in Jesus and your prayers can be powerful and effective.
Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your death on the cross. Thank You for purchasing my salvation and giving me Your righteousness. Thank You for paying my sin debt and forgiving me for all my unrighteousness. Today, I place my faith in You alone for my hope of salvation, and I trust You to lead me in all my ways. I commit to study Your Word and seek Your will for my life. May my prayers be answered, not because of anything I have done, but because You have accomplished righteousness on my behalf. Teach me to pray, and may Your heart become my heart. I love You, and I am so grateful to be called Your friend. Amen.
James 5:16 — “ Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
We asked the question earlier (Day 9), “Does God Hear Me?” But that certainly doesn’t address all our uncertainty when it comes to prayer. In reality, beyond being listened to and being heard, what we ultimately want to know is, “Are my prayers accomplishing anything?” “Are they working?” “Are they doing anything at all?” “Are my prayers effective?”
James says that Elijah prayed that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t. That’s pretty effective. He says that Elijah prayed that it would rain and it did. Again, that is pretty effective if you ask me.
I don’t know about you, but I would love to walk into a children’s hospital, pray for each child with a terminal illness or a lifelong disease and walk out of that hospital followed by children who were miraculously healed and no longer in need of the hospital’s services. I would love for every family member of mine to never struggle again with sin, or need of money, or shelter, or food. Effective prayer doesn’t mean you get everything you want. Please allow me to repeat that: Effective prayer doesn’t mean you get everything you want. Because effective prayer is not about you.
Let’s go back to Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 18. The point at which he prays for rain is in verses 41-46. But we have to look back at the first verse of chapter 18 for the reason Elijah’s prayer worked: “Later on, in the third year of the drought, the Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain!’” Did you catch it? The Lord said “I will soon send rain!” Even though I’m sure he wanted rain to come and heal the land, Elijah wasn’t praying for what he wanted…he was praying for what God wanted! He was agreeing with God.
When we take the focus off of what we want in prayer and learn what God wants, we begin to pray powerful and effective prayers. Because when our prayers are in alignment with God and with His Word, we just simply ask God — as Jesus taught us to, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Prepare to see your prayers become more powerful and effective than ever.
Father, please forgive me. Sometimes when I pray my heart runs to the things I need, the things I want, and to be honest I am often disappointed when I don’t see things happen the way I want…I become surprised when my prayers are ineffective. God, today I am ready to listen for what You want. I am ready to pray for what You want. I am ready to see my prayers be effective! So Lord, I submit my will to Yours. May my heart be Your heart. May my mind be Your mind. I want Your Kingdom to come and Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven! Bring Your Kingdom promises, Your Kingdom power, Your righteousness to the ends of the earth. Lord, restore, heal, provide, meet every need at Your move and in Your time. Have Your way in my life, and may I be astounded by the way You answer through Your Word and through answered prayers. Thank You Lord. Amen.
Hebrews 4:16 – Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Have you ever referred to God as the “big man upstairs” or know someone who does? It’s interesting that often people believe in a “god” of some kind, but struggle to ever take it to the next level and understand there is not only a God of the universe, but He is a very personal God who created them, knows them, loves them, and wants them to know Him. The reason this is important is because when we pray, we aren’t talking to some impersonal cosmic force somewhere roaming the cosmos, we are talking to the God whom we refer to as “Father”.
In today’s western culture it has been historically important that when we face trials or tough times in life that we pull ourselves up by our “bootstraps” and get to work finding a solution. This type of mentality can lead to a pride that is resistant to help, even help from God. It is interesting that somehow we think we can just work a bit harder to be a better person or fix a situation in our own power, only to fail miserably. When we try to pick ourselves up by our own spiritual bootstraps, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
We need God. His grace and mercy are the only thing that can help us live a life of victory centered in Christ. It is by God’s grace that we overcome sin and temptation in our lives. It is His mercies that prevent destruction of unthinkable magnitudes in our lives. I’ve heard it said like this: grace is God giving us something we don’t deserve (eternal life, relationship, forgiveness, etc.) while mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve (death, judgment, punishment, etc.). In today’s focal Scripture we are encouraged to come to God in prayer in our time of need to find both mercy and grace!
