Dialoguing with God

I came across a great passage on prayer through my current devotional book called Forty Days of Prayer by Kit Cummings. Here are the verses and some of my thoughts:

The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

"Alas, Sovereign Lord," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am too young."

But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am too young,' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.," declares the Lord.

The the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant." Jeremiah 1:4-10In the above passage, God and Jeremiah are dialoging with each other. Before I write about anything else in this post, let us remember that prayer is not merely a one way conversation in which we are the only ones talking; rather, He too has something to say to us. He speaks to us every day through His word and His spirit. So, let's use the words above as His dialogue not only to Jeremiah, but also to our very own hearts today. What is the Lord saying through His living and active words? Here are a few things I "hear" that are for you and for me. God says:

  1. I knew you before you were born.
  2. I have set you apart and appointed you for My purposes.
  3. Do not say, "I am too ______".
  4. Obey every word I give you, no matter the opposition.
  5. Do not be afraid. I am with you!
  6. I will touch you. I will put my words in your mouth to fulfill what I've asked you to do.

We are today's Jeremiah. (We are also today's David, today's Samuel, today's Moses, today's Ruth, today's Esther...for such a time as this!) Allow God's interaction with these people of old to be the inspiration for His appointed purposes in you TODAY. What He said to them in the past, is now for our hearts in the present. Let's continue to bring all our prayers to Him, big and small, but also, let's hang around long enough to hear His words back to us. What is He asking you to do today for His name sake? Write a note to a friend? Make a meal for a neighbor? Visit a widow?

Reread the list above and walk forward in obedience with great faith. And let me remind you, God is just as pleased with a note of encouragement to one person as He is with someone speaking to the masses. Both are important callings, but He never "keeps count" of what's "more worthy" the way we humans tend to do. He sees the heart and smiles at our devotion to Him. (Think of the widow's mite found in Luke 21:1-4).

Let's all be today's Jeremiah. Dialogue with God, receive His incredible promises, and then do something for Him...today.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020
By Chris Baxter

How to be on the Same Page

I have a friend who expressed how she wished that her family could somehow all be "on the same page" with each other. Oh how I want that for my family as well! I'm sure you may feel this longing about your loved ones, or your co-workers, or even the people you serve with in ministry.

One way to bring about strong unity is through consistent prayer for one another. I have written short Scripture-based prayers for this very purpose. Here are 2 of 365 examples:

Counselor. I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you (Psalm 32:8). Dear Lord, You know the best path for each of us. Keep our eyes fixed on You. Give us willing hearts to trust and obey Your guidance as we step forward in faith each new day.

Peace. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give you; do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid (John 14:27). Dear Lord, Your peace is truly the only real rest for our souls. Everything else is a temporary anesthetic. By your Spirit, breathe into us a divine calmness, not to sedate us to inactivity, but to inspire us to share Your incomprehensible peace with the world.

If you would like to receive these prayers in your email, then please subscribe to "Daily Prayers" on my website: http://www.RespitefortheWeary.com. Ask your family members, co-workers, or ministry partners to subscribe as well so that you and "your people" can claim the same name of God and bible verse over each other on a daily basis.

God's name and Word are powerful. Claim it together and receive His blessing.

There's no better place to be than on His Same Page.

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Monday, January 27, 2020
By Chris Baxter

Ten Ways Prayer "Accomplishes Much"

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16

The verse above is a familiar one to many of us when referring to prayer. It encourages us to pray often and effectively, and because we are declared righteous in Christ, we can lift up our requests with boldness. The passage that follows James 5:16 speaks of Elijah, who prayed for the rain to stop (and it did) and then three and a half years later, he prayed for the rain to start (and it did). Now that’s effective praying! Also, the above verse was penned through James, the half-brother of Jesus. It is said that one of his nicknames was “Camel knees” because he developed callouses on his knees from hours he devoted to daily prayer. These two men of God, Elijah and James, would want us to know the Lord the way they knew Him, both personally and powerfully through prayer.

After thinking about the above verse, I made a broad list of how prayer has accomplished much in my own life. These are things I have learned over the years in my growing walk with the Lord:

  1. Prayer replaces my worry with His peace.
  2. Prayer helps me focus positively on others rather than negatively on myself.
  3. Prayer keeps me from trying to manipulate or control situations.
  4. Prayer keeps me from overly talking to people, about people.
  5. Prayer provides me a free ongoing session with my Wise Counselor.
  6. Prayer opens my eyes to the movement of God.
  7. Prayer touches hearts in ways my words cannot.
  8. Prayer increases my faith and causes me to worship.
  9. Prayer makes me thankful rather than ungrateful.
  10. Prayer makes my relationship with God personal and intimate.

What about you? How has effectual prayer accomplished much in your life? Make a list and thank Him for the privilege of having access to Him at all times concerning all things. Lift your requests and receive all the benefits.

Pray much and accomplish much...every day.

Dear Lord,

Prayer is an unending gift! Thank You! May we talk to You morning, noon, and night. Accomplish much in us and through us as we humbly lift our praise and petitions to You. Amen.

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Friday, August 16, 2019
By Chris Baxter

Marathon Moments

My sister Peggy Lively and I just completed our 16th marathon in our 16th state. We have high hopes of completing one in all 50 states. We are often asked, "Why in the world are y'all doing this crazy thing?". Honestly, we just fell into it. Maybe I shouldn't use the word "fall" when talking about marathons. But truly, we've sorta gone into this adventure blindly (hmmm, another poor word for safely accomplishing 26.2 miles). Before my first marathon, I had never run in ANY race. Well, I do remember the three-legged race on field day in elementary school, and that wasn't very pretty, at all. Peggy and I can't explain it; something came over the both of us at the same time and within only minutes, we both decided to "just do it". And so, the 50 marathons in 50 states began.

