THE POWER OF CRYING OUT (1)

 

In his book, The Power Of Crying Out, Bill Gothard writes: “The most significant difference between the prayers of God’s people in Scripture (so powerfully effective) and our prayers today (so seemingly ineffective) is this: there was a fervency in the prayers of biblical saints-a fervency that is inherent in crying out. When we grasp this fact, the pages of Scripture come alive with sound!” David said: “In my distress, I…cried unto my God: he heard my voice” (Ps 18:6). The Hebrew word that describes David’s outcry is shava, a higher pitched cry for help. Again the Psalmist says: “I called to you for help and you healed me” (Ps 30:2 NIV). We know from our own families that a true father’s heart hears his children’s cries, and that his children naturally cry to him. In the same way, crying out to God is our child-to-father impulse, planted within us by the Holy Spirit. “[Because we are His children],” Paul says, “[We] have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, ‘Abba, Father!” (Ro 8: 15). The Greek verb here for crying out is a strong word usually translated as “shouting.” Away with dignity and decorum! Desperate situations call for desperate measures. We must allow the Holy Spirit to cry out from within us. Why?

Because God hears and answers the cry He Himself inspires. Ever found yourself deliberately uppressing an urge to cry out to God? Could you be quenching the Spirit of God? If so, it’s time to make a change-to respond to Him in humility and obedience by “crying out.”



BE CAREFUL WHO YOU PICK

Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily.   I Timothy 5:22 TM

It’s dangerous to promote someone to church leadership simply because they’re successful in the secular arena. We must allow time for their character to be seen. If someone is unwilling to wait, or serve in a lower spot, they probably don’t have the maturity to handle a higher one. Leaders who in the  footsteps of the One who “made himself of no reputation” (Php 2:7). nail their ego to the cross and humbly serve where there’s a need. We are in a constant battle with “the spiritual forces of evil” (Eph 6:12 NIV). And how do they come in? Often on two feet, complete with resumes and talent. Paul warned Timothy, “Don’t appoint people to church leadership too hastily.” It’s a lot easier to get someone on to the board than it is to get them off it. Meanwhile God’s work can get hurt.

Philip went to Samaria to preach the whole city came to Christ. If ever a church needed leadership in a hurry, they did. And that’s when Simon the Sorcerer showed up. Talk about a successful career! ”All the people, both high and low, gave him their attention” (Ac 8:10 NIV). And that’s not all: “Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the … miracles he saw”

(Acts 8:13 NIV), But then the mask comes off and he offers Paul money saying, “Give me this power” (Ac 8:19 NkJV) Wow! The old power play! Peter replied, “May your money perish with you. . . your heart is not right before God. Repent” (Acts 8:20-22), And Simon did. Be careful who you pick!



TROPHIES OF GRACE

He must … go through Samaria. John 4:4

In spite of His overwhelming schedule Jesus walked miles out of His way to speak to a lonely woman at a well. He did what a lot of ministers today are unwilling to do. And you have to ask why. Didn’t Jesus have a secretary who said, “He’s

busy, I’ll try and fit you in next month.” Pastor, could your schedule be getting in the way of God’s? Maybe you’re a tiger in the pulpit but a wimp on the street. You can script it for the crowd but you haven’t learned to share it one-on-one. Come on, pastor; do you personally win souls or do you just talk about it?

Jesus not only walked to that well, He waited until she showed up. Who did He wait for? Some famous personality with all the right connections? A big donor with a big checkbook capable of underwriting His ministry? Most preachers would fly halfway around the world for that. But no, she was a no-name, five times divorced, promiscuous woman with a bad

reputation and a live-in boyfriend. Please understand: when others are looking at your past, Jesus has His eye on your

future. With Him every weed is a potential rose! Whatever syou’ve done, God’s not holding it against you. Jesus didn’t see this woman as bad-He saw her as lost. Big difference! Once she was “found” she was the kind of person who’d be as strong for God as she’d been for the devil. This woman was destined to shake up the entire city of Samaria: “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” (In 4:39 NIV).



IT’S THE MESSAGE, NOT THE MESSENGER!