It seemed like for the majority of 2019 and even moving in to the new year I find myself saying “I’m trying”… in fact that is my catch phrase. When I fail to be loving, kind, patient, joyful, and self-controlled (the fruits of the Spirit), I ask for forgiveness and assure everyone “I’m trying”. As I sit here writing this devotion, I can assure you that my every effort to “try” has come up short. When I try, absent God’s divine mercy and grace, I always fail to be the husband, dad, and servant He has called me to be. Honestly, no matter how many times I pull up my bootstraps, I fall back in the same trap when I don’t come to God first and continually.
As you enter into your time of prayer today, are you coming with empty hands and a need that only God can fill? Are you seeking His mercy and grace? The Scripture promises us that we can come seeking it… so why are we coming as if we don’t have a need? Every person who comes before God’s throne is in need of something only God can give them. Is it healing? Restoration? Are you asking for someone to be saved? Are you asking for your marriage to be healed? Are you asking for someone you love to be delivered from sickness or drugs? Whatever your need, before you “try”, come to God for mercy and grace so you can try with His power. As Philippians 1:6 says… Jesus will finish the good work He has started in you.
Father, we humbly come before you and confess how desperately we need your mercy and grace. We boldly come directly to your throne covered by the blood of Jesus and as your children, we ask for Your help. Father, please do what only you can do. We confess that we’ve tried it by ourselves before. We’ve promised to be a better person, to stop doing something or to start doing something but Lord apart from you we can do nothing. Help us abide in you Jesus so the fruits of your Holy Spirit will multiply and grow. We throw our pride down Lord because we know it has no place before you. We come with empty hands and expectant hearts knowing that You are capable of far beyond anything we can think or imagine. We love you and trust you, please shower us with mercy and grace, in Jesus’ name, amen.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)
What does God want? Have you ever actually paused long enough to consider this question? When we come to God we find the Divine Creator of the universe who has absolutely everything He needs with-in Himself. He is fully self sufficient and humanity can neither add or detract from who He is. So what does God want from us since we have absolutely nothing to offer Him He doesn’t already have? Our heart. All of it.
When I begin to wrestle with this thought, it’s really hard to imagine the simple answer. Some try to answer this question with works thinking they can earn the love of God. Some give money or time or anything else they think might earn them God’s love. In the end though, none of this could ever put us in a place of deserving or earning God’s love or forgiveness.
Today’s focal Scripture reminds us that if we seek God with our whole heart, we will find Him. In the greatest commandment (love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and all your strength) we see the call to love God with our entire beings. Just as we are called to love God with everything we are and everything we have, we are also called to seek Him continually this way.
How often have we came seeking God in a half-hearted attempt that may be similar to looking for lost socks in the dryer. Yes, I’m looking, but am I really looking? The word “seek” is the Hebrew baw-kash’ and includes the indication of asking, begging, or beseeching. When we come seeking God in prayer we would do well to remember who we are calling on. The King of kings, the one true God of the universe, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Author of salvation and life, this is the one we come to “seek”.
God, in His amazing love, tells us to seek Him with our whole heart and promises we will find Him. Today, let us leave our half-hearted prayers at the door. Let us enter into our prayer rooms determined to seek God with every part of our being and let us cry out for Him. Let us continue seeking Him and crying out to Him in humility and expectation knowing that when we truly seek Him with our whole being, we will find Him.
