Posts Tagged ‘limitations’

Unceasing Prayer

February 24th, 2014

“We have not stopped praying for you.” Colossians 1:9 NIV.

Prayer commits enduring seeds of amazing possibilities into the eternal purposes of God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “unceasing prayer.”

There are many things you can do for others – acts of kindness, encouragement, words of counsel, practical assistance – but there is nothing more helpful or effective than praying for another person. You are only able to help another person within the limits of your awareness and understanding, limited resource, or in observable needs. But what of needs unseen or unsaid?

There are times when you want to help a person, and would help if you only knew how. In such times, I suggest you pray for them. “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us . . the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will . . The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.” Romans 8:26-27 NIV/ James 5:16 NLT. Prayer is a way that you can touch another’s life beyond your normal reach.  When you pray, you invite God to do what you cannot.

Ambiguous prayers are not likely to have powerful results. The Apostle Paul was faithful and direct in his prayers because he knew the value of others’ prayers for him, “As you help us by your prayers . . many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:11 NIV. See also Romans 12:11-12 NIV. Paul was steadfast in praying because he knew what his prayers could accomplish, “We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom . .” Colossians 1:9 NIV.

Notice that Paul was, “asking God,” not demanding of God. Prayer is not pressuring God; nor is it a passive assumption of what will be will be. Prayer is the sincere expression of your heart’s desire for God’s best for another, realizing that you may not always know the best that God has for them,  but He does. Notice also that Paul did, “not stop praying.” There are crisis occasions necessitating prayer, but more generally, there is need for continuing prayer.

Prayer commits enduring seeds of amazing possibilities into the eternal purposes of God. John had a vision of the Throne of God where those worshipping, “. . held gold bowls filled with incense – the prayers of God’s people . . and the incense with the prayers of the saints ascended before God from the angel’s hands.” See Revelation 5:7-8 NLT/8:3-4 NKJV. Prayers remain ever upon the heart of God. The impact of prayer is not always visible or immediate. Prayers do not expire by clock or calendar; they are eternal! “Pray without ceasing . . this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV.

When you do not know how to pray for someone, pray as Paul did for those he loved. Prayer touches God’s heart and changes others for the better when prayer asks God for, “knowledge of His will, wisdom, and understanding, a life pleasing to God, fruitfulness and growth in good works, patiently enduring with God’s strength, and a joyful, thankful life in God.” Read Colossians 1:9-14 NIV. See also Philippians 1:9-11 NIV/2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you will value the promise and practice of prayer.

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March 20th, 2013

“God created man in His own image.” Genesis 1:27 NIV.

God is the Creator; you and I are to become His willing apprentices.

My thoughts and comments today are about “creativity.”

I admire people who understand and consecrate their creativity. Every person is gifted by God with creative abilities and potential, and that includes you. All persons are innately gifted in a diversity of ways and measures. On this, the Bible is clear.“God has given to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.” Read 1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT.

I read an interesting quote about the creative process, “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Safely in God’s hands, you do not fear your mistakes. Creativity is so much more than the expression of one’s native talent, brilliance, or artistry. Creativity is the profound submission of yourself as a simple vessel through which the genius and greatness of God can flow. God is the Creator; you and I are to become His willing apprentices. The more prepared and diligent you are as you offer yourself to Him, the more creative you become.

Giftedness may differ in its nature or expression, but God is the source and origin of all gifts, and their best and fullest expression is with His empowerment and direction. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father . .” James 1:17 NIV. Some use their giftedness constructively and profitably for the common good and well-being of themselves and others. “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.” Proverbs 18:16 NKJV. Others leave gifts undiscovered or dormant, or use them selfishly and destructively.

God is the Creator. The Bible begins with the establishment of that truth, and underscores it in the New Testament. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . God created man in His own image . . all things were created by Him and for Him.” Genesis 1:1/27/Colossians 1:16-17 NIV. How then could you have been “created in His image and in His likeness” without potential for creative expression? Creativity should be more natural to us than is often the case. Creativity has to be valued and nurtured. As children, teens, or adults, some are praised and encouraged to cultivate their giftedness, while others lack necessary reassurance or opportunity to discover and develop latent gifts.

Among family and friends, I marvel at the unique expressions of Godly creativity. Often I see something as ordinary while they see extraordinary possibilities awaiting their touch. My wife is creative in so many ways, but especially as a hostess who makes anyone feel special; our son is an artistic genius at design and construction of homes and churches; our daughter sees beauty in people and loves them until they see it in themselves. (And talking about the grandchildren’s variety of interests and abilities, well that might just sound like bragging.)