He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me. John 13:20

If you’re wise you’ll focus on the message, not the messenger. “But shouldn’t leaders set a good example; shouldn’t they be called to a higher standard?” Yes, those entrusted with great responsibility experience greater correction. But God does that-not you. Though King Saul repeatedly tried to kill David, David realized God had chosen Saul. When he’d a golden opportunity to take Saul’s life, David said, “The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed” (lSa 26:11). This may come as a shock-God has no perfect messengers. So He uses what He’s got. And many of them are still struggling in certain areas. They’re being developed even while they’re delivering the message God wants you to hear. A perfect word from imperfect lips-that’s how God does it. Samuel led Israel for 40 years. He even anointed David to be King, yet his own sons went astray. David, whom God called a man after His own heart, committed adultery and covered his tracks with murder. Yet the Bible says, “He … served the purpose of God in his own generation” (See Ac 13:36 NAS). Peter’s dark chapter of denial didn’t prevent him from winning multitudes to Christ. So, when a leader proves to be imperfect what should you do’? (a) Learn from his or her mistakes. (b) Pray for them. After all, if you can’t find mercy in the House of God where are you going to find it? (c) Keep listening to their message, for

Jesus said, “He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me” (Jn 13:20).



NEEDED: A SPIRITUAL MINDSET

Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2

Paul gives us two important Scriptures. First: “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” Second: “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2Co 4: 16). Your mind is like a computer; it responds to what’s programmed into it. Having a spiritual mindset means pulling out the old disk and putting in the new one. And this must be done “day by day” A Christian with a carnal mind is someone who’s still receiving signals from the flesh, not the Spirit. They’re frustrated because; one moment they’re talking out of a Spirit renewed mindset, the next moment they are talking out of a carnal one. They’re being led from both sides. Again Paul writes: “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are.. .spiritually discerned” (I Co 2.14), It’s Important that you understand this because:

(1) A Spirit controlled mindset gives you God’s input. What an advantage! God can reveal to you the motives of others, the enemy s strategy, and the pitfalls waiting down the road. He can tell you when to buy and when to sell, when to come to the table and when to walk away. Stop confining God to church!

(2) A Spirit controlled mindset gives you victory where you’ve known only defeat. This is especially important for those

who come from addictive backgrounds and are vulnerable to “seducing spirits.” The old mindset has proven it can’t cope with the driving compulsions of the flesh. Without God’s help we’ll go back to the chaos we came from. That’s why we need to work each day on developing a spiritual mindset!



SIMPLE FAITH

You must be born again.  John 3:7TLB

When Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again,” Nicodemus didn’t get it: “Can a man … enter into his mother’s womb a second time and be born?” (Jn 3:4 NKJV). Sometimes bright people can be their own worst enemy. They think, Unless I can explain it I can’t accept it.” Jesus told Nicodemus, “Look at the wind. You can’t see it or control it. So is everyone who is reborn through God’s Spirit” (See In 3:8). In other words, “You didn’t have anything to do with your first

birth, so you’ve nothing to do with your second one. God prepared your heart by sending the right people, the right circumstances, and the right word at just the right time to show you your need of Him.”

In the belly of the fish Jonah prayed: “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jnh 2:9). Jonah realized, “If I’m to get out of this mess it’ll have to be God’s doing. I can’t work my way out or reason my way out.” So he prayed: “Out of the belly of hell cried I” (Jnh 2:2). Sometimes we have to go to hell and back before we’re willing to do it God’s way. “Without faith [trust without analysis or reconditions] it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6 NIV). The things of God cannot be explained, only revealed. Anything less would be unfair for then the sharp folks would get it and the slow ones wouldn’t. Jesus said unless we become as little children we won’t even be aware of His kingdom. Our biggest struggles come from wanting a reason for everything. All God asks is that we trust Him. When we do, life works the way it’s supposed to.