With this being number "sweet sixteen", I took a moment to think about the marathons to date, and these are the things we have gained in this journey:

Togetherness. Our marathon weekends, believe it or not, are therapeutic for the both of us. We cover a lot of ground even sitting in our hotel room as we listen to each other's triumphs and trials of life. We laugh a lot, and we cry too. Also, throughout the weekend and the race, we pray for the particular state we are in. We pray for ministries, schools, communities, government, marriages, and families. The 26.2 miles cover not only the roads within the cities we walk, but our words reach heaven's throne with fervent faith. These extra long treks have helped me understand the meaning of "persevering in prayer" (from Eph. 6:18), and it helps me stay the course when I get back home.

Outreach. "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24). Both Peggy and I have come to realize that the marathon weekends are about much more than the 5 1/2 hour-ish trek on marathon day. It's about the people we meet (airplane passengers, hotel managers, marathon participants) and the friends and family we visit (old neighbors, nieces and nephews, ministry partners). I will not be able to express in a small paragraph the giant things God has done in and through our travels. Our hopeful goal each time we go to these cities is to spread the love of Christ and encourage others in their own personal journey. Just like a marathon, life is not a feel-good-all-the-time-experience, and if Peggy and I can help encourage someone even a little bit, we call it a successful weekend. In our different travels, we've met complete strangers and they are now dear friends. We've reconnected with people from years past. As a result, the blessings of these relationships have been immense. I'm excited for what's in store.

Adventure. I must add here that our dear mother sends Peggy and me off with some spending money each and every trip. Bless her for making these trips doable. She supports "our mission", which is real simple: live full, love well, and pray much.  With that being said, who knew we would go to a World Series game in St.Louis, or see the Grand Canyon in AZ, or peer out into the Atlantic ocean in Maine, or go to the Dairy Queen in North Dakota? That's pretty awesome for this introvert who loves her comfy chair in the confines of her own four walls! I'm thankful for each of these trips and eager for more. God knew I needed to GET UP and GO FORWARD...to His people and to His world. I'm thankful for the privilege.

I finish these memorable moments with an encouraging word for your very own marathon of life. Hear the Forerunner say:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018
By Chris Baxter

Face Planting

Recently, I read two passages of Scripture that had the same idea in it, yet their meaning was completely opposite.

The first phrase is found in I Samuel 16:49 which speaks of David killing the giant Goliath:
And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.

The second phrase that caught my attention was when I flipped to the passage found in Ezekiel 1:26-28 which gives details of the prophet’s personal encounter with the glory of God:

…there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance…and there was brightness around him. Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain…such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

How interesting…same posture of both the giant and the prophet, yet one face planted due to pride and the other due to humbled awe.

I guess the hard question I have to ask myself is this: which one of these men am I like in every day life? Do I call my own shots, make my own judgments, and plow forward with my own head-strong plans like Goliath intended to do? Or do I sit long enough with the Lord to meditate on His majesty, that is marvelously transposed with His mercy, to where the only thing I can do is, like Ezekiel, fall on my face in response to His glory and grace?

As we know, things did not end well with the prideful giant. Enough said. But with the humble prophet, bowing low was just the beginning:

And he said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet and I will speak to you.” And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet…” (Ezekiel 2:1)

May you and I be more like Ezekiel today. Let’s bow before our Creator and wait to hear His voice. And then, when we do hear him, let’s be ready to stand on our feet and do exactly what He says, filled with His power, doing all for His glory.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:10

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
By Chris Baxter

A Powerful Gift

What can I give my President? What can I give my country?

Prayer.

I sit with a group of women once a month who have committed to pray for the President, Vice President and their wives. This group, formed by Lori Rydberg and April Eshleman, called the Glove Club (representing Melania’s glove underneath the Bible during the inauguration ceremony), has opened my eyes to the powerful gift that each one of us can give Donald and Melania Trump and Mike and Karen Pence on a daily basis.

I’m humbled and excited to say that we are using my devotional book,The Heartbeat of God, as the daily guide for our prayers. For example, today’s devotional is entitled, “God, You are the Author of Faith. Particular scripture pertaining to faith is claimed throughout this prayer. This name of God and these scriptures are what we are giving our President, Vice President and their wives… today. Tomorrow we will pray a new name, Perfecter of Faith, and we will claim new scriptures for them. And the next day will be another new name, the One Who Prevails, and more scriptures to pray on these leader’s behalf. The prayers go on and on, and they are new every morning!

Prayer. A powerful gift.

There is nothing we can give our country’s leaders that is better than the gift of His name and His word. God is the One who can transform hearts and minds. Our passionate words spewing back and forth to each other do very little other than add to our ongoing chaos. Our prayers to God will actually get things done because we are talking to the One who is REALLY in control!

God promises to answer prayer concerning His name and His word.

.

If you want to join in this simple yet monumental growing movement, please do! Every day, pray. Many of you already have a copy of The Heartbeat of God and are currently using it in your daily devotional time. (These books can be purchased on Amazon). Let’s truly become one nation under God by uniting together in prayer.

Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.  Hebrews 11:6

The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God–it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]. James 5:16 AMP


Prayer. A powerful gift that brings great reward.

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Monday, June 12, 2017
By Chris Baxter

Daily Prayer

Pausing to Praise

Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly...Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Psalm 149:1, 3-4

Dear Lord,

I don't think we praise you enough. Forgive us for being too busy to stop and acknowledge your power and might, your love and care. Help us to pause for a moment and exalt you today. Give us a new song of praise in our hearts and in our mouths and may you take pleasure in what you hear. Amen.