Our friend, Jill, is masterful at managing people and administrating projects with skill and efficiency. Devi is a gifted author, teacher, and interior decorator. Ken, a pastor and church builder, is a creative force of unlimited ideas to reach and serve people. Rick and Andrew express exceptional creativity in sharing Biblical insights and teaching clarity. Rod has more stories, ideas, and images in his heart to communicate with children than he has time to fully pursue. Michael is an unbridled reserve of energy with wide-ranging, artistic creativity. Paul’s decided, “We have different gifts according to the grace given us . . use [your] gift in proportion to [your] faith.” Romans 12:6-8 NIV.

Pray as did Jabez, “Bless me and enlarge my territory.” Read 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NIV. Creative potential is unlimited, unless you accept boundaries or allow others to impose them. Unwise comparisons with others will undermine your own God-given gifts and your confidence in using them. Read 2 Corinthians 10:12-13 NKJV. Be inspired by others’ gifts, not intimidated; share your gifts freely, not sparingly. He gave them; glorify Him with them.

My prayer for you today is this: serve God and others well with the giftedness He gives.

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Maximized Potential

February 13th, 2013

“The Lord said . . ‘What is that in your hand?’” Exodus 4:2 NIV.

Great achievement awaits your reliance on the power of God.

You have potential, God-given and unique to you. Few recognize their full potential; still fewer reach theirs. When you believe God crafted you in His image and likeness, you must accept that you are given a capacity beyond your present abilities. See Psalm 139:13-16 NLT. Your potential is your unique capacity. Inventory what God gives you, not what you lack. You do not develop potential by focusing on limitations. Everyone has limitations. Some adjust their lives to limitations; others rise above theirs. The choice is yours.

When God called a reluctant Moses as deliverer of Israel,“The Lord said . . ‘What is that in your hand?’” Exodus 4:2 NIV. In his hand, Moses held all that God needed, as do you. What God has put in “in your hand” He will use for His glory. The shepherd’s staff in Moses’ hand represented a potential he had not yet recognized God could use to display His power and roll back the waters of the Red Sea. Achievement awaited Moses’ willingness to surrender his staff and self for God’s empowering.

Whatever you think your limitations are – history, age, health, education, finances, native intelligence, talents – they need not dissuade you from greater accomplishments but can persuade you to trust God, without whom you cannot reach your potential however impressive your previous or present accomplishments. See John 15:5 NLT. Jesus said, “Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me, you can do nothing” – nothing of lasting value; nothing of eternal importance; nothing in comparison with what God can do through you.

When you truly believe God can when you can’t, you will worry less about inabilities and pray more for His enabling. Strength and abilities alone will not fully attain your potential; great achievement and effectiveness await your reliance on the power of God – the fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit maximizes your potential.

Paul wrestled with something he considered limiting, repeatedly asking God for its removal. Instead, God convinced Paul that His grace was sufficient, whatever limits time and circumstance may impose, for, “My grace is sufficient . . My power is made perfect in [your] weakness.” Paul’s response? “I [accept] all the more gladly my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me . . For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV. Like Paul, “[You] can do everything with the help of Christ who gives the strength [you] need.” Philippians 4:13.

Limitations must not determine possibilities; God can change those to opportunities. What you believe to be strengths limit you; at such times you do not depend upon God. Usually, when you think you can do it all by yourself you struggle, even fail. You most succeed when and where you trust God’s wisdom, direction, and power, as well as accept the generosity and assistance of others. True success rests upon the experience and achievement of others before you and with you. There you reach your potential. Read Colossians 1:27 NKJV.

My prayer for you this day is to discover all God has placed within you and before you.

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Beyond Measure

March 15th, 2012

“To Him who is able to do immeasurably more.” Ephesians 3:20 NIV

“If you are not doing much with what you have, you likely wouldn’t do much more with what you lack.”

My thoughts and comments today are about “beyond measure.”

We are accustomed to limitations, in ourselves and others. Those limits, real and perceived, are often allowed to govern your life, marginalizing expectations and attempts, and setting boundaries. People face limitations of resource, time, energy, opportunity, talent, experience, knowledge, understanding, and more, extending to “ad infinitumto infinity/continuing beyond limits.” The only thing unlimited may actually be the extent and number of limitations with which we all deal.