SAVED TO SERVE

When it comes to finding and fulfilling your role in God’s kingdom, notice 3 things: (1) Every believer has a ministry. Less than 10 percent of Christians are involved in any form of service. They go to church “for what they can get out of it.” Service in Christ’s body isn’t optional. In God’s army there are no volunteers-He’s drafted us all into service. (2) Every

ministry is important. There are no insignificant ministries. Listen: “God has arranged the parts in the body, everyone of

them, just as he wanted them to be … The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘1 don’t need you!'” (lCo 12:18-21 NIV). (3) We are dependent on each other. No single ministry can accomplish all we’ve been called to do. Like a jigsaw puzzle, each piece is required to complete the picture. You always notice the missing piece first, right? When one part of your body malfunctions, the other parts don’t work as well. Our preoccupation with individualism must be replaced with the biblical truth that we need each other, that we’ve been called to work together. That doesn’t mean you should try to be like somebody else; what God made you to be, determines what He intends for you to do. Your ministry is determined by your make up. When your gifts don’t match the role you play, you feel like a square peg in a round hole. Not only does this produce poor results, it’s also a waste of your talents, time and energy. So find your place, then make up your mind to excel in it.



KODAK CHRISTIANS

You will receive power … and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 NIV

It’s possible to be so committed to preserving what’s good from the past and enjoying what’s good in the present-that we’re blind to, or resistant to what God has for us next. Jerusalem was an exciting place to be: “All the believers met together constantly and shared everything with each other, selling their possessions and dividing with those in need. They worshiped together regularly … met in small groups in homes for Communion, and shared their meals with great joy … The whole city was favorable to them” (Ac 2:44-47 TLB). Now there’s just one problem: nobody wants to leave Jerusalem and carry the message to Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. Life’s too good. So how does God get us out of our comfort zone to fulfill His purposes? Clearly, just telling us won’t do it. The answer is persecution! And it’s an idea we don’t like because we tend to be Kodak Christians. Remember the famous Kodak Camera ad? “Freeze the moment!” Here’s how God deals with Kodak Christians: “There was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria … Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (See Ac 8:1&4). Here’s a thought: God could be permitting the tough time you’re going through to: (a) dig you out of your rut; (b) get you out of neutral and moving toward what He has for you next. Bottom line: staying in Jerusalem too long is bad for you.



BECOME A BETTER LISTENER

Be quick to listen, slow to speak. James 1:19 NIV

Want to become a good leader? Become a good listener! Here are two stories of what happens when we don’t

take time to listen. The first is from a young woman hurt by a manager who constantly cut her off: “We expected he would wait and give us answers to serious questions about our work. Many times he walked off when we were in mid-sentence, having heard nothing.” The next is from a church youth director who was fired: “After serving the Lord there for two years, I was called into an elders’ meeting. They took out a list of all the things I’d done wrong in the past two years. Most of what they said. was true, for I was brand new in. this work. Then they called for my resignation. What did I learn? (a) Not once did anyone care enough to coach or shepherd me. (b) I’d no idea or warning that I was doing anything wrong. (c) The church leaders never built a relationship with their staff,”

Why is it so hard for leaders to listen? Because leaders love to talk, and as they gain more authority they think they have

less reason to listen. Leaders by their very nature tend to be removed from the frontlines of battle. To win, they must constantly listen to those who are in the trenches and rely on that information to make wise decisions. Before Ezekiel was qualified to prophesy or lead God’s people, he wrote: “I sat among them for seven days-overwhelmed. At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me” (Ez 3:15-16 NIV).



IN THE EYE OF THE STORM

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

 The eye of the storm is the most peaceful place on earth. While wind and rain wreak havoc all around, pilots who fly storm-tracker planes say that all is perfectly still in that special place. In Psalm 91, David speaks about. .. terror. .. plagues … ten thousand falling at your right hand “but it will not come near you.” Why? Listen: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver [me]” (Ps 91:1-3).

There are two ways to go through a storm: in panic or in peace. When a storm suddenly threatened their boat the

disciples cried, “Carest thou not that we perish?” (Mk 4:38). And where was Jesus? Sleeping peacefully in the back of the boat. That’s because He understood: (a) to get to where God wants to take you, you must go through certain storms. It’s not optional; (b) when you’re in the center of God’s will the storm can’t take you under; it’s in the storm, not the calm that you discover this; (c) when it’s over you come out knowing God better and more equipped to help others! “So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the rock of ages]” (Isa 26:4 AMP). That’s what it means to live in the eye of the storm!




 

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