Father, you are the Creator and Sustainer of our hearts. Forgive our half-hearted, distracted, self-focused, selfish prayers. We come seeking you with every part of who we are. We submit our whole selves in full submission to you and confess Lord that without You, we have no hope. Lord we come seeking Your face for our marriages, our children, our families, our lives, our church, and our nation. We need you. Your Word promises that if we seek You with our whole hearts, we will find You. Lord, please teach us to seek you out this way. We love you and ask all these things in Jesus’ name.
You are invited to join us tonight at 6:30PM for Wednesday night Bible study! Tonight’s Bible study: Fear or Faith. What do we do when the whole world has gone mad? Join us via Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/cometothecreek/live. Remember, no Facebook account is required to join.
To learn more about Church On-line, including some important tips and FAQs, please visit http://www.cometothecreek.com/church-on-line/.
As a reminder, we will be live streaming our Wednesday night Bible study, Sunday School, and AM worship. Please visit our Church On-line page to view scheduled services.
Psalm 42:1 – As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
Have you ever found yourself really thirsty? I’m talking about like you just walked across the Sahara Desert in the 120-degree heat with sand all around you thirsty. I can remember one of the most frustrating things that happened to me through the wreck where I spent about two months in the hospital was being on a ventilator. For those uninitiated, being on a ventilator means absolutely no drinking or eating for as long as it takes… and trust me when I say: it’s miserable.
I can remember the first day after I was fully taken off the ventilator and the first time I was allowed to eat or drink. Although I wasn’t terribly interested in eating, I couldn’t stop drinking. Water. Gatorade. Unsweet tea (yes, even unsweet tea). Whatever I could get, I would drink. I was thirsty. Really, really thirsty.
Today I want to ask an honest question: are you longing for God? I’m talking about the type of longing that you can feel it in every part of you. The type of longing that can only be satisfied once He shows up. If I’m being honest, I don’t always long for God in prayer this way. Sure, I pray, but almost out of a sense of obedience instead of relationship. I want to want God. I want to long for Him so desperately that I can’t stop praying until I feel Him right beside me.
The Psalm writer asks in verse 11: Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? It’s almost as if the writer is reminding himself that even in this moment of physical weakness where it feels like God has forgotten him, that God never has before. God has always been faithful and thus the writer finishes the thought: Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
What about you today? Have you ever had an overwhelming longing for God but it felt like He didn’t show up when you needed Him? Scripture promises us that God is using all things for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). We are also reminded throughout Scripture that God is faithful and that His love endures forever (Psalm 136 for example).
Here is something to consider: if Jesus is the Bread of Life and the Living Water, is it any wonder that so many of us go around so desperately spiritually hungry and thirsty? It’s as if we treat prayer and Bible study as something we do on special occasions instead of a consistent part of our lives. It’s easy for us to spot when we are physically hungry or thirsty… we may experience things like fatigue, irritability, exhaustion, the inability to focus, etc. Although not as easy to spot, spiritual hunger can lead to allot of the same things.
As you pray today, ask God to give you a longing like this. Ask Him to rekindle the love and passion you’ve had for Him and help you to truly express that by passionately seeking Him out. Ask Him for strength to be consistent in seeking Him. As Him to consume you with a refreshing fire that helps you see prayer in a whole new light. Start today’s prayer in humble confession about where your prayer life is actually knowing where God is leading it to be.
Father, we come before you with an overwhelming desire to know and want you more. Help us to walk in the light as You are in the light. Consume every part of us with a refreshing fire that will help us not only to seek You but do so with a renewed passion and persistent desire. Forgive us for what we’ve made prayer if it’s anything besides an intimate time of communication with you. Help us to pray without ceasing throughout the day and teach us to seek your guidance in all things. Help us, as the Psalm writer says, to long for you as a deer longs for water. We know that in seeking you with passion, humility, and persistence that through our faith in Jesus we will be renewed, refreshed, and filled. It’s in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Please take a moment to watch this important update from Senior Pastor Scott Bosier concerning the Coronavirus and church services.