Almost everyone has at one time said only to themselves, “If only I had more ______.“ Fill in the blank. The story is the same; only what you lack at that moment changes – time, money, help, education, etc. Jesus captured a profound truth in His comparison of people’s similar responses to little or much; “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” Read Luke 16:10-12 NASV. Truthfully, if you aren’t doing much with what you have, you likely wouldn’t do much more with what you lack.

When you bring your life to God, the story changes for the better. “To each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Ephesians 4:7 NKJV. Jesus takes your meager, insufficient “loaves and fish” and blesses, breaks, and distributes a sufficiency of surplus beyond any measure imaginable. Read Mark 6:31-44 NKJV. When you think your need is more than your means and feel you have barely enough for yourself and nothing with which to share, in Jesus’ hands miracles of multiplication occur and there is plenty for yourself and all others with whom you have opportunity to share.

Resources and money go further with God’s blessings than without it; that’s why it’s wise to tithe, and to give and live generously. Read Malachi 3:10-12/2 Corinthians 9:6-15 NKJV. Time is ample because of efficiencies God provides. Energy is extended when you are doing God’s work. “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV. Wisdom and understanding rise from the truth in your heart when you hide God’s Word there. Read 1 Kings 3:5-14 NKJV.

What you trust into God’s hands is no longer restricted by your previous limitations. Paul marveled at a truth with so much power to exceed every limit ever known by you: “That Christ may dwell in your heart through faith . . (through) Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:16-21 NIV. God whose providence and power are beyond every measure or limit is immeasurable! What could happen – in your life, your marriage and family, your career and relationships – if you gave yourself entirely to God’s will and service? Read Romans 12:1-2 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you experience the immeasurable goodness and mercy of God

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November 2nd, 2011

“For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 NIV

“With God, your life can be released into the capacities of unmeasured potential.”

My thoughts today are about “limitations.”

Over lunch more than ten years ago, a friend and successful business man asked what I had hoped to accomplish in my ministry at this church, and what if anything limited that occurring. As I shared what could have been done, and explained the reasons – mostly financial – why those had not seemed possible, he asked a simple question, “If finances were not a limitation, what could better provide for the future effectiveness of this church?” Suddenly, I was free from limits – some real, some self-imposed – to dream about things that had not previously seemed viable options.

There is a revealing picture of very real limits in conflict with wondrous possibilities in the narrative of the Christmas story. God sent the angel Gabriel with an announcement to Mary, a young, single Jewish girl, that she would miraculously bear a child who would be Israel’s long awaited Messiah. Read Luke 1:26-38 NIV. She was keenly aware of limiting factors. Gabriel explained the unexplainable and then gave the supporting testimony of her cousin, Elizabeth’s miracle.

Think long about the angel’s final persuasion, For nothing shall be impossible with God,” to which Mary rightly responded, “May it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1:37-38 NIV. Mary accepted a possibility beyond previous limits. Let the angel’s words sink in completely. You believe God has no limits or impossibilities; that’s not news. But read the angel’s words again, slowly. Here’s the news; if Mary was “with God” – in His will, stepping beyond her limits, and obeying His Word – “nothing was impossible!” That could be true for you as well, if you hear God’s Word to your heart, ignore your limits, and embrace a greater potential. You know your limits well; only God fully knows your potential. Often the choice is yours. Walking with God is adventurous; walking without Him is ridiculous.

There was no natural, rational way Mary’s miracle could be possible, except by God’s involvement. Maybe that’s true for your situation today. What limits have you imposed on God in your present circumstance? The Psalmist describes a time when Israel, “limited the Holy One of Israel.” Psalm 78:41 NKJV. What limits have you allowed to lessen your potential to believe God and receive His provision? You know well what can’t be done and what you cannot do, but are you considering what God says can be done, and what God can do? With God, your life can be released into the capacities of unmeasured potential, or reduced to the confinement of real or assumed limitations without Him.

That conversation with the business man I mentioned earlier began an exciting adventure of a sequence of miracles of provision for which I had not dared to believe. The last twelve years have been a wonder of watching God work in unanticipated ways. A new 30 acre church and school campus has been built on prime, freeway frontage, very soon to be debt free. Banks, architects, and builders had told us why we could not accomplish such a project within the budget we proposed, and they were right, but they were also wrong! The experts were right about our limits; they were wrong about our possibilities, when walking in obedience with God alongside us! “For nothing is impossible with God!” Maybe the question is this: are you “with God” in your situation?

My prayer for you today is that you reach for your full potential in Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13

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