To summarize, church leaders have decided for the safety of our members and guests, in accordance with the Word of God (Romans 13), per the recommendations of the CDC and President Trump, that in-person church services will be postponed until further notice. Shoal Creek will continue to meet digitally via Facebook Live and encourage all church members and guest to join us for church on-line.
A Facebook account is NOT required to stream our Facebook Live services and everyone is welcome to attend. Visit https://www.facebook.com/cometothecreek/live at a scheduled service time below to stream the service live.
Wednesday night service will begin streaming at 6:30PM beginning tonight.
Sunday School will begin streaming at 10AM this Sunday followed by our AM worship service at 11AM.
Please contact us at (770)720-0195 or email@example.com for additional details.
Ephesians 3:17-19 — “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
God also wants us to be filled. Not just filled but filled to “all the fullness of God!” Just as it takes power for Christ to dwell in our hearts through faith, so too it takes power for us to be filled to fullness. But what are we filled with? These verses suggest that we are filled with something that we “grasp” that “surpasses knowledge.”
Have you ever been consumed by a thought? Sure you have…perhaps it is being consumed with sadness or grief, maybe it is being consumed with vengeance or lust, possibly been consumed by fear or doubt, insecurity, greed, desire, joy, happiness…you name it, we can be consumed by our thoughts, by what we “grasp,” understand or know (or think we know). God wants us to be filled with an overriding thought that overwhelms or drowns out all others. What is the thought? — Just how amazing the love of Jesus is. We are “rooted and established” in this love. It is higher than the highest mountain, wider than the greatest chasm, longer than the longest river, and deeper than the lowest depth. There is no where in heaven, in hell, on earth, in the entire universe that Christ’s love does not fill to the fullest! This love surpasses the knowledge of the smartest human being on the planet, it is greater than all of our intellectual ability to perceive…an yet, God’s desire is that a knowledge of this love fills us to all the fullness of God — so there is no other competing thought — only the love of Jesus.
But He doesn’t want us to know this privately. He wants us to know this “together with all the Lord’s holy people.” When we know this by ourselves, this thought is powerful. But when we all know it…it becomes more powerful than any other force in the universe! It can light up communities with a holy glow as love overwhelms hatred, discord and strife. It can work together to accomplish the purposes of love with a power that the natural world cannot fathom. It can change lives, heal wounds, raise the dead to life and renew the world with God’s power and peace. What if we truly knew this thought alone? What if it consumed our minds so that no other emotion or idea could compete in the slightest? What if we were filled to all the fullness of God by the love of Jesus? God wants this for you too.
God I want what You want. I pray what You prayed, that today I would be overwhelmed, consumed, filled to all the fullness that You have for me. May the love of Jesus be my only thought this day and every day as I learn to walk in this amazing power. Father, please don’t let me miss an opportunity to fill others with this thought, not just by my words but also by my actions and in truth. Thank You for this incredible gift of love and thank You for Your desire for me to know it even more and more every day. Help me breathe it, walk it, speak it and remember it even when the storms of life crash against me. Lord I am overwhelmed! Flood my soul with this knowledge and overflow to others with this beautiful peace and love!! How great You are God, how mighty and awesome are Your deeds in all the earth! There is none like You, Lord!! Holy, holy, holy are You God…I praise You and worship You! Hallelujah!! Amen.
Ephesians 3:16-17 — “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”
The cool thing about Scripture is that even though men wrote it down, it is all “God breathed.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) That means that even though the writer is speaking, God is speaking as well (since He spoke it first)! So when Paul is writing his desire for the Ephesian believers, it is not just what Paul wants for them, but also what God wants for them. God wants them to be “strengthened with power.” And this Word is not just for the Ephesians but for us as well. God desires to give us gifts “out of his glorious riches.” And the first gift is the gift of power to strengthen us. This empowerment is achieved by the Holy Spirit that works in our “inner being.” And the end result is that our inner being is prepared for Christ to “dwell in our hearts.”
Faith requires power and strength. Life requires power and strength. We need power and strength! Without them we are power-less, unable to contend with the tasks of the day. Without them we are unable to sustain our faith, and our bodies become inhospitable as a dwelling place for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When we are feeling powerless, weak, without strength…we can ask God for power and strength. Because He is not lacking in resources — He has glorious riches and He wants us to have power and strength!
The first discipline we must learn is to simply ask God for what we need. For He is the source of all good gifts (James 1:17) and He has these things in abundance and richness. The next discipline we must learn is to discover what God wants for us, and ask for the things that He wants to give us. For we can be assured that He will give us the things that He wants to give us if we will only ask! It is encouraging to know that God wants good things for His children.
God, today I ask for Your strength and power. Please let Your Spirit prepare my heart to receive Christ and may He dwell there always through faith. Strengthen my mind, my body, my heart. May power be something that people can see in me…not a power of my own, but may they recognize Your power at work within me. Thank You for Your promises. May I discover all of the many things You desire for me and may I never fail to ask You to give these gifts to me. Lord, may I also be generous in giving good gifts to others. Thank You for the many gifts You have already given. I love You and I praise You for Your mighty works and awesome strength. Amen.
Psalm 139:23-24 — “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
As early as Aesop’s fables (c. 550 BC) we hear a line that has been echoed throughout the centuries, ”We would often be sorry if our wishes were gratified” (The Old Man and Death). James Russell Lowell once wrote, “Granting our wish one of fate’s saddest jokes is.” Anatole France put it this way, “Beware my lord! Beware lest stern Heaven hate you enough to hear your prayers!” (The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard, 1881, pt. II, ch. 4) And Oscar Wilde quipped, “When the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers” (An Ideal Husband, 1895, Act II)
In our day the saying is, “Be careful what you wish for.” Maybe it’s these cautionary quips or maybe it is just instinctive, or maybe it’s learned through painful experience…no matter the cause, in prayer — the truth is that we are often afraid to ask for what we really want. Maybe we are afraid that God will not answer and that our faith will be less as a result. Perhaps we really are unsure of what we want and if what we are asking for is good for us. The danger in asking God for what we want is that He may give you exactly what you ask for! Are we ready for that? If God answers your request for your husband’s salvation —are you prepared for the opportunity to share Christ with him when God provides it? If you ask God for financial freedom and to get out of debt, are you prepared for Him to expose your need to others so that they can help? Are you prepared to stop buying things you don’t need and take the difficult job he provides you with even if it is in another state? When you ask God for His will for your life and He seems to be indicating that you go back to school, or start a business, or become a missionary…will you heed His call?
David seems to throw caution to the wind when he prays, “Search me, God, and know my heart.” David knows that if he cherishes sin in his heart that God will not hear his prayers. He knows sin cannot stand in the presence of a holy God and must be eradicated/killed…nothing could be more dangerous than to ask this of God! Then he says “test me.” Put me to the test, Lord! This test is not graded on a curve — it is a pass/fail test! Are we praying dangerous prayers? Are we praying that God do everything, short of death, to bring our children into saving faith? Are we praying for God to use us however He sees fit? Are we willing to put God on the line in such a way, that if He doesn’t show up, we will absolutely fail and we have no other back-up plan? Are we asking God to search our hearts, to know our thoughts and to test us? These are dangerous times. And dangerous times call for dangerous prayers!
God, You alone are good and You alone are God. Today I want to put my faith in You in such a radical way that there is no other hope for me, in heaven or on earth. I am trusting You today, for every provision — financially, spiritually, and physically. I am listening for Your voice and today I commit — I promise — that when I hear Your voice, I will obey it…no matter what You ask me to do. Help me be faithful in the small steps You ask me to take as well as the giant leaps of faith. God, today I ask You to search me, know my heart, cleanse me of all unrighteous thoughts or activities, and allow me to experience victory in Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.